The ding of the oven timer signaled its time to take the brownies out of the oven. Now do not get excited, this non-baker used a box mix. Sorry for the disappointment. Anyway… While sniffing the delicious chocolaty goodness, my mind wandered from that ding to…
The sing-song of the cell phone ringtone
The awakening bong of the alarm clock
The jarring honk of a car horn
The chiming of the door bell
… All attention grabbers, some welcome while others not, demanding an immediate response.
Hmmm… do we jump to action as quickly and eagerly to the persistent yet loving call of our Maker? (Psalm 119:1-8)
If you read my About page, you know I am not a fan of baking but love to cook. Baking feels somewhat restrictive with its exact measurement of ingredients, where cooking allows for uninhibited creativity. This makes mixing flavorful and aromatic spice and herb blends so attractive and shopping at a favorite Mennonite store pleasurable because of their abundant supply of inexpensive herbs and spices, especially those not carried by the more popular grocery store chains. You have heard the saying, “like a kid in a candy store.” Well, that is me smiling and wide-eyed as I choose the next savory item for my spice cupboard. While I review a dry onion soup mix recipe I received from a friend, I cannot help but think of the two women who after Jesus’ death began preparing several pounds of spices for His burial. (Mark 16:1-2) What were they thinking? In their memories of their dearly loved friend, did they marvel at how mundane their existence was prior to His influence? Did they realize the flavor of joy in their lives, the spice of life, was possible only by the presence of Jesus who gave life meaning (and continues to) by winning the victory over everything that was against them? (Psalm 16:8-11, John 19:25-30) Do you have the spice of life? (John 3:16-18)
It was a frigid December morning as she grabbed her keys with the intention of warming up her trusty silver chariot before work. As she opened the front door of her toasty abode, recollections of the previous night’s weather prediction sprang to mind causing her to question her attire; freshly shampooed hair wrapped in a towel, pajamas with button up fleece providing her body scarcely enough protection against the expected freezing rain and hard-soled slippers donning her feet. How surprised was she when the expected icy glaze was seemingly absent. With confidence, she strode across the covered porch reaching for the handrail but missing it by inches as her foot revealed a nasty deception, black ice-covered the porch steps and patio leading to the waiting vehicle. Without warning, her foot shot out causing her to violently wrack her elbow while skidding down the steps, across the patio to nearly beneath the car, legs in line with each other and extended in opposite directions; a gymnastics position this girl was never able to do her entire life.
I can chuckle about this experience now because it must have been a comical sight for any onlooker. However, humor is lost and an icy fear grips the senses when there is the expectation of ice on walking surfaces, an almost paralyzing dread born in deception. Yet, I am reminded by the events of Holy Week how wrong I am to allow fear to gain a strong hold because it was defeated at The Cross and put to death with Easter’s warming serenity at The Empty Tomb. (Proverbs 10:9, 2 Timothy 1:7,Luke 24,Romans 8:38-39)
Gun control… there it is, I said it, well typed it rather. A very hot topic in recent weeks with much firing from both sides of the line; a volley of opinions echoing throughout our nation, each thinking their arsenal of facts and opinions are the correct ones. I will say, I do not understand the purpose for military style hardware in the hands of the public, but that is not my thought process here.
Will laws controlling or restricting gun ownership prevent mass shootings such as those in the not so distant past? If that trail of logic is correct then it should apply to any object used as a weapon. However, we do not ban…
All vehicles after fatal crashes or,
All knives and other cutting instruments after fatal stabbings and lacerations or,
All blunt objects (hammers, baseball bats, bookends, lamps) after fatal blows or,
Our own hands and feet after fatal punches and kicks or,
All household chemicals (ammonia, bleach, drain cleaners) after fatal poisoning or,
All swimming pools and bathtubs after drowning or,
Alcohol after… Wait, we tried that once? I think we call it Prohibition.
A section of my daily work commute never ceases to amaze me with its beauty; ash, oak, and maple stand majestically with their arms arched over either side of this route. The last few days while dressed in winters finest, their limbs tirelessly stretch to reach as far across as possible creating a canopy for travelers that is just as visually pleasing to look at through the rearview mirror as it is through the windshield. The New Year and the Old Year are much like those hardwoods; persistently working so carefully to create a beautiful merging of the past and what will be. It is the shaping of who we are. We look back through the shade of the previous year to see triumph and failure, health and sickness, joy and tears, birth and death. Then as we peer into the uncertainty of the new, we hope for more of the good and less of the bad. However, it is not the circumstances that create the beautiful vista, but how we deal with them. (Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 16:9,Galatians 6:7-9)
Each holiday season it occurs to me, as children we drove our parents and ourselves crazy with the anticipation of Christmas, marveling at how the day took its sweet old time in getting here. Yet, as we get older, we are surprised as to how quickly it arrives. I am so thankful no matter what my age I can expect God to be on time, always. (Galatians 4:4)
Tradition.Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof.
Tevye, 1964 musical by Jerry Bock
This is one of my favorite weeks of the year, a time of family and traditions of Thanksgiving week. Pie baking night at Mom and Dad’s with the smells of pumpkin, apples, and spices. Turkey day at the farm; won’t go into what that is all about except to say it is not a good day for old Tom. Cramming as many people into the kitchen to watch Dad and one of my brothers work at carving the deliciously golden bird. Oh, the crispy skin; who can grab the biggest piece before Mom flashes The Look; yes even in her eighties she can put anyone at any age in line with The Look. Teasing Mom about the year she forgot to make potatoes; Oh, such sacrilege! Verbally reliving memories of years past, passing them on to the many young ones who spread infectious joy with squeals of laughter.
All are wonderful traditions to pass from one generation to another, traditions to help maintain a family’s strength for survival, a defense against destruction. Yet, I keep thinking there is a custom that is stronger and more powerful, even more valuable than those mentioned earlier; the sharing of one’s faith in the great Creator who makes it possible for us to enjoy and be thankful for much in this life, and even better things to come if we know Him as our Living Savior. (Romans 10:14, Deuteronomy 11:18-20)
Faith. Without faith in Jesus, our lives are as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof.