Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Generational Curses

Eventually, given the time and the money most people end up in therapy (or many could at least benefit from it.)  The circumstances warranting it are always available.  I don't know anyone who was raised in a perfectly wholesome home with a problem-less family and grew up to be a dysfunction-free person.  We all have issues, and for the most part I'd say this is with good reason.

Tragedy strikes, bombs blow up, trust is broken, struggles are stuffed, resolutions are abandoned, temptations mislead, life and people fail us; and at some point we fall through for someone else as well.  We cut and bleed.  Our broken-ness hurts, and it all too often nicks and slices at others too.  This is part of the human condition, common to all mankind, at least as old as Cain and Abel.  

I am a proponent of counseling - with a caveat.  I guess counselors fall within the realm of  "them."  By that I mean dentists, doctors, car mechanics, real estate agents, teachers, police officers, politicians, massage therapists, waiters, authors, landscapers, and on and on.  Mankind, basically.  I approach all strangers with a balance of respect and reserve, holding my judgement and trust until I know them better and can decide on whether my confidence will be well-placed with them.  In counseling we deal with our most inner self and how we engage with the rest of the world.  So my caveat is that a submission and honor for the One who made us be foundational within this examination.  I've lived life and done my share of self-reflection and ponderings on both sides of that line.  

Oftentimes, I find that this crucial element (like in prayer) falls through the cracks.  The realm of psychology has led us to greater understanding of ourselves, to be sure; but if we leave behind a grasp of God in whose image we are formed, our healing and self-identity will remain incomplete.  This is not a mistake made by unbelievers alone.  I have heard and read much being made of the subject of generational curses.  What hold is closer than that of family?  On whom do we most depend from our earliest beginnings?  From where and whom do we come?  And from whom could our betrayal cut most deep?

Paul spent a good deal of time with people of all kinds, both Jews and Greeks.  In Acts 17 we find him greatly distressed by the rampant pervasiveness of idolatry in this city, and we also see that this location is a gathering arena for discussing all the latest, newest, most cutting edge thoughts of the day.  The two were thriving rather hand in hand, it seems: the search for answers to all of life's questions and the vast number of theories, reasonings, heroes, and things that we can come up with.  As Paul speaks, he is bringing a concept that is new even to these front-runners of thoughts.  He is explaining to them how this message was not only from The Beginning, but dove-tails perfectly into all their missing slots.  This is the the gospel, and he wants to introduce them to the One for whom they are searching.

I find these words particularly stunning: "For in Him, we live and move and have our being... We are His offspring."  Among this worship circle of things other than Christ, amidst the shiniest thoughts of the moment, between the ties even of blood relation, he illumines our identity as image-bearers of God in whose hands we twist and turn.  

No wound, no wound, not even that made by the betrayal of one who should have loved and cared for you, is beyond the healing power of Jesus.  Far as the curse is found.... as far back, as far forward, as far deep.  Yes, as far as the curse is found.

Oh! What a Savior...

Shared at Simple Lives Thursday, Works For Me Wednesdays, Far Above Rubies

Monday, November 21, 2011

Generational Prayer

I have been a pray-er since before I even knew my Savior.  Something just seemed so right about having a conversation with the One who made me, who knew me, who I could hide nothing from (pretty big for a kid with with major lying issues,) and who I felt understood me better than anyone else could. I trusted Him enough to at least listen, even if I wasn't ready to hand over complete control of my life to Him.  Now I know that during those years, although He listened, His response was always lovingly the same, "when are you going to really come to Me?"  While I scraped and dug at rocky, dry dirt in my one-sided conversations, He held the key to transforming it all into rich, loamy soil.

Since that night when I finally acknowledged Him in surrender, the time I spend praying within any given 24 hour time period has grown proportionally larger by the season.  The comfort and strength that I draw from prayer has grown deeper and richer as my reliance upon this conversation with my Lord overtakes my life with greater pervasiveness.  Not long ago, I came to a fuller, more beautiful understanding of prayer after a very long time of wonderings, askings, contemplation, and discussions with others.

You see, I have three nephews.  They are sons to my sister who has been with the Lord coming on twelve years now.  And although I do not live close to them, I have marveled over the years to what degree I have felt and seen the Lord's covering over them.  How was this?  Why was this?  I mean, their mother has not been there to raise them as Christians for quite some time now, and their lives have been largely void of the active teachings of Christ ever since.

We see in movies and hear in stories this other common belief: "I will always be with you," says the dying person.  And many left behind cling to this thought, creating a sort of love amulet of their memory.  "My (fill in the blank) is watching over me." They attempt to draw strength, hope, comfort, even guidance from this idea that their dear departed remains behind in some form to show them the way.  I'm not discounting our shared love for one another which surpasses even death.  However, sometimes I feel God plays second fiddle to our loved ones' essence.  I know my sister would agree with me in stepping back from so dangerous a mistake.  Still, how and why do I see this covering?

The answer I found lay in the nature of God and the power of prayer. My nephews once had a praying mother.

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Our concept of time is not His.  He is not limited or confined by the passage of years as we are.  Time simply does not provide boundaries for Him as it does for us.

Prayer is our conversation with Him.  In His tenderness, this is the way in which He has provided for us to connect to Him.  He instructs us to cry out, to call on Him, to confide our secrets, desires, hopes, cares, and longings.  He holds out His hands for us to place it all with Him for safe-keeping. And so, I understood at last.  My sister's prayers, her entrusting of her children's lives to our God, they became of an eternal nature because they were placed in the care of an eternal God.  Those conversations, our prayers, we think of them as something that is happening in the here and now, but when given over to Jesus they are no longer bound by these temporal holds.  Our troubles and concerns are now under the ministrating authority of the One who is I AM.  So the whispers on bent knees of a mother were lovingly consecrated as they flew from her heart to His throne, and they did not die when she did.

So I will plow this life on my knees in prayer all the more. Let this be an encouragement to you to do the same.  There is power in prayer and now I understand more than ever before: truly, truly, from our lips to God's ears....

Linked to Growing Home, Far Above Rubies, We Are That Family, Ramblings of a Christian Mom, and Simple Lives Thursday

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tomatillos and Chilis

I've had a few bags in my fridge that have been awaiting my attention.  I tried my hand at growing my own tomatillos this past summer, but all I got was this large sprawling plant loaded with beautifully delicate empty little paper lanterns.  It looked like I had fruit galore, but each time I tried to pick one it was only to find that it held an illusion.  In my local grocery stores, finding tomatillos in healthy abundance is also a challenge.  So when I came across a nice load in the produce section recently, I bagged up a bunch.

We all have to agree that homemade anything is best, right?  Well  I suspect that these strange looking green globes covered in their own paper wrapping are off-putting for a lot of folks. What do you do with them?  I am here to help you out, so take my hand and leap into the unbelievably delicious world of fresh chile verde.

Seriously, making a simple verde sauce is easy-peasy.  I started with around 1.5 lbs of tomatillos.  Remove their papers, wash them well in cold water, and cut in halves.   Drop those babies into a small stockpot.   Add garlic to taste (that's 6 cloves for us), 1/2 a large onion, sliced, and two de-veined and seeded serrano chilis.

Cover with water and bring to a regular boil, continue that for eight minutes.  Drain and let your blender do the work after dropping the lot in, and adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  In your stockpot, splash in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and return your nice blend to it, cooking for five minutes.  I chopped up about 1/2 cup of cilantro and squeezed in 1/2 a lime.

You can use this over enchiladas, in burritos, or it makes a delicious verde sauce for cubed pork.  I froze mine and will whip it out for a winter weekend of ready made zing.

The finished product - it would make my mother-in-law proud!

I also had a stunning bevy of serrano chilis, courtesy of a dear friend who grew them for their beauty - but their family doesn't eat them.  Good for me and mine!  I split, seeded, and de-veined them, then threw them in the freezer.  For those of you who are a bit leery of such a process, let me assure you it is really quite simple.  First of all and very important, you must be sure to wear latex gloves!  Then you may proceed with confidence; slice off the stem end and cut a slit down the center.  I used to use my knife to trim the membranes from inside and remove all the seeds.  Now, I just run my finger inside and scrape out the inner ribs, run some water over them to rinse out all the stuff I don't want.  This makes short shift of a rather peppery job.  Another piece of advice - don't open your mouth to talk, and keep a glass of water nearby.  The fumes and vapors of chiles are powerfully potent!  Now I easily have a winter's supply to throw in my cooking pot to enrich black-eyed peas, chilis, salsas, etc.

Aren't they just GORGEOUS?

Shared with Domestically Divine, Works For Me Wednesdays, and Simple Lives Thursday