Monday, March 29, 2010

The Passion of Christ

This past weekend, my husband and I had the opportunity to travel to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to see a passion play. We had been invited by our son’s in-laws who, since he married their daughter, have become our friends. Not that we wouldn’t have been friends with them otherwise, it’s just that we probably never would have met them had our kids not gotten married. But, I digress.

Their church, Lighthouse Christian Church, in Fond du Lac has been producing The Promise, for the past 18 years (with a one-year hiatus last season.) I really had no expectations other than to hear some good music and see the life, death, and resurrection of Christ portrayed on the stage. But, it seems, God wanted to show me a few things as I watched this amazing production.

The production, of course, showed various parts of Christ’s life on this earth. One of the scenes told the story from Luke 7:36-50 where Jesus is having dinner with some of the Pharisees. A woman from town, known for her sinfulness, comes to Jesus with her alabaster jar, filled with perfume, and pours it out on him, wiping his feet with her hair and her tears. She is criticized by the Pharisees but Jesus comes to her defense and shows her forgiveness. Remember, this is a musical, so at this point the woman forgiven by Christ sings about her love for Him.

The spotlight was on the singer, but I couldn’t help notice the man playing Jesus as he watched her. Staying true to the character he was playing, he sat and listened to this woman sing with a smile of pride on his face. Maybe I was the only one who noticed it, but right at that moment, it felt like Christ was saying to me “You see his face? That’s how I look when my children do something that honors me. I love watching my kids.”

I am always amazed that God allows me to be used for his glory. But, to imagine that he not only uses me to minister to others but is pleased when I do. . . . wow! I am humbled.

Later in the show there is a scene where Jesus was healing a little girl who had died. As her father handed Jesus this limp, lifeless child Jesus took her, walked away from the crowd surrounding him and lifted her up to God. The look of pain on his face was so real that, once again, I could hear Jesus speaking to me saying, “This is the pain I feel when my children hurt. I hold them, and cry with them. And, I never stop loving them.”

It would be nearly impossible, of course, to go to a passion play and not be moved by the crucifixion of Christ, but this one seemed so much more real to me. Even Mel Gibson’s portrayal of Jesus’ death in The Passion of the Christ didn’t move me as much. I sat there watching as Jesus was beaten, hung on the cross and sneered at and silently prayed, “I’m so sorry Jesus, I’m just so sorry. Thank you for dying for me.”

The greatest part of the show, of course, was when Jesus rose from the dead. The audience broke into applause knowing that indeed the story is true; because of His resurrection, we too can have eternal life. What a great show portraying the amazing gift that God has given us . . . . the gift of knowing Him

Monday, March 22, 2010


Warning; this blog is potentially more controversial than my usual fare. Here’s the thing; occasionally I get the opportunity (for lack of a better word) to watch ABC’s morning talk show, The View. The concept of the show is interesting. There are five women, including Barbara Walters, who hold a variety of opinions on different topics. While sometimes the show seems more like a women’s coffee clutch, with everyone trying to get their opinion heard over the roar of the room, they do present some interesting issues.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed one opinion that they all seem to have in common. They do not tolerate a man stepping out on his woman. And, you’d have to have your head buried in the sand to not have noticed that there seems to be a lot of high-profile men doing just that.

The View women had plenty to say about Tiger Woods and his public apology. Was it really sincere? How would Elin react? Blah, blah, blah. And then there was the whole John Edwards mess. They were full of opinions about photos of his mistress, Riehl, with their “love child.” But seriously, this is what baffles me. Why are people, who work in an industry that pretty much promotes this kind of behavior, surprised when it actually happens?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning adultery. In fact, to be clear, I believe it hurts the very heart of God. But, in Hollywood it seems, sex is what's selling the goods. We can’t watch movies, television shows, or even commercials without, at some point, hearing some sort of sexual innuendo, or seeing some scantily clad woman selling pick-up trucks. We barely even flinch when the couple in a movie goes to bed together after just one date. We’ve come to expect it, and accept it.

So, I remain baffled at how The View women are so surprised by the behavior of these men. It seems to me that what we have here is simply an example of one of the basic laws of physics. “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.” (If my father reads this he’ll be totally amazed that I actually know one of the laws of physics. Let’s just say, it wasn’t my strongest subject in school.)

In other words, we can’t continue to bombard society with sexual images and innuendos, and not expect some sort of fall out. Famous people aren’t exempt from temptation anymore than the rest of us. If we expect to see a change in the way people, and might I say, men in particular, behave sexually, then Hollywood might want to consider putting out more films like “The Blind Side,” and less films like “Up in the Air.”

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not picking on men. It’s just a well known fact that sexual temptation is more of a struggle for men, where as mine is more in the arena of chocolate. I wonder if I could get the networks to quit airing commercials that show delicious, chocolaty goodness. Probably not. How then would they sell air time to the Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem people?

One thing is sure; we’ll continue to reap what we sow in the area of sexual purity so I hope the women on The View are ready.

The other thing I can guarantee is that God is still in the business of forgiveness. He has dealt with some pretty shady characters over the years. I, for one, am grateful that, in His word, He allows us to see the imperfections of those who served Him. It allows me to know that when I mess up, He’ll offer me the same forgiveness He’s offered to the likes of King David, Rahab, Solomon, Peter, and Paul. I pray that Tiger, and John Edwards, and especially you, will know the amazing forgiveness of God. It’s a pretty swell gift.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Canadian Fusion Cooking

Today is the last day of our cruise. We were scheduled to visit my most favorite port in the whole world (at least of the ones I’ve visited thus far) – Half Moon Cay. Half Moon Cay is a private island in the Bahamas owned by Holland America Cruise line. It is simply gorgeous. Pure white sandy beaches, palm trees, and the most beautiful aqua water you’ll ever see. And, coincidentally, it’s shaped like a half moon.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate so the ship’s captain made the decision to pull away from the port and head back to Fort Lauderdale in a (what did he call it? Slovenly? Slow? No.) Sedate manner. Yes, that’s the word he used, sedate. I’m sure he would rather have given us all a sedative so he didn’t have to listen to whining, but moving sedately was the best he could do.
The ship’s crew went right to work to fill in our day with activities. There is nothing worse, I’m sure, than 2000 people with nothing to do but fight over the lounge chairs on the deck.
This particular ship has offered a series of cooking classes but, up to this point, I hadn’t taken any. I mean really, do I need to know how to make edible arrangements? But today they offered a class I knew I couldn’t miss. It was titled “Canadian Fusion Cooking.”
Seriously? Canadian Fusion cooking? I had no idea that the Canadians were known for their cooking. Though they did a bang up job with the Olympics, NBC didn’t do any special cooking segments in regards to special Canadian dishes. So, I had to go to the class just to see what I could find out about Canadian cooking.
Apparently, the word “fusion” refers to the “slamming” of two foods together. Who knew? The chef indicated that the Canadians have been doing it for over 15 years but I’m just not convinced that pouring maple syrup over salmon is really anything more than just adding an ingredient.
I did learn some things though. Did you know that you should leave the skin on the salmon when you are cooking it? Apparently, 80% of the important Omega 3 oils are found between the skin and the meat and if you remove the skin before cooking you lose the benefit of the Omega 3’s. And, as the chef pointed out, the skin is easier to remove after the fish is cooked. In other words, the few times I’ve cooked salmon I’ve missed out on the Omega 3 oils because the skin kind of grosses me out.
Next thing I learned, and you probably knew this. Aunt Jemima syrup isn’t really made from maple syrup. It’s made from corn syrup. Sad, especially because I like it better than the real deal.
I also learned you should never cook with golden delicious apples. They lose their flavor and get mushy (you probably knew that, too, but I’m not really much of a cook.) Granny Smith apples, according to Chef Ryan, or was it Ian?, are perfect every time. Where did the apples fit into this recipe, you ask? The chef made a “Celeriac Apple Slaw” to go under the salmon. Wait a minute! Maybe that’s the fusion part. I should have paid closer attention.
At the end of the cooking demonstration, our chef taught us how to make a “traditional Canadian dish. It’s called Poutine. I don’t think he’ll mind if I share the recipe with you.

French Fries (cooked) – put on a plate
Cheese Curds (shredded mozzarella can be used in a pinch) – distribute over the fries in a circling motion – throwing the final glob right on the middle of the plate.
Cover it all up with American French Gravy (available at the grocery store in the canned gravy aisle for about 99¢.) Again, you’ll want to use that circular motion and the final blop in the middle.
Serve with ketchup.

Doesn’t that sound delicious? It pretty much sums up the question of why the Canadians aren’t famous for their cooking.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Knees Down

John and I are in Florida getting ready to leave for a cruise. Yes, I know, I'm spoiled. We are looking forward to having a few days to rest and relax OUTSIDE. I just hope I don't blind anyone with my Casper the Friendly Ghost, white body.

After we arrived last night we went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. The bus boy that served our table, Jean (think French pronunciation,) is from Haiti. He's an American citizen now but grew up in Haiti and still has family there. Things were a little slow in the restaurant so he had plenty of time to talk and we had plenty of time to listen. I love to hear other people's stories. Though we both spoke English there was still a bit of a language barrier, but we muddled through.

As it so happened, Jean was in Haiti visiting his mother when the devastating earthquake hit in January. I asked him if he was afraid and he told us that he started to feel the earth shake and looked at his mother wondering what was happening. Her immediate response was "KNEES DOWN!" and with that they fell to their knees to pray. His prayer? "Lord, you give and you take away."

Wow! I'd like to tell you that when something is going wrong in my life my very first thought is "knees down" but the truth is that I usually try to muddle along by myself for a bit. Why do I do that? It's not like I've ever successfully gotten myself out of a tough spot. Eventually I figure out that God is bigger and smarter than I am and I give the control of my life over to Him . . .again. One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." What a great verse! God says to us, "Hey, I love it when you are weak and can't see your way out of the dark hole. That's when I do my best work. Let me have your fear, your troubles, your pain and watch me do my stuff."

I always want to be a "knees down" person. I want to watch God work. I know He's incredible. He's proved it over and over.