Thursday, June 21, 2012

Leftovers and Free Food

What do you do with leftovers? There was a little piece of steak leftover from Fathers Day supper, along with 6 bites of potato. I sliced it all into less-than-bite-sized pieces and warmed them briefly in the microwave. Then I put them in the frying pan with a half a teaspoon of cooking oil. As the pan heated, the meat and potatoes were soon ready for the eggs. Yes, I made an omelet.

Six medium eggs, with two tablespoons of milk, a couple of dashes of seasoned salt and one dash of garlic powder, poured over tasty morsels of grilled steak and potatoes. Before turning the eggs to cook on the other side, I sprinkled three medium pinches of shredded cheddar cheese into the mix.

The steak, potato, and cheddar cheese omelet was pretty good, if I say so myself. I don't think I'll need lunch, given the size of the breakfast.

I also had some free blueberries to use before they went bad. I sat down this morning with my "New" Betty Crocker cookbook (the same one I've had since college) and perused possibilities for my fresh blueberries. Pancakes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'd be the only one eating them. My older son, C, can tolerate blueberries in some foods, but not in pancakes, and my younger son, M, won't eat anything that's actually food. He prefers the tires off his toy trucks, the cardboard and paper from lollipop sticks, and so on, including chicken nuggets and fries.

So, pancakes were out. How about a blueberry coffee cake? Nope, don't have all the ingredients (or at least, I don't know where they all are). Blueberry pie? Not enough berries. Blueberry-apple pie? Hmmm. My older boy's arrival in the kitchen forced me to make a decision, as he was hungry and impatient for my masterpiece.

Muffins it is! He and his little brother fought over which one would "help" me more, though neither one really did much. Within a few minutes, the blueberry muffins were in the oven. They came out just as I was mixing up my omelet. C begged for one as he ate his toaster waffles. I obliged and held my breath. A piece went into C's mouth..and stayed there. He chewed thoughtfully.

"How is it, son?" I queried.

He swallowed, smiled and nodded. "It's good, Daddy."

He's said that before about other foods before spitting them out or giving up (and by giving up, I mean, stopping the consumption, not the "giving up" my sister J thinks of) on them, so I held my breath a little longer. He kept eating the muffin, including the blueberries, so I knew his acceptance was for real. Whew. I tried one and have to admit, again, that they are pretty good. I do say so myself.

I don't always make good use of leftovers and free food, but today was a "win" in that category. Now it's time to do the dishes. What a mess I make when I cook!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dr. Donovan Graham, you were right.

This was a post I drafted more than a year ago and never published. I think it's time to get this on the record. (Moose Patrol)

Dr. Graham, I was wrong! I admit it. I realize I'm admitting it late, and that you probably aren't affected either way, but I understand now what you tried to tell me eleven years ago.

I must say that I was shocked that you were not happy for me when I told you of the headmaster job I was taking at a school near and dear to my heart back home in Maine. In fact, you seemed downright angry as you lectured me more sternly than I had ever heard you lecture me before. You warned me not to take the job. I did not see how I could turn it down at that point because I had no other alternatives that I could see. Still, you warned me.

You warned me not to believe that health insurance benefits would come along later, as had been suggested to me by my future employer that they likely would. You were right. They never did.

You warned me that the annual salary was far too low and that I would find myself living payday to payday. You said that no matter how much I loved the job, I would find it very difficult to provide for my family adequately, and I would feel obligated to stay in the job for fear of not finding another one quickly enough to keep my family afloat. You were right. We made it work for many years, and I loved the job, but when it came time to move on, we were in a tight spot.

"Everything happens for a reason"

I become instantly nauseated and the bile starts rising in my throat for even typing that hideous phrase. If I hear one more Christian talk about trials in his or her life and then dismiss them with, "I believe that everything happens for a reason" without recognizing what that reason is, I think I'll scream.

Christian brothers and sisters, are we prepared to learn that while everything does indeed happen for a reason, we might not be the reason? I mean, are we prepared for the very strong possibility that it really, truly is not about us?

I have experienced some very real trials and tribulations in my life, such as the loss of my mother when I was just seventeen years old and beginning to value her as a person apart from her role as Mum, and an unexpected change in careers at age 40 when my wife and I had just adopted our second son, which was very shortly followed by the loss of my mother-in-law. It has been a comfort to know that our sovereign God is both sovereign and good at the same time, and the words he spoke as recorded in Jeremiah 29:10ff are trustworthy:

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."
(Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV)

That my God has plans for me that are to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future is truly a blessing in these times of uncertainty. But what I notice most is that he does not stop at blessing me for the sake of blessing me. He does so with the purpose of bringing me to worship him. "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me," he says. Ultimately, it is not about me. It is about God. All that takes place is for his honor and glory. Consider what Peter says:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
(1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV)

So, are we prepared to be increasingly mindful that the reason everything happens is to bring glory to God while making us less like ourselves and more like Christ? If so, could we change how we express this belief? How about we say something like, "Everything happens according to God's plan of bringing himself glory in my life"? Or perhaps we should go to the Scriptures once again for God's way of saying it:

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."

(Romans 8:18-30 ESV)