Friday, July 29, 2011


My good friend, Julie, took me to lunch at a new restaurant.  Sophie’s Uptown was a café I’d never heard of, but I loved it the minute I got there.  The place named after – and dedicated to – Sophie, a rescued dog and long-time companion of the owner and founder, David York.  Sophie recently passed away at the age of 20, but her memory lives on through the work of the café.

Adorned with beautiful dog photos and artwork, the café fits right into the Buckhead environment.  It is more, however, than just a nice place to eat.  Sophie’s Uptown offers 25% of all profits to animal rescue organization.  Along with your meal, you get a token which allows you to vote for the organization where you would like your 25% to go.

My lunch was a tomato-basil soup and veggie quiche, both wonderful.  I gave my token to an organization that supports pet health and then enjoyed a dessert of pup-cakes.  These were the best part of the meal.  Of the many great desserts offered, these cupcakes with puppy faces created in icing were the most fun.

Our pets are among the greatest gifts we are given by God.  I’m not sure we adequately appreciate that fact.  We may forget that we are intended to be God’s gift to them as well.  Let’s remember and enjoy our companion animals and take care of them as God takes care of us.

If you live in, or find yourself passing through, the Buckhead area be sure to stop in at Sophie’s and enjoy a good meal with a good cause.

Sophie’s Uptown; 54 Pharr Rd, Atlanta, GA 30305; 404.812.0477;

Blessed eating!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.    Psalm 17:8

My mother saw it before I did.  The small banana pepper was the same shade as its stalk and invisible to my eyes.  I had seen its beginning, as the flower, then as a tiny fruit beginning to grow.  Then I lost it.  I just forgot to watch its progress as it grew into a full-size, edible product; a beautiful light green pepper.  All that taste hidden among the leaves!

The theme of being “hidden” is a common one in scripture.  Psalmists often speak of being hidden away, being protected by God’s almighty hand.  Job railed against God because the reason for his plight was hidden from him.  In the New Testament, Jesus cautions us that the Kingdom of God is hidden from the wise, but revealed to little children.  Finally, the apostle Paul reminds us that at the right time, all that is hidden will be revealed.

There is much in our lives that is hidden from us, much we would like to know.  There are mysteries of the universe that science has yet to unravel, and mysteries within ourselves that we wish we understood.  We believe in a God who is self-revealing, who profoundly desires to be known by us.  But even the best of us, the most ardent student, the most committed seeker will still surely find that their pool of knowledge will be far smaller than the mysteries that are yet unsolved.

We humans, being a curious lot, don’t sit well with the unknown.  We crave answers and certainty.  God seems to have intended it this way.  We pour our efforts and resources into scientific discovery, and those less energetic among us enjoy Miss Marple on Masterpiece Mystery.  But we Christians have a delicate balance to strike.  We are called to seek, and promised that we will find.  We are summoned along the path of discovery, learning more about the world outside ourselves and the mysteries within.  Most of all we are called to search ever deeper into the character of the divine, and to be transformed by it.

But the balance lies in accepting the mystery, countering our desire to know with the recognition of the things that are beyond us.  This isn’t all bad.  There is some comfort in our ignorance.  In recognizing the mystery that we cannot solve, we are reminded that our lives are only a tiny piece in a great universe and that – while we are responsible for some care and maintenance – we are not ultimately accountable for its functioning.  Put simply:  God is God, we are us.

In acknowledging our limits, we also gain understanding for the reason we worship.  Through our worship, we experience the glory that comes with participating in something much greater than ourselves.  We are able to touch on the divine.  We enjoy knowing that the mysteries we explore will not come to an end any time soon, and we revel in a God who is greater than we are.

I wasted no time in using my beautiful pepper.  I chopped it up in a salad of spinach and strawberries.  It was marvelous.  But since I don’t have a written recipe for that piece of the meal, I’ll give you the recipe for our dessert.  Mmmmmm . . .

Blessed eating!

Blueberry Dump Cake
2 pints of blueberries                     3/4 c. sugar
1 white cake mix                              1 c. pecans, chopped
8 T Margarine, melted
Pour berries into 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle sugar, dry cake mix and nuts over berries.  Pour melted Margarine over entire mixture.  Bake at 325 for 1 hour.  (A yellow cake mix may turn the cake a grayish green color.)  Serve.  Yield: 12 servings. – Diane Taylor

I love everything about this cake except the name.  Therefore, I will henceforth call this recipe Blueberry Crumble.  Amen and amen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
Soldiers of the cross.

Every round goes higher, higher,
Every round goes higher, higher,
Every round goes higher, higher,
Soldiers of the cross.

My spinach is teaching me a lesson in climbing.   The plant I am growing is not true spinach, but Malabar Spinach – a very different plant in botanical terms, but similar (I am told) in taste.  I choose to grow it because regular spinach is not built to handle Georgia’s hot summers.

Before I planted it, I had read that Malabar Spinach is a fast grower.  I laughed about that idea as I watched the tiny seedlings slowly poke their heads out of the ground (a week or two after I had given up on their growing at all).  I became even more skeptical after I repotted them, as I saw their leaves faithfully but gradually expand in size.  I was beginning to wonder if I had gotten a shrub variety by mistake, when one day, I saw a tiny stem reaching for the makeshift trellis (a side of an old dog pen) I had set up for it.  It was all over after that.  In no time, the trellis was full of vines speeding up and beyond the top, reaching for new heights to climb.

Sometimes I wish my own personal climb were nearly as fast.  I wish I were as bent on climbing as my Malabar Spinach.  These vines have help from heaven.  It is in their nature to grow, and they would be unhealthy doing otherwise.  Like them, we too are meant to grow. We have been created with an inborn craving to be more, to be better and to connect with something that is bigger than we are.

At the same time, we may find ourselves resisting.  The climb takes effort.  We would like to think of ourselves in grand terms, but the truth is, we human beings can be rather small.  We can be petty.  We retaliate when we are angry.  We walk away rather than reconcile.  We bend the truth to favor our point of view.  We work to win an argument rather than find clarity and common ground.  We allow our emotions to run away with us. 

We have the potential to climb heavenward, but the truth is it is much easier to stay small, to remain a shrub.  We know ourselves as a shrub.  Granted there isn’t much to know: just a few stalks and leaves.  We feel we have a grip on life and we know our place in it.  If we start reaching skyward, there is no telling the dangers we might open ourselves to.   The things that are out there beyond the beautiful blue might be either terrifying or wonderful.  We might realize how great our God-created universe is.  We just might realize how small we are. Much easier to keep our perspective undersized and imagine ourselves large.

Still, we are called to increase.  To grow.  To climb.  To forego the comfortable selves we used to be in order to become something that God has in mind.  More important, we are called to know the real world around us in order to see ourselves and others in proper perspective.

And so we do the work of growth.  We spend the time with God in prayer and study.  We observe the mysteries of the universe and we learn to be content in our corner of it.  We learn to favor the truth above personal advantage, reconciliation over being right.  When the opportunities come, we make the hard choices.  We do what we know to be best.  We eat our . . . well . . . spinach.  There must be help in heaven for us too.

I haven’t eaten much of my spinach yet.  I have put some in an omelet with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  Wonderful!  This weekend, I’m going to try it in a salad with a few strawberries from the garden. 

Blessed eating!