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Put Down Your Rock

rocksIn the Bible, the story of the woman caught in adultery and threatened to be stoned to death is a beautiful illustration of Jesus’ grace and love for each of us. Not only does He forgive her of her sin, He also teaches each of her accusers how to respond to her; He challenges them that anyone present without sin may throw a stone, contributing to her death. The irony is that Jesus himself was the only one who could be found sinless.

How many times in our daily lives do we have a sturdy stone held tightly in our fists, ready to throw at someone we don’t agree with? It may not feel as savage as that because we hide behind anonymous comments on the internet, hushed whispers with friends or pretending someone doesn’t exist at all, but it is damaging. In our effort to be just, we risk killing the ones we are called to serve.

What if we simply dropped our rocks and stopped trying to be right?

Maybe we could pick up groceries for that sick neighbor, hold a baby for that single mom, give a ride to the teen whose parents never seem available, spend time getting to know that gay couple as actual people, and learn the names of the homeless that we hastily serve and pull away from.

I know I have my own stack of rocks of righteousness; I want to knock them down and walk away from them once and for all. Imagine what we could accomplish after hearing the thumps of rocks falling to the ground.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:3-11

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

IMG_448809377My son sent me a picture of this with one word, Please?? He is not a big dessert eater and rarely makes a request for food, so I indulged him on this one. It was a hit! I found the recipe on http://www.handletheheat.com/peanut-butter-cup-cheesecake/ and chose it because of the Oreo crust, many others used brownies.

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

For the crust:
30 (1-15.35 ounce package) Oreo cookies
6 tablespoons butter, melted

For the cheesecake filling:
32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces Reese’s minis

For the topping:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces Reese’s minis

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. In the bowl of a food processor, process the cookies until they are finely ground crumbs. Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.

For the filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Add in the sugar, peanut butter, cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Be careful not to overbeat. Stir in the Reese’s.

Pour the batter into the cooled crust. Bake for about 1 hour, or until set and the top looks slightly dry. If the middle is slightly wobbly, that’s fine. Cool the cheesecake completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Release the cheesecake from the pan onto a cake stand or serving plate.

For the topping:
Place the chocolate chips in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan heat the cream just until simmering. Pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for 3 minutes before stirring until the mixture is melted and smooth. Pour over the cheesecake, allowing to drip down the sides. Sprinkle the Reese’s over the cheesecake. Serve or cover and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Learning Japanese

JapanTowards the end of his freshman year in high school, our son came home with his school schedule for the following year and proudly announced that he was taking Japanese for his foreign language. Two years of language was required and he had just locked himself in. We were not as excited as he was about the idea, we had heard that Japanese can be very challenging, so we tried to get him to reconsider. Coleman was adamant, this was what he wanted to do, so against our judgment, he enrolled in Japanese his sophomore year.

The class was tiny, about seven students in all, with one being from Japan, and the teacher speaking broken English. The curriculum moved very quickly and in just a few weeks our son was in over his head. He learned a great deal about their history and culture, but the language was very complex. The bottom line is that our son didn’t pass a class in high school. He quickly changed his mind on learning the language and had to wait until his next year to switch to Spanish, where I am happy to say he has excelled.

As the parents we had the authority to step in and refuse to allow our son to take a class that we expected to be too much for him, but we chose not to. During that semester we questioned ourselves over and over as we watched his GPA plummet. We decided that the lessons learned from the experience outweighed the grades he received that semester. It was a time for learning for us as parents, as well.

Our son is still battling back to where his GPA once was, but today he has a better idea of his abilities and his limitations. Last summer he was on a plane with a Japanese family and introduced himself in their language. They exchanged a few words until Coleman had reached his limit, and the man ended up handing his toddler daughter to him to play together while in flight. The baby actually fell asleep on our sweet son, and he held her for much of the flight. There is no way the connection could have been made if Coleman had played it safe, and I think he would say that it was worth it.

Be The Change

changeDo unto others as you would have done to you. Luke 6:31

I used to get upset with my husband because it felt like he didn’t consider me. If he was getting something to drink, he would rarely offer me one, and I often felt like my opinion really didn’t matter much to him on many levels. I licked my wounds for years and played the victim, dramatically jumping up to get my own drink or bulldozing my thoughts onto him without being asked. It didn’t work.

I began to pray that my husband would change. Sigh….it’s embarrassing now, but I prayed that he would become more thoughtful and less self-centered. I don’t remember how long it took, I’d like to say seconds, but it was probably months, but I suddenly realized that I never did the things for my guy that I was accusing him of neglecting for me! And actually, when I was really honest, he took much better care of me than I did of him.

My prayer changed to being more thoughtful and less self-centered myself, as well as letting go of the victim mentality and the idea that I deserved better. I started to do little things, like ask my guy if he needed anything while I was getting up and asking for his ideas on issues and situations I didn’t think he would be concerned about. I was amazed to learn that he had some really strong opinions, and suddenly we were trying to out-serve each other! Years later, we consult each other regularly on big and small things and try to honor the others’ opinion because we see with very different eyes.

My point is that the Golden Rule really does work, and if you’re self-righteously accusing your spouse of something, make sure you’re not guilty of the same offense or worse. Do a little experiment, giving whatever it is that you wish you were receiving. You just might be pleasantly surprised.

We All Have Cancer

lifeYesterday I got to spend some time with an old friend on the phone. She was my college roommate and we were inseparable for years. Now we are a 20 hour drive away from each other, and get to visit every other year on average. Steph is that friend who you have no interest in trying to impress; the last time our family descended on her house, she offered us leftovers for lunch. It was one of my favorite meals of all time because my kids were spending time with hers, and my guy was getting to know hers better, and we were together. She showed me around her house and her garden, and then she told me what she was facing these days. Stephanie has battled different forms of cancer for almost nine years now, and once again she is in the trenches.

My roomie has always been an optimist, viewing anything with an unbelievably positive lens, and this time was no different. She told me about how fortunate she has been to be able to be on the same chemotherapy drug for 16 months, much longer than most, and how great is has been to not have to switch to another drug. Every time I spend time with Steph she is grateful for the fact that she is still here and yesterday she reminded me of something I have known but tend to forget; we all have cancer. She said that we are all in the process of dying, it’s just that most of us don’t realize it. We need to live each of our days realizing that only God knows how long we will be here, and its our job to make the best use of our time. I think she is way more alive than the vast majority of us all.

I would appreciate if you would pray for Steph, because we all need more reminders to be grateful for the little things, and to live each day like we don’t have a lot of time left.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Coincidence

coincidenceDo you ever find yourself standing in your closet, looking for a specific top to wear and it’s not there? I mean, it is gone. So you choose something else to wear and don’t think much of it. Next day, or a couple of days later, there you are again, looking for something to wear and that missing shirt is right in front of you. Does this happen to anyone else? What is that? I have known for certain that an item is there, visualizing right where it should be, taking each garment one by one (when my mind is made up, I can be pretty determined) and still not see it. Over time I have stopped getting frustrated and accepted it as a sign that maybe I was wrong about what should be worn that day.

Then sometimes I will write a blog post that I want for a specific day. I will put the words together and find a picture or video to go along with it, taking time to make it look and feel the way I think it should. I will go through all the motions, and sometimes for no reason the post won’t publish. It will disappear, or claim to be there when it clearly isn’t, or just remain in a drafts folder, no matter how many times I try to evict it. This happened just today, and it’s starting to be kind of amusing. Over time I have stopped getting frustrated and accepted it as a sign that maybe I was wrong about what should be written that day.

I don’t want to over-spiritualize the happenings in my life, but I sure don’t want to under-spiritualize them, either. Maybe God whispered to a woman that a frazzled mom in a pink shirt would be safe to talk to at the coffee shop one day, or perhaps God has a clear message for a specific person on just the right day through this little rambling blog. I do know that if I allow myself to get all spun up on not wearing what I had planned, or writing what I was thinking, then I am not going to be available to be used by God for the benefit of others. I have heard for years that He is the God of details, and I have pushed back in thinking that He couldn’t possibly care about all those little things that are going on in my life.

And then I get reminded again by some crazy coincidence that can only be ascribed to God’s plan and timing. I don’t get it, but maybe that’s the point.

 

Smoothie for Dummies

We have one each day, and have now for over two years. For us, it’s an easy way to consistently get the nutrients we need. Infographic:healthylivingpittsburgh.com

smoothieOur daily routine:

1 c strawberries, frozen out of season

1/3 c blueberries, frozen out of season

1/2 c chopped kale

2 c fresh spinach

1/4 red beet

1 avocado

1 orange

1 scoop whey protein

1 inch fresh ginger

2-3 c almond milk

 

 

 

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