Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Jesus Character

As part of our church’s drama team, I got the text early in the week.

“Can you fill in on Sunday morning for the sketch? The girl who was scheduled has to go out of town unexpectedly.”

I agreed and received a quick rundown on the script. My director concluded with this comment, “Yours will be the Jesus character.”

Being familiar with church-drama-lingo, I understood this to mean that my character would be the straight man and the one with the right answers for the other character who would be struggling with some sort of problem or choice. The “Jesus character” is always loving, kind, forgiving, compassionate, patient, full of wisdom, and – well – like Jesus.

That particular week also happened to be a week of relationship challenges. Harsh words spoken. Unresolved issues led to a face-off, a dead end, and the ever-popular silent treatment vs. the just-get-over-it-and-act-like-it-didn’t-happen treatment.

Hey, wait a minute! I thought we were on the road to redemption!

Standing in church the morning I was scheduled to perform the sketch, the worship team lead us in song after song about the love of God until His Presence was so intense I almost couldn’t breathe. My mind, which had been mulling over the frustrating conversations of the week, became settled and quiet. Then He spoke. I heard the still, small voice.

“You’re the Jesus character.”

A heavy sigh and, “But, God…,”

“The Jesus character.”

“I know.”

Loving. Kind. Forgiving. Compassionate. Patient. Full of wisdom.

Why do I have to be the Jesus character in this real-life piece of drama? Why isn’t he being the Jesus character to me? I’m struggling, too, you know! And I’m having a real hard time with “just get over it and move on.”

I wish I wanted to be the Jesus character! I wish I could be the Jesus character! Jesus is all these things because He IS love. I am flesh and bone. And flesh.

“Help me, Father.”

There’s the crux. Someone needs to be the Jesus character. And this business of redemption is on-going and messy.

The process of redemption in relationships is tricky because there are still feelings involved and memories to deal with and life to be lived and recovery that hasn’t fully taken place. The work of redemption - buying back, releasing, forgiving, and rebuilding - all takes place in the midst of trying not to drown in the hurt of the past.

The truth is, in relationships we take turns being the Jesus character for each other every day. Some days you might be the straight man with all the right answers. Other days you might be the guy struggling with a problem or choice. We’re all in need of a healthy dose of mercy and grace. The measure of mercy and grace I use with others will determine the measure of mercy and grace that comes back to me.

Some days my mercy scoop just isn't very generous.

And I realize I have lost my focus.

THE original Jesus character– the One…

…Who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us (purchase our freedom)
from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people [to be peculiarly His own,
people who are] eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good
and filled with] beneficial deeds.
--Titus 2:14 AMP

God – my Lord and Creator – Who said…

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
--Isaiah 43:1 NASB

Benefits I enjoy…

He redeems me from death
    and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
--Psalm 103:4 NLT

My part in this whole deal…

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
    Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
--Psalm 107:1-2 NLT

Have I been redeemed by God? Bought with a price? My sins forgiven? Abundant life now? My home in heaven? Yes, I have.

But I am pretty sure I don’t thank Him enough. 

Or speak up enough. 

Or carry a big enough mercy scoop.

How about you?


Linking with:
Imparting Grace

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Do You Need A Better Plan?

Maybe I should just say, I need a better plan.

Okay, okay. I just need a plan. A plan for the morning. I don’t have one. Well - wait – unless you count the one about boiling the water for my morning French-pressed wake up elixir. Straight up. Black. Strong.

Yeah, I should have more of a plan than -
  1. Get up.
  2. Boil water.
  3. Make coffee.
  4. Drink coffee.
  5. Don't burn mouth.
After I get the coffee down, it’s pretty much haphazard. What does haphazard actually mean, anyway?

happening or done in a way that has not been planned
synonyms include: random, hit-or-miss, slapdash, jumbled, careless, irregular,
all over the place (haha – very funny)

Ouch. Guilty as charged. And sorry I asked.

You know, I used to be an organized person. When the kiddos were young and still at home, it seems I accomplished so much more. And I know I had a plan for each and every day. What happened?

Little by little, I got comfortable. Life got easier in many ways. And I got – dare I say it? – lazy.

Why is it that as the kids got older and either left home or got self-sufficient, not requiring as much from me, I got lazy?

I can even remember realizing a few years ago the privileged season of more time to myself quickly approaching. I looked forward to it and thought about how much I’d be able to accomplish. But I didn’t make a plan.

I was soon to arrive at every mom’s Promised Land.

The Promised Land which flowed with children sleeping through the night, waking and getting their own breakfast, doing their school and chores without too much prodding. Children who didn’t need a babysitter. Children who could safely drive themselves to events or work. Children who didn’t care anymore if I left the house without them.

I am a mom who has practically worked herself out of a job.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sad about this in any way, shape, or form. It’s the way is supposed to be. We raise our kids so they can be godly, self-sufficient, productive members of society, and able to move out of the house.

But I forgot to remember how I came to be in this place of privilege. Reminds me of something I read somewhere….

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land
of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills.
It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey.

It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking.
It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills.

When you have eaten your fill, 
be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

But that is the time to be careful!
Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God
and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.

For when you have become full and prosperous
and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else,

be careful!

Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you
from slavery in the land of Egypt.

Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness
with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry.

 He gave you water
from the rock!

He fed you
with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors.
He did this to humble you and test you for your own good.

He did all this so you would never say to yourself,
‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’

Remember the Lord your God.

He is the one who gives you power to be successful,
in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.

Forgive me, Father. I forgot. I forgot that You sustained me when I was sleep deprived. I forgot that You gave me wisdom when I had no clue how to discipline those kids. I forgot that You taught me how to teach them. I forgot that You provided when the bank account was slim. I forgot that You kept me calm when they struggled with their faith. I forgot that You protected us from ourselves. I was never hungry or without clothes or shelter. I was never alone.

So, here I am, Friends. January 2, 2014 and I need a plan.

I haven’t been into New Year’s Resolutions for some time now, preferring to make goals. I have to admit, though, that I’m kind of afraid of making goals. Well, I take that back. I’m not afraid to make goals. I’m afraid of failing at the goals I make.

Oh my gosh – all of a sudden I’m wondering what I’m doing? Writing all this, knowing I’m going to hit the “Publish” button pretty soon and I’ve bared my soul. Now you all know that Calista’s only definite plan for the day is to get up, make the coffee, and drink it. After that, it's hit-or-miss.

Well, I will hit “Publish” and I want you to know I’ve written in first person on purpose, because this is my problem, not yours. This morning I am only preaching to myself.

I hope it encourages you.

I am thankful for God’s Word and specifically Deuteronomy 8:7-18 (NLT) today. Did you catch all the provisions of God?

A good land
Flowing streams, fountains of water, gushing springs
Lacking nothing, being filled

Having been rescued
Led through the great and terrifying wilderness
(come on now, can anyone else relate here?)

He gave you water
He fed you

He gives you power to be successful

I am undone by the goodness of our God.

And I am finished wasting my time.

I'm getting a plan.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

When It's Hard to Not Look Back

Does so much of the past year beg to be forgotten? Never to be thought of again? 
Swept under the rug. Thrown out with the garbage. Burned. Buried. someone else’s yard. a land far, far away.

But, it can’t be truly forgotten. To be truly forgotten would be as if it never happened. However, it cannot be treated as if it never happened, because it has shaped us for the rest of our lives. The hurt, the sadness, the loss, the grief, the anger – no – rage, the loneliness, the emptiness. And the scariest of them all, hopelessness.

I don’t know about you, but it was the hopelessness that threatened to pull me under more than any of the other emotions.

What the past year can be is:
learned from

I was blown away by a quick look online for the definition of redeem. Want to see it?

1. a. to buy back; repurchase
    b. to get or win back
2. to free from what distresses or harms; as...
   a. to free from captivity by payment of ransom
   b. to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental
   c. to release from blame or debt; clear
   d. to free from the consequences of sin
3. to change for the better; reform
4. repair, restore
5. a. to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby
   b. (1) to remove the obligation of by payment, (2) to exchange for something of value
   c. to make good;  fulfill
6. a. to atone for; expiate; redeem an error
   b. (1) to offset the bad effect of  (2)  to make worthwhile;  retrieve

The process of redemption began for me about seven weeks ago; the day my husband moved back in. The day I took a deep breath and a risky faith step.

Together we began to redeem our marriage and our family.

None of this would have been possible without the help of God and knowledge of His redeeming love for each of us.

God forgave us. We can forgive each other.
God has mercy on us. We can have mercy on each other.
God loves us. We can love each other.

We are all going to botch it some days. We all sometimes get the notes wrong.
 But the song only goes wrong — when we keep thinking back to the wrong notes.
When a piece starts to fall apart — fall forward. Fall forward into the next bar.
 Moving forward is what makes music.

A conductor chooses the tempo, the ebb and flow, the feel of a certain piece. However, possibly most importantly, he keeps it moving. The goal, in part, is to make it to the finale and leave the audience changed for the better by what they have experienced through the music. If there is a fumbled section, the conductor doesn't stop, he presses on.

You and I are the conductor of our lives. God has a good plan for us, the musical score. We have the privilege and responsibility to choose what we do with the plan and how we react to circumstances. There will most certainly be flubbed sections, phrases stumbled over, wrong notes. We can choose to stop, embarrassed or defeated by the flaws or press through into what’s next. Finish the song. Allow ourselves and those around us to be changed for the better by what they have experienced through the song of our lives.

Oh, how I have missed blogging this year, but I was raw; battle weary.

But, oh, I have scribbled pages and pages of Good News to share with you, my friends. My readers. In fact, I thought of you as I wrote them.

“If I’m going to go through this stinking mess, 
someone else has got to get some good out of it!”

Well, guess what? If you’re reading this, it’s your blessed day. And if you continue to read along with me this coming year, you’ll continue to be blessed.

The New Year is only a few hours away and I’m ever so glad to wave good-bye to 2013.

How about you? Has this been a year to forget? How about making it a year to be redeemed? Care to join me in this journey of buying back, releasing, forgiving, rebuilding? Come on, let’s go.

I’m happy to be back. I hope you’re happy about it, too.


Imparting Grace

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Of Playing Dress Up and Forgetting Not to Blink

There have been so many years of watching my four girls play dress up. Daughters transformed into princesses simply by putting on a discarded lacy slip or a costume. Tangled hair yanked into submission under the authority of a sparkling headband. A little bit of blush. A touch of lip gloss and let the twirling begin.

It didn't matter there was neither music nor prince. The girls would primp and dance and giggle all for the joy of simply being what they were – little girls playing dress up.

Tonight brought a different kind of dress up. This one was not pretend. One sister a bride. The other her sister’s bridesmaid. Scraps of cloth are replaced with taffeta and tulle and satin. These gowns are definitely not from the toy box or rescued from the bag of discarded clothing.

I still see the faces of my little girls in these full grown princesses playing dress up. And I always will. It never ceases to amaze me at how quickly it seems the years have flown.

In only six weeks, my third princess daughter will dress up once again. She will be joined by her sisters and friends. There will much primping and twirling and giggling. But this next time, it won’t be a game. There will be music and there will be a prince.

I guess I just needed to get all sentimental for a minute. Seeing them try on their dresses took me back in time and I realized that I forgot not to blink. How does it happen so quickly? The growing up. The getting married. The moving out. Is it really almost here?

Wasn't it just yesterday she got her driver’s license? Or a week ago that she went to camp for the first time? Or only last month that I held her in my arms, a tiny bundle all wiggly and crying?

Don’t blink. Don’t.Ever.Blink.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Coconut Lime Bread

My, oh my - where have you been all my life?

I don't normally share recipes, but this one is too good to keep to myself. This yummy bread was in the March, 2013 edition of Better Homes and Gardens. I tore the page right out my magazine (yes, I still tear and keep recipes on magazine pages) and put it on the kitchen counter. 

Before heading to the store I checked out the recipe to see if I needed to pick up ingredients. Lime marmalade. Everything else I had in my pantry.

Walmart - nope. Target - nope. Trader Joe's - uh uh. World Market - nada.
There was no lime marmalade to be found in my city.

Not to be outwitted, I googled lime marmalade and found a couple sources, but with shipping costs not worth it for a loaf of quick bread.

Next stop, lime marmalade recipes. Sigh - mostly labor intensive and by now I had lost interest. Into the folder of "Recipes To Try" and tucked away on the shelf. (Yes, I still keep recipe pages torn from magazines in folders on my shelf.) 

Out of sight, out of mind. Until....
Key Lime Marmalade - Click Image to Close
Minding my own business, passing through Osceola MO, sampling a few delicious cheeses in their store I wandered past a shelf full of jams, jellies, preserves, AND marmalade! Could it be true? Yes! The illusive, nowhere-to-be-found lime marmalade right there in little ol' Osceola MO. I snatched up my treasure and took it home.

Now, if only I could find where I put that recipe!

I know, silly, right? If I had "pinned" it or saved it in my recipe box on the Better Homes and Gardens website the recipe would be handy. Or if I organized my folders! Sheesh!

Alright, enough suspense already. Here's the recipe straight from the BHG website:

Coconut-Lime Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup coconut milk or milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
3/4 cup lime marmalade, melted*
1 tablespoon lime marmalade, melted
1/4 cup chip or flake coconut, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside.
2. In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl beat egg with a fork; stir in coconut milk and melted butter. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in 1 cup of toasted flaked coconut.
3. Spoon one-third of the batter into prepared pan. Spoon half of the 3/4 cup marmalade over batter. Repeat with remaining batter and marmalade, ending with batter. Using a thin metal spatula or table knife, swirl the marmalade through the bread.
4. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap with plastic wrap; store at room temperature overnight before slicing.
5. Before slicing, brush top of loaf with 1 Tbsp. melted marmalade. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup toasted coconut.

Melting Marmalade
Spoon marmalade into a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup. Heat 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on 100 percent power, stirring every 30 seconds until marmalade is a spoonable consistency. (If softening only 1 to 2 Tbsp. of marmalade, heat just 20 to 30 seconds.)

Toasting Coconut:
To toast, place coconut in a shallow baking pan. Toast in a 350 degrees F oven 5 to 7 minutes or until it starts to brown, stirring once. Watch carefully, coconut can quickly go from golden to burned.
nutrition facts (Coconut-Lime Bread)

Servings Per Recipe 14, cal. (kcal) 292, Fat, total (g) 12, chol. (mg) 25, sat. fat (g) 9, carb. (g) 45, Monosaturated fat (g) 2, Polyunsaturated fat (g) 0, Trans fatty acid (g) 0, fiber (g) 1, sugar (g) 30, pro. (g) 3, vit. A (IU) 166, vit. C (mg) 1, Thiamin (mg) 0, Riboflavin (mg) 0, Niacin (mg) 1, Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0, Folate (µg) 40, Cobalamin (Vit. B12) (µg) 0, sodium (mg) 214, Potassium (mg) 106, calcium (mg) 66, iron (mg) 1, Mark as Free Exchange () 0, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

After popping my loaf into the oven, I finished reading the recipe to find in #4 the part about wrapping it in plastic wrap and letting it sit overnight! What?!? You mean I have to wait until morning?

Here is what the bread looked like after turning it out of the pan.

THIS is what it looked like in the morning after the finishing touches!

Totally worth the wait - believe me!

The texture is similar to cake made from scratch, so moist.
The toasted coconut gave a nutty contrast to the tart lime marmalade laced throughout the bread.

I think it would be equally delicious made with orange marmalade, don't you? Just might have to give it a try.

I hope you enjoyed this tasty journey and didn't ruin your keyboard, tablet, or phone by drooling all over the place. 

If you will excuse me, 
it is tea-time 
at A House and Yard
and I know just what 
I'm going to eat!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Linking here:
Elizabeth and Co.   Home Stories A to Z  Ivy and Elephants  Marty's Musings    Shine on Friday  Imparting Grace