Growing up in my house we didn't have a whole bunch of "rules." My parents had standards and expectations but there wasn't a blackboard list of do's and don't or a fifty bullet point hand book that statied forbidden behavior.
Despite this lack of strict rule keeping I always knew what my parents approved of and what they did not deem acceptable or tolerable.
For instance, the words "shut up" were absolutely prohibited. I remember one day I told one of my brothers to shut up. Big mistake. My Mom made it clear to me that day that in our house we did not speak those words. As far as I remember that's the last time I've uttered the words "shut" and "up" in the same sentence.
The phrase, "I'm bored" was also off-limits. In the Rice household boredom didn't exist. If you felt like you were at lose ends, unsure of what to do with yourself you simply found something to fill the time. You never, ever said, "I'm bored." It wasn't a welcomed phrase.
Beyond words and phrases, there were lifestyle choices that weren't allowed while living under my parents' roof. When I was six I asked if I could get my ears pierced like all of my little friends in school. All the girls had their ears pierced. I was the lone hold out with virgin earlobes. I went to my Mom and asked if I could get my ears pierced with a needle (a strange desire for a girl who has always loathed anything sharp, especially needles). Her answer was an odd one. "Go ask your Dad." That didn't normally happen in our house. So I asked my Dad and my Dad pulled out an old, worn history book off of the shelf in our living room. The dust was so thick I couldn't see the cover. Then my Dad opened the book to reveal disturbing paintings of Indians with swords stuck through their flesh and gapping holes the size of baseballs in their ear lobes. He pointed to the images and said, "You see, getting your ears pierced is just as wrong as that."
That was it. I never asked to get my ears pierced again.
Beyond phrases and actions, in my house there were also certain foods that were not a part of our families diet. We had our fair share of sweets and my Mom was never opposed to a package of Archway Chocolate Chip Cookies but a few packaged goods never made it past the threshold of our front door. Most notably, the Pop Tart.
Never in my entire life have I eaten a Pop Tart. Not once did my Mom ever buy a box of the sugary pieces of cardboard that TV commercials raved about. I never put quarters into a vending machine and punch in the numbers for a Pop Tart of any variety. In college I passed the racks of individually sold Pop Tarts at the Student Union often consumed by my fellow scholars. My Mother's aversion to Pop Tarts stuck with me even when I became old enough to buy my own Pop Tarts!
That is, until I found a recipe for "Homemade Pop Tarts." The recipe looked daunting but the result in the images of adorable little cinnamon-sugar filled pastries were cute enough to tempt me to take on the challenge of baking these little treats up as my next pastry adventure!
First I had to make sure homemade Pop Tarts were allowed in my Mom's kitchen. After getting the thumbs up I embarked on the all day undertaking of making dough, chilling dough, rolling dough, cutting dough, chilling dough, whisking filling, assembling dough, chilling dough, baking dough and glazing dough! I told you this recipe was daunting!
After hours spent in the kitchen following the instructions to a T, heeding every tip and hint along the way, my little Pop Tarts were completed and boy were they cute! I'll admit they don't look exactly like the pictures I saw online. They look much more homemade then the perfectly sized and shaped tarts crafted by Sally's Baking Addiction, but the tarts that popped out of my oven were adorably cute in their own homespun way. They were golden brown, puffy and oozing of cinnamon sugar deliciousness!
The best thing about these little Pop Tarts is that they were a feast for the tastebuds, not just the eyes and nose! Even my Mom ate this Pop Tart and loved it. I'd call that a successful day spent in the kitchen.
These little tarts took all day create but they were worth a labor of love and they were worth all the effort.
Dear Baker, that's a lot like you and I, don't you think? Our life is a journey that can seem like a grueling, laborious task. We go through highs and lows, getting chilled and then molded and then chilled again all before we get stuck in an oven at high heat! Just looking at the long road ahead can be overwhelming. Like me, you may be tempted to never even start at step one, you may never even make the dough in the first place let alone form it into little rectangular shaped tarts!
But the long journey is worth every lengthy, difficult, tedious step. Our journey is a labor of love, shaping us into the image of Christ.
When you and I follow all of the instructions, dot every "i" and cross every "t" we will be rewarded with a deliciously golden brown tart of a life that brings with it the aroma that only the sweetness of Jesus can bring.
I'm so glad that today I spent hours in the kitchen laboring over homemade Pop Tarts. They filled my house with the warming scent of cinnamon and reminded me of an important truth. Following God's plan is a labor of love. It takes time, patience and diligence but in the end the result is always worth the effort.
If you would like to spend your day in the kitchen working on your own labor of Pop Tart love visit http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/09/03/homemade-frosted-brown-sugar-cinnamon-pop-tarts/.