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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Delicious Combination

Photo Credit:  sideshowmom at
I hope everyone had a wonderful week of giving thanks and feasting on favorite dishes with family and friends.  My kiddos were off all last week, so Monday morning came as quite the shocker.  It’s amazing how easy it is to slip into summer mode.

I don’t know about you, but I love how our family’s Thanksgiving meal is so deliciously predictable.  For starters, my mom always makes enough to feed an army.   We discuss scaling down on quantity and it never actually happens.  When it’s all said and done, she confesses that it’s virtually impossible to make a small pan of dressing.  Plus, I know she secretly loves to send all her little ducklings home with some leftovers for lunch (and supper) the next day.  Love that Momma…and her cookin’!

We are also blessed to have so many different choices that I feel like I’m at Golden Corral.  The line-up typically includes ham, turkey, dressing, gravy, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash casserole, cucumber salad, cole slaw (sour and sweet versions), broccoli rice casserole, fruit with whip cream, rolls, cookies, pecan pie and…a nap.

However, there was a new dessert that Mom tried this year that I absolutely fell in love with.  She cut the recipe out of our local newspaper a few weeks ago.  It was an easy “crustless” pecan pie.  Well…crustless in that there was no crust you could visibly see on the outside.  My Uncle Greg convinced us that the crust was really found within the pie…all mixed together.  Here is the mouth-watering recipe:

2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup sugar
½ cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup chopped pecans
6 Tbsp. melted butter
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
¼ tsp. salt

Mix the above ingredients well and pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan.  Place in a 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  YUM!

In between all of the eating, we did manage to find some time to play outside with our puppy, Belle.  She is four months old now and is quite the lively one.  She loves to play fetch, but of course, does NOT let us have the ball she fetches without a fight. 

We tried to trick her into giving up her ball.  We would kick the tattered soccer ball and she would run after it and bring it back…well…nearby.  So, in order to get her attention away from the soccer ball, we would throw a small blue football beside her.  She would have to drop the soccer ball from her mouth in order to fetch the blue football.  Numerous times, she attempted to have both balls in her mouth.  It never worked.  She went crazy trying to have both.  She couldn’t stand it!

This sounds extremely familiar to what I try to do at times with God’s will for my life and my own will…God’s way and my own way.  Like Belle, I want to have both...the soccer ball AND the football.  It doesn’t work very well that way.  I have to drop my will to grab on tight to His.

In addition to eating and playing with Belle, the kids were craving some homework over the break.  What?!  Well, my husband promised to write down some questions for each of our children and said he'd look over their answers after work.  For some reason, my kids just loved this idea.

So, the Thanksgiving homework included questions in subjects like math, spelling, science, social studies, faith, and common sense.  The kids thought it ranked right up there with chocolate.  Our three-year-old daughter had to name some colors and shapes and know the answers to questions like “What color is daddy’s truck?” and “What is PoPo's real name?”

Our five-year-old had some simple math and spelling as well as questions like (Dads will love this…), “How much pressure do tires have?” and “Name three fluids you check in a car.”  Yes, our daughter just might become a mechanic one day!  She aced the questions - especially, “When is Jesus’ birthday?” and recited the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” without missing a beat.

Our nine-year-old son had a more challenging selection of questions.  He was asked questions about electricity conductors and insulators, as well as what gas must be present for fires to burn.  He had to write down three of the ten commandments as well as the four gospel writers.  He did a fantastic job, right along with the girls.

BUT, in the social studies section of his questions, time stood still for me for just a moment.  I was reminded of something very important through one of my son’s answers.  One of the questions was, “Who leads the United States of America?”  My husband was looking for “President” as the answer.  My son wrote…”God.”

Yes.  A simple reminder of Who guides the sun to rise and set each day.  A reminder of Who is over everything…even a president.  Thank you, son.  I love you to the moon and back!

God leads us and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  And, similar to the new “crustless” pie that my Mom made this year – I want my will and His will to resemble its ingredients.  I want our wills to be mixed together in such a beautifully delicious combination that I can’t separate them even if I tried.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Special Guest

Photo Credit:  hamper at
If I could dine with anyone...well...besides the fam,
I would want to share a meal...with the Blessed Lamb.
The things I'd want to thank Him for, how would I even start?
Could I even speak the love that's found deep in my heart?

I wouldn't want a lunch food of any kind,
I'd want to share the thoughts inside...of all that's on my mind.
I'd hope the service would be slow...I'd want to drag it out,
Just for me and Jesus...that's what it'd be about.

First, I'd like to thank Him...for His life that He gave,
So our lives just wouldn't end with names upon a grave.
I'd thank Him...for opening the lock on Heaven's gate,
I'd stall for extra time...asking for another plate.

Very soon, He'd catch my little plan,
After all, He knows us...each woman and each man.
Then He'd say, "Relax, my child, I know your every thought,
I want to be here, too...just as you have sought."

My nerves would calm, He'd take my hand, "What would you like to say?"
"Lord, I thank you for the do for me each day.
Thank you for my legs that work when I get out of bed,
For my eyes that greet the day from my sleepyhead."

"For giving me a family that loves me through it all,
For answering my prayers, when Your Name I do call.
For our meals, for our home, each sunrise fresh and new,
For our friends, for our health, for freedom, Lord, to love You."

"For blessings in abundance and the chance for us to share,
With those who may not realize how You deeply care.
For giving us a recipe through Your Holy Word,
Of how to get to reach You and be heard."

"I can't believe You gave your life for sinners just like me,
But, I know You love us, Lord, more than we can see.
I thank You for the tiny taste found in a mother's love,
A day-to-day reminder that love is from above."

"Thank You for my Mom and Dad whose love is never ceasing,
For my precious husband, each year, my love's increasing.
For the gift of children...I feel so very blessed,
They bring me peace and joy...more than I could've guessed."

Then, I'd stop and say, "Oh my, how time has flown!
Would you like to talk?  I've been in my little zone."
"Yes, my child, please love like me...there is no other way,
Love your friends, your enemies, the least you meet each day."

"Show everyone a glimpse of what a life with Me can be,
One that's full of hope...and tranquility.
Share your time and talents...your abundant treasures, too,
You need me just as much, dear one, as I'm in need of you."

"You are my hands, you are my feet, you are my lips to speak,
Encourage all you meet each's Me they need to seek.
For hope when things seem hopeless, for love when they're alone,
For comfort when they're suffering, use kindness in your tone."

"Dear Lord, I know you're busy, I thank You for your time,
Please know this meal's on me, sir...won't let you pay a dime."
"Oh, my daughter, please recall that I have paid for this,
On the cross, remember...betrayed with a kiss."

Then, before I could respond, He was no longer there,
I looked high and I looked low, but couldn't find Him anywhere.
Then a voice in my head reminded me to pray,
A way that we can call on Him each and every day.

He is there, He's all around, He'll dine with us each day,
Just remember to invite Him on Thanksgiving when you pray.
"Bless this food, Lord, bless this house, while we work and rest,
We saved a seat...for You, Lord...please come and be our guest!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just Call Dad

Photo Credit:  imelenchon at

The other day, I noticed that our freezer just wasn’t all that cold.  The popsicles were melting and the waffles were half-thawed.  The fridge/freezer is just something we take for granted around here…day in and day out it keeps our food at just the right temperature for us.  On any given day, I absolutely do NOT think about our fridge or freezer really…that is…until something is wrong with it.

So, after chatting with the hubby and trouble-shooting what we thought it could possibly be, we decided to call my dad.  We always call him for stuff like this.  We know that he’ll lead us in the right direction.  He just has a knack for small engine repair and anything that has a motor really.

The first thing he asked me to do was to check the small black coils in the front bottom of the fridge under that plastic panel thingy (my own highly technical terms).  Here’s the conversation:

“Okay, so I just popped off that black plastic piece you told me about,”  I said.
“Do you see the black coils?”  he asked.
“Nope.  No black coils.”  I responded.
“Are you sure?”  he inquired.
“Yep.  I’m sure,”  I answered.
“When was the last time you vacuumed under there?”  he asked.
“Um, let’s see – we bought it in 2005, so, um…never,”  I replied.
“Well, maybe the coils are hidden, you know, under the seven years worth of lint,” he jokingly suggested.
“Ooooohhhhh.  Oopsie,” I answered, “we’ll get right on that.”
“Vacuuming that lint is a great place to start,” he offered.  “It won’t run correctly if air can’t get through.”
“Of course.  Thanks, Dad.  Love you!”

So, there ya have it.  If anything, here is your gentle reminder to get that dust and lint off of those coils before you have a problem (the coils ARE there…I assure you).  And, for all of the regular Sips followers, you know I have something to tie this into, right?

The build-up of lint over the years was slowly sucking the life out of our refrigerator/freezer.  Sounds a lot like the build-up of anger and grudges and our unwillingness to forgive…it basically sucks the life out of us over time.  It suffocates us and prevents us from living a life of true peace and…fresh air.

Broken relationships.  Resentment.  Jealousy.  Envy.  Anger.  Forgiveness.  Love.  There are SO many things I can't wait to chat with Jesus about...

In the meantime, in chapter 5 of Matthew, I always find comfort.  (verses 6-12)  "Happy are those who long to be just and good, for they shall be completely satisfied.  Happy are the kind and merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.  Happy are those whose hearts are pure, for they shall see God.  Happy are those who strive for peace - they shall be called sons of God.  Happy are those who are persecuted because they are good, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.  When you are reviled and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers - wonderful!  Be happy about it!  Be very glad...for a tremendous reward awaits you in Heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too."

Loving our enemies.  The.  hardest.  thing.  in.  the.  world.  to.  do.  It’s so much easier to just love the people who love us back, you know?

Here is someone’s response to a YouTube video about loving our enemies:  "Just because you start to love your enemies doesn't necessarily mean you have to build relationships with them.  You can actually love them from a distance instead.  Loving them doesn't mean that you have to listen to negativity from them either.  The best thing to do is to wish them no harm and pray for them.  Staying away might be best if they cause you to stumble."  This isn’t bad advice, especially if we have tried countless times to reach out to someone and make amends and they refuse our hand.  As they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

But, there is another chapter in Matthew that also hits home:  (18:21-22)  Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who sins against me?  Seven times?  "NO!" replied Jesus, "seventy times seven!"

Seventy times seven times!  Really?  Ugh.  Forgiveness.  Jesus explains to us in black and white terms what we are to do.  No gray area.  Poo!

The great news is that love and forgiveness can build bridges.  Jesus NEVER said they would be easy bridges to build. Not once. Dang it!  But, if God is always at the center of our response, we can't fail.  If we let our human weaknesses creep in (anger, the I’m-right-you’re-wrong mentality, jealousy, etc.), that’s when we struggle and fail.

To keep the “lint” from building up, we need to take time to “clean house.”  To start the clean-up process, we need to pray.  We need to call upon our heavenly “Dad” for guidance, like where we should even start.  It can be overwhelming.   We need to work on forgiveness...every single day.  We neglected our fridge for seven years…WAY TOO long!!  See what happens?

I once heard this comparison:  Say someone really agitates us at our place of work…(it could happen…)  Sometimes, we harbor anger against them and let them get to us while we’re at work, while we drive home, and even when we get home.  When we just aren’t able to “let it go” and we keep the anger and hurt alive, it’s like we invite them into our home day after day to have dinner with our family.  Now, while this would be a great gesture, it would be even more wonderful if we had forgiven them before they joined us.  I mean, if we’re going to invite them (figuratively speaking, since they are always on our mind), the dinner would be much more pleasant if we had forgiven them first, right?

We can also ask for Mary's intervention - how did she POSSIBLY see her Son's persecutors and not want to go out there and show them no mercy!  Right?!  Now, there's a woman's footsteps to follow.  Mary can give us the peace and strength we need.  We should ask her…beg her…and let her in.

Once we work on removing the years of “lint,” breathing becomes a little easier.  We won’t have to struggle as much in our day-to-day activities if the “lint” isn’t so thick.  Lint just has a way of building up over time.  It can choke us.  It takes great effort just to function at times if too much lint is in our way. 

Get rid of the lint!  And, don’t forget to call “Dad” while you’re at it!  Our Heavenly Dad is just a phone call…um…prayer…away!  He’s extremely busy, BUT, He always answers.  Oh, and don't worry, He has caller ID!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saints in Training

Photo Credit:  dmscs at
In addition to the ever-so-slight tinge of coolness in the air, the fall festivals, and the bountiful list of reasons to be thankful, the autumn season also brings the sneezes to our house.  Whatever blows in from another part of the country this time of year just doesn’t agree with the fam.  So, last week, we were all sniffin’ and snortin’ to the tune of antihistamines and cough suppressants.

However, I’m feeling blessed that this week is already humming a new melody.  But, on my most blah day last week, I desperately needed to go to the grocery store.  I had NOTHING in the house.  Nothing.  When my mom says she has nothing, she can still make seven delicious square meals.  When I say I have nothing, my pantry actually echoes.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I am so glad that we can go to the store and buy the food we need, but I absolutely did NOT want to go.

It was a labor of love.  My family needed me to go.  My children needed options for their lunchbox.  My “breakfast for supper” gig was no longer working.  The cereal had run out of fun, if you will.  Our dog basically opened the car door and pushed me in (hee hee).  “Okay, Okay…I’ll go…I’LL GO!”

However, I felt like a slug while I was there, slowly creeping around the store.  I tried to muster up a smile as I walked down the aisles.  Certainly other folks I encountered that day had more to worry about than allergies.  I am sympathetic to the fact that someone else always has it worse on any given day. 

But, my ears were stopped up and I couldn’t hear a thing.  My head was stuffy and I couldn’t breathe out of my nose at all.  I was feeling sorry for myself.  Then, out of nowhere, a sweet lady came up to me and said, “Your hair looks so cute like that.”  And, as I tried to remember even fixing my hair, another kind soul told me that she really liked how I applied my make-up.  Surely, I didn’t hear her right – my clogged ears must have failed me.  But, she repeated, “I just thought your make-up looked nice and so why not just say it!”

Huh!  On a day when I felt slightly pathetic, I got two of the most genuine compliments I’ve ever gotten at the grocery store.  Through a couple of dear women, I was reminded of how beautiful we all are to God (even our cruddy allergy selves).  He looks at us and says, “I choose you.  I love you.  You are beautiful.”

Last week, we also celebrated All Saints Day.  My children always enjoy that day because our priest does something special during Mass.  When we give each other the sign of peace, he encourages us to insert our neighbor’s name after the word Saint.  So, my son shook my hand and giggled, “Peace be with you…Saint Mom.”  Of course, the whole congregation chuckled a little while doing this activity because we know how FAR we have to go to really become a saint.  Or…IS it completely out of the question for us?

Well, our priest, Father Gabriel, says that saints were just like us…ordinary people.  They just did two things very well – they trusted in God and they were always eager to do His Will.  So…saints were ordinary people with an extraordinary love for God.  Could it be that the two ladies in the grocery store were just saints in training?  They did give me a glimpse of Christ’s love for me.  It’s possible.  Hmmm…..

I don’t know about you, but I know I ask God for a lot of things.  I complain to Him at times and I do a good deal of thanking Him.  But, how much time do I spend actually LOVING Him? 

Janel Esker reminded me of something in her reflection this week:  “Loving God is different than loving a person you can actually see, touch, and hear – yet it’s so fundamental to the spiritual life.  Maybe, like couples who’ve been married a long time, we just assume God knows we love him.  But even long-married couples renew their marriage vows and fall in love all over again.  God is always reaching out in love to us and Jesus challenges us today to recommit ourselves to God.  Can we continue to fall in love with God?”

Francis Chan also has a great way with words as he describes how crazy our love can be for another person: 

“When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love.  You’ll drive for hours to be together, even if it’s only for a short while.  You don’t mind staying up late to talk.  Walking in the rain is romantic, not annoying.  You’ll willingly spend a small fortune on the one you’re crazy about.  When you are apart from each other, it’s painful, even miserable.  He or she is all you think about; you jump at any chance to be together.”

Are we in love with God like this?  Surely we can all relate to what Chan is describing.  Our love for God could look like this if we just let Him in.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8)  Don’t we all crave love?  Who doesn’t love “love?”  It gives God glory when we want to love Him – when we desire Him in our lives.  The Saints “get it.”  I want to understand it, too. 

Matthew West sings a beautiful love songa love song from God to us.  It reminds me of when the kids tell me they love me and I say, “I love you more.”  God feels the same.  He loves us more than we can imagine…more than we can fathom.

But, what if we are going through a time when we can’t even seem to find God, much less love Him like He deserves to be loved?  I think we might be inspired on just where to look by watching the movie (or possibly even the trailer…), “Letters to God.”  We recently showed it to our sixth grade CCD class and hearts were touched…especially mine.  Inspired by a true story, this ten-year-old boy just might uncover a way to find God…to love God…through letters.

I’ll leave you with this to ponder:  If saints were ordinary people with an extraordinary love, then what a different world it could be if we all lived like we were “Saints in Training.”