Friday, December 31, 2010

10 words that define 2010: My Valley

I saw a post from Elora a few days ago about 10 words that defined 2010. I loved it. I wasn't really planning to do my own, but it ended up writing itself while I was at Cafe Milo today with my journal and a delicious latte. 
  • community
  • heartache
  • transition
  • death
  • brokenness
  • worship
  • beauty
  • revelation
  • growth
  • identity
I expanded on each of the words, really thinking about what the year has been like. I'm not going to pretend that 2010 was a cakewalk. It wasn't at all. 2010 was the hardest year of my life, hands down. I experienced pain and rejection and death. Yet 2010 was probably one of the most JOYFUL years of my life as well. I had community. Friends that breathed life into the broken parts. A Savior that delighted my heart in simplicity when all of the complications of life seemed unbearable. 2010 was a year of change.  
I decided to flip back in my journal to see what I had written last year around this time. To read about what my dreams were for 2010. I found a short entry:
January 1, 2010.
My prayer for this year from the Valley of Vision:
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, 
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, 
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; 
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. 

Let me learn by paradox 
that the way down is the way up, 
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart, 
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, 
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, 
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, 
that to give is to receive, 
that the valley is the place of vision. 

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, 
Thy life in my death, 
Thy joy in my sorrow, 
Thy grace in my sin, 
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.
I was sitting in Cafe Milo and just started crying. GOD DID NOT ABANDON ME THIS YEAR! A few posts ago I wrote about how my God was there the day I got fired. As I read over the prayer that I felt the Lord laying on my heart to define the coming year back in January of 2010-- I saw an outline of my year. 
My God was there this YEAR. 
The year my heart broke.
The year a few of my friends walked away. 
The year I moved three times. 
The year my grandma and one of my great friends both died from cancer. 
The year I felt like such a failure. 
The year of dust and ashes. 
My prayer a year ago was that the Valley of Vision would define me. That I would live by paradox. The words that defined my year SCREAM of paradox. Growth. Death. Brokenness. yet Worship. Beauty. Identity.

I see 2011 as a year of HOPE. Of starting to see the seeds from 2010 start to bloom and grow. A year of beauty from the ashes of 2010. A year to press into my Savior. To cling to truth. To choose LIFE and JOY instead of shame and envy. To enjoy each season of my life the way I enjoy the seasons of nature. I anticipate spring rain to wash away the filth of winter. The thawing of cold and desolate places. Slow changes. Blossoms. Fresh wind. Warm rain. HOPE. 

I pray that I can run toward hope. Through truth I can grab ahold of hope and believe in change. A year ago I felt the Lord calling 2010 a Valley of Vision. I now see how true that was. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Cake of Dreams...

My wonderful brother and his wife got me a subscription to Bon Appetit Magazine for part of my Christmas gift. I ADORE reading it cover to cover. The December issue arrived in all its glory with the shining beacon of CHOCOLATE on the cover called the Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons.

This is what dreams are made of:
  • 3 lbs of butter
  • excessive quantities of dark chocolate
  • sugar
  • spice
  • hours in the kitchen 
Making the ribbons with chocolate dough-this part was a bit frustrating. I'm definitely going to make chocolate dough for another dessert just so I can conquer it FULLY!
 I had to ask the fam to take a few steps backwards to allow me some space :)
I added some spiral curl "flair" to my cake -- not bad!!
Right before eating the cake for Christmas Dinner at my Grandpa Charlie and Mary's house
The ladies...
and GENTS!
Rockin the Christmas apron...
Milk required (or red wine)- The cake was delicious. REALLY sweet. I'd prob cut down the sugar in the cake itself if I were ever to try to make it again. The buttercream with RUM and CHOCOLATE in it was absolutely killer.
My beautiful sister and me showing off Christmas outfits for the OTHER side of the family celebration
COUSIN PIC! Bummer to have Michael and Lindsay gone.
Love this little boy. My cousin Liane's son, Lincoln.
Best gift ever!! We've already played at least 10 games...
Posing next to the gift my mom got my dad (a chronological map of events in the Bible)
We've been out to dinner a few times, played lots of games, had a girls' shopping day, prayed together, laughed together, cried because of one another. My family: flawed, fiesty, fun, and on fire for Jesus. I am blessed. So thankful that they encourage me to seek God first, have big dreams, and never settle.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I am Anna Pascal

The pondering stage has begun again. Some call it unemployment, I prefer to call it a life analysis and search process. As I wrestle with the different options before me, one thematic element sticks out. If you know me, this will seem obvious --- I LOVE to bake. I have this fear of doing it for a living. I'm afraid that it will ruin everything I love about it. But the question keeps coming up in the back of my there a way to do it AND love it?
Pastry school / actual chef route seems absurd. Crazy hours, not my ideal lifestyle.
Own my own specialty bakery. Owning something requires finances and the desire to see it through --there's still the possibility of doing cakes to order etc.
FACS/Home-Ec Teacher -- Teach kids to bake and sew and have manners. Sounds fun. Could I handle the day to day? The planning?

A few of the snapshots of my life that keep re-playing in my mind:
  • A conversation with a past co-worker: I had baked biscotti and brought them in to work last December. She took one, got all teary, grabbed my hand and said --Anna, PLEASE follow your dreams. You LOVE baking! Don't end up stuck in a job that you don't enjoy.
  • A seminar from a year ago where one of the VPs of the company came down to Austin and asked everyone in management at Hyatt to stand up, introduce themselves, and say what their 'dream job' for when they grow up would be. Mine was to own a specialty bakery. 
  • The doldrums I felt after meeting with the English Education Advisor at Iowa State versus the elation only a week later when I got the email from the Family and Consumer Sciences Education Advisor. 3.5 years to get an english teaching certification, 1 or 2 for FACS.
  • I've made my own birthday cake or cupcakes for the last 3 choice.
  • The first thing I do when I feel homesick or lonely or down in an apartment is bake my mom's oatmeal bread. The process of proofing the yeast, kneading the dough, waiting for it to rise, punching it down, waiting for it to rise again, and having the rich smell of homemade bread permeate my surroundings makes me feel home.
  • I read Bon Appetit Magazine COVER to COVER within 1 day of it arriving. 
  • My happiest and most full moments over the last 3 years have involved farmer's markets, baking with friends, baking for friends, baking with my family, dreaming of baking, or eating.
My heart started beating faster and faster as the scene from Stranger than Fiction unfolded before my eyes.  I realized: I am Anna Pascal. 
So now I figure out how to make my job be something that makes my soul come alive. I think teaching kids to bake etc might be my ticket...I meet with the FACS Education advisor the first week of January.