During the last six weeks of raising our new German Shepherd puppy Oliver my husband and I have fallen into a familiar parenting routine. He gets up with the pup during the night and the morning shift belongs to me. The morning shift arrives early, because Oliver literally gets up with the dawn.
This arrangement works very little hardship on me as I have always been a morning person. What I especially like about mornings with my puppy is being surrounded by a silence only broken by song birds, ducks, geese, calling loons and the gentle low hum of distant traffic and being alone with God.
As an early riser I have discovered that each new day is unique with its own colors, smells and sounds. Today was no exception to that rule, because it rained last night. When the sun’s first warm rays escaped the earth’s horizon they revealed that all of mother nature was sparkling, green and fresh, and reborn.
Rain renews the earth, just repentance and prayer renew the soul.
Repentance is not a word that one hears very much about anymore. Not even in many churches. Human beings have always been an arrogant and God defying lot. We don’t like being judged by our family, friends, enemies, peers or God. We are proud animals and repentance sounds like a very humbling and judgmental process.
Just like rain washes away the dirt of the earth, self-reflection and repentance washes away self-inflicted hurt and guilt that eats away at our souls like malignant cancer. Repenting is the acknowledgement of regret for acts and decisions we make that offend a loving God by hurting others and ourselves. Repentance brings forgiveness by God and promotes personal growth through self-responsibility enabling a person to become more empathetic, humble, caring, honest, and respectful.
Anyone who has ever known me knows that being still has never been one of my strong points. Throughout my life I have always been in constant motion. I had things to do, places to see and people to care for. I just loved being active indoors and out.
Then in one day my life suddenly without warning changed when I fractured my spine lifting a Thanksgiving turkey out of my refrigerator. Over the next weeks and months, my spine just kept breaking from the simplest of activities…like flossing my teeth. Within six months I was unemployed, in a body cast and nursing home. I was only 53 years old and in my prime.
I ended up living in that hard plastic body cast, that was fitted from my chin to my hips, and being confined to a hospital bed in my living room for over 18 months. It would be yet another year before my correct diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma was made and my cancer battle to return to health even began.
I have been a believing practicing Christian since I was a small toddler sitting on my Grandmother Esther’s lap as she read bible stories and taught me verses of scripture. One of her favorite biblical verses was Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I am quite sure that she quoted this verse frequently just to get me to sit still to listen to the bible stories.
Little did my grandmother know that by repeating that Psalm, while she taught about the love of God, repentance and prayer, she was saving her granddaughter’s life so many years into the future. For when that active little girl as an adult was forced for almost three years to be still, she remembered that Bible verse. In her stillness and despair Esther’s granddaughter turned to God, not away from him, which would have been so easy to do. In stead of bitterness and regret she was blessed with peace and strength. The strength to focus not on what she could no longer do, but what she could still do–pray.
Throughout those many years of being bed and house bound my only contact with many of my friends and loved ones was through prayer. I know that they prayed for me and I found a purpose for my life by praying for others. My helplessness rarely turned to hopelessness as I laid there day, after day, after day, after day and prayed. I prayed for those I love and those I don’t.
In the stillness of my affliction, just like the stillness of each new morning, I, Esther Larson’s granddaughter, knew God and his love and found peace for my soul.
I am greatly blessed.
Morning Glory Chocolate Chip Orange Muffins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin tin liners.
3/4 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon orange zest, freshly grated. (about 2 oranges)
2 cups of flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed and strained
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
In a large bowl combine sugar and orange zest. Add rest of the dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder and mix together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add oil, buttermilk, orange juice, eggs and vanilla into the well. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not over mix, but the batter should be smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.
Evenly fill the 12 muffin tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan. Cool completely. Top with Orange Drizzle Glaze and serve.
Orange Drizzle Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tablespoons of orange juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Stir until smooth. Dip muffin tops into the glaze to coat or drizzle the glaze over the muffin.
I made this recipe yesterday and these muffins are outstanding!
Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.