April 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
Or biscuits. Biscuits count, right? I took these Herb Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits (inspired by Joy the Baker, of course) to a brunch/lunch with my small group on Easter Sunday. Out of context, “small group” has very little meaning. Sometimes churches call them community groups or home groups. These names are good attempts to categorize something that’s not Sunday School and isn’t a prayer meeting. But they don’t quite capture what they become.
I have been in some church groups that were more formal Bible studies. Some were all female and usually ended up being about singleness, let’s be honest. This particular group at this particular church has morphed some in the last year or so. Besides the 2 couples who lead, most of the rest of us have only been going to the church for a little over a year. When we were all put together in this group, we barely knew each other. In some ways, we still don’t. But we keep coming back every week to talk about the week’s sermon, our struggles and frustrations, our doubts, even. We’ve begun to open up more and more and grown more comfortable with each other. To someone looking in on our meetings, we look pretty homogeneous: white men and women in their 20s and 30s. In quite a few ways we are much alike, but I’m regularly surprised by and grateful for the differences that arise. We might not have chosen each other as a group to be a part of, and yet I think that is a strength and a blessing. We may struggle to communicate or relate or understand where each member is coming from, but we are committed to work in that direction. We’ve laughed together at ridiculous trivia, and cried together at the loss of loved ones or confusing news after our little group’s first baby member was born. Theological debates get just as much airtime as the sharing of our hearts. Listening to and being listened to each week, on Thursdays, has connected us.
March 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s finally here. It has sprung. Spring has arrived! I’ve got the fever. I just want to relish in these cool days and pale lavender-periwinkle skies. The hues of green popping up everywhere make me giddy. The empty pots on my porch called out to me this week, and I just had to answer. Just a little bit of green growing things so far, but I’m sure I’ll add more. The deliciousness of the weather inspired me to run out on my lunch breaks to find something to nurture. To quote Jane Austen (of course) via her character Fanny Price in Mansfield Park: “to sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment.” It’s such a surprise and delight to watch the changes each new season brings. Slowly the yellow forsythia peeks out, tentatively the magnolia tree buds, and suddenly branches that were bare and gray bring forth newness and color. The ebb of winter into spring brings both into a starker contrast; the limbs of trees look more sculptural as their backdrop fills in its variety of spring hues. There is a gratitude for this reliability that I feel right now. To be comfortable out of doors again, to free my feet from their socked-in prisons, to enjoy the light each night a little bit longer, I am thankful for these small gifts.
February 28, 2015 § Leave a comment
We celebrated Josh’s birthday last weekend, before the big snow of the past week hit north Alabama. It was actually a bit icy on the roads closer to Madison from an earlier freeze, so our trek was abruptly stopped about 30 miles from his house. Thankfully there was one hotel in the town of Arab (pronounced A-rab) where we could bed for the night. We finally made it to his door around lunchtime Saturday and made the most of the rest of the weekend. Josh had requested my mom’s coconut layer cake with lemon filling. This cake has been made in my family since my mom was a child. Pillowy, shiny meringue frosting hides soft almond-scented cake and thick, luscious lemon curd between its layers.
He opened presents, we stuffed ourselves at Bonefish Grill and visited my Grannie who lives nearby. We made chili in his crockpot for Sunday lunch and I tried to surprise him with shortbread cookies. Hard to do when you’re making them in the same kitchen. But they were quite the success! I found a recipe I’d copied from the Back in the Day Bakery cookbook years ago and finally tried it. Raspberry jam sandwiched between two buttery, slightly crisp cookies that shatter on your tongue is simply delicious. My brother and I have been through what most siblings have. We endured each others’ taunts and mild physical abuse growing up, and we ignored each other a bit through those junior high years. He went off to college first, and I, bereft, did not handle his absence well, I confess. I missed my first friend. As we have grown, I have been blessed that we have grown closer together. And, I love the times our family of four gets to share. There’s always lots of laughing, lots of debating, lots of eating and talking about when we’ll eat again. I am glad I have the big brother I do.