Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Shape of Color

I never could do much with an Etch-a-Sketch--you know, those things that you “draw” pictures on by moving magnetic filings around with two dials, one that moves the line horizontally, and the other, vertically. I can make good steps and skyscrapers, if I hold my mouth right and really try hard, while making thoughtful groaning noises. I am thinking of this while I pick up toys left over from the Thanksgiving visit of our grandchildren.

My daughter-in-law, on the other hand, can use those Etch-a-Sketch dials to draw people’s faces, and they actually look like the people. It’s amazing.

Several years ago, my oldest granddaughter, then five, was working hard on the Etch-a-Sketch. She wouldn’t let any of us see what she was doing. When she finished, she showed it to me. “What do you think it is, Mom-oh?” she asked.

I studied the picture, a complicated mass of lines and shapes, and said, “Mmmm, a circus.”

“Nope,” she said. “It is a wagon the shape of a color. And it ‘dustes’ off the wind.”

God gives children wonderful imaginations, doesn’t he? What shape could a color be?

On Books: Jan Karon

I love the Mitford novels, a series by Jan Karon about the doings of Father Tim Kavanaugh, an Episcopal priest who lives in Mitford, North Carolina. I love the way Karon describes things, especially characters and dialogue. Right now I'm reading the latest, Light from Heaven. In this novel, Father Tim has agreed to try to revive a tiny church in the mountains that has been empty for 40 years.

A character named Sparkle volunteers to play the piano for the little Holy Trinity Church. She talks to the vicar about how it felt when she decided to obey God's nudge to volunteer her efforts: ". . . when you called for somebody this mornin', I got this warm feelin', kind of like choc'late meltin' if you leave it in th' car when it's hot, an' I knew th' Lord wanted me to do it" (298). A perfect description!

Karon, Jan. The Mitford Years: Light from Heaven. New York: Viking, 2005.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Consider the Owl

The other morning when it was still pitch dark outside, I was cooking breakfast with one eye open. It was verrrrry quiet—we live sort of out in the country, well away from traffic and other such hubbub. Suddenly, just as the eggs began to thicken, I heard the soft “hoo-hoo” of an owl. Sometimes we can hear two owls with distinctively different voices, calling to each other. But this owl was solitary; he called and called, but no one answered.

When our daughter was about three years old, a huge owl with horn-like tufts on its head wound up on the fence at my parents’ house, and we went over to see it. It kept blinking one great yellow eye at us and turned its head almost all the way around. We wondered if it was sick or injured, because it did not move. It looked angry or disapproving, in a dignified way, and wise beyond all knowing. Be assured, we didn’t get too close to it, just in case it decided it wanted us for lunch. Later, we looked up pictures of owls and determined that it was a great horned owl.

I am amazed to think that such intriguing creatures are out around our house all night, hunting, mating, eating—and we hardly ever see them in the daytime. I suppose they are too busy sleeping with one eye open and working up that righteous anger.

The owl's picture comes from this web site:

Monday, November 28, 2005

Let's Love Each Other

Yesterday morning, our daughter and grandchildren were still at our house, and we were all sitting down to eat breakfast. Our four-year-old granddaughter said to me, "Mom-oh, would you sit by me?"

"Absolutely," I said. "I'm going to sit right here." I was at the end of the table, and she was at the side, to my left.

She patted the table next to her. "Would you sit real close to me?" she asked.

My heart was warmed and very touched. I pulled my chair around the table corner and got as close to her as I could. We ate breakfast elbow-to-elbow and had a meaningful discussion about the processes of making doughnut holes and inserting cream into chocolate eclairs. I love being loved by a four-year-old.

I believe God often uses human relationships like this to show us things we need to understand about him. I think he wants us to see him as a caring father whom we love, and he asks us to sit as close as possible. He loves being loved by us.

If we have ever felt love--we have known something of him, whether we realize it or not. First John 4:7-8 says this: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8

World's greatest chocolate chip cookies: here is the recipe. Try some, o world, and weep for joy.

I guess this is a little ironic, since my first entry is thoughts I had after being upset with myself for overeating. However! I believe that God gave us wonderful, tasty foods. But to go along with that gift, he gave us the capacity of self-discipline: we get hunger pangs when we need food, and we get “full” feelings when we’ve had enough. I believe we should be guided by those God-installed indicators.

Am I myself always disciplined in this sense? Nope, unfortunately, not nearly as often as I should be; but I am nearly always mindful of it. I know it’s there.

I have read that chocolate is good for you--it contains antioxidents. Can it be true? I've just been waiting for this kind of news all my life.

Alert!! It's best not to use an electric mixer! Just use a big spoon.

Sift together and set aside: Oven: 375
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
a pinch or so of salt
a little over 1/4, but not a full 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Cream together in a big bowl:
2 sticks of margarine; the best is Fleischman's Original, microwaved for 9 seconds, or left out of the refrigerator to soften.
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. turbinado sugar, for slight crunchiness
3/4 c. light brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs (or equal amount of egg substitute)

Dump the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir it as you whisper to it gently. Mix it only until the dry stuff is barely visible any more. Important: Don't over-mix!

Add 3/4 package semi-sweet chocolate chips and 3/4 package milk chocolate chips. Nestle's is best! Sometimes we substitute M&M’s for the milk chocolate chips. (And pecans, if you feel you must.) Stir only long enough to distribute the chocolate chips.

Spoon the dough onto a cookie sheet and bake them for about 8 minutes or so, depending on your oven. You have to watch carefully and take them out when the cookies are lightly browned. Remove them carefully with a spatula and put them on a wire rack to cool.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I'm thankful for......

I am thankful for all kinds of things. I feel a huge, overriding, always-there thankfulness for the sacrifice of Jesus. And God's continual presence in my life. And my family and friends. And America, a place where I can say whatever I want to in a blog!

Here are some things I am recently thankful for!

Last night, I was visiting with my brother and his family, and his fourteen-year-old daughter played her flute and her piccolo for us. She's very good at it, and she played some beautiful pieces on the flute. (I have to agree with my brother that the piccolo is a bit too loud and screechy.) I could see that she really loves playing; I could tell by the way her face looked as she played. She looked away from us, and she drifted off into the music, her arms and shoulders swaying rhythmically. The tone was tremulous and rich.

The thing is, I thought about how thankful I am that at her young age, she has found something that she gives herself to so completely. Many people search all their lives for something meaningful and never find it. I think it will always be important to her and give her joy.

I am thankful for the life of a good North Carolina friend of ours who died two years ago today. He was the kind of person who touched the heart of everybody he knew because he was caring, giving, and loving. He was completely unpretentious; his life was full of grace. We'll remember him always. And we'll stay close to his wife and his two children, who are like him--his legacy.

As I drove to work this morning, I was thankful for the autumn leaves of the thousands of oak trees in my part of the country. It has been very dry this fall, so they aren't as vivid as they sometimes are. They are bronze, gold, red, rust, orange, burnt umber--gorgeous! I am reminded that Robert Frost said "nothing gold can stay." So these beauteous colors will be with us briefly and then they'll fall off and pile up and leave bare limbs. Oh, well!

I'm thankful, too, for our two big lunky dogs. Spot gets hysterical when we come home, even if we've been gone only fifteen minutes. Taz is obsessed with chasing tennis balls. He would rather be petted than eat--unless leftover real meat is the option, of course. They love and adore us. I think maybe God means them to be a kind of picture for us of unconditional love.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

God draws connections . . .

God draws connections for us between our experiences so that we can learn about him better—have it reinforced—draw closer to him.

Example: Last night, I got upset about my overeating—I prayed about it. I said, “Lord, I thank you that you give us the power to overcome the evil one. We can banish him in your name, and he leaves. That’s incredible power. Please, Lord, show me how to do it with power so that he really will leave me alone.” In a few minutes, I got an answer, in the form of a thought in my head.

The answer: Use the armor of God. Read Ephesians. So I got out my Bible. Before I got to the verses about the armor, I saw the verses about power—the power we have in him . . .

Eph. 1:19-20: “. . . and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. . . .”

This morning at church, the scripture-reading lady came forward to read the first scripture reference. It was Ephesians 1:15-23, the exact verses I had been directed to the night before.

Thank you, Lord, for showing me the connections that exist between my experiences so that I may know you better and learn to live in you.