Sep. 2, 2015

Bees and being gracious...

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; and the desert shall rejoice,and blossom as the rose.” Isaiah 35:1

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, healing to the bones.”

Currently, these flowering cactus are all over Sierra Madre. They’re probably all over other places, too. They are so unexpectedly beautiful. And they are covered with bees, who are enjoying these flowers with unabashed joy. Our desert isn’t exactly blossoming as the rose, and the dry land isn’t particularly glad either. In fact, all our trees and most of our roses are pathetic and thirsty. Gerardo, our gardener, a true renaissance man, who can do absolutely anything: trimming tall trees, finding a great bargain in new plants, cleaning gutters, and all with a great attitude. We were looking at one of our lemon trees this morning, Gerardo and I, and he said what he’s always saying currently, “Needs more water! How many gallons you giving it a week?” Gallons? Seriously? Nobody on our property is getting gallons. We are as drought conscious as it’s possible to be.

Watching those bees swarming around these cactus flowers got me thinking about bees. How do they know those cactus are going to bloom? Is there a bee telegraph? We need these guys to pollinate our flowering plants. Wikipedia told me that one third of the human food supply depends on pollination by insects, birds and bats, most of which is accomplished by bees.

Look up there at the top, that thing about gracious words, this is really true, isn’t it. Wouldn’t you rather talk to someone who has something pleasant and uplifting to say than someone who is always complaining, searching to find the dark side of everything? Which got me to thinking about what God has to say about our words... a lot!

“Whoever keeps his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Prov. 21:23 – Is this ever true! When I was considerably younger I had a tendency, as do most young people, to open my mouth before my brain was fully engaged. I found I was spending a lot of time apologizing, writing apology letters, avoiding people. You guys would never have done that, I’m sure. I’m better now. Not perfect, but better.

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips.” Ps. 141:3.

A few years ago my husband, the always gracious John, and I were the teachers of the young adult Sunday School class at our church. We called them The Jabez Group, and we started with four young people in their early 20’s and eventually expanded to thirty or so. We are delighted to report that a number of marriages came out of that group, and there are babies now, too. We spent a lot of time telling them in various ways that the tongue is a powerful thing that can do a great deal of harm or a great deal of good. Having been married for a while now (48 years and counting) we consider ourselves experts on gracious or non-gracious speech. We have learned that it’s better to keep the lips firmly closed when one has a grievance against the other and wait a while till the temper is cool and the issue can be addressed without saying things one will regret. A little silence isn’t bad at all. One must also resist the urge to slam doors, even though a well-slammed door is so satisfying.

We had some charming, gracious, uplifting, and delightful guests over for dinner last night, and I served this dish, which is really easy, quick to prepare, will wait a while till everybody’s ready to dine and is delicious.

Chicken Chili Relleno Casserole

2 lbs cooked cut up chicken

2 small cans diced Ortega green chiles

1 lb shredded cheese (get the Mexican mix with Jack and Cheddar)

1 can evaporated milk

4 eggs

2 TB flour

2 tsp. salt

Mix the milk, eggs, flour, chiles and salt together in a bowl – That’s your sauce

Layer chicken in a 13 x 9 dish (grease it first)

Layer about half your cheese on top

Another layer of chicken

More cheese

Sauce on top, mix it into the chicken and cheese so the chiles aren’t all on top.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until it’s thickened. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving

With a salad, this is a splendid dinner. All your guests will be using their tongues to say how great your dinner was and how sweet you are for having them over to dine. Ice cream for dessert isn’t a bad idea either.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord.” Ps. 19:14