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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Nourishment’

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)

My oldest son refused to touch anything with onions for a long time. He says the only reason he eats green beans now is because I made him clean his plate – and he now concedes that some dishes require onions. His taste buds have evolved, matured.

Every one of my boys rejected a side-dish at some point when they were little, gagging. Sometimes the gag-reflex needed encouragement to allow the dish to stay down, like “hold your nose, take a drink of your milk and swallow.” Those are signs of immature taste-bud development – which is really quite normal.

With diligence, though, they have learned to clean their plates. That taste-bud friendly food is preferable but we must learn to eat un-favorite foods. Life just doesn’t always dish up favorite living – so we need to learn to swallow through.

Taste buds mature. I don’t remember an oyster before I graduated from high school, but they had been at every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner since before I could walk. Take cabbage, for example. Couldn’t stand the stuff until I turned 40. Beets must start tasting great around 55. Eggplant, though, eggplant was given the green light by my taste buds in my early to mid 20s – my aunt started making eggplant parmesan during the summer. Oh, my – it was amazing – still is. Totally makes me feel loved.

My birthday is this week – 49. I don’t mind telling you. I embrace each new year, each new opportunity to grow, to find new sweetness in new places, to develop more of a taste for God’s things.

In graduate school, a friend worked with Campus Ministries, coaxing and encouraging me to taste scripture, to let it go deep inside, pushing plates and dishes of evangelization in front of me. Yet, she didn’t have the authority to make me swallow. I thought I was full enough. Besides, what she pushed in front of me, well it tasted different, not familiar – like those green beans my son talked about.

I am thankful that God sent someone to ” feed me with the food that is needful for me” (Proverbs 30:8), someone to introduce my spirit buds to other things from God, things that if I would just put inside me, let my spirit digest, would heal my wounds, grow my endurance, to expand my short-sighted vision of what a relationship with the Father really entails. I didn’t see then that I was a daughter of the King, a favored child. My spirit mal-nourishment had me feeling like a forgotten child, a left-behind child, a crumbs-from-the-table child.

“and you give them their food in due season” (Psalm 145:15).

Pride inflammed the ulcerated lining to my soul, stunting my spiritual growth. I was like my son who came in the kitchen the other night, hungry. But not hungry for what I had to give him. God was patient. He knew I was hungry for His word, and with each ensuing season, He fed me a modified diet, building my strength, building my faith with different soul foods, until one day, in the midst of a heart-trial, I believed enough to reach for scripture, to swallow that scripture and to live it.

He still offers up dishes that I balk over – initially. But the gag reflex is gone. New dishes are new opportunities for fresh growth. New dishes are welcome, though there are still days I stand in front of the refrigerator and can’t see anything I want. But nourishment is not always about want, but need.

Each year, each challenge, each lesson, each new awareness of the utensils (tools) God teaches me to use, develops a diverse palate for God’s ever-expanding 5-Star menu. Instead of shoving away what He puts in front of me, I open my mouth wide open with a hospitality attitude for the things of God, a willingness to believe that there is not a meager menu set for my life but a feast, full of good things, new and different things – things that are like Eggplant Parmesan to my soul.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10).

No, I do not lie about my age. I am thankful for each year that God has redeemed me from the bondage of dysfunction, rejection and pride. I celebrate each year, with a mouth-wide-open attitude, knowing God is going to fill it with blessing, growing me further away from the darkness into the light, growing me closer to Him, developing the taste buds, the palate of my soul.

Oh, and the next time you share a God-dish, either with seed-planting or evangelizing dish, do not be dis-heartened when your heart-giving of God’s things is pushed away – or even gagged at. You may have gotten more down them than you realized.

 “The eyes of all look to you, “Who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5)

Eggplant Parmesan for the Soul

2 medium eggplants, cut into ¼ to ½ in round slices
All purpose flour for dredging seasoned with pepper
Olive Oil, as needed. (If using a non-stick pan, wipe pan out between frying.

4 to 5 large tomatoes
3 to 4 garlic cloves
Onion
¼ to ½ cup white wine (optional)
Salt to taste

The day before blanche tomatoes, peel to simmer until juice is gone. Saute onions and garlic in Olive oil over medium heat. Add to tomatoes, simmering uncovered over medium to low heat until sauce thickens.  (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using).

Peel and slice eggplants, dredging in seasoned flour until lightly browned on each side.

Line dish with fried eggplant.

Top with tomato sauce.

Sprinkle with mozzarella.

Repeat. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.

Eggplant Parmesan for the Soul, a dish for the maturing taste buds.

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