Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer Interruption and a Give Away

It's Labor Day, and while I could be swimming with family or helping my husband paint the exterior of our cottage, instead I feel compelled to share this book... this idea... that has had my attention for the last 6 weeks.

I'm a devour-er of books. Usually 48 hours and done, but this one caused me to sit back and take a slow read, to get out highlighters and sticky notes. To underline and write in the margins. To sit in the quiet and drink in words that sparked in my soul.

"Jesus came to the foulest, filthiest place possible (earth), a place full of ungrateful, self-destructive people who would betray Him far more than they'd love Him (a whole planet of Judases). He broke His body for rich people who would curse Him the second their prosperity was endangered. He poured His blood out for those who would take His Word and use it as a bludgeoning tool. He became the offering for people who would slander His name with ferocity, yet His grace was theirs for the asking until they drew their last breaths, even if all they could offer Him was a lifetime of hatred and one moment of repentance." - Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity.

This Gospel. This sacrifice. This grace is staggering. Life changing. And yet I find that many days the details of my life aren't changed at all. What if? That's the question so beautifully presented in Interrupted. What if this truth changed "the way we celebrate holidays," the way we "spend our excess," the way we see other people. What if?

What if the call to love my neighbors and the least of these applies not just to one week of the year in another community, but in the way I live my Tuesdays in MY community? What if?

This isn't a new way of thinking for me because just a few short years ago my all day, every day was framed by these principles, but then a job change and move uprooted and replanted us and that way of living was suspended. It's amazing how quickly life became consumed by home and family.

Interrupted was a grace and humor infused shove to rethink my everyday. As Jen says, "we spend the majority of our lives in our homes, our neighborhoods, at work, in school." "How would our communities be transformed if our churches became servants to our cities?"

I'm not sure what that looks like for me as I type these words, but I know it doesn't look like sitting on my couch eating salt and vinegar potato chips in my free time - not that I would ever do that!

And if I'm compelled to get off my couch, I may as well drag you along. If you're feeling a bit too comfortable or a little restless, this book may be just what you need. I'd loan you my copy, but it's all dog-earred and marked up. So, I'm going to give away one copy to someone who comments right here on this blog post. I'll choose a winner at random at 5 p.m. Thursday, September 4.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cucumber Salad Recipe

This is a summer staple at our house when the garden cucumber start coming in. It's originally from the Hungarian-American cookbook by the Lutheran Ladies' League, Cleveland Ohio, 1968. It's the perfect, light summer side. 
  • 2 medium sized cucumbers (I use 3)
  • 2 tsp salt

Wash and pare cukes, slice very thin, put in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix lightly and set aside for an hour.
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water (I reverse the measurements for vinegar and water - more vinegar less water)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Hungarian paprika (I'm told the type matters, but if your audience doesn't know better...)
  • 2 heaping tbsp of sour cream (add 3 tbsp if using light sour cream)
Combine the above ingredients and set aside.

Squeeze cucumber slices (I just drain them well) and discard the salty liquid.
Pour vinegar mixture over cukes and toss together.
Sprinkle a little paprika over them for color.

Options that I never bother with: add 1 clove minced garlic OR 1 small thinly sliced onion.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mechanical pencils and binders

At age 2, she started speed dialing me. I loved that about her.

At age 5, she called my cell phone and informed me, "Aunt Heather, I love you, but I talk to you all the time. I don't ever talk to Uncle Mark. Can I talk to him, please?" And talk she did. For 20 minutes. I love that about her.

FaceTime happened, and at age 8 she carried my electronic self into her newly decorated room, showing me the "not pink or purple" bedspread and curtains. Then she laid on her new comforter and told me all about some facet of life that I've now forgotten. I thought I couldn't love her more.

But she did me in last night. The topic was recent school shopping and that one thing that was her favorite. She told me it was her binder - because she's always wanted a binder for school - and her mechanical pencils. And then that sweet voice, "I LOVE mechanical pencils."

She's nine. She can't wait for school. She loves school. I love that about her.

But soon, someone will look at her love of mechanical pencils and binders and assign a label.

They will decide that the her-ness of her is not enough. That the perfect plan of God in creating her uniquely, wonderfully, fearfully doesn't measure up to some arbitrary standard.

All those labels. They are lies. The very opposite of truth.

My fervent prayer is that she she binds the truth of His love and faithfulness to her soul and writes it on the tablet of that beautiful heart. I pray that she fills that binder with page after page of the Truth. And that she scratches out all those false labels with her mechanical pencils.

I pray that she always speed dials her Creator.

I pray that she always pursues the hearts of others.

I pray that she spends time every day talking to her Maker about some facet of her life.

I pray that she BINDS love and faithfulness and truth around her neck and WRITES them on the tablet of her heart.