The Lord, Limes, and Pie


I made my first truly homemade key lime pie today. Not the kind that comes in a box and you assemble it together, but instead the from scratch, every single aspect of its deliciousness, kind of pie.  One of my kids has been begging for a key lime pie and the other day I bought a bunch of limes on clearance at the grocery store so I looked up a recipe, and I was surprised at how uncomplicated it sounded.  Graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, some lime zest and 1 cup of juice from freshly squeezed limes.  Easy, right?  Mixing the first two ingredients together was painless enough and then I began cutting and squeezing the pile of limes in front of me. After dissecting a few of them, I was surprised to discover what little amount of juice each lime actually possessed.  After about the 7thlime or so, and having only about half a cup of juice at this point, my hands started to ache from all of the squeezing.  I wasn’t aware that in order to make a key lime pie from freshly squeezed limes you needed about 500 limes or so! As I’m squeezing, and aching, and now stinging from the juice getting under my nail beds, I thought, this is a lot of work, way too much work for one stinkin pie! In the middle of that thought, my conversation with God last night popped into my head as well. Lately, I’ve been telling Him that 7 kids is a lot of work for one woman and that I should be given some leniency in the whole training up my children part of the deal.  I mean, did He think I was Wonder Woman or something?   I just didn’t feel like it would be fair for Him to hold me to the same sort of accountability standards as mothers who have only 2 or 3 kids. The diligence of consistently training them, showing them, guiding them, setting a good example for them, and being patient with them – that was where I thought He could maybe cut me a break occasionally, especially with the patient part of it all which lately has not always been entirely Galatians 5:22 like.   I feel like I’ve been squeezed about as dry as can be with this fruit, a bit like these limes if I do say so myself.   Each child deserves my patience, each child needs my patience, but my goodness, 7 under 10 – it  would try Mother Teresa’s patience on certain days I do believe.   They still like me and want my attention and that can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining at times as they all tell me anything about everything just about all day long. I’ve been told to cherish these moments because a day is coming, very, very soon, where they won’t necessarily want to talk to me so much anymore, and I’m aware that the days are coming when they start to pull away to discover their independence apart from me.  But right now, in these times, I’m struggling to find the balance between enjoying these precious moments and in not feeling like some worn out, squeezed to death gigantic pile of limes.  And then another thought dawned on me, this used up pile of limes made a beautiful, whole, incredibly tasty pie.  Lord, I’ll keep giving you my entirely squeezed up moments as long as you promise to continue making a beautiful, delectable, mouth – watering pie out of them every time. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” Philippians 1:6.
Just Keep Livin!!

My Halfhearted Attempt at Being Political

First, a disclaimer, this is not necessarily a political post but with the elections right around the corner it is meant to highlight some of the absurdity and stupidity going on in Washington regarding some of the programs offered to the American citizens in the name of helping the poor.  I thought I’d pipe in my two cents about what I have personally encountered within our American system. I should also state, I am not very politically inclined one way or the other on most issues.  This is just an honest post about how I think the government is absurdly off with some of the ways our money is handled.   I was brought up very right winged conservative, always voted this way because of my upbringing and because most of the right winged views have generally resonated truer for me as an American citizen – except for three years, from approximately  2007-2010, when I had the opportunity to unwillingly participate first hand in more of a left winged funded lifestyle.  During those years I lived in what is labeled by the government as the “poverty level” as my late husband went on disability due to a terminal illness and the family took advantage of the systems in place: food stamps, Medicaid, free cell phones, free heat, free daycare, free graduate education to pursue my English Master’ degree, and the list could go on and on.  Some of these are legitimate examples of America helping the poor, and some are very poor examples of tax dollars at work in their finest moments.   Yes I took advantage of it, and yes it probably made me more democratically inclined for a period in my life, and it made me more democratically sensitive towards those who truly need these programs.  I know as a family with 4 children and two adults, we received nearly $1000 dollars a month in food stamp money, and we ate better than we ever had eaten in our entire marriage. Did I need the food?  yes, did I need $1000 a month for food?  Heck no, I didn’t even need to use coupons anymore or shop off brands.  I was free to purchase whatever I wanted with absolutely no stipulations whatsoever.  Was a cell phone a necessity for me?   Probably more so for me than for most people while having a terminally ill husband and a special needs child but for the general population, I don’t believe that this is an actual NEED.  People have survived for centuries without the constant need to be connected to one another.   Was finishing my education at a graduate level in an English program a need or a want?  It was a want, and I took advantage of a system in place to go for it. GENERALLY, I don’t think there are truly poverty stricken people in America or there shouldn’t be many of them with all of the poverty programs in place.  Truly poverty stricken  third world countries; Ethiopia, Somalia, and Zambia, those countries often portray a picture of true poverty to me, mothers with their dying babies at their breasts, swollen bellies and hollow eyes of children who have not eaten in days; those are accurate depictions of poverty –  not the American eating lobster and sushi, talking on his cell phone, from the porch of his 850 dollar a month, 3 bedroom apartment with heat and electric paid for and collecting the welfare check that bought the 60 inch big screen TV because he had NOTHING else to spend the money on! You can get complete, 100% paid for housing assistance, heat and electric paid for, all your food paid for, a free cell phone plus minutes, completely 100% paid for health care (never had one bill with late husband’s 3 year battle with brain cancer), free day care if you work, free schooling if it is in a high demand profession, free automobile repairs if you need it for your free schooling, and free interviewing clothes for your new job when you finish your free schooling.  These are some of the situations that I have unfortunately had the privilege of being a part of.   There’s also a whole system that caters to women of a certain economic level who have realized that the system actually rewards them generously for the number of children they are capable of having out of wedlock – more babies equals more money and benefits.  I realize that there are legitimate welfare situations, but I do believe that those taking advantage of a weak system often outweigh those who actually need it.  These systems need to become a temporary, helpful thing that we offer the American citizens.  They need to  be for those who work hard, pay their taxes, and then due to some unforeseen circumstance find themselves down and out, and they should not be a lifestyle option as they are for so many people in this country.  I believe that these systems are beginning to enable our society’s laziness rather than encouraging our citizens to rise up and take responsibility for their own plight in the American dream because there is nothing in place to demand accountability for most people who receive these benefits.   There needs to be more accountability for the money we allow to flow so easily to anyone who is able to fill out an application, and there needs to be an awareness that tax payer money is being unacceptably abused at many levels.  I don’t know what the answer is, nor do I really have the time to pursue that answer other than the act of placing my vote on November 4th for the candidate who I believe will address some of these issues in the most effective and efficient manner.  In the meantime…
Just keep livin!!

My Prayer

Lately I’ve felt such a defined sense of the beginning and endings of our lives here on earth.  Maybe it has to do with my experiences with the deaths of four people close to me – all in the last 2 years.  Each person played a profound role in my life; first my late husband in 2010, then, my maternal grandfather in 2011, and now both of my paternal grandparents in 2012. The brevity of our time here on earth has been heavy on my heart and on my mind for it truly is like a vapor “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” James 4:14. We are here today and gone tomorrow so how do we make our short amount of time significant?   I’ve been asking, “Lord, What is it really all about?  These lives that you bless us with, what are we supposed to do with them?” I believe many would cringe at the words life and blessing even being used in the same sentence to describe their own lives for I think a vast majority feel a kind of mundane existence on a day to day basis.  Not even necessarily a peaceful or contented existence, but a grindful reality where joy comes from a weekend of not working or a lazy Sunday afternoon watching football or a trip to the mall spending well earned money on more things that nobody really needs.  Where is our joy in this life?  What is the purpose of it all? This prayer has been playing over and over in my mind lately, and God has been imprinting it upon my heart, almost as a daily reminder for all of the “Whys” that I ask.    Maybe it can be helpful to you as well as you ask yourself, what is this all about?  Am I content to live in a sort of dull, lifeless, passionless existence or will I ask God, “What would you have ME do?  How can my life bring you glory Lord with whatever time you see fit to grant me breath?”

Lord, use me today.  Everything within me I give to you for your use and for your glory.  Use my life, every single aspect of it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the pains, the deep scars, the beautiful circumstances, my actions, my inactions, my words and thoughts, my obedience, or lack of obedience – May it ALL be used for your glory and to further your kingdom.  Use my past, use my present and use my future to further ignite the ultimate cause –grace heaped upon grace reaching to the farthest corners of this planet and within the darkest crevices of the human soul.   Use the fight in me always for good and never for evil; and use my strength to serve as a battle shield against the firing darts of the evil one. May I never look at life with purely earthly eyes but always allow me the ability to see beyond the here and now and to grasp the big picture even if I don’t understand it in the moment.  Wring my cells, my heart, my mind, my soul, completely empty of everything that can be used, every single drop of talent or ability, it is yours Lord.   May I always give you all the glory until I breathe my last and you call me home, and I leave behind only a pile of nothingness in the spiritual realm as your heavenly angels escort me to your presence.  And last but not least, may I hear the words that every servant of the most High God yearns to hear one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant, well done”. To Him be the glory and the honor and the power forever and ever, Amen.
Just keep livin!!

My Identity

I was a widow. This is a very small part of who I am.  My life consists of so many other adjectives: mother, wife, daughter, woman, adoptive mother, mother of a handicapped child, writer, dreamer, weight lifter, runner (kind of), reader, poet, child of God,  gardener, friend, strong willed, first born, blond (fake), flaky (I do have 7 kids!), cook, and the list could go on and on.  It seems that often when a spouse dies, the remaining spouse gets caught up in a one dimensional identity of being either a widow or a widower. This becomes the first and foremost way of identifying themselves when talking to everyone; “My husband (wife) died,” or everything they do is devoted to the memory of this one person, even years beyond their passing, or they constantly continue to dwell on pictures, memorabilia, and videos of the past with this person in them, and they talk about this person 95% of the time with anyone who will listen to assuage some guilt? Regrets? Attention seekers? I’m not sure what exactly it’s about but it doesn’t fit with my personality or how I choose to deal with my life or my grief.  There is nothing wrong with remembering a deceased person; however, I would argue that it is hard to move into the present when you force yourself to dwell on something that is now part of your past.  It’s hard to be respectful of your present (example, a remarriage) when you choose to live in your past as well. That person’s present and future ended, and why should yours have to end as well with their death?  What if instead, all of that time, energy, and identity could be put into those who are still here?  Your children? Your friends?  Your coworkers?  Your family? Your new spouse? What if they all had the opportunity to have you need them as desperately as you cling to the one deceased person?  I understand yearning for and missing someone, but there is a difference between this and in being so entwined in the past and longing for the past that it suffocates your present life.  This idea of the past can fall under many categories, and it is not just limited to the death of someone; like a divorce, a traumatic event, or even a disappointment.  By living in this situation or by allowing yourself to wallow in it you will never be able to move forward into something awesome that God has planned for your life in the present.  Paul talks about his desire to put aside his past, not wallow in his regrets or pains, but to instead, “Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” Phil 3:13-14. He of anyone could have beat himself up over regrets and guilt as the biggest persecutor of the modern church, but we never hear him rambling on and on about this for he would have never accepted his identity as being wrapped up in who he was prior to Christ.  He instead chose to move forward in who he was as a new creation in Christ!  There is a season for sadness but then there is also a season to rise above the sadness and laugh, dance, sing and live!  “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,” Ecclesiastes 3:4. I would challenge anyone living in the past or anyone caught in the pain of a lost loved one to give it to Christ, thank Him for your life, and thank Him for the time He gave you with that special person and start living for your own identity in Him.
 Just Keep Livin!!