16 May 2011

The Great Tortilla Test

One night last week, we had fish burritos.  I seasoned and poached the fish and tossed it with lemon juice; made a very yummy fresh salsa;  warmed some tortillas, created a sauteed onion, garlic, tomato,  bean dish for a side, along with a fresh green salad. 

It was good.
I was satisfied that I had created a meal that tasted good and nourished those I love.  You know, from scratch and all. 

I really love simple weeknight meals that are still great.  They are the thing that make me feel like I'm doing well at my job.  Yes - I heart a fayncee dinner party like no other.  But that's a hobby, an interest, frivolity.  Good frivolity, sure, but it's not sustenance; It requires work, sure, but let's be honest, it's really the way I play. 

What makes me feel a successful homemaker is a simple, real, good meal on the table on a random Thursday night.

So, yes, I was feeling good at my job.  Which is good, by the way.  To feel like you're doing a good job is a good thing. 

The next morning, I woke up early and read most of a little book that I highly recommend, references to which will appear, I'm sure, in many a life moment and many a blog post over the next years. 
It's called Loving the Little Years, and it's by a delightful woman named Rachel Jankovich.   More about it later, but if you have anyone at your house under 8, buy it.  Today.  I'll give you a dollar to go toward its purchase.  I mean, after you've proven you've read it by taking an Accelerated Reader quiz. 

I'm fairly ready to say that it needs to be read by every parent - not just moms - on or before the second birthday of the first child. 

But more about that later.   A lot more.  I promise. 

There is a chapter in her book where the author is talking about letting the children into the kitchen (and other spots to help), even if that means less gets done and the messes are bigger.  And she remembers a specific anecdote.  About tortillas.

This author mama realized, just before supper, that they didn't have enough tortillas.  What did she do?  She got out the flour and started making some.  And the kids got in there with her and got flour everywhere, obviously.  First, I absolutely identify with this - Our Monday Muffins are our best example.  The kids get in there, and I sometimes spend the better part of a quarter hour fishing out egg shells.  It's frustrating, but great, and it's what life is made of. 

But, while I was reading, the identifying with the valuable kitchen mess isn't what got me. 

What got me was the fact that she up and made her tortillas. 
Do you know what I would have done?  Not run out of tortillas. 


No, I do run out of tortillas.  And baking powder.  And cumin.  And canned tomatoes (could have sworn I had 5 cans).

But how do I solve? I'd send (politely?)  Paul to the store. 

I thought to myself, "Maybe I could do more.  Maybe my meal isn't really from scratch.  I mean, I bought a package of flour tortillas at Kroger. I warmed them in a pan and all, but no hands were dirtied, no rolling pins used.  Gosh.  I mean, the fresh salsa is nice and all, but real love involves flour." 

And thankfully, I've had enough grace drilled into my head (drilling grace? oxymoronic a bit?), by some people much further along in the journey than I, that this moment lasted a very few seconds in my psyche.  But, sometimes that moment lasts longer...

Real love isn't salsa or flour or poached fish tossed with the perfect amount of lemon juice.

With what attitude am I cooking that great supper?  Or putting together that 3,457th peanut butter and honey sandwich? 
Am I excited to prick the taste buds and fill the bellies of my people?
Am I at work doing a good job for the sake of doing a good job?  For the sake of fulfilling my role?

I've long had this test in the back of my head to see whether my heart is in the right place.

A test I now have a name for:  The Great Tortilla Test.

Is it okay with me that someone is out there doing a better job? 
Someone, somewhere made the salsa and the tortillas for their fish burritos last night. 
And you know what?  That's okey dokey by me.  There were 23.5 seconds where it wasn't okay.  And when I'm old and gray, hopefully those 23.5 seconds will dwindle to none. 

We aren't making homes to be better homemakers than Sally down the street.  Or to get into heaven - whether an earthly heaven or a real heaven.

We're doing it to make homes.

  Laundry and salsa and yet another conversation about why knives are safe for seven year olds but not four year olds and all else are our sacrifices on the altar.

But what sacrifice does God desire?  Homemade salsa?  No?  I really thought it was.  No?  I cannot chop jalapenos to get me into heaven?  Oh, come on now, my hands stung from the scraping the seeds out. 

 God desires what? 

Go to the Psalms

Psalm 51.  Written during a time when sacrifices - like real live burnt offerings - were being put on altars.  Not just salsa, but live baby sheep.
David writes this psalm after the whole Bathsheba debacle.  You'd think God would be requiring a heck of a lot of lambs.


Verse 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

So, yes, the feeding of people with the fish burritos is great.  And it's something God wants.  And blesses.  But only if it passes the tortilla test.  Only if I actually am offering the sacrifice with a contrite heart - Only if it is not filled with puffed up pride.

Someone is doing it (cooking, cleaning, sewing, love-making, educating, disciplining, clothes-washing)  better, more than you or me.  I promise.

Is that okay?
Yes? Awesome:  keep on chopping the jalapenos!  

No?  Well, throw in the towel, because no amount of any of it is helping with anything.

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