It’s Tuesday and my fridge is getting rather skosh on supplies.
I mean, sure…if you dig pickled hot pepper ring sandwiches with blackberry jelly on last week’s bread, you’re gonna get by just fine. But if you want a solid entree with a couple of sides, maybe a salad, you might have to get really loose with how you define “entree” and “sides”. Or for that matter, “salad”.
Didn’t change the fact that I needed to throw together a dinner tonight for Mr. Sparky before he headed off to play rehearsal.
Did I mention Mr. Sparky has a role in the local community theatre production of The Odd Couple, female version? There are only two male roles, and he’s got one. So most evenings he’s off being all theatrical and stuff.
I stood and stared at the contents of the fridge for a moment before I realized I had one package of fresh fettuccini noodles in there. Ok…I can work with that. Shrimp from the freezer, olive oil, enough garlic to knock a cowboy off a horse, some lemon, some seasoning…
Oh yeah. Good stuff.
But guess what my house smells like now?
My living room is full of forlorn horses, stepping over their knocked-out cowboys on the floor. And I don’t even want to know what Mr. Sparky’s production set looked like when he breathed out his lines. I have to wonder if any of the cast were left standing.
I lit a Yankee Candle tart. It was a fresh disc of “Island Spa.” Doesn’t that sound delightful?
From the smell of things now, that island was somewhere in the south of Italy, and that spa is probably most often frequented by dark and furry men who really love their Nonna’s cooking.
Believe it or not, I’m actually ok with that.
The thing is, there is no question what we consumed tonight. No number of floofy scented candles can cover up what’s floating through the air in my house.
I want my entire life to be like that. I want it to reflect what I consume, and what consumes me. I want my atmosphere to be thick with it.
I want to carry the presence of God, which invites the power of God. His presence changes atmospheres.
Let me be swift to admit that my atmosphere is the first one that needs changed. I have to be transformed before I can be a transformer. And though I can look back and see that I’ve come a long way, I still have a long way to go.
Should the fire ever go out in me, it will be because I failed to keep piling the flammable stuff onto the altar.
Heaven knows I have no shortage of things to burn.
I just received an email that offered to show me how to be seen as intensely valuable.
No, really…that’s what it said.
It’s a little baffling, really. And I struggle to see it in any other way than when a little kid becomes frustrated by the adult conversations around him and so he begins competing for attention by trying to show off what he believes are his most impressive attributes, like hopping on one foot or crossing his eyes or making strange noises. In his mind, those things prove that he is an impressive creature, and intensely valuable.
Not that those are particularly marketable skills, but hey…the strange noises eventually worked for Bobby McFerrin, so the dream lives on for the rest of us.
I don’t want to make anyone see me as intensely valuable. I would much rather just be me and let others decide if my me-ness is valuable to them.
Some folks will decide it is. Others will decide it isn’t.
And that’s ok. I don’t actually stop being valuable just because I don’t suit someone’s needs.
I don’t know if anyone has told you, but your true value isn’t in what you do. It’s in who you are. And Who loves you.
You can stop hopping on one foot now. You look cute but you must be awfully tired, and besides, it’s hard to have a conversation with someone who is out of breath because of all that hopping about.
I think it would be awesome if you started to believe that you’re intensely valuable and started treating yourself that way. You know…be kind to yourself. Refuse to let fear or anxiety have a go at you. Let others take their cues about how you should be treated by letting them see how you treat yourself.
Let your peace be so attractive that those around you will want to mine you to understand what (or Who) is buried in you that makes you like that. Let your goodwill towards yourself be contagious to others so that they can’t help but spill it back out on you.
You are, after all, intensely valuable.
It rained this afternoon. I can only assume that the humidity accidentally fell below 130% and so the weather fairies decided a little precipitation was in order, the ornery little rascals.
After the rain shower stopped, I stepped outside to get something from the van in the driveway. My immediate involuntary response upon feeling the hot damp air hit me was a loud, disgusted “UGH!”
I really hope none of the neighbors were within earshot.
Florida rarely feels comfortable to me. Between the heat, the humidity, and the bugs, I avoid the outdoors as much as possible. It’s suffocating. And itchy. Air conditioning is my friend.
It reminds me that I shouldn’t be surprised when I discover that life in general on this ball of dirt rarely feels comfortable to me. That “I don’t belong here” feeling is because I truly don’t belong here. I was designed for Eden.
War in the Middle East…I don’t belong here.
War in Ukraine…I don’t belong here.
Ebola in Africa…I don’t belong here.
Wildfires in the western states…I don’t belong here.
Sick children, sick adults, people drowning in poverty, abusers and the abused, government scandals…I don’t belong here.
And yet, here I am.
I am light in the darkness. I am salt for the blandness. I am hope for the dejected. I am peace in the chaos. I am wisdom in the insanity.
I am these things because He is these things, and He is in me. This is what we bring to the world together. One person plus God is always the majority.
I won’t always be here, but while I am, I want to be faithful to carry the antidote to the pain of the world wherever it is needed.
It’s probably too much to hope that it’s mostly in air-conditioned places, huh?
Yeah…I thought so.
Yesterday I made my annual trip to the post office.
Actually, I don’t even make the trip annually if I can help it. I hate the post office with the fire of a thousand suns.
“Sparky, would you rather go see the dental hygienist or the post master?”
“DENTIST’S OFFICE FOR THE WIN!”
I am not kidding. I don’t even know why I hate it so much.
Maybe because it feels like a time warp. Every minute in there feels like an hour.
Maybe because I don’t really understand the workings of the whole thing. Prices are not clearly marked, and I don’t know which boxes are free and which ones I pay for and which envelope is for what purpose, and what part I have to fill out and what part is for the postal workers to fill out, and there’s always far too long of a line to just ask. I never feel empowered to make a wise choice, and therefore, I resist making any choice at all.
That last sentence should tell you a few things about me.
But yesterday I hauled my tail to the post office with glee. I didn’t care how long the line was. I didn’t care that I might get sent to the product wall to choose things I didn’t understand and then have to go to stand at the end of the line again which is somewhere on Jupiter, I think.
I went with a handful of things I’d been needing to mail, one of them for as long as nine months (seriously!), but only one item was driving me:
I mailed my Brazil trip contribution checks to Global Awakening.
It’s wild. The fundraising portion of preparation is over.
A few months ago when I told my friend about this and said I didn’t know where this kind of money would come from, she took my hand and held it palm up.
“This is easy for God, and He will make it easy for you. He is going to bring in everything you need, and then He will add a little extra just for you, to take care of other expenses,” she said, placing her fingertips in the palm of my hand as if she were putting money there. “Lord, we’re believing You for that!”
“I’ll gladly receive that!” I said, wanting her words to be true but still unable to see how it might happen.
But it happened. He did it, just as she said. I’m receiving the reality of it now. My church gathered to support me, and they became the “more than enough” that completed my fundraising and will help me with some of the extra expenses. That’s a huge gift to me, because beyond the cost of the trip paid to Global, my application states:
“You will be responsible for your travel cost to and from the hub city airport, personal spending money, the cost of snacks, meals on travel days, gratuities where appropriate (waiters, bus drivers, housekeeping, etc.), passport and visa fees, country exit tax, and immunizations where required.”
My passport has already been updated for this, and my immunizations had no cost because I was able to get them at the Air Force Base hospital. The rest of the list still looms, but it’s amazing to know that God has already moved His people to make provision. He’s amazing, and He’s got some really awesome kids, too.
So…next on the list is figuring out the visa application. I’ve never needed one for travel before and so I’m new to this process. Global has a recommended expediter they like, so I’ll check into that.
I wonder what cool thing He’s going to do next?
So yeah…I really just did that. And I’m not sure what all it’s going to take to un-do it.
We were invited to dinner tomorrow evening and when I asked what I could bring, the hostess suggested flan as it would go well with dinner. I said sure, I could do that.
Never mind that I’ve never made flan. After all, I have Al Gore’s internets and YouTube, so how hard could this be?
Turns out it’s really not that hard at all. I found a highly rated recipe, read the ratings so I’d know any good shortcuts to good results, and set about to make a killer flan.
And I’da made it, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddlin’ kids and that dog! (name that show)
Actually, my problem was not in the prep. My problem was in transferring a pie plate full of thin liquid into a hot water bath in a hot oven. When you are trying to keep it level, a pie pan full of thin liquid suddenly begins to jump and tilt and slosh as if it has a caffeine-jacked guinea pig in it.
The tiniest tilt sent sticky liquid splashing onto the open door and floor of the hot oven, as well as the cabinets, stove top, all over the floor, my feet and Mr. Sparky’s shoes.
Guinea Pig: 1, Sparky: 0.
We swiped what we could off the inside of the door and also off the bottom of the pie plate, and then set to putting it back into the water bath. It was almost in there when I realized that I was surely going to dip my fingers in that hot water. No bueno. So I lifted it out, put on a pair of dish gloves, and then successfully set the somewhat less full pie plate into the water bath.
That is when I remembered that it was supposed to be covered with foil.
i will not cry i will not cry i will not cry…
I told Mr. Sparky (who was helping me, or attempting to) to leave it in there. I grabbed the foil and loosely covered the pan, and we closed the door on the oven that was probably all of about 137 degrees now, thanks to having the door open for three forevers.
And that is where it is right now.
I suspect that the flan in the pan will bake at a much slower rate than the flan on the oven door and oven floor. Call it a hunch.
The mess is cleaned up, I think, but I won’t be shocked if I find sticky spots in random places. If I catch the dog licking mystery spots in the kitchen, then I guess I’ll know where to focus my attention.
That better be one darned good flan, that’s all I’ve got to say.
I know there are supposed to be 24 hours in a day, but I think I’m getting shorted.
I keep getting to the end of the day and finding sometime after midnight that I’ve still not blogged.
My brain says “Oh, it’s past midnight…I can’t possibly do anything now.”
I say “Oh, yes you can.”
Brain says “No, I can’t, and if you try to make me I will play Somebody That I Used To Know over and over on a continuous loop. Like, for days on end.”
I say “You wouldn’t.”
Brain says “Would you prefer the theme song from Big Bang Theory? Remember…you don’t know all the words to that one, so there will be a lot of watermeloning. Verse after verse of watermeloning. Sound like fun?”
I say “Ok, FINE.”
And then I go to bed, bummed that I lost another night of blogging.
So if you’ve been wondering where I am and why I’ve seemed so sporadic and scarce the past few weeks, there ya have it.
Mr. Sparky and I went out to do some comparison shopping tonight because we are thinking that maybe it’s time to bring our entertainment system, which is a fancy phrase meaning “television”, into the current century. Ours isn’t so old that it sits in a console on the living room floor with a large vase of artificial flowers on top, but it is old enough that Mr. Sparky can’t see how many miles are left while watching the current stage of the Tour de France because the Tour is broadcast in letterbox format, and our cube, which is as deep as it is wide, is decidedly un-letterbox. Thus the reason for the timing of retiring the 17-year-old cube.
So…now I finally know what it takes.
I am a dedicated comparison shopper. I like to exhaust the options because then I am satisfied that I have enough information to make the wisest choice.
Mr. Sparky has grown to humor me in this over the years.
All that shopping, however, left us a tad peckish and in need of sustenance. This is a fancy phrase that means “we got hungry and wanted some dinner”.
I’m diggin’ the fancy phrases tonight.
We decided to try out the shiny new Panda Express that has suddenly appeared in front of the Walmart. Neither of us had ever eaten at a Panda Express before, but we both like Asian food, so it seemed like a reasonable adventure.
The place was bright, shiny, and clean. The people who worked in there were friendly, although nobody was breaking any speed records. But here’s the deal: all the food is in large serving bowls behind a glass shield, and the workers scoop it onto plates for you. And at the beginning of the line, they expect you to know what you want before you’ve even looked at all the options of what you could have. And there’s no listing on the posted menu to help you decide.
My friends, there should be a law. They don’t make you do this at Baskin Robbins, and they should not make you do it at Panda Express. A person should be permitted to peruse the options. I’m just sayin’. It’s a sure way to cause a short-circuit in the brain of a true comparison shopper.
I did, however, make a choice with reasonable swiftness. I chose brown rice, some Kung Pao Chicken, and some Orange Chicken.
As we were eating, we began to discuss what we thought of our food, each of us trying to be politely positive. But finally I couldn’t stand it anymore. The Orange Chicken wasn’t awful, but the chicken pieces were heavily coated in some kind of thick batter and then deep-fried and drenched in a very sweet sauce reminiscent of melted jam.
“It tastes like orange chicken donuts,” I said.
It took Mr. Sparky about two more bites with that very un-fancy phrase ringing in his ears to decide that I had nailed it.
Don’t get me wrong—I like donuts. And I like chicken. But if I’m going to have a donut, give me a flippin’ donut, for pete’s sake, and don’t be trying to sneak chicken nuggets in the middle of it. No dinner entree should be that sweet. Unless you’re having pancakes for dinner. I like pancakes for dinner, but we were at Panda Express, not Cracker Barrel.
We left the establishment in agreement that it was ok. Not bad. Not great. But ok.
Unfortunately, we also had post-Chinese Food Syndrome all evening. The trouble with Asian food is that it wears off in about an hour and then you’re hungry again. I’ve spent the evening telling myself that I had a decent meal, but apparently my stomach thinks it had orange chicken donuts, so where’s the real food?
Oh, and if you go to Panda Express and try that Orange Chicken, you’ll see what I’m saying. And then you’ll want to munch the rest of the day.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.