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Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. Psalm 107:19 (NASB)

Nick the dog was Dad’s Christmas present. Dad, always clever with a name, named him after St. Nick. He was so soft and sweet in my lap that night at the table. I stroked his velvety black ears and his body relaxed. Nick jumped off my lap and padded into the kitchen as we lingered around my parent’s dining table over our berry cobbler and sweaty iced tea glasses.

We were interrupted by cries so loud that they sounded like a car alarm. We raced from the table into the kitchen to find Nick spurting blood and yelping. With a little investigation, one of the family cats had all she could take of this puppy getting her food and attention. She lunged toward the dog and took a bite out of his ear, a la Mike Tyson. My husband jumped into high gear stopping the bleeding with a towel and calling his step-father, a veterinarian.

Soon, we were seated in our usual arrangement back at the table. The cat was banished outside. Nick was back in my lap, this time wrapped in a towel. My husband started to sing, “Perforate the dog, come on!” to the tune of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate good times, come on!” We all relaxed and were relieved that my husband had a cool head. (We won’t go there with exactly how little help my mother and I were! Hi, Mom.)

Yelping: Crying out. Loudly. Sharply. When we’re in pain. Primal. Emotional.

Helping: Rescuing. Saving. Like from a burning building or drowning. Urgent.

My summary of Psalm 107:19 is “I yelp; God helps.”

“In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need.”* I want to stop keeping such a stiff upper lip with God. I want to be on my face instead of merely on my knees. I want to literally cry out to God instead of praying internally with measured words. I want to yelp instead of whimper.

The Group 30 girls were teasing me about how I was going to tie a sweet and sour chicken recipe into my blog post for the week.  All I can say is that this recipe calls for chicken, not dog or cat!  (Bad joke, I know.  Please don’t flame me in the comments!)

Sweet and Sour Chicken (taken from The Potluck Club, Book 1 by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson)

6 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp soy sauce
6 tbsp honey
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 and 1/2 tsp dried thyme (I omit)
1 and 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp pepper
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 cups hot cooked white rice

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all ingredients except chicken and rice in a shallow baking dish.  Pierce both sides of the chicken with a fork.  Turn several times in sauce mixture using tongs.  Bake for 30 minutes, basting several times with sauce.  Serve with the rice.  Can be lower carb by serving with steamed broccoli.

*(www.intouch.org/magazine/content/topic/how_to_cry_out_to_god_devotional)

 

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Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 NASB

Picture if you will, Williamsburg, Virginia in the late 1990’s.  I was there for my second summer as a seasonal musician (French horn) at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  I loved that job.  I was so excited to be paid to play.  I thought the area was beautiful.  I really liked all my co-workers.  You could literally go get cotton candy during your paid breaks.  Sweet gig!

Since the employment was seasonal, many of the entertainment employees would live in the same few apartment complexes that offered short term leases to us. For the second summer in a row, I had flown out and my bicycle was my only mode of transportation.  My options were to walk, to bike or to mercilessly mooch rides from co-workers and friends. 

This was all well and good until I needed to go to the grocery store.  My bike wasn’t a great option and I hadn’t arranged a ride.  Even a college kid at least needed cereal, milk and cokes.  I was walking back to my apartment from Farm Fresh with my plastic bags of groceries digging into my arm.  I’d switch the bags back and forth from side to side as if that helped.  It was hot and my hair was plastered to my face.  Not my best look.  I was ready to be back in my apartment with my cold A/C.

A white Camry slows down next to me and the window rolls down.  The driver was a good looking trumpet player that had recently subbed into my show but I didn’t know well.  He asks me in a deep South accent, “Hey, those groceries look heavy.  Need a ride?”  I, with the plastic bags digging into my hands, the red face and sweat plastered hair force a smile.  “No, I’m fine.  Thanks, though.  I do this all the time.”

I get closer to the apartment complex.  He stops to offer help again.  He does not look hot and agitated like me.  His car looks comfortable and cool.  Did I mention he was good looking and well mannered?  It is getting a little harder to sell the idea that I am fine but I refuse his help twice and struggle up to my apartment on the third floor with my groceries.

I want to yell at my 21 year old self to get in that car!  Especially since the driver is now my husband and he still ribs me about my grocery trip.  However, I’m no less stubborn when it comes to receving God’s love and help. 

God has given me His word full of beautiful promises and I seek comfort in food.  I can talk to the God of the universe at any time about my stresses yet I hope that zoning out in front of the TV will help.  The plastic bags of my burdens dig into my soul and still I refuse to “cast my cares upon Him.”  The Great I Am invites me to spend time in His presence and I try to squeeze in one more chore instead.

I spent time in the word one evening this week with the stress busting scriptures.  It was really a joy to dig into the Bible like that.  I’m very grateful for that assignment.  It was so much more rejuvenating than the usual stress relievers that everyone recommends like a cup of tea or pedicure (not that there is anything wrong with that!).  It brought to mind a hymn from childhood.

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

P.S. There is a recipe that I didn’t know about until I met my husband.  If you are Southern, it won’t be a revelation but it was new to me.  Speaking of college friendly recipes, cheesetoast!  Put a slice of your favorite cheese or grated cheese on a piece of bread.  Grind some pepper on top if you want.  Broil until bubbly.  Watch it because it goes from delicious to burnt in about two seconds.  Great for breakfast or any time.