Sunday, September 18, 2011

Song #19: Who Cares About Apple Pie? I'm the Apple of HIS Eye

     Today was a beautiful day--cool enough this morning to enjoy sipping my hot tea outdoors as I picked up the newspaper, filled up the bird feeders, and watered my plants.  My honey of a husband was jazzed because Texas Tech's football game was scheduled to air this afternoon. Then, my parents decided to come visiting--a perfect excuse to put on a pot roast and bake an apple crumb pie!! So goes the day on a lovely fall Saturday.
     The aroma of roasting beef, potatoes, onions, and carrots wafted through the kitchen and den, co-mingling with the spicy-homey smell of apples, cinnamon, and pecans. While Mom and I browsed through old family pictures, the guys turned on the game and started in cheering for the Red Raiders and commenting on the inadequacies of the competition.
     Around mid-afternoon it was time to take that pie out of the oven. The streusel topping was bubbling with buttery cinnamon goodness, and I could hardly wait for dinner and dessert! I set it on the counter to cool but then had to move it over to the stove top to make way for something else. Although I offered everyone a piece of pie while it was hot, we were all still full from the homemade tomato basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches from lunch. We were having a great day!
How apple crumb pie should look
     By about 4 p.m. Mom and I were ready for a cup of tea. Sharing tea has become our habit in the afternoons when we are able to visit one another. I put the water on the stove to boil while both of us went over to the sink to wash up some dishes. Suddenly, a loud pop followed by exploding glass erupted from the stove-top! The Pyrex pie plate had exploded from sitting on the heating element.  I had mistakenly turned on the wrong burner! Apples, pecans, and sugary sticky filling ran all over the stove, and glass was scattered  over the range,  counter-top, and floor. 
     Mom quickly grabbed a cookie sheet and began scooping the hot pie filling and glass shards off the burner while David and I grabbed towels, broom, and dust pan to start cleaning up the mess. And, it was a mess! Part of the glass was stuck to the burner, and getting all the muck from beneath the range top was a challenge. Alas!! The pie was ruined! But, no one seemed upset.
My apple crumb glass pie!

     I don't think it was my lack of cooking skill that prevented my loved ones for losing their tempers or being angry with me over the lost pie. In fact, they were looking forward to a gastronomic pleasure. However, my family has come to expect such mishaps from time to time, and they are amazingly forgiving. Once, while we were preparing a holiday meal,  the oven caught on fire where something had dripped on the bottom and then ignited. The kitchen fire extinguisher came in quite handy, and I promptly put the fire out. We all gagged and coughed for awhile until the smoke cleared out, but we still enjoyed our holiday. More recently, a skillet of oil, meant for frying onion rings, ignited while I answered a call and started talking to a lawyer who was issuing a subpoena  requesting I testify against one of my patients. I was rattled by the call already when the oil burst into flame in a sudden whoosh!  I asked him to hold on while David, Kate, and I tried to put out the fire. On that occasion the fire extinguisher didn't work. (Remember? I had used it on the oven fire and had not yet replaced it.) Also, placing the lid on the skillet failed to suffocate the flames and simply drove them beneath the burner, and David's attempts at throwing kitchen towels on the fire didn't work either. By then I was saying, "We need to call 911!"  Kate finally snuffed out the flames by throwing a big bathroom towel over everything! she saved the day! Meanwhile, the lawyer for the state board was still holding and listening to all the commotion going on in our kitchen. Strangely, even after that, he still sent me the subpoena. Would you trust the testimony of a Psychiatrist who catches things on fire in her kitchen? Frequently?
    On this particular Saturday, my sweet husband patiently swept and whisked and emptied broken glass into the trash can until all was clean again. Mom scrubbed the burners and the pans that go beneath them, calm and capable. Kate, fortunately, escaped all the drama by being at play practice.  Smiling to myself, appreciative of my family, I put together a batch of gingerbread, popped it in the oven, and had it out steaming and ready by the time we sat down to dinner. 
     What a circle of love I felt last night during that dinner! No one complained of not having apple pie. Everyone appreciated and praised the roast beef and all the trimmings. They didn't even get upset about the smoke! Instead I felt enveloped by the unconditional love and acceptance of my family and had a lovely evening I will long remember.
    The absence of criticism and blaming got me to thinking--about my family, about love and forgiveness, and ultimately about God. My husband didn't care about the missing apple pie, I think, because I am the apple of his eye. He loves me and accepts my limitations and mistakes. He knows how much I love to cook, and he is not going to instruct me to stop cooking because I have a problem with my eyesight. Instead, he helps me whenever he can so that I can keep doing what I enjoy. He even helps clean up my messes without even one cross word. My mom has been through many a crisis in her life and has learned to manage them with poise and grace. She loves me also and has forgiven me for many failures over the years. I don't even have to ask her, because she already knows what I need. She shows compassion and understanding toward me as I keep stumbling along, trying to manage life under the grace and mercy God gives me. She is a great encourager, and I hope to be like her.
     Each of these important people in my life is manifesting something within him or her placed there by God Himself. "You have never talked to a mere mortal", as C.S. Lewes says, because every person was created by God to be immortal--to live on after this life and to be Jesus with skin on in this one. God's Spirit lives within them, and it pours out to me and to others.
     And then there's God. It is now Sunday, and I am reflecting on yesterday's events. Our pastor started teaching on Galatians this morning, and Galatians is all about grace--God's grace. I am awestruck with wonder that my family  looks over my mistakes and forgives me for the multiple times I have nearly torched our kitchen. I am astounded by their patience and their willingness to keep loving me and putting up with me. Yet, they, as I,  are human--imperfect people who have been "made complete" (Colossians 2:10) and are forgiven by a merciful God. God's capacity for understanding, for seeing the big picture, and for knowing me far exceeds the ability of my family to do so.
     Matthew's gospel says, "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:9-11
     If my mother and my husband  give "good gifts" to me--gifts of forgiveness, mercy, acceptance, love, and helpfulness--how much more does my Father "give what is good" to me?! His love, mercy, faithfulness, grace, and love are far greater than what we can ever imagine. In fact, I am the apple of His eye! He loves me much more than even my husband does or can!

6 "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me;
give ear to me and hear my prayer. 
7 Show the wonder of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who assail me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me." Psalm 17:6-9

     We are so limited in our thinking, in our human understanding, that we cannot begin to fathom the depth of our Father's love for us. Only by seeing a picture of such love in my family do I begin to get a glimpse of His. And, that is how the world at large begins to see God's love--by seeing the love of Christ played out in our lives. "If God is love, then God’s people make God’s love visible." ( August 29, 2011). My family makes God's love visible. 
     As we study Galatians at our church over the next few months, I pray that we will not only learn more about showing God's kind of love, but actually do it more. There are many more of us out there who can't see the light, who start fires and try to put them out and control the damage under their own power, who pollute the air with the smoke of their fire-setting, and who not only upset the apple cart but blow up the whole pie!! ( How do you like them apples, metaphor police?) 
      I pray that "He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."  Ephesians 3:16-21