I’ll bet many of you grew up watching the televised cooking shows of Julia Child, “The French Chef.” If not, you’re probably familiar with her name.
Credited with popularizing French cuisine for an American audience, this six-foot, two-inch dynamo was always a hoot to watch. You not only learned a great deal about cooking from Julia, but you were also entertained with zingers like these:
“A party without a cake is just a meeting.”
“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”
“Cooking is like love—it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
“I just hate health food!”
But the Julia Child quotation that has stayed with me is this:
“Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.”
Why does this phrase resonate with me? Because with faith, as with cooking, the size of our “container” can be a limiting factor.
For generations, gardeners have been trying to achieve the impossible: to breed a truly blue rose or a perfectly black tulip.
These two flowers have so intrigued people’s imaginations that they’ve entered both lore and literature.
Blue roses are often used to symbolize mystery and a longing to attain the impossible. Some cultures even say that whoever holds a blue rose will have his or her wishes granted.
Black tulips were featured in an 1850 novel by Alexander Dumas called what else but “The Black Tulip.” This swashbuckling tale of love, murder and greed centres on the quest for a unique jet-black tulip.
The problem is that blue roses and black tulips don’t exist in nature. Roses lack the specific gene that allows for a “true blue” colour. It’s the same story with black tulips: optically black flowers are virtually unknown in nature.
Plant breeders have come close to achieving a blue rose through hybridization, but the “blue” is often closer to lilac or mauve. To produce a bluer flower, they’ve had to resort to dyeing or genetically modifying the plant.
As for tulips, the “black” ones are usually a deep eggplant or plum colour. They give the appearance of being extremely dark, but are not optically black.
Maybe this is a hint that we were never meant to find perfection in this world.
There’s a real art to translation: zeroing in on just the right words to convey the nuance of what the original author intended.
Done well, a translated work can be a masterpiece in its own right.
Oftentimes, though, a translation can turn out to be a farce, as in the following examples:
A menu item in Chinese for a roasted gluten dish was translated into English as “Sixi Roasted Husband.” (The perfect dish for wives who’ve finally had enough of their mates?)
A hot and spicy chicken dish on another Chinese menu became “Chicken Rude and Unreasonable” in English. (No wonder the chicken met his end—he had it coming!)
Or this Google Translate zinger: “It’s been the goat in the budget, because His raining badly, so quite short, he is on the bucket month out.” (Not sure what this meant in the original Danish, but I hope the goat was able to figure it out.)
Then there’s the sign for a hair salon in China whose English name is “Could Not Connect To Translator Service.” (A bit of a give-away that they didn’t bother hiring a real live translator?)
Sometimes, we have a different understanding or “translation” of what God actually meant in certain Bible verses.
It’s usually safe to rely on our senses, but sometimes they can play tricks on us.
Especially if you’re flying a plane.
Pilots sometimes get into trouble with something called “spatial disorientation.” If they’re flying at night or in poor weather, they’re unable to see the horizon through the cockpit’s windshield. Without these visual cues, they may fall back on their other senses, but this can be a big mistake.
A pilot’s non-visual sensations, such as signals from their inner ear, may not respond truthfully during flight. Without visual inputs to override these mistaken feelings, a pilot may believe he or she is flying level when they may actually be in a bank, or gradually ascending or descending.
If a pilot isn’t proficient in the use of flight instruments, errors can pile up until the pilot loses control of the aircraft, entering a steep, diving turn known as the graveyard spiral. The pilot remains unaware of what’s happening until it’s too late to recover control, and the aircraft breaks apart or crashes.
In fact, it’s believed that spatial disorientation is what led to the fatal crash in 1999 of the plane piloted by John F. Kennedy, Jr. Flying at night over water, the visual landmarks he might have relied on were absent. Kennedy was certified for visual flight rules, but had not yet received his full training for instrument-only flying. His instruments would have told him that he was heading on a collision course with the water, but tragically, he trusted his non-visual sensations until it was too late.
We as believers can get into the same sort of trouble when we trust our feelings instead of what the word of God says.
I’ll bet most of us have seen a rainbow at some time in our lives, but have you ever seen a moonbow?
Frankly, until recently I didn’t even know such a thing existed. Moonbows, also known as lunar rainbows, are rainbows which are produced by moonlight rather than by direct sunlight. As such, they’re usually fainter than regular rainbows, and may even appear white.
But moonbows are still evidence of the sun’s presence, because they’re created by reflected sunlight bouncing off the moon. They’re a very special reminder that the sun is still shining, even when we can’t see it.
Sometimes I think God puts believing friends in our lives to function as “moonbows” for us.
If you’re Canadian, you probably know what an inukshuk is.
If you’re not Canadian, then let me offer you my condolences. (Sorry! Just kidding!)
But seriously, an inukshuk is a stone structure built by the Inuit and other peoples of the Arctic regions of North America. The stones may simply be stacked vertically, or they may take the form of a human figure.
The distinctive shape of the inukshuk is featured on the flag of Nunavut, a Canadian territory, and also served as the inspiration for the logo of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Inukshuks have been traditionally used by the Inuit people as landmarks for navigation, guideposts for travellers in a barren landscape. They might also mark out a sacred spot, or function as a commemorative sign.
I think we all need “inukshuks” in our lives, don’t we?
Reminders of the things God has done in our lives, how far He’s brought us. Beacons to others travelling the same journey, showing them the path that leads to life.
There are a lot of things in this world that are contagious. Certain viruses and diseases come to mind, as do laughter and yawning.
There have even been cases of contagious dancing, such as the “dance epidemic” of 1518 in Strasbourg.
But did you know that fear is also contagious?
A friend of mine was telling me how she organized a backyard sleepover in a tent for her daughter and some friends a few years ago. The children were assured that the parents would be with them in the tent all night long.
The kids were excited about this adventure, and all seemed to go well at first. Eventually, however, one little girl became afraid of the dark. It didn’t take long for another girl to become fearful as well. Pretty soon the whole thing had to be called off, despite the parents’ promises that they wouldn’t leave the children outside alone in the dark.
The other kids had “caught” the fearful attitude of the first child.
Scripture recognizes how destructive fear can be when it contaminates a whole group.
One of the wonderful things about chocolate (and there are many), is how well it pairs with other foods.
Chocolate seems to go well with just about everything. It marries happily with fruits like strawberries, raspberries, pears, cherries and bananas. It perfectly complements the flavours of nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts.
Chocolate cheerfully coexists with citrus, coconut, ginger, caramel, coffee, dairy or mint. It has even been known to blend with the flavours of chili and meat in some Mexican dishes.
Some adventurous people claim that chocolate goes well with broccoli (well, perhaps…if you held the broccoli).
You’ve got to hand it to a food that is uncompromising about its own flavour yet harmonizes with such a wide variety of other substances.
Did you know that the Bible implies that we should be a bit like chocolate? Not in so many words, of course, but the concept is still there.
Did you grow up in a family that hated wasting things? So did I.
Instead of throwing out old scraps of fabric, my paternal great-grandmother would twist the lengths and sew the resulting cords together into a rag rug. Nothing was wasted.
It was the same on my mother’s side of the family. Material from clothes that were no longer of use would be cut up and sewn into quilts. My Mom recalls sitting underneath the quilting frame as a child when her mother and other female relatives worked together at a quilting bee (Mom thought she was “helping” push the needle back up to the top surface). Even as a little girl, my mother learned an early lesson in letting nothing go to waste.
I must have inherited that trait.
I love recipes that not only produce a yummy result, but that are efficient. By that I mean that you’re not left with partly used cans of an ingredient that will languish in the fridge and eventually have to be thrown out.
I prefer a recipe that uses up the whole can of an ingredient, or, if it calls for 3 egg yolks for the batter, it also calls for 3 egg whites for the filling or a meringue (see cheesecake recipe below). Nothing is wasted. No leftover egg whites that you have to store until you think of another recipe that can use them up.
Likewise, I think God is efficient in how He manages our lives. He won’t waste anything we go through: it all has a purpose, even the negative parts.