Once upon a time, my life looked totally different. I was the young mother of three growing kids. Homeschooling them by day and falling asleep on the couch with my husband to the soothing hum of the 9:00pm news by night. We had even purchased equipment to grind our own wheat & bake our own bread. We were becoming more self sufficient as we approached the years prior to Y2K and we enjoyed teaching the kids about the more holistic essentials. Life had a rhythm to it that as I look back seemed hectic at the time, but in hindsight 20 years later, it looks … well, rhythmic.
I chose at the time to follow the 30-day freezer meal style of cooking, causing me to go to the store alone armed for battle; buy a month’s worth of groceries; come home ladened down with supplies and then begin the arduous task of cooking 30 meals to put into the freezer. What was I thinking? However, this type of meal prep allowed for less hectic days of wondering what was for supper and gave me the opportunity of focusing on teaching the kids and dealing with any mishap our 100 pound Labrador might get into. Life was different.
Midstream in life, God made a change in our lives. He called us to an average size town in the south of France to have the privilege of pastoring a wonderful international church here. But not only did our location change and our work change, but our lifestyle was what really changed! Gone were the days of the huge American refrigerator with a freezer space like none other. Back 15 years ago, the French refrigerator was purposeful in allowing people to store food not for 30 days, but instead for only the week ahead. The average French woman would go to the grocery store at least once a week and sometimes more often, allowing her the ability to get fresh foods and vegetables as needed. I quickly realized the days of the frozen casserole were gone, and a road to a different type of cooking laid ahead. (insert: The entire family at this point rising up to cheer!)
Today, April 2020, we are in the 5th week of an eight-week government lockdown. Going to the grocery store is limited to necessity. People line up outside of stores to be given permission to enter. They are wearing homemade masks and gloves to ward off any virus contamination. Here, toilet paper isn’t what is being hoarded, but instead the pasta and flour aisles are empty and one cannot purchase a bread machine anywhere because they are entirely sold out. In fact, Amazon itself is completely shut down for the moment, so life has seemed to come to a stand still. However, the essential French chocolate aisle in the grocery store is fully stocked, so in my opinion, life will continue. ;)
Tomorrow, the clock will rewind for me. Tomorrow, I will be pulling out that electric wheat grinder (called the “Whisper Mill”, but in fact sounds like a jet engine taking off). I will be plugging it into our 40 pound transformer and I will be turning the hands of time back to the days of bread baking; applesauce making and 30 day cooking sprees. The year of 2020 is a year of being flexible and remembering how to complete tasks that we haven’t done for years. It’s a year of learning new skills and helping others to do the same. The year of 2020 is a year where people are stopping to talk more to one another via the internet and being willing to get their hands dirty with flour again in order to make ends meet.
Sixteen years ago, as we left the United States for the first time weighed down with 10 suitcases; 3 kids; and 1 freaked-out gerbil, the phrase we said over and over again to one another was, “It’s not weird, it’s just different.”
The year 2020, my friend, is not weird… it’s just going to look different. We might need to rewind the hands of time and recall skills that our grandmother’s handed down to us. We might need to pull out that old sewing machine to make a needed mask or open those weathered cookbooks in search of how to make your own bread. But, if I could pose a bit of encouragement to myself and others - let’s enjoy the journey. When the year 2021 comes, we will have so many stories to relay to one another of fallen cakes; tooth-breaking breads; and weird but effective homemade masks. We will stand a different people. But we will be standing.
And remember that when frustration strikes yet again… the chocolate aisle is stocked full. You’ll probably see me there.
Wife, mother, teacher & friend who loves to "do life" alongside others as we journey together in seeking to know God more fully and deeply. Feel free to join with us as walk through a few "French fields" ...
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