Life Hero

I cannot be the only person hooked on one of those color matching game apps. There’s tons: gems, candies, etc. I’m a smiling vegetable sort of girl. It’s not like I spend a ton of time on this game – at least that’s what I tell myself – but I check in pretty regularly to do some sliding and swiping. It’s satisfying, in the craziness of my life, to see things match up and disappear with ease.

There’s something I notice about myself through these games: I tend play ahead. Even as the vegetables fall, my fingers are already trying swipe my next move. And sometimes, just as I swipe that move, I see something that was even better (it’s even more annoying when the boy points out my mistake). I’ve missed the big move that opened up from the one before, something I couldn’t foresee. My rush, my loss.

I’m learning a lot about life from my Farm Heroes.

It has drawn me to another food-based saga from the Old Testament. The Israelites, wandering in the desert, were given manna every day.

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.'” (Exodus 16:4)

They were to gather and eat only the day’s worth, storing nothing, with the exception of the Sabbath, for which they could gather one extra day. It was a test of their ability to follow God’s instructions, to make sure their lives were dependent on Him and His plan. 

The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.” (Exodus 16:17-18)

Crazy enough, when they did as instructed and measured by God’s standard, they always had enough, even if they fudged a little in their gathering process. God made allowances for their human tendencies and corrected them with grace.

Deliberate disobedience did not meet such understanding.

“Some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.” (Exodus 16:20)

Looking ahead is one thing, fudging and faltering and being generally human similar. God knows we may mess up in our follow-through, and thankfully He’s full of grace. But when we choose to ignore His instructions, we risk ruining tomorrow. I’m struck by how a beautiful gift is spoiled by moving even a moment ahead without God’s blessing, and I wonder why I’m so blasé about seeking Him even in the littlest things. Do I believe He will say no? Most of the time, when I seek Him, I already know His answers. They are often aligned with my heart, thankfully. It’s the act of seeking His blessing that seems critical, that moment of just bowing my head and remember who knows more.

In Farm Heroes, most of the times my moves stay the same, though sometimes there is one I would have missed. Still, would it kill me to be more patient, and to practice that patience with the One whom it matters the most? Because a missed move is nothing; a miss-step from God is everything.

So my question is, how careful am I to practice live by daily bread, checking my schedule’s rations with the One most capable of managing them? How could I make it more of a practice to live by daily bread, and what difference could that make for a life lived light?

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The not-so-straight and narrow

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I know this verse well, but sometimes, even when I know a verse well, I don’t know a verse. We read this during the course of a sermon the other day and it struck me very sensibly: if you trust in the Lord and submit your life to Him, “he will make your paths straight.” Your paths will not always be straight, even though you are trusting and submitting. Such are the consequences of free will and a corrupted world. But if you are trusting and submitting, He will straighten them.

Whew. Because no matter how I try, those paths never stay straight on their own. And really, I suppose that’s kind of the point.

In a bunch

Dear Self:

When standing at the store, comparing the prices between the prewashed spinach in a bag and the bunches of spinach that are on sale, buy the bag. Because once you spend a half hour meticulously de-stemming and washing that bunch of spinach, you will have spent more on the five gallons of water you used (not to mention the time) than the one dollar you saved. 

Love,
your Self

P.S. Love yourself–you are worth more than one dollar!

Happy 2011!

I like this annual tradition of checking where I am, where I was and where I’m going. My resolutions from last year fall short of being met–I feel like I made it halfway on most of it. The novel was finished; the second one not. M still uses training wheels; I feel like I finally took the training wheels off of my relationship with God. My temper? That really depends on the day. I see this not as failurebut evidence that I believed in myself. If I had not fallen short, the bar would obviously have been set too low. As it stands, the most important things were met, with surprises filling in the gaps. A new house and a half-marathon and a budding understanding/acceptance of myself. I have grown since last year, and in the end, I think that’s what I really had in mind.

So this year? It’s internal renovation: (1) Less multitasking (do I really need to check email and fold clothes while playing games with the kids?); (2) Better time management (me thinks resolution one leads to resolution two); (3) Something for myself every day (happiness is contagious, after all). And one holdover: boeuf bourguignon (still).

Of course, I also hope I surprise myself yet again. It was way too much fun in 2010.

Happy new year, happy new day, happy new you.

A Merry Gentlewoman

I have to admit, I’ve always disliked “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” As Christmas carols go, it felt stodgy and pedantic, lacking the cheer of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” or the comfort of “O Come All Ye Faithful.” But this past Sunday, we sang a version at church that incorporated a new chorus into the traditional lyrics. Being on media duty in the sound booth, I spent a lot of time staring at the lyrics, making sure they were right and timed according to the music. And as often happens when you’re focused, I found myself surprisingly touched by the lyrics.

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

I’m anxious by nature. I work with it and around it, and I am learning to tame the beast, but that really only means that it lurks in the corner pulling at its leash. So in the midst of the craziness that has been the past couple weeks–Christmas shopping and parties and stitches and such–I found myself floored by this carol I had once dismissed. Rest. Let nothing you dismay. Remember. Christ. OUR SAVIOUR. I am often astray, often at the hands of that anxious beast, and often during this holiday season, especially. But this is also the time of year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our saviour, the one who offers comfort and joy and salvation. In that I can rest.

Needless to say, this carol is now one of my favorites. I can often use saving, rest, comfort, etc. And it was a great prelude to this week, when the kids are out of school and the shopping and parties are all finished and we can enjoy uncharacteristically rainy weather with the peace the season should always bring. It’s an early Christmas present for our whole family.

Thanks for ruining Thanksgiving

We were treated to our first ever deep fried turkey this weekend. Some friends of ours cook them for Thanksgiving every year, and through a scheduling change, a November gathering at their house moved to October, and brought with it the promised crispy fowl. I’ve known about deep frying turkeys for quite some time. Known, really, about the obscene and absurd dangerous nature of putting a large wet object into a vat of boiling hot oil so close to your home, loved ones, etc.

And then I tasted deep fried turkey.

Just don’t do it. That’s my recommendation. Because that was the juiciest white meat I’d ever eaten. It puts all other white meat to shame. It wasn’t greasy or heavy or anything. It was pure melting deliciousness. And all the cooking’s outside. In half the time. With better results. So now I’m trying to calculate how much I value my family’s personal safety versus how much I want to be eating that turkey again on Thanksgiving day. Does anyone else deep fry their turkeys? Or is there some other, perhaps safer, way that I can ease my fooding pains?

Stubborn, defined

When K has trouble sleeping, her go-to request is “Jesus Loves Me.” Of course, at nap time this usually means it’s whined through tears and snot after 45 minutes of screaming, “I NOT TIRED!” Once I realized how often I’d be singing “Jesus Loves Me,” I looked up some additional verses. There’s a lot. I’ve only managed to memorize two more, and the three just get repeated over and over. I thought it didn’t matter anyway, since half the times she’s asleep before I get through one round. Yes, miraculously, since she was not tired. But the other day, fighting the nap she was going to take anyway, we had this exchange:

Me: (singing) “Pressing on the upper way, always guide me Lord I pray. Undeserving and stubborn-willed–”
K: Mama, what “stubber-will”?
Me: Stubborn-willed? Um, it’s like when you insist on doing something or not doing something, even though you know it’s not the right choice.
K: Oh.
Me: Like right now, K. Just like right now.

Don’t you love it when they provide their own illustrations? The end of the verse, by the way, is “never fails to love me still.” Which I guess works for heavenly and earthy parents alike.