Thursday, December 16, 2010

On Normal

"Phoebe, why are you here?"

"Look. I think about Alice falling. And I look down, and I get scared."


"I don't want to do those things or say those things. I just have to. Except here. Everywhere else, I feel ugly.

"I want to tell you something, which may not make any sense, but I should say it just so that one day you might remember it, and maybe it will make you feel better. At a certain point in your life, probably when too much of it has gone by, you will open your eyes and see yourself for who you are--especially for everything that made you so different from all the awful normals. And you will say to yourself, 'But I am this person.' And in that statement--that correction--there will be a kind of love."

"I'm so scared."

"We all are."

So often, I look at myself and compare what I see to everyone else. All my differences and imperfections stand out. I find myself wanting so much to be "normal." I want to be like everyone else. I don't want to be different. I live my life fearing and hating those abnormalities that set me apart from everyone else. Like Phoebe, I think about how bad it is, and I get scared. And there aren't many safe places--places where it's ok for me to not be normal.

Who was it that defined all those awful normals? Did he just sit down one day and spell it out, then proclaim that everything else was unacceptable?

Someday, I want to open my eyes and see myself for who I am. I want to accept my differences. I want to correct myself and say, "But I am this person."

"I'm so scared."

"Are you always supposed to feel hope?"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Rocky

"You ain't gonna believe this, but you used to fit right here. I'd hold you up to say to your mother, "This kid's gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid's gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew." And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilige. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you're no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain't gonna have a life. Don't forget to visit your mother."

When I first heard Rocky's speech, I felt like he was telling me to "snap out of it," to "shake it off." That sort of hurt. Those are phrases I don't like to hear. If you're telling me to snap out of it, then you clearly don't understand how all this works. You don't understand that if I could simply snap out of it, I would have done that long ago. But I can't, so I haven't.

Rocky is right: the world is most definitely not sunshine and rainbows. It is full of dark, difficult things that we must experience. And it does "beat you to your knees."

I don't really understand how to "keep moving forward." I suppose that's like getting out of bed each day and facing the world no matter how hard it seems. And winning? Since life is a battle, I suppose you can win. Maybe winning happens when you get to the end of the day and say to yourself, "I've done all I can do, and that's enough."

"If you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth." Maybe, "If you know what you WANT, then go out and get what you WANT." That's where fighting comes in--fighting your battle.

The phrase from Rocky's speech that I understand best comes near the end when he says, "Until you start believing in yourself, you're not going to have a life." To me, this means that if you spend your whole life wound up in your battle, you'll miss those small, beautiful things that occur every day.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

On Tutoring

As life's challenges continued to pile up and overwhelm me, I began to lose hope. I was prepared to surrender--to give up on my battle. But that is impossible; life is a battle from beginning to end.

There was one question that was always in the front of my mind, and I felt that if I could find that answer, everything else would fall into place. But it's a question I've had for many years now, and it was hard for me to believe I would receive that answer any time soon. I was so desperate for some small glimmer of light, but I didn't know where to find it.

What I needed was a tailored blessing--a blessing that specifically answered that big question on my mind. I immersed myself in a search for an answer. Does the Lord give tailored blessings to His children?

I found many examples in the scriptures. When the Lamanites were overshadowed by the cloud of darkness, they cried unto the Lord. The cloud of darkness was dispersed and they were surrounded by light (Helaman 5:40-43). When Alma saw his son seeking to destroy the church, he prayed that his son would stop preaching against the church and would be obedient. An angel appeared to Alma the Younger and he ceased to do evil (Mosiah 27:14). When Enos became repentant, he cried unto the Lord for a whole day that he might be forgiven. The Lord told Enos that because of his faith in Christ, his sins were forgiven (Enos 1:4-8). After Job had experienced all his earthly trials, he prayed to the Lord, and the Lord restored all that he had and more (Job 42:10, 12).

As I continued to find more examples of the Lord's tailored blessings for His children, I came to realize that those who received tailored blessings received them because they prayed for them and had enough faith that they would be blessed. I became discouraged all over again. I didn't think I had that kind of faith--that the Lord would bless me.

I began a study on faith wherein I learned that to have even a particle of faith is enough (Alma 32:27). I just have to keep nourishing that faith and let it continue to grow. At this point, I questioned if I could ever have so strong a faith as to know without any doubt. I learned that even after nourishing that faith, my knowledge wouldn't be perfect, but I would "know [that] the seed was good" (Alma 32:36).

More studies and reflections on faith brought me to the conclusion that having faith meant being patient and willing to wait on the Lord's time. It meant being selfless and humble. I'm a patient person, and I don't mind waiting, but I wasn't sure how much longer I could wait for my tailored blessing. I was desperate for an answer to my questions. I couldn't understand why the Lord was asking me to wait when I was experiencing so much confusion.

In searching for understanding, I've come to the conclusion that I am in the midst of what Elder Neal A Maxwell called a "divine tutorial"--that is, an opportunity given by the Lord to learn and grow spiritually. My faith is being tested, but I am developing spiritual endurance. C.S. Lewis illustrated a divine tutorial when he wrote:

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace."

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord tells his servants, "And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along" (Doctrine and Covenants 78:18). He knows I cannot make it alone; He's promised to help me. So, I suppose I'm ready to fight my battle--from beginning to end.

Friday, September 10, 2010

On Sisters

A recently published study from Brigham Young University found that having a sister makes adolescents less likely to experience feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, or fearful.

I've been blessed with four beautiful sisters. They are truly my best friends. My older sister was my closest friend during my early adolescence. We went to activities together all the time; she let me tag along even though I was two years behind her. I think at the time we both wished we had more friends to do fun things with, but now I don't mind so much that we often only had each other.

There are four years between me and my sister just below me. We weren't the best of friends while I was at home, but I am so happy that we are pals now. Our phone conversations last for hours and are often about nothing in particular, just what we did that week, or what our friends are up to. And that's fine with me. I am so glad that our relationship has become better, but I regret that I waited until moving away from home to get there.

Sister number three. She has such a special spirit. I see so much of myself in her, and I worry about her because of that. I want her to be happy and to be so much more than I was at her age. She's coming up on some difficult years, and that scares me. I want her to know who she is and be ok with that.

My fourth sister brings the greatest joy into my life. Whenever things get difficult for me, I just think about her and I feel better. She is the baby of the family, and I often wonder if we (her family) automatically treat her like she is younger than she really is because of that. She also has difficulty with her speech, which sometimes makes her seem younger than she is. She is very smart, just sometimes it is difficult to understand what she is saying. I love her so much. Over the summer, she started asking if she could call me. Since then, my mother has informed me that she's memorized my phone number (but she doesn't know her own phone number), and now she calls me on her own all the time. Usually she just says hi, then asks if I want to talk to mom or dad. But sometimes she'll ask what I've been up to. Sometimes she tells me what she's been doing, but I rarely understand what she's saying. It just makes me feel so loved to know she is thinking about me and she misses me. She has so much energy in her little body, and often does the silliest things. Last time I went home, we were grocery shopping and she picked up a pair of glasses from a display. I had to take a picture:

I cannot help but smile whenever I see this picture. It's a perfect example of how happy she is to be alive.

I have the best sisters. I love them so much. I'm afraid they will never know how important they are to me, how much joy they bring to my life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Egg Rolls

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb finely chopped pork or chicken
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 head cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 egg
1 lb package egg roll wraps
vegetable oil for frying

To make the filling, first coat the bottom of a large frying pan with oil. Add the meat and cook thoroughly. Add garlic and ginger. Stir to coat the meat. Add cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and soy sauce. Stir-fry until cabbage is soft (10-15 minutes). Remove pan from heat.

Crack egg into a bowl and beat with a fork. Add approximately 3 tbsp cold water and mix well to form an egg wash.

Lay one egg roll wrap on a plate with a point facing toward you. Place two heaping spoonfuls of the filling near the center of the wrap.

Begin wrapping egg roll by folding up the bottom corner.

Fold over the two sides.

Roll the egg roll upwards once.

Using a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of the egg wash on the egg roll. This will help to seal the roll so it doesn't come unwrapped.

Fold the last corner down.

Heat the oil to a medium high heat. Place egg roll in oil and fry until wrap is golden brown. Flip with tongs. Fry second side until golden brown. Place cooked egg roll on a paper towel to drain off excess oil.

Serve egg rolls with fried rice or sweet and sour sauce.

This recipe makes approximately enough filling for a 1 lb package of wraps. Egg rolls can be frozen for later use. After wrapping egg rolls, freeze on a tray until hard, then place in freezer bags. Thaw before frying.

Be careful with egg roll wraps! The dough is fragile and must stay cool to prevent drying and cracking.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Custom Scheduling

Custom Scheduling: A term which here means at work, we aren't required to work our regularly scheduled shifts because school is not in session. Instead, employees sign up to work whatever shifts they want. Many of us work three and four shifts every day. It's physically and mentally draining. Custom scheduling after summer term began Friday and will last for two more weeks.

Day 1: Friday and the second day of graduation. My day began when I awoke at 7:30 to get ready for 13 hours of work. I sacrificed my Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy! time, during which I would have found out who won the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament (Apparently it was Rachel. She played very well throughout the tournament, so I'm not surprised.) as well as an epic Relief Society activity. Hopefully earning money for the coming semester of school will be worth it.

I clocked in just after 9:00 and began ringing up customers' groceries. Working a grocery shift allows for more interaction with customers than a bakery shift. I was rather surprised at some of the people I saw.

Early in the morning, a very young girl came through my line with her grandparents. She was given $5 to buy herself whatever she wanted. What did she choose? Ranch rolls from the bakery. (Ranch rolls are essentially dinner rolls.) She was back later for wrapping paper.

During the late afternoon, I noticed a lady walk through the door and stop to peruse the bakery display. Something was strange about her appearance, but it took some thinking to discover exactly what it was. Then, it came to me: she was wearing a fairly heavy black leather jacket, but it was a hot, sunny day with temperatures in the 90s. She also carried a black umbrella. Odd attire for this time of year. Eventually, she settled on a simple glazed donut. After paying, she asked a question that I found rather humorous. "Where can I go to 'cool down'?" I considered telling her to take off her jacket, but simply told her about the water park a few miles down the road. Shortly after she left, I noticed she'd left her umbrella.

As a cashier, we're required to be sure credit cards are signed before using them. The best last name of the day was "Honey".

A fellow came to my line to check the balance on his student ID card. $8.25. My favorite number.

As the final hours of this epic day of work approached, my body was protesting every movement. My feet ached and it was difficult to put on a friendly face for customers. One of my last customers was a very cheerful man, probably in his late sixties. As he spoke to me, the only thing I could think of was Friar Tuck from Disney's Robin Hood, as his voice sounded exactly the same as the Friar's. He asked me how I was doing, and I commented on how tired I was. I counted out his change and he passed back a fairly heafty tip. I declined as we aren't really supposed to accept tips. He threw it behind me. "Well, looks like someone dropped it." And he walked out the door. I soon realized he'd left his sack of groceries, so I quickly followed him. "You forgot your groceries," I said, smiling. He replied, "Well, I guess one good turn deserves another. Thank you."

After 13 hours, my drawer was overflowing with cash and I was not excited to count it all. The total revenue was nearly $5000; my deposit was nearly $1200. It was sort of exciting to hold that much cash, except it wasn't mine.

Day 2: Saturday. Nothing too special. My day started a little later, as I didn't need to be at work until 10:00. I baked from 10:00 until 4:00, rolling out 9 pans of brownies (52 brownies in total), 24 scotcheroos, 12 Rice Krispie Treats, 10 loaves of banana bread, and 12 mini loaves of banana bread. I bagged five dozen ranch rolls, 8 bread bowls, 12 loaves of French Bread, and 22 loaves of braided bread, all baked that morning. It was so nice to spend all that time in the bakery. Baking is my favorite thing to do at work.

My grocery shift began at 4:00. I wasn't excited to spend six more hours in grocery after the long day I'd had the day before. I kept it interesting by watching the people, keeping track of interesting things I saw.

A young lady close to my age brought in a ring she found on the sidewalk outside. We stashed it in the safe upstairs, doubting anyone would show up for it. A few hours later, an older woman came into the store. She was very shaken up--obviously quite upset. She was looking for her lost ring. The ring was retrieved from the safe and she was so thrilled--so relieved to see it was hers. She slid it right onto her finger. She explained to me that she had taken it off to put lotion on her hands, laying it in a napkin in her lap. She forgot about the ring and threw the napkin away. Later, she noticed it wasn't on her hand. She and her family came back and searched through the trash, but, of course, didn't find it. She had so much appreciation for the young lady who handed in the ring, that she was honest enough to return it to its owner.

A mother and her young son came through my line. As she dug through her purse to find change, I turned to the boy and said hi. He said hi and smiled back at me. I asked him what his name was. Dewey. I asked him how old he was. "I'm big!"

A father and his daughter bought some popcorn. She looked pretty excited, so I talked to her about it for a second. She told me that they were going to watch a princess movie together--a movie that wasn't scary.

After ringing up one fellow's groceries, I was thrilled to tell him his total: $8.25. I explained that 825 is my favorite number. He looked a little confused, so I explained that my birthday is 8/25. He said, "Oh, that's cool. My favorite number is just 9. Happy Birthday!"

Later in the evening, my feet were again aching, so I took to sitting on the counter when there weren't any customers in my line. At one point, a woman my mother's age was leaving the store with her husband. She told me to get back to work or else she would tell my manager. Little did she know, my manager was standing behind me, wasting time along with me.

Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" came on the radio. I hate that song. It's awful. I was ringing up an older man's groceries at this point, and he started whistling. I was so afraid that he was going to whistle to the tune of the song. Fear not: he wasn't.

I clocked out after 12 hours of work, grateful it was all over for the week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

On Busy Mothers

On a warm summer afternoon, a young girl quietly sits on the couch in the living room. The sixth of eight children, she is barely five years old. She watches as her mother rushes from room to room in their small home. Her mother comes to a stop in front of her.

"What's wrong, mother?"

Flustered, her mother says, "Oh! I've looked everywhere, but I just cannot remember where I left the baby!"

Confused, the young girl replies, "But mother, you're holding her!"

Her mother looks down to see the baby sleeping soundly in her arms. She smiles and gently lays the infant in the young girl's arms. "Take the baby, dear. I think I need a nap."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On Embarrassment

This afternoon, I was changing my clothes as part of my getting-ready-to-go-to-class ritual. I live on the third floor, so I thought it was safe to leave the blinds open just where the air conditioner juts out in the window. Much to my surprise, I looked up to see the maintenance man's face appear in the window. He was fixing the gutter, or something. I was incredibly embarrassed because I wasn't dressed. I quickly closed the blinds and proceeded to laugh.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On Trials

Tonight, I was talking to my best friend on the phone. He asked me why life is so hard. All I could say was, "I don't know, but when you find out, let me know." I wish I had a better answer; I'm sure that wasn't very comforting. But then again, I'm not sure anyone really knows why life can be so hard sometimes. Or all the time. Life is a battle from beginning to end.

I remember a time when I was talking to a mentor of mine about some of the struggles I was going through. I told her I felt bad feeling sorry for myself because I knew of so many other people who were going through hard things, too, like terminal illnesses or divorce or losing a home. She told me that I shouldn't feel bad about that; what I go through is just as difficult for me as other people's trials are for them.

People say Heavenly Father allows us to experience hard things because He loves us. In a hard time, that really seems backwards. If He loved us, He would take all the hurt and pain and loneliness away. But I suppose it's important to understand that our Heavenly Father knows our trials will make us better. He wants us to someday be like Him, so we must learn and grow until we reach that point. Heavenly Father allows difficult things to occur in our lives because of His infinite love for us.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

On Impolite Customers

My bakery shift starts long before the restaurant portion of the store even opens. And since the bakery is right next to the grill area, I often have to deal with the customers wondering if the grill is open, though it is clearly not, given that there are no employees there, the grill hasn't even been turned on, and the sign says the grill opens at 11:00. My usual response: "No. The grill doesn't open until 11:00."

But on Saturday, I had the pleasure of serving one customer who seemed frustrated with me even before I noticed she was there. I was making rice krispy treats, so I had my back turned to the restaurant. All of a sudden, I heard a woman's voice question, "Are you open?" I turned around and shook my head. I started to turn back to my rice krispy treats, but she continued to question me. "You could have told me that before! Didn't you see me standing here!?" Shocked, I replied with a simple "no." Still, she persisted. "So, your lights are on, and the doors are open, but you aren't open!?" Confused, I said, "Well, grocery is open, but the grill doesn't open until 11:00." At this point, she noticed the sign and left, murmuring to herself.

I was stunned by the way she talked to me. I don't understand how someone could treat a complete stranger that way. But, unfortunately for me, she wasn't the first and is not likely to be the last.

A customer approached me one morning to ask me if we served breakfast. Of course, I told him, "Sorry, no, we don't," and went back to braiding bread, or frosting brownies, or cheesing hoagie buns--whatever task I was performing. A few minutes later, my supervisor appeared in the bakery to ask me, "What's this I hear about you being rude to customers?" I was dumbfounded. I think I just stared at him with my jaw dropped. So my supervisor talked instead. "Yeah, this guy said he asked you if we served breakfast, you said no, and you glared at him." Hardly. I'll admit, I didn't exactly give him the time of day, but some things are obvious (like the fact that we don't serve breakfast,) and I was obviously busy. Luckily, my supervisor recognized that the customer's claim was ridiculous, so we had a little chuckle about it and went back to work.

During my first month of work, when I was a lowly restaurant minion, not yet an esteemed baker, I experienced my first holiday shift-Pioneer Day. We had one customer who was incredibly impatient with us, even though we had near thirty orders to get through. It was just our luck that her order never printed at the grill. It was just my luck that I was working fries that shift, so I was standing right next to where customers tend to stand and wait. This particular customer continued to yell at me and criticize us for how long it was taking. Didn't she see all the other customers waiting? Didn't she see how hard we were working, despite the stress of all the orders, not to mention the heat? Eventually, she did get her order, but she demanded a refund because she had to wait so long. After that shift, my manager asked me how I was doing. I think that's one of the few times I've honestly said I was feeling awful (you know how you usually don't tell how you really feel when people ask? You just say "fine?") He gave us coupons for free ice cream after that shift.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On Dying

I decided a few years ago that if I were to develop a terminal illness, I would not endure any sort of treatment meant to delay my death. I would simply let the illness run its course, slowly weakening my body until it was all over.

People talk about things they want to do before they die. Some people want to experience sky diving or travel the globe. Others want to enjoy a family of their own. The only thing I want to do before I die is to learn to accept myself as I am and be content with who that person is.

When I finally die, I would want my family to be with me. I would want them to sing to me and talk about all the happy things we'd done together in my lifetime.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

On Money

Money is a very temporal thing that, I've discovered, only serves to make life miserable. When you are short on money, life is stressful because you cannot provide for the necessities of life. When you have money in abundance, life is... actually, I wouldn't know. But I doubt it's as good as it sounds.

I recently read a book by Deb Caletti entitled "The Fortunes of Indigo Skye." In the book, the main character is rather randomly given 2.5 million dollars. The story line is about how she learns to live her life for others instead of for herself. She ends up giving away a good fraction of the money.

Were I given 2.5 million dollars, I'm not entirely sure what I would do with it. I know a portion would pay for the remainder of my college career. A portion would go towards providing my parents with a new home that they desperately deserve. Another portion would pay for my siblings to attend college. After all that, I'd estimate only having spent $700,000.

In all honesty, and though it's unlikely anyway, I hope I'm never given any large amount of money. I want to be able to live my life so that I can adequately provide for my needs on my own.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

On Tomorrow

Tomorrow is a question mark. You can't know what tomorrow will bring. It could be the greatest day of your life; it could be the last day of your life, which is sometimes the same thing.

"You have to count on living every single day in a way you believe will make you feel good about your life -- so that if it were over tomorrow, you'd be content with yourself."
--Jane Seymour

How do you become "content with yourself"? A contented person is probably optimistic and confident. He probably has found his purpose in life. He has his support system in place. He doesn't worry what tomorrow will bring.

What if tomorrow were the end? Would you have accomplished everything you needed to in this life? Would you say to yourself, "Self, you did well."?

If I were gone tomorrow, what would you say to me today?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 thin sliced smoked ham
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 cups crushed frosted flakes

Place one chicken breast in a plastic bag. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin, pound chicken until about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat with all four breasts.

Lay one chicken breast on a piece of plastic wrap. Layer Swiss cheese, then ham. Roll up the chicken, then wrap in the plastic wrap. Repeat with all four breasts. Refrigerate one hour. This will help the chicken retain its shape.

Bring chicken to room temperature.

Pour flour into a bowl. In another bowl, beat egg with milk to make an egg wash. Place crushed frosted flakes in another bowl. Unwrap chicken. Cover in flour, then egg wash, then roll in frosted flakes. Place in a greased baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until juices run clear.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 c. chicken broth
2/3 c. milk
2 c. cut up cooked chicken (2-3 chicken breasts)
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen peas and carrots
2-3 baker's potatoes

Pie Crust:
4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups shortening
1Tbsp sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 egg

Peel and boil potatoes. Allow to cool. Dice. Boil chicken until cooked through. Allow to cool. Dice or shred. In saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Blend in flour, onion, and seasonings. Cook, stirring, until mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in chicken broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil; stir 1 minute. Gently stir in chicken, frozen vegetables, and potatoes. Set aside.

Prepare pie crust: Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. In separate dish, mix water, vinegar, and egg. Combine mixtures. Chill 15 minutes

Roll out half of the pie crust into a 13 inch square. Place in a greased 9x9 pan. Trim edges. Add prepared filling. Roll out second half of dough. Place on top of filling, crimping edges. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden.

Friday, March 26, 2010

On Trust

Trust is a difficult concept. When you trust someone, you are confident that they will be there for you when you need them, that they will support you in your efforts. You are comfortable telling them what you feel and think. But trust is a fragile thing; it is easily broken.

It is not always easy to trust another person with your feelings. You run the risk of being rejected. Trusting makes you vulnerable to hurt. It sometimes seems safer to keep all your feelings inside rather than having to deal with abandonment.

And abandonment hurts.

So is it worth it to trust?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Battle from Beginning to End

Life is a battle. Sometimes you're winning. Sometimes you're losing. Either way, you're fighting a battle to survive this journey we call life. Do your best. Try with all your might. Don't worry. You won't get out alive.

Life is a battle. Sometimes you're winning. That is to say, everything is going your way. Smooth sailing. Nothing but blue skies.

Life is a battle. Sometimes you're losing. That is to say, nothing seems to be going your way. Turbulent waves. Gray skies.

But you are never really losing; it merely feels that way because you are in the midst of a battle. Life is a battle.

"There shall be no pause nor cessation for thee from this day until the laurel is upon thy brow. If thou art defeated one day, thou must overcome the next; if a conqueror to-day, thou must fight to-morrow. Like the old knights who, slept in their armour, you must be prepared for reprisals—always watchful, always expecting temptation, and ready to resist it; never saying, "It is enough," for he who saith, "It is finished," until he breathes his last has not yet truly begun. We must have our swords drawn, even to the very last. I have sometimes thought that could we enter heaven by one sharp, quick, terrible encounter, such as the martyrs faced at the stake we might endure it heroically; but day after day of protracted martyrdom, and year after year of the wear and tear of pilgrimage and soldier-life is the more bitter trial of patience. I do but tell you in order that you may be convinced that it is not in our power to fight this warfare at our own charge; that if we have to endure in our own strength and with our own resources, it is most certain that disaster will befall us, and defeat will humble us. To fight, and fight on, is our vocation. But if thus you fight, you may hope to conquer, for others have done so before you. On the summit of the palace see you not those robed in white, who walk in light, with faces bright, and sparkling o'er with joy? Can you not hear their song? They have overcome, and they tell you:—

"To him that overcometh
A crown of life shall be;
He with his Lord and Master
Shall reign eternally."

"They have overcome; then why should not you, Jesus Christ, who is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, has passed through the sternest part of the battle, and he has overcome—a type and representative of all those who are cross-bearers, and who shall overcome as he has done.

"More than this; as you go this warfare, looking to God to bear your charges, you shall have the Lord Jesus Christ to help you. Promise not yourself that you will be able to maintain henceforth a perfect life. Sin will harass you. Old corruptions, even when they are driven out from the throne (for sin shall not reign over you), will yet struggle at the foot thereof. But Jesus Christ will be your helper. He will be always present to revive you with his precious blood, to sprinkle your hearts from an evil conscience, to wash your bodies with pure water. Have you never admired that picture of Christ, with the basin and the towel washing his disciples' feet? This is what he will ever do for you at every eventide when you have defiled yourself through inadvertence or infirmity. Look into the face of the Crucified. Perhaps you have sometimes wished that he were now visible, and in body accessible to you. That sympathizing One who has suffered so much for you! You have said, "Oh! that I might go and tell him my griefs, and get his help!" He is alive. He is here. He is not far from any one that seeketh him. Whosoever trusteth shall surely find Christ to be his very present help in time of trouble. Believe this, and thou shalt prove it true."
--C. H. Spurgeon, The Battle of Life

It is true; we can only win the Battle of Life through the help of our Savior, Jesus Christ. While His infinite Atonement provides the opportunity to be cleansed from our sins, it also can provide the comfort that we so desperately need in our lives through knowledge that He has felt the pains and sorrows we constantly experience in our mortal lives.

Life is a battle from beginning to end.