Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's Not Easy Liking Green...

...if you're Spike that is. He calls most anything green, leafy, or crunchy "weird stuff." When we married I had to radically adjust my culinary repertoire. No asparagus, broccoli, green pepper, fresh green beans, leaf lettuces, cucumber, etc. We won't even get into the yellow or orange category. "Did your mom ever cook any of those vegetables?" His matter of fact response, "Why would she cook weird stuff? She cooked normal food." That's okay. He and I have worked this out.
Having just come in from Fresh Market with my leafy, green, crunchy fix, Spike noticed the sugar snap peas and in his inimitable form asked if they were Nazi peas. Nazi peas? Are they that bad? Evil peas? As I lined up my ingredients for this little side dish Spike was making final preparations for his Saturday lunch and I noticed a significant trend. He doesn't like green but he certainly likes another color.

 He wanted to know if I could put his photo on the blog. Red hot dogs.

And the obvious.
 If you ever see Spike eating one of these please call some form of emergency personnel immediately. There is something drastically wrong and he may require resuscitation. Once Mary James talked him into (it's pretty hard to tell Mary James no) tasting a fried green tomato. I had a defibrillator on hand just in case and then made a nice donation to the Tomato Farmers of America in Mary James' honor. How did she get him to taste those tomatoes? Spike DOES NOT eat tomatoes nor does he taste food items that he has not eaten in the past 55 years.
But, he LOVES ketchup. I cannot explain this tomato phenomenon.

Food in red containers is his specialty.
And his favorite red food of all which he has taught his very young grandchildren to salivate over. They call it Saturday Supper. The phone should be ringing shortly with a little voice on the other end wondering aloud if there will be Saturday Supper tonight. Yes, there will. Meg will be here. Please don't tell her brothers what we're eating tonight or there will be much gnashing of teeth.

Just in case you couldn't already tell since he and I are pretty much carbons of one another, this is my brother Jack. My very favorite, much loved, so fun to be with, I miss him terribly brother Jack. See? We're twinsies.
He loves green, leafy, crunchy food items and called me with the following recipe which started all of this. We'll call it:
Tasty Weird Stuff.
1 package fresh sugar snap peas
1 package baby gourmet cucumbers
1 box grape or cherry tomatoes
the zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pinches coarse ground sat
a little bit of fresh chopped dill to taste

Combine lemon zest and juice in a small bowl

Whisk in the olive oil and set aside
Blanch the sugar snap peas in boiling water for about a minute and a half. Drain and plunge in ice water.

Pour dressing over sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and sugar snap peas. Let chill about 30 minutes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

One Track Mind: Tiny Wings

Maybe you  know how it goes. An idea floats through your mind and then continues to make appearances in different form. What do they say, deja vu all over again? It's been that way with tiny wings. Somehow they morphed into edible tiny wings for the grand-lovees.

What you'll need:
A bag of Campfire marshmallows. They're huge. And puffy. And soft. And huge. Did I say that?
Some sucker sticks. Available at Michaels or Wal-Mart.
Edible Easter grass. Tar-jay. Hurry. There wasn't much left.
Sprinkles. Bunny (not as in Easter, but as in daughter aka Math Girl) used to tease me about the multitude of boxes of Jello in my pantry. I got rid of that and replaced the space with sprinkles that always add some zip to the babies' ice cream, waffles, etc. If you give a shower for a grandmother-to-be, always include sprinkles on the gift list.
Almond bark or chocolate coating.

Melt the bark or coating in a double boiler or according to package instructions. If it's too thick, add a little vegetable oil and stir until smooth.

Take a stick, dip it in the coating and then into the marshmallow. You have to do this to secure this jumbo marshmallow in place. Once you get the coating on it the marshmallow weighs about 50 pounds and needs a lot of support.

Place the marshmallow gizmo on a piece of wax paper until the stick is secure. Save any extra marshmallows for the marshmallow war after Sunday lunch. What do you mean you don't have a marshmallow war? Y'all are no fun. At any moment... when you least expect it... WHAM! any member of the family could be the first casualty of a matriarch-pelted fluff ball. Then the fun really begins. Warning: children two and under will cry the first time they observe this form of family bonding. And then they throw one at you and they're in, baby!

Dip the marshmallow gizmo in the coating and swirl it GENTLY to coat. You probably will have to smooth off the excess with a fork. Mary Kelly has this swirling coating thing down to a science. Dip, twist, tap, tap, tap. I'm still a novice.
Before the coating has set sprinkle to your heart's content and top with a peep.
Stick tiny wings in a block of Styrofoam to set up.

If you have any patience left, gently tear away a little handful of edible grass and form it into a nest. When you attempt this you will understand why it is that birds make nests for a living and you don't. Slip the little nest over Mrs. Peep.

 I'm thinking I'll wrap these up in cellophane bags and tie them with a ribbon, but I've not gotten there yet and the laundry is shouting my name.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adam Smasher

Behold Michelangelo's "The Fall" from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. To the left are the voluptuous figures of Adam and Eve in Eden's paradise as Eve grasps at the fruit offered by "the serpent more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." Adam is depicted as no innocent bystander as he reaches toward the serpent which has taken over the one tree in the garden forbidden to Adam and Eve. "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then their eyes were opened." Gen.3:6. Instead of paradise and perfection for all men, because of Adam our representative head, now man can expect sin, toil, and death. At the right the guilty couple is banished east from Eden now guarded by the cherubim with the flaming sword.

In Florence at the San Marco Museum is Fra Angelico's The Resurrection. The women gaze despairingly into the empty tomb just a moment before the angel assures them, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He has risen as He said." Mt.27:5,6.

And the connection? Paul makes it for us in 1 Cor. 15:21,22: "For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive!" Through the sin of the first Adam all men experience mortality and through the resurrection of the Second Adam those who trust in Him for salvation will experience immortality living forever with Him in the heavenly garden of paradise.

The first Adam was given dominion over the garden and all of its inhabitants. Christ, the Second Adam, the Creator of man and the garden has dominion over all things. The first Adam sought the greatness of God for himself, that his eyes would be opened and he would be like God. The Second Adam did not consider equality something to be grasped (Phil. 2:6) and humbled himself to come in the likeness of the first Adam. The sin of the first Adam is every man's curse and death whereas blessing and life are abundant through the Second Adam. "He was temped in every way, as was Adam, yet was without sin." Hebrews 4:15. The Lord God called to Adam in the garden and he hid. The Lord, the Second Adam, calls his own by name and they hear His voice. John 10:3. The Lord God breathed life into the body of Adam, but the Second Adam, Jesus, brings new life and makes all things new.2 Cor. 5:17. The first Adam rebelled in order to do his own will but the Second Adam came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him. John 6:38. All man is born in the likeness of the first Adam who was made of dust. Those who die in Christ will one day bear the image of the Second Adam. 1 Cor.15:49.

Adam and Eve saw, took and ate bringing sin and death to those who follow. And yet those words take and eat are not solely words of condemnation. They are the life-giving words of our Savior, the Second Adam who on the night He was betrayed took bread, gave thanks and broke it, giving to his disciples saying, "Take and eat."

The body of the first Adam sown in corruption is now raised incorruptible. The body sown in dishonor is raised in glory. The body sown in weakness is raised in power. The body that is sown as a natural body is sown as a spiritual body. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible! Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory." O Death, where is your sting? O Grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

American Idol Part Six: Tiny Wings Kingdom

Anyone with a phone has most likely seen or is battling an addiction to the number one selling app game, Tiny Wings. As the game begins the little bird awakens in his nest precariously perched hill-top at the dawn of a new day. Your job is to help him soar over the hills and valleys, stretching his tiny wings, squawking "Yoo-hoo!" ever gaining new heights, scooping up coins and speed boosters along the way to the next island before the sun sets on Tiny Wings and his kingdom. As much as I hate to admit it, the game is fun. And even worse, my five year old grandson is my tutor for phone games.

The more I think about it Tiny Wings is such a great illustration of our idolatry of time, work and works. Think about it. Here's this little bitty bird greeting the dawn of each day from his brightly feathered nest. With the swipe of a finger he bursts forth into a world of hills and valleys furiously flapping his wings to soar higher at greater speed, to accumulate wealth and to achieve even loftier goals before the sun sets and the screen reads, "Game over for today." Sounds like my life. I'm steady flapping those wings until the sun has gone to bed.

When the control of time and schedules (those of our own and of others) becomes an idol we morph into manipulators, experts in avoiding the "time zone" of any who would thwart our plans. We are prone to think that God's grace is not as big as our schedule. It's what Paul Tripp calls" little kingdom living" in his book A Quest for More. "Inappropriate or idolatrous demands and control of time and plans shrinks the Kingdom down to the point where there is room for only one. Me." That's what Eve believed in the garden. I can have what I want in my way on my schedule. Her demand was not only for something she deemed greater, but a demand for it on her timetable as well.

James nails us in chapter four. "Come on now you who say today or tomorrow we will go and do such and such in a place and gain something to show for our work. Don't you know that in the scheme of things you and your life are as a vapor? Shouldn't you be saying, "If the Lord wills, then we will do thus and so?" It is outrageous presumption upon the goodness of God (hubris) to demand that God join me in my plans instead of the other way around.

In Psalm 90 Moses prays for the wisdom to weigh the eternity of God against the frailty of man. "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom." One of our pastors offered these questions in light of Moses' prayer:

1. Time is short but eternity is forever. Help me to live intentionally and wisely in light of this.

2. Am I controlling, wasting, or using time to seek the Kingdom and God's righteousness?

3. How concerned am I to do all that God would have me do instead of all I want to do? 4. Are His wants my wants? Is His agenda my agenda?

5. Are my days, weeks, months and years generally lost or redeemed?

And what about our work? Why do we work? Because we are made in the image of a working trinitarian God. Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He has always been there superintending all that was, is, and is to come. 1:2 The spirit of God was hovering over the is the moving of the Holy Spirit that breathes life into all that is alive. John 1:2,3 In the beginning was the Word...all things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. We work because we are made in the image of a working God. 2 Thes. 3:8 We do not eat any one's bread free of charge, but work that we might not be a burden to any. This is a very practical aspect of work. Eph. 4:28 ....that he might have to give to those in need. A merciful aspect of work. All of our work mirrors (or can and should) the nature and character of the God in whose image we are made.

So what's the problem? Just like tiny wings we live in a performance based culture. Instead of worth and sense of purpose coming from God, we often try to find our worth in what we do. How high up the ladder we have climbed. How many tiny wings gold coins we scoop up in our beaks. Tim Keller says in Counterfeit Gods "You must be on top to show you are among if not the best. To be the very best at what you do, to be at the top of the heap means no one is like you. You are supreme." And if you're not feeling bad enough already, just think about how we teach and promote this very lifestyle to our children. We are turning them into what David Brooks calls "achievatrons," rearing them in the pressure cooker of competition to prepare them for the job that will offer them the greatest opportunity for advancement in the shortest amount of time, the greatest amount of money and sense of security, and the best vacation policy. Whose kingdom is this? Mine.

God's kingdom instead asks this sort of question:

1. How would this job or vocation reflect or best use the gifts and talents that God has given me?

2. How can God use me to advance His Kingdom in this career?

3. How could this activity reflect or enhance the values of a Christian family in a post-Christian culture?

4. How can my work be more about Him and less about me?

And while we're parked here on the me subject, we may as well consider how the acceptance, approval and applause of others is an unquenchable thirst. While I was preparing this lesson for our MOMs bible study this popped up on Facebook: "More than rich, more than famous, more than happy, I want to be great." And just whose declaration of greatness will be sufficient to quench the thirst of that man's soul?

This Easter week and every week the answer is Jesus. He is both the Satisfier and the Satisfaction of every believer who trusts in Him as He is presented in the Gospel. Jesus is the Satisfier of divine justice. Jesus' perfect life lived for those who come to Him in faith along with His sacrificial death on the cross satisfies our holy God's demand for payment of sin. That's what Romans 3:23-25 is about. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely (declared not guilty) by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God sent as a propitiation (a covering or satisfier) by His blood." God's demand for justice is satisfied through the blood of Jesus.

But He is also the Satisfaction of the believer. Satisfaction in Jesus is what replaces our idols. "Listen! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters! And you who have no money, come, buy, and eat. Yes, you! Come buy wine, and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread? And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Turn your heart toward me and come to me. Hear and your soul shall live." Is. 55:1-4 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." Matt. 5:6. Why spend a life flapping tiny wings when through Jesus we can soar on wings like eagles?