When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemon Bars

whenlifehandsyoulemonsThis holiday season, we were singing the “Twelve Days of Sickness” instead of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”  What started in mid-December with puke buckets and snot rags continued all season long and made us wonder if Christmas would happen for us at all. I hardly had a moment to ponder the sacredness of the season, or the sickness, as I had in times past. The attack happened in waves, two or three different viruses descending on our home and knocking the kids down like dominoes. Every night one or another or all of them would wake with a hacking cough or vomit-covered sheets. Our bathtubs and washing machine seemed to exist for the sole purpose of clearing away bio-hazard.

A writing deadline hung over my head, but when I sat down to the computer, the sinus pressure was worse than the pressure to churn out the words. So, I’d take a three-hour nap instead…and still feel like mush. Probably the thing that pained me most was that I wanted to be there for other people who were in pain and I just couldn’t make it happen. Continue reading

The Sacred Side of Sickness

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Three weeks ago, I felt a pack of vermin parachute into my sinuses and start a street fight. I knew the icy/hot running through my veins the first week of September had shot down my immune system and left me there for the taking. I walked around in a cloud for a few days, put the hot pack on my cheek, stumbled through the early school mornings and gave, gave, gave…nursing, playing, teaching. Some days I’d teeter while reading a picture book and fall asleep sitting up.

By the end of week one, I felt an upward swing, but it was only a lull before the real takeover began. Continue reading

Comfort Food for the Trampled Soul ~ plus giveaway winner {Take Heart…in the Quest for Wholeness}

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We pull our chopsticks from their wax paper wrappers, snap them apart and graze them against one another, like twigs starting a fire or iron sharpening iron, to smooth out the splinters while our food steams and cooks in the kitchen.

I turn the English and pinying side of the menu over to the real menu, the one my friend reads. I search the code for familiar symbols. She points to the boxes, lines and curves that she’s just spoken softly for our waitress, and teaches me how to recognize the characters. I keep up the work on the chopsticks while I practice my language skills. Curls of wood settle on the worn table. I flip the menu over to my cheat sheet and then back again to study the hanzi.

First, the waitress brings out a plate of snow peas. Then, another of stir-fried eggs and tomatoes. And my friend tells me how her grandparents made this for her in the countryside where she spent her girlhood sick in bed.

I lean closer to hear her faint voice. I focus my eyes on her mouth, reading her lips as she ekes out the words from her trampled soul. She winces always, as if something is coming right for her, and now I’m starting to understand why. Her parents had sent her away, their one child a disappointment on the Darwinian scale, barely surviving, unfit.

I look out the door of the restaurant at the wooden crate, a rickety step upholstered in red carpet. Yarny fibers collapse under the load of automobile crud, spittle and vegetable scraps. I hear her meaning through the language gap. She bends under her own load, wondering if she’s born to be trodden underfoot.

We dig our chopsticks into the comfort food and scrape it into our bowls, onto soft beds of white rice. Her words come out quiet like a prayer filtered into a feathery pillow.

“But when I see the film,” she recalls scenes from the movie based on Luke’s telling of Jesus’ ministry, “how He loves the sick…I am very surprised- very surprised!”

I lay my chopsticks across the rice bowl. I picture my friend laying down on her cot in the countryside, mostly dead like Jairus’ daughter, except my friend didn’t have a daddy calling out to Jesus for her.

But Jesus, He who laid down his own life to raise her up, He found her nonetheless.

Here she is across the table telling me about Him with her round face like the moon reflecting some distant glory. She clasps her hands over her heart. And I have to do the like. I bring my hand first to rest on my chest and then to cover my mouth. I want to say His name out loud in the middle of this place that is scared of Him. If only they knew His meekness, quietness, how He changes the diagnosis with a gentle touch.

“He sees you,” I tell her, “He knows your need.” She  feels this already and opens her eyes, not wincing like before.

We put our smoothed-out chopsticks to work. Ginger and sesame oil trickle from our comfort food, hit the taste buds and slide to the core, nourishing. She is quickened, suddenly feeling her worth under the care of our Great Physician.

Reposted from the archives (with recipe!).

 

Thanks for visiting Message in a Mason Jar where we’re finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers. To get posts delivered to your email box or blog reader, enter your email address on the homepage sidebar or enter http://messageinamasonjar.com/feed/ in your reader.

This week in our Take Heart series we’re talking about the quest for wholeness, whether physical or emotional. As my pastor reminded us in church this past Sunday, we are beings made up of body and spirit, which together form our complete nature, designed by God. Randy Alcorn shares the same concept in his book Heaven, explaining that God intended humankind to be both earthly and spiritual. We’d love to hear how God has helped you take heart in the midst of your own struggles with sickness, disease, or emotional trauma…anything in your quest for wholeness. Start writing and share your post in our link-up tomorrow. And finally, our winner of last week’s “Nest: A Study in Brokenness” giveaway from Be Small Studios (chosen at random) is commenter #6, Jenna Woestman!

Comfort Food for the Trampled Soul

We pull our chopsticks from their wax paper wrappers, snap them apart and graze them against one another, like twigs starting a fire or iron sharpening iron, to smooth out the splinters while our food steams and cooks in the kitchen.

I turn the English and pinying side of the menu over to the real menu, the one my friend reads. I search the code for familiar symbols. She points to the boxes, lines and curves that she’s just spoken softly for our waitress, and teaches me how to recognize the characters. I keep up the work on the chopsticks while I practice my Chinese. Curls of wood settle on the worn table. I flip the menu over to my cheat sheet and then back again to study the hanzi.

First, the waitress brings out a plate of snow peas. Then, another of stir-fried eggs and tomatoes. And my friend tells me how her grandparents made this for her in the countryside where she spent her girlhood sick in bed.

I lean closer to hear her faint voice. I focus my eyes on her mouth, reading her lips as she ekes out the words from her trampled soul. She winces always, as if something is coming right for her, and now I’m starting to understand why. Her parents had sent her away, their one child a disappointment on the Darwinian scale, barely surviving, unfit.

I look out the door of the restaurant at the wooden crate, a rickety step upholstered in red carpet. Yarny fibers collapse under the load of automobile crud, spittle and vegetable scraps. I hear her meaning through the language gap. She bends under her own load, wondering if she’s born to be trodden underfoot.

We dig our chopsticks into the comfort food and scrape it into our bowls, onto soft beds of white rice. Her words come out quiet like a prayer filtered into a feathery pillow.

“But when I see the film,” she recalls scenes from the movie based on Luke’s telling of Jesus’ ministry, “how He loves the sick…I am very surprised- very surprised!”

I lay my chopsticks across the rice bowl. I picture my friend laying down on her cot in the countryside, mostly dead like Jairus’ daughter, except my friend didn’t have a daddy calling out to Jesus for her.

But Jesus, He who laid down his own life to raise her up, He found her nonetheless.

Here she is across the table telling me about Him with her round face like the moon reflecting some distant glory. She clasps her hands over her heart. And I have to do the like. I bring my hand first to rest on my chest and then to cover my mouth. I want to say His name out loud in the middle of this place that is scared of Him. If only they knew His meekness, quietness, how He changes the diagnosis with a gentle touch.

“He sees you,” I tell her, “He knows your need.” She  feels this already and opens her eyes, not wincing like before.

We put our smoothed-out chopsticks to work. Ginger and sesame oil trickle from our comfort food, hit the taste buds and slide to the core, nourishing. She is quickened, suddenly feeling her worth under the care of our Great Physician.

 

{Happy Chinese New Year! Below is an authentic recipe for Stir-Fried Eggs & Tomatoes. A friend in China taught me how to make this simply delicious comfort food the way her family makes it at home.}

Stir-Fried Eggs & Tomatoes

6 eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil (optional)
olive oil
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, grated
1 clove of garlic, chopped
sea salt
scallions (optional)
ripe red tomato, roughly chopped

Beat the eggs with sesame oil or water and season with a dash or two of sea salt.
In frying pan, heat olive oil on medium heat.
Stir-fry ginger, garlic, salt and scallions in oil for about a minute, being careful not to burn.
Add tomatoes and stir-fry for about a minute.
Pour egg mixture in and stir until the eggs set.

Serve over rice. We use germinated brown rice when my hubby’s not home and white Basmati rice when he is. :) Serve alongside sauteed garlic green beans or stir-fried broccoli or bok choi.