Friday, October 29, 2010

Bless or Impress?

What motivates us to do what we do? I know for many girls and women, it's the desire to impress someone - parents,teachers,a young man,a spouse,co-workers,other moms,employers, etc. Our desire for approval impacts our decisions, large and small. Even something as simple as what to wear can be a big deal when we're concerned about impressing some one. Does this mean we shouldn't factor in other people at all as we make decisions? I don't think so. As a Christian, I need to remember that I'm called to a life that is God-ward first and foremost, but my expression of love and faith is lived out with other people. My motivation for choosing to clean house, do laundry, dress tastefully, wash my hair, cook tasty and nutritous meals, etc. is based on God's call on my life. In Genesis 12, when God called Abraham, He told him that He would bless him and that Abraham would, in turn, be a blessing to others. So, this idea of "blessed to be a blessing" gives me my framework for decisions. It gives me a focus on both God and others as I make all kinds of decisions each day.

I really don't care whether or not I'm impressive, but I do pray that, in some small way each day, I'll be a blessing. How will you bless those around you this week?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seasonal Beauty

Autumn is my favorite season! I love everything about it -- the variety of warm and chilly days, the consistently cooler evenings, sweaters, hot drinks, pumpkins, sweet potatoes.... well, you get the picture. But the thing I love most is the breath-taking surprises the trees give. In the midst of the expected greens, yellows, and browns, there will be a glowing red maple that casts rosy light over everything around it. Leaves that appear to be neon orange. Crimson dogwoods. Every year I'm amazed at the beautiful mix of subtlety and boldness in the colors of autumn. The beauty of autumn is different from the beauty of spring - that season of riotous colors from all over the color palette! Autumn's colors are, for the most part, variations on just a few basics.

I was thinking about this today in light of the seasonal beauty of a woman's life. A young woman in the springtime years is energized with possibilities. Having four daughters has allowed me to observe (and remember!) those years of "trying on" different looks and exploring a wide variety of interests. It's an exciting season with a beauty all its own. Then there's summer - that season of sameness, in some respects. Since I live in the South, my experience of summer is one of consistent, and sometimes overwhelming, heat, but there are some of the most gorgeous reflections of light during the summer - a sunrise, sunlight glimmering off a lake or ocean, a sunset in the mountains. The days are intense, much like the early adult years for a woman. If there are young children in the mix, that intensity can be magnified, but the potential for such beauty is there! The beauty of these years comes as we learn to reflect the light of grace in all of our relationships - husband, children, co-workers, parents, and siblings.

Autumn is definitely my season. The intensity is beginning to wane, and things are more focused. I'm enjoying the fruits of many things during this season. I get to see grandchildren being born as well as reap the benefits of years of teaching (getting to spend more time actually enjoying my students as I need less time to research and prep lessons!) My prayer is that, as I go through this season, I'll be a reflection of focused living in Christ - subtle in some ways, surprisingly bold in other ways! As winter approaches, I want to experience the beauty of that season as well. Winter can be stark, but there's a clarity to that starkness and a quietness as things rest. Snow is the most beautiful aspect of winter - a blanket of clean peacefulness that falls over our little part of the world. I want to be that way for those in my life -- peaceful, settled, yet with a clear perspective on life and death that allows both joy in the present and hope for the future.

I pray you'll also enjoy the beauty of the season, both the natural beauty around you as well as the beauty of your season of life.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall's a whirlwind!

It's been over a month since I've posted, but that doesn't mean I've been thoughtless for a whole month. (hehehe) I've been pondering a few things I want to blog about, but this first October entry is something easy - FOOD!
Many of you don't know that Rick taught at a boarding school for twenty-six years, and our family lived on campus. That means that we ate meals in the dining hall for nine months out of the year. I know; pretty sweet, huh? I learned to like things I probably wouldn't have tried if I'd been doing the menu planning (like salmon), but I also learned what a pleasure cooking can be. Now that we live in our own home with me as the chef, I'm finding new and wonderful things to make. At least, they're new for us.
For tonight, I'm preparing a recent find: Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese (modified from the Fix It and Forget It Cookbook)
8 oz. cooked macaroni (I ususally do a wee bit more)
3-4 c. shredded sharp ceddar chesse
1 13 oz can evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs (I beat these before adding them)
a pat of butter (about 2 tsp)
1 tsp salt
some fresh ground pepper (to taste)
1/2 tsp ground mustard

Combine all ingredients except 1 cup of cheese in greased slow cooker. (I grab a stick of butter and run it around the sides and bottom to "grease" mine.) Sprinkle reserved cheese on top. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Don't remove lid during cooking!

We'll be enjoying this with grilled Italian sausages, grilled onions and peppers.