On Baklava and Forts

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If you have ever made baklava before, then you know it takes a lot of intricate steps of layering paper thin sheets of phyllo dough with melted butter and chopped nuts. Every time a layer of phyllo is placed down to butter, the remaining sheets have to be covered with a wet tea towel to prevent them from drying out. One batch of baklava can have upwards of forty layers, and involves a lot of work and concentration to assemble. After it is scoured and baked, a boiled mixture of honey, sugar, and vanilla is poured over top. The dessert tastes even better if you are patient and let the honey syrup soak through the layers for several days or even weeks.

Over the weekend, I was busy in the kitchen making my second batch of baklava this season. My daughter Julia was keeping herself busy building forts in the living room. She started out with dining room chairs and comforters, but quickly found that there wasn’t much space underneath for both her and her little brother. She then remembered the rods and connectors fort kit from her Nana and Pop-Pop. She proceeded to sweeten my husband into helping her build a different fort.
The second fort was constructed without delay, covered in comforters, and destroyed within minutes when one of our three cats decided to jump on top of it. Following a couple of tears and a deliberate frowny face, Julia once again got her daddy to help her build another fort. This third one was wider and covered with lighter blankets. After a few hours of play, we left it alone to make our weekly grocery shopping trip. We returned from the store to another knocked down fort with two of our cats snuggled peacefully on top. Instead of leaving a mess in the living room, we boxed up the rods and connectors and called it a night.
The next morning, after barely getting out of bed, Julia recruited my husband to build her fourth fort. This one was much taller, covered with lighter blankets, and had one new addition: an entryway for the cats. Just in case we weren’t sure why there was a small opening toward the bottom of the fort, Julia wrote and taped up a sign declaring: “Door for cats Only!”
I wish I could tell you that the hole and sign worked, but another little culprit knocked down Julia’s fort this time. It was her little brother Josiah, who didn’t realize that pulling on the blankets would send the delicate creation tumbling to the floor.
Why all this talk of baklava and forts? I am a stay at home homeschooling mother. My days may seem ordinary to the outside world, but on the inside they are filled with joy and excitement. If I look at the everyday things going on just a bit closer, I can hear God speaking to me through them.
My baklava takes a lot of time and effort to make just right. I could skip layers of buttering phyllo, but that would change the integrity of the whole dessert. (I could skip over areas of my life and not care for them, but that affects my strength and well being). I could jump ahead and eat the baklava straight out of the oven, but that would prevent the delicious honey syrup from seeping through all of the layers. (I could jump ahead and do things my own way, instead of being patient for God and letting Him release His blessings in due time).
My daughter put a lot of effort into building her forts. She realized bit by bit that she could build bigger and better forts if she put more time into them with help from her dad. (I could work on areas of my life quickly without much thought, but if I ask my Father God for help, He will guide me to making better decisions). Julia learned that the lighter the covering on the fort, the more likely it was to remain standing. (I can burden myself with worries, but my day will be more productive and spirited when I lighten the load off of my mind). Julia got sick of the cats knocking down her fort, so she made an entryway and a sign for it. The cats used the entryway, but her little brother proceeded to pull down a blanket and knock the fort over anyway. (I can make changes and try to control as much as possible, but unexpected events still have a way of occurring).
As I write this, my baklava is high up in the kitchen cupboard, slowly soaking in the sweet honey syrup. Julia’s rods and connectors sit in their boxes in our living room, waiting for another weekend of fort building with her daddy. As for myself, I’m learning to be patient with life, to let things soak in and let God be. My plans won’t always work, but I can always begin again with my loving Father’s help. He will lighten my burdens. He will create the perfect entryway for me. All I have to do is knock, and He will gladly open the door. God’s sign isn’t a piece of paper written on with marker and held up by tape; His sign stands forever powerful and unrelenting on the hill of Calvary.

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