Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good Intentions

As I listened to the Gavel Club member, a little 11 year old giving her speech about the wonderful life she had, I was squirming in my seat. Her parents punctuate each day with a special meal, a special tradition. Every Sunday is French Toast and bacon. Every Friday eve, the dad takes the daughter out alone to a special meal. Every day, the kids harvest the garden they planted to make a fresh grown lunch for the family. She spent a long time talking about how wonderful those Sunday meals of French Toast were, and how she couldn't wait for Sunday.

I don't know about you, but I am really good at comparing myself with others and falling short. I know we are always counseled not to do this, but sometimes a little reality check is not a bad thing. I almost never make the kids breakfast. We have a breakfast food closet, and they learned from a young age to rummage there. I rarely bake wonderful goodies, and truth be told, I am not very fond of cooking. I eat to live, but I don't live to eat. Food just isn't very high on my priority list. As I listened to the little girl, however, I realized that I needed to be making more of an effort to make memories of a home filled with the smells of a loving mother making cookies, and french toast.

I think God was already preparing my spirit for this message. A week ago, I made a huge batch of cookies to send to Matt and his lovely new wife, Karissa. I made a second batch for my son Anders, who had just moved into a new apartment in Boston. And then I made a third batch for Asherel.  It was nice to have the house smell like something other than dogs.

But after the little girl's speech, I knew a once every 6 month batch of cookies was not sufficient.
Asherel came out of her room to start school. She headed to the breakfast food rummage closet.
"Do you want me to make French Toast?:" I asked.
"Sure..." she said, a little confused, her voice trailing off in suspicion.
"What for?" she asked finally.
"You like French Toast, don't you?"
"Yes."
"Well, then I am making you some."
 She watched me a little warily out of the corner of her eye as she gathered her Bible study books.

I was surprised how I could still remember how to make French Toast. As I whipped up the eggs, I marveled at how wonderful the vanilla smelled and how lovely the golden color of milk swirling with the beaten eggs looked. The butter sizzled. Even the dogs' noses were twitching as they trolled for food, swarming like sharks in the kitchen. I plopped the French Toast in the pan, and hurried over to the computer to check my email, while that side cooked.

Oh no. Every morning I wake up to a disaster, sent me courtesy of the world wide web. I began typing my response, wondering how the world existed without my input in the days before email.

"I'm getting hungry, Mom," said Asherel, "When will the French Toast be done?"
The French Toast!
I leaped from the computer and raced to the blackened French Toast. I flipped them quickly. One side was perfect. The other was a bit dark...like charcoal. Would she notice? I quickly placed them burnt side down on the plate and smothered them with syrup.

"Looks yum!" she said, "Thanks!"
She was absorbed in her reading (thank God!) and didn't look too closely.
"How's the French Toast?" I called over, as I cleaned the scorched pan.
"It's good," she said. Like a starving dog, my children have learned that when it comes to food in our house, best to not be terribly discriminating.

Now in my defense, I do build memories of wonderful places, travels, adventures. Cooking has never been my forte...but nonetheless, I am feeling convicted that if I do offer up my cooking, it should be Fragrant...and not burnt.
God makes a big deal about memories in the Bible. He commands the Israelites throughout the Book of Leviticus to make fragrant "memorial offerings" to the Lord. I am always intrigued by that use of the word "fragrant". We are not supposed to offer up foul smelling memorials to God. They are to be "fragrant". I thought of my half burnt toast that my daughter happily ate. It was filled with good intention, but was it a "fragrant" offering? (I suspect not as fragrant as she would have ideally preferred.)

And do you know what was foreshadowed by the fragrant offering of the Bible ? God always operates at least on two levels- a physical and a spiritual. My guess is that the sweet smelling memorials and sacrifices were not just so He could freshen the air of Heaven with some good cooking scents. He tells us that ultimately, the sacrificial atonement by the death of Jesus on the cross would be a "fragrant sacrifice". It would be the best that He could give, and its fragrance was one of complete and total submission to the will and desires of the Creator.

I carefully watched the second batch and they came out perfectly. The exact golden brown they should be with crisp edges. I carefully covered them with saran wrap and put them on a plate for Asherel's breakfast tomorrow.
"Tomorrow's French Toast will be really good," I called out to her.

Leviticus 2:1-3

 1 “‘When anyone brings a grain offering to the LORD, their offering is to be of the finest flour. They are to pour olive oil on it, put incense on it 2 and take it to Aaron’s sons the priests. The priest shall take a handful of the flour and oil, together with all the incense, and burn this as a memorial  portion on the altar, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 3 The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the LORD.

Ephesians 5:2

2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

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