Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Different Kind of Picnic

The other day, it was beautiful, and I decided that my kids and I would make lunch and go outside for a picnic. My son was so famished that I went ahead and sat him in his seat and let him graze while I made my daughter and my plates. I didn't really just want a baloney sandwich (call me crazy) and so I was taking a little more time making mine.

After slicing up fruit and getting out some chips and having all of their food ready, my sandwich is still not made, and my son is finished. And not just finished and happily sitting there; finished and yelling to get out. Meanwhile, my daughter is trying to let her baby doll have some pears and yogurt in her highchair. And is already excited about her own plate, so she decides to go ahead and start on hers. So, I get my son out of his seat, and wash his messy hands off, and try to finish making my sandwich. I am finally ready with a great looking sandwich, some good chips, and pears sliced up, and off to the great outdoors. With son on hip, daughter beside me, and plate in other hand, far enough out of baby's grabbing reach, we start outside.

We sat down in the grass, and for about a minute, it was great. Great weather, lots of grass, lots of room for them to play.

They did for about a minute. Then, my children discover my lunch. They both like my chips, the same chips they just had. They both want my pear, pear that they just had. And they both want my sandwich. That I spent time making really yummy, and not just a crap sandwich to put food in my stomach. MY SANDWICH! (can you hear the Ross voice about the Thanksgiving sandwich that has the moist maker?) So, the remainder of our "picnic" ends up being me trying to fend off the sharks crawling all over me trying to eat my lunch, even though they had already eaten! I kept trying to eat, while my son toddled around, and then would run back to me and fall on me knocking my plate around. Or grab at whatever food was still on my plate. After he fell down and rolled face forward down the hill, I decided it was time to end the picnic.

I ended up going in with food all over me, and my 2 children full bellied, and my sandwich thoroughly enjoyed by all of us.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Sweetest Sound

My 11 month son has done everything early. Sat up early, crawled early, walked early, and even started saying things early. So, I've been waiting patiently for that day. The day when I would hear how he would say my name. Well, it was definitely not his first word...

first word: DaDa (great way to start, and referring to yes, daddy, and also mommy, and you know, most things he's trying to say)

next words: dog (followed by the sound, "Wuh, wuh, wuh" as in, "woof, woof" in case you needed interpretation) and ball - a sports fan already

so, needless to say, i was wondering when would my name would be mentioned. you know, JUST THE MOST INVOLVED PERSON IN HIS LIFE!

earlier this week, i heard him crying, walking around, and i thought i heard him say, "Mama", but i didn't want to get too excited.

and then again, i thought i heard it yesterday. but still, not sure that he was meaning it for what it really was.

but today, all day long, he was saying "Mama, Mama." it was definitely the sweetest thing he's ever said to me!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Here Comes the Sun

I really like hearing songs at appropriate know, theme music. Road trip songs, sad songs, mad, playful silly songs, etc.

this morning as i was not in a rush (surprise of all surprises) and had more than enough time to get where i needed to be. i got caught in a traffic jam, and simply because i hate sitting in traffic, i turned down a side street, and went around my butt to get to my elbow. but i didn't mind, because i had plenty of time. amazing, i know!

so, as i was going the long way to preschool, i ended up going by a lake and saw how beautiful the morning was. i mean, really saw it. not just kind of saw it, in a mad dash across town, but really saw how gorgeous the sun reflecting on the water was.

right about that time, the Beatles CD was starting to play "Here Comes the Sun". and i just smiled.

listening to the words anew this morning, i was thankful. thankful that the sun always rises. thankful that even when it's been a long, cold, lonely winter, and it feels like years since it's been here, the sun will start to shine again, and the smiles will return to faces. and it will be alright.

my favorite part was that after listening to it once, my sweet little girl said,

"Mommy, can we hear the it's alright sun one again, over and over again?"

"We sure can, sweetie," i said with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Came in Last, Came in First

The pies arrived at the contest.

I didn't actually go to the contest myself. Another friend who also submitted a pie for our ministry came over and picked mine up before taking them. I think it was a good thing that I couldn't be there. I probably would have been too snooty and competitive with the other bakers, anyway. So, she came, and we prayed that God would bless our pies, and then off she went to the contest.

She said that all the other pies were gorgeous. Criss cross pastry crust, designs in their pie crusts, even an angel on one of them, some set up on pedestals, lattice work....need i go on?

And then there were ours. Both of us had these basic apple pies. Just your regular apple pie. You know, crust lattice, no designs...just the basic layer of crust overtop.

As my friend stood and talked with some of the other contestants, she began to hear how they had all baked "trial" pies over the weekend. And saw how they described the different ways that they each had made their pies beautiful. And then she saw our less than gorgeous pies. Our little, humble apple pies. The most humble of them all. And not to mention the judges. One of the judges was a National Champion Pie Baker! My friend began to see that we clearly did not have a chance.

She waited as I waited. I knew that the contest would start "promptly at 1 and be over by 1:30" as it had said in the information sheet. I watched the clock and waited. And yes, prayed. Prayed, not to just "win", but to have the blessing of the money to be able to bless the kids in our neighborhood. I mean, if we won both 1st and 2nd prize, that would be close to a year's budget for our ministry...we could really do some neat things...not to mention that we've been praying for a bus for quite some time.

As I was trying to get my daughter ready for dance class, the phone rang, and I rushed to answer, knowing that it would be her calling. On the other end of the phone I hear it...

"Melissa, we won! We won first and second prize!! We won $1,500!!!!"

It's pretty amazing. We told the kids this afternoon and they squealed in such delight. They couldn't believe that we won that much money. And that God would want to bless our ministry with that kind of money to help them. It was a way that I got to see how much He cares about the "least of these". And even when you come in last, you can still come in first.

Easy as Pie?

I never enter contests.

The reason for this is that I do not like to lose. As a kid, I never entered the "fastest runner" contest, because I knew that Brandon could outrun me in a second. And, I was glad that I wasn't popular enough to enter the Junior Miss pageant, because being up on a stage and coming in last sounds like a nightmare. The closest I came to running for things, was auditioning for the school plays or running for study body secretary. Those are a little bit easier, because it's not like there's one winner, and everyone else lost. You usually get at least something, even if it's a lame part in the play. But at least it's not like you just flat out lose.

So, I'm in an apple pie contest. Today.

Now, this is hugely uncharacteristic of me, not only because i do not like contests, but also because I'm not a huge pie baker. If I make pie, it's chocolate. Now, I would enter my chocolate pie into a pie contest any day, but not so much apple. I've only ever made one really simple kind-of-OK apple pie before in my life. And even though my husband was excited about having apple pie, it was nothing to write home about.

So, I researched apple pie recipes. I compared different tactics for crusts, and studied up on apples. I chose very carefully a recipe that has won 2 state awards in a row, thanks to my pie making friend. Now, as I sit here and type, my pie sits in the oven and bakes. With nothing left to do but wait.

My feelings over this contest are not so much worrying about the competition...because the reason I entered the contest is because if you win, you get $1000 towards a ministry that you are involved in. It would be soooo neat to have the money to be able to go towards the after school program that I direct. So that's why I'm even in the contest. Not so that I can show my best pie, and win a ribbon for it. I haven't even ever tried this apple pie! I'm just having blind faith that this is an "award winning recipe"! Now all I can do is trust that it will be good. Maybe even good enough to win.

But it might not be. It might really be awful. The crust too hard and the filling too runny. The judges might even think, why in the world is this pie in this contest? I could have totally screwed up the recipe without even realizing it. I mean, I've never made a homemade pie crust before. I'm no expert on apple pies. I didn't even have a rolling pin to use...I had to borrow my 3 year old daughters kitchen set pretend one. Seriously.

As I wait, I think about how easy it is to just follow the directions for how to make life what you think you can make it. You can try a recipe that someone gives you. You can even have an award winning recipe. But you just don't know what you're going to have dealt to you. And we aren't supposed to know. What happens if the recipe fails. Or it just comes out all wrong with no understanding as to why it went wrong.

Trusting the Lord when we're uncertain of what the outcome will be, or when we've seen that the outcome is not at all what we choose, is what true trusting is all about. Knowing you might lose, but trying anyway. Knowing that you're not the best, but that you're doing the best you can do, and not for man. But for the Lord. I'm not trying to have a cheesy cliche, or put a Godly spin on it. It really is a step for me to know that it's not about what man thinks, it's what God says is true that I can rest in. He says that even a joyful noise is music to him, so then even apple scraps and lumpy dough can be a delicacy.

I don't know if my pie will win, but I'm glad that I made one. Whether or not it wins, it's the process of trying that is the most important. To be willing to try something, even if it's not the best of the best. To be willing to trust that it's OK to not be good enough to win. The part that blesses the heart of the Lord is just to be willing to step out and do it for Him.