Thursday, May 27, 2010

Domesticities: baking cookies

My family loves me.

Probably because I keep making cookies.
It all started about 3 weeks ago when I really really wanted some chewy chocolate cookies.
I ended up with this recipe. It's perfect!!

Just like a brownie - crinkly top, chewy edges, soft middle... YUM.
Their only downfall is they're not nearly so yummy two days later... But why let them sit that long anyways?

About the same time as I discovered the chocolate cookies, my friend shared with me some food blog on which the author was talking about using roasted flour. Intriguing! Tuesday I printed off her "squeeze cookie" recipe and gave it a try.
I decided to shape my cookies with a tablespoon instead of squeezing them. Delicious! My mom declared them pretty much the best cookies ever and demanded I make more. They're like a cross between shortbread cookies and sugar cookies - and since these were so thick they were a little cake-like in the center. Buttery, crumbly goodness.

I told her I thought they would be better if they were a little smaller, but I was at a loss for how to shape them. She suggested the pretty fluted sugar spoon. Brilliance! I ended up with a pan full of pretty shell-shaped cookies! They are absolutely perfect with a cup of hot coffee.
And there you have it.
I think I need to go eat another one...

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Enough

I couldn't fall asleep.
So I just lay there, wishing I were asleep and thinking.

Thinking doesn't seem the right word. Sometimes at night your mind takes on a mind of it's own.
Thoughts bombard me in a swirling torrent, drowning the peace, keeping out sleep.
I wish they wouldn't do that.

"Good thing relationships are the most important thing in life," I said,
"they're the only thing I'm not a failure at."

Of course, everyone says that's not true - that I'm not a failure.
I know it's not true.
Funny thing, though - Feeling can be a lot stronger than Knowing.

For so, so long I've battled with those stupid Feelings.
They have names.
Feeling Pointless. Feeling Inferior. Feeling Aimless. Feeling Stuck.

The torrent keeps telling me about Everyone else. Whoever They are.
Everyone else has a Plan.
Everyone else is climbing their ladder to their Future.
Everyone else has Goals. Real, tangible goals.
Everyone else is succeeding!
Going places. Achieving things. Being Somebodies.

What do I have?
About five baskets of laundry to fold.
About that many siblings waiting for me to cook breakfast.

What am I doing?
Staying at home. Going to church. Doing laundry.
(Wait, no. Actually, I don't do laundry. It's such a circular chore. Progress feels impossible. Put away a load, and it's time to wash another. The key to avoiding defeat is total avoidance of whatever's defeating you. That logic is not sound.)

"So why don't you go to school?" They ask.

"God hasn't told me to."
It's not a cop-out. I promise.
I don't think they believe me.
I think they think I'm a bum.

"Maybe I am."

Then I figured it out.
An Aspiration. That's what I need!

"Something to strive for," I said, "a concrete Goal to give me daily purpose. Then I will feel Fulfillment!"


How do I get one of those?

So I asked God. I may have beat around the bush about it.

"You said it was Your Will for me to be at home at this point in my life, right? That was You, I'm sure of it. I thought Your Will was supposed to be fulfilling. It's not! The only thing for me to do here is laundry! That's not fulfilling. It's boring."

He didn't say anything.

"Look, Jesus. Everyone else is MOVING. See? I'm SITTING. I need a Goal. Please? Just flash some inspiration into my mind. Throw me a random passion I need to pursue for your glory. Those other people are becoming writers, counselors, teachers, nurses, whatevers. I want to become too! What am I supposed to Become?"

He still didn't say anything.
He certainly didn't just toss me an Aspiration out of the blue.
But He was listening. I could tell He was listening.

Sometimes you just need someone to listen.
This wasn't one of those times.
Sometimes you just want the answer.
This was one of those times.
Sometimes it gets annoying when the listener just watches you struggle to figure it out on your own.

(That happens in Pastor's classes sometimes.)

Frustrated, I started to cry.
I felt stupid for crying. My pillow grew uncomfortably wet as I questioned God.

"Why do I feel an emptiness? Why haven't you given me a clear path? Why am I at home? I'm twenty. I'm supposed to be accomplishing things. Isn't there some grander thing for me? Isn't there some higher goal?"

Exasperated, arms raised in the darkness, I asked aloud, "Is this ALL?!"

It was like the ceiling wasn't there and my words had all gone straight out to Him.
There was a moment of nothing.

"is it enough?"

From wherever my cry had gone, these words came back to me. They weren't mine.
I didn't think them. But they were there.

"Is It Enough?" He asked me.

I knew it was Him, because He has that crazy habit of answering a question with a question.
And you know what I said back?

I said I didn't know.
Then I went to sleep.

IS it enough? Is IT enough? Is it ENOUGH?

Day after day I repeat His question.
Why would He ask that if I was right to begin with and the answer was "no, it's not enough" ?
He must be trying to get me to say yes.

*introspection* Nope. No "yes"es here. It still doesn't feel like enough.

Saturday morning. Time for devotions. I've never liked that word.
Pastor gave us homework on Wednesday:
Read John 17 every day this week.
So I read John 17 again. (I love that chapter. My favorite part is verse 24)

I checked the homework section on Wednesday's notes to see what else I was supposed to do.

"Do Something About God's Glory" it said.
No questions about what that means. It was printed in big letters on the other side of the page:

It told me, "Focus on the question Am I doing what God gave me to do?"

"Well, God... what have you given me to do?" I asked bluntly.

I don't think God rolls his eyes at us.
I would have rolled my eyes at me, though.
But He just watched me sit there thinking for a minute.
I asked Him again.

"We've already been through this whole thing how You won't give me an Aspiration.
So what HAVE you given me?"

Then you know what He said?


I'm serious.
So. Serious.

Then He decided to be a little conversational.
He said
"You were right about My Will, insomuch as I want you to be at home as opposed to going to school or working full time. You got that part a long time ago, but it looks like you've been waiting for some Bigger And Better Will, though, and that's not happening. You need to remember that My Will is bigger and better than what you presently see. Accept it for what it is now, and we can move on to the next step when we get there."

I interrupted.
"But if I'm doing your will, why do I feel like I'm failing? Why do my days feel pointless? Why does it feel like a standstill?"

"Because," He replied, "You ARE standing still. You're where I told you to be, but you're not doing what I told you to do. Unless you're doing what I tell you to do, when and where I tell you to do it, you're not really doing My Will, are you?"

"Oh. That makes a lot of sense." I said.
I didn't say that aloud, but if words in your mind can sound crestfallen, mine did.

Like a gently reprimanding father teaching his child to recognize his own mistakes, he questioned me again. I felt like I was six years old again.

"And what is it that you have been given to do?"
"... housework...."
"... I like cooking..."
"Stop dallying and just say it. You know what I'm talking about. I already told you to begin with."

Then you know what He said?
He said "That's right. Whatever I have given you to do, do it. This is my will."

I have never before felt so enlightened, foolish, and disappointed all at once.
What a menial task.

"I figured out the problem. For real this time. Well actually -" I interrupted myself, "God showed me.
His will for me is to do the laundry."

Sweet words to my mother's ears.

When I say laundry, I mean it literally as well as broadly- encompassing all the little no-fun things that must be done to maintain order in a home brimful of people. I'm not exactly thrilled that this is God's will for me right now. But these are the things that need to be done Here, and I'm certain that Here is where He wants me.

I'm also certain that it's a step. You know those steps Everyone Else is climbing?
This is my step.
It just looks different from theirs. And one day I'll be on the next step. God's Will for Right Now won't be the same forever - The Present calls for menial labor. Maybe the Future will be a little shinier. Maybe.

This is where it becomes important for me to find my identity and worth in Christ and His Glory.

Let's face it - you're probably not going to be really impressed with me if we're all hanging out and you ask everyone what God has us doing right now.

Someone will probably say God has them on their way to Pensacola Christian College or something peachy like that.
Someone else will probably say God has them working a crazy stressful full time job.
Someone else might even be taking a little break from work or school to really "focus on God" and "find His will", which is dandy.

And then you know what I will say?
God has me at home doing my family's laundry and making killer chocolate cookies.

Maybe it's just me, but that sounds a lot less impressive. (except about the cookies. you should try one)
As a matter of fact, to some people it sounds downright lazy.

But nobody can say, "You're crazy. That is not God's will."
Because God already told me, "This is my will for you, love. It is enough."