Tucked away for the future

A writer-friend of mine, challenged me to write a poem entitled, “What I would tell my granddaughter” based on things I know to be true. Well, yes, my granddaughter is still years and years away from making an entrance into my life, but still, I’m hopeful she’ll be here one day.

So, here’s where my thoughts landed.

If I should have a granddaughter… 

I would take her out in the morning early so we could catch the sun rising over the horizon shedding its rays of pinks and purples and yellows.

And I would tell her, “Sweetheart, the sun always comes up in the morning; and even if you can’t see it through the clouds or the haze or the tree-shaped shadows, it’s there ready to offer warmth and a start to a new day unwritten.”


I would take her on walks along a salty shore lined with shells and seaweed and driftwood; and we would pause to let the waves wash over our toes.  The outgoing water would pull the sand from under our feet and we would sink just a bit each time.

And I would tell her, “Baby, the ocean never stops coming and going, one with the other.  And even though it’s painful sometimes, life is filled with hellos and goodbyes, bringing heartache and healing, tears and tenderness, longing and laughter.”


I would take her to city parks crawling with children with different colored skin and hair and eyes, speaking languages strange to her ears.

And I would tell her, “Darlin’, a smile needs no translation and the best way to approach an unfamiliar situation is open-handed rather than close-fisted; and people who aren’t like you are often the best people to help you know you.”

 prayer candles

I would take her to houses of worship where Jesus is known and loved and spoken of; places where the Spirit moves freely and mysteriously, where people have “met their maker” and lived to tell about it.

And I would tell her, “Angel, you have a story to tell, a story worth telling.  It started the moment God thought of the very idea of you and placed you in your momma’s belly, and it’s still unfolding to point people around you, who know you and your story, to the God who lives to redeem.


I would take her to a mountaintop covered in sweet smelling firs, where the wind speaks to the trees who whisper back, “He’s here.  He sees.” And we would wait, hand in hand, blood warmth pulsing through our entangled fingers, for the moon to rise and take its place among the stars.

And I would sit with her quietly, knowing that some moments are better left unsaid, untainted by words that fail to bring understanding. And we would mull our thoughts in the cool moonlight.

A little bit of this and that

potato saladThe thought struck me today:  Life is like a good potato salad, smooth, buttery goodness; some crunch; the pizazz of color, and the bite of vinegar… but taken all together, totally satisfying.

I know someone reading this might not be a fan of potato salad.  For me, it’s more of an adult taste.  Not something I enjoyed as a kid.  I think I needed to develop an appreciation for mushy.  If that’s not proof of maturity, I don’t know what is.

Regardless of your tastes concerning potato salad, I’d love for you to hear out my analogy. A life, to reach “satisfying,” has to embrace a variety of ingredients.  The potato foundations of family, faith, and friendship provide the canvas on which all other experiences lie. Crunchy celery and fava beans, my add-ins of choice, give texture to the mixture, like hobbies and interests bring variety and depth. Bright watercress, a surprising addition, reminds to me to delight in unexpected beauty.  And vinegar.  Tangy vinegar stands for suffering; searing but essential if my life will come to mean anything in the great banquet of the Kingdom of God.

So, that’s what came to me as I prepared my lunch today.  I just pulled the ingredients together from what I had in the frig and pantry.  The more exotic things were in my organic produce share this week. Isn’t that like life?  We make do with what we are given — the everyday and the exotic.

I’d love for you to share your thoughts on what ingredients make your life “satisfying.”

Fava Bean and Japanese Sweet Potato Salad 

2 medium Japanese sweet potatoes (or any other sweet potato), peeled and cut in chunks
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 lb fava beans, shelled, blanched, and shelled again (see how to prep fava beans here)
small handful of watercress, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced on diagonal
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 C. sour cream
1/4 C. mayo
1 T. dijon mustard
1/2 t. dried tarragon
quite a bit of freshly ground garlic salt or plain sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Plop the sweet potatoes in a large pot of boiling water.  Boil for 8 minutes.  Add the russet potatoes and boil for another 3-4 minutes till the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.  When they are done, immediately drain them in a colander and run under cold water.  Place them in a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle the vinegar over the still warm potatoes.  Toss gently with a spoon.

Fava BeansWhile the potatoes are cooking, take care of the fava beans according to these instructions.  Then add them to the potatoes.  Add in the watercress, celery, and green onions.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayo, dijon and tarragon.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently combine the dressing with the potato mixture and chill in the frig or eat warm. If it tastes bland to you, add more salt and pepper, and maybe even a bit more vinegar — it’s essential.

Bon appetit!


Encountering Jesus

I pulled this post from the archives.  It seemed appropriate in remembrance of the crucifixion and resurrection.  Where do you take your botched responsibilities?

…   …   …

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.  “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

Morning Gate

“What is that to us? they replied.  “That is your responsibility.” 

When Pilate saw that he was getting no where, but instead that an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in the front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. ‘It is your responsibility!” Matt. 27:3-4, 24

What an interesting parallel between Judas and Pilate… responsibility.

Judas had followed Jesus closely for three years.  Judas had sat under his teaching, watched him heal blind, and broke bread with him.  Judas got it all wrong… the betrayer.

Pilate had only one brief interview with Jesus.  One cryptic conversation probably left him with more questions than answers.  Pilate ducked out and missed it… the dodger.


When the innocence of Christ’s blood rises up before him, Judas only sees his responsibility.  Actually, he sees his culpability, his blame.  It grips him around the throat and pulls him under.  He sees no option other than to take his own life.  He doesn’t see Jesus’ offer for a new one.  Responsibility blinds him to it.

When Christ’s innocence stares Pilate in the face, he lets his desire for peaceful public relations get the better of him.  He abdicates his responsibility and kowtows to the crowd. In washing his hands of the innocent man’s blood, he only implicates himself further.  The irony jumps out and grabs him – for only in washing himself in Jesus’ blood would Pilate find the truth he is seeking.  But Pilate misses Jesus’ offer of new life.  Responsibility disguises it.


Two men.  Two encounters with responsibility.  One overcome with the weight of it.  One skirting the glory of it.  Both blinded.  Both guilty.  Both forever tied to the story of Christ’s death that brings life.

Some might argue that it’s unfair to hold either Judas or Pilate responsible for Jesus’ death.  After all, it was God’s plan.  Jesus said so.  This is why he came – to die.  Judas and Pilate were simply pawns in God’s chess match with the evil one.  How can they be responsible?

True. God’s intention was to have Jesus Christ die on man’s behalf.  But even truer is the fact that my sin put Jesus on that cross just as much as Judas’ betrayal or Pilate’s poor judgment.  My sin… and your sin… drove Jesus to the cross.  We are all responsible for the innocent man’s blood.

But our confrontation with our guilt doesn’t have to end in despair or disillusion like it did for Judas and Pilate.  Not if we know who to bring it to.

See, Judas sought the religious leaders for absolution.  All he got was his blood money thrown back in his face.  Pilate sought the crowd for answers. All he got was “Crucify him!” slammed in his face.

But you and me?

With all our botched responsibilities, we can come to Jesus and get nail-pierced hands cupping our face, and love-laden eyes washing over our face, and grace-filled words warming our face saying, “My child, your sins are my responsibility.  You are forgiven. Now, come, follow me.”

Sun through tree

What a wonderful Savior.


A gift


My friend gave me flowers today.
Creamy and fragile, lace-like.
Blue-tinged puff balls balancing on sturdy stalks.

My friend brought me flowers today.
Unexpectedly, with dancing brown eyes and an inviting hug.
Just because we’re friends.

My friend gave me flowers today.
Now they linger on my counter.
A fragrant reminder that love and friendship
Are mine.






What’s Real?

I’ve been thinking about authenticity lately.  Not the precise, indisputable, dependable kind, but the genuine kind.  The honest-to-goodness, tried-and-true, take-me-as-I-am kind of authenticity.

It’s the opposite of fake.

Mama w:ducklingsPrecious baby ducks have been swimming around the pond in our apartment complex lately.  They huddle together following their mama, trusting her completely to lead them to safe waters and good things to eat. They don’t seem to worry about the fact that they can’t fly.  They don’t seem bothered by their stubby feathers or undeveloped quacks.  They are content to be ducklings.  What else could they be?

They barely resemble this blue rubber ducky.Blue Ducky

The Lord is near to all, to all who call on him in truth.  Ps. 145:18

Hmmm. I don’t think God wants my rubber ducky faith… the faith that is smooth and well shaped, but has no life, no room for growth.  He doesn’t want to see me pretending to need him, but secretly thinking I have to do it all on my own.

I don’t think my friends want to see that either.

They want to know I don’t have it all together.  The places I question if God cares, if God is listening, if he’ll come through.  They want to see my struggles… stubby feathers and all. In that authenticity, they can draw near.

It’s not pretty.  But, it’s real.

And if I ever want to fully realize the beauty in who God has made me to be, I have to learn to be OK with reality… I have to be willing to risk failure and show where I’m broken. Because, I’m learning, that’s how I truly reflect Jesus… how I truly show I’m his.  What else could I ever want to be?


So Father, draw near to me as I call out to you in truth.  The honest-to-goodness cry of my heart is that I need you.  I am truly lost without you. I ask you to reveal places in my life where I am pretending, where I’m offering you less than my whole heart.  Let every word and meditation of my heart be real before you.  Thank you, Father.  I’m yours. 


c Julie Sanders 2013