RhubarbRhubarb Restraint

The rhubarb pie helped me decided when to leave Homer. If I headed out after a quick supper in the trailer, I would make it to Tern Lake before it got too dark. The next morning, I could get up early and go birding right out my front door. That would allow me to make it to Long Rifle Lodge, northeast of Anchorage, in time for lunch and slice of the world’s best rhubarb pie.

My plan worked perfectly—until I arrived at Long Rifle Lodge. I really wanted to buy a whole pie, so that I could have several pieces to give away to Sarah, Richard, and Judy when I passed through Chistochina. That would leave me with a slice or two to eat on my journey back to Arizona, and at least one slice for Pedro. When I went into the restaurant and ordered a slice of pie a la mode, I asked the waitress, “Can I buy an entire pie?”

“Only if you buy eight pieces,” she said. “We don’t sell whole pies.”

“Oh. I guess I’ll take four slices to go.” My disappointment seemed disproportional to the setback. In my slightly sullen state, I failed to do the math. An entire pie consists of EIGHT pieces, not FOUR.

I had finished my slice of rhubarb heaven, paid my bill, stored the four containers with pie in the trailer’s refrigerator, and driven 60 miles down the road before my accounting error hit me. I WOULD HAVE NO PIECES OF PIE TO KEEP ME COMPANY ON THE LONG DRIVE HOME!

Rhubarb Dilemma

I don’t normally write in all-caps screaming letters, but I had a decision to make. I could turn around (which might entail driving another 15 miles before I found a spot). This would add three or four hours to my journey—one doesn’t travel 60 MPH on Alaskan highways. If I turned around, I would waste gas—and I’d arrive at Red Eagle Lodge really late. And I wanted to spend time with Sarah, because I wouldn’t see her again until November.

I could stash the pie in the freezer and hide it under some frozen vegetables so that on the off chance that Sarah looked in the freezer she would never know that I had a stash of rhubarb pie. If I didn’t tell anyone, they wouldn’t miss anything.

Or, I could continue with my plan to give Sarah, Judy, and Richard a slice of pie, and take one 2,417 miles back to Pedro. I bought rhubarb pie for each of them because I wanted to give a gift I knew they would enjoy. Judy and Richard had introduced Sarah to the amazing pie last summer. Sarah had told Pedro and I about it before we drove to Anchorage the first time. Not only that, but I wanted to give a special gift to Judy and Richard for their hospitality and friendship.

For the next hundred miles I fought an internal battle. “It’s just a piece of pie,” you might think. But no. The light, flaky crust melts in your mouth. Rhubarb, grown on the restaurant’s premises, fills the center with just the right amount of sweet and tart. Each bite starts a fiesta of flavors on the tongue. No slimy strawberries or half-cooked chunks of apple mar the perfect flavor of rhubarb.

My Word of the Year and My Life Plan Conspire Against Me

By the time I pulled into Red Eagle Lodge, I knew what I had to do. I also knew why I had to do it. My word of the year for 2016 is ‘constrain.’ All too often, I indulge myself by choosing the easy way. I’d rather stay at home in my comfy cocoon than seek community with others. I waste money on trinkets that I don’t need out of a sense of entitlement. My daily prayer includes a plea that God constrain me (which can mean ‘push’ or ‘restrain’).rhubarb pie

In March, I read a wonderful book called Living Forward, where I learned all about creating a Life Plan. After taking an honest inventory of my life, I discovered that I really wanted better relationships with my family members. Remember, I struggle with selfishness and self-indulgence, which often get in the way of good relationships.

After writing the recipient’s names on the to-go boxes, I would hide Pedro’s slice of pie in the freezer. I would hide it from myself. Then I would take the other three slices directly to the lodge and turn them over to Sarah, Judy, and Richard.

When I gave my gift to Sarah, Judy, and Richard, the delight on their faces confirmed that I had made the right choice. I asked Sarah to keep me accountable about that hidden slice of rhubarb heaven that had Pedro’s name on it.

A Plan for Temptation

And thus I learned a valuable lesson. In order to overcome temptation, whether it’s a giant temptation, an expensive temptation, or a simple temptation to indulge in a hidden, selfish act, one has to have three things.

1. Pray for constraint (or restraint). Know that Christ will understand and come along side you when you struggle. After all, he faced and overcame the biggest temptation the world has ever known—giving up his divinity and taking on the sins of humanity in order to pay the price for our sins.

2. Have a plan. If you know your ‘why,’ or your end game, you will find it easier to make the right decisions. Keep your Life Plan handy and review it often. When temptation strikes, your ‘why’ will pop into your mind and remind you of what you really want. People over pie, any time!

3. Find Accountability. I wanted to surprise Pedro with the slice of rhubarb pie, so I asked both Sarah and Laura to keep me accountable. I would text them from random places along my route and let them know that the pie remained in the freezer.

Prayer, a plan, and accountability can all help you overcome #temptation. Click To Tweet

And yes, the plan worked. Many times along the first part of my journey I felt lonely, discouraged, and in need of a pick-me-up. The rhubarb pie called to me. But I would repeat the three steps and end up leaving the pie in the freezer. I’d say the end result made it all worthwhile!rhubarb pie

Q4U: Is there anything you would add to the plan for dealing with temptation? Which part of the plan is the most difficult for you?

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