Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lessons From a Soup Pot

The other day I decided to have a try at making French Onion Soup. I searched the web for recipes, read blogs on technique, then made my way to the store for sherry, beef broth, Gruyere cheese, and a lot of onions. I cried my way through the slicing then piled the onions in a roaster (since I do not own a Dutch oven) with a whole stick of butter. Setting the oven timer for one hour, I cleaned up the kitchen, tucked the children into bed, and waited. At the sound of the timer, I opened the oven door to the lovely aroma of cooked onions, stirred them, then returned the pan into the oven to bake one hour and a half more. Once the baking was complete, I began the next process of caramelizing. Setting the pot on the stove, I added one-fourth cup of water, scraped the bottom of the pan, and waited once again as the liquid cooked off of the onions. After repeating this process three more times, I finally added the Sherry and patiently stirred and scraped as it evaporated as well, leaving the onions ready for the final step of simmering in beef broth with a little thyme and bay leaf. As the liquid simmered, I realized how much I had savored the slow process that would result in a decadent soup to be enjoyed by my family.

In this fast paced, microwave generation, we sometimes miss the enjoyment slow, methodical cooking provides. A good French Onion Soup cannot be rushed. It takes time and patience. As I contemplated this idea, I realized the same is true for parenting. Parenting requires hours and hours of preparation and input. It involves tears as children grow from the raw personalities that they are into aromatic individuals full of life to give back to this world. It cannot be rushed neither neglected. But just as I relished the procedure for creating a delectable French Onion Soup, I am learning to cherish the hours required to faithfully train and equip the children entrusted to my care. And as I do so, I am beginning to understand a little more deeply the Father heart of God, as He too seeks to mold me into an aromatic individual suited for His purposes.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Julie, Julia, and Me

Today I enjoyed a delightful escapade from the normal routine of life. The four children happily cared for by their adoring grandparents left me hours on end to spend in solitude. What to do with such a gift? My first response....Barnes and Noble Bookstore.

With an armful of books and a chai tea in hand, I spent a good portion of my day capturing great amounts of inspiration. Perusing books on blogging, decorating, cooking, sewing, photography, and the classics set the wheels of ideals into motion. I even ran into my favorite idealist while wandering the rows and rows of books. (It's amazing how this blog world makes me feel kin to someone I have not really ever spent time with in person.)

After absorbing a good portion of information which was carefully noted on the backs of receipts, napkins, or whatever source of paper could be found, I made way to my next destination...the paper store. With gift card in hand, I whittled away more than an hour admiring ribbon, paper, stamps, embellishments, and finally walked away with a bagful of treasures. A haircut, supper at a special cafe, and a little more shopping left me readied for my quiet home and a favorite movie.

Even though it is my third viewing of Julie and Julia in the past month, I find the story does not get old. I suppose I love it so much because it embraces so many of my passions: cooking, family, relationships, hospitality, writing, blogging. I laugh, as I realize that before the movie I had little interest in pearls, I thought Julia Child wrote The Joy of Cooking, and I imagined a good blog involved well thought paragraphs and preparation. Since first viewing the movie, I have learned to enjoy the down to earth conversation that takes place in blogosphere, I cook French Onion Soup, I admire a nice string of pearls when I pass by the jewelry in the department stores, and I consider Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child a high priority on my kitchen wish list. It's somewhat silly how one movie has changed my perspective and even inspired me to live more artfully, but it also is encouraging. You see, the real Julie Powell is somewhat of a crass individual and a seemingly unlikely candidate for inspiration. She has been criticized for her inappropriate language and lifestyle, yet she has inspired a story that is sure to send more cooks to the kitchen, more families to the dinner table, and more relationships valued. I am encouraged by this, that one ordinary human being with great faults could inspire so many people, simply by drawing public attention to the work of her inspiration, Julia Child.

Why am I encouraged by this? I am a faulty parent, wife, human being who simply wishes to live my life serving the greatest of inspiration, my Saviour, Jesus Christ and draw the attention of everyone I meet to His goodness. I am an unworthy candidate, full of faults; but in some small way I can inspire simply by living out each day the life He gifts to me. No, I may never inspire the masses, but I hope to leave a legacy with the four precious children entrusted to my care. That being said, I am renewed to pursue all things necessary to accomplish the goal before me; to live artfully, purposefully, daily for the One who gave His life for me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wrapping Up

Christmas Day is drawing near. The gifts are bought, and most are wrapped. For a moment I stop and breathe as I check my unending list of preparations. What must I still accomplish? What project shall I abandon?

In the hurry of the season with Christmas concerts to attend, goodies to bake, parties to plan, traditions to uphold, my adrenaline kicks in with a sudden sense of urgency. My heart pounds. My breathe shortens, and I almost forget the Reason for it all. The Prince of Peace was born over 2,000 years ago, not to bring stress, pressure, deadlines: but rather peace. Peace in the midst of chaos. Peace that exudes from the very core of my being, because He is the core of my being. Peace that understands He is in control even when my world seems spinning out of control.

I stop, I meditate, I remember the One who was born in a stable that infamous Christmas night and breathe a little deeper. Life still spins, but I no longer spin with it. I stand calm in the midst of the storm, for I know Him who calms the storm. I remove my vision from the waves of life, and focus my gaze into the eyes of my beloved Lord of all the universe. For it is He who "keeps in perfect peace the mind who is focused on Him."

I laugh, I love, I feel lighter. I go about the tasks before me renewed yet grounded, grounded in the overwhelming security of the Son of God who loves me, and paves the way before me.