Friday, June 29, 2012

fresh pesto

Why is it when I write about my life, or frame bits of it up in pictures, it seems so much more beautiful and romantic than when I’m actually living it?  

Yesterday, the boys and I made fresh pesto.  Pesto!  You know, that gourmet green stuff which costs an arm and a leg that you get off the supermarket shelf in trendy little organic tubs?  I made my own pesto with basil from my herb garden and walnuts from a tree in our yard.  

{See?  It sounds so amazing to write “my herb garden”, but the actual living of bringing it into being was hours of squashing my ever-expanding belly into crouching positions to plant tiny seedlings and pull weeds, and then more hours of lugging heavy buckets of water since our flood-irrigation canals don’t reach that particular spot… way less romantic than the lovely phrase “my herb garden” would suggest!}

“Fresh pesto” sounds romantic too, and it is.  I don’t know why the combination of fresh basil leaves, walnuts (our substitute for pine nuts), garlic, olive oil and salt should be so “morish” (New Zealand-ese for “addicting”), but it is.  And somehow, the satisfaction of growing the two main ingredients on our borrowed land and gathering them with my own two hands adds to the overall tastiness.  

So, I’m still mulling over this wonder of how my ordinary, many days too-frustrating-even-to-write-about life can suddenly seem so romantic and beautiful when I see it on a screen, all nicely woven out of snapshots and paragraphs of words strung like pearls on a string… Is there a way to be acutely, gratefully aware of this loveliness while I’m living it?

One of our mentors has this quote at the bottom of his emails:

When you are worried about the future, it's hard to find God.   

When you are living in the moment, he's right there with you.  

~  Ed Dobson
I have to admit, I worry about the future a lot.  At the moment, I worry about this baby we’re having, about unplugging from here and saying goodbye for 5 months, about what visa we’ll return on, about relationships both here and there… 
Ed Dobson’s words remind me of how Ann is teaching us to give thanks in every moment, for every moment, and how remembering to give thanks brings awareness of the Holy right into the Now.  Wouldn’t there be that fragrance of wonder in more of my moments if I became intentionally aware of the Holy permeating the Now?  

Two cups of fresh pesto goes a long way.  I’m still savoring it (I’m the only one who really loves it!) dabbed on salads with leftover chicken, smeared on crackers with tomatoes and cheese, on pizza, on toast… the possibilities are endless.  And in writing this post, seeing the making-of-pesto looking so earthy and satisfying on the page, I’ve become aware again of the wonder that I’m actually writing about my life.  

Now if I could just remember that in those moments when this very same wondrous life feels so hard and heavy, and joy seems so impossible to find…  
This is my life, and in each moment God IS.  
Have you had a wondrous moment recently, where you took a step back and marveled that this was actually your life?  
What would it take to carry the wonder of that moment into all your other mundane, slogging-through-mud moments?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

life is like a picture puzzle piece

Don’t you think our lives are a little like this poem by Shel Silverstein?
“Picture Puzzle Piece”
One picture puzzle piece,
lying on the sidewalk.
One picture puzzle piece, 
soaking in the rain.
It might be a button of blue 
on the coat of the woman who lived in a shoe...
It might be a magical bean, 
or a fold in the red velvet robe of a queen...
It might be the one little bite
of the apple her stepmother gave to Snow White...
It might be the veil of a bride,
or a bottle with some evil genie inside...
It might be a small tuft of hair
on the big, bouncy, belly of Bo-Bo the Bear...
It might be a bit of the cloak
of the Witch of the West as she melted to smoke...
It might be a shadowy trace 
of a tear that runs down an angel’s face...
Nothing has more possibilities
than one old, wet, picture puzzle piece.
I read that, and I think of how sometimes I just don’t feel like I fit anywhere… like a lost puzzle piece, minus its puzzle.  Sometimes I feel as though the singular little bit that I am just doesn’t make sense in my surroundings - like the colors on me haven’t found a home yet.  Do you ever feel that way?
Good thing we each are only one tiny piece in a mosaic of billions… and the God who made each one of us is patiently fitting his picture together, piece by unique piece.  
And the amazing thing is, each of us could be anything: in the hand of the Puzzle-Maker, we could become anything He chooses, and get placed any wonderful place He chooses to put us.  His puzzle is alive (I keep forgetting), and all the pieces are three-dimensional and intertwining with each other.  The possibilities are endless, really.  And yet, He does have One Perfect Plan that He’s already created, perfectly, and is bringing to pass, perfectly.  That’s reassuring to remember at those times when everything seems especially chaotic.
So the next time you’re feeling extra ordinary, or you’re worried about one of your colors not finding a home, think of that last couplet… 
“Nothing has more possibilities / than one old, wet, picture puzzle piece.”
(photo by William)

* * * *
Do you ever feel like you don’t fit anywhere?
What encourages you when you feel this way?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

am I beautiful, really?

I have a blanket that says “Beautiful” on it in English (a not-so-rare find at our local bazar - English letters and words are trendy here the same way Chinese characters were trendy in the West, even if no one knows what they mean!).  The blanket itself is not truly beautiful, but it’s the perfect naptime weight.  And when I lay down to rest every afternoon and wrap myself in it, I catch glimpses of that curlique script - scraps of the word that reminds me of this truth: to God, I am beautiful.  

I don’t feel very beautiful these days.  I’m having our third baby in about 4 months’ time, and I’ve already gained 20 pounds past my normal weight.  Lately I’ve been feeling fat, sluggish, and surrounded by heaps of things to do that I don’t have energy for.  I need to exercise; I need to hunt for low-fat snacks; I need to think positively; I need the truth of Scripture.  
That I am beautiful to God, even when I don’t feel it… (Song of Sol. 4:7)
That He takes great delight in me, even when I can’t believe it… (Zeph. 3:17)
That His purposes for me are perfect and good, even when I feel overwhelmed… (Jer. 29:11)

That I am wonderfully made… and so is this baby He is knitting in my womb.  (Ps. 139:14)
And when I wrap myself in my “Beautiful” blanket, and cradle my baby while I rest, I want my thoughts to dwell in green pastures and quiet waters, and on these words from Isaiah 40:11...
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

* * * * 
{If you have a minute, check out this related post from this wonderful, creative mom… Like her Connor, Will brings me “beautiful” rocks all the time too!}

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

can God really do anything?

One of the little neighbor boys was over to play the other day, and he and Will and Ben were all happily rough-housing on the veranda.  Suddenly the neighbor boy came running in to find me: “Aunty Carolyn, Ben has the pump!”  (He meant the bicycle pump we keep for pumping up our locally-bought sports balls, which very quickly go soggy.)  I went out to the veranda to check on what was happening…
I wish I had a picture to post here of what I saw:
Ben had the pump, and with one hand he was pointing the little pin at the end into his belly-button, and with the other he was stretching unsuccessfully to grab the long pump handle and start pumping.  
“Ben, what are you doing?!”
“Mommy, I want my belly to be big-Big-BIGger!!”  (From my last post you’ll remember that there is already one big-Big-BIGger belly in our family: mine…)
I laughed so hard I nearly cried.  I didn’t even have the heart to explain how a bicycle pump really works, or why you shouldn’t stick pointy things into your belly-button… I just laughed and took the pump away and hugged him til he squealed with delight.
Why can’t life be more like that?  Why can’t we just take things literally and not sweat so much over what we don’t understand?  Why can’t we just take God at His word?  That when He says He’ll be with us, He really is, all the time?  That when He says He’ll look after us, He really will? 
If a bicycle pump can make a ball “big-Big-BIGger”, why not a tummy?  If God can really do anything, why don’t I trust Him more?  

* * * *
What are you struggling to trust God with today?

Which part of God’s word do you need to take as literally as a two-year-old?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

what am I really looking for?

The boys are contentedly playing in the living room.  After a 6-day trip, all their toys seem new.  They are happy for the quiet and silence of familiarity, and I am too.  
Checking email, I hear two-year-old Ben squeak up and down with exaggerated inflections: “I just found my boun-cy ball!  I found it when I was look-ing for it!  Were you looking for it, Will?”  
I sit perfectly still for a minute, his squeaky voice echoing in my mind: “I found it when I was look-ing for it!”  And I think about how a two-year-old’s mind tumbles out concepts in fresh combinations of words, since he’s not had time to learn how things are “normally” said.  
The things I really want to find -- the things my soul needs to find… am I looking for them?  
“You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you,” declares the LORD…~Jeremiah 29:13-14 

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
~Deuteronomy 4:29 

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; 
seek, and you will find; 
knock, and it will be opened to you. 
For everyone who asks receives, 
and the one who seeks finds, 
and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
~Luke 11:9-10

So today?  
Seeking Him, with all my heart.  
Searching for Him, with all my soul.  
Asking, and waiting for the Giver of all good things to find me.  
* * * 
What are you looking for today?