“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:15-17 MSG
Let’s just say I’m a recovering independent.
No, I’m not talking about political persuasion (though even in that regard I drive most of my die-hard red or blue friends crazy). I’m talking about the fierce, “pull-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps, it will be easier if I just do this myself, I don’t want to be a burden” mindset that was born within me and nurtured for the longest time by a mom and a fiery older cousin who wanted to make sure I could take care of myself. I learned to cook at a young age, got my first job at 12, and was taught to drive a car at 13. Both mom and JuJu were hell-bent on me being able to get from here to there without ever having to ask for help.
It’s taken years, a lot of stumbling, and several good-sized portions of humble pie for me to understand the beauty and power of community. It’s taken gut-level, battle-weary, scuffed knees prayer for me to stop telling God, “I’ve got this – take Your tender attentiveness and give it to someone who’s really struggling.” I am incredibly thankful for His faithfulness, and for Him just smiling when I give Him a nod and point to someone I think might need Him more than me. I can hear Him saying, “Oh bless, girl. When will you confess that together is better?”
And He’s right. Together is better. I know I’ve written this a hundred times, but we are built for belonging and we are crafted for community. It’s made evident every time we receive the perfect text at the perfect time from a friend, or every time we labor hard to help someone else with a task, or every time we huddle together in an office and discover the perfect solution to a challenge. We hear it when we gather together and sing, or when we feel the power of someone’s prayers. And it’s palpable when we meet at the table for good food and good conversation. Circled up, shoulder to shoulder, we feel independence shattered by the power of divine dependence. Oh #kitchentherapy, you continue to teach me well.
I need you. You need me. Others need us. We won’t make it alone.
Remember, I said I am a recovering independent. I’m not totally there yet. But I’m trying. And I have a favor to ask of you right now. I’ve not talked about this much, but my best friend Courtney and I have put together a little responsive prayer journal. The idea was born on a flight from Guatemala to the US, and our hope is that the little journal (and its hopefully bigger sister journal down the road) will provide the means for folks to be able to serve the vulnerable. We want to give more people the opportunity to say, “yes” to traveling internationally without worrying about finances. The prayer journal focuses on four books of the New Testament – Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians – and has love notes and illustrations that we pray will invite folks to spend time with the Lord and then respond with their own words and images. There are actually 121 chapters in the Epistles (the books from Romans to Jude in the Bible), and we want to someday do a journal that will feature all of them. But for now, it’s 20 chapters, plus five Psalms for good measure.
“So, why are you telling me all of this?” you might ask? Because I need YOUR prayers for this little prayer journal. I am great at marketing and asking people to get involved. It’s been my career for 30 years now. But marketing MY things and asking people to help with MY things? Yeah, you get it. I don’t want to be a bother. I’ll figure it out myself. I know, that’s wrong. We are all in this together. I’m leaning into the words in Colossians:
“None of this going off and doing your own thing.”
So please pray that I’ll be unafraid to ask for help, that I’ll be unafraid to ask folks to buy the journal and promote the journal. Pray the same for Court (she’s a recovering independent too). It’s going to be ready for the world at the end of July. Pray “togetherness” for Courtney and me. Pray “togetherness” for everyone who will read the journal. Pray “togetherness” for all who will receive gifts because of it.
Yes, the gifts given to others are dependent upon the journal being sold. And the sale of the journal is dependent upon people knowing about it. And people knowing about it is dependent upon me asking for help.
Again, I am a recovering independent. And I need you right now.
Goodness, I haven’t even told you the name of the little prayer journal. It’s called for you, love because it’s filled with love notes written from friend to friend. In fact, some of the notes were first text messages to friends of mine after spending time with Jesus and coffee – a reminder of our belonging, our togetherness. You can learn even more about the journal here.
If I could have you all over to CasaRock for an evening, I would thank you for your prayers by making this pie for you. In fact, I’d be more than happy to fill my backyard with tables and have a pie party in your honor, if you’d let me. But in case that can’t happen, here’s the recipe for what might possibly be the best lemon icebox pie ever. It was Brad’s birthday “cake” when we celebrated his life a few days ago. The pie joined chicken and sausage, hash brown casserole, salad and biscuits for a summer evening picnic on the patio. The pie is incredible on its own, but topping it with berry lemon sauce and a dollop of whipped cream? Angels sang. I promise.
Thank you, friends. Thank you. And hey, let me know how I might pray for you – especially if you’re a recovering independent like me. And if you want to get even more involved in helping with for you, love, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seriously Good Lemon Icebox Pie with Berry Amazing Sauce
(Serves 8, unless you are me. Then it serves 1 with a smile.)
First, the Pie.
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 T fresh lemon zest
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ t. vanilla
3 large egg yolks
¼ cup buttermilk (this is the magic)
Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Pour into prepared graham cracker pie crust (there’s a recipe for really good one below), and bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes or until set. Let cool for at least an hour before serving.
Then, the sauce.
1 container raspberries
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. fresh lemon zest
1 T. vanilla (Mexican vanilla if you can get it)
In a saucepan on medium heat, stir all ingredients together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring often, until the raspberries have broken down and the sauce has thickened. Strain sauce to remove all seeds, and then use it on its own or over fresh fruit. I used blackberries, but it will work with ALL the berries. Oh my goodness. It’s so good.
And if you need a pie crust:
This is a “go-to” from King Arthur flour. It’s GREAT!
1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (mix regular and cinnamon for a great option)
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
6 T. butter, melted
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” pie pan or 9” cheesecake pan. You’ll have some crumbs left over – they are perfect for a little garnish on the top of your pie!