Sunday, February 18, 2018

Beans and Veggies and Open Hearts

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. (Daniel 1:8)

Daniel was far from home, taken captive by a powerful king, to be assimilated so Daniel could be of service in his kingdom. Daniel was a young man in a desperate situation with a choice to make. Would he hold onto the spiritual roots of his conquered county or would he conform to make the best of the evil nation that was his new home?

Daniel resolved but he did not rebel. He only spoke up and made a request. But the Lord gave him favor with his captors. And thus the name of the fast, the Daniel Fast. For 40 days, our church has called a fast.

As I reflect on Daniel's plight, aren't we presented with the same choice? As followers of Christ, we find ourselves in a nation filled with evil, children killing children, relative morality, selfish pleasures, pervasive drug use, divisive politics. Even social media platforms, where friends should meet, are contentious and filled with hateful dialog. How can we resolve to not defile ourselves? How can we not conform but be agents of change for good and God's glory? How can we help God's kingdom come to to this evil world that is our home?

And can we do that by eating beans and veggies for 40 days? Seriously?

I guess that is the point. We can't do it at all. Only God can. So we humble ourselves to fast and pray.

As I considered the purpose of my fast, my mind went immediately to my lack of self control. But You, my Beloved Jesus, want me to focus on Your heart and to depend on You for control. I want a stronger relationship with You, but You want to connect even more than I do. I want a spiritual renewal for my daughters and extended family. You, Lord, want a spiritual renewal for me. 

In our culture, we avoid hurt and even discomfort at all cost. As I prepare for the fast I feel Jesus saying to me: I died for you, an emotionally and physically excruciating death so that you would not have to die. Are you willing to turn away from what your sinful culture says is good and satisfying and life-giving so you can see that I am good, I am satisfying, and I am life-giving? Are you willing to be uncomfortable and even hurt in order to be closer to Me and to become the woman I always intended you to be?

Yes! Yes! And so I will be eating beans and veggies. I will pray. I will open my heart. Because God is good, Jesus is satisfying, the Holy Spirit is life-giving. As we allow God to change our hearts, one by one by one, He can change the world.

Are you with me?

#FAST40 Black Bean Soup

  • In a large pot, saute 2 chopped onions in olive oil. 
  • Add 2 chopped red peppers, 2 chopped stalks of celery and 4-5 peeled and cut carrots. 
  • Saute and stir often until the veggies start to wilt. 
  • Push veggies to the side and make a well in the middle of the pot, add more oil if needed.
  • Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic to the center of the pan. Cook about a minute then stir to blend. 
  • Season with Goya Adobo (or salt is fine), pepper, and cumin (a scant teaspoon)
  • Stir well.
  • Add 3 cans of black beans and their liquid plus a half can of water.
  • Add 8 oz tomato sauce.
  • Stir and cook about half hour.
  • Taste and correct the seasoning. 
  • Serve alone or with brown rice. 


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Listen

There are some who suggest instead of New Years resolutions, to pick one word for the new year. This year the word came on me like a flood and  I can't turn away from it. It has grabbed a hold of me.

The word for 2018 is listen.

Listening is something I struggle to do. Instead I am all about trying to convince others my way is right. And after all I am very busy working and driving and scrolling and swiping and eating and cooking and cleaning and exercising and writing emails and letters and tweets and texts. And snapchatting, of course, don't forget that.

But listening? No. Not to you. As if to listen to you, to really hear, would be to open the door to discover that I may not be right. I might have to consider your point of view. My heart may be expanded to see your heart, to understand your story, to empathize with your plight.

And that is exactly what I need to be doing. Hearing you. Listening not just to figure out where you are wrong and how to make my point and where to straighten you out, but just to connect, to relate, to enter your world. To incarnate.

Love that word. Incarnate. That's exactly what Jesus did. He wanted to listen to us, but in order to do that, He had to risk. He had to leave paradise. He had to suffer our world, our flaws, our cold and heat, our danger and hunger and pain. He wanted to touch us, and hear us, and walk in our sandals and hear us in a way to truly understand.

I want to do that. Listen. Embrace the risk to touch another's soul by feeling each pain, crying each tear, carrying the weight of your burden. To be open to be wrong, to changing my mind, to giving more grace, to judging less. To be able to confess to each sinful desire, each doubt, each fear expressed by you: me too.

Listening is power. It is like a balm. As Al and I do marriage mentoring, the best gift we give our couples is to listen to them, allow them to speak, help them to know we really care about them: what they think, how they feel, their hopes, dreams, fears and disappointments, all of it. It is like being Christ to them, to enter into their world, allow them to feel valued and loved. And in this, Al and I do learn to love them. I want to do this more, to give this to others and in return, we get so much!

Mom was a interested patient listener

Rose, my dear mother-in-law, spent the last few years of her life without speech. I used to wonder how my brother-in-law Joe managed to live and care for her alone when she never spoke. Now that she has passed, he told me how much he misses her presence. Although she could not speak, he could tell she was listening. And that meant so much to him, even without any feedback from her.

I want to be more like her.

Father, help me to learn to listen better, to desire to listen better, to not rush to hang up the phone, or switch the topic, or get up and do the next thing, but to intently and passionately listen to these others You have given me, be it my family or friends, clients or even strangers. Teach me to listen to them. Teach me to listen to You.

Everyone should be quick to listen... (James 1:19)