Thanksgiving Leftovers

I’m listening to the rain.  We’ve got another flood watch warning.  Plus snow on Saturday.  But to quote Scarlett O., “Tomorrow is another day.”

I made four pies for Thanksgiving: two pumpkin, one pecan with chocolate chips and a peach pie.  No, I didn’t make any of the crusts.  While I can make pie crusts, I don’t like making them.  It’s a messy and iffy ordeal, at best.  By the time I got to the peach pie, I realized I didn’t have enough butter in the house to make a top crust.  I didn’t want to shop anywhere on Thanksgiving.  It’s a holiday, people!  Go home and be with your families and watch football, or nap.

This is why the pie looks like it’s composed of human remains. Eat up, me hearties!

peach pieSigh.  Baking fail.

I’ve got plenty of leftover pie (especially peach), though.  So…win!

But none of that matters.  My family is gracious and kind.  They even tried it.  I tried it, too.  It tasted…okay.  A little whipped cream didn’t hurt, either. We sat and laughed around the table.  We told jokes and stories and ate juicy turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings.

On this day after Thanksgiving, I guess what I’m left with is a glow that can only be described as gratitude.  Things will never be perfect in life, whatever that is.  But I’m loved and very blessed. I’m thankful for family and friends and you, dear readers.  Happy post-Thanksgiving!

 

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. – Psalm 107:1

 

 

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Tot Turkey Trot

This week has been packed with Thanksgiving festivities. Ruby’s school did their annual Turkey Trot.  I’ve never been able to go, because it conflicted with kettlebells class.  This year, I got to see it.

The crowd

The crowd

The 3rd grade girls starting line

The 3rd grade girls starting line

You can see Ruby in the front, in the purple coat.  She looks none too thrilled to be there.  The weather dried up for the races though clouds still milled in the sky.  First grade, second grade, then kindergarten raced down a side street and into the back parking lot of the school.  Third grade, up for a slightly longer distance, ran around the school, down three sides of the building and into the parking lot.  I should probably mention the two people – one of them the P.E. coach – dressed up in turkey costumes.  They led the racers.  I’d run too, if I looked that ridiculous. But I did love that the coach made running fun.

I found a spot on the sidelines to cheer on the racers.  A really fast blonde girl, her hair back in a French braid, led the girl runners and won the race.  Then hundreds more.  The 3rd grade boys came next.  Their race started just after the girls took off. Then I saw her.  Ruby walked next to a classmate.  When she heard me yelling for her, she picked up speed.  A little smile played on her face, though she didn’t look at me.

“Go, Ruby, go!  You’re almost there!”

I didn’t care that she walked.  I know how hard it can be to run a race, especially when you can’t see the finish.  You get bogged down in the middle.  Where is the finish?  Am I almost there?

I found her in the gathering of kids at the end.

“Hey, you did great!  It’s hard to keep going when you can’t see the end, huh?”

Ruby nodded, panting hard as I hugged her.

“But you finished.  Good for you.”

As I walked home, I thought about my past races.  Having someone to cheer me on made all the difference.  Those cheers from friends and strangers encouraged me to keep going when I couldn’t see the finish.

In this life, we don’t see the ribbon across our time’s completion.  Yet with encouragement along the way, we can keep moving forward.  Our pace doesn’t matter, only that we get up and keep going.

 

Welcoming Perspective

Ruby and I walked to school yesterday.  It was too incredibly November-y to pass up.  Fog lingered in the trees.  The sky wore a hairnet of clouds, yet yielded no rain.  Everywhere, everything was damp. Fallen leaves lay prostrate on sidewalks and in puddles.   Squirrels raced around us, frantic to add to their food stores.

Ruby and I trudged along.  We stopped at the store to pick up more canned pumpkin for pies.  They stocked it in the baking aisle.  I found out after I asked a helpful clerk.  Shouldn’t it be with the canned vegetables?  It is a vegetable, right? I hope my perspective isn’t off on that.

After the store, we crossed the street and continued on to school.  A U-haul van’s back stood open in front of an old Victorian.  Otherwise, the side street was empty.

“I bet I could fit in there!” Ruby announced.  She pointed at the truck’s open back.

“You sure could.  And probably your friends could, too.”

I examined the vehicle.  It was a smaller truck.  Kind of a one-room apartment mover.  Someone once told me that every time you move, you have twice as much stuff.  True story.

“Yeah, Jasmine and I could fit in there.”

Still on the truck.

“Rebekah and Joy, too,” I replied. Why not include your inner circle while riding in the metal box?

“And Evan, Liannon, Lily, Ruby #1, Alyssa, Evan, Millie and Andrew, too.”

I hadn’t thought about some of those kids in a while.  Their moms decided our religion didn’t mix with theirs.  Methinks this because the gang hasn’t been over to play since we handed them an invite to our church’s Fall Fest earlier this month. Or it could be that suddenly things got busy.  Happens a lot.

I’m not offended. I hope the moms aren’t, either.  They’re all welcome whenever they want to come over, should that happen.  Who knows?  People get reacquainted all the time with God’s serendipity.  See, in Ruby’s mind and heart, they never really left.  The welcome remains.

 

Gift Tags

I’m not really a late night person.  But I do love to laugh.  Ever since we got rid of our cable and switched to Roku, I’ve missed having comedy specials on demand.

Enter Jimmy Fallon’s hashtags segment.  Every Wednesday, he and his team come up with a Twitter topic.  They cull through the best submissions and read them on TV. They’re pretty clean, which I appreciate.  My favorite so far has been #parentfail.

My dad is pretty poor speller.  So one Christmas, my sister had a present under the tree that said, ‘From Satan.’

That one made me laugh so hard I cried.  The jokes abound on this statement.  Don’t open it!  Eh, it’s only a record you have to play backwards to get the hidden message.  Looky, it’s a one-way ticket!  On and on.

It got me thinking about Christmas and gifts in general.  Satan has no good gifts to give us.  Not now, and not in the future.  The Bible says the devil is a liar.

Jesus, rebuking the Pharisees when they tried to test him:  “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:43-44

I figure if Jesus said it, it’s truth.  But wait, there’s more!

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  -I Peter 5:8

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:4

Obviously, many more scriptures about the devil exist.  But these outline the basic points.  The devil, or Satan which means “accuser”, is a liar.  He deceives.  He brings up our failings on a continual basis, trying to separate us from the Lord and others.  Satan is not for us, but against us.  He rages at Christians the most but against all creation in general.  He despises people, because they remind him of God and all he lost.

Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Here’s the historical verse.

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
 For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.” – Isaiah 14:12-15

Lucifer’s pride lifted him up. He tried to be like God, to get God’s share of worship.  It didn’t go so well. Enraged, he fell from heaven, taking 1/3 of heaven’s angels with him.  He continues to wage war, through subtlety and outright whoppers, on the people God loves.  That’s you, my friend.  He hates your ever-loving guts because you’re made in God’s image, a unique and wonderful masterpiece.

What’s a body to do?  Well, here’s what Paul says.  A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:10-12

Jesus, on the other had, gives most excellent gifts.  He provides everlasting life.  His blood atones for our sins.  The fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – sustain us and others around us.  Best of all, Jesus connects us back to the Father.  That’s a gift I want to open again and again.

Cozy Friday

It’s pouring outside and 48 degrees.  Really, weather only a duck would love.

Photo by thefabweb.com

Photo by thefabweb.com

Inside, it’s dry.  I’m in my fleece, hat, boots and jeans.  And foundation garments.  I’m a Bethany grad, after all.  The heat is on…but I’m chilly.  Such is life in the Pacific Northwest. The damp, you know. I’m sipping on another cup of Jonathon’s finest, spiked with chocolate sauce.  It’s twilight at 10:30 a.m. The gas fireplace blazes behind me.

Here are a few reasons to celebrate.  Or in the spirit of nearly-Thanksgiving, to be grateful for:

I’m done with my chores for the week.

I applied for a part-time job with Habitat for Humanity.  Kinda excited about the possibility. Thanks, Zee!

Zac informed me about some required reading.  He read it to me, a story called “The Egg”.  The story depicts a man who dies in a car accident and what he discovers in the afterlife.  Funny stuff.  Turns out it was the wrong story.  His English teacher assigned a story about a mother, father and a little girl raising chickens.  The assigned story is also entitled “The Egg”. Yeah.  Not the same.  But hey, extra credit, right? I’m just glad he’s reading.

“You’re my favorite person,” Ruby told me yesterday, while hugging my midsection. My heart melted.

Jonathon’s out scouting my Christmas present *as I write this*.  Huzzah!

Tonight, we’ll be attending a progressive dinner.  We’ll finally, finally get to know our elusive neighbors. It’s only taken 8 years.

I’m down half a pound.

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

Nice Boys

Eliot and Isaac

Yesterday, I got a distress email from my Microsoft conference boss.  She had some horrible notes she couldn’t wrangle alone.  I put in 7 hours for 28 pages.  Good times. That, combined with babysitting my darling nephews, made for no time to blog.  Sorry.  Thankfully, Jonathon and Zac stepped up to help.  We sure enjoy those little guys.

Before I tackled the notes, I’d promised Eliot, 5 and Isaac, 3, a hike to the creek.  The sun shone down weakly thorugh the gathering clouds.  Rain would show up again in the next day or so.  We wandered up the street.  I pointed out squirrels gathering nuts for the long winter.  Chickadees swooped around us.

Upon reaching the pond, Isaac started throwing sticks into the water.  Then they both progressed to rocks.  I moved them down the path.  It was slow going.  Pick up a choice rock.  Admire it.  Toss it pond-wise.  Repeat.

“Hey guys?  Let’s keep moving.”  The clock ticked.  I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me.

We wandered on the gravel path.  The trees above us alternated green and gold leaves. When we reached the creek, more sticks begged to swim.  Big or little, it made no difference.

“Aunt Susan, look at this!”  Eliot held up a large stick.  Instead of pitching it, he held it under his arm.  Ditto with a couple of rocks.  Isaac kept his hands free, charging up the path.  Eliot poked along.  He had no reason to rush.

We crossed over the new bridge.  Isaac hopped up and trotted over.  I helped Eliot clamber up.  Wary, he glanced at the water a foot below us.  Getting dirty would be uncomfortable.  Getting wet would be much worse.

A couple of weeks back, a work crew carved a new path out of the hillside.  The boys agreed we should explores it.  Up and down we marched, avoiding a few tree roots.  I spotted a blue-winged woodpecker along the way.

“Look!”  Isaac picked up a rock for me to check out.

“No,” I said.  “We’re leaving the rocks here now.  They’re holding up the hillside.”

Isaac, ever creative, picked up the ostrich-egg sized rock and moved it from one side of the path to the other.  There!  Much better.  I chuckled.

Suddenly, the path ended.  Ahead of us, the crew had prepared the ground.  The freshly dug earth showed they planned to extend the path’s length.  The ground still contained uprooted plants.  Rocks bulged out of the dirt.

“We’re turning around here,” I said.

“No,” Isaac said.

Oh boy.

“Yes, we are.  We can’t go any further down this path.  See?  They’re not done with it yet.  We could stumble on those huge stones.”

“NO!”

I thought for a minute.

“Yes.”

Isaac didn’t like that one bit.  He ran past me down the path, back the way we came.

“Noooo!”

Then he turned and looked at me.

“I’m gonna punch you in the face!” he said. His little face scowled at me.

Oh boy.

I did my level best not to laugh.  This is his new catchphrase.  He’s the youngest.  I gather he garners respect when he says this, in spite of his pint-sized cuteness. He can’t even reach my face.

“Isaac, come here.”

“No!”

“NOW!” My voice rang under the trees.

I got his attention. He walked over to me.

“That is not acceptable.  We don’t say that, especially to people we love.”

His pale blue eyes looked into mine.  What would I do next?

“You know what we do instead?”

He said nothing.

“We hug them!”

I grabbed him in my arms and held him close. I felt him relax. I released him.  We smiled at each other.  We walked back to the bridge. After a few more rock-tosses and some photo ops, we made it home safe and sound.

I want to remember that when people close to us “act up”, it’s not their true selves. This, folks, was not the happy-go-lucky Isaac I know.  Even nice boys have rough moments.  Heck, nice girls, too, especially when we don’t get what we want. Can we give people the benefit of the doubt?  I’m up for trying.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.
 – I Peter 4:8

 

Suddenly Bunny

While out for a walk this afternoon, I spied this rabbit.  No ordinary lapin, this one was all white with a ring around its right eye.  It grazed, unchecked, under the chilly afternoon sun.  No human save me watched its progress.  It didn’t dart away upon sensing me.  It simply kept on eating.

Bemused, I snapped a few photos.  I had heard a neighbor of ours kept a rabbit.  I just didn’t know they allowed it off-leash.  Of course, my bleepity phone wouldn’t upload said pictures.  But it looked a little something like this.

Photo by shutterstock...alas!

Photo by shutterstock…alas!

Every once in a while, something happens that you don’t expect.  It could be really good, like bonus checks in the mail or a visit from the chocolate fairy.  It could be bad.  Like a dent in your fender from an unknown assailant or a horrible breakdown in communication.

Obviously, if something wonderful happens, we rejoice.  It’s kind of a no-brainer.  We celebrate and get excited.  We might even break into a spontaneous interpretative dance. The bad things, however, often leave us flummoxed.  We didn’t see it coming.  We don’t know how to react now that it’s on our doorstep.  Should we run away, throw up or punch someone?  Choices, choices.

When bad things occur – and they happen to all of us – I try to remember a few things.  First, God is in control.  I don’t have to make all the decisions right now.  I can pray and hear His voice of direction and comfort.  Second, people and situations are rarely all black or all white.  We each have the potential to act in a cruel manner.  Conversely, we each have the ability to treat others with kindness and dignity.  We don’t write people off, only recognize their brokenness revealed in the set of circumstances. Third, I remember Romans 8:28:  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  I can’t change what happened, somehow undo the damage. It may take time for good things to arise out of pain.  But I know God is able to do it.