Friday, February 28, 2014

A Prayer from Thomas Merton

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think
that I am following your will

Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire
in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me
By the right road
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost

And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Morning Prayer

Dear LORD,

Before we start our day, we lay it - wholly - at Your feet.
We commit this day to You - may our words, thoughts, and actions all point to You; may You be glorified to-day through us.
Thank You for the warm bed we got to sleep in .
Thank You for allowing us another day on Your earth.
Thank You for the sun this morning and the blue sky.
Thank You for the jobs we have and the vehicles to get there.
Thank You for the people You have placed in our lives - we commit them to Your care and Your love.
We go to-day in Jesus' name, amen!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Recipe #188 Good Sugar Cookies

I found this recipe earlier to-day, while waiting to see how lousy our Spartans would play in Ann Arbor. I have made these and eaten about half of the 4 dozen tasty, moist treats in consolation of our loss.

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
3/4 cup melted butter
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
granulated sugar to roll cookie balls in

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine melted butter and brown sugar until no lumps.
Add egg and mix well; add vanilla and mix well.
Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and beat until just combined with a wood spoon or rubber spatula (actually, use whatever you want - the recipe I followed suggested these two!)
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 2 hours - don't skip this step.

Preheat oven to 325 and spoon out rough balls of dough. Roll into nice balls and place in granulated sugar before placing on cookie tray. Cook for 8 minutes, pull out of the oven and press down lightly with a (sugar laden) spoon to flatten in the middle. Back into the oven for another 3-4 minutes until done. These times may vary depending on your oven.
Remove to a wire rack to cool and enjoy with a large glass of milk.
Less time in the oven for soft, more for crispy - depending on how you like them.


Friday, February 21, 2014

TLH #153

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
'Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, 'tis He! 'tis He!
'Tis the long-expected Prophet,
David's Son, yet David's Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
'Tis the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress;
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation;
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ's the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.

The Lutheran Hymnal
Hymn #153
Text: Is. 53:3-5
Author: Thomas Kelly, 1804
Tune: "O mein Jesu, ich muss sterben"
1st Published in:_Geistliche VolksliederTown: Paderborn, 1850

"Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted"
by Thomas Kelly, 1769-1854

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

God Speaks To Me - Loudly and Clearly

I remember years ago hearing Chuck Swindoll comment on how God's Word is as time-less as it is time-ly.

I've always remembered that. As times change, so do social norms and the cut of your pantaloons, but not Sacred Scripture. Timeless and timely.

Our epistle reading this morning was from the first chapter of James:
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters:
everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger
for anger does not accomplish
the righteousness of God.
To-day's passage continues a bit, but holy mackeral! I didn't need any more!!

God was talking to me, and I didn't need a ton of extra instruction and Bible Commentary notes to help me see the meaning.

i) Everyone should be quick to hear...
Yes, everyone.
I think he means here to really listen well. Not just to be quiet while I'm thinking of something to say next. Listen. Really hear what the person is saying.
Let me, from my own existence, give a recent non-example:
"Well So and so is supposed to skate tonight..."
(Distracted) "Yeah?"
"She's in the short program and I think she's seeded third"
"Ooohh" (With all of the feigned interest I can muster)
This, I think, is not what James means by 'quick to hear'.

ii) Slow to speak...
I was told once that God gave us two ears and one mouth. Therefore, the relative amounts of speaking and listening should be in relative proportion.
I taught in high- and middle-school classrooms for twenty years and I have done quite a bit of talking. Many of the kids I've worked with would say that I've done more than my fair share. But I like to tell stories, and children forced to sit in uncomfortable metal (or plastic) chairs for 50 minutes at a time are a particularly forgiving audience: they value the grade I will ultimately give them so they don't let me know that my joke was absolutely horrid and my lecture is boring them to a state of neurosis. (Extreme symptoms included counting the holes in the ceiling tiles or texting 'I love you' to their mothers.) So, I took advantage of these captive audiences often.
I'm a bit off topic, but I do need to learn to not talk every single time a thought pops into my brain.

iii) Slow to anger...
I fail here regularly; daily, it seems.
As opposed to 'quick to anger', which shows no self-control and a lot of self-ishness.

I wonder what my home life would be like if I was 'slow to anger'.
I wonder how much more my wife would trust me and open herself up to me if I was 'slow to anger'.
I wonder if my bosses opinion of me would be any better if I was 'slow to anger'.


Jesus, my soul laid bare before You, I am convicted once again
Thank You for loving me so much that you don't ever quit teaching me, guiding me, nurturing me.
Forgive my self-ishness; turn my heart toward others.
Let me be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
Be glorified always 
And I love You, too.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

This Day is Holy

To-day LORD, is a gift from You
(That's why we call it the present)
This day is holy, set apart
For Your purposes.

Never let me forget that
Never let me think there is some good I can do apart from You

Thank You for this day
Thank You for this gift
(That's why we call it the present)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Prayer from Michel Quoist

I am afraid of saying 'Yes,' Lord.

Where will you take me?
I am afraid of drawing the longer straw,
I am afraid of signing my name to an unread agreement,
I am afraid of the 'yes' that entails other 'yeses.'

And yet I am not at peace.
You pursue me, Lord, you besiege me.
I seek out the din for fear of hearing you, but in a moment of silence you slip through.
I turn from the road, for I have caught sight of you, but at the end of the path you are there awaiting me.
Where shall I hide? I meet you everywhere.
Is it then impossible to escape you?

But I am afraid to say 'Yes,' Lord.
I am afraid of putting my hand in yours, for you hold on to it.
I am afraid of meeting your eyes, for you can win me.
I am afraid of your demands, for you are a jealous God.
I am hemmed in, yet I hide.
I am captured, yet I struggle, and I fight knowing that I am defeated.
For you are the stronger, Lord, you own the world and you take it from me.
When I stretch out my hand to catch hold of people and things, they vanish before my eyes.
It's no fun, Lord, I can't keep anything for myself.
The flower I pick fades in my hands.
My laugh freezes on my lips.
The waltz I dance leaves me restless and uneasy.
Everything seems empty,
Everything seems hollow,
You have made a desert around me.
I am hungry and thirsty,
And the whole world cannot satisfy me.

And yet I loved you, Lord; what have I done to you?
I worked for you; I gave myself for you.
O great and terrible God,
What more do you want?

* * *

Son, I want more for you and for the world.
Until now you have planned your actions, but I have no need of them.
You have asked for my approval, you have asked for my support, You have wanted to interest me in your work.
But don't you see, son, that you were reversing the roles?
I have watched you, I have seen your good will,
And I want more than you, now.
You will no longer do your own works, but the will of your Father in heaven.

Say 'Yes,' son.
I need your 'yes' as I needed Mary's 'yes' to come to earth,
For it is I who must do your work,
It is I who must live in your family,
It is I who must be in your neighborhood, and not you.
For it is my look that penetrates, and not yours,
My words that carry weight, and not yours,
My life that transforms, and not yours.
Give all to me, abandon all to me.
I need your 'yes' to be united with you and to come down to earth,
I need your 'yes' to continue saving the world!

* * *

O Lord, I am afraid of your demands, but who can resist you?
That your Kingdom may come and not mine,
That your will may be done and not mine,
Help me to say 'Yes.'

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Our Liam Jason!

Field trip 2 aquarium!

Hi gramps!

All of five months old... and already in his Tiger gear.

And below, after a good afternoon in the walker with Grandma... he'll be five months on Tuesday.

Wore myself out gramps!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lessons from David

King David of Israel was chosen by God to be king when he was just a boy. His predecessor Saul had also been chosen by God to be king, when the people were disgruntled with the prophets that had been in the service of the Lord. But Saul had issues, and God had plans.

David the shepherd had the courage to fight the Philistine giant, when none of the warriors of Israel would. God provided that victory, and also provided David the kingdom. The Old Testament stories of David's glorious triumphs against all odds make you want to stand up and bellow "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' 'BOUT!"

But there were losses in David's life also, as there are loses in every life. During one of the times his people were away fighting, he was home putzing in the castle. He happened to see the wife of Uriah, one of his elite warriors, bathing. He was immediately smitten, summoned her, and produced a child with her. He ended up having Uriah left at the front of the battle lines, where the fighting was fiercest, so that he was killed.

David was immediately approached by one of God's prophets, who told him a story. The story was of a rich man and his poor neighbor. The rich man had multitudes of everything he needed, and lacked nothing. The poor man had a little lamb. And every where the poor man went, the lamb was sure to go. He loved the lamb, like one of his children - it brought him great joy.
One day, the rich man had guests come for dinner. He was so selfish that he took the little lamb from the neighbor to feed his guests, instead of providing dinner from his surplus. At this, David cried out "That man deserves death!". God's prophet replied, "You are the man".

David knew immediately his sin; he knew he had sinned greatly against the Lord by coveting, taking and killing that which was not his. He confessed this to Nathan, and accepted God's punishment: the life of David's firstborn son.

Another story about David's less than perfect walk comes from to-days reading (2 Samuel 24). David the king decided to take a census of the people of his kingdom. This time, no prophet was needed to let David know he had sinned. He regretted immediately doing this, and confessed it to the Lord. The Lord then sent another prophet to let David choose his punishment (which ended up being quite severe again!).

What I see from these two stories is a sinner, not un-like you and me, who acknowledged his iniquity and who confessed his sin to almighty God. I believe God has given us this history lesson to show us that we need to do the same.
None of us are without sin. Yet I believe that our heart's attitude toward our sin is very important: are we repentant or are we stubborn to the point of making excuses and blaming circumstances, others, etc.?

David is referred to as man 'after God's own heart'.
A fornicator?
A murderer?
He knew his sin, and he acknowledged it before God.
Let us pray for the grace to daily do the same.

Pax Christi

Monday, February 3, 2014

Recipe #6 Super Bowl Chicken Dip

This was a hit yestreday; Peyton Manning's performance on the field notwithstanding.

2 5-oz cans of chicken
1 brick of cream cheese softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup of hot sauce
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup ranch dressing
3 garlic cloves minced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients and stir well. Pour into baking dish or bowl and cook for 30 minutes or until dip gets bubbly hot.
Serve with your favorite vegetables and crackers.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Recipe #57 - Wuthering Heights Chili

TCM is showing movies from 1939 - Hollywood's greatest year - and I'm watching Wuthering Heights, which I have not yet watched.

To-day's ingredients:

1.5 lb ground turkey
4 Jennie O turkey bratwursts boiled in beer and diced
4 2 oz beef round steaks, seasoned and cooked medium rare and sliced
2 small potatoes diced and boiled for about 5 - 7 minutes
1 turn of the pan extra virgin olive oil
1 green pepper diced
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
3 diced roma tomotoes
2 sliced jalapenos
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbs worcestershire
2 cans beer
1 tbs Dijon mustard
chili seasoning - oregano, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, hot pepper flakes, cumin, paprika

Cook ground turkey, onion, green pepper, and garlic in your favourite pan until turkey is cooked through. Add seasoning and simmer for about 15 minutes.
In slow cooker, combine turkey, steak, sausage, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, ketchup, Worcestershire, beer, mustard, and tomato sauce. Cook on high for 4 hours and continue on low until you go to bed. Put leftovers in the fridge and bring it back out tomorrow!

Serve with sour cream, corn chips, or shredded cheddar.