preparations // anticipations

I called my Grandma last week for advice about pie crust made from scratch for my pretend thanksgiving gathering. She’s my domestic expert – the neighbor lady who is always volunteering to drop off baked goods for baby showers and has a steady store of homemade cookies in the freezer. She’s that kind of grandma and I know she loves my phone calls for domestic advice.

“Oh, honey just buy one,” she said, which didn’t sound as fun (though I’m sure it was much more practical).

Instead, I Macgyvered a recipe involving a (knock-off) food processor and let my butter-chunked dough plates cool for 2 hours in the fridge when I ran in the park. While warming (but not boiling) apples on the stove and manhandling an unconventional pie recipe to fit my NYC kitchen, I cut up sweet potatoes for a maple mash situation. I was a little nervous I would end up combining both recipes in a typical disaster, but I managed to keep them separate.

Mid-bake I realized I was supposed to brush on egg whites to the crust… who has a pastry brush? Not this girl. I pulled the pie out and smothered some across the top, but I knew it was a mistake (that I ended up scraping off later).

My lumpy, delicious smelling creation came out about 15 minutes before we walked out the door. We maneuvered it into a paper bag and then inside a tote with the maple mashed sweet potatoes and a bottle of wine.

The kitchen is sometimes my favorite place because it is where magic is made – the magic of gatherings and spread tables and finger licking and… community. Community gets baked inside kitchens, even if they are skinny like closets and even when they don’t have pastry brushes.

And there is magic in the preparation.
Maybe that’s why people like to crowd in the kitchen space.

I don’t know if my mom would call her kitchen method “magic” – but I do know what it felt like to crowd in and taste the spaghetti sauce, to keep one eye on the broiling toast in the oven and the other eye on the fruit salad, to run out to the garden to cut a head of broccoli so it could be smothered in cheese. There was nothing gourmet or fancy about what she did in there, but we wanted to be close to the preparations because it was magic.

Soon enough, all seven of us would sit down around the long wooden table in the dining room and my dad would end grace with the words, “…bless this food to our bodies and our bodies to your service.” I’m not sure where he picked that up, but I like it. And we all knew that it was code for, “dig in” so it was a pretty popular phrase amongst the siblings.

All that preparation in the kitchen happened so we could gather and “pass the food to the left, leaving our right hand free for self service.” All that sweat in the kitchen got us to sit around in a circle, scooping out large helpings and chatting about the day and the farm and the news in our little town and the news in the big world.

Preparations.

I’ve been thinking a lot about preparations, since I’m hosting real thanksgiving this Thursday but also because Advent is a season of preparation. Next Sunday is the first day of Advent and it seems fitting that it should follow a week of thanksgiving. I can’t imagine what these last few weeks must have been like for Mary as she made preparations to give birth to the Messiah – what her prayers must have sounded like and how her fears must have felt.

Preparations are magical because anticipation is hidden inside.

When my brother Samuel “sampled” the chili and when my sister Christina “tested” the stir-fry, a scolding would accompany my mom’s raised eyebrows, “It’s not dinner time yet.” Because preparations are about something that is going to happen. 

I don’t want to rush past what it feels like to anticipate.

I don’t want to lose the magic of the kitchen space, preparing for something wonderful. I especially don’t want to waste the magic of preparing to celebrate Christ’s birth. If you are looking for a way to celebrate the season of Advent with your family, this Advent guide from the Gospel Project is free right now. I’m hoping my roommates will agree to be a family for the next month, so we can anticipate our Savior together!

Thanksgiving (crowded kitchens and tables and stovetops) is a great place to start.

if you are in the area, you are welcome to come to our thanksgiving gathering
if you are in the area, you are welcome to come to our thanksgiving gathering

Monday are YUMdays!

MONDAYS are YUMDAYS

I love Mondays. No, really. I LOVE Mondays.

You think I’m kidding, but today sealed the deal. Here are some of the things today that overflowed my cup:

 

 

  1. I drove to school instead of rode the bus, which perfectly placed about 8.5 extra minutes to spend with David in 1 Samuel
  2. I ran out of coffee filters at my house, but savored a Vanilla Chai tea… delicious start!
  3. I met the day with uncharacteristic (before coffee), silly joy and greeted students with grand gestures and lopsided smiles.
  4. During our mid-morning break, I was heading back from an errand in the administration building, secretly hoping two certain, special students would be waiting in my office… and THEY WERE. I think I scared them with my loopy-ness and laughter, but I don’t care. I love it when I find students in my office… especially when the special ones appear!
  5. CHAPEL happens Monday and today was such a blessing! I am sure many of the seniors won’t admit it, but they want to know about hearing God’s voice. That was exactly the message!
  6. Then, I got to counsel one of my favorite students using a SWEET analogy about records playing in our heads. Sometimes we’ve let the record of lies steal the show and we listen to it over and over and start to believe all the foolishness it plays. We’ve got to put that sweet record called Truth on stat and then you better believe we’re gonna speak and act out of that life-giving overflow! I’ll admit, my favorite part was connecting it to a Corinne Bailey Rae song, “Put Your Records On” because every time I saw her I broke out into singing.
  7. I love that THIS was shown to remember our time at the SLEEPout!
  8. then…(drumroll) it’s MONDAY so that means culinary collision with two of my favorite ladies! I seriously can’t explain how beautiful and brilliant these girls are… so I won’t try. Just read this blogpost and you’ll get a little taste of the night (not a real taste, but a cyber-ish one:).
  9. I love praying in my car on the way back from Monday baking dates. Shoot, and I just have to say again how much I love these amazing high school girls. They may/may not be changing my life (mostly may).
  10. I may/may not have consumed too much caffeine today (mostly may), which means I might be up writing for awhile!

I hope you are going to

let LOVE fly like CRAZY

Something Sweet

This is a short article I included in my September newsletter, for those that didn’t have the patience to wait for the 30 minute PDF download 🙂

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

These are words that wake me up in the morning and carry me through both spectacular and somber days. This is the word of the Lord. This is His proclamation and promise that He is good. We know God is faithful (Romans 3:3-4) even when we are found without faith. He keeps His promises even when we have twisted His words.

God is always true, always perfect, always good. Do I sound redundant? I hope so. The blessing of this truth seems to seep in anew every time I return to it.

Recently, I’ve been re-discovering God’s faithfulness in this promise (that we can taste and see He is good) by way of baked goods, full kitchens, and Monday afternoons. Before you think that I’m about to blaspheme this beautiful verse in Psalm 34, keep reading. I believe God works through the everyday-ness of life to teach us eternal truths. Right now, baked goods, full kitchens, and Monday afternoons happen to be that beautiful everyday classroom.

Before the school year began, I had visions of laughter circles and conversation and community. How to realize these visions is… another thing entirely. I’m no expert, but I’ve been to college and I know what draws a crowd: food.

God’s design – the very way He worked out the specific details of our bodies – involves a real need for food. Sure, we distorted and perverted and twisted this real need into dependence and false comfort and momentary satisfaction. But, in the beginning, God made Adam and Eve with a body to enjoy – taste and see – food.

He intentionally chose to make us dependent on food for survival, but also capable of enjoying the necessity. He didn’t have to do that, but He did. Wow.

And there’s more.

We are all familiar with the words from Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

What I didn’t recognize until day two of Kay Arthur’s “Return to the Garden” study (in a room full of high school girls gobbling up warm cookies) are these words in 2:18: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”

God knew long before extracting a rib that Adam was made for relationship. Adam was made in the image of a triune God and longed for community before he even knew what to call the longing.

So, we were made to eat and we were made to share. Let me re-phrase: we were made to eat, share, and ENJOY it. I just cannot get over this design.

The most beautiful part of my re-discoveries is a return to the thought from which all these began, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” There is a hunger in our bellies only satisfied by more of Him. Every sweet blessing is a reflection of this Truth.

As my heart wells up with thanksgiving at the way we are designed to enjoy life together (through baked goods, full kitchens, and Monday afternoons), I know my true affection is for the Creator of these marvelous things. He is, indeed, good. His design reflects our need for and our satisfaction in Him alone.

Psalm 34:8 continues, “blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”

That is something sweet.

let LOVE fly like cRAzY

 

saturday's best offering

 

 

 

 

I love a crowded kitchen

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As a five-year-old, I remember the kitchen as one of the best places in our whole house. We didn’t have the best layout (our kitchen could fit in some people’s closet space), but that didn’t keep the constant stream of people from laying on the linoleum and crowding the counters and sitting on step stools.

The kitchen was a crowded place where we discussed the events of the day, dreamed about future plans, and practiced reading papers and reciting speeches (okay, so the last was something just I did to my ever-so-patient mother). The kitchen was a place where my brothers and sister and I would gather to taste the simmering spaghetti sauce and find the boldness to ask how much time until dinner made its way to the table.

If I’m honest, our crowded kitchen became no less a hub for activity as we got older. In fact, we might have noticed the crowding even more as we sprawled out on the floor or claimed space atop the counter, next to the bread box. And, if I’m honest, those times spent in the kitchen inspired and challenged and grew in me an appetite for community that I’m hoping is never satisfied.

So, last night, as the girls crowded me with mixers and containers and pizza and spatulas, I delighted.

I love the chatter and laughter and outrageous guesstimations about the amount of fruit needed for our newly invented angel food cake topping recipe. I love the exclamations of pride at the surprisingly good taste of a new creation. I love the huddle that forms in the space that is too small to hold the bodies moving around. I love that a flying elbow or spoon or hot pad holder can make contact at any point with a shoulder or side. I love the hopeful look lingering over a delicious bowl of fruit topping, imploring a sneaky taste of the concoction.

I love it all.

I think I love most that we were created to enjoy community. It was no accident that, when Jesus walked on this earth, He set apart time specifically and intentionally to eat with people. To recline and savor and enjoy food and drink as a way to invest and love the community around Him.

I love a crowded kitchen.
Who is crowding yours today?

let LOVE FLY like cRaZY