Sunday, February 14, 2010

Unexpected valentine joy

I think Valentine's Day makes more people act nicely toward each other for at least one day, but part of me is still skeptical. I never wore black on February 14 in my single years, but I remember feeling sad that people felt they needed to invent a day when couples could show off their coupleness. Now I understand, the charm, of course, and am thankful for a prompt to celebrate the love David and I share.  (Still, there is no day for singles to celebrate their singleness. And even if there were, Hallmark would find a way to capitalize on it.)

But if Valentine's Day prompts people to love on others in general, it does make the middle of February in the north much sunnier and more pleasant. And that's what happened in my church this morning, just moments before the praise music began.

Mark, a man in his 20s or 30s with special needs, had wandered up to me as he does each Sunday, usually repeating some phrase or sentence while he looks at me sideways with a halfway smile. And this Sunday he approached already saying something I couldn't hear because of the prelude. "What?!?" I said loudly. "I can't hear you." "Happy Valentine's Day!!" he said again, also loudly. "Oh, you, too!" I exclaimed, pointing to a heart brooch on my sweater.

He nodded and took his seat in front, as usual. And then a church lady wandered down the aisle, pausing as she turned to Mark. But instead of the usual handshake and how-de-do, she leaned over sweetly and planted a big one right on his cheek. In front of the whole church, while God, I'm convinced, smiled down on this Valentine surprise, laughing joyously at the way one of his creatures loved, and loved well. Mark kind of stood up halfway and turned toward our police-officer friend who was sitting right in back of him, gesturing excitedly toward his cheek. He was beaming.

My heart quickly filled with hope and song, the music enveloping us, reminding me of what one loving gesture can do. Of what Jesus' love can do in our hearts when we open it up to Him and discover a bit of what it means to let this magnificent God-love dribble out of us and on to His children around us. At the supermarket. In our cubicle. In the kitchen. And sometimes dribbling over on another of his precious ones, right before a church service begins. I can still see Mark's smile and it fills my heart with cheer. Honest to goodness, it might possibly carry me through the entire week ahead.

I John 4:10-12, The Message
This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Crunchy granola types

I recently read a quote that said women can bring home the bacon and fry it up in high heels. Made me laugh, honestly. The best cooking that occurs in our household is done by the husband, who also goes by "David." I cook, too, but I find myself constantly deferring to his superior abilities in the kitchen.

And since we started eating a more plant-based diet, I've taken to laughingly referring to us as "crunchy granola types." How else did the husband lose 25 pounds after getting married? Yup, we changed what's in our cupboards and our fridge. The more we've been talking about it, though, the more we've come to the conclusion that eating healthier (and of course we have days when we don't) is a matter of simple stewardship of the bodies God has given us (Romans 12:1).

That said, we have literally become "crunchy granola types" for breakfast. It's homemade, it's filling, and let's just say it keeps everyone in this household regular. Enough said.

And now, we're sharing our recipe with the world. You can top your yogurt with it. Put it in a nice jar as a gift. Add a little crunch to your morning routine. Without further adieu, here it is:

 The Burdens' granola recipe:
(makes 14 cups!)

-10 c. oats
-1 c. chopped almonds
-1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
-1 c. sunflower seeds
-1 c. ground flaxseed
-2 T. cinnamon
-1/2 c. oil
-1 c. honey or agave nectar
-1/2 c. water
-1 1/2 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, and if using, flaxseed meal.

In a separate bowl, mix oil, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined and lightly moistened. Bake for about 25-30 minutes on jelly roll pans, mixing halfway through. Remove from oven when golden brown. Keep in airtight container.

(Note: you can experiment with cutting down fat by reducing nuts and oil, and reduce sugar by using less honey/agave nectar and more water. You can also go more healthy if you have a sturdy blender that can whiz dates and water, then coat the dry ingredients in that and bake.) 


Thursday, February 4, 2010

True stories from the preacher's daughter

Last summer I started reminiscing about my life as a preacher's daughter, and what came out of those true-life posts (on my former blog) tickled the hearts and sentiment of many loved ones. From funeral parlor pickles to make-believe, shrill soloists and generous parishioners, I offer them to you here for your reading pleasure.

And I promise, they are all, utterly TRUE. Ah, simpler, more convivial times...

One Sunday Morning (city church)

Normal is Just a Setting on the Dishwasher

Flexing our Make-Believe Muscles

Gifts that Keep on Giving

The Udder Truth (country church)