Playing, Praying & Pupusas

When I say that my husband, Mark, is a fantastic dad, I really mean it.  He really puts his heart into parenting and very much enjoys being with the children.  One example:  He travels a lot and used to really enjoy the perks/status that came with airline loyalty.  A few years ago he decided that rather than racking up the airline mileage points, he would make a habit of taking the first available flight (regardless of airline) and thus increasing (even by a few hours), the time spent at home with the family.  Just like he enjoys airline perks, he also enjoys appreciates his creature comforts (hot showers, good mattress, home cooked food).  However, most people that know him think that he really likes camping because he is found on almost every scout campout or hike that occurs.  What he really likes is being outdoors with his kids. He is in the thick of planning his third 50 mile hike – he has a lot of other ways that he could spend a week this summer – but he has three sons and that last one is turning 14 so off they go (taking with them several other boys and a few more dads).
Last week he decided that it had been too long without a Dad/children camping trip and when he asked who was interested he got three very enthusiastic volunteers.  Our little corner of the world has experienced a deluge for many days, and it is not exactly warm.  Natalie’s tennis match meant that they would get to the campsite just moments before dark, and she had to be back, showered and dressed up to be at her choir practice at 9:00 in the morning.  Camper? No.  Tent? No.  They would be sleeping in the rain with only a pop-up shade cover thing.  Yes, four of them…with two cots for the girls and two hammocks (one atop the other) in between.  Yet they were all excited to be a part of this adventure – why?  They love to be with him as much as he loves to be with them.
Another outcome of this adventure?  Jackie and I had a night to ourselves… not a very long one, obviously.  We also went to the tennis match and then hurried off to watch a movie.  We chose Heaven is Real which tell the story of a darling little boy who has a near-death experience when he is four years old.  We both really liked it – anyone who has seen the movie will understand that we came right home and looked up YouTube videos about Akiane, the painter…  There is one part of the story that I keep reflecting on.  The boy’s father is a popular pastor in a small town, and he is a very good man.  He is also a good father.  What I found to be so interesting is that fact that he wanted to believe his son’s story, but this ultimately meant he had to discover his own beliefs about Heaven.  I was wondering how a man could go into the ministry without first questioning whether or not he really believed in Heaven?  I think that it is best to question our beliefs, figure it out for ourselves, and then be as ready as we can be for times when we need that knowledge to get through what life has to offer.
The cool thing to me is that we can actually take our questions to the Source!  In the King James version of the Bible we can read in James 1:5,  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. ”
So – it must be very natural and good that us to have questions.  You cannot really get an answer if you do not have a question.  Perhaps the things holding us back the most are the effort it takes and the fear of not getting an answer (or recognizing when one comes).  This scripture guarantees us an answer – this might come through another person, information you run across, situations that arise over time, experience, good strong feelings of inspiration, etc.  All scriptures are full of stories of individuals and their relationship with the Lord.  Since God does not change, this means that we can all have a relationship with the Lord also… but like any relationship, it takes both of us contributing – not just a one-time-feel-good experience.

6th grade – not a good
time to move!

Hmmm, those were a lot of ideas to explore in just a few sentences.  As I have thought of the father in this movie, I have considered my own relationship with the Lord.  I began to pray in earnest when I was just 12 years old.  I was preparing to enter junior high school and was excited to take certain elective classes, and I had  some really good friends, so my future looked bright.  About this time my parents told us that we would be moving to a small town in Colorado and I was not pleased…at all; really… not at all.  Though I did not say my personal prayers, I had been taught to pray.  Now, here I was in need of comfort and my training told me to turn to the Lord… I still recall being worried that “it would not work”… nevertheless I began to pray each night.   I knew that my dad loved me, so I knew how it would feel for my Heavenly Father to love me as well.  I do not remember anything marvelous or extraordinary, but I did begin to be comforted.  I prayed all through high school and felt my relationship with the Lord begin to develop.  After graduation I moved to an apartment in California prior to attending college.  I was 18 and far from home and wanted reassurance that my Father in Heaven was aware of me – again I was afraid that “it wouldn’t work” – but it did and this time it was marvelous; the kind of experience I can still reflect back on when my faith gets shaky.  So… I have learned, through prayer, that the Lord knows me personally and will comfort me.   Through prayer I have learned many other things – particularly help with school, guidance in parenting, all those things I need to do but are beyond my own capacity.  —Through prayer I learned to ask for forgiveness and for the strength to forgive others —Through prayer I have learned that we can bless the lives of others –I probably know this most powerfully because my family and I have been the recipient of so many prayers…
Nevertheless, like the father in the movie – I am not sure I am prepared for all circumstances that come my way.
I think that this takes a lifetime of practice!
The topic of prayer has occupied my personal thoughts this weekend, so what a surprise to see Jackie’s Facebook post on Sunday:

“Trust me, learning to pray for little things
lets you know you can pray for bigger things.”
Jackie (on Facebook)

That made my day.
On the way home from school this morning I was listening to a show about Religion & Death.   There was a lady speaking who practices a form of Buddhism and is also a grief counselor.  She says that one of the first questions that she asks an individual is whether or not they are spiritual.  She says that this is an entirely different questions than “Are you religious?”   If you ask about religion, people will respond as to what church they attend, or to which they belong, and how well they live by its precepts.  Many religious people are not actually spiritual.  I count on my religious leaders being spiritual.  I consider myself to be spiritual, and I am glad of it.

Lots of toppings – I also really like
them doused with lime.

On a lighter note – we had our first attempt at homemade pupusas yesterday.  Yummy!  Our friends,  came over when they heard what we were up to.  I had never done it so I required everyone to make their own.  For filling I had pork and cotija cheese and Aparicia (from Panama) brought some of her homemade beans.  On top we had fresh green salsa (made my way so it wasn’t too spicy hot) and I invented a pear salsa.  I also found a recipe for curtido – the sour cabbage topping.  Our first attempts to be authentic were rather messy, but then we discovered it was easier to make two tortillas and sandwich them around the filling.  I liked it so much that tonight we will make some fresh tortillas and finish off the leftovers… I think that I will post this later because we won’t have enough to share…
Lessons learned:
Pupusas made the traditional way are messy (because we don’t know what we are doing), but they actually taste better than the easier,pre-smashed, sandwich style.  I think that this is because of the thicker masa.
There is power in prayer – especially if prayer is a daily habit, so that when I need answers or help, it is a natural response.
Both children and dads benefit from time away together.  Those fun times together build relationships in ways that don’t happen when Mom is there trying to keep everyone safe and comfortable.  Mark is such a good sport!!!

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