Monday, June 22, 2009

Lamentation for Jon and Kate

“Jon and Kate plus Eight”

Who hasn’t heard the recent stories, the awful accusations, who hasn’t seen the pictures, read and heard the news accounts, who hasn’t made their decisions, drawn their own conclusions, come down on one side or the other of the argument over whether it was his fault or hers for what happened?

This was a show about a man and a woman who had twin girls, then they had sextuplets, three little boys and three little girls. The show was to chronicle the challenges of them raising their eight children together. Over time, the world watched as they themselves fell apart.

I just watched their Big Announcement Show. It felt as though I was watching a funeral for someone I didn’t know very well, but whom I liked and wished hadn’t died. I have just walked away from the TV with my heart shattered and my face wet with tears.

I’m not here to assign fault. I’m not here to say whose fault I think it was. I’m here to lament that Jon and Kate got subsumed by the Eight and lost each other in the process.

Where were we when the first cracks began to form, and we saw them and didn’t pray or say something? May Father God forgive us for not sending up the alarm.

Where were we when the acrimony started, and we took one side over the other, or we just turned off our TV sets and walked away, dismissing it all as just another reality show? May Father God forgive us for our callousness and our judgmentalism.

May God forgive us for not remembering that even famous people need Him, too These two desperately needed Him, desperately need Him now to help them write this new chapter in their lives.

Oh, God, please take them in Your arms and hold them close and love on them now. Oh, that You would capture them, capture their hearts and help them remember why they loved each other so much in the beginning! That they could remember the God of second chances, the God Who Sings over them when they have no words, the God Who Is A Rock when they feel that they have no place to stand, the God Whose Hand is Sure when their hands are not strong enough anymore to hold on and not big enough anymore to hold it all together. Oh, Father, that they could somehow find The Way in all this, to find their way in You and then back to each other!

These feeble prayers are late in rising, but oh, that You would still hear them nonetheless, for the glory of Your name, O God who puts the solitary in families and makes us brothers and sisters by the blood of Jesus! Even if You choose to let them go their own way, I know that You can heal them and help them find their way back to You and each other. Please heal them in the way that brings the most glory to You.

And help us who watch TV to remember that those to whom we look for our entertainment are souls for whom You died, and they need You, too. Those of us who love You and call ourselves by Your name, help us remember, and incline our hearts to pray for them often, for the same devil that seeks our harm is surely after them as well, but the insistent prayers of the righteous avail much.

May each of us well love the marrieds in our midst and be Jesus to them, O Father, and may we lift them up to You insistently, and may You hear us from heaven and send Your angels to protect them. Help them live in loving, mutual surrender to each other to the honor and glory of Your name, as a symbol and a sign of Your love for all the world.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Crumbs About Bread :-)

So I went out yesterday to augment my food stores, just enough for a few days since I’m going home to my parents’ house this coming Tuesday. It was hot, I spent a little more than I intended, and when I was done sweating my choices and paying for them, I pushed my cart out of the store and scanned the parking lot for an unoccupied taxi. Not only was one there, but the engine was running, and he had no passengers. I hopped in.

Now, remember, I’m supposed to be giving up breads and sugars starting July 5. So we pull up in front of my door, I pay the guy, and what does he hand me? Two plastic bags full of bread.

He, or someone he’d ferried, picked these up from a Latino bakery; I knew this because I’ve purchased things from panaderĂ­as before and recognized the style of baking. I’ve loved most everything I’ve ever bought from a panaderĂ­a.

But now I have a bunch of bread that I won’t be around to eat for a week, and I hate to throw it out.

Not that that’s a huge problem for me. I’ll have about six days after I return from visiting my parents to eat it, and I can do it. It’s why I find myself in the position of having to give it up for awhile.

There are two places, though, that I want to visit before I start my grand breadless existence. I want to go to IHOP for some pancakes, and since I have to go to Whole Foods to get the agave nectar, I plan to nosh on a couple slices of their Margherita pizza.

Margherita pizza is named for the Italian Empress Margherita. She passed through Naples on a trip, and when she got hungry, she stopped someplace to eat. The pizzaiolo crafted a pizza specifically to honor Her Excellency: Slices of ripe tomato, a sprinkling of fresh basil, and creamy mozzarella cheese on a pizza crust. Made with foods the colors of which pay homage to the Italian flag, the Margherita pizza is also called pizza Napolitana or Neapolitan pizza because it was crafted in Naples. When it’s made right, it’s the way I most enjoy pizza.

That’s enough bread talk!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Accept No Substitutes

Isaiah 55:1-5, NKJV

I know I shouldn’t do it, but I’m sitting here thinking of the days to come when I won’t have any bread and sugar in my diet. The one thing I already know I won’t do is the dietary bait and switch that so many others do. The reason for this is quite simple: I can’t.

I’m not the type of person who will pretend that a food item that I’ve substituted for another is the substituted item. For instance, I like spaghetti whenever I get it. However, the one time I had spaghetti squash, I knew it wasn’t spaghetti. As I recall, I didn’t like it very much, even with the spaghetti sauce on it. And although I like portabella mushrooms, I have never mistaken them for meat, not even on a burger bun with cheese, lettuce, and tomato with a side of hot, crispy fries, lightly salted and smothered in ketchup.

Now it’s not to say that won’t try to use vegetables in new ways. For instance, I know I like zucchini in spells, and I have a friend who makes the only eggplant I’ll eat. He’s not of Italian descent, but his pots and pans would swear otherwise. So I’m open to the possibility of a switch-out of those vegetables for the pasta in lasagna. And I’ve already enjoyed mashed cauliflower with garlic, herbs, EVOO, and enough cheese to sink a battleship (well it was a lot of cheese, anyway). And when I get ready for ice cream, the agave nectar will be in place, ready to sweeten my tongue happy in my own creamy creation.

The problem will come when I WANT SOME BREAD, DANG IT!!! It won’t be enough to eat something else and pretend it’s bread; since I already don’t believe in trying to fool myself about things like that, we can pretty much forget about that working for me. I’ll just be ornery and cranky until the urge passes or I get some bread.

There’s a sermon in here somewhere; I can smell it.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters;

And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat.

Yes, come, buy wine and milk

Without money and without price.

Why do you spend money for what is not bread,

And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,

And let your soul delight itself in abundance.”

I do not gladly accept substitutes in food. These verses were written to a people who had accepted many harmful and soul-destroying substitutes for The Most High God, and it had destroyed them in every way possible. They were repeatedly ravaged by armies who killed, enslaved, oppressed, and starved them into such submission that at times in their history they resorted to cannibalism. They had accepted spiritual substitutes that did them no good, and they did not know their God any longer. These are His words to them through the prophet Isaiah, inviting them to come and take freely of Him. It would cost them nothing. All they had to do was show up ready to receive and accept. And this is what He promised them:

“Incline your ear, and come to Me.

Hear, and your soul shall live;

And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—

The sure mercies of David.

Indeed, I have given him as a witness to the people,

A leader and commander for the people.

Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,

And nations who do not know you shall run to you,

Because of the LORD your God,

And the Holy One of Israel;

For He has glorified you.”

What a promise!

Now how does this help me with bread? Well, it doesn’t really, at least not on the surface. But just as I won’t fool myself that whatever I substitute for bread is bread itself, neither should I accept that there is any acceptable substitute for the Living God who gives me everything—even the ability to get bread when nothing else will satisfy.

But I promise to give this upcoming experiment my best effort and refrain from eating any bread.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Aria Begins . . .

"Once upon a time, there was an ugly duckling—."


Now let's get one thing straight: The popular story, as handed down to us, is based on a false premise, a lie, if you will. The creature we keep calling an ugly duckling, as we are taught to perceive him, didn't exist.

"But the story said he was an ugly duckling, and I repeated the story faithfully, so it can't be wrong, 'cause the stories are always right!"

Listen, I don't really care how you passed it on to you ma, who passed it on to her great grandma, who got it from the butcher, who taught it to the cat. This creature was never ugly, and that is the truth.

"Blasphemy! Heresy! Lunacy! Break out the tar and feathers!"

This is the truth, and I'm sticking to it: This creature was never a duckling at all, so it is impossible that he could have ever been an ugly one!

Or didn't you pay attention to the end of the story?

Now that I got that rant off my chest, let's get down to what I'm really doing here.

I'm about to embark upon an experiment. I got the idea from the several-times repeated mentionings of my chiro, a lovely person who loves Jesus and loves to encourage me.

This worthy being is convinced that if I give up breads and sugars, I'll rid myself of a considerable amount of the pain for the attempted management of which I go and pay good money for spinal adjustments. I don't know that I subscribe to this theory, but I don't see that I have anything to lose, beyond a bit of my good humor and a few brain cells to culinary creativity preparing meals around the loss of these soon-to-be absent items. So starting
July 5, 2009, I'm going to do it, and you're going to watch me.

The experience will go thus: Beginning on the specified date and for the next four weeks, I will eliminate all forms of bread from my diet. This will certainly include cereals, pasta, crackers, cookies and other baked sweets, and breaded foods. I suppose I should also include starchy vegetables such as corn, rice, and other grains, as well as potatoes, but we'll see. The eliminated sugars will include white sugar, brown sugar, my beloved "organic" raw sugar, molasses, and I'll have to decide about honey. I will not use artificial sweeteners, because I do not like their taste in most foods that contain them, and they intensify my sugar cravings. Nor will I use stevia, because I have yet to find any that isn't mixed with maltodextrin or some other equally noxious substance, and every taste I've ever had of it was the ruination of whatever I put it in. So my only exposure to sweet will be in foods in which it occurs naturally, such as fruit. The one exception to my sweetener ban will be agave nectar, because its impact on blood sugar is mild enough that some doctors will allow their diabetic patients to eat it if their disease is not too bad.

I don't promise to post every day, but when I do, you will see what I ate on that day, at least. I will tell you how I'm feeling and what I observe. At the end of the four weeks, I will summarize my experience and draw a conclusion.

Now it doesn't make sense that I'd post a blog for something that I'm only going to do for four weeks, so I'll also be posting about other things in my life. I've a whole flock of beautiful cygnets that are displaced, and you get to watch them all find home.

Ya ready :-)?