Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Debbie Greenwald

So often the things of real value are under appreciated. I think the world needs to note the heavenly angel that is my friend Debbie.

She never forgets things of importance. For example, this year I had to put down my sweet Cavalier King Charles spaniel. For Christmas, she found an ornament for my gift. As you probably guessed, it was a Cavalier. However, not only did it match my little dog, it was an angel. I nearly cried.

Neil and I have found another dog--a Springer spaniel. Debbie and I always exchange crazy socks. This year--a pair decked out with Springers.

One year, she wrote a card relating all that happened to me during the year. She recalled things, I'd forgotten. Again, I cried. (I cried, too, when twelve pink flamingos showed up on my front lawn--but I forgive her.)

She is, hands down, the best cake baker in the world. She makes an almond torte that is worth every single calorie packed into it. When she enters an item in the county fair, no other cake contestant stands a chance. She'll take first prize.

She's devoted to her friends and to her children. Her faith genuinely reflects off of her. She forgets no one. If I run into her at an activity, often times she will have invited an old friend--one I hadn't seen in ages. I may have forgotten. Debbie wouldn't.

Dec. 24th is her birthday. She shares it with our celebration of Jesus--but I want the world to remember her as well.

I love you, Deb.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Books Written Out of Fire

Books written out of fire give me a great deal of pleasure. You get the sense that the world for these writers could not have continued if the book hadn't been written. When you come across a book like that it is a privilege. -Hisham Matar, author (b. 1970)
My friend Shelley sent me this quote, and it is my prayer for Dark Chocolate. America doesn’t know how it still enforces slavery. The issue hides from us because we don’t see the children in India with their little fingers in the mechanical looms. We don’t know how much of our made in the USA aluminum is fueled by enslaved charcoal makers in the center of Brazil.

I love it when I read a book such as the one Matar described. Grapes of Wrath is the first that comes to mind. I read that book when I was in my early twenties. For months after, I couldn’t pick up another book because none would ever measure up. Then Steinbeck’s social ideals compelled me to read most of his other works.

So, as the plot of Dark Chocolate stalls, the theme compels me to write. I need to change the world—and I cannot be satisfied if only one life changes. There is too much need.

What books have you read or written out of fire? Share with us.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Joseph’s Coat

Sometimes I imagine myself in heaven pulling up a fluffy cloud, rolling up the sleeves of my hand knit, cashmere saint’s robe and having a heart to heart with an angel. In this scenario she will tell me all the times that Jesus intervened in my life, times I knew nothing about. I wonder how much of eternity that would take?

Not being dead yet, I usually prefer to pour myself a cup of coffee (fair trade), sit in my gazebo, admire the flowers in bloom and metaphorically knit my blessings like a coat of many colors.

Knit one: Long before I ever knew Jesus, He showed me His love. Married out of His will with no job and a new baby, I substitute taught. Being somewhat schooled in languages, I noted on all my resumes I understood Spanish and French. Then one day, one year after Sarah was born, a school offered me a year’s job teaching Spanish. It understood my teaching certificate expired and it had been in English education. As an unsaved woman, I knew God had gotten me this job. I worked hard, finished my graduate work and moved on to my permanent employer. Thirty years later, I retired from a field that couldn’t reward a woman more.

Purl two: As my job stabilized my finances, my friends Marge and Al soothed my soul. My marriage died and I sought hope. My neighbors became my refuge. I’d ride my bike to their home, my daughter strapped in her bike seat. As I entered, the peace that passes all understanding settled over me. While Sarah watched Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, we drank coffee and chatted about life and God and farming and family. The love of these friends and their complete acceptance of me just as I was led me to Christ.

Cable stitch: My faith grew in richness and complexity. God planted me in a church near my new job. Here I met believers, learned the Scriptures, followed the example of others as they fasted and prayed and went from house to house to fellowship. The intricacy of my life developed. Work intrigued me. Church fed me. Friends fulfilled my life. My interests branched out to running and painting and writing. New communities of friends welcomed me. These kinships keep me anchored and content.

Yarn over: God taught me to seek Him in the little things. I’d run my miles, and robins would play leap frog with me. In a butterfly house, one beautiful butterfly landed on my shirt and stayed with me the whole time—a living pin more beautiful than any man could make. If I needed God, I only had to ask, and then look—a cloud or goldfinch or spider web would catch my eye and I’d understand God loved me.

Two together: Finally Jesus brought me Neil. The kindness of this man and the humility of his spirit still astonish me. He makes me understand how God’s mercies can be new every morning, how His patience is infinite, and His wisdom not like our own.

Binding off: Through the years, Jesus knit my life like a variegated cloth composed of miracles both magnificent and miniscule. He’s comforted me in grief and rejoiced with me in grandchildren. He’s clothed me in a garment of praise. I love my Joseph’s coat and would love to hear about yours. Tell me. Your blessings encourage me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Did You Know? Ten facts about chocolate

"Forget love, I'd rather fall in chocolate." Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation

1. The original name for hot chocolate was cacahuatl. Translated it was cocoa water. The Europeans did not like drinking anything named caca water. Would you?

2. Hershey produces 20-25 million kisses a day.

3. A single chocolate chip can provide enough energy for an adult human to walk 150 feet. Thirty-five chips enables the adult to walk one mile. For 875,000 you can walk around the world.

4. Each person consumes 12 pounds of chocolate a year. (I personally make-up for the few who eat no chocolate.)

5. Americans spend $7 billion dollars a year on chocolate. (I thought my budget was bad.)

6. In Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, chocolate syrup was used for the blood in the shower scene. The scene lasts 45 seconds and took 7 days to shoot.

7. Monkeys were the first to find the cacao plant and discover the edible and delectable seeds.

8. Although not native to Africa, it produces 70% of the world's cocoa beans.

9. It's a great, natural anti-depressant. (Imagine what I would be like without chocolate!) It contains trytophan which helps create serotonin. Forget the turkey. I want chocolate for Thanksgiving.

10. The darker the chocolate, the better it is for you.

My next post will tell you why chocolate should be the base of the food pyramid.