Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Kids are Warped...It's My Fault

On Today's Menu~
Broccoli Quiche (with cheddar cheese)

My teenagers have seen the Rocky Mountains and hiked the Garden of the Gods. They've taken a horse-drawn taxi in Mexico where we traveled down side streets in Nuevo Laredo and saw homes with dirt floors. We sailed 25 miles out from Gloucester, Mass. and saw humpback whales feeding and frolicking. We've gone to nursing homes to see people who are forgotten. One school year we tessered through Madeleine L'Engle's books and been to Narnia where we were tempted with Turkish Delight. They love all kinds of ethnic food and good 'ole U.S. of A. cooking (although my son and I share an aversion to black olives and beets).

Imagine my surprise at their reaction when I brought home a 5-pound bag of frozen broccoli spears.

"They look--they look like trees!" my 13-year-old daughter exclaimed.

"Um, yes. That's how broccoli comes." I put the bag in the freezer. What's the big deal?

"I never knew that." She stared at the bag.

I admit it. I've been a cheap mom over the years while getting them to appreciate vegetables. I always prided myself on the fact that they would eat salad and enjoy it, or snack on celery. But I never thought about buying the "full-size" broccoli. I would grab the least expensive bag of frozen chopped stuff and go on my way. Grocery shopping is a necessary evil. The old hunter-gatherer tradition still exists. Even today we went, and came home unscathed with a lighter wallet.

I went to great lengths to expose the kids to the beauty of the world and carefully let them see some of its sadness. I wanted them to see the world is far bigger than our town and everyday world. And yet they never knew broccoli came in spears.

Lest you think I laid awake worrying about this, I didn't. I had a good laugh about it with my husband, and went on.

No matter how good a job we try to do as parents, we're bound to miss something. Like the kids not knowing for so many years that broccoli comes in spears. But that's okay. As long as they keep learning, the wonder and amazement will still be there. I hope we have tons of time to discover new things together, even if it's something I already knew.

God knows all kinds of things, more than we can imagine. I bet He gets a kick out of our "discoveries," stuff He knew the whole time. And I believe He smiles at the wonder in our eyes and amazement in our voices.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

It Just Ain't Natural...

On Today's Menu:
A Slice of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

No. I'm not a fan of pineapple upside-down cake. It's just funny how you make it. Put the pineapple rings and cherries on the bottom of the pan, pour in the batter, bake it, and FLIP!--the bottom becomes the top.

Human nature is a funny thing, too. We are wired to preserve ourselves and survive, and our bodies are designed to help us avoid pain. That's why it hurts when we touch a hot stove. Those nerve endings are say, "Hellloooo! You're burning your skin, doofus!" And so we stop.

Then again, the very nature that makes us protect ourselves can also cut us off from those we love when they hurt us. We won't forgive--it hurts too bad, the nerves of our heart are screaming, warning us to--stay away. What a natural reaction. We don't want to be hurt again. We want to be comfortable, safe--alive.

Here I go, back to one of those old Bible guys. Well, I don't think Hosea was that old when he wrote that God asked him to marry an unfaithful woman turned prostitute. Gomer just wouldn't stay put, even when Hosea took her home and gave her a life she had never dreamed of having. Poor Hosea; you can guess this setup seemed doomed from the beginning. Can't you hear his mother when she found out about the marriage?

"Hosea, why don't you find Rachel, that nice daughter of Jakov, and marry her? Why, why, why did you take a woman like--like that Gomer to be your wife? You deserve so much better. Ach, my boy, you are headed for nothing but disappointment." She shook her head and clucked. "Everyone in the village will think I have an idiot for a son. Your father's name will be disgraced."

But Hosea took Gomer anyway. Three kids later, she ran off and sold herself into prostitution. By all rights, he could have just let her go. Gomer was the one in the wrong. Hosea had only obeyed God's instructions. Against human nature to kick someone to the curb, Hosea sought Gomer out, and bought her back. His manly ego took a blow, as did his wallet. Ouch. Yet he took her back, and loved her.

With the bad rap God gets sometimes, this whole story took place to show God's pursuit of the people He loves. Against what is natural inclination, He forgives the undeserving. Now that's a religion I can stick with. I don't deserve forgiveness, but He gives it anyway. Even to those who will never believe or accept.

Wow, kinda like being a lottery winner and never going to claim your check.

Accepting grace, which here means a gift you don't deserve (with nod to Lemony Snicket), is accepting what just ain't natural. You have to flip your perspective like a pineapple upside-down cake. When I do that, I need to live to a standard like Hosea. Keep on forgiving as I've been forgiven. And that can be a lot easier said than done, especially when someone you've shared your heart with does the wounding.
Eve's Daughter

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Chasing the Wind

On Today's Menu: Empty Popovers

Time managers tell us we need to write down the things we wish to accomplish. Those of us thirty-somethings who wear lots of hats would spend more time writing than getting things done. Really. Take this blog, for instance.

I thought maybe once or twice a week would be good. After all, I lead a fairly busy and uninteresting life, so I figured I could share my thoughts or highlights. Even people with uneventful lives have something interesting on occasion.

But life has sped by and it's been nearly two weeks--two weeks--since I've posted. Hmmmm...does that mean I have nothing to say? Or is it just I'm too busy living to lift out something quirky and interesting?

Aha, here's something. Not quirky, but interesting to me in my thirty-something travels.

We hosted my niece's 21st birthday party last night with family and friends. I can't believe it's been 16 years since I had a 21st birthday party. I'm not a drinker, never have been, so the "ooh-let's-go-get-snockered-because-it's-legal" aspect of turning 21 didn't hold any interest for me. I thought I knew so much at 21. (Ha! I say now).

If I could have pulled Tiff aside and shared some things with her, I'd tell her not to run to the clubs for fun. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy spending time with my friends, but what happens when you wake up the next morning?

We live in such an instant gratification society that holds excess in esteem. Bigger, better, faster, more, thinner, lighter, tastier, richer, thicker, slower--let's find the top and go over it!

In the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, the writer speaks of "chasing after the wind." Plus, there is nothing new under the sun. Tiff, at 21, the world is at your feet. But listen to the words of a wise yet sad king:

"I said to myself, Let's go for it--experiment with pleasure, have a good time! But there was nothing to it, nothing but smoke. What do I think of the fun-filled life? Insane! Inane!

My verdict on the pursuit of happiness? Who needs it? With the help of a bottle of wine and all the wisdom I could muster, I tried my level best to penetrate the absurdity of life. I wanted to get a handle on anything useful we mortals might do during the years we spend on this earth.

I Never Said No to Myself, Oh, I did great things: built houses, planted vineyards, designed gardens and parks and planted a variety of fruit trees in them, made pools of water to irrigate the groves of trees. I bought slaves, male and female, who had children, giving me even more slaves; then I acquired large herds and flocks, larger than any before me in Jerusalem. I piled up silver and gold, loot from kings and kingdoms. I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song, and--most exquisite of all pleasures--voluptuous maidens for my bed.

Oh, how I prospered! I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. What's more, I kept a clear head through it all.

Everything I wanted I took--I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task--my reward to myself for a hard day's work!

Then I took a good look at everything I'd done, looked at all the sweat and hard work. But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it. Nothing."

Sounds like the cravings I spoke of last time, wanting more and more, and never satisified. Solomon realized that with everything, he was still a son of Adam. Tiff, you can only reach so far. Temporary things are just that--temporary.

Eve's Daughter

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Super Size Craving

Today's Menu: Blueberry Muffin
It's Wednesday, forget the drama...

I admit it: We watch the Academy Awards at our house. We buy snacks, kick back, and enjoy the show. I'm shallow enough to say I love to see the gowns. Yes, I'd wear that. No, I wouldn't want to be buried in that. If I looked like her, I'd definitely wear that. What would I say if I ever won for Best Screenplay? (hey, a writer can dream!)

For the first time, we'll be watching at the edge of our seats to see who wins in the Documentary category. We're cheering for the only one we watched. Super Size Me.

Yup, the one where the guy documents his 30-day saga of eating McDonald's three meals a day and he nearly pickles his liver by day 21, all while his vegan girlfriend looks on and shakes her head in horror. For you family-friendly readers, I'll tell you there's one f*** word (not fudge) spoken by an interviewee, and an R-rated shot while the guy is getting an exam in a doctor's office. But I digress. Aside from that, don't cringe, rent the movie.

What made me shake my head in horror is seeing how our Western culture seems bent on destroying ourselves with the foods that bring us such pleasure. We poison our bodies with processed junk--and no, it doesn't just come from McDonald's. We don't have to super size or go through a drive-thru to satisfy our cravings with food that won't satisfy. Not an hour after we consume more calories in a meal than we need in one day, our bodies reap from the sugar and starch, then crash. The cravings start, and our mouths water for another fix.

But haven't we always been that way? Eve's daughter I am. I only have to look in the mirror to see what I've done to myself. I won't hate her for eating the forbidden fruit when I've had more than my share. Satisfy those cravings now, pay later in a bad way. My scale sighs.

Eve's nature is to destroy herself by taking that which she thinks will make her happy. Which reminds me, now that we're at the point of making confessions. It's late, and that makes me more lucid than normal. I watched Desperate Housewives the other night, mostly to see what the fuss is all about.

This episode dealt with sin and guilt, and how many of us choose to deal with those things. One of the characters had cheated on her husband and was staving off the guilt, when a priest entered her mother-in-law's hospital room. Of course, this same priest had heard the confession of the guy she'd had the fling with. Oops.

They had a bit of verbal grappling about her indiscretion without actually mentioning it.

She told the priest, "I just want to be happy."

And he told her, "That's the answer of a child."

So it is. What makes a child happy changes from moment to moment. "But, Pumpkin, you liked peas last week!"

"But I don't this week!"

Which brings me back around to Super Size Me. The oldest problem in the book, what to do about that craving. Maybe it's not that the craving is bad. We were created with taste buds, after all. Maybe it's learning to crave the right things and realize that what we crave isn't always the quick fix through the drive-thru. We don't know what we really want.

The first step to getting out of the mess is realizing, "I'm in one."

Tonight just sign me,
A Daughter of Eve who's found the way out and back to Eden