More and more, I'm interested in holding onto what's beautiful. More and more, I am seeing the benefits of presence, of contentment, of slowing down and breathing in. And more than ever I'm hyper-aware of the choices we make that either support presence, contentment, and beautiful things, or tear them down.
We, in this culture, in this time in history, are surrounded with the luxury of what we eat, what we listen to, what we let into our precious personal space. We are sold a lot of things, yes, but we have the power to choose for ourselves. We are sold ideas and ways of life, and we must decide whether we want a part of it. We are sold a quick veneer, a glossy life of rushing around. We are sold quick fixes and instant gratification. We are sold the idea that hard work is menial and worthless, that nature is frivolous. We are sold the idea that activities like making art, reading, cooking, hiking, and playing music, are too hard, so just leave it up to the experts, leave it up to the shiny, packaged versions rather than attempt it for yourself. We are sold that if it didn't happen on a screen, then it didn't happen. We are sold that the affirmation of strangers is of more value than the affirmation of our closest people. We are sold that this is the better way, the way of technology, the way of advancement.
But I'm not buying it.
Technology can be an amazing blessing, yes, but when it ceases to be a tool you own, and starts to own you is when we must pull back and put it in its place. When we feel less-than because we are jealously looking at others, put it down. When the yuck of culture crowds out the beauty of it, put it down. When we miss out on the real world because of the false one on our screens, put it down. When we become scattered and irritated and depressed, put it down. When we find ourselves sucked into a virtual world that takes the earthy, fulfilling, fragile beauty away from real life, put it down.
Let's find a rhythm of real. Let's find a rhythm of beauty, of strength, of confidence that we don't need all of what is being sold.
There is deep satisfaction in the small things considered menial, in the domestic skills considered too hard for the amateur. There is deep satisfaction in a job well done. I have been finding so much satisfaction in cooking lately. The sound of the meat searing, the scent of the onions frying. The feel of competency when you chop and mix and knead, the relational heart surge when little hands join your bigger ones, when you put your masterpiece on the table. And the physical wellness that comes from food grown in the ground, from ingredients made by God and not engineered by men. The joy of the candlelit faces around the table, the prayers with sticky hands, prophetically thanking God for the dessert that she hopes is coming. I'm loving all of it.
I love the commanding of the kitchen, the familiar utensils and the bowls from my grandmother. I love lighting the candles, the rush to the table while the steam rises. I love the space and time carved out to create something that can bless. I love it.
So, here are some fun, practical tips for cooking dinner (and enjoying it):
I love to listen to podcasts! Some of my favorites for girl talk are The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, The Open Door Sisterhood (I'm on tomorrow!), and for younger (high-school and college) girls, The Wildfire Podcast (I'm also on this week!). For deeper spiritual conversations, I love The Bible Project, The Phil Vischer Podcast, and Theology in the Raw. And for homeschooling, I like At Home.
Buy beautiful plates and glasses! Mine come from thrift stores and the Anthropologie sale rack. Life is too short to use ugly dishes!
Put on a great playlist! I'm loving Evan Wickham's Christmas album. Play track 5 and you'll cry. Also, every year I listen to Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas, practically on a loop.
Light a candle. I love Mr. B's Necessities. The lavender rosemary is gorgeous.
Start with a clean kitchen. Just 7 minutes of cleanup from the day's messes gives a feeling of peace. It might look like a lot, but it goes super fast and is worth it!
Bring to the kitchen a heart of gratitude and sense of humor. Give thanks to God for the rad blessing of getting to smell and taste and be filled with all this glorious food! And if you totally botch the dinner which happens, laugh it off and serve cereal in a pretty bowl. Or just go straight to dessert:)
P.S. I just found out the Kindle ebook version of And Still She Laughs is on sale for $2.99 all month long! I'm pretty sure the deal is for wherever ebooks are sold. That's PRACTICALLY FREE!