Ashes to Sweet Lemons
If there is one thing that I am not a huge fan of when it comes to baking, it is baking with lemons (or limes or anything that puts that tangy pressure in the side of my neck when I eat it. You know the spot). I’ll toss some lemon peel in my tea any day, but not in any baked goodies. My husband, however, is an addict. The tarter the better. Lemon cake, lemon pie, lemon cookies, lemon drizzle, lemons sitting on top of baked limes- you name it. Every year on his birthday I am forced to squeeze lemon after lemon (because gosh forbid I use an extract…) to concoct some kind of ridiculously tart thing for him. It’s exhausting but hey, he’s my man friend. What am I going to do?
The other day, he got a cold. And if your husband is anything like mine you know that he
- waits until doomsday to finally confess that he’s sick which means he has probably let the sickness get really bad and
- literally dies when he finally admits that he is sick
If not, then lucky you. Jarvis doesn’t get sick much these days with our shift to clean (well…cleaner) eating, so it kind of made me sad to see him all...sickly. He was coughing, feet dragging, eyes red and puffy, all while going to work each day. On the second evening of this dramatic show of illness, I went to brew him some of my fresh tea and decided to whip up a batch of lemon drizzle cookies just to make him smile.
You guys should have seen me in my kitchen. I was squeezing sweet lemons and tossing seeds out while I danced, butterflies fluttering in my chest. I have no idea why, but I was super geeked about walking into the living room to my bundled-up honey with a plate of his favorite treats. Maybe it was because I got to show him affection in that moment. He always asked so tough guy all the time, it was nice to cater to him. Or maybe it was because I knew he would give me the biggest smile and would ask, “Babe, are those lemon?!” in his hoarse, scratchy, and dramatically sick voice. Whatever it was, I was super excited, in my own little world, squeezing fresh lemons and preparing cookie dough for my man. Then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. Just four years ago around this exact same time, I would have never done this. I would have never cared enough about the man sitting in the other room to make him a plate of air let alone a plate of homemade “please get well soon” cookies. Four years ago, I probably wouldn’t have known he was sick in the first place because honestly, we weren’t talking to each other much. Jarvis and I had reached our end as a couple. We were at that very scary place where we constantly went from threatening divorce to crying about going to counseling to trying our hardest to tear the other person down. We were broken, hurting, and just angry all the time. As I stood almost motionless in my kitchen, tears began to swell up in my eyes.
Isaiah 61:3 seemed to come crashing to mind as my hands gripped the counter. In this scripture a message was sent to Israel, a message that all who were hurting would be given crowns of beauty in exchange for what was once ashes, a joyous blessing instead of their mourning. A message that even though things are looking dark and confusing, the God of love is still in control. How very real that has been in my life. The God of creation, the God of the universe was able to take something (my marriage) that I had believed had burned to the ground and placed a crown of beauty on my head out of it. He had so delicately worked on the broken pieces within my spouse and myself that before I knew it there was praising instead of despair. There was love where I thought only anger could live. There has been the smell of sweet lemons where I thought only ashes could survive.
I don’t know if there are any ashes in your life right now. I don’t know if you are in a season of turmoil in your marriage, your parenting, your finances, your job, or simply in your spirit. I don’t know what you have struggled with or what you are currently crying out to the Father about right now. But I do know this- the God who loved us enough to set His son free from His embrace to die a cruel death for you and I is more than able to not only lift those ashes but use them to make something incredibly beautiful. The God that I serve, the one who hasn’t perfected my marriage by any means but has shown His power in it day after day, is more than willing to do the same for you. See, it’s pretty easy to make lemonade out of lemons (or really anything sweet out of lemons) but God is the absolutely only God that I know that can turn sweet lemon drizzle cookies out of the ashes of a broken and dark place.
Peace, love, and strength