Thursday, April 21, 2011

The life of pie

I pound the prezels small, dust coating my counters as they prick through the too-thin bag. Heat the butter, add sugar, mix in the crumbs. Press it into the pie pan. Once again I've been too hasty, not tarried over the pounding and the processing (d' processor, why didn't I just use that?) and the crumbs are too big and the crust unbeautiful and lumpy. But it's the taste that matters.

I make this pie once a year, birthday dessert for a husband who doesn't like cake. I know he likes peanut butter pie, although mine doesn't compare to his favorite and that's ok because no one's does and that baker doesn't share her recipe. So I make mine, chiffon and lightness to the denser creaminess of that one. But this is my mother's recipe, fading, stained and creased and once a year I make it and remember childhood.

Pounding the pretzels was always my job, after we rubbed the extra salt off of them. Oh how I hated the rubbing, coarseness of salt scratching my hands as we rubbed until mom said they were ok, and then pounded in the clean breadbags until she pronounced them fine enough. And meanwhile my mother's hands cooked and stirred the filling, then cooled it just long enough to make the air and the dense mix together in smooth perfection and I ALWAYS cool mine too long and the blending is uneven. But it's the taste that matters.

And so I mix the sugar and the egg and milk and stir while two full days of driving away my mother's hands are resting in a hospital bed, lungs working away at breathing so hard. One week ago all was fine, and the heart catheterization was sure to show nothing wrong, she said. And then there was the 100% blockage in one artery and the 60% in another and three days later the double bypass surgery. I talked to her two days ago, and words came in starts and stops as air ran out of lungs not full enough.

Remove the mixture from the heat, add peanut butter and stir. Chill. Waiting for that just right temperature because I WILL get it right this time. How many times did I not get it right with my mother? Angry words and me wondering what I did wrong, why I couldn't be loved just the way I was and maybe why couldn't I love her just the way she was? Trying to figure out just the right balance of me and her, pleasing and being. And I always got it wrong, until my heart set up too hard to let the softness blend in.

Pour the whipping cream into the chilled bowl. Real cream, not the Cool Whip in the recipe that my mom always used. I long for the authentic, tasting reality traceable to its roots, not the reliable, but chemical tasting product that would be so much simpler to use. So much richness, the work doesn't seem like any effort to make it. Sweeten it just the way I want it. I am my mother's daughter, I can trace it through the taste back to her homemade granola and her fresh baked bread and all the times she said that homemade was better (but still she used that Cool Whip).

Whip the egg-whites, the sugar, add the peanut butter mix, once more cooled too thick. Fold it gently with the whipped topping until all is mixed together, and there are lumps but isn't it the final taste that matters? Pour it into the pie crust and then refrigerate, waiting for family to devour its sweetness and declare it good. And isn't it all good, this love we make for others?

(Note: My mom is home from the hospital now and recovering well.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not just a Sunday Hosanna

1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5 “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matthew 21:1-11, ESV)

He rode in one day, and the crowds acclaimed him. Shouts of Hosanna, shouts of blessing and praise, they honored him. Acknowledged his kingship, bowed before him.

I stand in church on Sunday and lift my hands. Songs of blessing, honor and praise flow from my mouth. I acknowledge his kingship, bow before him.
20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”  (Matthew 27:20-23, ESV)

Why the change? The crowds that so easily praised him so easily swayed to call out against him? One day of 'Hosanna!' and then they shout out for his death? Oh fickle people!

Monday comes and the Hosanna is silenced as I slip myself into the fickle mold of life. I acknowledged him king, Lord of my life...and then I turn away when tempers flare and it isn't easy and God isn't acting like I think God should act so away with him as I take the lead. Oh fickle me.

Can my Hosanna live beyond Sunday into the taking up the cross of every day life?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Photo by roeyahram
These words stick sometimes
Hard in my throat,
Never making it to my mouth
Never whispering across teeth and tongue
Breath formed and shaped by lips,
Vibrations stilled before beginning.
Left unsaid for years
Choking like pebbles that lodge
And stick.
The other words, they make their way around,
'How's the weather there?' and
'What's growing in your garden?'
But the other ones, the big ones,
The ones that mean everything,
Are held fast with glue of time
And yes,
Of unforgiving.
And if today were the last day,
The last chance,
Could 'I love you' overcome

Friday, April 1, 2011

Not what was

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

Once upon a time, a very, very long time ago I looked like this. Pre-kids, pre-husband, pre-going back to school full time and working part time, pre-accounting job. I could hike up mountains, climb over rocks, and spend the day on the trail. It was glorious. It was also glorious to have the body of an active twenty-something. Now I have the body of about two twenty-somethings.

Somehow in the midst of all of the schooling, the working, the getting married and the having children I lost that body and I would like it back, or at least a reasonable facsimile. But the numbers on the scale creep ever upward despite my efforts and I hide from the camera to avoid documentation of my current state.

Will I ever be what I once was? I will never be twenty again. I can’t undo the changes of carrying two children in my body. I can’t erase the (blessedly few) wrinkles that time has etched on my face. There’s sagging and stretching going on all over this body and no matter how successful I may end up being at losing weight I will never be what I once was.

But look a little further into the picture, behind the eyes. See the girl-woman that inhabited that body. See loneliness, confusion, self-loathing, darkness, depression, uncertainty. Read the journals from those years. What was on the outside looked fine, but the inside was a mess.

How I longed to feel whole, to feel loved, to feel that I was more than some cosmic mistake, some joke played at my expense. I ached with all of the words left unsaid, with all of the times I had watched friendship, love, trust slip through my fingers and disappear. Awkward, shy, socially inept, quiet; there are so many words I could use to describe what I was.

The picture changes though. Grace moved in. The corners of my heart began to slowly fill with God-love. Light burned away the darkness. The years flick by like frames of an old movie and even as I see my body changing and growing I see my soul changing as well, being reshaped, remade into the image of the God who loves me more than I could have ever known.

Oh, how I long to turn back time. Not to have the body and the youth, but to be able to take that face in my hands, look into those eyes and say “You ARE loved, you WILL be changed. Be patient, dear one. There is a love that is beyond all human love you know, a love that does not use and discard, a love that holds no expectations, a love that sees you as beautiful even when you don’t see it yourself.” I ache for the pain of things to come, of postpartum struggles, of the child who is not what I dreamed of but who is exactly the child I needed in order to learn grace. I ache for difficult moves and the search for a church home and the years of no friends. But there in the middle of it all, there was grace.

Grace changed me. God changed me. He knows me and loves me with all my baggage, all my mistakes, all my longings.

I am not what once was. And I am glad.

I believe that some day God will give me the opportunity to broaden my voice, to encourage other women on their journey as they learn the beautiful grace that God has for changing them from what WAS and into HIS image. She Speaks is a conference designed to equip women as speakers, writers and leaders to help encourage and connect other women to the heart of God. If I could pay my way I would in a heartbeat. Fortunately, they are offering a scholarship opportunity through Ann Voskamp's blog "A Holy Experience". Maybe this will be the moment, but if not for me than for some other woman who hears God's voice whispering grace through her to other women.

Dear husband...

Remember that time you went away on that overnight trip? Remember how I said I was so tired that I fell asleep on the couch all night? Remember how I said I had a crappy day and it made me feel so good that you had made the bed for me before you left and how it was so sweet and I felt bad that I didn't even sleep in it?

Yeah, I lied. I knew darn well that you short-sheeted the bed and I re-short-sheeted it when I got up in the morning. It was fun going to bed that night and knowing that you had indeed secretly scampered to set the bed aright so that I would never know you hadn't been acting from the purest of motives.

Happy April Fools Day!

(P.S. No, this is not a challenge to do it again.)

(P.P.S. Thank you for all the times you really do actually make the bed.)