faith, family, Food

Kneading Prayers

The sweet potato rolls I make every Thanksgiving require 8 minutes of kneading, which works out perfectly. I knead 1 minute of prayers into the dough for the families of each of my six sisters, a minute for my family and a minute for my mom and her husband.

I’ve been kneading prayers into various doughs ever since Sarah gave me the idea two years ago.

img_0121

Tomorrow I’ll spend most of the day making the rolls for a support group that meets weekly at my church.

And though they are strangers, I’ll be kneading 8 minutes of prayers into the dough for them, too.

Friday I get to help serve the Thanksgiving feast.

And meet the eaters of my prayers.

If I have time, I’ll make them a pie, too.

Or maybe these apple blossoms.

img_3484

Sweet Potato Rolls

Combine 1/4 c. warm water with 1/4 oz. dry yeast. Let it get foamy.

Scald 1 cup milk in a small saucepan, remove from heat.

Stir in the following:

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Let cool slightly.

Place 2 cups roasted, peeled sweet potatoes in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Combine them with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Beat until smooth.

Then beat in 1 large egg, the milk mixture and the foamed yeast.

Mix in 7 cups of sifted, unbleached all-purpose flour, one cup at a time.

Switch to your dough hook and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. The dough will be sticky.

Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled. (approx. an hour)

Punch dough down and knead again with your hands just until smooth.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Using a bench scraper cut the dough into 20 equal pieces. I weigh each piece because I’m a spaz and they bake better if they are uniform. Shape each piece into a roll.

Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheets and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Snip an X in the top of each roll with a pair of kitchen scissors. Brush each one with melted butter.

Bake until tops are brown, about 20 minutes, rotating pans half way through.

Cool on a rack.

I make two batches: a rounder, smaller dinner roll and a larger, slightly flattened roll like the ones in the front of the picture. I use the larger rolls for turkey sandwiches.

You can make the dough the day before, shape it into rolls and put the sheets in the fridge. Take them out of the fridge about 45 minutes before you want to bake them, snip, brush, bake and serve fresh from the oven.

It’s the cardamom that makes them so good.

Bon Appetit.

Standard
faith, Jesus

We All Need Jesus.

“Do something uplifting today,” the hub said, as he smooched me and left for work.

“I am.” I pointed to the sweet video I was watching, posted by BJ of The River Walk.

He popped his head back through the door and said, “You don’t deserve this.”

“Aww, thank you honey.”

Those were the exact words my dad said, over the phone from Florida, after my first husband left me. And the hub knew it.

Vegetal words – planted 25 years ago by my beloved dad – blooming afresh this morning thanks to my thoughtful hub.

God took a beating on Facebook yesterday.

The depth of hate revealed – for God and for me – was quite troubling.

Vegetal hate, lying deep and dormant, springing up with a vengeance.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who encountered it.

I took the beagle for an uplifting walk in the sunshine and shook it off.

It’s not like God didn’t give full disclosure when I signed on:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Now I understand why love had to be commanded in the verse just prior:

“This is my command: Love each other.”

It’s not easy to love those who have a deep-seated hate for you. It’s especially hard when they have a deep-seated hate for God.

Last night, while we were feeding the friends, the hub summed up the reason for all the ugliness on display yesterday:

“It’s all they have.”

“Father Ken is a genius!,” I replied, as it dawned on me.

“What do you mean?,” asked the hub.

I meant the genius foresight in the prayers we’ve been praying every Sunday:

“Help us renounce dependence on our culture’s false securities; let us see them as idols in which we place our highest trust when you, Christ, are our only salvation – guns, the dollar, political parties and their leaders, stock markets, human intelligence, insurance policies, the possessions and provisions we hoard, our strong bodies, our touchscreen technologies.”

“Well, yeah,” said the hub.

It just hadn’t occurred to me that a political party is all some people have. I guess because we’ve been praying this in church – where people have God, too.

I was thinking about “us” as in those of us who were praying, not “us” as in society at large.

I can be dense.

After I walked the beagle I came across a few videos of President-elect Trump being prayed over at various churches while still a candidate. Here is one of them:

I didn’t know he had been prayed over, anointed for the task. That is quite heartening.

Excellent, in fact.

I was buoyant as I headed back outside to give the hound dog his turn.

img_3813

As we walked through the woods, I looked up and was reminded that Love always breaks through.

Which had me thinking: When no one hates us it’s only because we are not currently shining the Light into any dark places.

You can quote me on that.

Or you can quote Jesus.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Standard
faith, Light

Human Flourishing

aleppo-syria

– gettyimages.com

“In the faces of the children of Aleppo we see your image, God, and it is bloodied. In our helplessness and anger at this evil, help us to not grow cynical but to trust that this bloodshed broke your heart long before we even started paying attention.

Come and rescue these little ones and all the Syrian people from the futility of war.

May violence no longer be heard in Syrian land, nor devastation within her borders.

In this nation where we were first called Christians, send legions of angels to lend aid and protection; shield those who bring relief amid great danger; bring justice for those who are dead, and heal those traumatized by this horrific conflict.

May those who bring this terror be visited by angels and converted to the cause of human flourishing.

Lord hear our prayer.”

– Prayers of the people at our little church this morning.

#humanflourishing #relishthethought

 

Standard
faith, life

Tithing

This was a day’s worth of raspberries last summer – and every summer, for that matter, since I planted two raspberry bushes ten years ago.

IMG_1814

IMG_1277

Every day, for weeks, I would pick a whole bowl of berries, wash them and make them into something delicious.

For three or four weeks in July and then a second yield in the Fall.

This is how many raspberries I picked today:

img_3016

And one lone strawberry, not quite ripe, but if I waited ’til then it would be gone.

In July I ate not a single berry from my garden. Not a single one. They grew and ripened, but not for me.

My grandma went to war with some birds over her raspberries one summer. Then she ripped the bushes out.

“If I can’t have them, then neither can they,” she reportedly said.

I’m not like that.

I’ll share.

IMG_1730

I’ve been blessed with an abundance of berries every summer and fall for 10 years.

This year, apparently, was for the birds.

Perhaps God rotates the flocks. Lets them feast in my garden this year, then sends them to your garden next year.

Perhaps that’s what’s meant by tithing our first fruits.

I don’t mind that.

I don’t mind feeding the birds and the squirrels and the chippies once every ten years.

So long as their movable feast moves on…

#fragileharvest

 

Standard
faith

Craving Hell

I happened upon this David Foster Wallace interview today. If you know anything about him, you know that he committed suicide back in 2008.

Toward the end of the interview Charlie Rose asked David about his drug use and about a previous suicide attempt.  David said that instant fame is hard on a twenty-something year old.

He also said that fame is unsatisfying – especially when critics don’t experience your work as you intended.

On the one hand you are a shy library nerd who doesn’t really want fame and on the other hand you voraciously crave it.

It’s a craving that is never satisfied.

I wonder if hell on earth is like that – a craving that is never satisfied.

I wonder if hell in hell is like that, too.

P.S.  After borrowing “The End of the Tour” from Redbox a few months ago, I was curious about David’s wife and found this article.  Just fyi.

Karen Green: ‘David Foster Wallace’s suicide turned him into a “celebrity writer dude”, which would have made him wince’

#craving

 

 

Standard
faith, Jesus

Feasting at a Troubled Table

IMG_0596

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

It has happened a few times this summer, here, in my shady back yard.  A glimpse of sun glistening through the trees,
a brief, very brief, flicker of joy,
deep-buried joy.
Buried under an impenetrable sadness.
Not enough to spark ignition,
just a slight, fleeting flicker.

Glistening green evoking the carefree feelings of my childhood,
back when I used to sing to the sun.

Oh for childlike innocence.

Oh for a refreshed soul.

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Last night my church gathered to pray for peace.

It felt good to do something more than privately lament the escalating violence. It felt good to publicly lament; to add my signature to the Peace Petition.

Just as our prayers were about to begin, a voice spoke up:

“I have something to say.”

I turned and saw a tall, youngish man walking up the aisle.

“You can’t drink from the cup of God and from the cup of the devil.”

I expected someone to respond but no one did. Perhaps we were all processing his words.

Doesn’t that go without saying?

The man turned, walked back down the aisle and out the door.  An elderly man in the back asked, “What did he say?”

I thought he was someone from the church whom I had never seen before until the pastor suggested that he might be someone from the community who is hurting. So we prayed for him.

And then it occurred to me that he could come back with a gun. Shoot every one of us in that small gathering. It wasn’t a fearful thought, just a practical one.  Just a practical concern for our friends at home.

My daughter, the hub and I were all sitting side by side in a pew near the front. If he gunned all three of us down, it might be days before it occurred to anyone that the friends were all alone.

There is an exit that leads to a side door a couple of pews in front of us.

I’ll dive under the pews, I thought, drag myself out the door and make my way to the Escape.

The little beagle has been known to get into things when we are away. As a result, there is nothing but canned goods on the lower shelves.  Perhaps I should start leaving a little something that she and Max can chew their way into.  Just to hold them over until help arrives.

My thoughts returned to the corporate prayers, Scripture and interspersed singing. The pastor invited anyone who was so moved to come forward and pray what was on our hearts.

My heart saw an image of the people in France, terrified and running for their lives, being mowed down by a truck.

My heart remembered what it felt like in the aftermath of 9/11.

I imagined the survivors and the families of the slain and all of France reeling as we did, wondering if life will ever feel good again.

I remembered the weight of that thick, evil veil.

So I went forward and prayed for them.

And I think I know, now, why the flicker of joy doesn’t ignite.

I’ve been holding my breath since 9/11.  I’ve been waiting for the violence to end; for the veil to be lifted. I’ve been waiting to feel good again.

But I may never feel good again.

That sparkling sun flickering gently, hopefully through the trees in my secluded, peaceful backyard seems like a mean tease.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

But perhaps that’s the way it has always been.  A feast set in the midst of the famine.

A table in the presence of my enemies.

I read an article about slain police officer Montrell Jackson. In the article his sister, Joycelyn Jackson, was quoted as saying, “It’s coming to the point where no lives matter, whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or whatever.”

She’s right. No lives matter to the enemy of our souls.

Black, white, Jewish, Muslim, Christian.  We will all have a turn.

It’s time for me to stop waiting for things to get better. It’s time to finally exhale and enjoy the blessings that are in front of me now.

Because things may never get better. Things may get worse.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Our Heavenly Father has gone to the trouble of preparing a feast of goodness and love even in the midst of this earthly strife.

It suddenly seems wrong not to eat.

#cometothetable

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5

Standard
faith

Fun With Parables: Political Edition

On one occasion a political pundit stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What does the Law say about it?” He replied. “What’s your read on it?”

The pundit, quoting the Law, answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You nailed it,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But the pundit, wary of the implications, said, “Define neighbor.”

In reply Jesus told His now-famous parable:

“A democratic superdelegate was heading to Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center when he was attacked by a mob. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead in the middle of the road.

A senator from Vermont happened to be walking on the far left shoulder of the same road, and when he saw the man, he inched a little further left as he passed. No way was he going to be seen anywhere near the middle of that road.

So too, a long-time representative from California, when she came to the place and saw him, hugged the far left edge of the left shoulder a little more tightly as she hurried past.

But a conservative republican, as he traveled along the far right shoulder, came where the delegate was; and when he saw him, he braved being seen in the middle of the road.

He went to him and bandaged his wounds and then carried him several blocks to Kindred Hospital.

‘Do whatever it takes to save him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any expenses his insurance doesn’t cover.'”

“Now,” Jesus, asked, “which of these three do you think was a neighbor to that superdelegate?”

The pundit replied, “The one who was pro-life.”

Jesus nodded, “Exactly!”

Standard