Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shortcuts to the Sweet Stuff

For the first time, I am trying my hand at cooking maple syrup. Abe tapped some trees here in our yard and we have been collecting the sap as it comes. I am told it takes an average of forty gallons of sap to cook down into a single gallon of maple syrup. And oh, how sweet it is!
I preheat the sap on the stove and then pour it into an 18 quart roaster in the garage. It gets all moist and steamy out there. Hours, then days, go by, and eventually there is a pint...then two...then three... sitting on my counter.
In the meantime, I find myself thinking of ways to use the sap without cooking it all the way down to syrup. I've learned it makes really good chai, tea, probably any sweet drink, to just cook it until it has the sweetness I like. There is also a lovely delicate flavor to it, very mellow. In a fraction of the time it takes to make even one fourth of a cup of maple syrup, I have a gallon of very good cinnamon tea, all sealed in jars to enjoy ice cold on some hot summer day. It might be my imagination, but it tastes more exotic, just knowing it is purely maple sap, cinnamon, cloves, and mint, no sugar added.
But sweet tea is a far cry from maple syrup.


The thoughts on my mind and on my heart today have been a struggle to hold out for the sweet stuff. The tea is pretty good, after all, and there's nothing wrong with tea. It's just not maple syrup and never can be.
And I want the maple syrup.

Sometimes it seems like God takes such a long slow route to get us to the sweet stuff. I do know the sweetness of waiting on Him, not trying to force His hand, and seeing Him work out more incredible sweetness than I can comprehend. But I am still so prone to impatience.
Suddenly this afternoon, I heard His voice through the process of making maple syrup. I choose, in the issues that are in my life right now, to wait and be still, to trust God to distill away whatever He needs to in me, and to trust Him to work in the lives of those nearest and dearest to me, to the same desired end - the sweet stuff.

Another thing shouted loudly to me today.
Damaris has been steadily progressing in learning to play the piano. I am amazed at what sounds she can make come rippling out from under her fingers already!
For the last few weeks she has been playing over and over something her cousin taught her, very pretty with a nice rhythm to it. I assumed it was some sort of finger exercise, it had no real "tune" to it.
This week her piano teacher (Judy) is back after being gone for over a month, and we were there for a lesson. While she was taking a phone call, Damaris was playing through some of the things she enjoys, the "finger exercise" being one of them. To my surprise, Judy says, "Why, that's "Heart and Soul" she's playing!" and promptly joins her in the duet I didn't know it actually is. The part she played was the "tune", and if I thought the "accompaniment" was pretty, I am here to tell you, it's just the accompaniment.
That was Wednesday. It took me until today and the battle I was in, to see the beauty in it all.
I think our God wants us to get it through our thick heads that what we have experienced of His goodness so far in our lives is only the accompaniment, to what He really longs to pour out on and in us if we will only keep saying yes to Him in our hearts and lives. It's still the "sweet tea".
He is the "Heart and Soul" and will put heart and soul into everything we let Him. He is the one Who made the life-blood of the tree, so that when it is distilled out into it's purest form, it is a product of utter sweetness.

The cross is another tree similar to the maple.

I want to hold still, not meddle in His work, and just abide in Him.

I write this all in much weakness, feeling the need to put it down in black and white. - Janelle


mrstbright said...

Thanks for sharing :). What a blessing your blog is.

Janelle said...

You're welcome! God is gracious in blessing me.