Saturday, November 07, 2015

Falling Into Memories

I think we've all had that aroma-memory moment.  It's similar to the music-memory moment.  (You know the one.  You're in the middle of a store, hear a song on the in-store music, and a flood of images fill your mind.)   Aroma-memories are so amazing, aren't they?  While walking behind an older woman recently, a waft of her perfume caressed my senses.  Suddenly, I saw my grandmother's face so clearly.  It was a sweet moment.

Fall is like aroma-memory overload for me.  There are so many crazy-good memories associated with the fragrance of the fallen leaves, the bonfires, the pumpkin-scented candles...

Today, I got to have one of those memories.  We were in apple harvest overload in our house.  I had purchased a couple of bags of apples at the grocery store a few weeks ago.  Only days later, I decided to take a trip to the local orchard, and brought home a "large" bag of seconds.  (These are great apples, and always a mix of varieties.)  We've eaten a lot of apples, refrigerator overfloweth.  This evening, I took the opportunity to downgrade our stock to "slightly full" by making some applesauce.

I've made applesauce a couple of different ways in the past.  But today was the "best" way, as I relived memories.

For about four years, we lived in an area of the country fondly known as the U.P.  For those of you who are wondering, "WHAT?!"  Those letters stand for "Upper Peninsula," and it is the northernmost part of Michigan.  It is a land of forests, waterfalls, beaches, shores along the Great Lakes, and snow by the ton.  It is beautiful and wonderful and breathtaking.

During our time there, a sweet friend would occasionally gift us with a tub of her homemade applesauce.  My husband absolutely LOVES applesauce.  (Most of us eat a small serving.  He eats it by the bowl.  I am not kidding.)  Well, Myrna's applesauce was the most amazing concoction he had ever tasted.  A whipped topping container-full would disappear within two meals (or less).

After we moved back to troll land (another U.P. reference), we had a very prolific apple tree in our backyard.  I couldn't stand seeing all those apples go to waste, or worse yet, be destroyed by wasps and bees.  I made a quick call to Myrna.  "How do I make your famous applesauce?"

She replied with her usual humble chuckle, and quietly explained the process.  The thing about great cooks, though, is that they have learned by the "doing."  Trying to describe it over the phone was like describing a great work of art to someone who cannot see...words fail.  She did her best to help this culinarily-challenged young mom understand the process.  But there was one major piece of kitchen equipment missing:  the apple grinder.

I asked if I could possibly use another utensil?   Again, she laughed and said, "Well, I've never done it any other way!"  I figured I could try, though.

Well, being a mom of two young, energetic boys, my applesauce project was delayed a few days.  During that time, I received a curious-looking package in the mail.  From?  Of course, Myrna.  She added a note saying she had an "extra" apple grinder, and thought maybe I could use it.

I have never treasured anything more.  What a kind, thoughtful gesture!

So this afternoon, as I turned my surplus into savory applesauce, the warm, homey scent of the fruit filled my kitchen.  I reminisced about the lovely woman who made this moment possible.  I ground those apples into a smooth, creamy blend of flavors.

My applesauce will never be as tasty as Myrna's, but the memories are still as sweet.

Happy fall!


Monday, November 02, 2015

Standing In The Need Of Prayer

I haven't heard this song in many, many years, but the words came to my mind today.

If you've never heard it, check out the link below (they modernized the words a bit, but it's still pretty much the same).

The basic idea is this:  Here I am, Lord, needing prayer.  Just little ol' me.  It's not someone else.  It's me!  I can't speak for all the others, Lord, but I know I need prayer!

The beautiful thing about this song is that it's descriptive of every single one of us.  We are standing in the need of prayer.  Whether our day is full of joy or sorrow, we are still in need of prayer.

I often forget that simple concept.  It's so much easier for me to pray for others than for myself.  People share their prayer needs with me on a regular basis.  I am not one of those, "I'll-pray-for-you-but-not-until-I-see-you-again-and-remember-I'm-supposed-to-pray-for-you" kind of individuals.  I take the entrustment of others' prayer requests very seriously.

Don't sit there reading this and think, "What a sweet, kind lady!  How wonderful of you to do this for others."  Because it's not a fair assessment.

Yes, praying for others is a great thing to do.  I'm not sorry I do that.

But that's the problem.

I often don't pray for or about myself.  For long periods of time.  (Usually several days in a row.)  So, you might be thinking, "Well, that's good, right?  It's very unselfish to pray for others and not yourself."

Maybe.  But probably not.

It's called pride.

You see, if I'm always lifting the needs of others, and never my own, then I have less time to allow the Holy Spirit to "search me...and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"  (Psalm 139:23-24)  If there is no searching and trying and knowing, then there is no finding of wickedness and walking in a new way.

So that creates another problem.  Because God already knows of my wickedness.  He has already peered into the deep recesses of who I am and what I have done.  It's really ME who hasn't searched, known, and seen.  It's ME who hasn't been listening.  It's ME who is avoiding repentance.

Pride and denial are a lethal combination.

Though the words may seem simple and catchy, there is so much truth to the song.  "It's me, it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.  Not my brother, not my sister, but it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer."

I will still pray for you.  But I also need to pray for me.