Sunday, April 15, 2018

Impossibles!


Long, long ago, in the crux of child rearing, stuck deep in learning the art of dodge ball (otherwise known as life) I happened upon a cookie recipe that, because of its simplicity, became a standard in my arsenal of quick, easy, whip-it-up-in-a-flash go-to’s. Four decades later, even with my own adaptation to low-carb, I still make these delectables at least once a week. 

Having rallied to an old familiar craving this weekend, while stirring up a batch, it occurred to me that these soft, chewy, aroma-terrific, little cakes of pea-nutty delight, could represent something way more than a sweet treat.

The original recipe was called ‘Impossibles’ likely because with only three ingredients necessary and not even a pinch of flour, it seemed impossible that a cake like cookie could come from such a combination. One cup of sugar, one cup of peanut butter and one egg. That’s it. Blend those three ingredients into a smooth stiff dough, divide it into twelve equal parts, roll each piece into a ball, put them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, press them with a fork and bake them at 350˚ for 11 minutes. 

Bam!

But wait - here’s the kicker - my sudden revelation while making my low-carb version was that as easy as the recipe itself is, the cutting into twelve equal parts has always been a bit of a challenge, bordering on a culinary art skill. Cut the dough in half and half again. Then, (here’s the tricky part), cut the quarters into thirds. Sounds easy but it does take some concentration and effort and the occasional robbing of one ball that’s a tad bit bigger to add to another and then re-rolling both pieces. 

Imagine my amusement when I realized I’ve been overly devoted to this routine for way too long and therefore have missed a huge opportunity to embrace an upgraded change. 

That’s the thing about habits, the by-product is myopia. We rarely look at those things we have become accustomed to, that we accept as static, unchangeable, without question, to be something that might could be tweaked and/or improved. In other words, for no other reason than unchecked inertia, we dig ourselves into ruts, sink and lose sight of those great big uncharted horizons that sit waiting for us to discover. 

Cutting the dough ball into halves then halves again, I realized I could easily just cut the quarters in half, then the eights in half. Bam! Sixteen cookies instead of twelve. No fuss no fiddling. Did not take Common Core math on four sheets of paper to figure out either. Plus, there’s the added bonus of four extra cookies to a batch!

Some might call this analogy a stretch but I see it clearly because I know a few loved ones who are up against great big impossibles in their immediate futures and stepping out of the old way, the recipe as it has always been prepared, has jarred them from their comfort zone.

I’m just as susceptible as anyone to allowing long held thinking and habits to keep me from seeing a thing in a new way, but I am also always open for experiencing ah-ha moments that add fresh new perspective. Those break away realizations that encourage us to trust that, while things might seem staid and/or unchangeable in life, that demand troubles and struggles must overwhelm and rule, there are, indeed, other possibilities. 

But not without accepting that there must be some kind of change. There's the rub.

For Him,
Meema

(Matthew 19:26) - And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”


Meema’s Low-Carb Impossibles

1 cup sugar free peanut butter
1 cup Whey-Low® (powdered sweetener - available from Wheylow.com)
1 cup almond flour
1 egg

Blend into a stiff dough ball, cut into 16 parts, roll into balls, put on parchment papered cookie sheet, press with fork, bake 350˚ for 11 minutes. Allow to cool.

Bam!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Wordsmith Woes


FYI. Writing, whether a hobby or for a living,  is not for the faint of heart.

I used to mentor starry-eyed newbie authors, first and foremost, to acknowledge that writing to publish is not an automatic catapult to celebrity status. Words captured, whether in ink or pixel, is not a guarantee to anything, neither fame nor fortune. In many more ways it is almost a given to be a door kicked open to scrutiny and criticism.

Whether your wordsmith hat is embroidered with Journalist, Book Author, Columnist, Blogger, etc., once you choose to wear it, you pass through a threshold into the vulnerable world of opinion, bias, and individual skewed perspective. Regardless how well you hone your craft, you will never be able to please everyone, nor avoid being critiqued harshly by more than a few.

In the exciting, expectant midnight hours, waiting for a published work to show up on Amazon, I routinely cautioned my authors to expect some naysayers and those who won’t like their words in one way or another and who are at the ready to click on the one star, expounding on all the ways the work is subpar. 

Nevertheless, I also cautioned against having friends and family fill up the review scores with praise and head pats because, while you should never be devastated by someone’s negative opinion,  there’s no real benefit or encouragement in fake or biased accolades either. The joy that comes from having met the challenge of the process of taking idea to finished work is more often than not a very personal and private celebration that cannot be fully appreciated by anyone else.

When you choose the writing life, you make an unspoken commitment to do the best with what you have to give, what you have to say, to offer your interpretations sincerely to life’s huge loud narrative. Regardless how this might be misinterpreted, misquoted, your concepts and words cherry-picked, taken out of context and misused to fit another’s agenda, you choose to stand by your work or risk compromising yourself to fit into a mold defined by the current stream of consciousness. 

In the latter case, you’ll do nothing more than write within the confines of serious boundaries, constrained by fear, second-guessing and somewhat safe, albeit staid formula. And thus your relevance will be greatly diminished. Ultimately the drive to write is mostly a quest for relevance.

Now mostly retired from the riggers of full blown publishing, I soldier on with the writing game to keep my hand in via personal publishing projects - and this blog. Turns out, in spite of almost complete anonymity, this writing venue is still wide open to being scooped up and misquoted to serve personal vendetta. 

I am not shocked by this revelation except in one regard, that in spite of obvious agenda, words commandeered can be an effective weapon to disarm even those who know the complete truth, the backstory, the details, and the point of the writing. I admit it stuns me to be lectured by someone who knows the background of the topic, ‘You shouldn’t write that because it might be misinterpreted’.

Panning out to the broader picture, far removed from me personally, I see this as an alarming rising phenomenon. I don’t wish to contemplate where it will end, perhaps in similar ways that free speech and expression have been thwarted in other critical times in history. What I see unfolding is a rapid rush toward silence and being silenced for the sake of not kicking against the pricks. But doesn't that simply allow for the thorns to always win and overrule? 

In a rigidly literal, controlled, no-purple-prose-allowed world, at a certain point, some types of writers are the first to go. Since comedians, satirists and those (such as I) who lean heavy on analogy, who take what they know about and add fluff to enlarge ideas, are the first most likely to be easily misinterpreted, therefore they must be severely thwarted or silenced altogether.

To that I say, for what it’s worth, I choose to stand and claim I’m too old to be shut down at this juncture. Critics be damned.

Wordsmithing is as much an art form as painting or sculpting. No one is allowed to dictate to the artist as he/she is creating. Once done, it’s fair game for loving or hating, of course.  Haters gotta hate. 

Nevertheless, writers gotta write. 

For Him,

Meema

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Truth and Grace



No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. And no saint should ever dare to interfere with the lesson of suffering being taught in another saint’s life.  
~ Oswald Chambers

Twenty plus years ago I was deep in a struggle with a family crisis. One day, desperate for diversion, I took a few hours to myself and wandered around aimlessly in the local mall. I found myself drawn to a Lifeway bookstore. 

A book, yes, that would be a nice break, I thought. 

Nothing seemed right to me though. My soul was parched, my spiritual well dry, and sorely in need of refilling. As I was leaving, empty-handed, I glanced over to the right wall and saw a bright blue cover. I walked over and picked up my introduction to Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.

All these years later, having read the 365 devotionals over and over again, I am still learning from this man’s wisdom that is neither self-help, nor modern mindfulness. In many ways, it can be described as being theological tough love. 

More than once I have been convicted by his words, written more than a hundred years ago. Apparently what is true is always true, no matter the era.

During the first year of reading My Utmost, I can almost relive each epiphanic experience coming face to face with a truth sharp as any finely honed sword. It always cut me and left an indelible mark. As a result, I’m pretty notched up, spiritually speaking.

I recall one startling truth, in particular, that changed my whole life view on how humans often interfere with what God is doing by good intentioned intervening. Because though we are called to goodness, love, and all things charitable, we aren’t intuitive enough to see when our interpretations of love, goodness and charity are not necessarily in sync with God’s view.

Being only human, I fall back on the excuse - I’m only human. If I believe someone needs a hand up and I am able to give it, I instinctively want to reach out. On more than one occasion, I can attest, this has not turned out well and my good intentions simply caused more harm than good and/or at the very least a setback. Again, though I fall back and perhaps even hide behind the rationale that I was just doing a good deed, my excuse that I was only trying to help seems lame once it has been revealed to me as stepping over the line where I should not have ventured. And then I have to repent for intruding where my intervention was not necessary nor requested.

You see, in the journey toward spiritual maturity, we occasionally happen upon  a crossroads where we must stop and consider that when we do not know the direction we should go if we decide to go with the path that looks good to the world instead of waiting on God to give us some input, we are likely to find ourselves on a thorny, rough road. Sometimes we even end up bleeding for the choice. 

So, the question is begged, how does one know when to step up and help someone else ... or not? How can you know when God is bringing someone else around via a tribulation put in place specifically for them or, instead, presenting you with an opportunity to be His eyes, hands, feet? 

Frankly, I’m still working on that one. Thus far I have figured out, though, that every circumstance will present a different answer - do, don’t, or just let go and let God. I suspect the deepest truth of how we make our decisions hides within the world view, so embedded in our psyches, that performing an act of charity defines us as heroes. Who doesn’t like to be thought of as a hero? 

But the downside is that we are not here to be known as heroes. We are only expected to empty ourselves of ‘self’ and learn how to pay attention to the still small voice. To learn to listen, obey and trust is probably one of the toughest levels to pass in the never ending lessons in the School of Christ.

For Him,
Meema

When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet another level to reach—a level where all awareness of ourselves and of what God is doing through us is completely eliminated. A saint is never consciously a saint—a saint is consciously dependent on God. 

~ Oswald Chambers