Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Muffins Like Cake

Rick Warren just tweeted that he doesn't blog, because when you do, it tempts you to think that everything you say is important.

This is not an important post. If you're looking for profundity, look elsewhere, because sometimes a post about muffins is just a post about muffins.

Which means it's important to me and to those who might eat a muffin that I've made, so that's four people, tops. I did, however, figure out how to post a picture to the blog, so that makes it, yeah, still just important to me.

Anyway, about the muffins. I keep making blueberry muffins using muffin recipes, over and over, searching for one I like. And after multiple, unsatisfying, batches (all of which seem to disappear anyway), it struck me this morning that what I want holding my blueberries together is a cupcake-like muffin, not a muffin-like muffin.

So I'm off to the recipe books to come up with a blueberry cake-muffin. One strong enough to hold the blueberries up like a muffin does, without being an actual muffin. My cousin Marsha used to make a cake that was a mix of Jiffy Cake Mix and Jiffy Corn Bread Muffin Mix. That was about the right texture. So I know what I'm after, it will just take more trying. Fortunately my boy's home, so I'm not worried about having to eat all of my mistakes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 6, 1944

This was posted over Memorial Day by a virtual friend, as my husband calls the folks I know in the Anglican world that I haven't met (yet). I loved the language and the depth of emotion involved. It resounds so powerfully, sixty-seven years later. When I grow up, I'd like to write as well as whoever wrote this for President Roosevelt.

“My Fellow Americans:

“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

“They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

“And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

“Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

“Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Friday, June 3, 2011

And Can It Be, That I Should Gain

Now and again I post a hymn here. I get overwhelmed with the words and need to say something about it. Mostly this happens whenever I hear something by Wesley and I get caught in a fit of nostalgia and gratitude.

I grew up in the Methodist Church. It was our touchstone and home no matter where we went or how often we moved. Which was a lot.

Every two to four years, the boxes would come out, a huge van would pull up and pull away with our stuff. My first swat on the rear end ever came during moving time when my dad caught me busily unpacking the boxes he'd just finished packing. I was little, in my defense, and probably thought it was funny. Hindsight being 20/20, I now know that it was not.

Anyway, we'd move and, no matter what time we'd finished unloading the Saturday night before, we'd be in church in our church clothes (suits for the boys, dresses for the girls)Sunday morning. Our church clothes never went into the moving van, they came along in the car with us, the dog, and the china and silver.

Dad would stand up during announcements, introduce us all, and we were in. Dad onto finance, Mom into children's education somehow, and choir. Me into choir. I don't remember if my brother did choir. In the world of Methodism, there were lots of choirs. If you're into that stuff, and we were, the Methodist church is the place to be.

I'm no longer Methodist, having found Anglicanism in a compromise move between Catholicism and Methodism. And I love it and haven't pined for what I left in a long time.

A couple of weeks ago we were back into the Methodist church for my niece's confirmation. I was excited to go back, as I'd loved the music. But we didn't go to the traditional service, we went to the contemporary one, and I'm not a fan. I do like contemporary Christian music, but I was looking forward to the Methodist hymns.

So earlier today, when someone linked to one on a website I was looking at, I followed the link and watched the folks singing it. They were singing their hearts out and the look on their faces was one of pure joy. The words are old, but the theology makes you want to weep with how sweet it chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Man oh man, did God ever give that Charles Wesley a gift...

1. And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior's blood!
Died He for me? who caused His pain!
For me? who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

2. 'Tis mystery all: th' Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
to sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
let angel minds inquire no more.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
let angel minds inquire no more.

3. He left His Father's throne above
(so free, so infinite His grace!),
emptied Himself of all but love,
and bled for Adam's helpless race.
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
for O my God, it found out me!
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
for O my God, it found out me!

4. Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

5. No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
alive in Him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine,
bold I approach th' eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th' eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Have Mercy On Me, A Sinner

"They" say that the older you are, the more folks you know who are dying or sick or having trouble. And I am at the point in life, 48 birthdays in, where I and lots of my friends are going through stuff. Not the easy stuff - your kid's getting a "C" in English or can't ride a bike yet. Which isn't easy stuff while you're in it. But it's stuff they grow out of, generally.

The stuff we are going through is the crappy, life-changing kind that means that the way you pictured your life before the stuff hit, yeah, that won't happen. And the reality is that we all go through it, some more publicly than others, and none of us will come out on the other side of it unscathed, for better or for worse. And there are many forms the stuff takes - parents' health going down hill, kids on drugs, girlfriends from hell, spouses who are failing in many forms, job loss, divorce...the list goes on from there, but it gets more and more depressing every time I think about it, so best stop listing.

I don't have solutions, many times, for my friends or for myself. We're wading together through the stuff, holding hands and trying to keep our heads above the muck, because some days it is all you can see.

But in the midst of the muck, I do know one thing, as I listen to them and seek their counsel for myself and my stuff, and it is this: you have to pray. There is nothing else. Pray like there's no tomorrow, which is risky to say given the recent Camping thing about the world ending, and yet not, because it could end tomorrow. Come, Lord Jesus, come. I won't come out of it unmarked, neither will they, but we can come through it marked as Christ's own.

Last week, while cleaning before company came over - or better said, trying to maintain the pretense that my life involves cleaning regularly - I read an article in Christianity Today magazine. I was cleaning, understand, just the kind that looks like reading. The article was about a guy who was dying and as he was, he was singing an old hymn. And the author talked about how she was praying the Jesus prayer - the one that goes: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Over and over again. Her thought being that, when old age robbed her of all else, that would be so deeply imprinted that it would still be there, on her lips.

And in God's providence, I read the article last week. Because this week has been filled with "stuff" dumped in my lap, and the Jesus prayer is what is rising to my lips. I don't know if that's what the author meant for me to read in the article, but what I read was that I should pray this prayer so often that it is what comes out of my soul when my body is not as under my control as it was before.

And that's what I'm trying to do now. Because the stuff is not in my control, my friends'stuff is not in their control, and it's got nothing to do with how we behaved or what we asked for or how we parented or anything. What is in our control is how we deal with it. And my vote is with prayer.

I hope that it is what will rise to my lips as I am dying. I'm very worried that all the opinions I've withheld from people who so badly needed to hear them (all the while being very, very proud of my self control - another thing to ask mercy for)will spill out. And, more worrying is the thought that some of those folks might be around caring for me to hear them.

Which brings me back to asking: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.