Thursday, July 29, 2010

Goodnight Kisses

Every night, I check on the boys before I head downstairs to bed. I always give them a kiss on the cheek and tell them I love them.  They never wake up.  I look down at their sleepy heads and love them deeper and more fully than I do during the day, when we're caught up in the minutiea of our daily lives...the lessons, and the discipline of parent and child.  And they don't wipe that kiss off their cheeks; one of the most rewarding intimacies I share with them.

My friend Amy once told me that when imagining how much God loves them, we can imagine how much we love them and know that God loves them (and us) more than that.  It's almost impossible to comprehend, but it does help give me a visualization of His love. 

Last night in bed, I remembered that. And I had the sudden hope that at the end of the day, when I say my prayers of gratitude and ask for forgiveness for my many shortcomings, that God looks at me like I look at those little boys.  And that I get a kiss on the cheek because He loves me too, in spite of it all.  If He does, I won't wipe that kiss off either.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bits and Pieces: July 2010

1. This blog is slack.  After my last post, I really want to follow up with my thoughts.*

2. We're going on another vacation tomorrow.  We'll head to Ashland, WI in the morning and stay at a waterpark/hotel.  Then we'll make for the UP Friday morning,where we'll camp at Ft. Wilkin's State Park with my parents and brothers and sisters and all the rugrats.**

3.  I'm working like a dog.  And still its hard to catch up after the quiet real estate year of 2009.  I want to live financially free.  (Yes, I should learn more about Dave Ramsey.  I'm getting close, I promise.)  I am working with the coolest, nicest buyers ever.  So thankful.

4.  I'm potty training Jack.  This might be my least favorite parenting responsibility.  Ever.  Grrr...***

5.  It's a stunningly beautiful summer morning.  Mid-70s, sunny, cool breeze.  My windows are open for the first time in a long time. Lovely.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Look for the following upcoming blog posts:
*What I Learned:  Why it's Important to Share
**How to Make a Group of 44 Commit to a Summer Vacation
***Potty Training is for the Birds.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

BBQ Sauce

I LOVE making this barbeque sauce.  It's sweet and tasty and amazing on grilled chicken. 

This recipe makes enough for one whole cut-up chicken:

3 strips of bacon
3/4 c chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 3/4 c ketchup
1/4 c pineapple juice
2 T corn syrup
1 tsp Worcestershire
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Fry bacon in large skillet.  Remove bacon from pan; add onions and garlic -- sautee until soft.  Add ketchup, pineapple juice, corn syrup, Worcestershire, and seasonings (I also crumble the bacon back into the sauce).  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer for 8 - 10 minutes.

When I grill chicken, I season it, then cover with aluminum foil and bake the oven for 45 minutes at 350.  I finish on the grill with the sauce for 15 - 20 minutes for the grilled taste and look without trying to cook an entire chicken evenly!


Monday, July 19, 2010

The Spiritual Series Part VI


Possibly the only thing more difficult for me to write about than Politics is Religion. And yet, those two things likely occupy (at least) 50% of my thought process. Honestly, not an exaggeration . And for what I think are pretty obvious reasons, I avoid this topic most of the time. With the knowledge that this conversation might be for naught (or might hurt me), I still feel drawn to share with you my lastest musings on the complicated, controversial topic of religion as it applies to my life today.

I am at peace who I am spiritually. For most of you who know me, my path has been…well, hard. I’ve had to dig deep and trust fully that God was leading me where He wanted me to go. Repeatedly in my life, my prayer has been “show me your way.” And then, I’ve never had any reason to doubt where my feet have landed. “Ask and ye shall receive,” right? (Do not confuse for “at peace” with “without doubts.” I’d like to meet any person who doesn’t question who they are or what they believe in…)

Christianity is defined as “followers of the life and teachings of Jesus.” I believe, with all my heart, that I am this. That Jesus was here and He loved deeply and wholly. And while we’re not like Jesus, we have an obligation to try. I heard a woman on a KTIS a couple months back. She was telling a story about how she had run out of gas on the freeway and a highway officer came to her assistance. He brought her gas and sent her on her way. In her haste, she didn’t thank him. Her quote, as I recall it, was, “He was JESUS for me today, and I didn’t even say Thank You!” And I went, YEP. He WAS JESUS. Because He’s not just someone who lived. He’s someone who LIVES. So every time you reach out to someone in need, or take care of someone, or pray for them, or take care of the Earth and the animals and all that God made, you are BEING Jesus for someone. I like to think of it as the literal translation to how the spirit still works today.

THIS is my most important mission. What’s to follow in this blog post is less important than any of the above (and includes my own personal grievances), but I’m on a roll. Indulge me.

Obviously, I differ from most Christians politically. To say that this is a difficulty would be a gross understatement. And because both politics and religion are such an important part of my life (see paragraph 1), they’re constantly intertwined. And conflicted.

Glenn Beck is a conservative talk show host. On his talk show last week, he was talking to a caller. I’m going to paraphrase, because I couldn’t find the means (or desire) to go back and listen to the whole program:

Caller: These…people…with these kinds of ideas…

Beck (interjecting): Liberals.

Caller: Yes. Well, they’re really against the Heavenly Father.

Beck: Yes. They are. But you don’t have to worry about them. You get behind Him and do His work.

Conflicted. In a single breath, one of the most listened-to conservative talk-show hosts in the world just said I’m against the Heavenly Father. Not only that, but the whole LOT of us is against God. It broke my heart to hear this clip from his show. Because I could imagine all of his listeners (some of my friends among them), nodding their head in silent agreement.

How can I make this argument? How can I convince you that I am Liberal because I am a Christian? That I think that Jesus loved so deeply all people that he would have done anything for them? That my heart is torn and pulled because you think that because I’m a Liberal, I must not be “behind the Heavenly Father.” Oh, Glenn. You hurt my feelings.

(and off topic, but relevant…when did we start believing that ONLY Christians have a moral compass? That anyone who doesn’t believe in God must then want human beings to suffer and must not have the best interests of Americans at heart…? I’m not so bold as to suggest that my non-religious (or other-religious friends) are anything less than wonderful, strong, loving, caring people.  Especially in politics. I see no reason why a non-Christian Senator would be inclined to do harm to the country he or she has vowed to serve.)

At the end of this day, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you love me or if you understand my heart. But I want you to. I want you to know that I love all people and that I love God. And that I understand the space I occupy on his earth to be so small that it seems to be almost unimportant. I know it’s my pride (ack,sin), but I want you to know this anyway.

I was driving in my car yesterday and was thinking about what kind of newspaper Jesus would read were he still with us on Earth. If he were sitting next to me in my car, would he be ashamed of me? Would he be proud? Would he be sad about the dissention among us…the constant judgment of one another? Would he care that a huge oil company – in order to serve its own (and its shareholders’) needs – spilled an enormous amount of toxic oil into the water He created and killed untold numbers of sea creatures, and eleven human beings? Would He be disappointed that we are turning our heads on people in this very country who are hungry every day? Or would He just pay attention to stories like this one from my aunt’s blog (so heartwarming!)…would be only be interested in the human interest stories in which we help each other?

I don’t pretend to know the answer to any of those; although I suspect I’ll ask Him in one day. And whatever the answers are then, I hope I used my opportunities well. And that, regardless of what Glenn Beck thinks of me, I’ll have answered my call correctly. My humblest and most sincere prayer.

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. I’ll welcome your thoughts, as always.

God be with you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Peterson Produce

I love small towns.  So much.