Bumbleberry Pie

Mom, who rarely makes decisions these days, decided she wanted bumbleberry pie for Easter dinner. So I made one for her. Here's the recipe.My brother and his wife hosted Easter dinner this year. The Man of Steel and I were in charge of only two things: picking up Mom and making pie for dessert. When visiting Mom the Wednesday before Easter, I asked what kind of pie to she wanted.

As a rule, Mom answers that kind of question with a deep sigh. “Oh, I don’t know, Jo. You decide.” But this time, her answer was swift and decisive. “Bumbleberry.”

Which explains why today’s recipe is for bumbleberry pie. Here’s hoping you like it as much as Mom does.

Bumbleberry Pie

12 ounce package of cherry berry mix, thawed
1 cup rhubarb
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance buttery sticks

Heat oven to 425°. Put fruit in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Pour them over fruit and mix well.

Pour filling into a 9 inch pie pan lined with a bottom, unbaked pie crust. Dot filling with butter or Earth Balance. Arrange top crust, crimp edges, and seal. Cut slits in top and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn temperature down to 400° and bake for 30–45 minutes longer, until filling begins to bubble. If the top crust gets too brown, lightly cover pie with foil. When the pie done, place it on a wire rack to cool.

Resurrection Power

The work God calls us to do can only be completed by his word, with the encouragement of fellow believers, and through Christ's resurrection power.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him,
“Sir, if you have carried him away,
tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
John 20:15–16

I tore off the wrapping paper and couldn’t believe what my parents had picked out for my ninth birthday present. It was a book of fun crafts for kids. The cover consisted of shiny and blocks of bright blue and red, each block showcasing a perfectly executed craft project. Inside were illustrations and step-by-step directions for all 100 projects in the book.

The book enraptured me. I spent days reading through the projects and settled upon a miniature village made of milk cartons covered with paper, on which were drawn shingles, brickwork, and dainty windows. I gathered supplies for weeks and finally sat down to create a masterpiece all by myself. But the project was too hard. An hour later I gave up without having completed so much as a single building. The book went on the bookshelf and stayed there until Mom gave it to me years later when she moved to a new house. Paging through it with adult eyes, I could see the projects were too complicated for a child to complete alone. These were projects designed for families to complete together.

Whenever I read Mary’s words to Jesus (though she didn’t know it was him when she said them), that childhood gift comes to mind. She says, “Tell me where you have laid him,” referring to the body of Jesus which is not in the tomb, “and I will take him away.” Notice that she doesn’t say, “I’ll get help, and we’ll take him away.” No, she says, “I will take him away.”

Jesus, in all his grace, doesn’t respond with, “Really, Mary? You think you can move a dead body by yourself?” Instead he calls her by name. “Mary.”

Instantly, she knows her risen Savior. Immediately, she obeys his command to go back to her spiritual family and tell them, “I have seen the Lord.”

This Easter, many in our church body feel as hopeless as Mary did when she first discovered the empty tomb. For some reason, God in his perfect wisdom and timing, brought us face-to-face with a work of healing and forgiveness during Passion Week.

Though God provided us with an instruction book, complete with step-by-step instructions, the job to be done is far too big for any one of us to accomplish individually. Even when we study the directions together, pray together for strength and wisdom, and do the heavy lifting as one, this task is too big for us.

It will only be completed when we seek to hear Jesus speak by his Spirit into our devastation, grief, and sadness. When we instantly recognize his word and immediately obey his will even when we don’t understand it. When, like Mary, we cling to Jesus when hope beyond imagination appears. When, though we don’t understand how God can possibly bring beauty from the ashes of our ruined expectations and broken hearts, we boldly proclaim the glory of our risen Savior to a hurting world. When we trust his resurrection power and forgiveness to shine in and through us in the dark days ahead and praise him for the good and unseen things yet to come.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

I’m a Nice Person, Just Like You

I'm a nice person squareFor the good that I want, I do not do,
but I practice the very evil that I do not want….

I find then the principle that evil is present in me,
the one who wants to do good.

Romans 7: 19, 21

Last week, I decided to study a word from 1 Peter 3:8–12, the passage Pastor Tim was scheduled to preach on the upcoming Sunday. The word was evil which Peter used a whopping five times in five verses. But that was only one reason for selecting it. I also chose it because it’s a word I tend to attribute to bad people, not to myself.

Because I’m not evil. I don’t go around planning evil deeds to discredit others or hatching evil plots to take over the world. I’m a nice person. Just like you. So while studying this particular word would reveal much about the Hitlers and Neros and Stalins of the world, what it revealed would have little bearing for me. Or for you.

The strategy worked well at first. In the gospels, Jesus outs evil vineyard workers (not me) and an evil slave (not me and certainly not you). But then, Paul turned up the heat in Romans 2:9 where his list of slanderers, haters of God,…inventors of evil, and disobedient to parents made me slightly uncomfortable. Not the inventors of evil bit. After all, I don’t go around inventing evil. But some of the other things listed–slanderer and disobedient? I, and perhaps you too, may have indulged in a few of them when we were young. Very, very young.

Then, in Romans 7 Paul describes how he struggles to do good and continually chooses evil. He declares that though he wants to do good, the principle of evil is present in him. That was where my not-like-me strategy fell apart completely. Because Paul wasn’t just describing himself. He was describing me. Like Paul, I start each day with the best of intentions. I resolve to speak kindly to my husband, forgive people who are unkind, give the benefit of the doubt when someone lets me down, and eat only healthy food.

On a good day, I don’t fail until after breakfast. On a bad day, I’m holding a grudge before I can turn off the alarm clock. Every single day, like Paul and perhaps like you, I find then the principle of evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.

Paul’s words tore the blinders off my eyes, and I saw myself as God sees me. Evil. I am evil. The truth of those words crushed my heart because I knew that tomorrow and the next day and the next, I would want to do good, and I would choose evil.

I wallowed in hopelessness until I remembered how the Pharisees told Pilate Jesus was an evildoer. Until I remembered that though Pilate found Jesus not guilty, he delivered an innocent Man to the cross. Until I remembered that Jesus bore my evil deeds, and yours too, in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Until I remembered why the Friday Jesus died is called good and not evil.

Because covered in Christ’s righteousness, God sees me and you and all who believe in His Son not as evildoers, but as His children who not only want to do good, but actually are good. Alleluia! What a Savior!

I'm a nice person gravel road FB

Easter Bonnet Wishes


Jac Jo Dressed up 1961

Comfortable and casual as our lives are now,
When Easter rolls around,
With barely a nod to Palm Sunday,
Maundy Thursday,
and Good Friday,
I wish for more.

I wish for fish on the school lunch menu every Friday during Lent,
For a Holy Week marked by children waving palm fronds on Sunday,
For hushed and humble communion on Maundy Thursday evening,
For no school on Good Friday,
For Saturday evening watching Lawrence Welk while Mom puts curlers in my hair,
For fitful sleep in my beauty crown of thorns,
For hunting eggs on Sunday morning.

I wish for the struggle of pulling on tights and a itchy petticoat,
For anklets and Mary Janes on my feet,
For getting tangled in a new dress,
For Mom combing my feeble curls,
For the glory of an Easter hat and gloves,
For a dime tied in a hankie and tucked in my purse,
Ready for the offering plate.

I wish I could go to church with my family,
Scratch where the petticoat tickles my waist,
Gaze at the stained glass windows and
Wonder if Jesus’ brilliant white robes were itchy, too,
Stand when the organ music swells us to our feet,
And with a child’s untested perfect faith sing,
Christ the Lord Is risen today,
Alleluia!

Those Easter bonnet days are fifty years gone,
But the child within me still lives,
And my faith,
Now tested and imperfect,
Now internal and personal,
Rather than external and tradition,
Lives as well.

Clothed in Christ,
I stand and sing
To the timeless God who wore a crown of thorns,
Who bore my sins on the cross,
Who died so I might live,
Jesus, the Son of God, is risen
Today,
Yesterday,
Fifty years ago,
And forever.
Alleluia!

Three Thoughts for Thursday

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  1. After a week that included school stabbings in Pennsylvania and shootings at Fort Hood, my resolve to educate the public about PTSD in children is stronger than ever.
  2. A study shows that as birth rates in our country have decreased, female ownership of small dogs has increased. I am so thankful for two children whose potty training escapades eradicated any lingering desire to spend my empty nester years cleaning up after small animals.
  3. Three questions I want to ask the women who approached the empty tomb and saw the risen Lord: How long until you could believed what you saw? What was it like to go from abject despair to indescribable joy? Could you sleep that night or did you stay up talking to one another?

What questions do you want to ask? Leave a comment.

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Hope

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“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen.
Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,
saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
And they remembered His words…
Luke 24:6–8

Cold. The Winter of 2014 was cold. So long it seemed unending. Hard on people cooped up at home, curtains drawn to block the cold, and in the process blocking out the light as well. In many ways, the winter just passed resembled a cold, dark tomb. Dead and lifeless. Devoid of light.

Even so, I had hope that it would end.

How long? I wondered with eyes searching the landscape for signs of spring. How long will this go on? How much longer will we wait for warmer days filled with light? 

As winter’s icy fingers stretched far beyond Ash Wednesday and deep into Lent, my thoughts turned toward the men and women who ministered to Jesus’ body, buried Him, and watched the authorities seal the tomb. Though Jesus had prophesied His death and resurrection, His followers didn’t understand. Therefore, they weren’t waiting for Him to rise from the dead. They were mourning a loss they thought was permanent.

They were without hope.

They didn’t ask, How long until He comes back to life? They asked, How will we live the rest of our days without Him?

Those questions consumed the thoughts of the women who visited the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week. No wonder they were terrified when they saw the stone rolled away. No wonder they bowed low before the two men in dazzling white who asked, Why do you seek the living One among the dead? No wonder they were speechless as they comprehended His prophetic words: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

No wonder they began to hope again.

They didn’t say, How can this be? for the Word of Christ, the Word who is Christ resonated in their hearts.

The light of truth flooded the empty tomb. The winter in their souls relinquished its icy hold. New life stirred their hearts and still stirs the hearts of all Christ’s followers: He is who He says He is. He is who our hearts know He is. He is the God who has power over life and death!

Their hope, and ours, is everlasting and eternal.

So this Easter season of new life and light and springtime, we join the saints from throughout the ages and proclaim the joyful truth: Our God lives! Christ is risen! Alleluia!

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Will We Obey?

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Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and that He had said these things to her.
John 20:18

I love the resurrection story in John 20. Maybe because we’re both women, I identify with Mary Magdalene’s emotions.Her initial despair when she sees the empty tomb.
Her determination to carry Jesus’ body all by herself in a vain attempt make things better. Her joy when Jesus said her name, and she recognized the resurrected Lord. Her immediate obedience when Jesus commanded her to tell the disciples.

Then again, I’m not very proficient at the immediate obedience thing. If I’d been in Mary’s place, Jesus’ command to proclaim the resurrection of a man who three days ago had been declared dead, dead, dead would have stopped me cold. Because I would have made an excuse out of what Mary surely understood back in her day.

Without proof or the collaboration of other credible witnesses, no one would believe her claim that Jesus was alive. Besides, she was a woman, and before Jesus came along, women didn’t count for much. Especially not to the Jewish leaders who sent Jesus to his death and wanted him to stay dead, dead, dead.

How did Mary find courage to obey? I think the answer is found in verse 17 where Jesus calls her by name. “Mary,” he says, and she responds, “Raboni.” Then, she clings to the One who rose from the dead, the One who turned her despair into hope, the One who restored purpose to her life.

When the One who called her by name commanded her to spread the word, she held onto hope implicit in his resurrection. Clinging to hope, she made no excuses. She stood firm in the truth. She refused to water down the message.

She ran to the disciples and announced, “I have seen the Lord!”

Today, with Easter music still ringing in our ears, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection lifts us up. Jesus bids us cling to the hope found in the empty tomb. He calls each of us by name and commands us to announce the truth to a waiting world.

Jesus is risen!
The tomb is empty!
Death has lost its sting!
Our Savior lives!

In the wake of Easter, with the empty tomb behind us and a world perishing without hope before us, will we follow the example of Mary Magdalene? Will we obey and proclaim what we know to be true?

We have seen the Lord!
He lives!

Photo Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net

Knowing God

Easter

Grace and peace be multiplied to you
in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
2 Peter 1:2

Don’t quote me on this, but my gut feeling is that Simon Peter didn’t coin the phrase “Good Friday.” For him, that Friday was not his best day. Not only did the man for whom he risked everything–home life, a fishing business, and his reputation–die on the Friday before Passover, but Peter bore a boatload of guilt. While he watched Jesus die on the cross, conversations from the previous day must have played in his mind.

The slave girl asking, “You’re not one of this man’s disciples are you?” To which Peter replied, “No, don’t know him.”

The question the soldiers asked when he stood with them by the fire. “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” And his quick response, “Nah, don’t know the guy.”

And to the slave who thought Peter had been in the garden with Jesus, the disciple replied, “No, not me. I don’t know the man.”

Three times Peter denied the truth.
Three times Peter denied knowing Jesus.
Three times Peter denied knowing the Son of God.

Which could explain why Peter hammers home the importance of knowing God in the first eight verses of 2 Peter. In verse two, he prays for grace and peace to be multiplied in believers in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. In verse three, he says that the divine power to live godly lives comes through the true knowledge of Him who called us. And in verse eight, he says the qualities of faith, virtue, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love will increase our true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All this from a man who denied knowing God three times. A man who, through Christ’s death and resurrection, through the forgiveness granted him by his risen Lord, and through the power of the Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost, came to know the truth of words penned by Paul to Timothy: if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

Once Peter knew the truth of God’s faithfulness, he became fearless. Bold. Courageous. Confident. Unstoppable. He proclaimed the truth to beggars, Pharisees, prison guards, and rulers. He refused to quit talking about the God he knew and who knew him. The God who loved the disciple who denied him three times. The God whose power turned the blackest day in human history into Good Friday.

God’s transforming power should make us long to know God as much as Peter longed for us to know his Savior. It should make us long to know the God who loves us despite our sin and shame. It should make us long to be changed from sniveling deniers of God into bold proclaimers of his glory. Peter’s transformation should make us long for lives redeemed by the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.

Like Peter, we should pray for desire to know the God who can turn our worst days, through the power of Christ, into Good Friday.

Ten Reasons to Walk on Spring Mornings

I’m an early riser and try to start each day with a walk. The practice is good exercise in every season, but a spring stroll is also a delight to the senses. Here are ten reasons I love to walk outside on a fresh spring morning.

10.  Sunrise.

9.    The yellow-green tree leaves are such a happy color.

8.    The red buds blooming in the wild ravine down by the bridge.

7.     Frogs singing in a pond dappled with early morning sunshine.

6.     Knock-kneed fawns running every which way when their mothers turn tail and run.

5.     Wild plum trees blooming along the fence rows.

4.     The scent of lilacs on the breeze.

3.     Cardinals singing in the treetops.

2.     Crab apple petals turning the air pink and white as they float through the air.

1.     The new growth surrounds me with the promise of Easter – new life in Christ.

Three Springy Thoughts for Thursday

Spring is in full swing with Easter celebrations in the works for the weekend. You have just enough time to check out these three thoughts for Thursday before preparations for the celebration crowds out everything else.

  1.  A breathtakingly beautiful drive across the eastern half of our state – its red bud, wild plum, and crab apple trees in bloom mile after mile – made me grateful to live in Iowa in springtime.
  2. Watching oneself in a video is not nearly as breathtakingly beautiful as a drive across Iowa in the spring. In fact, the experience is so painful, I won’t make a habit of watching the book trailer for Different Dream Parenting. But if you’ve been wondering how the book came to be, check out both the trailer and information about how to order the new electronic version of the book here.
  3. Did you see Target’s Easter ad in the Sunday paper? Beside the picture of a carton of eggs was a big, red target dot spinning them as “ready to cook and dye eggs!” How long did it take for the advertizing department to come up with that one?

What’s the craziest spin you’ve seen in an ad? Leave a comment so we can chuckle with you.