Friday, November 30, 2012

My Beautiful New Baby: The Birthin Part 1

I’ve been trying to get online and tell you all a fun little story about the newest addition to my family, but the internet has been much like my wife’s cervix…unreliable and uncooperative. So instead I’m typing it in Word and I will paste it in once blogger decides to work.

I guess I’ll just start with my day Wednesday, not that anybody reading this cares about what I did Wednesday, you all want to know about Brittney and Courtney, yeah, yeah, I know, but I’m the one writing so I get to choose what I write. And besides, I wasn’t at home to be able to tell you what Brittney did that day.  All I know is that the night before, she started having some activity down there, a little contraction here and there and some cramping so we went to bed excited thinking something might happen. Unfortunately, at 3a.m. everything stopped, but she was able to sleep well which for an eleven months pregnant woman, is a great thing. 

Wednesday morning, I went out to Britt’s parents’ house to work on some cabinets I’m building and I got a call that she had decided to drink some castor oil.  Ok, so most of you probably know what that entails, but for those who aren’t aware, that’s like greasing up the bobsled track and attaching a jet engine to the back of the sled….It gets the tummy rumbling, if ya know what I mean. And for the men in the crowd who might not know it, apparently once one part an eleven months’ pregnant woman’s abdomen starts heaving all the other parts join and a baby inevitably pops right out.

So the story goes, at some point late in the morning she drank some castor oil and called me to let me know…somehow, castor oil wasn’t the important information that my little A.D.D. brain picked up on, so when she hung up on me abruptly I was standing there with a puzzled look on my face trying to figure out what could possibly be going on. So I called my mother who was at my house with my lovely wife and had her check on Britt. She reported back that all was well, so I went about my business…which, truth be told, was shooting at butterflies and grasshoppers with a BB Gun with my young nephew.

We finally left to head back into town (her parents live 30 mins from us out in the country) and I decided to stop in at the auto body shop to straighten out some details with our minivan that has been totaled out…a fact which surprisingly enough will resurface a few more times in the story you are about to hear.
I finally got home sometime between 2pm and 4pm not really sure when, because at the time it wasn’t at all important.  When I came in I walked upstairs to check on Brittney, only to find her still in her night gown and robe kneeling on the floor leaning on her exercise ball moaning….. “Wait, a second, I recognize that moan, that’s her ‘I’m in labor’ moan.” I will never forget that moan, a soft, slow, steady moan, that eventually evolves into a violent screaming comparable to any scary movie you can think of.

So there she was moaning, so I ask how far apart her contractions are, “Four minutes,” she tell me, but then she starts to moan again….Nay, Nay, I say…they are more like 1-2 minutes apart it’s time to go.
Now here’s an important bit of advice for anybody who’s expecting to have a baby soon or ever. Make sure you have a plan for when the time comes. We had a plan alright, and Brittney knew it and I didn’t.  Don’t ask, I know, I know. I should have known the plan. I wish I had known the plan.  Life would have been so much better if I had just known the plan. But I didn’t. Fortunately my wife made it as dummy proof as possible and I just had to throw a mountain high pile of crap into the vehicle. Luckily once I threw everything in, I paused for a moment to think about what I was forgetting….my wife, duh. So I ran back in to get her in a bit of a flustered state. She was remarkably calm though, for a woman in labor.

We swung by her moms office to pick her up on the way since we were passing right by, which turned out to be one of the most brilliant things we did. So I was driving, calmly and carefully, while mom-in-law is back there timing contractions.

Now you all would be proud of me, I was able to keep cool and drive safely almost the entire way there. I tried so hard. I’ve always been a very disciplined driver and try to be dogmatic about going the speed limit and restraining from cutting people off. I’ve been known to shoot the bird a time or two but I typically try and be a courteous driver, and that day I did well…until the contractions started getting stronger. And I know they were getting stronger, because my wife told me they were.  She went from a beautiful, peaceful, dainty little thing that was holding my hand for that comforting touch during a time of slight discomfort, to the Incredible Hulk growling, and snarling trying to rip my hand from my arm.  Remember that song about the hand bone being connected to the arm bone? Well it’s wrong! The hand bone is obviously connected to the foot bone, because the harder she squeezed, the hard I pressed the accelerator.  It was like living in San Diego all over again, I was cruizin down “the 10” (that’s SoCal-ese for Interstate 10 for those of you who don’t know) going about 85-90 zippin in and out of traffic cutting people off and zooming past all of San Antonio as if they weren’t even moving. The contractions were getting closer and closer and the traffic was starting to pile up.  At one point mom-in-law shouted out “I’ve got hand sanitizer just in case I have to deliver this baby in the car.” Haha, just the thought makes me laugh cuz we’re borrowing the car from a friend while ours is in the shop…remember above when I mentioned the minivan that was totaled? Keep reading it comes up several more times.

Fortunately for Josh(the owner of the vehicle) we made it to the hospital without having a baby, so that’s good. Rachel (mom-in-law) ran in to get a wheel chair, and when she came out I just busted out laughing…you could have sat 2 sumo wrestlers side-by-side in that thing it was so wide. Lucky for me, Brittney saw it and saw the humor as well and tried to giggle between contractions.

We made it upstairs without any drama, except her threatening to puke all over me on the elevator because I was rolling her around while the elevator was going up…hey how was I supposed to know that was a bad idea?
We had called ahead so they were expecting us and let us straight into a L&D Room without having to stop off in the holding tank first.  Britt said it was a good thing cuz she would have scared all the other women. The contractions remained about 2 mins apart the whole time we were in there and after getting all the paper work filled out and all the preparatory work done in the room they checked her cervix and said she was at a 4. (for all of you men reading this who haven’t experienced the birthing process ask your wife, I’m not teaching a freakin anatomy class here) So she screamed and moaned and breathed and contracted and begged for drugs and moaned some more…for quite a long time, like over an hour. STILL just a 4! I thought she was gonna lose it right then and there. She was freaking out because the images of another 24 hr labor were already settling into her mind. We could tell the midwife was unconvinced that we were really ready to have a baby. She seemed to be leaning more toward the old you-drank-some-castor-oil-so-this-is-what-you-get routine and was in the early stages of her “easy let-down” preparatory speech. She told Britt to hop in the shower and see if the warm water might help sooth a bit and lessen the pain before we went straight to drugs. So we did. Britt entered the shower at a 4 and stayed in there for a while but well under an hour…again, I’m not good with time.

Britt finally completed that transition into the Hulk that we were talking about earlier while in the shower. She had made up her mind that she no longer wanted to do this and that she was ready for her epidural. Wow, I certainly did a good job of cleaning that up to make it PG rated content…haha, not that she said any words that were inappropriate or vulgar, it was just that Hulk tone with which she spoke that would frighten even the manliest of men. And I mean it!

So where were we???? Oh yeah, getting out of the shower demanding an epidural. Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? We did his program, we’re out of debt, we saved up to have our first child and paid cash, and we saved as much for this one as possible but cash flow was a lot different the second time around. And the point is this, last time we had the money for the epidural sitting in savings just waiting to see if she needed it or not…she did. This time, not so much. Last time it was $1,000, this time it was going to be $2,000. And let me be abundantly clear here, my wife is the one being cheap here not me, I’m just providing some context for some of the evenings events. So, Brittney, who is a thrifty little lady, had got to the point where she was ready to get the epidural no matter what. So we call in the midwife to get headed in that direction.
Midwife…yeah I said midwife. Brittney loves using the midwives because they encourage a much more conservative and natural approach, but they only deliver in the hospital so she has easy access to an epidural if need be. She loves them and they did great with our first one, so she definitely wanted to use them again for number two. What I liked about Amy is that when Britt started screaming for an epidural Amy agreed, then dragged her feet and took her sweet time making it happen.

Amy started into what we have all agreed was her “we’re gonna send you home cuz we’re not impressed with you progress” speech, but said she would check Britt just in case she might have somehow missed something, though she was certain she hadn’t….6! She’s a six, and the angels sang and the peasants rejoiced.  It really impressed everybody that Brittney had managed to dilate 2cm and completely changed Amy’s mind about what was going on. She concluded that the shower must have helped her to relax just enough to allow the contractions to do the work of opening the exit.  She had the nurses go ahead and get an I.V. started…who knew that would be such a fiasco? They tried, and tried, and tried some more, and finally got her stuck. But, then for some strange reason it popped back out. So they kept on trying.  All the while, Amy was talking about the options for pain management. I was trying to get her back into the shower to finish getting that cervix opened, and all the sudden everybody heard Brittney say “uh, Amy, there’s something weird down there. It’s not a contraction, but it’s a really strange feeling. I don’t know what that is!” Amy walked over, took a look and said, “Wow, that’s a head. It’s time to start pushing!”
Let me assure you, there were tears, screaming, yelling, laughing, and evil, evil, evil looks in that room that day, but that was probably the most emotionally charged moment.

Oh yeah, about that minivan… so here’s some irony for you. We were leaving the doctor’s office last month from one of her prenatal appointments. There we were, sitting in line waiting to pay to get out of the garage then suddenly we saw reverse lights come on in front of us and before either of us could react the lady in front of us slammed into the front of our minivan! Holy crap! Are you kidding me? Here we are a month before the due date and our minivan is totaled. And let me tell you it’s been quite an ordeal because we bought it from some missionaries to the Philippines who left the country before we got the title transferred over and come to find out both of their names were on the stupid thing and only one of them signed it…Big pain in the butt.

What is completely hysterical and hilarious to me is that the labor and delivery room window overlooked the exact location where our minivan was totaled just a month prior.
I needed to tell you that because the irony is overwhelming and I wanted to make sure I told you before we leave that room.

So back to the mystical magical delivery…She went from 6cm to Pushing in about 10-15 minutes, pushed 4 times….Incredible Hulk kind of pushing, Superman kind of pushing, “Wonder-woman ain’t got shit on me” kind of pushing. And screaming like you wouldn’t believe. She actually just started screaming as loud as I have ever heard anybody in my entire life scream but wasn’t actually pushing, so Amy told her to shutup and push! 1 push, “Holy crap I see the head.” Push 2 “Here comes the head, it’s almost out” Push 3 “AHHH the heads out, keep pushing” Push 4 “Wow the whole thing’s out, she’s born”
That was absolutely incredible! I can’t believe how incredible that was. It was pretty freaking amazing. If you’ve never seen it in real life you’re probably thinking I’m crazy, cuz yes, you are right, in health class in 8th grade it is nasty, but when it’s your baby it’s amazing.

But now we’re getting discharged after 2.5 full days in this place so I’m gonna quit writing…..

Check back soon, though, and I will tell you the true story of my wife the vampire!

Friday, November 23, 2012

How iPhones Ruined my Holidays!

There was a time before texting that Holidays could be spent together with family or close friends of my choosing celebrating the birth of Christ, or giving Thanks or whatever the holiday was about. There were no interruptions and as the day went on we were free to enjoy the time spent together. Christmas and Thanksgiving have always been my favorite holidays because those were the times we all went to MeMa's house and everybody in the whole family was there. I have always loved the time spent together with my extended family, though loud and sometimes possibly even violent.

Now from the title and the sixth word of my post you might think this is going to be a rant about how nowadays all the kids sit around texting the whole time or playing with their apps and are completely detached from reality and quite possibly are utterly incapable of carrying on a real conversation verbally...but that's not what this is about.

What I am about to go off about is the fact that I was sitting here, mindin my own bizness, reading Good To Great by Jim Collins, on Thanksgiving morning and my phone starts buzzing...I've got a text message. "Happy Thanksgiving." Oh thanks, how nice, somebody I don't even know sent me a text message to say "Happy Holiday"...which even just 5 years ago would have been the end of it, but no, not today.  Today I got another three texts from even more random numbers I don't recognize telling me happy thanksgiving...and you know why that is? It's because of all the iPhone using idiots-- wait, idiots might be the wrong word, after all I have dear friends and family in this category...lets say "people who might be unaware of their phones obnoxiousness"-- out there in the world who haven't figured out how to turn off the "reply-all" feature that obviously comes enabled by default on your new iPhone 4. So if you have an iPhone don't assume you are not an offender.  Let's just assume you all need to follow these instructions to fix yourself, so just please, please, please if you have an iPhone go into your settings and take a look around.  Make sure you're not one of the Holiday Ruining iPhone Users anymore.

And that's why I have an android!

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Let's go get a bottle of everclear and a chicken!"

You never know what you're gonna hear come out of my mouth!  That all came about yesterday because it was cold outside....yes it was below 70 degrees in San Antonio in October, which makes it cold out.(yeah did you catch that? I said October and today is a few days before Thanksgiving...that's what happens when you forget to finish your blog post and never publish it.) I was in the mood for some really good home made chicken noodle soup so I hit the Google monster to try and find one...but what to my wandering eyes did appear, a freakin Kahlua recipe.  Totally confused how that even happened, but it did.  It was like a sign or something, "Brady, you should make Kahlua!"

Do you know how to make Kahlua??? Easy, it's everclear and and coffee with some sugar and vanilla thrown in the mix. Now let me take a moment to vent about people who would rather google the answer vs. just think about it for 5 seconds and figure it out.  The blog I found the recipe on said to use a bottle of grain alcohol (750 ml) and add to that 12 cups of coffee, a cup being 6 ounces on most coffee pots. And throw in 2 lbs of brown sugar.  So at this point we have 72 ounces of coffee and 750 ml of liquor which don't really work together without a conversion, so since we're going to be pouring this back into liquor bottles we will go with the metric system. A quick google conversion lets me know that's about 2.8 liters of fluid.  So here's where the stupid people part comes in, there were numerous questions in the comment section asking how much kahlua this recipe yields so they would know how many bottles to buy.'s your answer enough to fill two fifths, a liter, and make me one White Russian.

750ml Everclear
12 cups coffee double strength
2lbs brown sugar
4-6 Tbsp vanilla

Brew coffee extra strong, then boil it for about 10 minutes. Somewhere in that process dump in the brown sugar to dissolve it.  Let it cool to room temperature then add the vanilla and grain alcohol. Done. Put it in whatever container you like to store. You can be all cute and decorative if you'd like or just put it back into some empty liquor bottles you have sitting in a cabinet somewhere...not that I'd ever have an empty liquor bottle or anything...uh, yeah so we're done here.

For the chicken noodle soup I mentioned I found a great recipe, and then I didn't follow it...of course. Those of you who have read my blog might have a good guess as to where I found the recipe that I modified..the pioneer woman herself.

What I did instead is this...

1 Chicken
1 bag of baby carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
2 Tbsp parsley flakes

Cut up a chicken and boil the parts till the meat is shreddable(That's a very technical term, I know.) You want as much water in that pot as you can without it overflowing.  ( boil for maybe 20-30 minutes,then again maybe not...just trust your heart it will guide you in the right direction.)

Keep the pot simmering while you pull all your chicken out. Remove the meat from the bone and return the bones to the pot for another 45 mins-1 hour  If you like stringy chicken in your soup then shred it, if you prefer chunky chicken, then chunk it. This is really more of a suggestion then a recipe. (If you haven't noticed by now that's how I roll.)

This is a good time to make your noodles.  For my noodles I used my great grandmothers recipe for egg noodles, unfortunately I've never actually measured out the ingredients to see how much of everything you need to add so I can't tell you what the recipe know you just keep adding stuff till it feels right. So instead I'm sending you over to the pioneer woman to let her tell you how to make them...she has pictures and everything.

After you boiled the bones for a long time and your house is smelling like a boiled chicken, remove the bones from the stock and throw them away. No, don't feed them to the dog because you're not supposed to give dogs chicken bones.

Now dice up a couple stalks of celery and a couple carrots (I used a bag of baby carrots) and throw them into the pot. Use however much you think for the soup you really have in mind. Add a tablespoon of onion powder, tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp white pepper, 1/2 tsp thyme, 2 Tbsp parsley flakes

Let this all simmer for about twenty minutes(i hate celery so i had to make sure it was boiled into a nondescript mush) then throw in your noodles and chicken for another 15 minutes or so, depending on the noodles you made.  If you like the big fatties like I do, then you'll have to cook much longer or you end up with raw noodles.  Just sample a noodle here and there till they're done.

Ok you're done! It's freakin awesome!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Curse Has Been Lifted

Success!  I finally made a bread that rose and tasted amazing. I just followed the recipe for Amish White Bread using some active dry yeast instead of that instant crap I've been trying to use and it was absolutely incredible.  Just look at that lovely loaf!  I took two of these to small group tonight and the first (pictured) got devoured and everybody raved about how wonderful it is. And the second I left with our lovely hostess for the evening. Her husband and her are some real bread lovers and she went on and on about how good it was so being the good guy I am, I shared.  So when it comes to this particular recipe, follow the instructions exactly and it will come out the chicken parmigiana recipe I tried today, not so much.  But that's another story for another time. Or maybe just never to be told again, it was that big of a let-down.  So until next time....

Failure to Rise - Part Two....hundred

Today I made bread. I made lots of bread.  Some of it good, some of it not. My dear sweet beautiful wife suggested that "maybe it's the yeast, maybe you should try a different brand".  God bless her.  She's such an encourage-er. I would have said, "you suck at making bread, you've never made a loaf that was worth a damn!" But not Brittney..."maybe it's the yeast."  Heck yeah it's the yeast.  I'm sticking with that. And you know why?  I made two different recipes today. One of them did OK and yielded two very dense but tasty loaves.

The other...complete failure to rise. I tried to proof the yeast according to the directions on the recipe, but it didn't really seem to be doing anything.  But it is the rapid rise and the yeast pouch says nothing of proofing it so I assumed that to be the problem, after all the first recipe I made did rise more than these.

So I'll be back with more bread talk once I get that new yeast my wife is talking about.

What I will tell you is this, even though my bread was pretty much a failure as bread goes, it was a huge success in spending time with my 18-mos old daughter...Isn't she just adorable?  She loves to help daddy cook!

She had lots of fun throwing the soupy dough all over the counter while stirring but she really loved helping knead the dough. Little does she know that her entire world is about to be turned upside down...hopefully today. My wife is about eleven months pregnant right now. We are expecting our second little girl on Tuesday so Kenzie is in for a big shock I think...we all are actually!  I at least know there's going to be a new permanent guest in our house for the next 18 years, but poor little Kenzie has no idea what's coming. And I admit I have no idea of what to expect either though. We have two female dogs, now two daughters a wife and a! 

The Peasant Loaf

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blessed Nation

Call me a Scrouge if you want but I get a bit sick of reading the thankfulness for the day from 72 friends on facebook during the month of November, but then today I read about a bunch of idiots wanting Texas to secede and it brought it all into perspective for me.  Are you ready for it.....I WAS WRONG.  I was wrong to think that it's annoying to read what all of these people are so thankful for.  I admit that and now wish that these idiots wanting to secede could start doing the same!  America led the Civil Rights movements that brought freedom to all kinds of different groups. I personally think the movement served its purpose and should have died a few years back and now people are taking all types of liberties in the name of "Civil Rights" that were never intended to be rights. A student of History might well know how bad the world has completely and utterly sucked in the past. Someone who takes the time to truly learn what happened before would be able to ascertain that America is the greatest nation in the history of the world.  America has experienced military might beyond what any nation before has ever known. America has experienced and granted freedom like no other before. And today, even in the midst of "financial hardships" American's have known wealth like no people before us.
But, "we don't like him" (read that in your whiniest voice) so we're going to what? Secede? Run away?  What are we the French? Texans are supposed to be rough tough cowboys. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are our celebrated heroes and yet now that "we don't like him" we're going to turn and run away from the greatest nation that ever existed?  How stupid could you be?

If you take a look around at the wealth and freedom we have, I don't care what's going on around that you don't like, you have to admit that we have it pretty good.  Speaking in American terms here, my family is in a bit of a tough time financially right now.  Even though we walked through Dave Ramsey's program four years ago and got out of debt we are having a tough time now.  It's because we are out of debt that we are not freaking out right now.  We barely have enough to get by right $0.78 in the bank account, but we're making it.  Now let me break that down as it realates to a huge percentage of the rest of the world. My complaining because we barely have enough and I'm currently unable to fund my retirement account and we've had to do without a lot of things lately is nothing compared to the majority of the world. We own 2 paid for vehicles, we live in a 2-story house in a really nice neighborhood.  It's not the country club or snob village, but then again my truck isn't getting stolen out of the driveway so in my opinion it is a very nice neighborhood. We have the opportunity and availability to eat 3 meals a day. And usually like a main entree with a side. And there's always something sweet for me to much down after dinner.  Hell I have a blog called the uglycheesecake for cryin out loud. My point in all this is that the majority of people in the world, according to studies, statistics, and mostly second-hand stories with a few experiences of my own, don't have it near this good.  We are sitting here complaining because we don't have "adequate healthcare" while my aunt goes to Africa every year to work in a hospital with mothers who miscarry and the stories she has of "adequate healthcare" would blow your freakin mind. We cry and moan when we don't get to eat what we want, but the little kid we sponsor through Compassion International doesn't even know that it's an option to cry and throw a fit when he only gets to eat two meals a day, much less because he didn't get what he wanted. And that's a kid who is sponsored by an American family...he actually gets to eat twice a day, but I'm not entirely sure that his brothers and sisters do. Definitely there are kids that he knows that might not get to eat some days. I heard the story just this past weekend of a guy in Haiti who started an orphanage in his house because he watched one of three sisters die of starvation and couldn't stand the thought of the other two dying too.

We truly are blessed, so much that we can't even see it anymore. So why would we want to leave America instead of sticking around to help make it better?  Now if California or any of the North East want to secede I say let them, but as for me I think I want to stick it out through another 4 years of a President I don't necessarily agree with.  The people who put him there had to suffer through 8 years of my guy so how hypocritical would that be to turn and run now?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Barefoot, Pregnant and in the Kitchen....

Just look at that beautiful wife of mine standing there barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen.  And don't be fooled, she wasn't the one cooking that cranberry sauce, she just wanted to pose next to it for some strange reason. All I ever wanted was to get a picture of my beautiful wife to share with the world, so everybody could see how much I'm suffering, I mean how much she is suffering dealing with the awful discomforts of being "on-the-verge-of-exploding pregnant".

Doesn't that gooey cranberry gelatinous blob look so yummy? If you want the recipe it's on the bag of Ocean Spray Cranberries.  1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and a bag of berries boiled for 10 minutes...pretty easy but man is it good.  And why am I making cranberry sauce 11 days before Thanksgiving you ask???? Who knows!  Call it an impulse buy that required action.  I was standing in the store thinking that I had seen some amazing recipe that involved cranberries so I bought them.  Then I couldn't find the supposed recipe anywhere and I have a bag of cranberries getting closer and closer to the day when they have to be thrown in the trashcan.  I get so tired of throwing food in the trash so...when life gives you cranberries, make cranberry sauce! I always say.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate my electric stove?  I hate, hate, hate it! There...and now I'm better.

Tonight we took our beautiful daughter to the park.
 Look at her, isn't she just the cutest thing in the world?  Yeah, I know its blurry, but I never claimed to be a photographer.  This picture is obviously not at the park tonight.  But while we were out Britt decided she wanted pancakes, so what did I do being the good husband I am???? I made her waffles!  Yeah, yeah I know...but we had waffle mix and not pancake mix.  I even tried to find a good from scratch recipe for pancakes but even that was a bit of a bust. I unashamedly trust Pioneer Woman when it comes to anything cooked, so of course I went to her for a pancake recipe. And by "went to her" I obviously mean searched her blog. She had what sounds like an incredible pancake recipe but it calls for cake flour, a commodity which up until tonight I thought I had always on hand but we searched everywhere and couldn't find it.  So, being 9-months pregnant and hungry, Brittney punched me in the back of the head and started gnawing on the meaty portion of my neck...uh, I mean she politely suggested that I just make waffles instead.  And that's how we came to have waffles tonight!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Will, God, and Whack-A-Mole

It is a new month, and I have a new mission- to write. I want to write more but honestly I don’t seem all that inspired. My father-in-law always tells me that you have to do whatever God has told you to do, and until he gives you a new assignment, so to speak, you have to keep doing the last thing He told you. This raises the question in my mind of “what was the last thing?” Since men’s brains function more like ice trays than spaghetti, I am tempted to compartmentalize everything into categories. Keep working the last place God had you working. Keep writing the last thing God had you writing. Just keep moving forward in every aspect of your walk with Him. I think that’s probably how it’s supposed to work, not that I am fully convinced God has a specific list of instructions that is “His Will” for our lives. I imagine that God is less of a micromanager and more of a free-spirited leader if you will. Perhaps instead of barking out orders all the time and telling us exactly what he wants us to do, when, where, and how, He might be outlining goals for us and leaving it up to us how we reach them.  After all, isn’t that how we have been instructed throughout our lives to lead. In his book Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey explains a process he uses with his team.  If they bring him a problem he tells them to go away and come back with three possible solutions. When they return he walks them through the process of analyzing the possibilities and determining the best solution then sends them out to implement that.  Then the next time they come barging in his office with a problem they’ll usually bring in several different options but still need help processing through the possibilities to figure out “what would Dave do.” The next step they bring in the problem, the solutions, and their opinion of the right one and ask for confirmation. Eventually they see him in the hall and say “hey, there was a problem; I fixed it.”
               If that’s considered to be the right way to lead, and I think it is, then why would we think God is any different than that? Why do we always picture some tyrant who’s hell-bent on running our lives and whacking us with a stick if we deviate from the exact course he has in mind? What if God’s way of leading and guiding is more equated to goal setting, than that whack-a-mole game we all played as kids? Consider the possibility, for a moment, that God has a destination in mind for you, but how you get there is where the whole “free-will” thing comes in to play. Perhaps God walks us through a process much like Dave Ramsey walks his team members through where he teaches them to do the things he wants the way he wants by spending time together and showing them early on, but eventually releasing them. I don’t imagine that Dave would whack anybody on the head if they were trying and screwed things up, and he can be a bit of a jerk, just in the same way I doubt God is sitting up there with a lightning bolt ready to throw at his little peons. Do you ever picture God sometimes the way artist have depicted Zeus with a scepter in one hand and a lightning bolt in the other reared back ready to launch toward earth? He’s got huge biceps and rippling abs and long curly white hair with a beard, and a voice like Lliam Neison. Whatever, that is sometimes what I picture but I bet it’s a pretty stupid idea. What if, instead, God looks more like a CEO in a nice business suit and lean build.
               So, if God isn’t sitting on a cloud dictating my every move, then what does it mean to do his will?
I’m glad you asked. By looking through scripture it’s pretty easy to figure out what the “Big Picture Will Of God” is. Love! His will is love. There’s also reconciliation and redemption, those are pretty prevalent throughout the Bible. Forgiveness and justice are also recurring themes. So let’s put that into a mission statement type of thing- God is love, but that doesn’t mean he lets us do whatever we want. He is concerned with justice because it is what is right. Because God loves us he figured out a way for justice to coincide with forgiveness, a way to make it right.
We can never forget that God is just. There are consequences that must be faced for each action. His law outlined that the consequence of sin is death so he allowed his perfect son that never did anything wrong to be killed in our place, voluntarily of course. That’s a God concerned with justice.  Justice was served, but so was forgiveness. All of this tells us that God is all about love, forgiveness and justice. And not our stupid court system version of justice where a woman wins millions of dollars in a law suit because she spilled hot coffee on herself.  We’re talking about true justice, a concept we humans probably can’t even fathom.
The entire Bible lets us in to see the true nature and character of God. Through reading we get to learn wisdom and knowledge that will help along the way. It is possible for God to send an angel to appear before you and tell you exactly where to go.  It is also possible for him to whisper gently within your spirit and cause your brain to formulate an idea out of nowhere. God told Jonah exactly where to go, but he told Abraham to go wherever he wanted. I think, therefore, that it is quite possible that at times in your life God will tell you exactly which job to take or which shoes to buy or which person to date. But, I also believe there are times when he will sit you down, lay out the options and let you choose. He didn’t tell Abraham where to walk, only that everywhere he did walk would be his. He let Abraham choose, but Jonah not so much.  He told Jonah to go over to Ninevah and when Jonah didn’t, he got eaten! It seems in most church circles I have only ever heard the Jonah-understanding of God. “You had better listen up, cuz God’s gonna tell you exactly what to do, and if you screw it up you’re gonna get eaten.”  I don’t want to get eaten. I’ve never wanted to get eaten. I’ve actually said out loud in my life that I kind of want to get shot just to see what it feels like, nothing fatal or anything, maybe just a calf or something that will heal. That’s just how crazy I am, but I’ve never wanted to be eaten. So the thought of listening for God’s voice in order to avoid being eaten, that’s some pretty serious business.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Jesus Calling....through Pie

I know what you're thinking....those look yummy!  Yep they certainly do, but you don't know the half of it. Tomorrow is our small group Sunday and I got to sign up for dessert this time and everybody has been asking me what I'm going to make.  Out of nowhere the most amazing idea hit me. It was an original idea, though I'm sure if you googled it hard enough you could find a pie like this, after all Solomon told us several thousand years ago that there's nothing new under the sun. So like I said, it was an original idea for me, however I have to admit it was inspired in part by the cherpumpple (I believe it's called) that I read about last year.  That crazy creature is a cherry pie, pumpkin pie, and apple pie all baked inside of a cake and weighs in at 1,800 calories per slice.  And if you ask me it doesn't even sound, or look too good.  But this amazing thing that I created over the span of about 4 hours, this thing, it does look good and it sounds even better.

Here it is.  It's a pie crust, my wonderfully flaky, amazing, worlds best pie crust, with a chocolate cake baked inside of it. Then I conjured up a vanilla cream pie filling to put on top of that, and I threw another layer of chocolate cake on top of that, but that looked so sad by itself so I added some more of that pie filling.  And then I topped it off with some meringue. 

Oh yeah, and that other little guy there.  Did you ever see the movie Twins with Arnold and Danny Devito? Let me catch you up in case you haven't seen it or it's been a while because it's a freakin old movie.  Somewhere long ago in a lab somewhere some geneticists engineered the perfect man in a test tube (Arnold), and there just happened to be some leftover genetic trash they put together to make a different man (Danny).  When you make wonderfully flaky, amazing, worlds best pie crust, it actually makes two, so there's an extra one laying around.  Also, when you make a cream pie you have to use some egg yolks which leaves you with some egg whites which just happen to be the main ingredient in meringue (that is why I had the meringue for the huge awesome amazing pie). Then I only used a small amount of the pie filling.  So you see my problem here? I had all these extra things lying around, so I had to make something from it. 
This little guy here is a pie crust filled with the leftover pie filling to which I added some coconut and chocolate chips. Just a little bit of coconut because I only had a very little bit left over from the last coconut cream pie I made.  And I topped it off with some whipped cream that I whipped up and sprinkled with some miniature chocolate chips.

And these are some pictures of everything along the way.

wonderfully flaky, amazing, worlds best pie crust

Cream Pie Filling, straight out of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Just before the meringue...

Cream pie filling before the cream.

chocolate cakes baking...notice the one on the right is inside a pie crust.
And this has absolutely nothing to do with the book Jesus Calling, it just happened to be in the picture and I thought...hmmm, maybe He really could speak to us through pie.

Stay tuned...I'll add some pictures after we cut these bad boys up tomorrow so you can see just how amazing a slice of the Arnold pie really is...and I'm sure the little Danny Pie is gonna be alright too.

***Ok so I didn't get a chance to snap a picture of just a slice of each of these guys but I did get some feedback.  Arnold wasn't that great...If you're going to try to make this big 'ol fella then you probably ought to use a better quality box cake mix than I did.  I just grabbed the store brand chocolate cake which I've never actually made before and it had a weird taste that I didn't like at all.  Also you're going to want to put on as much of the pie filling as you can between the layers.  I thought I had plenty but once I sliced into it, there was hardly any there and if was definitely apparent in the taste.

Now for the chocolate coconut cream pie (Danny) that was freakin amazing.  I absolutely loved it and recommend it to everybody.  Go make one today....and for a special treat, put a thick layer of melted caramel or caramel sauce on the crust before adding the pie filling.  It's amazing.