Hummus Among Us: A Recipe

hummus one

I first ate hummus in Cairo almost twenty years ago. I ate a lot of it. Arab bread dipped into ground chickpeas blended with ground sesame, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt.

Back home, no one seemed to know what hummus was. Just another strange ethnic foreign food no one wanted to try (like the time I took 20 pieces of kibby to my 3rd grade homeroom picnic, and brought 19 home… not counting the one I ate).

Not only is hummus really, really good for you (high in protein, fiber, good olive oil fats, no gluten or cholesterol), in the good ol’ medieval days it was believed to be an aphrodisiac (even thought to increase sperm count), and was considered helpful for nursing mothers (one can lead to the other).*

Someone must have done their homework, because hummus is the new salsa. Once a niche item, tubs of all makes, models and flavors can be found everywhere, from Walmart to gas stations.

But if you want to make it at home, here’s my take on the Mid-East simple staple. My standard for how good it is comes from my wife: If she likes it, that’s good enough for me. And she likes it a lot… which makes me hopeful in the validity of certain medieval beliefs.

ABU SADIE HUMMUS
2 15oz. cans chickpeas (drained but save some juice)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water (from saved chickpea juice)
5 tablespoons tahini (ground sesame seeds)
1 lemon, juiced
3-4 cloves chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Throw it all in a blender or food-processor, and blend until smooth. You may need to add a little more olive oil and/or water if it’s too thick. And sometimes I add a little more lemon juice, salt or other seasoning to taste.

It will keep refrigerated for several days, but probably won’t stay uneaten that long.

hummus two

* information on hummus as a love potion comes from “Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of Iraqi Cuisine” by Nawal Nasrallah

Here’s a New York Times story about the spread of hummus among us.

And if you want to watch something while you nibble on your fresh-made snack, here’s West Bank Story, the Oscar winning musical of hummus, love and peace.

40 for Forty (one)

Yesterday was my 41st birthday. Some now call me “Oldmar.” But with a little age comes a little experience and wisdom. So here are 40 observations, events and things I’ve learned in my first forty-one years.

methodist birth certificate

1. The first 40 years are the hardest.

2. I have the same birthday as Saint Thomas Aquinas. He is the patron saint of academics and students. I was a terrible academic and student. Maybe he’s how I was able to Forrest Gump my way to a Master’s degree.

3. I was less anxious in my 30s than I was in my 20s. I’m more content in my 40s than I was in my 30s. I’m on pace to be fully happy by my 60s and to achieve perfection by my 70s.

4. There have been 8 presidents so far in my life. I’ve seen 5 of them in person (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, W. Bush, and Obama) and voted for 3 of them in 5 elections (not telling).

5. I graduated from Texas A&M University. When I started school it was in the South-WEST Conference. Now it is the South-EAST. Geographically, it is still in CENTRAL Texas. This is why big money sports should not lead higher education.

6. Happiness and joy are not the same thing. I’m often in pursuit of the wrong one when pursing life and liberty.

7. When I was a kid the big paranoia was Soviet Communists. Now it’s Mid-East Muslims. My wife’s grandparents were Russian, and mine were Iraqi. This could mean we’re both sleeping with the enemy.

8. The day I was born, Nixon announced a cease-fire in Vietnam; when I turned 12 the Shuttle Challenger exploded; on my 18th I registered for selective service as Operation Desert Storm stormed on; when I turned 21 I had an emergency appendectomy; on my 24th birthday my aunt died.

Any birthday I can get through without war, surgery or death is a good one.

9. My team, the Dallas Cowboys, won their last Super Bowl on my birthday in 1995.

NINETEEN years ago.

C’mon Jerry…

10. Bill Cosby was right. Our parents put a curse on us that makes our kids act just like we did.

11. When I was in high school and college, “Classic Rock” was songs from the 60s & 70s. Now, it’s the songs that came out when I was in high school and college.

12. These are the good ol’ days.

13. I lived in Costa Rica for a year. Darkest year of my life, but still glad I did it. Everyone should live or study abroad at least once. And learn a foreign language.

14. Jesus really does “save,” but we keep using that word and I do not think it means what we think it means.

15. I never realized how selfish I was until I got married.

16. I found out I was even more selfish once I had kids.

17. Being a father and being a daddy are not the same thing. My goal is daddy.

18. My first kiss was in 6th grade, and she was wearing Carmex. Today the smell of Carmex still makes me happy (but I’m happier with the girl I’m kissing now).

19. Always tip well. If you get good service, tip really well.

20. My first “real” job was bagging groceries at a Kroger. I wish I had started saving a little bit from that first paycheck.

21. There is a very fine line between being a preacher and being a politician. We say we’re in it for the sake of others, but most us really do it because we’re codependent.

I am a preacher, and I approve this message.

22. I made it all the way through college without the internet, a mobile phone, or 24-hour news. Yet somehow I could research papers, stay in touch and be informed.

23. The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. Ever. Darth Vader telling Luke he’s his father is still the biggest thing to ever happen on screen.

24. Turns out I didn’t know as much as I thought I did in my 20s.

25. I can’t eat or drink like I did 10 years ago. Or 5. Or even last year.

26. 99% of the things I’ve worried about never happened. What a waste of my mental and emotional energy.

27. I am not my GPA. It never really mattered, anyway.

28. I am not my ADHD or my anxiety disorder. They are just part of who… OH LOOK! A SQUIRREL! Are they getting into the attic? What if they’re chewing on the wires? Could that start a fire? What if there’s a fire while we’re gone? Maybe we should… OH LOOK AT HOW LOW THAT AIRPLANE IS FLYING! Do you think that’s safe….

29. Everyone needs confession, counseling, or therapy. (bonus: “Therapy is simply turning down the volume on your history tape so you can hear the voice of God.” – Dr. Bob Tuttle)

30. No matter how old you are, whenever you get nervous or scared at night, whatever part of your body is under the covers is safe.

31. Charcoal will always be superior to gas, and cookout, grilling, and BBQ are three different things.

32. By working in campus ministry, I’m able to have intelligent conversations with adults while using the phrase, “Back when I was your age.” I kinda like it.

33. We were born to be loved.

34. We have free will. We do not have a choice on this.

35. I was “saved” at a Petra concert in 1986. But I’ve been “delivered” by U2 since 1996. One of these is not like the other, but I needed them both. Thank you, Bob Hartman, for leading me to Jesus. And thank you, Jesus, for leading me to Bono.

36. Forgiveness takes time and happens in waves, seasons, and often not all at once. This is okay.

37. “I won’t ever be like my parents” is a lie. This is both good and bad.

38. I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life running from, coming to terms with, and being healed of the first 20 years.

39. “Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”

40. I believe in your Kingdom Come. Then all the colors will bleed into one. But yes I’m still running. You broke the bonds. You loosed the chains. You carried the cross of my shame. You know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

 

Dad Humor: The Battle at Midnight Snack Run

What happens when you’ve been at your in-laws for a week (with five days still to go), you can’t sleep, are maybe a little hungry, and so wander into the kitchen late at night?

You leave this story for everyone to wake up to.

Tension had been building between the fruits and the vegitables. No one knows for sure who started it, but it appeared potato drew first juice.

battle of lextington 1

The oranges were angry and ready for revenge.

battle of lexingotn 3

 But the potatos were not backing down.

battle of lextington 2

 The grapes tried a different approach.

battle of lexington 4

The battle lines were drawn. The other three food groups hid in the fridge. What would happen next?

battle of lexington 5

I blamed this on getting older and coming down with “dad humor.”

My wife says no, this has always been my humor… now I just happen to be older and a dad.

Santa and the Baby Jesus

Merry Christmas!

Here’s a Christmas morning “guest storyteller” post from my friend Matt LeRoy.

Legend has it he would leave secret gifts for the poor. A little known story: he participated in the Ecumenical Council that crafted the Nicene Creed, which affirms the divinity of Jesus. In a heated debate, Arius contended that Jesus was not truly God. St. Nicholas was so passionate for the Incarnation, he lost his temper and punched Arius in the face.

So you see kids, baby Jesus is the Prince of Peace. But if you mess with baby Jesus, Santa Claus will punch you in the face.

st. nick

Christmas Eve: Not a Silent Night

advent christmas

 

We brought our first child home from the hospital the day after she was born. That night a “once in a century” ice storm rolled in and froze the entire city. Many folks lost power for days. We were lucky to not lose ours.

Or unlucky.

We had carefully coordinated friends and family being in town during and after the birth so we could have help, but also time to ourselves. But now the hotel was in the dark, and the flights and roads that were supposed to take them out of town in a day or two were frozen to the ground.

So by the time she was three days old, seven souls crammed into our little home. The guest room, the baby’s room, the sofa… all were claimed. And my wife, who had put together the perfect nursing chair location, changing table set-up, and series of DVDs to watch in the living room during late night feedings, was stuck in our back bedroom trying to nurse in private and get some sleep, while an entire family reunion occupied the rest of the house.

And then, as we went to bed, our power finally went out.

It was not a silent night.

She’s crying. Is she hungry? Is it gas? Try nursing again. But is she actually getting any milk? Can’t tell. What about the little baby gas drops?

The diapers. The hospital wants a record of every poopoo or peepee event, and gave us a chart to keep track. But I’m running out of room here. Didn’t she just go three minutes ago? And what is that black tar she keeps pooping out? That’s normal? Wait, did you clean the belly button with rubbing alcohol before you put a clean diaper on? You have to do it every time.

Is she warm enough? It’s getting colder in here. Little hat. Little socks. Onesie. Swaddle. How do you make the swaddle stick? Now what? She’s falling asleep. Gentle. Put her in the bassinet next to the bed. Close our eyes. One minute… two minutes… three…

Is she hungry? Is it gas? Didn’t I just change her diaper?

***

When a very pregnant Mary and Joseph showed up in Bethlehem for the census, the rest of his family would have been there, too. The Greek word kataluma, often translated inn, is the word for the guest room of a house. So the issue was not rude hotel managers leaving a poor pregnant girl out in the cold. The whole family was in town, and every spot in the house was claimed.

And the stable? Not a barn out back. Stables were connected to the front of the house so the animals could be kept safe in bad weather. Small square windows were often cut between the stable and the house so the animal’s body heat could warm the house, and sometimes a manger (feeding trough) would be cut into those little windows or into the walls.

The Scriptures never say Jesus was born in a barn, just that the guest room was full and he was laid in a manger.

So I have a theory.

From what I’ve witnessed, a lot of family crammed into one house right after a baby is born is a hive of well meaning but mostly useless people. And I can testify that large, Middle Eastern families all want to be up in your business for every. little. thing. every. moment… with advice, commands, and unsolicited help (once, during a meal, an older cousin reached across the dinner table and started to roll up my adult brother’s sleeve in case it might get in his food).

And don’t forget, these are Mary’s in-laws.

Part of me is confident the stable was the best place to get away. A sanctuary for a mother and her new baby, where family couldn’t bother her and his crying wouldn’t bother them. I’ve learned it might also have been a custom to use the stable as an extended guest room, which very well may have been the warmest place for a new baby.

So the Baby Jesus and his mommy were probably warm, safe, and excessively cared for by lots of family.

But maybe the practical helps set up the theological.

Genesis begins with “In the beginning God created…”

John’s gospel and Paul’s letter in the New Testament both declare it was God through Jesus Christ who created all things.

It was God through Jesus who spoke and created the heavens and the earth. It was God through Christ who created the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the animals of the ground.

And it was God through Jesus Christ who took the dirt of the ground, breathed into it the breath of life, and created Adam… the Hebrew word for humanity, and humanity was with God in the garden. And so it was that creation began with God surrounded by the animals and the human family.

Now swaddled in a manger, God in Christ is again surrounded by animals and family. A new creation event is happening this night – in the quiet, secret, subversive trough for a crib –  that will lead to all creation being born again.

Because the God who created us humbled himself to death on a cross… but also to to pooping himself. To get gas. To have trouble nursing.

The new Adam is born in Bethlehem, and God is with us again…starting in the same place each of us did.

Come… let us adore him.

"The Holy Family" by Fr. Damian Szodenyi, O. Cist.

“The Holy Family” by Fr. Damian Szodenyi, O. Cist.

The Fourth Week of Advent: The Scandal of the Manger

advent 4

 

The fourth Advent candle is lit, and our Scripture readings for this week turn our eyes from looking into the clouds for Christ’s coming back to the barn for his birth (and though my wife started in September, I can start listening to some “Christmas music”).

But what does the promise to Mary of the Baby Jesus mean for us now? What are we coming to adore? Here’s a little story.

A lot of the teaching in my early church youth group/Sunday school years focused on two things: sex and the end times. The sex talks were summed up in one idea: Don’t have it till you get married. The end-times talks were summed up in one idea: It’s gonna happen really soon. For most of us in junior high, we thought one thing: I hope I get to have sex before the end times.

My freshman year in high school the world didn’t end, but a girl in our youth group got pregnant. It was quite the scandal. Everyone knew “who she did it with,” and they “knew” who was responsible: her.

She quietly left to a “home for un-wed mothers.” She stayed there until she delivered the child, who was quickly adopted. She returned to our school, but now she was “marked.” Before long she moved to another state and we never heard from her again.

***

When Mary turned out to be pregnant while still engaged to Joseph, it was going to be a scandal, and Joseph was ready to quietly leave.

But like Mary, he was ultimately willing to endure a scandal to say yes to God’s call, and we could stop right there with a “Christmas lesson for life.”

But take a closer look, and we see God is also willing to endure a scandal to save the world: Not only did he choose an un-wed virgin, he chose a genealogy littered with sex scandals. Look at the females Matthew includes in his gospel genealogy and you’ll find Rahab (a prostitute), Bathsheba (part of King David’s adultery), Tamar (pretended to be a prostitute and got pregnant by her father-in-law) and Ruth (slept with Boaz while he was passed out drunk). So an un-wed virgin could not be that big a deal.

However, Matthew’s genealogy starts with Abraham. Take an even closer look – all the way to very beginning – and we see an even greater scandal.

In the very beginning, the Spirit hovers over the water of chaos, and God creates light and dark, oceans and sky, land and animals, and finally Adam, the Hebrew name for “humanity.”

But humanity rebells and turns away.

And so there are curses of brokenness, toil and death.

And one of those curses is on Eve, the mother of humanity: You will have great pain in pregnancy and childbirth.

The miracle of life, the gift of sex and the call to create will come at a price. And until the modern era, the leading cause of death among women was giving birth.

So what is the scandal?

That the God who hovered over the waters of chaos now hovers over the water of a womb.

The God who chose to create the cosmos in spectacular fashion now chooses to become an embryo to recreate us.

That God doesn’t wipe it all out and start over, but reaches all the way back to the start of our scandal and redeems the curse through one of the very means it was made manifest.

So then, it is not enough that he is God with us but also becomes God one of us to heal, redeem, restore… to fix all humanity broke when he birthed us.

The scandal is mercy. The scandal is our hope.

And this is why, before the scandal of the Cross, we pause to adore the scandal of the manger.

advent four

The Third Week of Advent: Our Only Hope

advent week 3

The third Advent candle is lit, and we are still waiting on the second arrival of Christ before we turn towards remembering his first. And with his return there will be a judgement. I’m often anxious about judgement, and have so often seen judgement used to scare people into salvation.

But the Scriptures for the third week of Advent are also concerned with hope. But in the shadow of the gloom and doom of judgment, how can there be hope, what does it look like, and how do we prepare for it… and maybe even take part in it?

Well, I’ve got a little story for you.

The Freedom Center in Cincinnati tells the story of the Underground Railroad. While the tendency is to look to Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, the full story of freedom from slavery is told in the secret network of individuals, groups, churches and others who helped slaves escape from the South to the North and Canada.

One such story of subversion is the tale of Dr. Alexander Ross. After having a conversation with an abolitionist, a convicted Dr. Ross became creative in helping slaves escape: he pretended to be a scientist studying birds. This would allow him onto plantations, where he would quietly give slaves information on routes of escape. Sometimes he would offer them food, money, compasses, weapons and the names of people who would shelter them.

He once pretended a female slave was his personal servant and led her all the way to Ontario to be reunited with her husband.

According to his records, Ross helped free at least 31 slaves.*

 ***

In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah tells the story of God’s people done in by their sin, and the future hope of their rescue. He said the rescue of humanity and the restoration of God’s Kingdom would begin when the eyes of the blind were opened, the ears of the deaf were unstopped, and the lame leaped like deer.

In the New Testament, when John the Baptist was in prison, he sent a message to Jesus and asked if he was the Rescuer? Was he bringing the Kingdom, or would it be someone else?

Jesus answered in subversive code: Go tell John the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. 

These first three weeks of Advent are concerned with the return of Christ, which bring with it his final judgement on the world.

However, my friend (and theology professor) Steve Seamands explains in his book Give Them Christ how, in the days of the Bible, judgement was “not primarily about rewards and punishments or balancing scales, but about fixing what’s been broken and making wrong things right.”

I once heard Howard Snyder (at Asbury Seminary) compare our work among the poor and broken hearted before Jesus’ return to the story of the Underground Railroad: Though the Emancipation Proclamation had not yet been declared, there were those who would live as though it was already true, and so would work to free as many as they could.

This could be why the season of Advent allows us to take inventory for the question Jesus will ask when he returns: What have you been doing while I was gone? Because his judgement seems to hinge on some pretty specific, and subversive, actions.

Advent and Christmas are not just about God coming to be among us, but also  God coming to fix and heal us. To make the wrongs right. To make the dark light. To make death die.

In the midst of Christmas cards, cookies and credit card debt, Jesus is the reason for the season, but not in all the holiday ways we have come to believe. Our hope right now is not in a manger crib, but in a judgement seat.

Christ our Judge will come again to fully heal our brokenness and finally fix all things.  And during the in-between time we are called to engage in this work… not by publicly making sure we get our way through forcing cashiers to say “Merry Christmas” or by demanding our favorite Christian football player or reality show/duck hunter is heard… but by quietly doing subversive work:

To walk unnoticed among the plantations of sin and take the time to walk with that one person to freedom. To live our lives in a holy – almost secret – code, helping the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk… as we wait and hope for the time when Christ our Judge will return and proclaim a final emancipation from our slavery to sin and death.

This is our hope.

And for me, when I begin to wrap my mind around the hope of Christ our Judge, I can begin to wrap my heart (and my “holiday season” practices) around the true magnificence of how God started all this with the quiet, secret and subversive birth of a baby.

advent 3* The Alexander Ross story comes from information I read at a Freedom Center exhibit

 

The Second Week of Advent: Stopping For Directions

advent week two

The second Advent candle is lit, but we still aren’t looking for the pregnant virgin.

The Scriptures for the second week of Advent have us preparing for the full arrival of Christ’s Kingdom, not wrapping gifts to celebrate his birth. John the Baptist connects Christ’s arrival with our repenting from sin. But where is the “joy to the world” with such an imposing term?

So here’s an embarrassing part of my story.

I have no sense of direction. None. Zero. Even when the sun is setting I will get confused to which way is west. I get lost in my own neighborhood.

I grew up next to I35 in Dallas, and after I got my drivers license I drove onto the interstate and quickly realized I had no idea where I was going. Give me driving directions that say “turn east when you get to the intersection” and I’m not going to get there.

Here’s a typical scenario: I have to go to a new part of town. It’s not far from many places I drive to on a regular basis. “It’s just a couple of minutes north of the mall,” my wife will say. Been to the mall. I can do that. I pass the mall… it’s been two minutes. Or was it two miles? Now it’s been five minutes. Now seven. Now I’m in another town.

Turn around. Go back.

Wait… that McDonald’s looks familiar. I think I should have turned there. Make another turn. Two minutes. Four. Six. Not it.

Turn around. Go back.

Before the iPhone I would have stopped at a gas station for directions after the third or fourth u-turn. Now I pull over and try to figure out where the little blue dot on Google Maps says I am. But sometimes I go a long time before I realize I’m not where I was intended to be.

Once, when driving from Dallas to Tulsa, I made a pit stop halfway through the trip. I got back on the highway and drove for a another hour. As I crossed the state line back into Texas, I realized I had turned south instead of north.

One. Hour. In. The. Wrong. Direction.

My four year old has had a better sense of direction than me. She calls out where we are in town, which way home is, or where we need to turn to get to school. Even on the interstate she can tell you what landmarks are coming up. Her little sister is getting pretty good, too. The other day I went down a different street to church and she said, “Daddy… this not the way.”

My wife is very patient with my condition. She knows if we’re talking then I’m even more distracted and will not be able to get home, even from those places I drive to and from on a regular basis. In the middle of a sentence about the movie we just watched she’ll insert “left at the light” or “next exit.”

I’m jealous of her skills. Not only does she know every back way to everything, she never gets lost. If we’re going to a new place and the directions are wrong, she can look around, chose a different street, and viola… there we are.

I once asked her how she does it. How does she always know which way we’re going, find a new way to get there, and never get lost?

“Easy,” she says, “I just remember which way is north, and then I can tell which roads will go what direction to get me there.”

I wish I could do that. Then she points at the little digital compass mounted in my rear-view mirror, and tells me I can always orient myself starting there.

 ***

Once we’ve taken inventory of our response to Christ, the idea of repentance can easily become feelings of guilt, regret or shame. If I can just feel bad enough about something, maybe I’ll quit doing it.

But the idea of repentance John the Baptist would have been formed by is the Hebrew word shub: To turn back and retrace your steps in order to return the right way.*

Repentance as a preparation is a hard concept for me to embrace with Joy to the World playing in the background while I eat santa sugar cookies next to the glow of a Christmas tree with presents. I think that’s why the rhythms of the Christian year are meant to be done together. With others there is confession, shared stories of struggle, and encouragement to make a slight turn ahead.

This is why we take a season, not just a day, to prepare for Christ’s return. Because repentance is not so much working up more guilt or a re-doubling of sin behavior management; repentance is a constant state of remembering and re-orienting ourselves to the right path… a constant stoping and turning around on the highway of holiness.

advent 2

* Harper Collins Bible Dictionary

The First Week of Advent: The End is the Beginning

advent week one

The first Advent candle is lit, and the first song of the season we sang in church was Angels We Have Heard On High.

But the start of the Christian year has nothing to do with Christmas. Read the Scripture passages for the first week of Advent, and we don’t find holiday cheer: No baby in a manger, angels visiting shepherds, or wise men giving gifts.

The season of Advent begins with the end: The return of Christ, and the question are we ready for it?

Let me tell you a story.

For twenty-six years my father commuted to work between Dallas, Texas, and Cairo, Egypt. He’s a petroleum engineer, and that’s where the work was. He was usually gone between 3-6 months, but often it was longer. A couple of times he was gone for almost fifteen.

Dad runs a tight ship. But the second the wheels on his plane went up, my mom, little brother and I would immediately put things to our liking. No eating in the living room? Not anymore. No phone allowed in my room? Take the one next to his bed and put it next to mine. The dog isn’t allowed in the house? Guess who’s cuddle up on the sofa taking a nap. Finish your homework first? My favorite show is on, and so I’ll watch it while eating pancakes for dinner in the living room while feeding bacon to the dog.

We slacked off on everything.

Until the phone call.

The one saying he was in the air and would be home in a few hours.

We never knew when he would return. There would be rumors, and plans would be made. But there was always another contract negotiation, or crisis in the field, or something to hold him up. So it was common practice for his office to wait until he was on a plane, somewhere over the Atlantic, before they would let us know.

And we panicked.

We always thought we had plenty of time to take our time and get things in order. Now it was all hands on deck! Vacuum. Shake the dog dander off the sofa cushions. Throw something that wasn’t pancakes, pizza or takeout in the oven for dinner. Get that phone back on your father’s nightstand. Is the dog still in the house?

We made big “Welcome Home Dad!!!” banners and hung them from the fireplace mantle, then went to pick him up at the airport. There would be hugs and celebration, gifts of chocolate from his layovers in Frankfurt, unpacking of bags and a night’s sleep to overcome the jet-lag.

Then my father would wake up the next morning and get right to work. Sitting in his office, he would pour over every statement, bill and report card piled up in his absence.

And then came the reckoning… a judgement in form of a question:

“What have you been doing while I was gone?”

He would lay out the evidence of money that shouldn’t have been spent, late payments on bills, and slipping grades. He would present his findings of our lifestyle without him: Dog hairs on the carpet, needless long distances charges, no real food in the pantry, a progress report from a teacher.

He had a certain set of expectations and practices while he was gone: “Be the same person while I’m away that you are when I’m home.”

***

Last week at our house we finished the Thanksgiving turkey and immediately decorated the tree, set up the Nativity, watched Christmas Vacation and put on holiday music (but no thank-you, creepy elf on a shelf).

But in jumping from thankfulness right into remembering the birth of Christ, we miss something possibly more important: Preparing for his return.

With the commercial “Christmas season” starting around the first of October, it’s hard to put aside Jesus in the manger for a couple of weeks to look for Jesus in the clouds. But Advent gives us another opportunity to prepare. That’s why it’s a season, not just a day.

We can take inventory of our actions, pursuits, motivations… maybe fast… and repent.

So we don’t have to scramble when we get the call he’s coming back.

He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching... but someday he will return from heaven in the same way" Acts 1(NLT)

“He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching… but someday he will return from heaven in the same way” Acts 1(NLT)

The Secret of Time

“It is never too late to become who you might have been.” – George Elliot

cairo watch

Time is a gift of love and grace
Without time there’d be no time to change
Time to be tried, humbled and broken
Time to hear the words of love spoken

I see the mission up ahead of me
And I tremble as one shaken
But if I have the eyes of faith
The eyes to see
I will leave the outcome
In the hands of the one who called me

And over and over
I must learn and relearn
That whether I decrease
Or whether I increase
Is not my concern

From the song “The Secret of Time” by Charlie Peacock