Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Creek

There are some things that will always make me feel like a kid...but none more so than the smell of nature and questionable water content, the sounds of that same questionable water trickling over rocks and around logs and twigs, and the sight of dozens of children laughing and running in sheer bliss.

In fact, many of my favorite, fondest childhood memories revolve around these exact sights, smells and sounds: the makings of a perfect day at “the creek.”

More times than it’s possible to recall with accuracy, I have had my feet, my legs, sometimes my whole body, submerged in creek water. Throughout my childhood it was the pastime of choice. On family camping trips we would spend at least one whole day building a dam in the nearest creek, wading along the banks collecting rocks, and snacking in the sun while our clothes dried.

On vacations to visit our cousins, we would trek down to the nearest running water source, shed our shoes, and spend hours trying to get as deep into the water as we could without actually getting our clothes wet.

It’s been years since I indulged in this beloved activity, but over the Fourth of July weekend, I joined my family for a day of reflection, a day of sunburns and bug bites, a day of laughter and dirty, dirty feet…a day at the creek.

It took us a while to find just the right spot, which really means it took us a while to get down the bank from the road where we parked. Somehow my memories of hiking to the creek as a kid do not include carrying a diaper bag, a camera, and a pile of towels. I do remember the thorns that scratched my legs, and, in case you are wondering, those thorns are still there, whatever creek you happen to visit.

The hill was steep, and more than one of the 12 children slid rather than climbed down it. There were a few tears, more than a few screams, but mostly there was laughter.

We reached the water’s edge and dropped out gear with fanfare. A blanket was spread, bug spray applied (another thing I don’t remember having as a child, but which seems quite significant as a mom) and lectures were given about how far was too far for any child to venture on their own.

As I sat on the bank watching my children play, I couldn’t help noticing that many things had changed.

The faces, for one thing. Mine was older…a lot older.

My brother was taller than everyone else, and my little sisters didn’t need me to hold their hands anymore.

The surrounding children weren’t the Perry’s, our beloved cousins and favorite creek companions. Now some of the children were my own, and the others were my nieces and nephews. But it seemed the Perrys were with us in spirit, as more than once a voice rang out “Remember when we were with the Perrys and…” there are so many choices for how to fill in the blank, and they all left us with a smile today.

Just as quickly as I recognized the changes since the last time I went wading in a creek, I also saw the things that will never change.

A daddy will always jump into deeper water than he planned to if his child is too tired to swim to the edge.

A brother will always try to splash his sisters, despite, or maybe because of, how strongly the sisters protest getting their hair wet.

The bugs will always bite, and the kids will never care.

Watermelon tastes much better when it’s cut up on a big flat rock and served to dirty hands.

Boys will never, ever stop trying to shove girls into the water from behind.

The Lord spoke to me today, in the midst of the sweating, laughing, exploring, snacking, and hiking. His spirit whispered to my heart, and even over the all the clamoring and squealing, I heard Him.

“Do you see how many things are different?” He wasn’t talking about the creek.
“Do you see that I am always the same? That I am always here? Even in the change…I am with you, I am the same.”

It had been years since I had been to a creek, but it hadn’t changed. My parents are grandparents now, but they are still the best Mom and Dad any kids could ask for. Daniel has been taller than me for years, but he is still my little brother. Sarah and Rachel are all grown up, but I will still catch them if they slip. And Joy…Joy has changed most of all, and yet she is still the same too. She is worshiping Jesus, like she did her whole life, only now it’s face to face.

The next time I see a creek, I will smile at all my memories of the Perrys, and I will remind my kids of today, and the fun that we had. But I will also hear His voice in the trickling water, I will see His hand in the rocks and trees.

Things have changed. The course of my life looks different than any place I have ever been before…

but my fortress,
the ROCK OF AGES,
my Lover,
my friend…

I SEE THAT HE IS THE SAME.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

 So, Heath loves for me to try new recipes. I get several magazines in the mail that have recipes in them, and he will read through them and earmark pages for me to try. I will then dutifully read through the ingredients, put them on my shopping list, and add those dishes to the menu. (impressed?? just wait...)

The other day I got my "Every Day with Rachael Ray" magazine, and as usual, Heath looked through it for things that sounded good to him. This is how the conversation went that evening.

Heath: "There is a recipe in there for Peanut Butter Banana muffins. That sounds good right?"
Me: "Yes, that does sound good, and I have some overripe bananas I need to use. I'll take a look at it."

Two days later I was drinking my coffee at around 6 a.m. and decided I would make the muffins, since the bananas long since had more brown than yellow on their peel, and we were out of cereal and bread anyway. I grabbed the magazine, tore out the page with the recipe on it, and proceded to mix up the ingredients. One egg, 2 mashed bananas, 2 Tbsp. honey, 1/4 cup peanut butter, water, whole wheat flour, baking powder. As I was mixing I thought "Wow, these are healthy too. There is no sugar in them at all." Popped the 3 dozen muffins into the oven and and waited with pride to feed them to Heath.

...They weren't very good. They weren't sweet AT ALL, and they were pretty dense. I decided that it must be because they were super healthy muffins, and I wasn't going to tell anyone that I didn't really think they were great. So I made Heath a plate to take in the car, since he was running late to work, and put a bit of extra honey on his muffins to...try and help the taste a little. The boys got up and ate them without complaint, but I could tell Faith didn't really like them. I finally gave her something else, because after all, I didn't want to eat them either.

Later on in the day as I was deciding whether or not to even KEEP the leftover muffins, I started wondering if I had left out some ingredient and thats why they weren't good. After all, they sounded like they would be tasty. What was the problem?? So I pulled the magazine page from the cabinet where I store my recipe books, and for the first time I actually looked at the whole page, not just the ingredients list.

On the top of the page was a REALLY BIG picture of Rachael Ray's dog. There was a heading that said something like "Summer Treats your pet will love" and there was an additional picture of a big fluffy muffin in a doggy dinner bowl. 


Yep, thats right, ladies and gentlemen, I served DOG TREATS to my entire family for breakfast...

Are you finished laughing yet? Because I have a defense...WHO IN THE HOLY CRAP DESIGNS RECIPES FOR THEIR DOGS??? It never in a million years occured to me that any recipe found in a RECIPE magazine would be for THE DOG. Secondly, it used all the same ingredients used in HUMAN treats, so I had no reason to question it, and I didn't even look at the whole page, I only saw the recipe. IT WAS EARLY and I hadn't finished my coffee yet!

Sigh...you're right. My excuses sound lame. I know it too. So, because I am able to admit when I do something stupid and really funny...I am giving you this chance to laugh with me...at me.