The In Between Day: Death and Expectation {Lent Day #47}

 It is so full and so crazy, but I do so love this week. The Seder on Wednesday night was ~ “so beautiful.”  That’s what everyone kept saying, anyway, and I had to agree.  The beautiful part goes far beyond the table settings and candles to the number of people gathered to remember the sin, death, and slavery we were rescued from by our Passover Lamb.

Then yesterday we gathered for the 14th year in a row ~ since we started the church ~ to walk the wooden cross through our town ~ reading the story of Good Friday at different stops along the way.  This is definitely not a “fun” thing to do, but an important one, I think.  On a very, very small scale it allows us to identify with the shame and ridicule that Jesus endured on the way to His death on our behalf.

Later in the evening  ~ after I took Kory to the airport for a college-tour trip ~ we met back at church for a Tenebrae service with chairs circled around the cross and dramatic readings from scripture telling the story of the Crucifixion.  It ends in complete darkness and silence. Many stayed to pray in the solemn shadows.  While I sat praying, I kept thinking of the stanzas from two of my favorite hymns…
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the Cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul!
(It Is Well With My Soul ~ Horatio Spofford)

and

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
(How Great Thou Art ~ Stuart Hine)

And then today, on this “in between day” ~ the day after the death of Christ and before His Resurrected victory over death, we went to a funeral.  Well, actually it was a memorial service for a young man who took his own life last month ~ the 22 year old son of a friend of ours ~ a child we’ve known and interacted with off and on for the last 13 years.
 It was both grievous and glorious.  We cried as his parents and friends talked about their indescribable sadness and as we watched the slide show of his baby through college years.  And then we clapped and praised and sang together in the joy of knowing his eternal security and ours, too.  Because his life celebration was all held on this “in between” death and resurrection day, it gave us all such a vivid picture of the hope of Resurrection and New Life ~ the things that WILL happen to us who believe ~  by grace through faith ~ because of WHAT JESUS DID tomorrow.  If there could ever be a “perfect” day to mourn and hope all at the same time, today is certainly that day.
 Before and after the memorial, Kayla and I worked on an “au naturel” Easter egg project.  We boiled cabbage, yellow onions, beets, turmeric, coffee, and saffron in various combinations to make natural dyes for our eggs this year.  We let the dyes cool while we were away for the afternoon, and this evening, we’ve been letting the eggs sit in the natural dyes.  Actually, Kayla has been dying eggs AND cooking dinner for us at the same time this evening ~ Ginger BBQ Chicken Kabobs! She’s getting to be a pro in the kitchen.
They are turning out better than I expected.  The beets definitely provide the strongest stain, and second runner-up goes to the yellow onion skin/saffron/turmeric dye.  I love the “earthy” look of the finished product.

The day is almost over, and that’s a good thing…

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless, you are still in your sins.  Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
I Corinthians 15: 16-19

Gluten Free Friday ~ Deviled Eggs {Lent Day #46}

Happy Good Friday!  I have had a busy day already, and now am heading out the door to take Kory to the airport.  He’ll be visiting two colleges there that he’s been accepted to, but has never seen. He’s now got only one month left to decide where he’ll go to college in the fall. I’m hoping to get back from the airport in time for our Good Friday service tonight!
I do think it’s ironic that these eggs are called “deviled.”  I’m sure the real devil was rejoicing about the events that happened today, but he only got a few days to relish in his seeming victory.
I’ll be serving these on Sunday after church ~ when we’ll all be celebrating Jesus’ victory over death and our own new lives because of it!


Deviled Eggs

12 eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp mustard {yellow or dijon}
salt and pepper to taste
paprika to sprinkle for garnish

Place eggs in saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil for a minute or two and then remove pan from heat.  Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Rinse eggs with cold water for 2 minutes.  Peel shells off eggs, slice in half lengthwise, and pop yolks out into a separate bowl.  Use a fork to break up yolks and then add the remaining ingredients.  Combine thoroughly and until mixture is smooth.  Use small spoons or pastry bags to fill each egg half with the yolk mixture.  Sprinkle with paprika.

Thanks and Bread and Betrayal {Lent day #45}

So, this is one of the pieces of artwork I got to see while slowly strolling through the Boston Museum of Fine Arts last week.  I think the religious artwork is partly why I’m drawn to the European Art section.  Some of them are sort of ridiculous and based on unlikely legend, but some of them are so moving.  I did get tickled over the ones depicting the incarnation or the crucifixion that also included St. Jerome.  He would always be peeking around the scene ~ from behind Mary as she held the baby Jesus or standing near the Cross itself. So funny.
I loved this sculpture of the Last Supper.  It appears to be such a lively scene, which it probably was for a while.  But it also made me think of the darkness of the coming betrayal and the giving of thanks that Jesus gives in the face of that betrayal
…that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
I Corinthians 11: 23, 24
When I read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, I learned that in Greek the phrase “He had given thanks” or “He gave thanks”  in that verse is “eucharisteo.”
When I finished the book last year, I made this banner for Easter as a reminder of what Jesus did.  The premise of Ann’s book is that there is always reason to give thanks, and that in doing so miracles happen ~ especially miracles of transformation in our way of seeing and therefore in our experiencing of joy.

I spoke to a group of women over the weekend on the topic of sanctification.  We looked at the life of an Old Testament woman ~ the Shunammite woman of 2 Kings.  She sets a really high standard in her godly responses to the trials of life.  I tried to encourage them (and myself) by reminding them that Jesus also went through this process…

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered…
Hebrews 5: 7-8

Therefore He had to be make like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of people.  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Hebrews 2: 17-18

I read the stories of the Exodus Passover and Jesus’ last Passover with His disciples to my Challenge students this week. I heard a few groans and saw a few rolled eyes over the betrayal by Judas.  What a wretched, evil guy Judas was, seemed to be the thinking.  And it’s true, but ALL of the disciples betrayed and denied Jesus that night ~ and so have all of us.

I have felt the sting of betrayal in recent years ~ big and small betrayals ~ by those close and not so close.  One of the close ones reached out for a helping hand recently. My first response?  Incredulity. How could they possibly have the audacity to ask a favor in light of all they’ve done to me?  All they’ve taken from me? How can they act as if  there’s nothing between us?

Good thing the One I’ve betrayed doesn’t allow those same realities to keep Him from giving generously when I ask for help.  Thankfully, He is not incredulous when the former traitor comes to Him with pleas of rescue and comfort.

No.  He sympathizes with the pain of my experience with betrayal, because He’s been there ~ experienced  the betrayal of His closest friends over 2000 years ago tonight.  And then ~ amazingly ~ He doesn’t hold my sin of betrayal against me, but credits me with His own righteousness.

May this truth overwhelm me as it should, Lord ~ during this weekend of celebrating Your betrayal on my behalf, and every day.

Bitter Roots, Sweet Trees {Lent Day #44}

Whole Foods Cashier: {surprised} “Is that horseradish?  That’s a lot of horseradish!”

Me: {laughing} “Yes, it IS horseradish.  And it IS a lot!

Whole Foods Cashier: “Do you mind if I ask what you are going to do with all of that horseradish?”

I quickly explained that I was making 15 Seder Plates for a Passover celebration this week, and that some day soon I would be crying in my kitchen while peeling and grating all of that horseradish!

And today was that day.  Oh, wow.  It hurts to breathe.  I forget just how strong and painful that sensation is. It’s much worse than an onion.  The tears and sore throat are totally unavoidable.

But now it’s all sealed up in a plastic container, and thankfully, the stinging sensation in my sinuses is dissipating.

We’ll all eat a couple of bites of raw, grated horseradish tonight at our Passover meal in order to remember the bitterness of the Israelites slavery in Egypt.  Here’s what the Messianic Passover Haggadah reads just prior to the eating of the horseradish:

On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on Passover we eat only maror, bitter herbs.  As sweet as our lives are today, let us still remember how bitter life was for the children of Israel in the land of Egypt.

“…so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.  They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields.” (Exodus 1:12-14)

 The bitter herbs are called “The Maror.”  Remember Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi?  Remember how she asked to be called “Mara” and not “Naomi” anymore?  It was because she was “bitter” over the death of her husband and sons.  The Hebrew word for “bitter” is “maror.”

The Israelites lived bitter lives of toil due to their enslavement in Egypt. Naomi grieved bitterly over the curse of death experienced in her immediate family.  Slavery and death are the results of sin ~ the very bitter results.

But the “afikomen” and the wine, or juice is sweet.

At the end of the Seder meal, the striped, pierced “afikomen” matzah will be hidden, found by children, and then ransomed back in order to be eaten for dessert.  Then the cup of redemption and the cup of praise will be lifted and all in unison we will say…

Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

It will be like when those freed Israelite slaves began complaining that the only water to drink in the desert was bitter.  They even had thoughts of returning to Egypt and slavery where at least the water was good and the food was rich, but Moses cried out to God for help, and God showed him a tree.

When Moses threw the tree into the water, it became sweet. It took away the bitterness. It was a sign of things to come.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law (death, slavery), having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”… (Galations 3: 13)

Tasting of the horseradish-bitter curse of sin, death, and slavery tonight in order to better taste the sweetness of the Tree.

Passover Crimson, Snowfall White ~ Again {Lent Day #43}

{Re-posting this today ~ since it’s Passover AND my brother’s birthday. Celebrating him today, and all the Lord has done in his life and his wife’s life ~ and now their life together.  They gave exuberant permission to share their story, because it glorifies our Passover Lamb, Jesus ~ and all that He has done on our behalf.}

He’s been near and dear for many years.  She was fairly new on the scene, becoming his wife in the summertime. I go to a lot of weddings.  I cried at theirs, because I had prayed for this moment for so long, because he was so happy, because she was so beautiful, so perfect for him, and because the ceremony put Christ on display so clearly, so unashamedly.  She wore a long white dress with aqua-colored sandals.  He wore a white shirt with an aqua-colored tie and a content smile.  We were on the beach and basking in dazzling sunshine.  It was glorious.

“We’ve both been through a lot, and we want to start off strong,” was his explanation for paying for professional pre-marital Christian counseling.  When the counselor indicated the end of his typical sessions, they took his offer to continue, pressing deeper into their pasts, gaining tools for the future.

Sexual brokenness haunted each of their histories.  “She talks to the girls about remaining pure because she suffered the pain of promiscuity beginning as a teen,” he said of a ministry in which they served together. “I was the old virgin on the panel,” he laughed, but as a victim of sexual abuse, he is also able to minister to needful teens uniquely. I was humbled by their authenticity, blessed by their willingness to be used in this way.

I’ve read quite a lot of the Bible, and the more I do, the more I am in absolute awe and can declare with the Psalmist, “Oh, how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day,” and “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” {Psalm 119:97, 103} Truly, hardly a day passes in which He does not speak specifically and directly to my heart through His word. And it IS a promise that He would do this, so I’m not sure why I am surprised.  Really, I should expect nothing less, but He’s still building that faith in me, I suppose.

In the last 3 years I’ve made my way through most of the Old Testament and quite a bit of the New in a more systematic way than usual. A while back I got a little chuckle out of Hezekiah re-instituting the Passover in chapter 30 of 2 Chronicles, because it reminded me of the semi-rag tag nature of my own church…

“For a multitude…had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed.  For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, ‘May the good Lord pardon everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.’  So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” 
{v.18-20}

Full of grace, Hezekiah’s Passover was also glorious…

“So there was great joy in Jerusalem because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.  Then the Levitical priests arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard and their prayer came to His holy dwelling place, to heaven.” {v. 26-27}
Passover: One of three main Jewish festivals to commemorate protection from the plague of death against the firstborn in Egypt and liberation from Egyptian slavery.

That’s the definition my Bible’s dictionary gives it.  Hezekiah re-instituted this important festival, because the people needed to remember their great deliverance by their great and covenantal God.  They needed to recount the red blood on their doorposts, and the protection it afforded them. Reading the account caused me to pause and remember, too.

There were a couple of really wicked kings after Hezekiah, but then Josiah’s reign begins.  Slowly and thoroughly, he removed the idols, and repaired the temple and calls the people back to their God.  And like Hezekiah, Josiah also had to re-institute the Passover celebration which had not been celebrated in about 75 years.  Josiah’s Passover was even more glorious than Hezekiah’s…

“There had not been celebrated a Passover like it in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet, nor had any of the kings of Israel celebrated such a Passover as Josiah did with the priests and Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” 
{2 Chronicles 35: 18}

Passover, Passover, and more Passover is what I was reading about in the last couple of weeks, and therefore thinking quite a bit about.  The passing over of sin at the Cross was evidently something the Lord was wanting me to think on and celebrate.  Christ, the Passover Lamb, the fulfillment of all of those celebrations, the cessation of the sacrificial system, the fully and forever atoning bloodshed.

Those summer newlyweds came to visit in a cold month.  I prayed that it would snow for the desert-dwelling-duo, and it did. They threw snowballs, and built snowmen, and even shoveled the stuff. It was glorious. Different from the dazzling white of the sunny beach wedding, but glorious!

There was a bit of girltalk during their visit. I wish there had been more. She said her story, her painful, broken story had been written in a book, and warned me that it was bad, really bad.  I praised her for her courage to be vulnerable in sharing her “really bad” story.

I had no idea.

I ordered the book, not only because I wanted to know her better, but also because it seemed like a great resource to use with women in my church.  It arrived on a Friday evening.  UPS.  The kids hoped that the package on the doorstep was their new Xbox game.  They were disappointed that inside of that box was not a super cool soccer game, and totally unaware that it actaully contained a piece of the heart of Christ sent to his daughter, their mom.

“Mom!  Oh my gosh, Mom!  What happened?  What’s the matter?”  one child came running.  I didn’t realize I had gasped and started to cry in the kitchen as I read.  I apologized and explained that nothing bad had happened; I was only reading a sad story in a book.  They are used to me crying over sad books, meaningful movies… typical. The explanation sufficed.

I moved to the basement, and the sobs came uncontrollably.  Abortion. I had not anticipated that one.  Twins that required not one abortion, but two.  The second one late term. She was so young then, and there were other “bad” things, but those were expected.  It was the abortions which happened a decade ago that made my heart literally hurt inside of my chest.  Close friends of mine have had abortions.  I’ve watched at least one walk through its pain and then journey into Christ’s healing.  It took years. When he took her, her dad said it would only hurt like a paper cut, really bad at first, but then insignificantly later. He was wrong.  She has a charm bracelet with the names of the one aborted, and then one miscarried. Now she has four healthy, grown children. Forgiveness. Mercy.  Redemption.  Beautiful.

This one seemed so close, though.

Then flooding into my heart and mind came this…

“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18

and then David’s words…

“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Psalm 51:7

Oh, God!  The Passover.  The crimson Passover!  And the snow that I asked for!?! The pure, white, delightful snow.  She was playing. in. the. SNOW.  Playing!  Forgiven. Free.  And that dress. That snow white dress that she wore at the beach. Now the sobs turned into all out weeping.  The Old Testament Bible readings.  The silly weather prayer requests.  They were gifts for me, preparation for this moment.  You are so good to me.  You are so faithful to show this “good girl” the extent of your love and grace to others, so that my prayer to understand my equal need will be accomplished.  I long to know you in your extravagant grace and forgiveness, and you answer that prayer so readily.  “for there is no distinction, for all have sinned…” {Romans 3:22-23}

And as is repeated in the Passover liturgy…”It would have been enough…It would have been enough…”  Yes, that experience was more than enough, but the story doesn’t end there.

Exactly nine days later, nine days after I wept over her “bad” past, he sends a photo text message. It’s of a home pregnancy test.  It’s positive.

Oh my! You must just really enjoy delighting me with your boundless grace, Lord.  A baby!?  She’s going to have a baby!  He’s going to be a Daddy.

And then as if it had been settled before the foundation of the earth, written in the days of His book before one of them came to be, I was filling in birthdays on my new 2013 calendar later that same afternoon ~ the baby news day.  When I got to his birthday month, I noticed that it already had something printed by the manufacturer in the square that marked his special day, an annual and nationally recognized holiday.

Passover.

Of course.

Tender Tears {Lent Day #42}

The questions was “What turn of event in your life has the Lord used to perfect you as a worshiper of Him?” Around the tables small groups of women began to answer…

“I lost my job last week, but I start a new one tomorrow.”

“I had a baby a year ago.”

“He broke our engagement right before the wedding.”

And then one woman got only a few seconds into her “turn” before the tears started to roll down her cheeks.  She talked about how she had walked away from God and church as a teenager, married, chose not to raise her kids in any specific faith, made several moves, and had basically been “driving” her own life for decades. “And then, about six weeks ago,” she said, “He showed me what I was doing, and how incapable I am of driving my own life, and now He’s driving my life again.” The tears were streaming.

She started to apologize for the tears, but then she said, “No.  Actually, I’m so grateful for these tender tears, and I hope I never lose them.”

I understood completely, and thought about her as I drove home from the retreat, praying for her.

I woke up totally exhausted Sunday morning.  I fell asleep forgetting to pray for Robert before bed like I try to do on Saturday nights.  I also try and have his breakfast all ready on Sunday mornings, but barely pulled myself out of bed to send him off to church before the early service yesterday.

I was finally awake by the second service. The sermon was on Matthew 6, and highly convicting.  Secret prayer life.  Secret giving. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Look your best while fasting.

It came time for Communion. I heard the familiar words of institution, and watched the bread being broken. I received my bread and juice and sat down taking them in one at a time.  I thought about His body broken. His blood spilled.  For me.

And this doesn’t always happen, but it’s happening more and more.  Tender tears falling.

I thought of my new friend from the retreat.

Yes, I’m so grateful for these tender tears.  May they come more frequently over what He’s done for me.  May I never lose them.

Perfume and Palms {Lent day #41}

I know that yesterday was also “Day #40” but I just realized that I skipped from #26 to #28 a while back, so today is really day 40, and maybe I’ll go back and change the numbers of the posts at some point!?!

Today is Palm Sunday.  When I get to church in a little while, Joe will be at the front door handing out Palm leaves.  Cindy and Ben will be joining him this year, I hear ~ making sure that everyone gets a leaf. I’ve come to love and anticipate this, and I’ve already told you that I love this week of celebration more than any other during the year.

Kayla drew this picture last year.  This morning I re-read the account of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds gathering, the coats and tree branches lining His path, the shouting and cheering of the coming  King.  It was a selfish celebration, though.  I don’t think the people were really celebrating WHO Jesus was, but rather WHAT He could accomplish on their behalf to make their lives more pleasant. But Jesus still allowed this ignorant praise and honor.

On Wednesday, my small group discussed the woman who anointed Jesus with her hair and perfume.  Most could relate to the disciples concern over the wastefulness of the expression. Some wondered why Jesus didn’t try and stop her as well. Why would He allow this impractical act?  Doesn’t He value frugality and caring for the poor?

But the fact is, He did allow it.  And not only did He allow it, but He defended the woman to a roomful of men, told them to stop bothering her.  And even though the woman might not have fully understood everything about who Jesus was, and what was about to happen to Him, Jesus credited her with an act of worship that would forever be remembered, and with preparing Him for His coming burial, and therefore death.

Why did He allow these expressive, lavish, sacrificial expressions ~ whether selfish, ignorant, or sincere?  Because they were good and right.  He isn’t conflicted about His identity like we are ~ desiring accolades and then feigning humility.  He knows He is God and He is worthy.  He knows that our expressions of praise are not only due Him, but beneficial to us who were created for this very purpose.

Lord, You accept my palms of praise even when my worship is motivated by self-centered hope.  You receive my perfume of sincere worship even when I can’t fully grasp all that You are and all that Your death and resurrection mean.  In the receiving of it all, You teach me to do the thing in which my soul will be most free and satisfied ~ offering You praise and honor and glory and thanks ~ fixing my eyes always on You.

Keller & Elliot on Confession {Lent Day #40}

Still away today on Cape Cod for a women’s retreat.  Would you pray for the time if you think of it?

Thought I would post these links ahead of time, since I won’t have my computer with me.  Can’t believe it’s already day #40 of the Lenten season. Holy Week begins on Sunday, and I’m really thankful for all the Lord has taught me in this daily effort to focus on my deep need for His forgiveness.

What about you?  I’d love to hear how some of you prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection.

Here is an interesting snippet from Tim Keller on true confession and repentance:

And here is a link to an old “Back to the Bible” episode.  It’s actually the transcript, but I think there’s still a way to listen to the broadcasts.  This one is Elisabeth Elliot talking about confession and repentance.

Have a good weekend, and if you’re up to it, leave a comment and share what you’ve been learning during this season!

Gluten Free Friday ~ Brisket for Passover {Lent Day #39}

Passover, Good Friday, and Easter are just around the corner, and I can hardly wait!  I think it is my favorite week of the year.  We’ll do a Passover Seder for over 100 people next Wednesday night at church, a Crosswalk through town on Good Friday and later that evening a sort of Tenebrae service.  Resurrection Sunday will be a great celebration at church,  lunch back at our house, and hopefully an egg hunt minus the several inches of snow that are on the ground right now.  And if we can swing it, brisket, rather than lamb, will be the main course for lunch that day.  Did you know that brisket is a traditional Passover dish as well?  Here’s a great article about the season’s beloved cut of meat ~ with a whole bunch of other brisket recipes in the sidebar.

I’m cheating a little bit today with a recipe re-run, but it’s because in just a while I’m headed to Cape Cod  to speak at another women’s retreat  for a couple of churches from Boston.   I’m running errands, and packing, and fretting about what I will wear what I will say.  Not really.  Well, not the part about what I will say anyway. ☺

Anyway…I posted this about four years ago.  At the bottom of the post, I mention my friend Sherri.  This recipe not only brings back wonderful Passover and Easter memories, but also the super fun memory of us preparing this recipe for the Christian band Geoff Moore and the Distance when we had them come and do a concert at our church in Austin.  As I recall, we also made them homemade banana pudding for dessert! So gourmet.
Oh ~ and since we had a week off from Classical Conversations due to ANOTHER snowstorm, I did some updating to the recipe index this week. I think it may actually be completely up to date now.
Enjoy!
This is ALWAYS a big hit in our house and with guests. Brisket is sometimes hard to come by in this area, though. Whole Foods always carries it, but they charge $5.99 per pound. I can get it on sale sometimes, but a couple of times I’ve just bought a chuck roast and prepared it using this recipe. If the roast is too thick, I slice it into two thinner pieces. Enjoy with cole slaw, beans, and scalloped potatoes…yum!


Barbecued Brisket



3-5 lbs beef brisket
1 cup ketchup (or you can use plain tomato sauce)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder (or fresh, pressed garlic)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
oil for browning


Brown brisket on both sides in heavy skillet in oil over medium heat. Mix together remaining ingredients for sauce. In baking dish, spread 1/4 of sauce in bottom and place browned brisket on top. Pour remaining sauce over brisket. Cover and bake at 350* for 3-4 hours.

And yes, Sherri, this is the recipe we used to feed Geoff Moore and the Distance when they came to MBC for a concert! 🙂 Was that about 15-16 years ago?? I’m still making the same brisket with only a few variations from the one in the Pastor’s Wives Cookbook that you gave me way back then! 

Recalling, Remembering, Rehearsing {Lent Day #38}

Her text message was urgent and despairing. Anxious, uncomfortable, wanting to hide.  She’s a thousand miles away this week, so a phone date had to suffice.  Stuck and hopeless.  I urged her to reach out and be honest with another ~ no more hiding, no more shadow-living, no more deceiving.

Nope. Not happening.  It’s too much to unload on someone.  It’s not fair to them.  They’ll come to wrong conclusions.  I’m so much more a mess than everyone else. I don’t want to burden anyone with this.

Urging and then praying for this dear one while I had her on the line was all I could do.  She hung up in quiet, hopeless tears, even more ashamed that she’d bothered me ~ which wasn’t the case.

An excited message came this morning.  The one I had urged her to reach out to, reached out to her instead. This one who knew nothing of the situation said that the Holy Spirit nudged her to do it.  A seemingly irresistible and urgent nudge to reach out to a mere acquaintance, she had to follow through.  They talked for hours.  They were honest about their pain and struggles.  There was connection, ministry, fellowship, healing, hope.

She was “blown away” and in utter amazement that the God she keeps running from just keeps on pursuing her anyway.

I urged her some more…

Write this down.  Journal this experience.  We tend to forget His many kindnesses to us.  Next week we’ll be having another episode of hopelessness, despair, and defeat if we don’t remember what He’s done this week.

But you know what?  I write almost everything down.  I have stacks of journals filled with prayers, desperate pleas, and specific answers dating back about 20 years, but I still forget His kindnesses to me.

I forget how stuck and despairing I was when He answered so sweetly and perfectly.

I choose not to recall how many times He provided exactly what was needed at exactly the right time.

I rehearse my complaints rather than His faithfulness.

What He does for me is never enough for me ~ even when its extravagant, specific.

Lord, I confess this attitude of entitlement to You.  I beg for mercy and deliverance and provision, and You give them, but then my gratitude never matches my desperation.  I take it for granted and act as if it ought to be that way ~ always. I’m really never totally content in Your salvation or Your many gifts to me.  I always want more ~ often without a thought as to just how much you’ve already given.  Help me to recall Your faithfulness, Your abundant gifts of grace, Your patience, Your overwhelming provision.

Again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel.  They did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary…

but He led forth His own people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock; He led them safely, so that they did not fear; but the sea engulfed their enemies.
Psalm 78: 41, 52-53
Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.  Surely my soul remembers, and is bowed down within me.  This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope.  The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3: 19-23

Reminds me of this Sara Groves song that I love…