Archive for September, 2011

My Alltime Favorite Ad

This is an amazing PSA put together by an agency in London. It is powerful and focuses on a simple, singular message, yet it somehow touches the full gamut of human emotion and relationship — with no words, no less. Let’s embrace life today and every day.

On Forgiveness – Part One

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately – what it is, what it means, what it does, how it makes us feel when we give it and when we receive it. What it does to us when we withhold it. Forgiveness exists on so many levels, from the mundane, like asking forgiveness for stepping on someone’s toe, to the eternal, the way God forgives us for all the sins we have ever committed over our whole life.

It’s hard – some folks aren’t so easy to forgive, you know? I’m certain that I am one of them sometimes. So I’m reading along in Matthew 18 and Jesus takes some time to talk with people about how to live. He says some hard things, extreme things. In verse 22, Peter asks him, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” I would imagine that Peter might have been thinking to himself that he had made a generous suggestion. But then, Jesus blows it out of the water when he replies, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy TIMES seven.”

There are at least two things that we try to wrap our heads around with that statement. Even now, I can see Peter doing the cyphering in his head, “Really?! Well, Jesus, that’s…you know…quite a lot!” That’s my nature – my first thought is to calculate the actual numbers, find the tangible limits of what my forgiveness to others should be. I ask the wrong question and I often miss Jesus’ point entirely – He’s not saying that we can write someone off on the 491st offense. He’s saying that we should be characterized by forgiveness, that we should make it our habit, our nature – our very heart. Our model for our forgiveness should mirror the picture of how God forgives us: eternally. We have been made in God’s likeness and we – although imperfectly – reflect his attributes like love, joy, patience, creativity and maybe most of all, forgiveness.

He has given us the capacity to forgive, but now I’m wondering, maybe along with Peter, “How do we forgive perfectly, continuously and completely as God does?” I think Jesus’ point is that, in our own strength and by ourselves, WE CAN’T. Time after time in speaking with the people around him, Jesus would take a moral standard that had been manipulated by men and diluted down to something that was a workaround and give it back it’s true meaning and real power. He shows us that the moral standard is impossible to achieve apart from God’s enabling Holy Spirit within us.

He talked about adultery – a term that folks had been taking liberties with and finding workarounds – and he redefined it to extend beyond any physical act and showed that it is a matter of the heart. It is ultimately and primarily an offense against a holy God. He shows us that in order to control the immoral act, we need to nip it in the bud and control the lust in our heart.

And so it is with forgiveness.

I call this “Part One,” not so much because I have lofty ideas of writing a nicely thought out seven-part series on forgiveness, but because I know that forgiveness is such a multi-faceted wonder. I will continue to examine, wrestle with and ponder it with the goal of embracing forgiveness on a daily basis.

And since I’m not fond of reading or writing lengthy posts, I thought I would stop here and pick it up again.

A likely starting point for next time:

What do we do when the offense seems too much to forgive? Infidelity? Physical injury? Betrayal? These and any number of other horrendous acts are difficult to forgive. And what if the offender doesn’t seek or feel the need to be forgiven?

I don’t claim to have easy answers to such weighty situations. One thing I do know is that, sometimes, the one who benefits the most from forgiveness is the one who gives it – not necessarily the one who was to receive it. I don’t know how that works, really, but I have experienced it personally.

Let me know what YOU think.

Firecracker Chicken and Squash Alfredo

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I grew up with experimental cooking my whole life. My dad loved to try new things with sauces, seafood, etc. while my mom was the experimental baker in the family. Among other recipes, she has absolutely perfected her world-famous Banana Nut Bread (http://www NULL.sassylassiesbakery NULL.com)! I have had my own good ideas and bad over the years (one of the worst was probably Spam Fried Rice on a backpacking trip in college). However, last week I think I hit the jackpot.

Penny and the kids were up at her Mom’s house for supper and I came downstairs from work looking for leftovers in the fridge. I found some cooked penne pasta, a few crookneck yellow squash, a jar of sliced jalapeño peppers, a half-full jar of roasted garlic Alfredo sauce and two pieces of fried chicken. I was pleased at the prospects of this collection of items, so I got to work.

  • I put the chicken in the toaster oven first.
  • Then I poured some olive oil in a medium frying pan, added a pat of butter (a trick my mom taught me last week) and turned on the heat.
  • I sliced the squash, cut the slices in half and added them to the pan, along with a dozen jalapeño slices.
  • While I was sautéing the veggies, I pour a bowl full of the cooked penne pasta into a large pasta bowl, added a tiny bit of water and microwaved for one minute. I covered the pasta with Alfredo sauce and microwaved for another minute.
  • I like spicy food, so I liberally added Mrs. Dash (a great mix of salt-free spices), cayenne and black pepper to the veggies and on top of the sauce.
  • I took the chicken out of the oven, sliced and chopped it into bite-size pieces.
  • I added the chicken and veggies to the pasta and sauce in the bowl and tossed it lightly with a fork to mix everything.

I don’t know if it was one of those “things-always-taste-better-when-you’re-camping” things or not, but it was one of the best meals I’ve had – and the fact that it was made entirely out of left-overs made it even better!