Monthly Archives: November 2008

Having Strays for Thanksgiving (No need to call PETA; it’s not how it sounds)

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I think what I love most about Thanksgiving is that we are more likely to include friends in our celebration for this holiday than any other. Please don’t misunderstand, I would rather be with my family than any other people on the planet, but I like that Thanksgiving somehow seems to turn friends into family. After all, this is a tradition that dates back to the very first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims invited some members of the local Wampanoag tribe over for dinner. To this day, many people, especially those of us who don’t live close to family, are more likely to spend Thanksgiving with a combination of friends and family.

We moved away from our extended family when I was in high school. At first it felt strange to not participate in the big family Thanksgivings that I had known all of my life. We started inviting other “Thanksgiving orphans” (a friend of mine who became a regular at our Thanksgiving feasts for a few years called us all “strays”) to join us for lupper (the name for a meal that is served too late to be called lunch but too early to be called supper). A couple of weeks before the big day, my mom would always ask any invited guests to tell her what dish they looked forward to the most on Thanksgiving. Then she would be sure that our guests would find that dish on the table when we sat down to eat. Over the years, fulfilling our guests’ requests added some atypical Thanksgiving fare to our menu. For several years we had black beans for carpoolqueen who always had those at Thanksgivings with her missionary family in Guatemala. We had never had stewed tomatoes with our Thanksgiving dinner until my husband became part of the family. I always thought my mom a very gracious hostess to be sure that her guests would have at least one thing on the table that made them feel at home.

Every year, my mom and I make a list of all the things we’re having for Thanksgiving lupper. We may include cooking times or cookbook page numbers on the list. The list helps us from getting halfway through the meal only to remember that the cranberries are still in the fridge. We write the year at the top and keep the lists every year so we won’t have to start from scratch each year, but also to serve as fun memories of great meals past.

I couldn’t read carpoolqueen’s reminiscence of her first solo Thanksgiving without remembering my first Thanksgiving flying solo in the pilot seat of the kitchen. We were living in Rhode Island, expecting our first baby in January. We even had our very own orphan/stray. Our dear friend Bill had come up from Texas to spend the holiday with us. I treated my responsibilities in the kitchen as if I were preparing to launch a space shuttle. I had lists and sticky notes with cooking times and recipe page numbers. I made frequent calls back home to check and double check specific instructions. On the big day, everything went off without a hitch. Everything was ready at the same time, the turkey was moist, the yeast rolls were the perfect shade of brown. Visions of Martha Stewart danced in my head, until….dessert.

About three quarters of the way through our meal, I attempted to put the pies (pumpkin and pecan, of course) in the preheated oven. I’m not sure exactly what went wrong at this point. Maybe my center of gravity was off or I misjudged how close I could actually get my pregnant self to the oven. Maybe my dinner success had gone to my head. Whatever the reason, instead of gingerly placing the pies on the oven rack, I poured them into the floor of the hot oven. I soon set off the smoke alarms and filled the whole house with smoke. Even though it was a cold day in New England, we had to open the windows to air out the kitchen. The guys were sweet and insisted that they could not have made room for dessert and would have only eaten it to be polite. I vaguely remember scooping “pumpkin and pecan pudding” from the bottom of the oven and spooning some whipped cream over the top. Needless to say, no one asked for seconds.

This year, we’re the orphan/strays. I’ll be baking my mom’s yeast rolls and cooking my Uncle Joe’s crockpot macaroni and cheese to take over to our pastor’s house. We’ll probably eat too much and laugh just the right amount and hopefully leave better friends than we were when we came. I think the Pilgrims would be proud.

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This sounds like a lot of fun….

 I saw this on Lifeat7000Feet’s blog and decided to give it a try. Go on, click it!

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Doesn’t that sound like fun? Don’t you want to play, too? If you don’t have a blog, first of all, congratulations for not becoming a statistic. Second of all, you can still play if you want! You can just leave your fun story here with me. Third of all, I don’t have anything else. I just wanted to share that my daughter likes it when we make lists and number each item with “of all.” Fourth of all, see you back here tomorrow with your favorite Thanksgiving “something” story!

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Because I’m a big fan….

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more about “What Is JellyTelly?“, posted with vodpod

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The “Yay, Lord!” verse….

I love Christmas music. I usually try to wait until at least Halloween to start playing it, but I’ve been known to play a certain song or two in the middle of summer when I get an itch that only hearing it will scratch. I was so excited to discover that several radio stations up here actually begin playing Christmas music at the beginning of October rather than waiting until after Thanksgiving, so I’ve been “getting my Christmas on” in the car this month. I’ve also been getting some strange looks from fellow travelers. Did I mention that I love to SING Christmas music? Loudly and with animated expressions and hand motions when appropriate?  Side note: Isn’t it interesting that nativity scenes may not be allowed in public places, and stores may say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” but every Christmas-playing station I’ve listened to thus far has a number of openly Christian Christmas carols in their playlists?

Speaking of carols, I love it when we start singing Christmas carols in church. My favorite is “O Come All Ye Faithful,” but only if we get to sing my favorite verse.  What’s my favorite verse, you ask? You may not know it, because for some reason, it’s the verse that usually gets chopped.  It’s a crying shame, too, if you ask me, because this is the happiest, most exciting verse in all of hymnaldom (I made that word up). Just listen to how it starts:

YAY, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning!!! (I may have added the exclamation points, but they’re inferred in the song)

Before you nitpickers feel compelled to point out that the verse actually says, “Yea, Lord,” I need to point out that when I was a little girl hearing this verse for the first time, I didn’t hear “yea,” because I didn’t know what “yea” meant. I heard, “yay!” which blew my mind and thrilled my soul, because who knew hymn writers even said “yay!” back in the day? I couldn’t believe my ears! A hymn that you could cheer! And it stays upbeat as it continues to say that Jesus was born this happy morning! You just find me a more upbeat stanza in the hymnal! Go on, I dare you!  So of course, with happy, grateful hearts we follow that with:

Jesus, to thee be all glory given…

He certainly deserves all the glory and more!

Now the next part of the verse requires you to use your imagination just a little. Close your eyes–scratch that. You can’t read with your eyes closed. Just try to imagine with me a huge, heavenly movie or theatre marquee adorned with glittering jewels that defy description. And in enormous, majestic, diamond-encrusted, black letters are these words:

Word of the Father

Now in flesh appearing….

That’s what my mind saw when I first heard that verse. Like some heavenly birth announcement from a very proud Father who couldn’t wait to get the word out that His Son had arrived!  Or an announcement about the ultimate artist and (Morning) Star appearing for a limited engagement in the role of a lifetime! Isn’t that exciting?

Finish out the chorus with me:

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

Christ the Lord.

O come, let us adore Him indeed!

So now, maybe you, too, will find yourselves a little bit annoyed when you sing this at church or hear it on a CD or the radio and you don’t hear the “Yay, Lord” verse. Just do what I do and go ahead and sing it in your head (or out loud if you just can’t keep it in!).

 

That’s all for now.  Maybe later we can talk about “Christmas Songs That Have Always Bugged Me.”  I immediately think of “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” Why around the Christmas tree? Isn’t that just asking for broken ornaments? Someone’s bound to trip on the electric light cords. Especially since everyone’s dancing merrily in the NEW old-fashioned way. I mean, if it’s a “new” way of dancing, it’s probably going to be unfamiliar and the chances of bumping into something will be even greater. What does that even mean, “new old-fashioned”? Is that just another way of saying “old school”? These are the things that keep me up at night….

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No one ever wants to dress up as Job for Fall Fest….

Sunday, our pastor started a series of sermons on suffering. We’ll be studying the book of Job. When he first announced this I almost wept with pure joy! Job is probably my absolute favorite book of the Bible. Yeah, not really.  To be honest, I was a little annoyed. God understands that I have selective hearing. So sometimes, when He wants to communicate a truth to me, He says the same thing different ways through different people. Sooner or later, I usually get the message.

See, a couple of weeks ago, I had a “come to Jesus meeting” on the book row of a puddle jumper flying from D.C. to Boston. I was reading a book that was highly recommended by several friends when I was hit right smack in the chest with this paragraph. (It’s actually a quote from another book by John Piper.) Here’s what he said:

The critical question for our generation–and for every generation–is this:  If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

When I read that, I felt like someone had kicked me in the gut.  Even typing it now, makes me feel a little queasy. Because honestly, I just might be satisfied with that heaven. And my own admission of that makes me sick. I think I may have just been hit between the eyes with the reason my relationship with God has been less than overwhelming lately. I don’t love Him for Who He is; I love Him for what He does for me.

And then to have to read all the verses about inevitable suffering? I don’t want to suffer. I can relate to Charles Schulz’s Lucy when she says to Charlie Brown: 

Why can’t my life be all “ups”? If I want all “ups,” why can’t I have them? Why can’t I just move from one “up” to another “up”? Why can’t I just go from an “Up” to an “upper-up”? I don’t want any “downs”! I just want “ups” and “ups” and “ups”!

I have some friends who are walking through some very dark valleys right now. I have a fairly new friend whose preschooler is undergoing chemotherapy at St. Jude’s. I have a family member who just found out his cancer is back. I have a family member whose marriage will fail without a miracle from God. I have friends who have to daily deal with the challenges of their children’s diagnoses. Those are just the first four that came to mind without me even having to think. 

I intercede for them, I listen to them, I’m there for them to lean on, and yet in the quiet of my heart, their struggles scare me. 

I’m reminded of something I learned from a Beth Moore study. She was talking about the times when people say things like, “I don’t know he or she deals with ___________ . I could never survive _________.” I can’t remember her exact words, but she explained that when we are called to walk in difficult circumstances God gives us the tools we need to handle it at the exact time we need it. We don’t think we could deal with other’s people struggles, and in a sense, we’re right. Those aren’t our struggles. But when (and from what I’ve read it’s not a matter of if, but when) we’re called to walk through the valleys He has allowed in our lives for whatever reason, we will have what we need.

Maybe that’s why my friend whose son is at St. Jude’s can write this:

Joining the ranks (she was talking about praying in the past for parents whose children have cancer) was never my choice, but looking back, I have strength even now from seeing the perserverance in their battles. ~Actually putting on the armor and enduring when it comes to our children hardly requires consideration, but shouldn’t we apply this Supernatural empowering, this Divine enabling, to every area of our lives? God has reminded me many times lately to refrain from allowing the insignificants to interrupt my peace and my joy. Why quench the flame with a drop of rain when its warmth is so essential? I pray, of course, for complete victory over this current battle. Beyond that, I pray for remembering my time in the wilderness, lest I have all that I need and forget the Lord’s provision and faithfulness. ~~

Wow. How amazing it is to watch this beautiful warrior princess doing battle! And listen to what her knight in shining armor (aka husband) says:

This is truly an amazing journey for us. I would never wish cancer or disease on anyone, especially my friends. However, I wish you could fully experience the incredible blessing it has been for us to let go of the temporary trappings of this world long enough to experience what John 10:10 is all about.

Is he saying that what he and his family are walking through right now is the life Jesus described in John 10:10?! Yeah. He is. 

And then there’s good old Job. What was it he said right after he had bad news interrupted by bad news interrupted by bad news interrupted by bad news?

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised. (Job 1:22b)

And then a little later:

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? (Job 2:10b)

I’ve read the life stories of even more of my faith heroes (ones I haven’t yet met) and all of them have this amazing clarity of thought and depth to their character which could only be a result of having to depend on God for strength to get through the next minute.

After knowing Him for 33 years, I’m realizing that in a lot of ways I’m still very immature in our relationship.  Ah, but even though I may not be seeking Him, I’m so thankful that right this very minute, He is pursuing me. He’s not playing hard-to-get. He’s not holding a grudge. He just continues to woo me and loves me like I’ve never been loved. He knows the way to my heart, because He made it. I think I’m falling in love….Again.

I don’t think blogs are supposed to be this long, but I’m pretty new at this. Apparently I’ll be camping here for awhile, so as new thoughts come up, maybe I can refine my ideas on this subject.

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Now appearing on my refrigerator….

Every now and then I read something that makes me laugh out loud every single time I read it. For some reason, this F Minus comic strip does it for me….

F Minus - October 19, 2008e

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To blog, or not to blog….

That has been my question for awhile now. It seems like EVERYONE has a blog these days, and I have to admit, I enjoy reading a good blog. This summer I spent several hours of my life reading the whole life story of a complete stranger whose blog came up in a Google search for a childhood friend.  Does that make me some sort of a voyeur or just a girl who really enjoys hearing people’s stories?

What do blogs say about us as a culture? Does the world really need to know what we think about everything? Why do we feel it’s necessary to put ourselves “out there” for the whole world to see?  Are all bloggers frustrated writers looking for a creative outlet?  Are blogs helping us to be more honest about who we really are or do they giving us a false sense of camraderie and friendship with people we don’t really know? Self-serving or serving? Self-centered or higher-purposed? Food for thought or junk food for the brain?

So should I “let my words be few” or have I found a new way to “encourage and build up”?

I honestly don’t know. What do you think?

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