Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The New "First Base"

Interesting, the whole texting thing. My husband doesn't think it's going to last. "Too much of a manual task," he says.  Besides, texting can be so vague - not enough context and details. What does "5 min" really mean anyway? Arriving early? Still on freeway? You just now moved onto the massage part of your pedicure?     

But I do love texting. Although it makes me bump into people sometimes. So I'm working on texting safely. Oh, and texting considerately. When I hear that ringtone or buzz go off during coffee with a friend, I'm tempted to put our conversation on hold to see what I got. A rude thing to do?

So outwardly I remain attentive: "I'm very sorry to hear about your sore toe." But inside I'm giddy. Did Jeff get a raise? My daughter an A+? Sunset Magazine wants to send me on the road to write pieces for them? The possibilities are endless! Texts are like little presents throughout the day, just waiting to be opened.

But let's be honest - I'm not that naive. There are plenty of "bad news" texts out there. Like the "Call me now" texts. What did I do? Who died? It costs HOW much? A little anxiety gets thrown in once in awhile. Keeps things real.

Now what about texting and boy/girl relationships? It seems a whole new "step" - a texting step - has been added to the teen dating process these days. (Though, no dating allowed here yet - only "gentleman callers" can come sit and watch TV with our family.)

The thing is, teens just aren't talking on the phone until 2:00 in the morning anymore, saying things like:

"You hang up first."
"No, you hang up first." 
"No, you go."
"No, you go."

Instead they text:

"U stop txting 1st. Hahaha."
"No, u stop txting 1st. Hahaha, lol!" 
"Hahaha, lol!"
"Lol! hahaha."

So, since teens primarily connect via texting, could it be that talking on the phone is the new "first base?" At least my funny mother-in-law thinks so. That is, of course, keeping in mind the most wholesome sense of the phrase. (Gosh, what is first base now anyways? Don't think I want to know.)

What then to make of texting? Is this shortened and abbreviated mode of communication bad for us? Should we all go back to writing letters? Talking on the phone? Face to face? Time will tell.

But I sometimes wonder what it'd be like if God were a texting God. Although I'm sure he loves my lengthy, overly-worded prayer journal, my to-the-point prayers - or "texts" - get to him just the same.

Take a look at Nehemiah in the Old Testament. The king asked him a question, and Nehemiah was dreadfully afraid to answer. After all, the king could do whatever he wanted to him. So Nehemiah quickly and silently "prayed to the God of heaven" before he answered the king. What was that prayer exactly? What did he text to God? "Help me?" Who knows. Whatever it was, it was quick and did the trick, for the king showed him favor.

So omitting a few prayer details for the sake of brevity may not be so bad. Not to worry. God's got enough time for the entire universe - both our endless, sob-filled prayers and our "5 min" ones rise up to him. As for all the criticism texting gets, I'm not losing sleep over it yet - anything that slows down the first-to-second-to-third-base dating process is fine by me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Recipe for Life

Ah, the old school days when kitchen decor consisted of wall-mounted wooden spoons and forks. Or amber-colored glass grape clusters. Or how about those decorative "Recipe for Kindness" plates. (What, your mom still has one? You still have one? Oh.)

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup of respect
2 cups friendliness
3 cups love
1/4 cup patience
1 tsp working together

After practicing everything, mix together and enjoy!

How sweet. But I think people prefer real food recipes. I know I do. It's like, "Yum, a new recipe! Wait. Hold on. One cup of respect? Oh, it's a recipe-for-life recipe. Lame."

But when I do happen upon a real recipe, I'll first comb through to see if it wants me to grind my own nutmeg or use a thermometer or blanche something. And what exactly is a cardamom pod? Hungarian paprika? My mind starts to drift at the mere mention of that stuff.

Although once I used "butcher's twine" (cooking string) to hold together a spinach-stuffed rolled-up meat thing. And it didn't turn everything greenish-blue like on Bridget Jones Diary. I actually made this recipe... not one, not two, but three times - rare moments of culinary genius.

But recipes that really suck me in are those requiring "one pot" and have the words "healthy" and "comfort food" magically thrown together somehow. And there are certain ingredients - oatmeal, buttermilk, cocoa, sour cream - that cause me to linger awhile, as in, "you had me at oatmeal."

Now, anyone hoping to get a real recipe out of this blog, today is your lucky day! And I'm pretty sure you already know the main ingredient. It's my mother-in-law's famous Oatmeal Cake, a.k.a. "Touchdown Cake" during my husband's high school football days. Simply amazing. Don't know why exactly. I guess it has all the right ratios. And it's a one-potter.

But real quick - back to "Recipes for Kindness." Can you imagine actually following one? If baked up just right, our social circles would be heaven on earth. But let's be honest, knowing me I'd end up replacing 1/4 cup of patience with 1/4 cup reality, and my party would fall flat or “taste” too salty or something. (Or just be really fun!)

At that point, I'd ask God to let His grace flow like the milk over a bowl of Reeses Puffs on a Saturday morning. That would more than make up for any ingredient shortage or mix-up. Maybe "unlimited cups of God's grace" should be added to all recipes-for-life?

At any rate, let's get down to business...

Karen's Oatmeal Cake:
1 cup oatmeal
1 1/4 cup water
--Microwave both together for 3 minutes.
Then add:
1 stick butter (Let butter sit in hot oatmeal a few minutes to soften before continuing.)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
--Beat together one minute.
Then add:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg (Previously ground nutmeg.)
--Mix together, and pour into greased 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes until done. Cool and sift (or sprinkle) powdered sugar over the top - be generous.

Oh, and don't forget to add a pinch of kindness. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Miserly Me

Ready or not, here comes Christmas. Only two-ish months away. And since Thanksgiving doesn't really have any "songs," there's not a smooth transition from Halloween's Monster Mash into Silent Night. So we get hit with Christmas music in stores starting November 1st, bright and early - if not already.

The season of generosity, that's what it is. And it's true what they say: It's better to give than to receive. Right? Well sadly, according to this past weekend, I have a long way to go.

So there we were at the Beth Moore women's conference in Long Beach - 9,000 of us. (I did the math, and that's 9,000 pairs of tall equestrian-style boots and brightly-colored skinny jeans that I saw.) The whole thing was amazing. The way that woman communicates the Word of God, bringing it to present-day life, in her Southern drawl. I'm pretty sure I'm wiser now - except for that one thing.

It was near the end. After the last song. The worship leader shared something with us. Something God put on his heart about his praise team becoming a gathering of givers. And I got so excited. What were we going to get exactly? Surely not a car. Too many of us. iPads? Of course not. Hmmm, what could it be? So excited. Just like on Ellen!  

And when he explained "gathering of givers," I've never been so happy that I kept my thoughts to myself. For what he meant was that we, the audience, are the givers. Oh man. How could I have missed something so obvious? "Me. Me. Me." that's all I heard.

As the worship leader began telling us about a giving opportunity through Samaritan's Purse - a Christmas shoe box ministry that blesses kids around the world - I felt ashamed. But right then and there, the whole theme to Beth Moore's message played-out in my heart.

She told us about King Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1. "Clamin' Naaman," she said. And how he was a great man in the sight of his master and a highly regarded man of valor, but - a big BUT - he was a leper. 

Now, fast forward to, well... ME. (Apparently my favorite subject.) What is my personal "leprosy?" My one blight? Am I afraid to be generous? Am I too thrifty, to the point of being stingy? Could be. I'm just glad God loves me enough to point all that out to me.

So as the Christmas season quickly approaches, I'd like to say goodbye to Miserly Molly and hello to... Moody Molly? Hope not. Magical Molly? Doesn't fit. Magnanimous Molly? Too big of a word. How about simple, yet festive, Merry Molly? Sure.

And what about filling Christmas shoe boxes with Bonne Bell lipgloss, fuzzy socks, and Play-doh? If it were up to me, I'd like this year's Samaritan's Purse shoe box to be big - tall equestrian boot-sized big - and filled to the brim.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Favorite Child

The question, "Do I have a favorite child?" came up this week. But my kids didn't even press me for an answer. Guess they assume I love them equally with infinity love. And I do! But it got me thinking... do I have a favorite?

My twelve-year-old had an accident recently that hiked-up my love level. (Injured kids do that to me.) Thinking a steak knife a good way to pry open a box, he sliced open his left hand. And out came my soothing mom chant: "It's okay. Just a cut. You're fine. Let's have a look. Honey, you're alright."

However, the chant I was thinking: "You're not okay. It's a bad cut. I don't want to have a look. Honey, we should go to urgent care." But once I got the bleeding to stop, we put off urgent care until the morning. Turns out you can't do that. Stitches need to go in within eight hours of injury. Oops.

The whole thing really scared him. I wish it happened to me instead. All the what-to-do? thoughts came to mind - apply pressure, elevate, don't say "gross." But the two things (the two people) that did not come to mind were my daughters. In that one moment, it was my son who took first place. He was my main focus. He was my favorite.

Oh, but how things get switched around. The very next day, the "texts" started coming in again. Thing is, my oldest daughter has no problem communicating to me - between Geometry and Choir, during lunch, and a sneak-text in English - that she's worried about something. And whether she gets a "snap out of it" text from me or an "all will be well, baby girl," she takes center stage in my thoughts regardless. She then becomes my main focus. My favorite.

I don't know, though - favorite? Maybe I'm confused about the meaning of the word. Because according to Julie Andrews, favorite things are raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, not cut-open and worried children.

But being the forever faith/life paralleler-er, I see an analogy of this "favorite child" thing in Matthew 18:12-14. It's about a shepherd who leaves his flock of 99 sheep - safe and sound sheep - to go searching for one who strayed away.

And when he finds the one lost sheep, did he spank its butt? No. Lecture it? No. Say, "Who do you think you are!?" No. Rather, did he love it deeply - individually - and rejoice because he found it? Yes and YES! Hmmm, could it be, in that moment, the lost little lamb was his favorite?

So sure, my son wasn't going "astray" or anything when he cut his hand. But he did become a quick favorite of mine. And having experience with my own daughter's neediness via texting, I think it's safe to say - if God were a texting God - I'd become a favorite of his as I send my needy-Molly texts heavenward.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Special-est of Special Agents

I wonder what a private investigator or special agent would deduce from looking around my house. (Heaven forbid we should ever need one, of course.) A sock in the kitchen sink? Blue glitter on the fireplace? Band-aids on a lamp? Hardly what you'd call obvious clues - no real, "Professor Plum in the library with a revolver" evidence to make a detective's job easier.
And speaking of libraries, when my kids were little, we used to do a little private eye work of our own when checking-out the book, Wacky Wednesday. With shoes on ceilings and trees growing out of chimneys, it's a book about a boy who sees odd things around his house and town.

Although I love this classic book, page four always stumped me, for the boy sees three wacky things. However, my youngest daughter would only count two. The one she missed was a broom in the hallway. It never seemed out of place to her. (That's because she has me for a mom, that's why; pardon the pun, but I don’t always do things by the book.)

And I know I'm not alone in this. A friend once shouted out in her house: "Someone please get me the toilet paper out of the dining room!" Apparently a detective would struggle at gathering evidence in her house, too.

So while detectives figure out crime scenes, I try to figure out people. But through much trial and error, I've learned that a Gucci handbag does not always equal a wealthy individual, nor does green hair equal an avid swimmer, nor do those skull/spider/unicorn/Bieber tattoo sleeves equal a wild night in Cancun. And likewise, a mean comment doesn't always come from a mean person (whew!), nor does a nice comment always come from a nice person.

1 Samuel 16:7 says, "For the Lord sees not as man sees. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

What a relief to know God skips past appearances and heads straight to a person's heart and motives, making our God the very specialest of special agents – an agent of mercy. After all, solving mysteries is one thing, solving people is a whole other thing. In fact, it’s an impossible thing.

So how about this: “I hereby commission you, commission me, to be agents of mercy for the kingdom of God. Now, Godspeed as you head-out to change your world, starting with your mother who might be the type to leave brooms in hallways.”