Thursday, December 06, 2012

Church, wrestling and the loss of faith

I started writing such a protracted comment to this blog post, I shifted gears and am dumping out here what came to mind.

See, someone I am close to went to a christian school. And the experience is similar, so many having walked away from church. And subsequently became very angry with God about incidents that no one wants to ever to experience.

There are thoughts that are turned over repeatedly in ones head. Thoughts looking for a conversation.

There are feelings lapping the beaches of the heart. Emotions kept in check. Anger, grief, fear and precipitant numbness that all must be saved for the proper moment.

And when the proper moment does not come... or if it does come and it is too scary to give voice to the things inside, because it might involve strong emotion that is not typical to pleasant light chatter. The listener may just opt to back away slowly, and decide this is more than they can handle. And the heart that has everything pent up might easily decide it is much easier the hold in what is there than to risk/trust speaking (understandably). And the road to bitterness has begun.

And if one belongs to a faith community, one might wonder, who can help? Does anyone see? And when the grip on why people believe in God at all begins to become too heavy to sustain grasp, and faith erodes and slips away... is there anyone there? Anyone persistent enough? Anyone unshockable enough? Anyone with any time? Anyone with whom one would want to speak?

What is the purpose of a church if not partially to sustain the weary and celebrate with the joyous?

I remember asking questions and having people be worried when I asked them, and maybe I just imagined them making some space between themselves and I. I was in my 20's. I remember asking a woman that if every good gift was from above, why couldn't I marry my Jewish boyfriend? She gracious admitted to not having an answer. I appreciated her honesty.

More recently I have met the unflappable. I appreciate them very much. I was struggling with understanding why God would have created evil, if he indeed created everything. Her answer was subtle, but I could tell my line of questioning didn't cause her any panic whatsoever.

I know that God is ok with wrestling, even if it weirds other people out. I do wish church felt like a safe place to wrestle more often than it does. I wish many things about church.

Recently a person in our meeting spoke out saying that anxiety was due to a lack of faith. A double punch. The misery of anxiety and an indictment that it is your own fault. I did not hear Jesus' voice in that. But such is the way of community and congregation.

For my own, I accept that the purpose of church is very humble. It is merely carving a space and time to show up. And the best and highest use of that time, and the time after that is just to be a good thing to those around you who need it. It is being available. I think every faithful follower must get to a point where attendance is just obedience. And really, for me that hasn't been a bad starting point.

How to choose a good husband

So lately I have this hare-brained idea that I should just write a friggin book on how to choose a husband. Based on experience? I don't know, whatever, forget it.

The only thing I can thing to say though is this:

You cannot train a husband like you train a dog. Forget that idea.

You cannot do anything about these things: 1. his past. 2. his family 3.his future

And there are probably more things in there too. The fact is, his past can bring difficulty to the present. His future, which you also cannot do anything about, may bring difficulty. So for example, if his a person he is close to dies, and he changes into a different person after this, you can do nothing about this.

I begin to understand why Paul told us not to marry. Yes, Paul the apostle speaks and I listen.

And with that said, if he decides Paul the apostle was a charlatan, and so was the Messiah, there is little to be done there either. And you are still married to him.

And if you have kids, they will need a father. And no matter how great the trial, there are other people involved who are relying on you.

And so is there any situation that can more thoroughly make you throw your hands up and admit "My boundaries are crossed, my rules broken, my wishes gone, my dreams in shreds..." and still I am married. And my babes need a papa.

Now do you need God? Yes, you do.

And so, in terms of picking a husband, there are obvious requirements. And they can get pretty detailed. But in the end, you will most likely have to let go of them all. Oh, I hope I am not sounding like a jaded, war-weary, battleaxe. But truth is, marriage is often an improbable arrangement. I am happy for the ones with worries like shoes that pinch, sibling rivalry (which can cause insanity), or terminal giving without appreciation (it can happen). Women are often wired to want children. It is like a super-power we cannot resist trying out.

But be aware, there are so many things you cannot anticipate, so many things which we do not get to control, best be realistic and lay that wager on a generous serving of "hope" and "God Willing"

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Eat. This is good winter fare for the beefeater.

Richard’s Beef Burgundy

This is a super beefy, hearty and um really incredibly yummy meal. It came from my stepfather Richard, who knows his ways around a delicious meat and potatoes meal. He has good taste. I think it would be good served over some egg noodles. It makes a lot and is the perfect use of a nicely trimmed chuck steak. (of large size) It is homegrown variation on the beef burgundy of the Julia Child variety. This recipe is just real ingredients prepared the way that really make them shine. Enjoy. It is really a great dish for cold weather.


3 lbs of Chuck Roast cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
2.5 T of olive oil
1/3 cup flour
14 oz. beef broth
1.5 cup Burgundy wine
2 T tomato paste (I have substituted tomato sauce in a higher quantity without bad results)
4 cloves of garlic (which is just a starting point, really?)
4 Bay Leaves (which I never have and so I use other things like Thyme)
1 t. salt (garlic salt perhaps?)
1 t. thyme
2 lbs small new potatoes (I admit I just cut up a couple russets)
1 lb carrots
8-10 small boiling onions
½ lb. medium sized fresh mushrooms
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Now, I have mentioned a couple of my substitutions and I will just mention a couple more. I completely forgot the mushrooms and no one died, but I think they would really lend another important flavor/texture to the mix here. I used dried parsley, and for the boiling onions, I minced couple of the medium sized yellow onions and it was all good.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil on medium/high and add meat and sear.

Remove the meat. Sprinkle flour over drippings. Stir in wine, broth and tomato paste, whisk smooth. Boil and then reduce to low and add garlic, and all seasonings (thyme, bay leaf, salt) and then the meat.

Simmer tightly cover for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the beef is tender. At the potatoes, carrots and onions and cover again and cook for another 45 minutes.

Stir in the mushrooms and simmer while you make up some noodles.

Sprinkle with the fresh parsley as you serve it.