Taste and See

Can you believe July is almost gone?! Here we are, half way through summer, and I have been completely lazy! So much for cleaning, organizing and purging the house. And you, my friend? Have you accomplished all your summer time goals? Have you enjoyed the fruits of your labours? If you follow along on my social sites (please do!) then you will see our garden tour and the little harvest we have been enjoying. The rest? Not so much. However, such is the journey, so I will not fret.

Recently, we have also enjoyed a few backyard bar-b-ques with friends and family. It’s a good, Canadian thing to do in our short summer months… burgers on the grill, potato chips and watermelon. Which makes me wonder: Why do we enjoy shooing bugs off edibles all in the name of celebrating scorching heat? Whole other muse, I suppose. But. We have indulged in our fair share of shooing this summer already.

Which brings me to this week’s muse. A book review for “Taste and See” by Margaret Feinberg. Hoping to “discover God among Butchers, Bakers and Fresh Food Makers”, I devoured the book in about 2 days straight. It’s a quick read. Margaret takes us on her journeys (literally — she travels) to discover more about six of the foods Feinberg says have “spiritual significance” in the Bible: fish, figs, bread, salt, olives and lamb.

I quite enjoyed the journey, and each chapter brought on a whole new appreciation for the basic biblical staples. I especially loved the bread baking tour… my adventures with sour dough have given me a whole new appreciation for the art of baking and how complicated bread actually is! It would be an excellent small group study. Especially if you are a foodie! I encourage you to visit Feinberg’s sites (here) should you wish to see more about the book.

I love food. Which can be a curse and a blessing, but that, too, is for a different muse. I was eager to slice open the book and taste the adventure of the Israeli staples, and Feinberg’s insights into how the Bible uses food as a way in which God nourishes us… more than just physically. He wants to “…nourish our souls with transcendent joy and supernatural community and divine presence.” (pg. 22). Plus, there are recipes!

I’ve been learning and growing and thinking about this whole idea of “wholistic” spirituality…mind, body, soul, community. I often don’t take the time to consider how great food is a part of this. Can you image what a piece of chocolate is going to be like in heaven? Or what it will be like to have a cup of coffee with Jesus? Or bar-b-ques with the master priests of old? (okay maybe not that one… they tended to burn everything).

But you get it… God gave us this wonderful commodity and diversity of tastes to enjoy ! And sharing meals with others is a way to bond us in community, in conversation, and in care. I am reminded that we should always be thankful for such blessings. I am learning to take a deeper look at the bounty before me and the things it represents. Land, weather, growth of tiny seeds. Hard work, passion, patience. We take it for granted and mock His blessings with our “God is goods” and “Johnny Appleseed” prayers.

I’m about to clean out our fridge. My son just informed me the last bag of milk has curdled. We are having leftovers for dinner. I am not the next home cook about to be drafted for Master Chef … but this book has been a good reminder to “Taste and See” that God is good, His mercies endure forever, and He is the master of my world. I pray that you, too, will be welcomed to his banquet table with others and share in the community of Jesus followers, as we shoo a few flies away together at the picnic table this summer!

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

It has been a crazy few weeks! Busy spring schedules means my house is a mess, I’m tired, the laundry is backed up, and things are just a tad bit grumpy around here. So, there is really no time for casual reading, despite my comfy couch calling my name as the sunbeams warm the spot! But before the chaos hit, I had the chance to finish up a book entitled “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend” by Matthew Dicks. (FYI – Apparently the author goes by Matthew Green in Australia and the UK). I picked it up in one of the thrift shops we stopped at on our girl’s getaway a few weeks back. (You can read about those adventures, here).

The reviews label it as a “psychological novel”… and I am not quite sure what that means. But it’s good. It is also an auditory book, so if you prefer that, it might be a cool one to listen to on a car trip this summer? Personally, I loved it as a great read, and couldn’t put it down. It tells the story of Max, an elementary school-aged boy with some special needs, and his imaginary friend, Budo. Budo, although imaginary, and only seen and heard by Max, is quite “real” for an imaginary friend. (He has eyebrows!) He is also quite “old” for an imaginary friend (More than five years old — most imaginary friends get killed by kindergarten says Budo 🙂 ). He discovers, through twists and turns in the book, that the more he learns, the more he dislikes reality. Budo’s biggest reality? Imaginary friends do not last very long. And Budo has to make some tough decisions in order to help Max, which in turn, may bring about his own demise.

I’m not a “fluffy” book reader… I like some interesting (and slightly dark) twists in my novels — and this one had just enough to keep me up at night. It boasts of sacrifice and internal struggle and pushing forward. Budo has to face his fears. Ultimately, his friend, Max, does too. The author has made it quite creative, almost whimsical — there are some other meritorious imaginary friends described in the book, and a few teachers who tickled my funny bone, as well.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is not considered a “spiritual” book by any shape or form, but I couldn’t help but see the parallels it has to our own faith journeys. Faith being the operative word here. Have you ever felt like an imaginary friend? Heard and seen and understood by only a very select few? You struggle to “do the right thing” but it may mean sacrificing your friendships, or even your very own existence? Do you have to rely on the strength of others to get you through a challenging trial?

Recently, I discovered our youngest had copied out a verse on the chalk board hanging on her wall. It struck me how we have been developing her faith by our family choices, our encouragement, and our example. In turn, she is beginning to live out her own faith in Christ. And we see it reflected in the doodles and drawings on her chalk board. What a scary privilege we have as parents!

Oh friends, after busy spring weeks like these past few, my faith is weak. I want to achieve big things, but I struggle with simply keeping things at the same, comfortable and re-assuring spot. I don’t want to step out of my comfort zone, into the “real” world and face challenges that might be too hard for me. Sometimes I am barely keeping a float where I am right now! Can I get an Amen? Anyone out there feel the same?

Perhaps, Budo, Max’s imaginary friend, could take notes along with me, from 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT), where we learn that there is someone very real we can count on to strengthen us in our spiritual journeys. Someone who can truly help us step out in faith.  “Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. “ So be it.