Thursday, September 30, 2010

manna

Bread and Wine, Albert York

In the days of Moses, God gave manna in the desert, and it was enough for all the people. All the feet that hastened across the dry Red Sea bed. All the mouths that clamored to Moses, "Has God forgotten our bellies, hungry and empty?" The heaven-bread sprinkled down, and it was like no food earth could produce. A special food to reveal God's provision for His chosen ones.

The days in the desert, a lifetime of dust and a litany of complaint, finally ended. The manna ended, and the people forgot. Forgot a God who stretched out His hand to give them all the food they needed, and they "played the harlot after other gods." (Judges 2:17)

In the days of John the Baptist, God gave Jesus, and He was enough for all the people. All the fisherman hands that drug in their knotty nets. All the lepers that laid down their mats in one little corner. The Son of Man dwelled among them, and He was like no man earth could ever produce. The pinnacle of God's plan to draw Earth back from sin and decay.

"I am the bread of life," He tells a sweaty, pressing throng one day. Those crowded in shift on one foot to another, murmurs pulsing from one ear to the next, "Is this man crazy? He doesn't look like a piece of bread to me."

"Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died." Manna. The ears of the good Jews perk up and listen. They've heard the stories, the history, their identity.

"But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:50-51)

"How can we eat your flesh?" a man shouts. Offense is taken. Confusion is thick. Jesus doesn't apologize nor rearrange his words, admitting a hasty turn of phrase. This strange picture is the one He has meant to paint.

"If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, I will remain in you, and you in Me," He continues.

He is the new manna. He is God's provision for His chosen ones. He is the bread and wine that sustain life. But He knew that, like the manna, the people would forget. "Remember me," He tells those closest twelve, years after the bread speech that fell on tense hearts. "In this bread, remember my body. In this wine, remember my blood."

We remember, sometimes fumbling, like the church in Corinth whom Paul chastened severely. We come to the table because it's tradition and it's right, but what do that bread and wine mean? We leave the table and we forget, drifting back into the swift current of jobs and iPhones and slow internet connections and clubs and obligations. We forget the story of the Manna.

"Come back," is the message of the table. "Come back to what Christ has done for you because you are prone to forget. A piece of bread and a cup of wine, these speak again the mystery of what He has done for you. How He is the feast you will eat forever. How He is the sustenance that will truly fill you."

Make life a feast of Me.
Eat my flesh,
drink my blood,
but do not do it lightly.
Remember
what this meal cost.
Not you,
but Me.
I have given my life
that you may have true life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

we interrupt the regularly scheduled program


A short announcement. Actually, advertisement. I'm a little embarrassed, but I'm also excited. This blog won't become one long commercial, I promise. This is totallly a deviation from the norm. Which...by the way...where I have been? Two weeks since I posted? Sorry.

Back to the advertisement. For a year or so now, I've been brainstorming ways to earn a little extra money on the side. I'm not technically employed by K-Life, although it is a mission I devote a lot of my time and effort to. That means Aaron gets paid, and I do not. Which is fine because we share our money like a good married couple. :) And I've learned a lot about how my value doesn't come from what I do or don't do or what I get paid to do. I digress. I'm chasing some rabbits this post. I think I'm nervous.

So...extra income brainstorming...oh yes. Enter Etsy.com. Where you can make things and sell them. I thought about that for a few months. "Hi, I'm Lara, and you can pay me to sew you a curtain that has (mostly) straight sides." Or, "Hey, do you want to buy a scrapbook that has 4 pages finished?" Huh. I found that I can't really make anything that I would be proud to sell. I need to work on perfecting my crafty skills. I do, however, have this little skill (hobby?) that my husband likes to make fun of me for, and that is yard saling, thrift storing, and flea marketing. I love searching for a treasure! It makes Aaron break out into hives, but I love it. I could search through piles all day long. Here is where my skill-set met Etsy. :) Etsy lets you sell vintage (20 years +) items. I have a lot of cool things that I've picked up during my treasure hunts that we just didn't need or didn't have a spot for in our house.

This last weekend, I finally took the cliff jump and free-falled my way to an Esty shop of my own. I have no idea if it will do well. There are lots of Etsy stores that sell vintage. I'm a little embarrassed. (Did I mention that?) What if no one wants this stuff? Aaron, for all his aversion to the actual hunting process, is really proud that I opened up shop. He has been telling all our friends, and I just glare at him from across the room. So now he says, "Hey, babe, do you want to tell them about that one thing?" Then all eyes swivel to me, and I still glare at him.

Here is the link:


I called the shop Chestnut Street Cupboard.

Let's raise a toast to new things that we're scared to try but also can't stop wondering about until we do try...

Adieu, my friends.

I'll be back with something more substantial soon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

she is...

She wears a pair of Nike tennis shoes from a thrift store. Whoever owned them before her colored the swoosh in with a blue marker. She knows Nikes are cool, and she has a vague sense that thrift store Nikes aren’t quite as cool, but still, she hopes. It’s her first day of public school, and she is in 6th grade. She runs as fast as she can in gym class, and she beats the two athletic girls. She doesn’t realize it will make them mad, but she understands later when one of the girls slams a book on her desk and breaks her pencil. She sits in music class, months after, and wishes she could melt into the tile when her best friend betrays her in a bid for popularity. “Her clothes come from garage sales.” The whisper passed along the row turns her cheeks red. At home, she prints Psalm 27 on a piece of pink construction paper and tapes it over her daybed. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

She is the new girl.


She goes to the bathroom during high school lunch. She has friends, but they don’t understand her. They don’t want the same things she does. She locks herself in a stall and averts her eyes from the obscene scratchings on the door. She prays, and the aching longings of her heart seem too big and too foreign for this florescent bathed building. She goes home at night and stays up late, working on her speech for the debate tournament. A row of shiny plastic trophies are the reward she has collected. She thinks that when she’s older, she won’t care about the trophies, but she likes them now. She drinks a cup of green peach tea. She has discovered it is her favorite, and it is nice to have a favorite, a nailed-down piece of who she is. When she is done with the speech, she types essays for college scholarships.

She is the smart girl.


She gets up early to run. She started losing weight for her sister’s wedding. It felt so good, she decided to keep going. She runs at 6 am, and the rising sun paints beautiful strokes across the Arkansas sky. She revels in the grace of it, although she knows she shouldn’t be running this much. It is a compulsion now, an idol, but she cannot let it go. She goes to the cafeteria in between class and stands in line at the salad bar. The people in front of her have trays piled with plates from other stations. She will get salad alone. She wonders if she will be thin enough for the boy she likes to notice her. He never does. She dates another boy, a nice boy, but she has a feeling she is not what he is looking for. Three times he tells her in slow, measured words, “I don’t think we should date anymore.” The third time is the end.

She is the skinny girl.


All along, fragmented pieces of truth float through her heart and mind. Like pieces of a shattered stained glass that speak of the pristine original.


“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood...you are fearfully and wonderfully made...holy and dearly loved.”


She keeps her eyes to the road. She wants to be invisible. The land of spice and sweat threatens to shrivel her up, and she doesn’t want them to see her: an white girl with a long skirt. She knows if she meets the eyes of men, they will leer, even touch. She sees poverty unleashed on every street corner, and who she has been, in her past, doesn’t matter. She can’t speak more than a sentence of their words at a time. What does it matter if she was valedictorian? She sees people every day who are hungry, some starving. What does it matter if she is skinny? Even her people skills, her ability to ask questions and listen gently, seem useless. For a brief and beautiful time, she discovers that who she thought she was does not matter. That God doesn’t need her to clean up the streets of Kolkata. What matters is her identity as a Beloved. She has nothing to offer. She sees her own poverty, and Redemption is a story she believes firsthand now.

She is the broken girl.


She sweeps the floor. Mops with a dirty sponge that should be replaced. Stretches to crack her back and remembers that she forgot to dust first. Life took a turn she wasn’t expecting, and God handed her a great and undeserved treasure: her husband. A calm and steady man who doesn’t wrestle with angst and unbelief to emerge at faith. He starts with belief. She is a wife, and she keeps a house. Slowly, the keeping pulls her in. It becomes important to her to arrange the things they own, to buy new things, to sew curtains worthy of a magazine page. She makes homemade bread and tortillas. Reads blogs on natural living. She finds an untrue solace in these things. Sometimes, she wonders if she has arrived.

She is the hardworking girl...or is she a woman?


But her Maker will not let her keep these false suits of identity. Her whole life, she’s tugged on clothes to make the cut, to get attention, to be enough. “Come to Me, all ye weary,” He says. She is weary. She is weary of the race that never ends, the praise she flails and beats to earn, only to find it does not satisfy.


She needs to know her true identity.


He tells her.


“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3)


This is who she is. She has nothing left to prove. “Follow me,” the Savior Carpenter says. “Your old rags mean nothing to me, for I have given you my robes of righteousness. You are hidden in Me.”


The tears skid down her cheeks. In this hiding place, she is free.

Monday, September 13, 2010

SALSA!!

This has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but this morning I found a dead armadillo in our yard, belly up. All four little paws stiff in the air. Isn't that gross? I asked Aaron to "take care of it", but I forgot he had just gotten up, and he doesn't even eat breakfast until at least 30 minutes after waking, much less dispose of dead armadillos.

We called animal control. Meanwhile, I wanted to take a picture and share, but my discretion won out.

Annnnyway, salsa anyone? Because I have a great recipe. This recipe comes from my friend Amanda. She lives in Lake City, and when I had her salsa this summer, I swore off Pace and Taco Bell and the generic store brands forever. Amanda is an amazing mom and wife, and she's funny, and she really, really likes coffee too. See? She's great.

Amanda's Salsa

7-8 fresh tomatoes or 28 oz. canned
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 - 1 onion
2 T. lemon juice
1-2 serrano peppers (or 1/2 poblano pepper for less spice)
1 tsp. cumin
salt to taste (I use around 1 tsp.)
splash of red wine vinegar

The great thing (well, one of the great things) about salsa is that even if you buy tomatoes for it from a nice guy who set up a roadside stand and then forget about them for 2 weeks while they languish in the back of your fridge, it will still taste okay. I may be speaking from personal experience. This time, I also threw in some grape tomatoes I had that were about to go bad.

Cut up the onion. Cut the stalks off the cilantro. Cut up your pepper of choice. Add everything but the tomatoes and throw it in a food processor or blender. Give it several good pulses. It will look sort of like pesto. Dump it in a big bowl.

If you use canned crushed tomatoes, then this next step isn't necessary. But, if you're using fresh tomatoes, cut them up and then press the juice out in a strainer. This is what mine looked like after pressing. This is to make the salsa less watery. My mom told me that Roma tomatoes have less juice than regular tomatoes, so if you use Romas, you won't have to press them as much.
Give the tomatoes 1 or 2 pulses in the food processor. The more you pulse, the juicier they will become. Less pulsing = less watery salsa. Mix the tomatoes with the green mixture, and that's it!

Then your husband will make faces like this and kiss his fingers with joy, and you will feel like a million bucks. Plus the salsa will taste super yummy. Win win situation.

To end as I begun (with a total topic change), Aaron and I are reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. If you've never heard of it that's okay...you should still check out this video. Go to http://www.crazylovebook.com/videos_awe.html and watch "The Awe Factor of God." It's not very long, but it's good. Wow! God is big and holy and more than we know. It's good to sit with that truth for a while.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Plaza in 20 hours

We took a fun double date over Labor Day. My sister's friend gave her the tip-off on a special deal for a swanky Plaza hotel. The Raphael Hotel was celebrating its 35th anniversary, and rooms were only $35! We carpooled with Rachel and Nathan for a quick overnighter, and I must say, the Raphael did not disappoint. I've never stayed in a hotel that provided bathrobes before. We felt, uhm, quite out of our league.

We got to KC around lunch, but couldn't check in until 4. We ate lunch at McCormick and Schmick's. Mickey and Schmickey's, as we affectionately call it. Yeah, we're on a nickname basis now. Actually, remember the out-of-our-league feeling? We definitely felt it there when we ate everything on our plates and the waiter asked us if we licked them. What can we say? We were determined to get our money's worth.

After Mickey's we stopped by Swope Park to see the rose gardens. My lovely sister has to wear her sunglasses to keep the paparazzi at bay.

Being the daring newlyweds that we are, Aaron and I dangled our feet in the pond. Large carp and turtles, people! It was life on the edge!
Here is our room at Hotel Raphael. It sounds more sophisticated if you put hotel first, don't you think? Don't eat the snacks on the bar. They cost a lot more money than you're willing to pay. Nathan, you're welcome. I know if I hadn't warned you, you would have unknowingly eaten the five dollar gummy bears. The coffee, however, was free. At least we hope...

Here we are at the Cheesecake Factory making another social faux pas. Darn it, our waiter automatically knew we were Plaza impostors when all we ordered was an appetizer and dessert. The cheesecake was totally worth the shame.
Early the next morning, as we waited on Nathan and Rachel to get their act together (just kidding, love you sis!), Aaron took me to Starbucks. The man knows my love language. Dark roast and blueberry scone--now there's a perfect breakfast. The British can keep their Yorkshire pudding.
And since Nathan and Rachel were still packing, we meandered around the Plaza for a bit. The Plaza was modeled after Seville, Spain, so it has a lot of neat architectural features. Aaron found this bench to read the newspaper we had found hanging on our doorknob. Yes, a free newspaper on our doorknob. Fancy.

There's our recipe for success on how to do the Plaza in 20 hours. Just be sure to order the Mako Shark if you go to Mickey's, and oh, do not take the burlap bag the Raphael newspaper comes in. The bag, apparently, is not complimentary.

oh drippy, delightful day

Today's a day for rain. There are puddles in our yard and puddles on our floor where we forgot to close the window. But I think I might put up with the indoor puddling just so I can keep the freshness of a rainy day close. And it's really not so bad...Aaron already wiped most of it up.

Today's a day for Earl Grey tea, steeped in my Kolkata mug.


Today's a day for lamp-lit corners, cocooned in a wedding quilt with a wrinkled magazine the mailman brought.

Today's a day for challenging the laundry. (I'll let you know who wins.)
Today's a day for writing letters with my favorite pen.
Today's a day for wearing my Land's End slippers. There's just no way around how un-photogenic these puppies are, but the comfort level is worth every inch of their fuzzy, coral bad selves.
Today's a good day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

a birthday tribute

I used to wonder how I would ever find the person God wanted me to marry. Once I found him, how would I ever know he was the right one? If you're married, I bet you remember that feeling. If you're single, I bet you know exactly what feeling I mean right now, in the present tense.

It wasn't magic, nor fireworks, nor fairy godmothers and fancy ballroom dancing when I found Aaron. Or rather, when God found him for me. It was just a sweaty t-shirt shop with loud whirring machines and a tabby cat that ate mice and dcTalk blaring out over the speakers. It was me alone at a table, thinking about my soon-coming trip to India and about the boyfriend at college that I didn't know if I loved. It was Aaron coming over to fold t-shirts next to me and a two-hour conversation. It was me going home that night thinking, "Huh. He was nice."

And that was it for a very long time.

Behind the scenes, as we went on our ways, a loving God was writing a story better than my doubting mind imagined. When the time came, His light was there, slow and certain, and I took each small step toward that big, impossible thing: marriage.

Aaron turned 25 yesterday. Happy Birthday, babe. We're 14 months into this thing, and I have never once regretted saying a forever yes. There was that time I got mad and yelled and ran out to the car, threatening to spend the night at mom's, but even then I didn't wonder "Why did I marry him?" We're getting better at this dance, you and I. This blending of two wills into one, two desires into one, two lives into one. You can take most of the credit for that. Your incredible patience and love remind me every day of how good God is, and how I do not deserve grace, but get it anyway.

You fold the clothes when I'm not looking. You cook dinner when I go to walk with a friend. You ask me to pray in the morning before the crazy beat of day begins. You tell me I'm beautiful when I'm sweaty and hot, and I know that you mean it. You tell me, with little-boy excitement, the interesting things you've read in God's Word. You make dumb jokes that I cannot help but laugh at.

You are a godly, strong man. You are a man that I want to respect and follow. I am so thankful for you.

To 25 more years and then some...