Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Did Mary Really Know?

As I read Luke, chapters 1 through 3 today, I paused to reflect about Mary. In the second chapter of Luke, I read that Mary and Joseph were fulfilling purification laws dating back to the days of Moses. They presented Jesus to the priests, offering him back to God as required of firstborn sons. There was this guy (named Simeon) in the temple who had been praying and awaiting something spectacular. When Mary and Joseph appeared with their baby, Simeon "knew" his waiting was over. He prophesied over Jesus; Mary and Joseph were amazed. Why were they amazed?

Gabriel himself had visited Mary to tell her what was going to happen to her. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him to marry Mary in spite of her pre-marital prenancy. Mary's cousin, Elizabeth (while pregnant with John) calls her the "mother of my Lord." Shepherds visited Mary and Jesus while he was still a baby, led there by heralding angels. Scholars, led by a star and confirmed by Herod's inquiry of high priests and scholars, brought gifts when he was a child, presumably close to two years of age. And then, Mary and Joseph were "surprised" once again when Jesus himself (at the age of 12) told them he was tending to his "Father's" business.

How can all this happen and yet have a mother not really know who her son was?

I'm trying to put myself in her place. Okay, so an angel comes to me telling me I am going to get pregnant without intercourse. Okay, so I don't argue with the angel. If my old cousin Elizabeth can get pregnant, so can I, if God says so. Besides, the angel said in so many words, this son of mine is going to be a ruler (think worldly, not spritually). So what do I do now? I know! Run! So I go to visit my old pregnant cousin for 3 months. When I return to Bethlehem, I've got to realize by then I'm pregnant; I've missed three periods. I tell Joseph. He seeks to put me away privately until God tells him in a dream it's okay to marry me because my pregnancy is His idea.

So from this point on, I have to imagine being pregnant but not by the man I've married. I imagine a kind of loneliness. Think about it! Who can I discuss this with? Joseph married me, but does he share my joy and uncertainty? When the baby kicks in my womb, do I run to him and place his hand on my belly? Surely, the neighbors are talking and counting the months on their fingers. We just got married; how can I be so big with child?

So comes the time to give birth. I am still in wonder. Is this really going to happen? What is this baby going to look like? Will Joseph love him, too? The baby is born. He looks normal. Shepherds pay a visit. Angels told them about my son? Why? Have I forgotten the angel's exact words by now? Maybe. Because a few days later when we go to the temple and Simeon prophesied over him, I am amazed. My son is really going to be great?

So now, fast-forward through a fearful move to Egypt; dealing with sleepless nights with a crying, pooping baby; endless "diaper" changes; teaching him to walk and talk; weaning him; and dealing with a pre-teen runaway. I think just like us, Mary got lost in the day-to-day cares of living. I think, because she was mothering a human being, not a "God with us", she could only partly "know" who Jesus was. I think day-to-day concerns overpowered what little she understood of the words delivered by the angel.

It's easy for us in our day and time, sitting comfortably in our easy chairs reading the gospels to clearly "get it." But Mary didn't have scripture from the New Testament laid before her to read and examine. And I believe her revelation was limited. So, I've decided to cut her some slack.

I wonder what revelations would unfold if I had the opportunity to read the gospel of my life.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. Luke 2:19, 51

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Strawberry Torte

My daughter called me a couple of weeks ago to get a recipe that I could not find - Strawberry Torte. I haven't made this dessert in over five years. Why not? I have no idea. It would have helped if she had requested it sooner. Maybe it's because I had moved and lost the paper copy of the recipe. Anyway, I searched and searched through all my printed recipes to no avail. And I was disappointed; this was a knock-out dessert. So she punted and made a reasonable facsimile of it.
I'm on vacation this week. Out of nowhere, a thought came to me directing me to search for a disk that may have the recipe on it. Voila!! Here it is! As I told my friend today, this is what retirement must be like. My brain is free to think of things like this. You must try it.

But first, I must tell you I've had this recipe for a few years. I would modify it somewhat according to my current dietary "laws." I would make whipped cream from scratch - sue me!! The original recipe called for margarine - an absolute no-no in my house. Secondly,some amounts of ingredients are not specified. I'm guessing at the amount of strawberries needed and I don't know the amount of glaze. Get a small container. And I'm guessing the total amount of Cool Whip needed must be a small container, because some gets mixed into the cream cheese layer and some goes on top of the strawberries. And finally, I don't recall ever using coconut. It still is delish!!

I know. I know. For you precise cooks, this is somewhat unsettling. One of my friends says that she expects one day my kitchen is going to explode. I am not afraid of experimenting.

Strawberry Torte

1 cup flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 T. sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Mix together and spread in 9x9 pan. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 F. Let cool.

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup Cool Whip
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix and spread on cool crust.

Mix fresh strawberries (about 1 1/2 - 2 cups) and strawberry glaze. Spread over cream cheese layer. Spread remainder of Cool Whip on top of strawberies. Sprinkle with coconut. Let chill several hours.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My "Baby" is 28.

Yup. It's official - I am getting old. My daughter is turning 28 on Saturday. Just this morning, as I was driving to work, I thought, "Wow! Twenty-eight years ago I was still pregnant, ready to give birth and get on with being a Mom." I had no idea what I was in for.

You see, my daughter was a non-compliant child. She was good-natured and a good baby, really, so I was unprepared for the radical changes that began at around age 4 and continued until she was about 19. That's when she woke from her mom-defying stupor and discovered what I had been saying to her for years: "I'm on your side," or "I am not your enemy."

When she was a toddler and going through her there's-a-monster-under-my-bed stage, I would comfort her with,"Don't worry, dear. The only monster in this house is me." Now, for those of you gasping right now, know that she got the message. No harm would ever come to her on my watch.

She finally left the nest last year to attend Rhema Bible School. The first night we slept on the floor of her unfurnished apartment. While she lay sleeping, I realized I was the same age(26) when I left Kentucky for the new frontier of New Jersey and the adventures of a new life. I cried. I am so proud of her. She is a star; her nickname is Diva.

Happy birthday, Diva!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

On Life and Death

My sister-in-law nursed my brother during his illness and was with him (along with my nephew) when he drew his last breath. That may sound dreary or depressing to some, but it wasn't like that for either of them. It was peaceful because he was at peace. My sister-in-law, OJ, said you try to imagine what it's going to be like but death is not what you think. One last sound and the person is no longer there. "Where did you go"?, she asked as she kissed him one last time. A body is just a house.
When you hear the word CANCER, your biggest enemy becomes FEAR. When they heard the diagnosis nearly two years ago, my brother and OJ prayed right away and put their lives in the hands of God. My sister has been diagnosed with lung cancer twice so she knows full well about overcoming fear, too. Eighteen years ago, about a month after my mother died of cancer, I heard the word TUMOR. Strange as it seems, I could feel fear attempting to come in but I remained at peace. The doctor looked at me strangely, waiting for me to break down. I never did. Why? Because almost instantly, I remembered something God spoke to me years before: "Take care of your daughter." I took comfort and firm assurance in those words sitting in the doctor's office. I wasn't leaving this earth just yet; a dead mother cannot care for her daughter. And since God told me to take care of her, I knew He was taking care of me. The tumor was benign.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff comfort me." Psalm 23:4

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Okay, so back to me.
I am the middle child, whatever that means. I've read books about birth order and I still think I behave more like the oldest daughter than the middle child. My brother was the oldest; unfortunately, he died in August of 2008. So now, I'm the oldest. That is just too strange.
I have a "much younger" sister (her words, not mine; we are only 13 months apart in age) who is a journalist. She already blogs but this is all new to me.
My brother was an engineer and pretty much behaved like one. He was a computer geek of sorts, too. He was the hub of the family wheel, keeping everyone in touch with everyone else in the event of birthdays, anniversaries and the like. After his funeral, three of us decided we'd better step up to the plate. Hence, one reason for my blog.
My good friend Danielle just nudged me and told me I was falling behind with this blogging business, so I'm trying to do better.
Please stay tuned.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Just a Little About Me

I am a single, 58-year-old woman, the mother of one. I am now working in my second career, bond accounting, after having a successful 25-year career as a blood-banker. I decided to start a blog because I was so impressed with the blogs I've read that are so well-written and so very informative. It's a way of leaving my comfort zone, of not spending so much time alone - my favorite pasttime. I decided to call my blog, "A String of Pearls" because I hope that that is what I will be sharing with you - pearls of wisdom. Whenever I have been consistent in my prayer life, I prayed more for wisdom and revelation than anything else. I hope that doesn't sound conceited because I certainly am not. You see, wisdom comes from the Lord. I cannot take any credit for simply listening and obeying.

I enjoy crafts, cooking, exercising and researching natural health issues. My favorite exercise is swimming laps, but Michael Phelps I am not. I read a lot of recipes but then go in the kitchen and create my own thing. I still cook too much; I've yet to adjust to my empty nest.