I’m a list maker. At any give time, I might have a to-do list, a “when I have more time” list or in the back of my mind, a “someday I want to…” bucket list.
While most of my blog posts are based on what God is teaching me through His Word, some are just personal experiences that often lead me to spiritual truths. Today I want to share a recipe that taught me a lesson on JOY.
This has been a difficult time for many as we have been ordered to isolate and social distance–even from those we love.
One of the ways I have dealt with the isolation is to set some goals for things I want to accomplish rather than spend the time just waiting to be rescued from this invisible enemy. Intentionally setting my mind to rebound from negative thoughts about the current situation, I have a list that involves several household projects that were just waiting for the right time. Some I had procrastinated on because they weren’t as enjoyable, while others were just too big to tackle in a day, so the “When I Have More Time” list just became the priority! My biggest project so far has been very satisfying, so look for me to post about it later. [I painted my old brown leather sofa set. Painted? Yes I did!]
What I am sharing from my bucket list today has been brewing in me for quite some time, so it fits nicely into both of the “Bucket List” and “When I Have More Time” categories.
In my early years I was privileged to have grandparents who raised a garden of vegetables to be shared. We would enjoy a bountiful harvest in the summer, and our pantry was filled with the beautiful colors of those canning jars that would last us long into the winter.
My mother and grandmother canned vegetables and fruit, including jellies and jams that were served as a condiment for many a meal. I have enjoyed countless homemade biscuits piled with the sugary goodness, not always savoring it long enough to fully appreciate the work that went into its production.
Honestly, I can’t remember the first time dreamed of canning something for myself one day. I live in the country where we have been blessed with several fruit trees that were planted by previous owners. Last year I even purchased a canner for myself–a confirmation that I was going to learn how to make my own jelly from the fruit that was growing right here on our property…
…only the squirrels beat me to it! Those rascals stole every.single.piece of fruit! Not because I procrastinated and didn’t pick them soon enough–we literally woke up to trees that were stripped bare overnight, before the fruit was even fully ripe. Ugh!
Sadly, my intended effort was stored away in the pantry.
I am privileged to enjoy the beauty of several flowering trees in the spring, and my daughter sent me a link to a recipe for jelly made from redbud blossoms! I was inspired, and suddenly the desire to learn something new was revived.
How could I not get excited about a this possibility–one that didn’t involve squirrels!
Picking the blossoms was the easy part. What followed was an adventure in trial and error. The first batch turned out beautifully, though not quite as jelled as I would have liked. (It sure made it easier to spread, though!)
Because I had a difficult time finding a complete explanation of how to make jelly from redbud blossoms, I am posting an easy-to-follow recipe for other adventurous spirits out there:
What I really want to share from this experience is a confession. While I am blessed to be healthy and have everything I need to get through this difficult time, I still struggle. Some days are good and they are productive. Other days I have no energy and am tempted to focus on the negative, as a not-so-silent enemy tries to steal my joy. I pine for what is lost, and I want the days of isolation to pass quickly.
But God won’t let me stay there.
I spend every morning praying and searching the Scriptures, and every single day I am reminded that this day is important. There are lessons to learn that I wouldn’t learn any other way. He reminds me that He loves me, that He is with me, and that He is in control. After feeling a bit defeated that my jelly didn’t turn out perfectly yesterday, I woke up to read this Psalm:
“A man’s steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord holds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
Making the best use of our time might involve finding something new to do. For those of us that are more driven, it might be a lesson in learning to rest or to spend time listening. I’m sure there are countless ways that God will take our circumstance and use it for His good and His glory. The real question is, when our emotions are bouncing around like a basketball, how do we get the rebound?
Seek Him. Focus on the good, and especially when you struggle to find it, pray for God’s perspective in all of it.
“The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord, their refuge in a time of distress.” Psalm 37:39