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The microwave is one of the greatest inventions for the kitchen. It allows us to quickly reheat or cook food, including popcorn (my favorite). But it might have been only the beginning of the trend to deliver instant gratification and a cause of the increasing lack of impatience rampant today. Everyone wants what they want right now!

Impatience isn’t the only consequence of our want-it-now, get-it-now society. We’ve stopped thinking long term. In an article by Paul Roberts he talked about how the growing problem of wanting and getting what we desire instantly is causing more problems than just a lot of impatience. “Under the escalating drive for quick, efficient ‘returns,’ our whole socioeconomic system is adopting an almost childlike impulsiveness, wholly obsessed with short-term gain and narrow self-interest and increasingly oblivious to long-term consequences” (“Instant Gratification,” The American Scholar, Autumn 2014).

We see evidence of this everywhere, from drivers cutting each other off in traffic because they’re in a hurry to students cheating on tests rather than patiently studying to really understand the material. Get-rich-quick schemes are always with us, but more and more we see corporations focusing on making profits over the long term good of society.

Instant gratification is having a negative effect on overall maturity, as Roberts says: “The notion of future consequences, so essential to our development as functional citizens, as adults, is relegated to the background, inviting us to remain in a state of permanent childhood.”

People as a whole used to be able to wait patiently: farmers waited for their crops; we waited for letters in the mail; travel took longer and news wasn’t instant. We didn’t have mobile banking, mobile shopping or overnight deliveries. Everything took time.

I think this has also affected the way we think of God’s plan and how we anticipate the Kingdom. With the focus on getting what we want immediately, have we forgotten this life isn’t all there is? We want everything to be perfect now, forgetting the perfection of heaven is far off and is what we wait for with great anticipation.

Peggy Noonan, former speech writer for Ronald Reagan, said something that struck me as a profound truth, especially in our impatient times: “I think we have lost the old knowledge that happiness is overrated—that, in a way, life is overrated. …Our ancestors believed in two worlds, and understood this to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generations of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth, and our search for it has caused such unhappiness. The reason: If you do not believe in another, higher world, if you believe only in the flat material world around you, if you believe that this is your only chance at happiness—if that is what you believe, then you are not disappointed when the world does not give you a good measure of its riches, you are despairing” (Forbes MagazineSeptember 14, 1992).

Life is not about getting everything we want right now. It’s about doing the best we can, “living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17, NLT) and looking forward, with patience to the time when God will make all things new. This life isn’t all there is: we have a future well worth waiting for.

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As I packed clothes for a trip, I discovered a favorite sweater missing from my closet. I searched everywhere, but couldn’t find it. I must have left it in a hotel on another trip. So I packed the matching top and found something else to wear with it.

I don’t like to lose things. It’s frustrating and upsetting, especially if the item is of value. Losing anything is annoying; so is forgetting where we put things, like lists, keys, important papers. Being robbed is even worse. All these situations give us feelings of helplessness and of being out of control. There’s usually nothing we can do but accept it and move on.

Loss is a part of life we’d rather do without but we all experience it. Dealing with and accepting loss is a lesson we learn early and often. Even with age and experience and the knowledge that things are easily replaced, it’s still frustrating. Some losses, like losing a sweater or keys, are easier to accept than the big ones, like the loss of physical abilities or those we love. And then we ultimately have to face the loss of our own lives.

How do we keep the right perspective? Jesus did warn us not to put our hearts and hopes in our temporary possessions, in treasures that can be lost, stolen or burned. Our lives are not made up of what we own. Our worth is not measured by the dollar signs in our accounts and happiness is not achieved in the accumulation of goods. The more painful losses are not so easily explained or philosophized away. Aging bodies, diminished abilities and senses, deaths of friends and family – how do we cope with these?

Our lives are a mere breath or vapor. We are like flowers that bloom in the morning and fade by evening. No, that’s not encouraging, but the words of Jesus are: he is the resurrection and the life. Through his life all will be restored, renewed and redeemed. In the words of an old gospel song, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.”

Because he lives, the losses of today will disappear into insignificance in the light of the glorious redemption of every single atom, moment, human, animal, theft and fire. Every tear, scream, nightmare, every fear and every heartbreak will be wiped away and replaced by joy in the life and love of the Father.

Our hope is in Jesus – in his cleansing blood, resurrected life and all-encompassing love. In a sense, he lost his life for us and he told us if we lose our lives, we will find them again, in him. On this side of heaven, all is lost, but in Jesus, all is found. And when that happy day comes, nothing will ever be lost again.

There’s only one thing to do with zucchinis gone wild – make zucchini relish. I checked them one day and it seemed like the next they had turned into monsters. My mom used to make relish with the ones that got away – it’s similar to pickle relish and is very easy to make. Just grate the squash and soak in salt water overnight. Drain, add vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, salt, pepper and a little cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, can in a water bath and enjoy. My daughter says no one needs as much relish as I made, but I plan to enjoy the fruit of my labors for a long time. It’s great on sandwiches!

What do you do with a bumper crop of tomatoes? You can of course. I remember helping my mom can various fruits and veggies – standing in a hot kitchen, preparing the jars and what went in them – but I had never done it myself until this month. Our tomato plants went crazy so we ate some, gave some away and still there were more. So I bought some jars and a canning pot and went to work.

First I did plain tomatoes for soup and other recipes. Then a friend mentioned his mother used to make tomato preserves – interesting, never heard of that. So I looked it up on allrecipes.com and found this recipe. I tweaked it a little because to me, recipes are just guidelines. You can read my tweaks in the review I wrote under the recipe. It turned out to be incredibly delicious. So far we’ve just eaten it on fresh bread, but now that I have 10 pints, we can look forward to experimenting with it all winter.

Oh, did I mention we also have a few zucchini? I’ll post a photo of what I did with them next time.

 

It’s so nice today I had to get out for a little spring cleaning in the garden. I’m not ready for warm temperatures yet (I know, I’m spoiled living in California) but I love when the flowers start to bloom. Here are the first flowers of the new year: iris, ranunculus, peach and plum trees.

We are two months into the year and most people have already forgotten their New Year’s resolutions, if they even bothered to make any. I made a couple – one to exercise more and the other to be a regular blogger. I’ve done pretty well – so far. But if I’m not as consistent as I would like, I won’t beat myself up or give up. I’m determined to keep going with both, no matter what.

Life is full of distractions and often things happen to derail our good intentions, even when it comes to spiritual matters. It’s frustrating to realize how consistently inconsistent you can be! But the following quotation reassures me God is not a harder taskmaster than I am. He understands our limitations and really only expects one thing of us: to keep going, to keep running the race and cross the finish line (Philippians 3:12-14).

“I would emphasize this one committal, this one great volitional act which establishes the heart’s intention to gaze forever upon Jesus. God takes this intention for our choice and makes what allowances he must for the thousand distractions which beset us in this evil world. He knows that we have set the direction of our hearts toward Jesus, and we can know it too, and comfort ourselves with the knowledge that a habit of soul is forming which will become after a while a sort of spiritual reflex requiring no more conscious effort on our part” (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, p. 82).

I’m not sure I completely agree with the “no more conscious effort” part, but I love that God knows the intent of our hearts and makes allowances for distractions. So here’s to pointing ourselves in the the right direction and finishing the race!

When we were little and my sister and I were given candy, knowing we had to share, we would count it out: one for me, one for you, one for me, one for you. We were very careful to divide everything equally, even when pouring orange juice, because we always wanted our fair share.

As an adult, I frequently count my blessings, thanking God for his mercy and generosity. And as a Christian, I don’t need to worry about getting my fair share. God has already blessed me beyond measure in many ways.

It’s wonderful to receive a blessing, but what about being one, by turning around and blessing someone by an act of kindness or service? Some people call this paying it forward, meaning if someone does something good for you, you then do something good for someone else. But we don’t need to wait for someone to start the process, God already did that; all we need to do is keep it going.

It’s something to consider, whatever you want to call it  – paying it forward, being a blessing, showing grace or even – one for me, one for you.

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