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Chateaubedroomcc“She’s not talking. If she’s not talking, she must be uncomfortable,” my husband told the anesthetist after the birth of our 5th son via C-section. The anesthetist told my husband that if I felt stressed as they sewed everything up, he could just put me to sleep. Apparently, silence from me is a sign of stress.

Sometimes after a big challenge, I need silence to sink into. It is in the silence where my healing begins.

When the house spilled over with 5 boys, and the schedule stretched and contracted, and emotions popped like corn at 3 p.m. every day, after filling the inside things like tummies and hearts, after they were all tucked in bed, I’d stay up and soak in the silence. In the silence, I would find the Father – and he would help me find the scattered parts of myself to pull all those parts of me back together into the right places.

Silence after the challenge. Silence after the stress.

I just returned from three days with my aunt who is so very dear to my heart – and to my story. She’s struggling. Words like dementia are floated around. Dementia is a silent thief who steals an unsuspecting soul’s big and little stories, the silly stories and the sacred stories. Some tough choices had to be made this week, and she is not happy – and my heart is so very sad. She would ask the same questions – over and over. I would answer them, every time, “We love you. We want you safe.”

Each night I tucked her into bed, kissed her forehead, “I love you,” I would tell her.

“I love you back,” she’d say – at the end of the challenges of each day, when the quiet had crept in and the dusted up chaos had settled into an unnoticed corner – until the next morning.

***5 Minute mark

I drove home today – a 3.5 hour drive – to a house full of my son’s college friends for my weekly Hamburgers and Hotdogs Thursday, except today it was pizza – and a friend brought it over – so this Thursday tradition we started this year could continue. It was a joyful noise – blessing overflowing. I needed the joyful noise in a house full of hope.

The pizza boxes emptied, my bags unpacked, I need to meet God in the silence, and let him help me still to find the scattered parts of myself to pull all those parts of me back together into the right places.

It is in the silence where the broken parts of my heart are redeemed and made whole.

“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

bakerycakegirlcc5 Minutes of Writing. Just 5 Minutes – unless you just cannot stop yourself.  Won’t you join me over at Kate’s Place for 5 Minute Friday? Sit down, pull over a cup of Wild Apple Ginger Tea, and see what everybody else is writing about the word . . . “Silence” Maybe you can join in – it’s just 5 minutes.

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“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” ~1 Samuel 16:7b

If a man’s work ethic could once be judged by the callouses on his hands, I imagine God can judge a man’s soul by the exterior condition of his heart.

Evidence of suffering, brokeness, sacrifice, love that filled it up only to spill out leaving stretch-heart marks? Laugh lines? Etched names? Love stories written in the skin of it? Callouses of a heart never gave up?  Bunions where it stood in faith? Limberness where it has learned to bend to the will of the Father? Tenderness where hurts taught to love better?

What’s on your heart?

 

 

 

 

 

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Last week and today, I’m still setting the table. The law would have us exclude so many who need to come to the table, but Jesus came, extending an invitation of grace to come to the table, to sit with him, to sit long and talk much, to drink living water, and eat the bread of eternal life. If Jesus lived his life making room at the table for more – shouldn’t we? Whether it’s the dinner table or kitchen counter?

My grandmother taught me a lot about making room for more in her home and at the dinner table. After all, when my parents divorced, my grandmother and grandfather made room for my mom, brother and me.

Sitting around that table, I learned a lot about making room for more.

Muddy of the Corn Fritters lived her life making room for more. When my great-great grandmother came to live with Muddy, my grandmother – Mary Edna’s room was moved to the hallway.

Making room for more sometimes required uncomfortable sacrifice with a joyful heart.

When Mary Edna grew up and married, she made room for Uncle Deck when nobody else would.

When my uncle died, Aunt Joyce made room for more to fill up the empty, lonely places. She invited family and neighbors often to dinner.

I learned making room for more at the table holds blessing.

Mary Edna had strong opinions. At the table, we listened to her opinions. Year after year, she expressed her frustration when traveling family members would leave one family home hungry – because they weren’t feed enough to fill them. When they arrived at her house, they’d be starving. They would eat and eat and eat because no one had filled them up.

I learned to never let anyone leave my house hungry.

When I married, Mary Edna gave me her copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s book of Etiquette – the law for gatherings and behavior at those gatherings. It contained Rules for Safe Order, how to include and exclude, hedge-building to prevent social uncomfortableness. Yet, Mary Edna’s story gave me examples of how room had been made at the table for those who broke the rules, a way to redeem people and relationships by making room for more at the table. She might have been an old-testament girl at heart – wanting to live comfortable in the rules, but her actions bespoke a woman who offered a place of grace to those the law excluded.

I learned that while the law excludes, grace does not. Grace always makes room for one more at the table.

Amy’s book grandmother gave me talked about event living – not the everyday ordinary living. Yet, that is where the most important things happen – in the everyday ordinary.

Graduations might be celebrations of achievement, but they achieved because the graduate didn’t give up in the challenge of the everyday ordinary. Weddings might be extra-ordinary events, but falling in love happens in the everyday ordinary. Baby Showers and Birthing Days might be extra-ordinary events – but it is in the everyday ordinary where lives are shaped and hearts grow. Baptisms happen because of seeds were planted and watered in the everyday ordinary.

Making room at the table isn’t a Feast Day thing or an “event” thing like baby showers, graduation parties or even Friday Night Small Group Gatherings.

Making room at the table doesn’t mean more work, dressing nicer, minding the Ps and Qs. Making room at the table isn’t about showing ourselves off at our best. It’s about letting people come into our everyday ordinary – where the kitchen might be a mess, the laundry might need washing and folding, hand and nose print smudged all sorts of everywhere.  That pile of shoes? The stinky soccer cleats someone left right by the door? Yeah! They’re there, too.

Perfect makes it too hard to live making room for one more at the table. God doesn’t call us to be perfect. He calls us to feed his lambs and sheep.

Making-Room-for-One-More-at-thetable-kind-ofliving isn’t just about filling bellies. It’s about filling souls.

34 years, 5 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and 3 grandchildren later, what I learned around the table growing up was just a tiny seed planted that has become something so much more.

“Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3: 5-9

I just finished setting the table for my series, Feed My Sheep. Won’t you join me next week to find out who God has given each of us to feed?

Feed My Sheep Part I: When Kitchen Living Becomes God-Radical
Feed My Sheep Part II: Living a Lifestyle of Making Room at the Table for One More
Feed My Sheep: Part 3 November 6

http://www.missionalwomen.com/     Faith-Filled Fridays
http://arabahjoy.com     Grace and Truth
http://www.janiscox.com/ Sunday Stillness
Porch Stories – http://kristinhilltaylor.com/
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
Woman to Woman – http://www.w2wministries.org/
Searching for Moments http://www.lorischumaker.com/better-wife/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/    Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/     Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/  Messy Marriage
http://holleygerth.com/     Coffee for Your Heart
http://3dlessons4life.com/     Thought-Provoking Thursday
God-sized Dreams http://www.godsizeddreams.com/
http://donnareidland.com   Mondays @ Soul Survival
https://faithadventures.me/ #TeaAndWord Tuesday
The Modest Mom The Art of Homemaking Musing Mondays
Purposeful Faith Tea & Word Tuesday Talk  
 Blessed But Stressed
 Embracing Everyday Glimpses
Fresh Market Friday:  Fresh Market Friday

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Muddy’s Corn Fritters

Last week, I pulled out an old recipe. It my great-grandmother Muddy’s recipe – her corn fritters. I don’t know why I hadn’t made them in such a long time. For a season, Muddy’s Corn Fritters were a dinner-time staple. . . until they weren’t.

The old recipes, like Muddy’s corn fritters, handed down for generations mother to daughter, from Mary Francis to Sue Eva to Mary Eva to Mary Edna to Linda to me – Maryleigh –  always reminds me of this scripture: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6: 16).

There is comfort in the old ways – in handmade quilts that Nanny made, canning tomatoes and pickles like my husband’s grandmother taught me, in walking the same paths to church on Sunday morning, and meal-time prayers . . . and recipes handed down. The old ways aren’t adventuresome. They comfort and are comfortable.

My youngest son walked in – the one who last Spring had stood in the kitchen telling me, “Mom! You’re slipping. You used to make the BEST breakfasts. What happened? You have only two more years before I’m gone, ” he said, waving two fingers at me, moving into his oration zone. The zone where it’s time to just take a stool and listen because there’s no entertainment better in tow. “Mom! Mom! You need to push through. You need to start making all those awesome breakfasts you used to make: the eggs and bacon with ketchup on toast, the chocolate chip pancakes – and those things with the chocolate chips and the stuff that’s in the box with the man in the white wig!”

That gave me pause – who was this man in with a white wig in my  kitchen. Then I remembered.

The man in the white beard is the Quaker Oats man – and, he was talking about my granola bars.

I’d felt hugged and loved in the kitchen that night.  I pushed through the rest of the year to cook up some good breakfasts – with the old and true recipes.

Last week, he walked into the kitchen, saw Muddy’s Corn Fritters and didn’t remember them. The older boys did, though. That inspired look came into his eyes.  He drew himself up into his oration stance. It wasn’t those beautiful corn fritters that inspired him, though.

It was the deep-fryer.

I tried to steel myself against the effectiveness of this son in his oration zone. Really! I did!

“Mom! Mom! You need to make some deep-fried Oreos,” he said, waxing eloquent about the country fair’s deep fried oreos. He felt sure I could make them.

Dazed, I almost regretted enrolling him in a school a few years ago where he learned about logic and its fallacies, Socratic circles and argument development training, and oration.

There I stood with Muddy’s Corn Fritters stacked high on a plate. It was such a good thing – those corn fritters. An old way of doing things – and he was asking me to do something different. Something I’d never done before. Something radical.

Not just radical – I wasn’t sure Deep Fried Oreos was something a mama should  do: Unnutritional Decadence beyond anything I’d ever done.

“I don’t have a recipe,” was one excuse I used.

He found one on the internet similar to the corn fritters I’d just deep fried. I had the eggs. I had the pancake mix. Too late to hide them! Drats!

Really – wasn’t one deep fried dish enough for one day?

“I don’t have Oreos,” was another excuse I pulled out.

“I’ll go get them,” he said. Double Drats. (The silver lining of my son being able to drive himself to soccer practice betrayed me at that moment).

I tried negotiating: “How about I do them tomorrow?”

“You already have the deep fryer out,” he said. “Besides, aren’t you the one always telling me, ‘Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.’”

I cannot explain the combination of annoyance and pride I feel when these boys to men of mine throw my words back at me.

Exasperated and wise enough to recognize I’d been out-maneuvered, I threw out: “I don’t have any cash.”

“I have $5,” he said. “Mom. Mom! This is the best time to make them. You can do this,” he said – and he was out the door, triumph oozing.

Drat! Drat! Drat!

I’d made a stew with chuck roast, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and and turnip greens, which they thought were carrots, potatoes and spinach (laughing emojis here if I knew how to put them), and Muddy’s Corn Fritters. Wasn’t that enough?

Did good moms even make Deep Fried Oreos? Words like nutritional negligence, deep fried imprudence, fatuous fatty-liver enabling came to mind.

About 40 minutes later, those Deep Fried Oreos fried and bubbled happily in my kitchen. I wasn’t going to eat one – really I wasn’t. Who wants to fully participate in something they’ve been run rough-shod into, cornered and corralled?

But I wanted to take a photo of what the inside looked like. Just one bite – for the photo.

It was delicious. I ate more than one. It was a beautiful thing.

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Deep-Fried Oreos

Someone I loved had walked into my kitchen on an ordinary everyday with a radical recipe. Maybe not radical to you, but it was decadently radical to me. Radical is not something I easily step in to. As a matter of fact, it makes me want to settle back more deeply into the comfort of what has become everyday ordinary – even if right now my everyday ordinary was once a radical idea (Let me just insert here, 5 sons was a radical way of living at one time. Now it is my everyday ordinary. That would be fun to do – to list what we do today that is everyday ordinary but was once something radical to our experiences).

Those Deep Fried Oreos aren’t a God-radical thing, but God calls us to radical living. Radical living is where we let God take our ordinary and turn that everyday ordinary into something extra-ordinary. As we draw closer to God, God draws us away from comfortable into a different way of living – a new way of living. New things are always uncomfortable. God-new things are worth being uncomfortable for.

Feeding my family is something everyday ordinary. Yet, God wants to turn the dinner table or kitchen counter living into something radical, something extraordinary.

He wants us to feed his sheep.

 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” 

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 

He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” 

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” 

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” ~ John 21: 15-17

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to talk about living a lifestyle to Feed God’s Sheep by making room for one more at the table. We’ll discuss who our sheep our, our responsibilities to those sheep,  and how to feed them.

Let’s turn the dinner table or kitchen counter living into something radical, something God-extraordinary.

I hope you’ll join me.

Deep Fried Oreo Recipe
(Modified from Lil’ Luna’s recipe my son found)

1 home-friendly deep fryer (size determines how many you can fry at one time)
1 large egg
1 cup Milk
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup pancake mix
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar
One package double-stuffed Oreos or any other cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies. This recipe does not use up all the cookies.

  1. Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla, and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the pancake mix until smooth.
  3. Dip the cookies into the batter one at a time, turning them 2 or 3 times until the tops and sides are fully coated.
  4. Carefully place into the hot frying oil. Avoid over-crowding. How many depends at a time depends on how the size of your deep-fryer. 
  5. Cook until the cookies are golden-brown, about 2 minutes.
  6.  Drain on a paper towel-lined plate before serving.
  7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Feed My Sheep Part 1: When Kitchen Living Becomes God-Radical
Feed My Sheep Part 2: Living Life Making Room at the Table for One More.
Feed My Sheep Part 3: November 7

http://www.missionalwomen.com/     Faith-Filled Fridays
http://arabahjoy.com     Grace and Truth
http://www.janiscox.com/ Sunday Stillness
Porch Stories – http://kristinhilltaylor.com/
Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
Woman to Woman – http://www.w2wministries.org/
Searching for Moments http://www.lorischumaker.com/better-wife/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/    Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/     Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/  Messy Marriage
http://holleygerth.com/     Coffee for Your Heart
http://3dlessons4life.com/     Thought-Provoking Thursday
God-sized Dreams http://www.godsizeddreams.com/
http://donnareidland.com   Mondays @ Soul Survival
https://faithadventures.me/ #TeaAndWord Tuesday
The Modest Mom The Art of Homemaking Musing Mondays
Purposeful Faith  Tuesday Talk   Blessed But Stressed
Tell His Story http://jenniferdukeslee.com/
Grace Moments http://www.journeysingrace.com/

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tent worms nest
in apple tree leaves
in limbs raised
reaching skyward
as if to heaven
leaves rustling in the
still quiet
green raiment devoured
without a sound

bagworms dangle from
family fur shrubs landscape
by porch steps, garage doors
under windowsills
leeching nutrients
until pine needles devoured
limbs browned
the high and low siphoned away
peace, joy stripped

how, some ask, in the devouring
and leeching – how can
God be good
or true
– to let us endure
hard times, challenging times
hurting fearful times
that pull and drain
threatening the root and heart
of us

how could there be any good
in a righteous man dying
a hammer and nail driven
death on a cross?

but there was
good
God’s kind of good
in the unfairness of Christ’s death:
salvation for all mankind
The great I am is
the hope message
in the challenge
in the high and low
likely and unlikely places
like tent worms give hope
to a hungry sparrow

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:26-28)

(a repost today – because I am savoring this cool autumn weather – and the photo and message warmed me where I am! Shalom, friends)

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“There is a secret place. A radiant sanctuary. As real as your own kitchen. More real than that. Constructed of the purest elements. Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things. Worlds within worlds. Forests, rivers. Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars. Bountiful forests, universal libraries. A wine cellar offering an intoxi cation so sweet you will never be sober again. A clarity so complete you will never again forget. This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway… Believe the incredible truth that the Beloved has chosen for his dwelling place the core of your own being because that is the single most beautiful place in all of creation”
~Mirabai Starr, Interior Castle, st-teresa-of-avila

Photo: taken at Chateau de Chenonceau, June 2017

 

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“The Lord is a God who knows” ~ 1 Samuel 2: 3b

While we have a soul-window view to God’s plan for our lives, God has the view of the entire plan and contingencies for our lives. He knows all about our joys, hurts and struggles, yet we only trust him with a 2×2 portion of one window pane in a 10 pane window’s worth of truth from our souls – when he already knows it all – more than we know. The Lord is a God who knows! Our humanity would have us hide when God’s amazing grace calls us to come and have our wounds bound and our heart’s healed.

Hannah felt empty, though she had a husband who gave her double portions, who told her she was more important to him than anything in the world. She was belittled and bullied by her husband’s other wife. As she poured out her heart to the Lord at church, the priest misinterpreted her actions and accused her of being drunk. I imagine she wondered if God saw her, if he knew her heart-challenges, and if he recognized the intent of her heart.

She had dreams, you see. Dreams of children. Dreams, whether she had woven them herself into her identity, whether her culture had woven them into her identity, or whether God wove them into her identity, she had them. These dreams filtered her self views and her life views. She either wouldn’t or couldn’t shake the want of them out of herself to savor the blessings she had.

Have you ever been there – with a dream? An unfulfilled dream that hasn’t born itself out of you? And you couldn’t pull yourself out of  the discontent growing out of that dream’s lack?

Or maybe it just wasn’t a dream, but a situation you couldn’t shake, that filtered your self view and your life view, one that made it difficult to savor the goodness of the blessings you have right before you?

The want of dream  just might drive you to pour your anguish out to the God who sees you (Genesis 16: 13), the God who knows (1 Samuel 2: 3b), just like it did Hannah.

Hannah came to recognize that God knows. Maybe she logos knew it – knew what the words meant: God knows. But maybe she didn’t know it when she languished about unfulfilled dreams, or when she was bullied about her failure, or when she poured her heart out in church – maybe she didn’t really know it, the rhema, Gods-word-come-alive-knows-it. But after she poured out her heart, poured out everything all the way down to her soul toes, after she went home – and God gave her dream life, she rhema-knew it – recognized that Yahweh, the Great I Am, the one who led her ancestors out of Egypt, she knew it – all the way down to her the toes of her soul: the Lord is a God who knows.

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God knows – all about you, all about me.

He knows when I was little that I doubted I could be faithful to him forever, that I worried I would be a Peter who would deny him.

He knows I don’t like getting in trouble, that making mistakes makes me feel like I let people down, that guilt over every wrong I think I’ve done – whether real or perceived – haunts me.

God knows every jealousy, every wrong step, every unkind word, every single mistake I have made, that sometimes I’d rather dive into a bowl of ice cream over a problem than let him comfort me.

God knows my fears – fears that I wouldn’t admit to him because I didn’t want to disappoint him. Silly me! God already knew.

He knows . . .  the heart-lift my soul experiences when a cardinal darts down a road in front of me. He knows I like honey in my tea. He knows autumn is my favorite season. He knows the dreams I have – and the hopes I have for my family. He knows my dismay that people don’t really want to know, “How are you” when they ask. He knows I’m a literalist who has trouble navigating the nuance of banter.

He knows the intent of my heart when others do not.

Lately, I have been facing the fact that God knows – and I have stopped trying to hide my fears from him, my worries, hurts, and struggles from him. The big and little stuff. He already knows. . . .

He already knows.

He was just waiting for me to recognize that I was fearing, hurting, worrying, struggling – just waiting for me to bring it to Him. He waits because until I recognize what I am holding on to and recognize that I need to ask him for help, am willing to give it to him, He cannot help me.

I tell my boys, “God’s not your mama. Your mama wants to barge in and fix it for you. God waits to be invited in to your soul situations.”

When I barge in to try and fix my boys’ – or anyone’s problems, it just leads to resentment. My actions aren’t seen as help. It’s seen as interference. If anything, it just causes the one I’m trying to help to hold on tighter, to  hide it deeper, to burro further into their problem.

God knows when we bring a problem to him, that we, ourselves, are ready to be helped, ready to hand our helplessness over to him. It’s a hard thing, handing our helplessness over – whether it’s to another person or, for the first time, to God.

God knows what’s going on in your mind, body and soul. He’s known probably before you did. You don’t have to be ashamed that you feared your problem more than you trusted him. He already knows – and is waiting for you to just come to him, to tell him all about it, to ask him to help you, to lift the burden off you. He understands the whys better than even you do.

He knows. . . and he’s waiting!

. . .for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.” ~ 1 Samuel 2: 3b

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