Cheesecake

In the past month I’ve made two cheesecakes. Actually, I’ve made seven, but five of those were mini cheesecakes which don’t count as much (all though, I did sort of make up the proportions on my own, so I’m quite proud of them). A friend remarked, when I announced my intent to make the first one, that she thought cheesecakes were a lot of work. I don’t remember exactly what I said in reply. It was morning, I was in a hurry, and I was running through a list of ingredients that I had recently memorized.

Cheesecakes, in my opinion, are not very hard work, they are simply time consuming. They aren’t the date apple pie or peach cobbler or even the tart apple crisp which I can whip up in under 35 minutes if need be. A chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake, on the other hand, takes an afternoon. The most recent cheesecake was started at 415 and finished near 7pm by the time all was said and done. There is, however, something delightful in the time it takes.

I baked for three different people this month: the first was a birthday present for G and myself as we share a birthday weekend. E and I went down for a weekend, took the kids to the pool and enjoyed a late night of conversation with our wonderful friend (J is out of town for the summer). The second was for a friend who covered E’s shift while we attended a concert (in fact, you may be reading this while we are at said concert). The miniatures were for E to take to a friend’s and for me to bring home to my roommate.

I love watching the mixer cream and churn the ingredients, whipping sugars into smooth silk and smushing the eggs so that their bright orange streaks through the batter and livens the bowl. I love the way my fingers stick together and I love the chance to stand in my bare feet, hips swaying to music in my mind while I wash the bowls and lay them on the counter to dry; all while smelling the waft of joy and delight.

I also love that cheesecake is not something that most folks make for themselves. I love that it’s an opportunity to share a rare treat and love on people who have done good things to me. It’s a chance to pray for them while I whisk together the vanilla and sour cream; a chance to thank God for them as the crust is crunched down into the silver spring form pan–ready and waiting for the bounty it’s about to receive. I find a moment of thrill in the faces of the ones I love as they taste that first, rich morsel (and then dive in for more!).

 

I love cheesecake because it is fun to make and it is a great gift to share with others.

 

 

postscript: keep praying for rain and less winds! the fires are getting contained, but the work is not yet finished!!

WHY: Prayer Request

We should be praying for rain. Rain, and rain and more rain, without the thunder and lightning. Just rain, buckets and buckets of the stuff.

I drove to Fort Collins yesterday to see an old friend and I saw the lightning that started the Boulder fire: I saw the smoke burst up and over the Flatirons, pouring out between them, over trails I’ve often hiked. Over the weekend, camping in the mountains, we had to drive through brown haze to reach the outskirts of Telluride–the sun was blood orange red from the smoke of the Colorado Springs fire. Last night, we could smell smoke from the Fort Collins fire while we ate tiny scoops of ice cream on the back porch.

It feels like our whole state is on fire. The water levels are low, the rivers and lakes look miserable, gasping for more moisture as they sit far beneath the normal shorelines. It’s so hot, I’ve let my roommate turn on the air conditioner and I sweat while blow drying my hair. It’s so dusty and dry that the rattle snakes have come out in force–I almost ran one over on my bike last week as it slithered across the trail that radiated heat beneath my spinning feet.

We need rain. Not just to protect the houses crammed full of useless stuff. But to save our forests, the animals, the wild majestic beauty that made me fall in love with Colorado.

And we can’t cause the rain. We could probably stop overusing our water, stop selling it off to California. We could stop building, stop expanding the places that absorb and retain such heat in the dry months. We could stop driving as much and carpool, bike or walk. Maybe those things would help.

But we can’t cause the rain, only God can. So I think we should be praying that he comes and does something about that. That he sends rain on the thirsty, broken ground, cracked from long suffering beneath a burning sky. Pray that the fires are contained, that no more start, that the drought eases, that this coming winter there is good snowpack and the state is restored for a new year.

I have Colorado in my heart, but it isn’t just us. New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have their own flames that are gathering speed and burning up the dusty land. So don’t just pray for us, not just for this set of the Rocky mountains. But pray for all the Rocky Mountain, Intermountain, Great Western region.

We just need rain.

WHY: Nanny-times

I’m nannying again this summer. Working with two girls ages eight and ten, three days a week. They’re a lot of fun and the parents, thus far, have been fantastic to work with. I’ve been struck however, at the difference between my upbringing and the childhood that these girls are experiencing. I don’t just mean the stuff they own (both of them have iPod touches and are clammering for iPhones) or the fact that they don’t know what a spatula is because they never work with Mom in the kitchen.

It’s more about…who they are being brought up to be as adults that I find interesting.

When I lived with G and J this was a subject that–while not often verbalized–undergirded all of their parenting. I can remember G telling me that the reason she wanted her children to learn and memorize scripture was painfully simple: “I imagine them as missionaries one day,” she said, “and what if they’re imprisoned or something? What if they don’t have access to a Bible? Then at least they have the word memorized so they can always recall it.”

These girls’ lives revolve around sports, time with friends, grandparents and golf lessons. None of those things are wrong! It’s just that, I wonder if our lives aren’t turning into huge tracts of entertainment. These girls ask, every day after swim team, what are we doing today? They struggle to understand a day at home, chilling out, reading, relaxing on the porch swing or watching a movie while cookies bake in the oven. They want to be entertained, to be taken to the zoo, the aquarium, the movies, the six flags, they want to be kept busy.

Are they an image of our own lives? Of our American dreams for pleasure? But what pleasure is there in always going, going, going –but never stopping to enjoy a cool mist when the thunder rumbles over head or watching the sun go down while you sit with your best friend in silence because you are so overtaken by beauty?

And then you have me. Cheapscape. Easily amused. Simple. Someone who longs oonly for open space with a rocking chair or adirondack to read for hours on end while the sun slips across the sky and plays hide-and-seek with the clouds.

What do I have to offer these kids? I have sometimes wondered that in my past experiences as a nanny. Why am I here?

To be still with them.
To love and encourage them.
To offer a different perspective.
and to reassure them that life is about more than just the entertainment value of each day.

WHY: this is lame

because, quite truly, I have nothing to write about today.

Colorado is beautiful.

My jobs are going well.

Monday night I ate cheesecake.

Last night I had a night all to myself.

I’ve read four books this summer.

I’ve been biking to church.

And I’m at peace.

there aren’t any why questions that I can think of. There aren’t any thrilling new decisions to explain to you and there are no brilliant ideas that I want to force on you. So, since I don’t have much to say,  you should probably just scroll over to one of my linked blogs and read something more interesting.

24

I turned twenty four this week. It wasn’t a thrilling day. I watched someone back into my car twice as they tried (and failed) to parallel park in front of me. I went out for drinks with friends and ate gluten which left me bloated and unhappy the day after (but it was good on the going down!). In sum: I worked a shorter day than planned and had a delicious dinner and got to see friends and it wasn’t an extraordinary day but it was still lovely.

I’ve been thinking about where I was this time last year. I was dating N and we went downtown for my birthday (me in a cutesy dress) with just a couple friends. It was fun but it felt…off. I think I knew that while N was a better choice than previous suitors, he still wasn’t right. I was coming out of a rather dark period in life and to be honest, I was failing in nearly every aspect of my small reality.

This year, I still struggle with a lot of the same things. I still speed and drive rather aggressively. I’m insecure. My skin continues to break out (what’s up adult acne! how you livin’?). I’m prideful and selfish. I’m envious and ill content. And, in case you didn’t know, I really do know everything and I wish you people would just stop acting like I don’t!

But this year I have experienced a great movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. I have forgiven some people who hurt me–even those grudges I had been holding onto for years. I have gone back to school and I have found a purpose, a chance at doing something real and important. I have been challenged, I have been convicted and I have been so well loved by a great number of people that I have been given a real chance to grow.

Sometimes, I feel like I harp on this subject. But then, I think if there’s any subject worth repeating over and over, it’s this one:

My God is so good.
He redeemed me.
He cleaned me.
He clothed my nakedness.
He turned my sorrow to dancing…

…my ashes to joy.

And tonight, as I watched the sun set over the Rocky Mountains I thought that there is no greater birthday gift than the love of a Galilean who somehow found me–even in the muck and mire–more beautiful than the streaks of gold and rosy orange through which the sun sank to its nightly rest–more beautiful than the snow capped peaks and the clear green blue of mountain rivers–more worthwhile and hopeful than the late spring warmth that broke over the pine trees on my morning commute to Colorado Springs–my God found me more beautiful, hopeful and worthy than all of that. Or perhaps that is not the best way to say it. He did not redeem me for what I am or what I’ve done; but for his glory he somehow chose this wretched child and brought her  home to live, deep in his love, safe in his arms, always to delight in him.

my redemption came just months before my birthday in the season I love the least.
and there is such great irony in that. such mystical, haunting beauty to be reborn in such a time.

Man’s chief end is to know God and enjoy him forever.

God is most glorified in us, when we most delight in him.

I think that is the best gift a girl could ever ask for as she enters her mid twenties in the post modern west that has left Christendom behind and strains on for what it has always longed for–the very thing that she has been given.

Thank you. Very much.