Monday, September 29, 2008

Wedding Sausages!

What you see there, folks, is Amy Peterson ENJOYING this mysterious delicacy known by our family-in-law as Wedding Sausages. At the grocery store they go by "Lil' Smokies". We threw a baby shower for the upcoming Burrito (Dora's 2nd daughter, due in about 2 weeks) and in honor of Dora, we pulled out the crockpot, headed to the commissary, and anchored the party with...Wedding Sausages!

Now, you need to know a little bit of history here. Dora's brother OJ first introduced the Peterson family to the existence of wedding sausages when he requested they be present at the reception of he and my sister Suz. I'm sorry to say, once the Northerners (we Petersons were transplanted to Chicago long enough ago to qualify) were informed of what exactly these things were, his request was denied. (To be fair, I don't think the caterer even had such an item available.) Seems that in the fair South, wedding sausages are staples at every party.

Wedding sausages are placed in a crockpot and heated in a soupy mixture of barbecue sauce and grape jelly. From there, little toothpicks are provided with which to impale and raise them to the mouth. (I thought I needed to be explicit here, as many Northerners read my blog.)

What love induced me to provide these sausages at Dora's shower, you may guess. The deed was done and I endured the scorn of all present as I ate, in public, my first wedding sausage. Here is the confession you've been waiting for: I went back for seconds. And thirds. These little things are tasty! After the evening was over I was challenged by Dora and Deanna, who laughed as they mocked, "So Amy, now will you have wedding sausages at your wedding?" To which I firmly replied, "No. They're tasty, but they are definitely not a wedding sort of food." Groans, as you can imagine, were my answer.

However, I have no shame in displaying to you these photos of me gulping them down, posing with them, and recommending that you take the chance to try one if you ever can.

Dora and the Belly


Kim winning the "how fast can you dress a baby while blindfolded" game. All we had to use as the baby was a stuffed-animal Martian that some neighbors gave Arden.


We ended by decorating onesies for the Burrito...


Being glamorous...


And posing with WEDDING SAUSAGES!

If you've made it this far in the blog, your reward will be great. Well...perhaps not. But you do get to watch a video of me trying out on the public one of the gifts the Burrito was given. It's called "Moo, Baa, La La La." (Something I first became familiar with through my association with Glorie-Be.) Enjoy!

video

Friday, September 26, 2008

Turning Around in my Cadillac

Do you like watching strangers peruse your garage sale, peer at all your stuff and turn up their noses, evaluate how much this-or-that is worth, and walk off having wrested something real from you as if it was never of any value to begin with?

I usually start off a garage sale day feeling totally in charge of the world (I'm determining the prices; I'm offering my goods), and end it feeling like an unenticing, floppy dishrag, crying pitifully, "Love me, love me. My old hat is worth your dollar!"

Well, perhaps that statement's excessive. But it is so human to mix a feeling of defiant pride simultaneously with the need for affirmation.

I've gotten off track here, as the situation we're in hasn't had much of the need for affirmation, just that very odd feeling I imagine persecuted and oppressed people the world over have had when those stronger than them survey their lives to see what might be worth taking.

The owner of Sam & Dora's house (they're renting) has decided to sell it. This means that while her husband is away at sea, and she is about to give birth to their daughter in his absence, she may also have to pack up the whole house, find a new one, and move. Of course, I wouldn't let her do much of the packing, but the emotional stress of it all is something I can't take away.

So, people (they seem more like circling vultures) have been periodically coming and walking around our home. Someday I may experience the reality of having absolutely no say over my own life and watching others take what they want. Happily, that is not now. Still, the exercise of sitting still while others survey your living quarters, trying to decide if they want to purchase and kick you out, is tinged with that bigger sense of disenfranchised helplessness one sometimes has nightmares about.

We've been trying to behave in a golden-rule, Christian sort of manner. For instance, we haven't trashed the house in preparation for showings, and we haven't told the viewers that the neighbors have excessively loud cars which come and go in the middle of the night. I did almost tell some people that the house next door is a halfway house. Luckily, Dora corrected me before I did. Turns out it is a "care home". But that would have been an accident.

So we've cleaned and straightened and been pleasant hostesses, all the while praying hard that the house-hunters will be uninterested. We're on tenderhooks, since if the owner doesn't sell by the end of the month, he's taking it off the market until January. That would mean Sam would definitely be home before any moving has to happen. The other day another viewing was scheduled. We were ready. We were hoping. Hoping they'd hate it. We saw a Cadillac pull up the street. It pulled into the driveway. Dora opened the door. The man got out, but the woman didn't. "We're done," he said. He got back into the car and drove away. DRIVIN' AWAY IN HIS CADILLAC. Whoops of joy rose out our windows. There've been no viewings since.

So, I guess our little roost didn't pass muster. It does make one feel slightly defensive. Defensive, and oh so happy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What an unmarried woman had to say about that!

Tonight was the Bible study I wrote about a few weeks ago, where I'd be leading on the book The Power of a Praying Wife. Unbeknownst to me when last I wrote, I HAD volunteered for the week that the chapter was actually on the subject of marriage! So here I sat, an unmarried woman waxing eloquent while six married women listened. Only God does these sorts of things.
I was afraid of boring them, and perhaps I did (Dora insists I didn't). Yet, I enjoyed teaching what I did. Several days ago I was talking to my dad on the phone and he popped out with one of those memory-blazing phrases -- the sort that will in the future will always be prefaced with a "my dad says...." What did he say? Ah yes, good of you to ask.

"Satan is always warring against love. He is always warring against relationships."

I've thought about it several times since, especially as I prepared for leading this study. It is so true, and so infrequently considered seriously. Oh, we're aware of the enemy's involvement in major things like divorce and bitterness and adultery. But the little things escape our notice: irritation, annoyance, self-preservation, fear, accusations. The list is extensive, so I won't even attempt to complete it. The point is, we are actually in a war. If we never recognize the fact, we will never violently and vigilantly act to preserve the way of love.

God IS love, and we are made in His image. This means that what Satan hates in God, he hates in us also. The enemy hates love.

Can you imagine this? Really? A personality that hates love? I find it horrific.

We can already see how effective the enemy is in this. Our culture guzzles divorce like beer. What are our defenses against such an all-out attack? What are our counter-weapons? What tools and strategies has the Lord given us to counter this onslaught of powerful hate?

Prayer is the first. Love is the second.

There are two aspects to this love. The first is following the law of love toward one another. That law says that we are to love the other as we love ourselves, that we are to prefer the other above ourselves, that we are to lay down our life for the sake of the other. (Ever notice how much easier it is to follow this law of sacrificial love toward our friends and neighbors than toward our family and spouses?)

The second aspect is this: we are married to two men at once. One marriage will last about 50 years. The other will last over 50 million years (to name a smallish sort of number). Our marriage to Jesus is our first, and our longest. It is the real thing, of which our physical marriage is a picture and shadow and reflection. It is the blueprint. It is the guide.

What does this mean practically? Our capacity for love is greater than a human being will ever be able to fill. We are deeper people than our spouses will ever be able to plumb. Women (and men, I assume) habitually look to their spouses to fill needs God created so extensive that only He could fill them. He left room in us for Himself!

He took me once through the 23rd Psalm, having me declare back to Him that He was my shepherd, my husband wasn't. He was my provider, my husband wasn't. He would give my soul rest and peace, my husband wouldn't. And so on... It was a wonderful exercise. At each verse I acknowledged that God might use my husband as a tool and an avenue, such as providing for me financially and physically. But in the ultimate sense, at the end of the story, a spouse is not going to ever complete what only God can.

I told the girls tonight that they will always be in want, they will always be in need. No husband will supply what God designed only to be satisfied by Himself. Until the marriage of the Lamb and the bride, we will always be waiting. The only way for a physical marriage to be all it was designed to be, is for it to be second to our marriage to God. The only way to really love your spouse, is to love God more than your spouse.

And that's what an unmarried woman had to say about that!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mastering the Ukelele

A very dear friend visited me last week here on our island paradise. Kim braved 12 hours in the air to come from New Jersey. Among the whirlwind of fun that follows the visits of friends was a trip to the free ukelele lessons at the Royal Hawaiian Cultural Center down in Waikiki. Deanna discovered that they have certain free activities every day. We've taken advantage of lei making lessons and hula lessons as well.

Although the ukelele (pronounced oo-ca-lay-lay) is much, much smaller than the guitar, I at least had the general idea already. However, it does seem clear to me that my fingers are much too long to comfortably master the instrument. I also had a very difficult time holding it properly. It seems that a larger-ish belly is very helpful as a sort of perch to keep it up where it needs to be. By the end of the lesson I felt (and probably looked) like a hunchback.

video

It was tons of fun, however, especially singing along with some of the songs. We (as at all the free cultural center activities) seemed to be the only Caucasians in a sea of Japanese tourists. I think at least by the end of the lesson our teacher had grown used to (and even fond of) the loud laughter and protestations drifting across the group from our back table. (We've been late to every activity there, thus the back row, the back table, and the last lei needles...)


Deanna and I loved it!

She even took photos of the songs. Don't look too closely at this one. It wasn't until after I'd finished belting out multiple times "...you do the Ami-Ami for the boys in the band..." that it struck me I wasn't sure what exactly the "Ami-Ami" was, and most probably wouldn't do it for the boys in the band.


Kim wasn't too sure about the whole thing. Especially B minor w/ a 7th.


It was tons of fun! If you come to Hawaii, I highly recommend the process of making fools of yourselves trying to play ukelele and dance the hula.

It's something to navigate, the difference between facebook and a blog. For those of you not on facebook, I'm adding a little video here of Kim's visit and the avocado hunt we went on. Taylor had told us that the old Pali Highway had tons of avocado trees growing alongside. That was all we needed to know!

video

We found the old Pali highway during a hike. It was like walking along the ruins of an ancient civilization. And there, high above our heads, was an avocado tree. I haven't much of a pitching arm, so after a few pitiful attempts I decided to photograph the others throwing rocks up to try to loosen the fruit. I happened to catch the big moment on a video. The funniest part (which you can't really see) was watching the fallen avocado roll down the steep highway once it hit the ground. You CAN see Deanna and Kim running after it. This, in case you need to know, is how to harvest an avocado!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Reprieve

I had a reprieve on Monday. It was Labor Day, which meant that we ceased from our labor (ha! just being in Hawaii seems like a cease from labor), ignored all social obligations, and cooked chicken shish-gabobs--as I so sloppily called them. Those of you who know me humorously take it in stride that when happy or excited I’ll sometimes slur my words. Thoughts of kebobs obviously did the trick. (Of course, I was thinking Persian with some sour cherry saffron rice…)

Though American versions, the kabobs turned out wonderfully. More importantly, the Monday-night-Bible-study was cancelled. Don’t misunderstand, I absolutely enjoy that study. Every Monday evening a band of military wives meet together at our house to have dessert, to study, to pray and to chat. Deanna and I are the non-military add-ons, which is never a chore as I’m highly sympathetic with my brother’s career and my sister-in-law’s resultant duties and joys. However, the current study (one I encouraged, by the way, so don’t feel too sorry for me) is on The Power of a Praying Wife.

Remembering a friend’s tale of spending a year praying for his wife with the corresponding book (Power of a Praying Husband) before he even met her, I decided that prayer is always valuable and I could participate without actually knowing this mysterious man I’ll someday call “husband”. In theory, I’m right. In prayer, I’m right. (It feels great to serve him this way without even being sure of who he is.) But in conversational practicality, I’m in a tough spot.

I don’t know if Deanna feels it as keenly as I do. Several times over the last few months I have been ashamed to discover my heart saying to the Lord, “Don’t torture me.” These are accusations I have never entertained against Him, for I know He does not torture. But in everyday life I have somehow gotten into a situation where I am weekly reminded of how different my life is than these women who all married in their early 20’s and have (for the most part) children to raise and marriage relationships to nurture. While they are discussing what to do with your heart when your husband has to work late and you’re resentful over it, I’m just wondering what it might feel like to be loved so much that someone has pledged to come home always (even if late) – to me. I know I can love like that, but to be loved like that is outside my realm of experience. (Except, of course, for the divine Lover, who as Psalm 73 declares, is “my portion forever”.)

I was delighted to be reassured by Him out of Lamentations 3.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord…
Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
For He does not afflict willingly (from His heart),
Nor grieve the children of men.”

Yet, it sometimes does feel like a weekly torture, especially when marriage problems and complaints dominate the conversation while I am quietly sitting there marveling at how quickly our human souls can forget how good and how merciful the Lord has shown Himself to us in first giving such a gift as a husband or a wife. It is easier to see this, I suppose, when the gift has not yet been given to me. But He reminded me in this scripture that His heart is not to torture or afflict. His heart is to have mercy, and part of that mercy, I know, is to take me through the necessary trials to purify and perfect my soul. Ah, mercy in all its facets.

I’m supposed to lead the group in a few weeks and I just have to laugh about it. I’ve been put in a position like this before, where I ended up leading a study on the week it happened to be about marriage. I – the only unmarried one in the whole group of 20 women! God’s got a great sense of humor and a great way of showing who actually does the work (the Holy Spirit, of course) when we let him. Somehow, He came through that night and much was done in the women’s hearts. I trust the same will happen again, though I won’t have to teach specifically on marriage. Beseeching the Lord together over our husbands will be much easier. And on that day I at least can be certain that the leader will not admonish me, in all seriousness, to sleep with my husband often and willingly. However scriptural that command is, it is not one I currently have in my power to obey. I shall stick to more universally applicable admonishments, or at least, to ones that Deanna and I can follow just as well as the wives. Perhaps something about unselfishly loving…

Monday, September 01, 2008

Division of Labor

I just got a facebook message from an old school friend of my younger sister, at the end of which she says that my baby is so cute. How embarrassing... It's true, the profile pictures on facebook don't have any captions where I can specify I'm holding my niece, not my daughter. My "single" status might give people pause (or not) when they see that photo. Hmm... perhaps I'll choose a new one.

In other news, I washed my hands this morning and discovered they are painfully bruised across the tops of the palms. After I'd briefly and frantically wondered what sort of rare disease attacked hand muscles first, I realized my adventures with the lawnmower yesterday were more intense than these writer's hands are used to. It took quite a few tries to get the thing started, but I had to do it as guests are coming tomorrow and I'd already put on grubby clothes, slathered myself with sunscreen, and donned the straw hat. Here is a little demonstration of what occurred after the gas tank was refilled (note, if you can, the slightly wobbly looking front wheel):


video

I'd been determined to do this, as our friend who mowed it last has been uber-busy at work so Sunday is a precious day for him to spend with his wife and baby, and the other man we might call on for such things just had his second child (rather, his wife did) and I couldn't stand the thought of making him leave them to haul his lawnmower over here and cut our grass!

He, by the way, made a passing comment a few weeks ago that must be shared: "Men's bodies aren't good for much...we can carry things," he said, "but women make food and they make people!" It's a comment I have highly appreciated since--it's not often you hear a Marine so vocally self-denigrating. He was in perfect earnest, but you should have seen his dancing eyes. His very-pregnant wife smiled quietly, while I laughed out loud. I guess women's bodies are pretty amazing. But so are men's--a point that has been driven home often in Sam's absence as I do things he normally would have done. When my sister Lizzie married Peter she made a deal with him -- he would care for the cars, the lawn, and the garbage; and she would do the food and the housekeeping. This strength-based division of labor is not sexist. It's delightfully honest!