Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Know the Source of Peace

When I'm broken and depressed. When I'm worn out and have no emotional reserve. When I think I can't make it through another day, I go sit with my Father and my Lord. I ask Him to cover me with His love and peace. I say very little but desire to be simply in His quiet presence. He always meets me there. He tucks me into His hands and wraps me in His love. Even when I'm ripped and torn I know He is at work in my heart. My Jesus longs for me to come to Him and to sit with Him and Him with me. I often can't start my day if I haven't found refuge in Him.
The people of India know nothing of this kind of Love. They have no source for this kind of peace. This morning I was sitting and thinking of them and realized that they will spend their entire lives trying to please a god that doesn't even exist. The god they have created is a fickle God and will determine their future on a whim. They spend each day trying to be good enough for the scale to tip in their favor hoping that they will be granted eternity in heaven.

My God is not fickle. He doesn't rule by emotion or on a whim. He doesn't keep score. His love for me is boundless, limitless and has no breaking point. How do you live without that kind of love and hope? Really. How do you live without a source of peace? Their gods have never offered hope or love and have never given them even a moment of peace. By the time you're 44 don't you just give up? There's no way the scale would ever tip in my favor. Hopelessness would set in. I got the incredible gift of being taken by a native Indian deep into his country. He took me across Mother India by car, taxi, train and plane. I've been in small towns and great cities. I've been in villages and in the jungle. And what impressed me the most was the blank look on the people's faces.

They are faces of lives that are hard and worn down. They are faces that dreamed of a better future but now know it doesn't exist. Not in Hinduism anyway. These children still have hope in their eyes. Their quiet ways entranced me and moved my heart to a deep longing for them to have Hope, and to know Love and to know Peace. Pray for India. Pray for her people to know the love of God. Pray for her children that they might not be trapped in hopelessness but to live free in Christ - tucked in the hallow of his hand.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pumpkin Pie & Momma - Thoughts on Heaven and a Lesson on Leaf Making!

If you're a girl, Thanksgiving is cookin' in the kitchen with your mom. It's an all day affair that actually begins the day before! My skills in the kitchen are terribly the point where my Mom designated me as "clean up girl." No matter what I try, it seems like I'm on the brink of disaster! But I can do pumpkin pie. And I can make some awesome leaves for my pumpkin pie too. Thanks to my Momma. She taught me how. So I'm passing it on to you. It's ridiculously easy. I guess that's why I'm successful at it! First make your pumpkin pie. Eric's grandmother used to make pumpkin pie from scratch. I mean the whole shabang! You know, where you actually bake your own pumpkin, scrape it, season it then make the crust and bake the pie. Whew! The first real danger for me would be trying to cut the thing in half to cook it! When I met Eric, I made a pumpkin pie for us and he thought it was the best pumpkin pie he'd ever eaten. "Please don't tell my grandmother. It takes her all day to make one pie. How do you make yours?" Libby's of course! (I even get the already seasoned can of pie mix.) Momma and I did like to make our own pie crust but for the leaves, the roll out dough is the best. That's the secret.So roll out the pie crust. Get a large and small leaf shaped cookie cutter and cut as many as you can out of one pie crust. To make the leaves look sorta "real," draw veins on the leaves.Next roll up ten or so balls of foil - golf ball sized. Lay the leaves over the balls of foil. This way they come out looking wavy and not flat like you pressed them and pulled them out of a book. Now cook them until they're golden brown. You see, it's not about the taste with the leaves - it's about the prettiness! After that, be sure to let them cool completely or they'll break into pieces when you try to pull them off the foil balls. Heck, mine break into pieces anyway 'cause that's how things go in my kitchen when I cook! Then arrange them on your pie. That's it! It makes for a fancy pumpkin pie and it's really easy to do!My Momma - She died last March of pancreatic cancer. Last year I couldn't stand to be in the kitchen. Every time I'd go in there tears would stream down my face. You see, we lived with her. It's her kitchen that I cook in. She's everywhere and she's nowhere. But today, I'm feeling better about it. It does take time for sure. Last week I met with Dianna Bellow for a coffee date one cold afternoon. Dianna and I talked about Mom and the last year and about heaven. She said that "it's seemless to go to heaven. And there is just a veil between heaven and earth. Such a thin veil that a breath can pass through it." I don't know about you, but her words impacted me so much. My eyes brimmed with tears. To be so close to my Savior and my Momma. What a comfort and joy. Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Snot Turns Black When You're Playing in a Leaf Pile (HGM - Oklahoma)

There are at least 50 oak trees on HGM property and each year they provide a great big pile of FUN! We burried Logan. Lost him completely - so we thought! Esa even cried when she couldn't find him! He turned up though. Snot turns black when you play in a leaf pile! Then off on the ladybug they went touring the campus. There was lots of yelling and laughing. They're some of the cutest kids in the world!

Monday, November 16, 2009

China - Let's Eat Dinner - It's not for the faint-hearted!

Chicken, fish, veggies and's all at the market on the side street downtown. I can't tell ya which town. Security is too tight there. But it's in China! So how does one cook dinner there? First you walk down to the market. Everything in China is fresh. Most folks don't have refrigerators (although it seems everyone has a cell phone!) so food is bought and prepared fresh every day. Sometimes I have to be careful when I walk down Chinese markets. I really don't want to watch them kill the chicken so it's "fresh" when they give it to you. I'm truly an American when it comes to that and prefer to buy my chicken boneless, skinless, sitting on a piece of styrofoam and shrink wrapped! In the end, it doesn't resemble chicken at all! Yay! So here it goes, the pictures pretty much tell the story (minus the yuky part - sorry guys). These are open-air restaurants where we ate but most of the food comes from the market vendors. There's no canned or prepackaged food here.
There's one dish where they batter the fishes body and fry it with the head out of the oil so it's still alive and breathing when it comes to your table! This one really got me!
The restaurants along the street pull out their grills and tables and chairs and cook outside when the weather is nice. The whole town comes out to eat and chat the evening away. The fires under the woks and grills lining the streets look magical in the dusk!
These are goat heads. The brain is inside. Yes, they cook and eat them! They're very popular... It's not for the faint-hearted.What was on the menu that evening - grilled potatoes, mixed vegetables, shrimp, lobster, chicken, cicadas...

Cicadas... Did I say cicadas? Uhha...There was a feast each evening!It's embarassing how much food we could put away in one sitting! Really, we were like slugs and would have to sit back and wait awhile before we were able to walk again!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ever wondered what a Chinese hotel room looks like? This one in Chengdu is my most favorite!

This is one of my favorite places to stay in China. It's actually in Chengdu. My other favorite place is in Beijing in a hostel down in the old part of the city. This hotel is more western than most. I appreciate the western toilet. But the fun thing about this hotel is that the view outside the window is incredible and it sits on a tourist street that the Chinese have transformed into the Ming Dynasty era. Red lanterns line the street and are lit at night and the atmosphere is magical. People laugh and talk at the tea shops below until the wee hours of the morning. I love hearing all the conversations going on outside my window. The Chinese love this street so it's always packed out and festive. It's a fun place to people watch. Look! You can see the trees on the temple grounds next door. So lovely!Oh the western toilet! I do appreciate them when they are available. It's sooo funny. I've seen footprints on toilet seats countless times all across China. They just don't like sitting on something to go to the bathroom. They think it's totally "unclean!" So they squat on them by standing on the lid!So this is what a squatty potty looks like. This also happens to be an exceptionally clean one that I found on the overnight train. Which way do you face? What do you do with your pants? Does it flush? There's obviously no toilet paper. What do you do with it after you've "used" it? It doesn't go down the little hole (there's a little trap door that you can't see)! Mmmmm...I've figured out how to use one "successfully!" If you really want to know how - I suppose I could do a post on it! Isn't it a fun street! The hotel is on the second floor. I could leave my windows open all night.On the whole, I don't like tourist spots. But the Chinese love this street so much that they really make it a lot of fun to visit! It's just not "foreigners" who like to go. The Chengdu Giant Panda Research Center is about an hour from here. I should totally do a post on that place. You'd love it!
* This hotel costs around $35 USD a night.