Friday, January 25, 2013

A Moratorium on Complaining about Abundance: Reversing I Thess. 5:18

My friends and I have this frequent complaint. It goes like this:

"Ugh. What am I going to make for dinner? I have to go to the grocery store. I hate going to the grocery store."

Often, like many American women I am at the grocery, under fluorescent lights, listening to canned music, dodging mothers with screaming babies and older people in scooters. As if all that isn't enough I am going to have to stand in a lengthy line and be subjected to countless magazine covers telling me about the latest celebrity divorce, asking me how my sex life is, and making me wonder what Kanye and Kim are going to name that baby. I mean, it is the burning question of 2013. I can't tell you how much sleep I've lost...

My life is so hard.

You know, compared to the majority of women on the planet who don't have enough to feed their families and or access to luxuries like clean water.

As I thought about my attitude I felt ashamed of myself. I entered the grocery on my most recent visit and thanked God for the piles of fresh fruits and vegetables. I took a moment to marvel over the variety of cheeses, breads (already baked, mind you), and grains available. My attitude of gratitude continued as I felt grateful for my vehicle (I wasn't carrying my supplies home on foot) instead of grumbling about the price of gas as I stopped on my way home to fill up.

I thought just how often we complain about our abundance. We complain about there being no room in the fridge. We grumble that there is so much laundry or that our  closets are too full. We complain about our electric and water bills or the wait at the doctor's office.

We have a culture of complaint. 

Then yesterday, the day after I'd been thinking about this, my son had an accident. A minor one, not his fault, and he wasn't hurt. Any parent is immediately and profoundly grateful that a child isn't hurt in such a situation but this time I thought of all the other things there were to be thankful for: Police officers that arrived on the scene to make a report and help, insurance (including a state law that requires all drivers to carry it), the fact that our family owns more than one car so I was able to get to where he was and then take him where he needed to go, seat belt laws-- without which he might not have been in the habit of wearing one.

I Thessalonians 5:18  reminds us to give thanks in all things. We tend to think the verse is admonishing us to give thanks when life is hard and things aren't going our way. It's generally taught that way. The basic sermon attached to this verse is sort of: life is hard but be thankful anyway. Read in context there is nothing to imply negative circumstances were the focus. I'm not so sure Paul wasn't also reminding us to give thanks in our abundance, our happy moments, those wonderful ordinary days when nothing bad happens.

We might not be able to stop complaining completely, I know I won't. But I'm going to try a new trick which is match every complaint with something about the issue I can be thankful for, making a game out of it.

Anyone want to play along? 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chichen Itza in a Flash

Chichen Itza is worth a visit if you are in the Yucatan and can make it happen. The most convenient way to visit the site is on an excursion while on a cruise with a stop in either Progresso or Cozumel. There are other ruins worth seeing, but this stop is one of the new seven wonders of the world:

The "New" Seven Wonders of the World

On July 7, 2007 (7-7-07) an organization announced a "new" set of the Seven Wonders of the World based on online voting from around the world...

Chichen Itza, Mexico - Mayan City
Christ Redeemer, Brazil - Large Statue
The Great Wall, China
Machu Picchu, Peru
Petra, Jordan - Ancient City
The Roman Colosseum, Italy
The Taj Mahal, India

The first time I visited the site the tour was so long and detailed I missed both the cenote and the observatory. Recently when I was fortunate enough to return with my son, we raced around to make sure we got to all three things. These tours from the coast are a bit rushed. It would be nice to spend a relaxing day milling around the pyramid, ball court, and Temple of Warriors, in addition to all the smaller structures.

This carving shows a figure in full Mayan dress holding up the head of his victim.

Several buildings feature relief sculptures which are both fascinating and gruesome. The game played on the ball court involved the human sacrifice of the champion (you have to wonder who the real winner was). 

The goal of the game was to get a hard rubber ball through this "hoop."

Read more about the history and archeology of this fascinating place here:Chichen Itza

Monday, January 14, 2013

Take Another One

Last week I was fortunate enough to travel to Chichen Itza again. I'll tell you more about the experience in a couple of days, but until then let me show you how my photo shoot went awry...

All I wanted was one decent picture of me and the ruins in the background. How hard can it be. Clearly photography is not my son's forte. I should have said "Can you sketch a picture of me in front of the pyramid?"

 Take 1.


 Take 2.

Oh. Can you get the pyramid in the background?

 Take 3. Clearly I'm not ready.

 Take 4.

I'm barely in the photo. Can you get me at least from the waist up?
 Take 5.

I give up. how hard can it be?


AND the entire pyramid...

At the Observatory, the whole thing started over...

It's so hard to find good help these days. 
Here's the one I took of him.

It's not that hard!

Though a smile would have been nice considering the quality of work he was getting.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

99% Unplugged

For the next week I'll be disconnected. Unplugged. Technology free. We love our gadgets, blogs, and social networks, but we don't actually need them to live. I'll be trying to remember that this week while I'm having withdrawls. I'm going to try this new thing I heard about: writing with something called a pen, on something called paper! I'll let you know how that goes...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year Rum Cake

I don't do dessert at home all that often. It's just too tempting to have anything much more than sea salt dark chocolate in the house. This cake for New Year's Day is a perfect once a year exception.


1 package yellow cake mix
1 small package vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup vegetable oil


1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rum


Blend all cake ingredients and pour into a greased bundt pan. (I like to heavily butter the pan and coat in with chopped pecans) Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and turn out onto serving plate. Use a skewer to poke holes in the cake to help absorb the glaze. Drizzle (I'm using this word lightly. Better words might be slather, soak, get the idea) with glaze and let it rest 24 hours before serving.

To make the glaze bring sugar, butter, and water to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, add rum (then more rum) and "drizzle" over cake.   When you get tired of the drizzling thing, just pour the remainder of rum ...ahem, I mean "glaze" in the well in the center.