The wet holiday Monday we have recently encountered produced a flurry of emails and an invitation to 'games and afternoon tea' from my daughter-in-law. Determined to contribute to the eats, I thumbed through my recipes to find the above from my favourite recipe book, 'Gluten-free and Easy'. Don't they look tempting? Brilliant, because I had the most vital ingredients and enough time to prepare marvellous macaroons. I hadn't made them before and with no almond essence they wouldn't taste quite so strong plus I would have to put almond flakes on them instead of blanched almonds. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to smiles from my family as I presented my freshly baked offering.
Alas, it was not to be. Somehow a smell of burning was emitting from the oven after only seven of the 12-14 minutes baking time. I left it another minute, sniffing around the kitchen to see if I'd left the iron on or it was a forgotten candle. Unlikely in mid-morning, but you have to be sure. I opened the oven and grabbed out - oh, a rather big disappointment.
I tracked down my mistakes. Not only had I substituted ingredients, but there had been a slight misreading of the instructions. I had failed to notice that, in a fan oven, the baking heat should be a crucial 20 degrees lower. Absolutely nothing wrong with the recipe - if I had followed instructions all would have been well with the excellent results I usually have when using this great little cookery book.
How are you at following instructions? I'm obviously pretty poor on the baking front and probably on the spiritual one too. For example, I know to pray without ceasing and to draw my strength and power from Him; I've read all about it in God's recipe book for Christian living. When I forget and try to do things in my own strength, I am very likely to end up rather burnt around the edges. Yet I know that I can rise up under stress if I have allowed God to set the right temperature and to regulate my life.
So what has happened to my burnt macaroons? I took the photos I've used here and produced those instead of scrumptious eatables. I had riproarious laughter from my family, plus loving sympathetic smiles. Then, back home, my 'waste-not-want-not' husband has steadily ploughed his way through them, assuring me that a bit of charcoal is good for him.
What a wonderful illustration of God through his great mercy using us, loving us and considering us worthy, even if we know we have strayed from his instructions to become burnt and damaged along the way.
Angela Hobday (aka Annie Try) is Vice-Chair of the ACW. Having previously written for child psychologists, she is now writing novels and is the author of 'Losing Face' published by Roundfire Books. She has resisted the temptation this year to start yet another new manuscript. Instead she has worked on completing outstanding work and is now seeking publishers for three novels; The Crazy Dance of Emma J, Trying to Fly and Out of Silence.