Friday, April 17, 2015

Rhubarb Cobbler (Gluten Free, but only Gluten Free)

I finally have rhubarb!  Real, wonderful, vibrant rhubarb, transplanted from my dad's garden in Minnesota.

For 18 years on Sugar Pine Circle, I was unable to grow rhubarb, even though I paid exorbitant money to buy plants on more than one occasion.  Prior to Sugar Pine, when we lived in North Syracuse, we had rhubarb, but after that we had an 18 year rhubarb drought.

Last spring we went to Minnesota and got rhubarb, and this spring, I can harvest it!

It's gorgeous.



But.  

Sadly, I am now gluten free.  My old rhubarb cake and rhubarb pie recipes are, from now and forevermore, off limits.

So.

I made up a gluten free rhubarb cobbler recipe.  

And . . .

It was good!  

[Disclaimer: this recipe is not sugar free, or dairy free, or egg free, but it is gluten free.]

Unfortunately, I don't have any mouthwatering photos because, well, life.  I do have this photo, though, which, although it is sorely lacking, does portray the beauty of baked fruit bubbling up around the edges of a cobbler.



I will tell you how I made it, mostly because I want to be able to look up the recipe myself again, and this is a good place for me to find it.

Rhubarb Cobbler


  • A bunch of clean, chopped rhubarb, enough to half-fill a glass 9x13 baking pan.  4 cups?  6 cups?  Something like that.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup tapioca
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix these together in a large bowl and set aside.  You can sub strawberries for part of the rhubarb, if you wish.  It needs to sit with the tapioca for 15 minutes, at least.  More won't hurt anything.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 glass baking dish.


  • 1 and 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

Process oats in food processor until they are pretty fine.  Process in butter, eggs and sugar.  Remove to a large bowl.  Sift in, from a sifter,


  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Stir together and add:


  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Stir lightly to incorporate, and then add:


  • 1 and 1/4 cup plain kefir (buttermilk would also work)

Stir until mixed--be gentle.  Quickly dump the rhubarb mixture into your greased baking dish and portion the cobbler mixture over the top.  If you wish, sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon and granules of raw sugar.

Bake at 350 for an hour.  Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Yes there is a God, and He loves His people



I've written about reasons why I believe that there is a God.

Yesterday, I wrote about Shannon's missing car keys, and the fact that God is in control.

This morning, Shannon texted me.  She had located her keys in a lost-and-found drop box at a Boston transit station.  "Thank you for praying," she texted.

Of course, I suppose this could be a coincidence.  If you believe in coincidences.

I believe in a sovereign, attentive, loving and faithful God, a God who is powerful and intelligent enough to design and control the entire Universe, from huge galaxies to tiny DNA strands.  He tracks and guides it all, and He knew where those keys were, all along.  He knew when they fell, and He knew where they landed.  He knew who would pick them up and eventually toss them into the lost-and-found box.  He directs the affairs of men, and He directs hearts like watercourses.  This is not even hard for Him.

Lots of times, God does not answer my prayers the way I want Him to.  But this does not mean that He didn't hear, or that He doesn't care about me.  It only means that He knows what is best, and I do not.  He does what is best, and we have to live by faith in His goodness, even when it doesn't make sense to us.

It is so nice when it does make sense to us, when His mercy grants our desires, and we feel the warmth of His smile on our heads.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.  His mercies are everlasting!

I've begun saying, "Some day, I am going to become a mature Christian, and when I do, my desires will be God's desires.  The things I pray for will be the things He wants to give me, and I will experience lots of answered prayer and fullness of joy.  I look forward to the day!"

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Losing keys


Somewhere between her door--which she locked--and work, Shannon lost her keys.

Somewhere adrift in the transit system of the greater Boston metro area, Shannon's keys have fallen.

They could be under something, behind something, in a dank and dusty concrete trench, or jammed into a tight corner.  Perhaps they fell down among the rails and have been thundered over by many trains.

Maybe they are lying on the seat of a train. Maybe someone brushed them to the floor and sat down.

They might have fallen into someone's hands.

Just yesterday, I was walking with a friend.  We passed a house in her neighborhood, and she told me a story:

One day, my friend was out walking and noticed that the front door of this house had keys stuck in the deadbolt, just hanging there.  She went up on the porch and rang the doorbell, to let the people know, but nobody answered the door.

My friend went home and told her husband, who asked her, "So did you just leave them there?"  After talking to him, she returned to the house to see whether the keys still hung from the door.  The keys were still there, and the people were still gone.  Conflicted, she pulled the keys out and took them home.

The next morning, she stopped over again, trying to return the keys, but still nobody was at the house.  Finally, after about a day and a half, my friend was able to find someone at home in the house, a lady.  The lady was aghast to realize what had happened, but very thankful to have her keys back.

My friend is a kind, loving, honest, responsible person.

Perhaps a kind, loving, honest, responsible person will find Shannon's keys and turn them in to a lost and found.

Perhaps Shannon's keys will be kicked around the floor of a train car all day, and at the end of the day a transit employee will find them and turn them in.

It could be that someone will pick up Shannon's keys, meaning to turn them in. . .  and then forget to, proceeding to carry them around in the bottom of her bag for the next three months.

Perhaps someone will pick them up and toss them into the trash.  This is probably not very likely.

It is possible that a bad person will find them, a thug or a cat burglar or even a serial killer.  Obviously, this would be the worst case scenario, but even were it to happen, God is still in control.  God is always in control.  Also, I do not think that the keys have identifying information on them.

Here's the truth: God knows where those keys are.  God knew when they fell, and He saw where they landed.  He can turn a specific person's eye to notice them, or not to notice them; He can spur a particular heart of His choice to pick them up.

The end of this story has not been written.  It could be that Shannon's keys are simply gone forever, or it could be that God has a different plan, a divine plan, an unstoppable plan.

We will have to wait and see what the Lord will do.

...casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
~1 Peter 5:7 ESV 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. 
The Lord is at hand; 
do not be anxious about anything, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication 
with thanksgiving 
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:4-7 ESV 

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
And not one of them is forgotten before God.
Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
~Luke 12:6-7 ESV

Jesus looked at them and said,  
“With man it is impossible, but not with God. 
For all things are possible with God.”
~Mark 10:27 ESV      

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    He will keep your life.
 
The Lord will keep your going out
and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.
 
~Psalm 121:7-8 ESV 

What then shall we say to these things? 
If God is for us, who can be against us?   
He who did not spare His own Son 
but gave Him up for us all, 
how will He not also with Him 
graciously give us all things?
~Romans 8:31-32 ESV 

It will be okay.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What I learned in March

What did I learn in March?

Goodness.  My mind is so blank, I'm appalled.

I should always be learning.  I hope I learned something.

(1)
I am in the center of a process of learning to trust God with my children's futures.  It is one thing to steel oneself for trials and trouble that may come.  It is another thing entirely to hand over the fate of your children to the Lord, blind yet trusting.

Even though I was never in control in the first place.

Perhaps I am learning that I am not in control, although I'm not sure I thought I was.  Anyway, the One who is in control is infinitely more qualified than I.  Yes, He is.  I am learning to live by this, although in my head I have always believed it.  I know that it is logical, and I do not understand why it is so difficult for me to feel the peace in turning life over to Him.  He is good.  He is wise.  He is attentive.  He is faithful.  He is zealous.  He is all I need Him to be, and more.

 (2)
I was reminded that although the package says to plant your daffodil bulbs 4 inches below the surface, I never used to do that.  I used to plant them with their bottoms 4 inches down, and their tops just barely below a delicate layer of soil.

This past fall, Shawn and I planted 40 daffodil bulbs.  He dug and I stuck, and we planted them 4 inches down, following directions.  This spring, they have not been coming up and I've been fretting, comparing them to my neighbors' vibrant sprouts.  Finally, my friend Melinda suggested, "Well, you could dig one up and see what it's doing down there."  So I did, and I found a bulb, and it had a tiny, pale green shoot coming out of it, searching for the sun somewhere up above all those inches of dirt.



I am not sure exactly what I learned from this, but I think it is related to not assuming that the planting directions on a bag of bulbs are correct, and also something about the need to go remove a few inches of soil from everywhere that I think daffodils may be submerged.  Oh my.

(3)
I learned that it doesn't work to substitute ground up oatmeal for all-purpose flour in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Nope.  Well, it tastes good, but it doesn't come out looking like cookies, and the best way to eat the crumbly mess is out of a bowl with a spoon.  GF woes.


(4)
I learned the names of the children in my maternal grandmother's family.  This may be interesting only to me.  The girls were Martha and Esther (my grandma was Esther).  The boys were Theo, Ezra, Silas, Reuben, Aaron and Benjamin.  Another thing that is interesting to me about this:  My sister's boys are Aaron and Ben, and I have a friend from New York whose boys are Reuben and Ezra.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Health Insurance Debacle

When our kids were little, I used to joke that I would only like to play football if everybody would play by my rules.

"What are your rules?" David would ask.

"Everybody has to throw me the ball, and nobody can knock me down.  I like it that way.  It's very exciting!  I get to make a lot of touchdowns."

"That's not fair!"  David would exclaim.

"Oh," I'd add, "Everybody also has to get out of my way when I'm running."

This always made me smile, the thought of catching a ball and running, unimpeded, across the goal line time and again.  It made me happy, but it made David very angry to think of.  I guess he was not imagining that he would be on my team.

Well, may I submit that most of us are not on the health insurance company team?

As the wife of a man who has worked for very small companies most of his adult life, making a decent wage (though certainly not exorbitant) but not having access to big company health insurance policies, we have noticed something about health insurance.

The premiums go up astronomically, year after year, while the coverage declines shockingly.  For instance, a few years ago, premiums cost $300-$400 per month for a high deductible family plan.  We were responsible for all our costs, out of pocket, up to our deductible, which was $2000 per person, and $4000 for the entire family.  After we met our deductible, costs were covered at 100%.  Last year, we paid $1000 per month for a high deductible family plan.  We paid out of pocket until we met our deducible, which was $6000 per person and $12,500 for the family, except that if a person reached $6000 before the family had reached $12,500, his costs were still out of pocket, which I do not understand, but there you have it.  They make the rules.

Yes.  They make the rules.  Like me on my fantasy football team, except in real life.

And, get this, then the president made a law that said every American has to buy a health insurance policy or be penalized with a big fine, payable to the government of the United States of America.

So, by law, we all have to buy health insurance.  This is the case even though the only health insurance most people can afford is the high deductible, where they pay out-of-pocket for all their costs, and the healthy-ish ones would certainly be money ahead just to pay their costs and save the $1000 per month ($12,000 per year) in premiums.

But yes, there's this law: "You have to buy health insurance."  And then what does the government do?  The government goes to the health insurance companies and says, "How do you want to work this?  How would you like to structure it?"

And if you are in health insurance, I guess you sing, "Jackpot!"  Because by law everybody has to buy your product, and you get to design the whole system that they have to buy out of.  Like me playing football: you have to throw the ball to me, and you can't knock me down, and you have to get out of my way.

So they raise the rates again.  And I expect that next year, they will again.  While denying coverage for everything they can possibly draw a loophole around.

Who gets hurt?  The small business owners and the people who work for them.  Basically, average middle class people.  Crazy rich people are in decent shape because they always are.  They can buy their way into a tolerable health insurance situation because they have money, and money equals leverage.  Poor people are okay, because the government always has safety nets for them.  People with government jobs are mostly ahead of the game because the government takes care of itself.  But poor old Joe-American is strapped.  For now.  Before too long, all his life savings will be bled away to pay for required preventative procedures, and then he can fall into the group at the bottom that lives in the welfare safety net.  This is not what he worked and saved all his life to achieve, but whatever.  Right?  Oh, except by that time the whole country might be bankrupt and there won't be any healthcare for anyone anyway, except on the black market.

If they thought we needed healthcare reform before, well, we really, really need it now.  They took a broken system, and then they took the health insurance companies (the health insurance companies!  I cannot get over this), the people who had the most to gain by exploiting a system of requiring citizens to purchase health insurance, and they said, "Hey guys!  How do you want to set the game?"  Dealing with the system this way is sort of like taking a broken chair and throwing it down in the middle of your driveway and backing your car over it a few times.  And then pouring lighter fluid on it and throwing out a lit match.

So.  Now that the Affordable Care Act has made healthcare (which was always expensive) completely unaffordable for most hardworking people, can we please agree that the system is terminal?  The Healthcare system in the USA is beyond resuscitation.  People would rather die quietly in their homes than go to the doctor and then try to navigate the plethora of befuddling and traumatizing bills that will result.  Can we please agree that this is not the solution we were hoping for?

I wrote once before that you cannot successfully combine socialized medicine with wildly profitable private health insurance companies.  It is true that this cannot be done in the way it is currently being done.  It might be possible to do, if we killed this system (well, since it's already dead, all we have to do it bury it, really), and started over.

What they need to do, what Obama needs to do, is gather a group of very thoughtful, very intelligent people from universities, medical schools and hospitals.  There should be people who understand poverty, and people who understand healthcare, people who understand how medicine works, people who understand how billing works, economists, and even some psychologist/sociologist/social worker types who understand how people work.  There should definitely be doctors and ethicists, probably representatives from various religious organizations.  This group needs to study and work together to figure out a sort of minimum healthcare foundation: what should the US government provide to its citizens as a reasonable and compassionate level of healthcare for every person?  This might include things like vaccines and immunizations, health education, simple antibiotics for common infections, emergency treatment for injuries, reproductive care, and palliative care.

Like public education, public health could provide a basic level of healthcare for all citizens, with assurance of compassionate palliative care for those whose conditions are too complex and expensive to be promised cures.  There could be public clinics, like public schools, where anyone could go at any time to receive these types of healthcare, free of charge.  It would be covered by our taxes.  Perhaps these clinics could be staffed largely by medical students, overseen by attending physicians. This would be so great.  It would circumvent the whole problem of uninsured babies going to the ER for amoxicillin when they have an earache.

Anything over and above this basic level of healthcare would be the patient's responsibility, and here is where private health insurance companies would come in.  Private health insurance companies, private hospitals, private clinics offering concierge services would all exist and compete for customers.  The private clinics and hospitals would be where research would center, and they could offer all the best, cutting edge technologies.  They could also do pro-bono work.

People would likely fuss about a system like this, complaining that why should this child over here die of cancer while that one over there gets treated because her parents can afford it?  This is a difficult issue.  I do not have all the answers off the top of my head.  This is why I think we need a highly qualified, highly intelligent, highly sensitive committee of doctors, economists and ethicists working out what is reasonable for the government to provide for its citizens.  I do not believe that anyone should die of strep throat, or a similar common illness for which we have easy cures.  But what about asthma?  Diabetes?  Lupus?  Cancer?

People do die when they come down with serious conditions.  People die.  In fact, every person who is born is someday going to die.  We are not an immortal species, and we should not approach healthcare as though we were.  The government simply cannot be held responsible to spend millions of dollars to keep alive every single citizen who comes down with a deadly condition.  That's what private health insurance should be for, if you can afford it, and if you can't afford it, the government should not make a law forcing you to buy it.  The government should let you figure it out for yourself.  You might get knocked down while you're carrying the ball, but hey, that's only fair.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Legacy words

Back in September, I had a lupus flare.  It was bad.

At one point, I thought I was going to die.  Of course, nausea always knocks me for a loop and makes me feel tremendously aware of my mortality.  I probably was not nearly as near to death as I felt, but notwithstanding, I thought I was going to die.  Nausea, purging digestive system, fever, chest pains, headache, backache, shortness of breath, congestion, ringing ears, heart palpitations, dizziness, swollen glands and lymph nodes, you get the idea.  I remember sitting in the bathroom with my head against the wall and tears running down my cheeks because I was sure I would never hold a grandbaby in my arms.  My thought was, "I wanted to write them each a letter, but I guess I didn't get the chance."  I was thinking about my beloved children.

I told God, "It's okay.  It's okay.  You are sovereign. You can take better care of them than I can."  And of course He can.  I have failed more often than I have succeeded, and He is the one who holds them in the palm of His hand.  He is the one who knew their life stories before they were born. He is the almighty God of power and wisdom and might.  It truly is okay, even though it may not have been what I was hoping.

Then I recovered!  I've been doing quite well.  I might still be around to play with the grandchildren after all, and tell them that I love them, and nurture them with the grace and patience I lacked as a young mother.  I would be so grateful to be able to do that.

Most days, I don't think about writing each of my children a letter (the way I did when I thought I was dying), a letter full of all the important things I should have told them, celebrating their gifts and abilities, exhorting them to surrender their weaknesses to Christ to be transformed into their most powerful assets.  You don't remember that the roof leaks except when it's raining, right?

Today I want to write a general letter, something for all my children.  No personal secrets will be addressed here, nothing private, just my heart desire for my children, my family.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * 



Dear ones,

How I love you.  Not a day goes by when I don't think of each of you, multiple times.  So many things bring you to mind: a container of food in the refrigerator, the shiny black piano, the adorable dog, a book on a shelf, a song, a sweatshirt, a container of moisturizer, a candle, a blanket, a TV show, a scent in the air outside, the slant of the sun through a window, a photograph (of course).

My love is flawed.  I made many mistakes, for which I am grieved.  Perhaps as you grow older and experience more of life, you will be better able to understand and to forgive me.  Please try to remember good things, fun times when we laughed around the table over plentiful meals, late nights when you came into my room to talk as I lay in bed before I fell asleep, times when life was vibrant and hope was natural and we had victories, successes, joy.   Remember how I read you the Chronicles of Narnia and broke down weeping every time Aslan wandered into a sentence, much to your consternation.  Please remember how hard I tried, understand how much I loved, and believe how hard I prayed.

Oh dear children, forgiveness is so important.  We must all forgive one another as God has forgiven us.  Forgiveness is grace, and we cannot live without it, because none of us is without need of being forgiven.  We all mess up, we all make mistakes, we all sin, and therefore we all stand in need of grace from God and from each other.

Forgive those who have hurt you.  People hurt each other; it is the way of a fallen world.  The Bible tells us that love covers over a multitude of sins.  Anger and condemnation do not fix sin.  The only way to overcome sin is by loving, so love, give grace, forgive.  I am not yet proficient at this, but I am learning, and the more I learn, the more I discover the blessings of grace and forgiveness, both given and received.  Jesus died so we can be forgiven, and so we can forgive.  It is costly to forgive, but it is priceless to be forgiven.

Another thing: never judge God by those who call themselves Christians.  Many have claimed the name of Christ but have not walked according to His purpose or His plan.  Jesus said that all men will know who His disciples are because of their love for one another;  yet, people constantly fall short of loving one another.

So here is my advice:  Read your Bible.  Read it often.  Read all of it, not just your favorite parts.  Read it with an open heart, praying that God will reveal Himself and His truth through His Word.  Please do not claim that God doesn't speak to you, if you are not reading His Word.  Read your Bible and listen for God's voice, seek His face.  Then, on the basis of God's Word, be discerning about those who call themselves Christians.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Use the Word of God to determine whether people are really God-followers.  Do not use people who claim to be Christians to determine whether God is relevant or good or real.  People are so fallible, even the ones who are honestly trying to do what is right.  People must never be your standard of measurement.  Only scripture should be your standard of measurement.

At the same time, be diligent in your own life.  The famous Oswald Chambers book is called My Utmost for His Highest.  The title alone is a worthy sentiment.  We must strive in the utmost to accurately reflect the glory of God to a fallen world.  Although we should not measure the worth of God by the worth of His people, we must recognize that the world will do this, and as bearers of His name, we must pray daily that He will shine His love, compassion, kindness and glory out through our lives.  We are ambassadors for Christ, the only "Bible" many people will ever read.

Too often, churches lambaste their congregations with admonishments to go out and share the good news of the gospel, but I think they fail to realize that it is not our glib recitation of a gospel acrostic that will bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ.  It is Christ in us, the hope of glory, the beauty of God revealed in the redeemed lives of His loving saints.  Live a life worthy of the Lord who has called you.

I know, I know.  I have failed in this task seemingly countless times.  I have been unforgiving, bitter, critical and angry.  I have lost my temper, and I have failed to trust the Lord.  I have been unloving and unkind; I have both spoken and acted in sin.  I have been prideful, arrogant, haughty, and I have also been fearful, discouraged and despondent in the manner of one who must have no faith at all.  And yet, when I confess my sins, He is faithful and forgives me, cleansing me from all my unrighteousness.

I think you can learn something from my experience here:  Never give up on the power of God's forgiveness.  You may need to humble yourself over and over again in asking for it, but never give up, because He promises that He will never stop forgiving and cleansing.  He is so pleased when we come trembling before Him in humility, asking for His help to do what we can never do in our own strength.  He loves us so deeply, we will never understand, but we must run to Him in faith.

Lastly (there is much more I'd like to say, but I have gone on far too long, so I will end with this), seek His joy.  God wants us to have fullness of joy.  Jesus came to bring us abundant joy.  Although He warns us that in this world we will have trouble, although the New Testament is full of words to encourage perseverance through suffering, still: Knowing God is truly the way to joy.  In fact, it is the only way to true joy.

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."  This is a most beautiful and potent promise.  Be careful in how you apply it; it does not say, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and then as a reward He will give you whatever you wanted in the first place."  No!  It says that when the Lord Himself is your delight, then He will give you the desires of your heart.  One might surmise that if the Lord is your ultimate delight, then your ultimate desires are related to His presence in your life, the opportunity to apprehend His glory, and the coming of His Kingdom.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 speaks of how the Lord promises to give His people new hearts that are inclined to love Him and to follow Him, actually cutting out our hearts of stone and replacing them with hearts of flesh.  Pray for that kind of heart.  Pray that God will make you love Him--delight in Him--desiring what He desires, rejoicing in the things that cause Him to rejoice.  

Pray that the Lord will mold your heart to love righteousness and hate evil, and that even in hating evil, you will be filled with His compassion and lovingkindness for a lost and blinded world.  Pray that you will be like Jesus: faithful to the Father, tender toward the oppressed, and courageously confrontational when those who bear His name do so in an unworthy manner.  Pray that He will be real to you, that He will show you signs of His presence and goodness every day, that He will reveal His beauty and His way through His Word (and pray that He will give you an unquenchable thirst for His Word).  Pray that He will fill your heart with assurance of His love and His faithfulness and the inevitability of the completion of His Kingdom, that you will have steadfast hope resulting in daily joy.

Don't worry about this life.  Comforts will come and go.  There will be times of plenty and times of want, times of safety and times of oppression, times of gain and times of loss.  In His strength, you can weather it all, and through it all there is hope, and His constant abiding presence.  Nothing and nobody can ever take away your hope, the faith with which He has imbued you, or His abiding presence.  And when we arrive at the end, everything will be okay, marvelous, in fact.  At the end, we will live with Jesus in perfect paradise, forever, and there will be no more danger, fear, pain, sorrow, shame or death ever again.  All the brokenness of this world will pass and be replaced with comfort, safety, health, light, love and everlasting life.  He promised, and He is faithful.  So be joyful and hope in the Lord.

With all my heart,
mom


Monday, March 23, 2015

Hope

Spring is mostly here, early spring.  This is a very good thing.

My daffodils are not poking up yet, although my neighbor's are.  I am a little bit concerned.  I do have the beginnings of some crocuses, some red shoots that might turn into tulips, and a few tips of rhubarb in the back.  But no daffodils.

Early spring is not the most beautiful time of the year.  It may actually be the ugliest.  Walking in the park or driving across Wisconsin (we went to Minnesota last weekend), the dull gray of snow-moulded leaves dusts the face of the earth and bare branches spread, fatigued, into the chill March sky.  On a walk in Minnesota, we passed a yard where someone had turned on a sprinkler, an attempt to green up the lawn, but the grass was still brown, and icicles glistened on the twiggy limbs of a young tree that came under a spray of water each time the sprinkler oscillated.  Still, there is hope, so much hope, so much promise of green and growth, flowers and fruit yet to come.

I am sure it is no accident that the Lord set Easter in the springtime. After a long, cold, dark season, it is right that the Resurrection celebration should accentuate the earth's new life at the end of every winter.

The earth is tired and worn.  All creation is subject to bondage and decay, as in the same way we are, in our frail and earthy human bodies.  Just as we await our redemption, the earth awaits its.

We don't talk about this enough.  We talk about "going to heaven when we die," but we don't talk about the New Heaven and the New Earth, the new bodies that the Lord has promised to us.  He says, "Behold, I am making all things new."  It will happen, just as Jesus rose from the dead, just as spring comes every year.  Total redemption for all of groaning creation.

I am so tired of hearing people claim that there could not possibly be a god, because there is suffering in the world.  Clearly they have not read the Bible in their quest for God, because He tells us there, over and over, that suffering is a normal and expected part of life in a fallen world.  This is exactly why redemption is necessary.  This is why there will be a New Heaven and  New Earth: because we broke the original heaven and earth through our sin and our pride, our desire to be like God and to make our own decisions apart from His wisdom.  We live in a broken world that our ancestors messed up, but God has a perfect plan to restore it all, and He invites us to be a part of it.  He is taking His time in the process because He loves us, and He wants as many as possible to learn about Him and believe in Him before the end of this world.

And so we continue in this place that is full of beauty and wonder because He created it, but also full of sorrow and horror, because we rebelled and brought in sin.  There are flowers and oil spills, newborn babies and wars.  We have mountains, sunrises, sunsets, grapes, horses, dolphins, puppies, waterfalls and vegetable gardens.  We also have hurricanes, tornadoes, child abuse, sexual predators, stomach flu, racism and thieving politicians.  We have love, and we have cancer.  How can all these things exist together?  It's because everything God created was good, but He gave humankind the freedom of choice, and the choices we made were bad, and the tarnish began and has continued to this day, the perversion of evil twisting the inherent beauty of God's creation.

Still, there is hope because He is faithful to His promises, and way back in the garden of Eden, before He even threw them out, God promised Adam and Eve that the seed of the woman would rise up and crush the serpent's head.  After the fall into sin, the entire remainder of the Old Testament is about how God was preparing the world for Messiah, setting up pictures, patterns, symbols, ancestors, parables, signs and prophets, everything pointing to the One who would come and put things to rights.

And then He came, Jesus came.  He fulfilled the prophecies, teaching, healing, restoring, reviving, and ultimately dying and rising again.  He came to bring us back into fellowship with the Holy God who sent Him.

"Why can't I just do what I want, if I'm not hurting anybody?  Why shouldn't I be able to have premarital sex, and abortions, and be homosexual if I so choose?  Who says I can't do what I want?  How am I hurting anyone or anything?"

Couldn't Eve have asked exactly the same question?  "Who says I can't eat this fruit?  It looks so good.  I'm sure it's very tasty.  How could a loving god possibly tell me I can't have this lovely piece of fruit?  That would be so mean."

It all comes down to pride and humility.  Are you humble enough to surrender to the God
who created you (and the entire Universe), and admit that He knows more about how it all works than you do?  Can you believe that the Creator understands His creation and knows what is good for it, and what is not?  Or are you pridefully determined that you know better than God?

If there is a God, and if He created all things intentionally and intelligently, as the Bible says, then it is rather silly even to imagine that you might know better than He does.

Of course, if you don't believe the Bible, you don't believe the Bible.  I guess that's another choice you make.  But your choice does not determine the ultimate truth of things; your choice is either right or wrong.

If you want to explore more, you can read these posts from the past:

On suffering (start series here).

On the the existence of God and the Bible.

On God as Creator of all things.