Dec 26, 2007

Nothing Cheep and Easy is Good For You (so this must be great for you)

Asparagus Sformato with Fondata Soup

Orzo Salad

Prosciutto-Wrapped Breadsticks
Northern Italian Caponata with Potatoes


Our Italian Christmas Feast

A Plate of Yummy Sticky Goodness
Honey Drenched Christmas Fritters: Struffoli

Dec 17, 2007

I'm Rubber and You're Glue

“I’m rubber and you're glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.”

As much as this statement might have seemed like truth at age seven at age twenty-seven I know it to be anything but. Words have the power to shape us; the good and the bad, what we say matters. The thing is, that we cannot always see the effect of our words until much later, thus it is hard to keep in mind the power that they hold.

All of our childhood quick retorts were just that, they were away of devaluing the words that were being said so that we could survive another recess. Everyone knows that words can hurt far more than sticks and stones. These famous comebacks have become ingrained in our culture because we like the idea that we cannot be affected by the cruel words spoken to us.

I cannot as an adult continue on in this fantasy, I know that words have power, that they have changed the world, and thus can and have impacted me. Some much more blatantly than others, but every word spoken or not has the potential to change something, and thus perhaps we ought to be more aware of our own ability to alter the world.

For me I know that the negative words of others have stuck to me like glue, never once have they just bounced off and stuck to the person who spoke them, thought sadly I knot that my sarcastic comebacks have in fact leapt back to stick to the one who attacked me. I use the word attacked because really that is what those words were, whether intentional or not, they were an assault on my person. My response was thus an evasive maneuver to protect my ego.

Our egos are sensitive, and they like to be protected, it does not take much to bruise them. In order to survive we seem to have adopted the belief that it is okay to put others down in order to shy away from our own inadequacies real or imagined. I am guilty of this, and even though I know it, stopping this learned behavior seems next to impossible, anything to protect my own ego right? At what cost though? It seems that we are caught in a cycle of degrading one another in order to protect our own self.

I want to step out of this cycle, yet the risk of being torn to pieces by the words of others, to allow ego to be beat up and bruised, is not appealing. It is a call to humility right? To say that, I am not going to join in the self preserving war of words. That I am going to put my own pride aside in the hope of helping build yours up?

Choosing to play the game differently, means that I need to choose my words wisely. I must build up others instead of tearing them down. This is not to say that I should allow others to walk over me, but it means that I must put others best interest at the forefront of my thoughts. This doesn’t mean lying to make people feel better about themselves or the world, but it means speaking truth into the situation. There is no guarantee that my words will have the impact that I desire, as I can only be responsible for what I say and not what others hear, but if my words are kind and true then perhaps I can help put an end to the cycle of dehumanization that we seem to be stuck in. If that is all the impact my words have from this point out, to stop the continual degrading that we seem to perpetuate than that would be enough.

Words are powerful and thus should be handled with care. I want to get out of the habit of protecting my ego instead of yours. Some of the sing song phrases of our youth were true, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Perhaps some of the best and yet most disregarded advice we were ever given.

In his book, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, Shane Hipps says, “In Christ, God’s medium and message are perfectly united. As the opening of John’s Gospel tells us, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (1:14) More than just words the words He said, the life of Jesus was the revealed Word of God. After Jesus died and ascended into heaven, God found a way to ensure the divine presence would remain active on earth, creating the mysterious medium of the church-the body of Christ.” Thus as a part of the body of Christ I have the awesome responsibility to God, as part of His chosen medium of His message to put even more value on my words. As someone who has chosen to identify with Christ, my words are no longer mine, and neither is my ego.

I should be able to rest assured that my God who has filled me with His presence who has called my body His temple, the place in which He desires to dwell will protect me. He who was willing to humble Himself and become the Word for me deserves nothing less than my humility so that He can continually be the Word through me.

Dec 15, 2007

Pregnant at Christmas

I sit pondering this idea…what if the angel were to come to me with those words he spoke to Mary. “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you.” Could I respond? Of course Mary was confused. Who wouldn’t be? Gabriel saw her fear, he quickly reassured her of her positive standing in God’s eyes. How often I have found myself feeling so unworthy of God’s attention, yet how quick He is to reassure me of my place as His child. Mary had to be overwhelmed with this news of her new role as mother of God’s son, Jesus. The savior that her people were waiting for was being created within her. Her response is not unlike mine has been when I feel God calling me to something new, “How can this be?” I am often quick to point out my inability to God, as if He is unaware of my shortcomings. Gabriel assures her that she is not going to have to do this alone, that God is sending His Holy Spirit to accomplish what she could never achieve on her own. He even goes so far as to offer up some reassurance in that Elizabeth her relative is also pregnant, thus she will get some advice and support along the way. It is Mary’s response that always amazes me, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me according to your word.” Sometimes I get to that point, but it is not often my first response. Especially in cases where God is asking me to alter my life completely and to let go of whatever control I thought I had.

I am not pregnant. I do however believe that God (in some form) resides within me. So the question then becomes what do I do with that? What does it mean to be pregnant with Jesus, for me, today?

Do I bring Him into the world? Do I cower? Do I try to hide it? Am I overjoyed or am I ashamed? Do I ever consider abortion so to speak? Or do I expect others to rejoice with me? To shower me with gifts and help me care for this gift of life?

I am actually much more at peace with Jesus within me than the idea of actually being pregnant, at least for the time being.

Dec 6, 2007

Prayer for Peace

Dear Jesus,

As I think about you and all that you came to be it is hard for me to think of you as a tiny baby. To imagine you lying in a trough full of hay in the cold under the starlight. I ache knowing now what was going to come. You came to this broken world as the Prince of Peace.

No one was expecting you to come as you did except a few chosen youngsters who were most certainly expecting. Caught up in the miracle of your birth and dropped into the roles not only parents, husband and wife and adulthood. They knew nothing about you, their role in history, what it would mean to be a parent, or a full fledged adult. They possibly knew nothing of the world beyond their own town.

Their lives were never to be the same. Never again would they be innocent young children, instead they would have the most innocent child ever.

How overwhelmed they must have been. Apart from family, friends, home, about to have their first child. A child unlike any other before or since. The Son of God the Prince of Peace they had only ever been told of was about to become their full time responsibility.

A responsibility that did not come with a baby shower filled with words of wisdom or gifts to get them off on the right foot. Or even birthing classes. They were all on their own.

Mary not only had her world change, her body changed too. She went from girl to woman over night. She had to experience pain and suffering in order to bring you the Prince of Peace into this world.

What are you calling us to experience in order to join Mary in bringing you into the world we live in? Not just the news of you, but to bring your peace to a world that is still filled with sin and suffering a world that is lacking shalom. Am I willing to suffer great pain and alter my life drastically in order to bring your peace into my world? Put aside my comfort for your glory, your purpose?

Did Mary have any idea that your whole purpose in coming was to die in order to bring peace or was she expecting a warrior king, who would save her people and reign forever? This teenage girls pain lead to the birth of peace in our world and yet that was only the beginning. She had to let you leave home, wander the streets, be hated and eventually watched you sacrificed before her very eyes. All so that we might someday experience your perfect peace.

Did she want to give up? Did she have moments of doubt in God, in you, in her ability to suffer so much pain? How was she able to reconcile the death and suffering of her little prince? Even after your resurrection she had to let you go again to be with your Father in Heaven. How her heart must have ached for you, for peace.

How hard was it to leave your mom and dad, to travel and be hated, to make friends knowing you were going to have to leave them? How hard was it to love knowing you were going to have to leave behind so many saddened friends and family members? How hard was it to leave this world knowing that hundreds of years later there still would be be people hating you and your message? That there would still be no peace? Does your heart still break?

Lord Jesus Prince of Peace, restore your perfect peace this I pray. May we know the peace that can only come from you. Thank you for going through so much suffering to bring us peace that we do not deserve. Bring your wholeness, help me to administer your perfect peace to those around me. Fill me and this world with your peace this Christmas season.


quotes i love

  • "they will never care how much you know until they know how much you care."
  • "never be afraid to trust a well known God with an unknown future." - Corrie Ten Boom
  • "God doesn't need you, He loves you, that is much better."
  • "the world has yet to see what God can do through a man/woman who is totally commited to him." - D.L. Moody
  • "be who you is, cause if is ain't who you is, you is who you ain't."-
  • "some people say movies should be more like real life. I say real life should be more like the movies."