Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Any idea how challenging it is to find an image of Atlas that doesn't show his bare bottom?

That aside, I've been thinking about how life is too short to carry a grudge.

My first real experience with this was with a former boyfriend.  Actually, he was the one I mentioned in my post about public speaking.  While we were together he did some awful things to me, and eventually I broke up with him.  He threatened to call my workplace, where I was fairly new, and tell lies about me.  He stalked me for a while.  He called me incessantly.  When a police officer came to my apartment to take an incident report, the phone rang.  The officer answered it and told my ex to stop calling.  After that he only called me at work.

Finally I got a restraining order.

The last time we were face to face was in a small room adjacent to the courtroom.  All I remember is that he demanded I return a gift that he'd given me.  (I'd anticipated that and had it with me.)  Oh, and that a court official questioned him because he had several hundred dollars cash in his pocket.  (He was on his way to purchase a plane ticket.)

It wasn't the best chapter of my story.

At first I was resentful.  The experience was inconvenient at best, frightening at worst.  But after a while I realized that carrying a grudge was taking too much of my energy, and what good was it doing me?  It reminds me of Erma Bombeck's saying about worry:  "Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere."

The decision to let it go was freeing.  He no longer occupied real estate in my head.  I no longer carried the burden of anger or bitterness.

Many years later, after I was saved by the Lord's grace, I learned about forgiveness.  God had forgiven me so much, how could I not forgive another person?  For as Matthew writes,
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?  Up to seven times?
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."
Who do you need to forgive?  What burden do you need to release?

photo credit: Flickr user Angelo DeSantis (Atlas)
photo credit: Flickr user symphony of love via photopin cc (Forgiveness)

Growing Up

For 15 years it's been a fixture in our backyard.  I can hardly remember the yard without that swing set.

I remember going to the store to choose it.  We purchased a floor model during the end-of-season clearance because it was significantly less expensive than it would have been otherwise.

The day it was delivered, my son, then just two years old, went outside to play, even in the misty November weather.

Over the years we'd swing (I think that's how he learned to count), have lunch in the clubhouse, and look through the telescope.  Years ago my mother-in-law, who was in her eighties, climbed up the ladder and slid down the slide.  We have video proof!

It's a good redwood swing set that needs a little TLC.  With a good power washing, some bolt-tightening, and a fresh coat of stain, it'll be good as new.

Now it's time to say Goodbye, and it's bittersweet.  We're giving it to a family we know, and their little girl will now have the same kind of fun that we did.  That's where the comfort lies.  I can't help but smile when I think of another child enjoying the swings, the clubhouse, the slide.

This morning my son and I went outside.  We swung on the swings, we climbed into the clubhouse, we slid down the slide.  (The grass was wet, and when I hit the bottom of the slide I landed on the ground!)  We talked about the memories.  We decided not to take pictures.  It was sweet and happy and sad, all mixed together.

But you know what?

While we were outside, we threw around the Frisbee.  (Also fun in the wet grass, by the way.  A few times I was almost diving for the Frisbee when I didn't intend to.)  The swing set isn't the only source of fun.  We can do lots of other things.  So although moving forward is bittersweet, it's a good thing.  I guess it's one of those tender moments that are part of kids growing up.  We're moving on, making space for the next generation of little ones, and finding our new place.

photo credit: sean dreilinger via photopin cc

Friday, November 7, 2014

Turning It Beautiful - Five Minute Friday

Five minute free write!

I've known a few people who have bought fixer-upper houses.  Sometimes they're in such bad condition that you can't even live in them, at first.  But with time, investment, patience, and hard work, the homeowners turn them into something beautiful.

This morning I was thinking about how similar this is to what God does for us.  When He calls us, He redeems and justifies us.  Then, over the rest of our lives, He fixes us up.  No doubt that takes a lot of patience!  He doesn't do this in order to sell us for a profit, but to turn us into beautiful places for Him to live.

However, I see a major difference between our sanctification and the fixing up of a home.  Usually a fixer-upper home is purchased at a low, low price, because its value isn't very high.   It'll require a lot of work.  But God redeemed us at the highest price, the sacrifice of His own Son!  And then He proceeds to invest in us to turn us into something beautiful.

People often say, "I'm a work in progress."  In Christ, we really are.  He's not finished with me yet.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen (Book Review)

When Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen became available for review, I couldn't wait to read it.  I like baking, as you know, and I especially like real down-home recipes.  I received a copy of this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes.

Here's the back-cover copy:
National pie champion, mom, homemaker, and self-proclaimed redneck, Francine Bryson won the hearts of bakers everywhere when she appeared on CBS's The American Baking Competition and went on to become a finalist on the show.  Known for her down-home Southern charm and sass (and for successfully pairing chocolate and peanut butter with bacon), Francine now shares her sought-after recipes and tips in her very first baking book.
Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen contains eight chapters:
  1. Pies
  2. Cookies & Bars
  3. Cakes Like Granny Made
  4. Cheesecakes
  5. Sunday Go-to-Meeting
  6. Baked Goods to Show Off
  7. Biscuits & Breads
  8. Candy & Truffles
From the very beginning, I saw recipes I was eager to try.  Pretty much every one looked good!  Not sure I would try Nana's Lard [Pie] Crust.  However, the No-Fail Press-in-Pan Crust promises to make pie baking feasible even for people like me, who never seem to be able to make pie crust without having more patches than unpatched crust.

Some of the recipes are classics (e.g., Key Lime Pie) and others are more original (e.g., Cheesecake-Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, Orange Creamsicle Cake).  Most are made from scratch, but a few start with convenience items like cake mixes or refrigerated biscuit dough.

The recipe introductions and Blue Ribbon Tips are written in a casual tone, as if the author was standing in your kitchen telling you about the recipes.  Even the names of the recipes are less than formal:  take Liquored-Up Fudge or I Dream of Bobby Deen Peanut Butter Pie, for example.

So far I've tried only one recipe, Southern Rice Pudding.  I decided to make it on the day I was reading this book because I was cooking rice for dinner, anyway.  I made some modifications to the recipe.  I omitted the raisins and the cinnamon, and I set aside some of the rice I'd already cooked.  I imagine it would be even better if I'd cooked the rice according to the recipe directions.  A huge advantage of this recipe is that it's baked, rather than cooked on the stovetop.  It has to be stirred a few times, but I appreciated not having to stand at the stove and stir!  I really liked the pudding, but my husband found it too sweet.  Next time I'll reduce the sugar--but there will be a next time.

I am very happy with Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen.  If you like homestyle recipes, ones that will impress with flavor more than elegance, I think you'll like it, too.

Links for more information:

* Disclosures:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  If you click through my Amazon.com affiliate link and complete a purchase, I will receive a small commission.  Thank you for supporting my blog!