Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Goodbye Dessert

Monday night, as I was making one of our family's new favorite desserts, I had a revelation.

This had become our "goodbye dessert".

I don't know about you, but certain foods evoke special memories for me.  Chicken and dumplings reminds me of my Mamaw. Prime rib and popovers reminds me of my first Christmas with my in-laws.  This cake reminds me of a friend in Virginia. Bruschetta reminds me of a family trip to Italy and a tucked away restaurant. Breakfast pizza reminds me of Christmas morning.

While telling friends and family about our completely unexpected and out of the blue move to Katy, we attempted to sweeten the news with a little dessert.  Hoping that a burst of warm, fresh blueberries with a delectable maple-y topping might soften the blow just a little bit.

I'm not at all sure that it worked.

I distinctly remember reaching for kleenex rather than my bowl sitting on the coffee table, melty ice cream over berries, slowly turning purple.

Until Monday night, it had been a while since I made this dessert.  I think my heart was starting to ache just a little every time I thought about making it because I was associating it with good-byes.

And it's just too good a dessert to have a sad memory tied to it.

So I made it Monday night.

And shared it with my parents.

And no one said a word about good-byes.

As I scraped my bowl clean, I had another revelation.

Side note here - I am perfectly agreeable to getting revelations through the eating of dessert.

This could just be a friendly dessert, something to serve for any occasion.  A warm and sweet way to say good-bye, or hello, or welcome to the neighborhood, or congratulations, or happy birthday, or.... you get the idea.  Best of all, it could just be a regular-old-night-of-the-week-hanging-out-with-the- family kind of dessert.

So good-bye sad little dessert.

Say hello to the new happy little dessert.

Click here for the best Blueberry Crisp you've ever eaten, courtesy of Shauna Niequist.

photo courtesy of shaunaniequist.com

Don't like blueberries? Then do apples, peaches, blackberries.... you get the idea.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Don't you just love those kinds of friends that you may not have spoken to in years, yet when you call them up out of the blue, they just pick up the conversation right where you left off?

Like all that time never even passed.

Are we friends like that?

I dearly hope so.

Because I dropped the ball on our conversation.  And now I am calling you up, hoping that we can  just pick up where we left off.

Have you heard of someone who, at the start of a brand new year, picks a "word of the year"?  A word that means something special or a word that will be a focus for the year?

Well, I've never done that.

I mean, how does someone go about choosing one word for a whole year? What if you pick the wrong word? What if three months into the new year, you change your mind and wish you had picked a different word? Can you change it or are you stuck with it because you called it "The Word of 2014"? What if someone else picks your word? Is it ok to share a word?

I just can't take the pressure.

But this year was different.

I felt like my word was supposed to be surrender.  And there was no getting around it.  It was like God had written the word on a steamy mirror after a hot shower. Like those people who see Jesus' face on a piece of toast, it was right in front of me, obvious and undeniable.

So I moved forward, declaring my word for 2014 to be surrender.

I was just so happy to finally join the ranks of the "word of the year" people that I never really put much thought into living the word of the year.

Otherwise, I might would've picked something like "sleep" or "read" - things I am 100% confident that I can really live.  And live abundantly.

God had more in mind for me and my word of the year than just getting it stamped on a cute silver bracelet.

Being married to a pastor can be an adventure.

Because ultimately, your husband's boss is God.  And it's not like God sits your spouse down at the conference table, reads his resume, assigns him to one church, presents him with a long-term package outlining his salary and benefits, pats him on the back, and sends him on his merry way with a few good ideas for sermons.

While that might be nice at times, there's a little more mystery and faith and trust and discernment involved.

And at the end of the day, even if God is your boss, you still have a choice.

The choice to listen or ignore.

The choice to trust or to doubt.

The choice to fight or surrender.

Surrender. That word again.

Ryan and I were recently faced with an opportunity that, while shaking us to the very core of our beings, has been nothing more than an opportunity to exercise belief and trust and surrender.

My husband is an incredible preacher.  He tells stories and shares the word of God in practical and life-changing ways.  He has an amazing heart for the family and wants nothing more than to heal so many of the world's hurts that stem from broken people living in broken families.

Not like he's got a real big goal or anything.

But he is also an amazing pastor.  A leader who loves his people, shares in their joys and sorrows, and  truly desires to invest in the lives of his congregation.

When you're married to a man like that, you start to love people, too.  You listen to their stories, rock their babies, feed their teenagers, freeze at outdoor Easter services together, and study God's word alongside them.

And because you care, people love you back.

They listen to your stories.

They come sit with you when you have a newborn who quits breathing occasionally and you're afraid to stay at home alone with her.

They send you to Houston for a month for your daughter's open heart surgery with so many groceries and gift cards that it fills a suburban top to bottom.

They bring you whole cakes so you can give them to the nurses so you'll be their favorite patients and they'll bring you the best recliners and pillows.

They host your teenagers in their homes, feeding them and driving them all over kingdom come.

They send you on vacations, give you free eggs from their backyard chickens, take care of your cars, host benefit yard sales, read your IEP before ARD meetings at school, send your girls gift cards for no reason, bring you real maple syrup, babysit your youngest, mow your grass, feed your family for six months after heart surgery, send you interesting special needs information, take your big girls to the movies and shopping, and on and on.

We do these things because this is what family does.

And our church is our family.

But when you're married to an amazing preacher and pastor, word gets out.  And calls start coming in; churches looking for a pastor.

Because this is family, we say no. Our people are right here in Austin. We are right where we need to be. Right where God wants us. We are here for the long haul.  Locked and loaded.  Amen.

So when one of those calls came in February, Ryan was surprised by God.  Taken aback to discover that maybe God might have something different in mind.

No, God did not sit Ryan down at the conference table and share the latest news with him.  And we did not see Jesus' face in a piece of toast.

But Ryan felt God giving him a slight kick in the pants.  A not so gentle reminder of who Ryan works for.  A hard question - "Do you have a career or a calling?"


And here I am, happy and clueless with a cute silver bracelet stamped with "surrender" circling my wrist.

Change is hard. And when you love the place you're living, the people you serve, and you have not one reason to leave, why would you create change?

Only because God says so.

And He is the boss of us.

So after much wrestling, many tears, several sleepless nights, and two jars of Nutella, it became abundantly clear that God was telling us it was time for the next part of our story.

We are leaving our beloved church and city, the place we felt so clearly called to ten years ago, for a new church and city, the place we feel so clearly called to right now.

Bannockburn has been a blessing that words cannot describe and a piece of our hearts will forever remain in Austin.

Now, we will create a new home, learn our way around a new city, and shop in a new Target.  We will find "our" Sonic, get lost many times, and find the best barbecue in Katy.

But mostly, we will listen to new stories and share in the joys and sorrows of a new congregation.

Because church is family.

And that's what family does.

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