I Don’t Do Cookies!

cookies

It’s that time of year!

All over the country mothers and grandmothers are busy in the kitchen baking cookies with their kids and grandkids.  On Facebook I see post after post of beautifully decorated cookies and smiling faces of children with their mother as they happily put their special touch on the cookies made to look like snowmen and angels and reindeer.  So many creative women out there making wonderful memories with their children.

Then there’s me.  Mother of the year – NOT!

When my girls were little I wanted to be that mother who makes such memories for her children by following that tradition of making cookies for Christmas.  I got out my cookbooks and looked for recipes that said “easy to make.”  All excited, I brought my little girls into the kitchen, sat them up at the counter and explained how we would start our own tradition and have these wonderful bonding moments making memories to last a lifetime.

We followed the recipe and put the cookies in the oven.  When the timer went off, we eagerly opened the door expecting to have these wonderful cookies to decorate.  The cookies were a disaster.  They looked burned to a crisp.

Not one to give up easily, we made a new batch and tried again this time taking them out earlier.  The cookies were still a disaster.  This time they were gluey and clearly not done completely in the middle.

We pressed on!

I tried valiantly several times to make Christmas cookies before I finally accepted the fact that I don’t do cookies.  No matter what recipe I used, no matter how hard I tried, my cookies were always too hard, too soft, overdone, under-cooked.  In other words, I don’t do cookies.

I make a mean apple pie.  At family gatherings, my kids and grandkids always ask for my banana pudding or peach cobbler.  My husband requests my black forest cake and it is always a hit at potlucks or parties.  But cookies?  I don’t do cookies!

Hopefully my daughters were not scarred by being the only kids in the family who did not make Christmas cookies with their mother.  Hopefully my grandchildren have not felt disappointed that Grandma never had plates of delicious, beautiful decorated cookies to eat at Christmas time.

Papa to the rescue!

This year my husband has come to my rescue.  He makes wonderful jumbo raisin cookies using his mother’s recipe.  When my youngest granddaughter came over today he took her into the kitchen and patiently helped her crack eggs, toast walnuts and showed her how to make cookies.

Papa makes the best cookies in the world!

Sampling the cookies when they came out of the oven looking just right, my granddaughter declared, “Papa makes the best cookies in the world!”  She was right.  They are delicious!

raisin-cookies

We made other memories!

Despite my total lack of cookie-baking ability, I know my girls and I made other good memories at Christmas time.

  • Wooden Christmas decorations we painted one year that they still have on their tree
  • Watching the movie, “Popeye”
  • Snuggling in bed and reading the “Ugly Joke Book”
  • Decorating the tree

So as I look at all the Facebook posts of beautiful Christmas cookies, I thank God for all those mothers out there making memories.  But I want to encourage those mothers whose house does not look like it was decorated by Good Housekeeping, whose cookies are a flop, and whose Christmas presents are not elegantly wrapped.

Just love your children and laugh with them.  Cookies or not, they will love you too and treasure their Christmas memories.

I Hate Waiting!

Waiting….having patience…not easy for me.

In our culture I would guess it is not easy for most of us.  We pull up to the fast food place ready to give our order and if we have to wait more than a few seconds before we hear the words, “Can I help you?”  we start complaining.  “Come on!  I’m in a hurry!”

instant-food

We look for dinners in the store that can be popped in the microwave and be ready in two or three minutes.

We have “instant” coffee, “instant breakfast drinks” and now stores are offering “instant credit.”

Our spending habits reflect that also.  We want it now, we do not have the money now, so we charge it now and pay later.  Unfortunately for many of us, when “later” comes, we still do not have the money.  Waiting is not something we find easy.

But for a Christian, waiting is part of our faith.  In the Old Testament, they waited year after year for the Messiah to come.  In the New Testament, we wait for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In this first week of Advent we focus on that waiting, that longing.  As we reflect back on the longing of the Israelites as they awaited the coming of their Messiah and see the fulfillment of that longing, we can rejoice that God is faithful.  What He says He will do….He will do.

Over 400 scriptures and prophecies tell us of His birth, life, death, resurrection and His return as conquering King.  As we read those scriptures and see how Jesus fulfilled them, we are assured that God has a plan for His people.

And as surely as He brought the promise of the Messiah to fruition, we can rest assured that the promise of His return in glory will also be fulfilled.

So – this first week of Advent, I am preparing my heart to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and remind myself to be patient as I wait for the fulfillment of His return.

As Isaiah said when speaking of the ministry of the Messiah,

Prepare the way of the Lord

I seek to prepare my heart for the Messiah.  It is not easy to do that in our culture.  We have made Christmas such a busy time that often we are guilty of having “no room” in our hearts, in our lives for the one the holiday is all about.

My husband and I have been blessed by the responsibility of planning our church’s Christmas Eve service.  How surprised I have been at the people who told me they could not help or would not be there because they had other obligations.  Not meaning to be guilty of being a Pharisee or judging, but I have to wonder just how much we have made this season about everything except the Messiah.  Shopping, decorating, baking, parties.  All of these are not bad, but I pray that in all of this, I will not lose sight of what it is really about.  I pray that I will take the time to prepare the way of the Lord in my own life.

And I seek to be patient as I wait for the fulfillment of his glorious return.

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Go Home Again

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The writer Thomas Wolfe wrote a novel entitled “You Can’t Go Home Again.”  The main character in the book, George Webber, realizes “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood …back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing.”

And L.P. Hartley in his book, “The Go-Between” wrote “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

What does that mean – “You Can’t Go Home Again”

I always took it to mean that things and you change, and that you can never recapture the feelings you had in the past. It will always seem different.

Either that, or your parents have moved without leaving a forwarding address

But on a serious note, I recently saw how true those sentiments are.

This past spring my husband and I took a trip to the South.  Planning our trip, I wanted to stop by my home town in southern Illinois to see the house where so many of my childhood memories took place.  It was a small house with a white picket fence, a front porch with a swing and roses growing on a trellis behind the swing.

In this house I was given my first Bible as a birthday gift from my oldest sister.  One of my happiest Christmas memories occurred here.  Shopping with my mother, I had discovered a beautiful little kitchen set complete with dishes.  When I asked my mother if I could have that, she said, “Sorry, honey, but that is too expensive.  But maybe we could just get some dishes without a complete kitchen.”

That Christmas, after we had opened our gifts and I had my small set of dishes, the phone rang.  Some friends of ours had a little girl my age.   She had received two identical Christmas gifts.  Her parents wanted to know if they could share the extra gift with me.  Imagine my excitement when they brought the gift over – it was the very kitchen set I had wanted.

Other wonderful memories I shared with this little house:  playing “cowboys and Indians” in the back yard with my brother; sitting with all the family on the front porch and watching the 4th of July parade which came right by our house; mother’s great chicken dumplings dinner always followed by delicious pies.

Nearing my home town, it was clear that things were not as before.  Our house had been on the western end of town – just a few blocks from our street you were in the country.  But now, there was an interstate running west of town with hotels, restaurants and stores – all places we had never heard of 50 plus years ago.

  • McDonald’s
  • Wal-Mart
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Comfort Suites
  • Days Inn
  •  Instead of driving 4-5 blocks to reach my street, we drove and drove block after block before finally I saw it – 24th Street.  I was so excited as we drove down the street – looking eagerly for that white picket fence.

    But there was no white picket fence!!!

    As we got close to the block where my house was, I was appalled to see the terrible condition of the houses.  Instead of the neat yards I remembered, there was trash and junk cars, weeds were growing where once there had been flower beds.
    When we finally reached the house, I wanted to cry!  Instead of the little white house, I saw a house that had not been painted in years – now a dingy grey.  The porch was about to fall down.  There were no roses growing up the side of the porch and instead of a swing on the porch, there were garbage bags and piles of trash.
    As we pulled over to the side of the road and I took a closer look, memories of the past came flooding through my mind.  Sadly, I realized they were memories only – the past would not, could not ever happen again.  My parents and my brother were deceased, my sisters and I were way too old to ever sit on the kitchen floor and play “jacks” again.  And this poor old house – and this neighborhood – would never be the beautiful, peaceful place I had known as a child.
    Coming home and reflecting on this I realized how important it is to enjoy today – not looking back or looking forward, but enjoy TODAY!  I thank God for the memories of the past – but they are just that – memories.  I must never look so much at the past that I ignore the wonderful blessings  all around me today.  And I must never worry so much about the future that I miss the joys of today.

    The words of Apostle Paul speaks to not looking back:
    No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
    And E. M. Bound speaks so well on worrying about the future in his book, “The Necessity of Prayer
    When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are, in a measure shutting tomorrow out of our prayer.  We do not live in tomorrow but in today.  We do not seek tomorrow’s grace of tomorrow’s bread.  They thrive best, and get most out of life, who live in the living present…Bread, for today, is bread enough.