Thursday, March 17, 2016

When Life is Like Delicious, Warm, Banana Bread Gone Wrong

Bananas have been sitting in my kitchen for almost two weeks. I really believe my children have not eaten them on purpose because they are anticipating the moment they can cut into warm banana bread filled with mini chocolate chips and a mix of almond/vanilla/coconut flavorings.

Today, I decided to make a double batch. My twelve year old was salivating before I had even preheated the oven. I knew the loaves would be gone before their Dad got home from work. My four year old helped as we carefully measured the sugar, the salt, the flour, and the oil. I watched as she carefully and excitedly cracked the eggs in to a separate measuring cup and slowly poured them into the batter. Then, there were the chocolate chips. Ah, chocolate! Then it was grease and flour the pans. Pour in the batter, Place them in the oven.

Within a short time, the smell of warm, delicious banana bread began wafting through the house. Mix that with the first day of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and you’ve got yourself a house full of boys out of control.

With about 10 minutes bake time left, and an upset by Yale over Baylor, I peeked in the oven to gloat over my (and my four year old’s) banana sensation. And to my dismay, here is what I found.

Six loaves of temptingly delicious smelling banana bread that had everything doubled but the flour. I HAD FORGOTTEN TO DOUBLE THE FLOUR!!! I was heartsick. All those bananas. All those eggs and oil and . . . the chocolate?!

Boy, my children were they going to be severely disappointed to find their warm deliciousness in the trash.

Today I realized that sometimes life is like delicious, warm banana bread gone wrong. Sometimes, I forget to do just one thing and instead of being able to salvage the whole, I have to start over. And that's not always what I want to do because starting over is not easy.

Starting over is hard!

But I am learning that when I do start over, God will provide.

He always provides.

So tomorrow I will try my hand again at banana bread. After all, I still have a bunch of ripe bananas in my kitchen, a bag of mini chocolate chips in my freezer, and tomorrow is another exciting day of March Madness!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rejoicing Rather than Retaliating?

Because this week our topic in communications is about conflict, our class assignment was to read and discuss Alma 60-61.

Yes, it's the scathing letter from Captain Moroni to Govenor Pahoran and how he, Moroni, accused him, Pahoran of “exceedingly great neglect” - not just once or twice, but THREE times!

Pahoran was accused of being thoughtless, slothful, lazy, disobedient to God’s commandments, and outright blamed for the hunger and starvation that nearly attributed to the perishing of the Nephite armies.

And interestingly, after all of that, Pahoran’s response, in a nutshell, was “it mattereth not.”

Why didn’t it matter to Pahoran?

Why wasn’t he angry, upset, infuriated, and defensive?

Why did Pahoran respond to Moroni with compassion and understanding? What was up with that man?

So read carefully last night, eager to make a noteworthy contribution to our discussion. But more importantly, I wanted to understand how I could be more Pahoran-like especially when accusatory, contentious, “them there are fighting words” conflict breaks out and instead of listening and discussing opposing ideas, I’m foaming at the mouth and about to go into cardiac arrest!

Then, I found something that caught my eye and caused my heart to understand what allowed Pahoran to receive Moroni’s words as a complementary rather than adversarially.

I found it in verse 19 as Pahoran writes: And now, Moroni, I do joy in receiving your epistle, for I was somewhat worried concerning what we should do, whether it should be just in us to go against our brethren.

You mean, Pahoran was concerned about what to do and in his desire to find the correct answer, he was praying and along came Moroni’s epistle which was the just right answer?

You mean all those scathing, biting, cutting words were received joyfully because they were THE answer to Pahorn’s prayers?

Which has made me ponder this all day: Would I be able to recognize an answer to a prayer if it came at me in the same way Moroni came at Pahoran?

Or would I be too caught up in finding ways to retaliate rather than rejoice?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Treasure in Heaven

When I was 10, my parents sponsored a Chinese family from Vietnam. A widowed mother with a 16 year old daughter and a 10 year old son.

They lived next door to us for a few years and I was intrigued.

They spoke Cantonese and I didn’t understand a single word.

They ate rice with chopsticks in a sitting/squatting position.

They burned incense and drank hot tea.

They were poor and they were grateful. So grateful to be in America.

Today, I attended the mother’s funeral.

It was different than any funeral I have ever attended in my life for it followed Buddhist traditions and rituals. And I was intrigued because I didn’t understand, and so badly wanted to. So I asked a lot of questions and they were so kind to teach me. Teach me about what they believed.

Before the casket was lowered into the ground, family members burned incense and made a fire using special papers which they carefully placed into a fire pit. I was told that this enabled the dead to take these belongings with the in the afterlife.

A boxful of assorted special papers of a few different colors and something that looked like faux gold bouillon were burned. Most of the “paper” included stacks and stacks and stacks of faux $100 bills.

“Why are they burning money?” my 4 year old whispered.

“It’s not real.” I noted.

“That’s good,” she replied, “because they could use that money.”

They also burned pictures. Pictures of their mother. The burning lasted for a while.

When all box of papers were burned, the family opened a stock pot that contained previously burned ashes. As they slowly poured these ashes over the last of the burning papers, I noticed REAL $100 dollar bills amidst the ashes, somewhat charred, but mostly intact fall freely from the pot and into the fire.

The bills were not a few in number.

My first thought made my eye grow big as saucers. Because this family would not be consider wealthy by any means. Certainly that money could be put to better use than be thrown into the fire.

Then I realized we don't take it with us anyway.

This family’s final offering was laying up for their mother, in the way that they believed, her treasure in heaven.