Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sanctification and cathartic ramblings, and a paleo recipe

Sometimes you actually almost hope that the food you ordered will arrive at your table slightly off, because what you really want, more than a meal, is catharsis.

Yesterday I ate six cupcakes, and this (surprisingly) is not why I long for catharsis.  Well, it may be part of the reason, but it is not the entire reason, and I know this because I was longing for catharsis before I ate any cupcakes.

Honestly, I have never eaten six cupcakes in one day before.

They were gluten-free, paleo cupcakes, made with coconut flour and eggs.  I took them to a brunch I attended; I'd signed up to bring a gluten-free, bread-type offering.

Cupcake Number One, I ate at home in the morning, right after I topped it with faux chocolate ganache, to test and see whether they were good enough to take.

Cupcake Number Two, I ate at the brunch, because it was gluten-free and I wanted it.

After the brunch, and the meeting, I drove home in my hot van and the faux chocolate ganache melted down all over the cupcakes, so of course I had to eat Cupcake Number Three, all drizzly, warm and messy, and evaluate what to do about the situation.  I put the rest into the refrigerator to firm up.  Then the dogs needed walking, and I tackled an ancient rose bush that may never have been pruned before.

Hungry and tired after my efforts, I ate Cupcake Number Four "for lunch," and also to see how they tasted chilled (delicious).

Dinner was quinoa spaghetti with meat sauce and salad.  Shawn lifted a third helping of spaghetti from the serving dish, eyed it dangling and said, "Do I really want this?"

"You could have that, " I remarked, "or you could have a cupcake."

He opted for the cupcake.  I had one too.  Cupcake Number Five.

"Shall I put these away?" I asked, gesturing to the (nearly empty) platter.

"No," he said, deep in a FAFSA on the other side of the table.  "They're good."

We both had another: for him, a second... for me, Cupcake Number Six.

I have never done such a thing before.

Six cupcakes in one day, two-months-to-the-day before our daughter's wedding.  What?

Granted, since I went off gluten, I rarely have bread or cake around.  I guess the proximity of "safe" baked goods, following the long estrangement from them, was more than my common sense could handle.

This is not what I meant to write about.  I meant to write about catharsis, the kind I craved before I ate six cupcakes and needed it literally.

God has a way of reaching out and touching us when we need Him most.  Or maybe I should say: God has a way of reaching out and touching me when I need Him most.

One day, shaky and upset, I drove to Bible study full of prayers and supplications.  If I learned anything during my one semester of teaching English, I learned to pray in the car.  On this particular day, I prayed until He spoke to me.  "I love you," He said.  I tried to sing the childhood song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so... "  My voice quavered and dropped out altogether on the high notes.  I parked and went into the study, late.  Inside, I walked towards the sanctuary, and as I drew near, I heard the voices of nearly 200 women singing, "Jesus Loves Me."

He is in control.  It's all His.

Some of it, He puts in our charge for awhile.  Children.  Homes.  Jobs.  Land.  Bank accounts.  Cars.  Little dogs?  We need to do the best we can in stewarding these things, but ultimately, they all belong to Him and we have to accept that, surrender to His will and His way.  Live faithfully and flexibly, both.

Times when there is the most stuff welling up in my heart, I write here abstrusely.  Months, years later I go back and find these entries, the ones where I danced around what was bugging me and wouldn't name it because somehow the Holy Spirit helped me maintain a modicum of wisdom.  You know what?  When I read the entries of mysterious withheld information, I can't remember the things I was withholding.  I only remember that I was troubled, but God carried me through, and I am no longer in that place.

God is good.

Sometimes it is hard for me to grasp His goodness because His ways are so different from mine.  David says that this is because we are concerned about our comfort, but God is concerned about what is best for us, which often is not comfortable.

Yesterday at the brunch, somebody said that worry is always unbelief, lack of faith in God.  I do not agree.  For me, worry is not primarily that I lack faith, it is that I lack courage.  I believe that God is in control and that He will do what is best.  I just know from experience that I usually don't like or enjoy what is best, and that is why I worry.  I fear the inevitable pain of sanctification.

Growth hurts.  Character development is painful.  Fruit comes from suffering, not from sitting around eating chocolate cake and telling jokes.  Roses grow best when you hack out the deadwood and chop off the superfluous branches.  It's not all seeds, water and fertilizer.  A beautiful garden, like a beautiful life, demands a great deal of weeding and pruning.

But God is good.  He is.

He even has a sense of humor.

The other day I was fretting away over some problem, and I started telling Him, "Well, You could do this, and then You could do that, and then after that, You could do this..."

Suddenly, inside my head, I heard His rich-as-plum-pudding voice start to chuckle at me and He said, "Oh I can, can I, Ruthie?"  Seriously.  As though He were saying, "Ha ha ha ha!  You'd let me do that?"  But all He said was, "Oh I can, can I, Ruthie?"

I found myself, as they say, duly chastened.  I apologized, "I'm sorry, Lord.  Of course You have a better plan than I have, and You will do this Your way."  In those moments, He did not humiliate me.  He spread His feathers over me gently and communicated love to me, maybe even delight.  I felt like He found me humorously endearing, if out-of-bounds.  I felt close to Him in the best possible way.

Shawn and I were on the interstate last weekend, driving home as the sun sank in the western sky.  Majestic white clouds surrounded the sun, but it gilded their edges gold where they touched it, and lower down, streaming through the places where the clouds thinned here and there, beams of light showered the earth with glory.

God is good.  He lifts our faces and turns His face towards us.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

"For You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me."
        ~Psalm 86:17b (NIV)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[oh... in case you want the recipe...]

Coconut flour cupcakes

  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla (or more; I am a big believer in vanilla)
  • 1/3 cup honey (don't bother with raw, because you kill everything good in it when you bake it anyway)

Beat eggs.  Beat in the other ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (really, that's all)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Sift together.  Add to egg mixture. Add...

  • 2 Tbsp milk (I use whole)

{Do not forget the milk.  Sometimes I do, and they do not come out as nicely.}
Stir together.  Portion into 8 cupcake cups.  Make exactly 8.  Be sure to line your muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.  This batter is super sticky and will not come out of your muffin tin if you do not use the paper liners.

Bake at 350F for 17-20 minutes.  (Mine have never been done in less than 20)

Faux Chocolate Ganache

Slowly and carefully melt...
  • 2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate 
...in a glass measuring cup in the microwave.  Add...
  • 3-4 Tbsp coconut oil
  • sweetener to taste (I used 1/2 tsp powdered Nustevia, and it was still quite bitter so I added 2 tsp sugar, and it was still quite bitter, but also at that point pretty tasty)

Let cool thoroughly (like overnight) and spread on the cupcakes (which also must be completely cool).  This gets hard like candy in the refrigerator, but is very runny at 80 degrees.

I made the recipe twice, rather than doubling it, which was another reason why I probably ate so many... I had to test both batches, of course.


Hope T. said...

I am so happy to check your blog and see an entry, Ruth. I've missed you! I smiled over the image of Shawn deep in FAFSA. We have had the same scene here lately but the forms were done and mailed yesterday so no more of that for a while! I want to give you that recipe for banana ginger bars (really more like brownies). They also use coconut flour and I love the texture. Yes, I would have the worry about eating the whole pan myself if it were not for my 6-year-old son with the voracious appetite who likes them so much that he is "thinking of going gluten-free". I will send you the recipe.

ruth said...

Thanks! I'll look forward to getting it! :-)

There are times when gluten-free is "no sweat," and other times when I just feel like if I can't sink my teeth into a crusty, chewy pizza crust, I will die. Why did I never care anything for pizza crust until I could not have it?