I Think I Can

My repertoire of culinary fiasco could fill a cookbook.Oddly enough, I didn’t let it stop me from joining a Dinner club two years ago. I warned the other couples I couldn’t cook, but they needed some comic relief.

Last week, we chose to make a Cajun meal. They asked me to prepare a New Orleans  dessert called Bananas Foster. It’s easy (heard that one before) and requires few ingredients. Sliced bananas, brown sugar, cinnamon, fresh lemon juice, and rum. Bananas Foster is traditionally flambeed before serving, and the alcohol in the sauce is allowed to burn until the flames die down.

Knowing I couldn’t make dessert ahead of time was nerve wracking. I underlined the words: “Before flambeing, make sure to roll up long shirtsleeves, and tie back hair.”

The night of the dinner party, we sat at a long dining table covered in white cloth and ate like King Neptune: crab cakes, shrimp salad, seafood gumbo, and jambalaya. Someone requested dessert. I felt like a pressure cooker as I stood at the stove with seven people breathing down my neck, asking questions.

I heated the heavy-bottomed skillet and listened to the oohs and aah’s of my audience as I sliced, sprinkled, stirred, and squeezed ingredients into the warm pan. Then the moment they’d been waiting for…..

They aimed cameras as I poured the rum into the skillet and waved a lit match over the pan. Fumes ignited and burst into a roaring flame higher than my head.

One man grabbed a fire extinguisher while the hostess grabbed a straw ornament hanging behind the stove.

While I, with the flare of New Orleans chef, Emeril Lagasse, gently shook the skillet to distribute the blue-tipped flame over the entire pan. Within seconds, the  flames subsided, leaving a caramelized sauce in which I sauteed sliced bananas to a glossy, golden brown.

Laughter and applause filled the kitchen as I poured the sauce into bowls of vanilla ice cream.Bananas Foster was an exclamation mark of the night.

And I was hailed by my fellow chefs as a member in good standing!

Yum, nothing like the round flavor of victory, instead of the bitter taste of…….


Compare myself to women who bake from scratch, grow herb gardens, and serve gourmet meals on china plates. No wonder I label myself, laugh at myself, stop believing I can do anything new or worthy……

Stop listening to voices of defeat, the enemy’s accusations that I’m no good, I’m unable, I can’t……

Instead choose to be like The Little Engine that Could, and face the uphill climb, the impossible dream, and “think I can!”

By believing,

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

even flambeing Bananas Foster.

It’s My Birthday

It’s my birthday, February 27th.

I’m in a fetal position in my warm bed, resting, waiting in the dark; not unlike the first nine months of my existence in mother’s womb. When it’s time to emerge from my bed, I stumble to the bathroom sink where the overhead light makes me squint like a newborn babe. But an AARP woman looks back at me from the mirror.

Do I feel another year older?

No, just another day older. Although lately, I feel like I’m going through an age spurt.

I cringe at my reflection, the naked face before I paint it with mascara and under eye concealer. I pull my cheeks towards my temples, erasing the lines, tightening the pores; and wish someone would invent flesh-colored staples.

Remember being a pimple-faced teen and the school boy who called me “ugly.” Decades later, I don’t feel any lovelier, but the cosmetic industry has thrived promising me, and a million other women, the “perfect face.” Who invented mirrors?

And let’s not even talk about the pull of gravity on my body. A Burka would be a nice addition to my ward robe, but I don’t look good in black.

But enough of that! No use bemoaning the inevitability of age.

I touch the crow’s feet next to my eyes and thank God for laughter. I trace the lips that planted a thousand kisses on my loved ones, the eyes able to see God’s wonders. I even bless the bump on the bride of my nose that caused my younger brother to call me ‘Barbra Streisand’ while we were growing up. It’s all good…….

“I will give thanks to God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

It’s my birthday, and I refuse to read the article that pops up on my AOL news, “Secrets to Staying Slim at Your Age,” I kid you not!

Instead, I meet with my creator, the omnipotent One who weaved me in my mother’s womb. The omniscient One who knows the days that “were ordained for me,” the omnipresent One who loves me with an everlasting love.

I turn the dog-eared pages of my Bible and see my history unfold like a diary. There’s the tear-stained calendar dates written in the margins, next to scripture that nourished me in hard times and gave me hope. I see the small hearts drawn next to words that exemplified God’s character. Notice the tiny handwritten notes and underlined verses made during sermons.

It’s my birthday, and I am happy knowing: “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:17, 18)

Seek and Find

Rather than pull the blanket over my head, I make myself get out of bed with dawn’s first light and meet with the Most High God.

I ignore my “to-do list,” the one scrawled in ink the night before, in favor of the one thing I can’t ignore: Intimacy with God.

The past week entailed church, women’s Bible study, jail ministry, and a Christian writers group. Wasn’t there enough of God in my week?

Never enough. Besides, serving the Lord and learning about Him doesn’t replace being alone in His presence. I need that one-on-one.

Unlike intercessory prayer or Bible study, I come before Him with no personal agenda. The pine trees outside my window are bathed in bronze light as the sun rays peer over my roof. Surely God is in this place. I am still and Know that He is God.

If only I could stretch the hour and worship Him on the mountain top without interruption, but duty calls. I leave my sweet spot, my space with God, and rouse my sleeping son for school.

 As I spread mayonnaise on wheat bread, I remember this morning’s verse, “Now to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit (the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Holy Spirit) for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

Not my good, but the common good. Life isn’t all about me.

I bend my knee, and surrender the day to Him. You’re will, Lord. Not mine.

Drop my son off at school, drive to the local shopping center, and park. Just before I walk into the dry cleaners, my cell phone rings. I pause my agenda to greet the voice of a long-distance friend. We haven’t spoken in months, but I’m not surprised. I knew God would make Himself known. I knew He’d bring the unexpected. And I tell her so.

We talk, sharing words of encouragement and conviction. We share what His Spirit puts on our hearts, for the common good so the body of Christ is built up.

I stand outside; talking on the phone, stand between the dry cleaners and grocery store. And my skin tingles. Surely God is in this place too.

“To the degree that we seek Him, we will find Him.”  

Nothing but the toilets

My to-do list, written by morning’s first light, lies pristine on a kitchen counter. Nothing checked off or accomplished.

What happened to the day?

I roll back the hours when morning prayers brought to mind the faces of those I love, and prompted a flurry of emails, texts, and phone calls. Praise God for technology that shrinks the miles and unites hearts with instant communication.

Not one to sit idle, the taskmaster rises within me even though I’m on the phone. I scrub toilet bowls and wipe sinks while I talk with someone a thousand miles away.

Clock strikes noon, bringing me back to “my list.” I’m off like a racehorse to the county jail. More prayers rise heavenward for the women inmates who wait for me behind cement walls, desperate for God’s Word. But chapel time surrenders to jail maintenance and prevents me from going inside. Do I check jail ministry off my list if it doesn’t happen?

Check my watch, calculating the minutes until the repair man shows up to my house, must get the heater fixed. Rush home to discover he’s running late; probably won’t happen today. Minutes slip through my fingers like liquid soap as the twilight hour appears.

Hungry stomachs must be fed so I puree pumpkin soup and listen for my husband’s car in the driveway. He earned a paycheck for his labor. What do I have to show for my day? Seems like nothing but the toilets got done. 

Chris Tomlin sings from my IPOD speakers, “Your grace is enough…I’m covered in your blood. So remember your people, Oh, God.”

I sprinkle cinnamon in the soup and ponder, is God’s grace enough? Or do I try to earn His favor and find my value in the doing? I gladly receive God’s grace when I mess up, and extend grace to others who fail. So why is it hard to give myself grace when I don’t meet my own expectations?

And relax, knowing that sometimes…..

Seeking God and remembering His people in prayer may be the only thing I can muster. But in God’s Book, my relationship with Him and others is everything.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

A light rain descends and dances like reindeer hooves on my roof. I grate zucchini and crack eggs for homemade bread ~~ an offering to my husband for a job well done.

Set the oven timer and scan my list. Clean toilets aren’t on the list. Neither are the names of people I spoke with, or intercessory prayer, but I know God laid those people on my heart.

Garage door rumbles open, and my husband enters the kitchen bearing the weight of the world. He sniffs the air where the aroma of pumpkin soup mingles with oven-baked bread. Smiling, I walk into his arms. His shoulders relax, and the pleasure on his face assures me that “my only aim is to know Christ” and love others.

The rest is gravy.

What’s Taking Sooo Long? (rest of the story)

The rest of the story…….

The disappointment on my son’s face tugs my heartstrings. And I realize, its easier for me to pray “Thy will be done” in my life than watch “His will be done” in my children’s lives, particularly as they get older.

Unlike the years when I could dry their tears and kiss scraped knees, the needs of my adult children have also grown. Powerless to help them or show them the way, I get on my knees and pray. But when storm clouds linger and there’s no end in sight, I ask God, What’s taking so long?

Just say the word, the waters will part, the wind and the clouds will obey.

Remember the woman who begged for mercy,  “Oh Lord, my daughter’s demon-possessed.” And Jesus replied, “O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.”  (Matthew 15:22-28)

Is it wrong of me to wish You’d help my children? O Lord, why must they wait?

The question is raised, but my heart knows the answer; “trials are the testing of our faith.” We’re a work in progress and there’s more at stake, than the wishes of an earth-bound  Mother.


Had I Been Joseph’s Mother

(by Ruth Bell Graham)

Had I been Joseph’s mother

I’d have prayed protection from his brothers

“God, keep him safe.

He is so young,

so different from the others.”

Mercifully, she never knew

there would be slavery

and prison, too.

Had I been Moses’ mother

I’d have wept to keep my little son:

Praying she might forget

the babe drawn from the water

of the Nile.

Had I not kept him for her

nursing him the while,

was he not mine?

And she, but Pharaoh’s daughter?

Had I been Daniel’s mother

I should have pled

“Give Victory!

This Babylonian horde

godless and cruel—

Don’t let him be a captive,

Better dead, Almighty Lord!”

Had I been Mary,

Oh, had I been she,

I would have cried

as never mother cried,

“Anything, O God, Anything…

but crucified.”

With such prayers importunate

My finite wisdom would assail

Infinite Wisdom.

God, how fortunate

Infinite Wisdom

should prevail.