Friday, March 27, 2009

All Rise?

Spring is in the air, and of course with spring in Texas comes unpredictable, sometimes stormy weather. Like my mother, and probably my Memaw too, rainy weather always puts me in the baking mood. Around our family, clouds and rain mean it's "chocolate chip cookie" weather. Last week, after a few days of rain, and chocolate chip cookies passed around the neighborhood, I moved on to baking cinnamon rolls. After an hour of watching the dough refuse to rise, my husband, Derek called. Our conversation went something like this.

"Hi Sweetheart. What are you doing?"

"Oh, just putting cinnamon rolls in the dishwasher."


"I made homemade cinnamon rolls. I just put them in the dishwasher."

"Are we supposed to eat them ...after that?"

"Of course!"

What my sweet, non-culinary husband doesn't know is that in order for yeast dough to rise properly, it needs a warm, moist environment. Since it was a cool, rainy day, my kitchen felt more like a cave than a bakery...not exactly optimal for tall, fluffy treats. In a moment of genius (or insanity) I realized that my dishwasher would be the perfect habitat for my struggling pastry. I had just put away clean dishes, and the dishwasher was still warm, steamy and freshly sterilized. I put the pans of cinnamon rolls inside, and within 30 minutes, I had perfecly risen buns, ready for the oven. As they baked, their amazing smell filling the air, I found myself thinking about how amazing it is that just a little heat, applied at the right time, causes a mix of average ingredients to rise, and then be fully baked to become something wonderful.

Maybe you have been feeling the heat in your own life lately. I know I have! Whether it's the economy, trouble on the homefront, pain in your body...or in your soul, sometimes the situation feels too hot to handle. But, maybe this is your moment, your time to rise. Maybe you're in the very place that will cause you to become who God created you to be. It is easy to lose heart in tough times, but know that ALL things, at ALL times are at work for your good....for your accomplish what God wants to in your life (Romans 8:28, Jennifer's paraphrase). Use the heat to make you better, to push you to being a better you. In the end, girlfriend, the reward really will be sweet!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dear Me, .........

It had to come eventually. I've felt the question hanging in the air for at least a week. I've seen the uncomfortable look as my husband, Derek, glanced at the mantle over the fireplace, his eyes passing from one end to the other. It was really just a matter of time before it would accidentally pop out. "Are you ever going to take your birthday cards down from there?" Yes, just like my mother, I have a ritual of displaying birthday cards from anyone and everyone so that they can be shared by all. Usually, I put them away within a few days, but this year they have lingered a bit longer. Actually, I turned 35 three weeks ago, so for Mr. Clean, this bit of clutter has long overstayed its welcome. As usual, I felt the need for some personal over-analysis to discover why I have kept these love notes and happy wishes around for so long. The truth is, when we write down our feelings for others, we are usually more free than when we speak face to face. Come on girls...who hasn't fired off the over-emotional email only to regret it later? Written notes of affection often say more than we would dare say aloud. When was the last time you told someone, "I thank God for the day you were born," or, "You have brought so much joy to my life" out loud? Deeper still, how many of us could say or write these words of love and encouragement to ourselves? This week I gave myself the challenge to replace my birthday cards from others with a note to myself. For all that I can give to those I care about, I had a really hard time giving it to myself. It went something like this. "Dear Jennifer, girl!......hmmmm......" So I challenge you all to join me in the card-writing task. What do you think of yourselves? Who does God say you are? Would your card to yourself say, "Dear Christy, you are a true and loyal friend, " or, "Tiff, do you know how valuable you are?" How about saying, "Patti, you are standing on the edge of an amazing future?" Can you give yourself the gift of love and affirmation today? Will you ask your Creator to unveil your eyes and show you the real miracle of you? I'd better get to thinking, because I, for one, have a card to write!