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A friend recently asked me, “What would God say?”  I was prepared to listen to his troubles, ready to commiserate and sympathize, taking care to leave my faith out of the conversation out of respect for his beliefs.  Because I figured the last thing a dejected friend needs is someone to preach at him.  So I was taken aback to have this question thrown at me.  I’m definitely not the fastest thinker and neither can I articulate very well in awkward situations.  All I could muster up was: “He would say, trust me.”

After stewing over this for a good couple of days, there’s nothing I would change about my answer.  It’s generic and cliche, utterly dissatisfying, I know.  But truth is, if we were looking to God for an answer to right all the wrongs in our lives, then I think we would be sorely disappointed.  He would never tell you what you have to do to get ahead in your career.  Or how to repair your relationships with your family and friends.  Whether you should make that decision or turn another direction.  He would leave those choices up to you.  But he would ask you to find him first.

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Maybe “trust me” isn’t what you want to hear when you’re down in the dumps, but maybe it’s exactly what you need.  We all pray when we feel helpless in our circumstances.  If you listen to those prayers, they’re all about getting into that particular school, getting that girl, getting that promotion, getting the perfect house; because we think that if we get all these things, then we won’t have to ask for anything more.  But there’s always another thing after that hurdle.  When we do get into that school, get that girl, or get that promotion, we rejoice: “Hallelujah! Our prayers were answered!”

But what do we do when things don’t turn out the way we want them to?  Are we prepared to say, that even though we have no clue how things can be solved, and even if he does not answer our prayers the way we want him to, and despite our confusion and despair, we will still trust that what he does is exactly what we need.  So the only thing that we ask for, above everything else, is that he stand by us for whatever comes.

If I can say this prayer genuinely, then I think everything else won’t be so difficult.  Oh, it’ll still be hard.  But at least now, I have peace.

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So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:31-34

Maybe the best thing you can do for yourself, is to stop trying so hard to solve everything.

White Balsamic Custard Tart from Bon Appétit

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On Father’s day, I sat down to write a quick email to my dad.  Expecting this to be a three minute ordeal, I instead found myself having a hard time finishing this sentence: “Thank you for….”  For always being there for me?  For providing for me?  Somehow it didn’t feel right to see it typed out on the screen.  And I’m not sure my dad would have been comfortable reading those words either, since I suspect neither of us are quite sure about the truth of that statement.

If someone were to ask me about my childhood memories, I would be hard-pressed to find one about my father.  What I can remember are bits and pieces, and frankly, few of them are truly happy.  But I do recall the excitement of seeing the airport shuttle pull up the driveway, running out to help unload the luggage and to greet him with a big hug.  The way the house seemed to light up with extra warmth as the sound of our chatter broke the solitude.  How inviting and complete the dining table looked with an extra set of bowls and chopsticks.  And in the morning, I would run into his room and wake him up by plucking his leg hairs.

But more than anything, I remember being disappointed.  Pressing our faces against the window, we peered into the locked classroom where we should have been hours earlier.  On my desk laid a large cut-out picture of a clown that I had drawn.  I didn’t want to cry but I did.  Not because I couldn’t show him my stupid clown; but because I felt like all the other kids had a dad to bring in on back-to-school night, while I was waiting for mine to come home.

I do not remember at what point that I stopped waiting.  I just know that his visits began to lose their novelty—his homecomings received with little fanfare.  My father became someone I associated with overseas phone calls and short, obligatory conversations.  I understand his paternal duty to provide for me, financially.  What I wonder sometimes, is whether he was choosing to pursue his career over being a father.  I wonder if he really did it for me.

This is not supposed to be a post about blame.  But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t care that my father wasn’t there for half of my childhood.  What I have learned is that when people have exhausted themselves to the point where all accusations and insults begin to sound the same, when they’ve said and heard everything there is to say and hear, there is nothing left to do but to let go.  Because there can be no redemption without letting go.

So, Happy Father’s Day, dad.  While we cannot make up for lost time, at the very least, we should enjoy what there is to come.

Thanks for being a dad who always tries to provide for me.  And I mean it.

Pound cake with raspberry cream