It’s been a very eventful week in the BurntToast household, which is saying something because it’s only Thursday. It’s been, like many weeks, a mixture of good, bad, and everything in between. It’s tested our bravery, our strength, our grace and our understanding but also taught lessons about beauty, forgiveness, and love along the way.
My oldest is away at Fifth Grade Camp with Mr. BurntToast as his chaperone. It doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal when you look at this on the surface. But to me, it really is. It really is because just yesterday he was this tiny little baby with no hair and a smile so big it could light up a room. It really is because it was just in a blink of an eye that the arms that he uses to hug me tight went from being the small, dimply chubby arms of a baby to the long, gangly, arms of a boy working towards becoming a man. This camp trip is the climax of all the elementary years for every kid in our district. It’s where the kids go in boys and girls and come out men and women…..metaphorically speaking, of course. And it has felt so far away for so long that now that it’s here and they’re there having so much fun, it feels unreal. I feel as if I’m watching from a distance as my boy is experiencing something so awesome and so anticipated that it surely will alter who he is and how he sees himself, even just in part. He’s going to do things he’s never done, confront fears he’s carried with him since he was a small little toddler (hello zip line!), and I know he’s going to have the time of his life.
And that’s AWE-some.
This weekend my youngest is putting all of her 7-year old hopes and dreams on the line to try out for a gymnastics team she has wanted to be on since the moment she put on her first tiny little leotard. She knows there is a chance she won’t make it. She knows that the coaches will be looking at her and judging her. This is no “every kid gets a trophy” situation, to be sure. And she’s ok with it. Because she wants it and she’s fearless and she’s bold. I watch in amazement as she approaches this moment with confidence and spunk, not afraid to try because of the risk of failure.
And that is AWE-some too.
And my middle babe, well he’s had somewhat of a rough week. He’s learned that not everyone is going to be nice all of the time. He’s learned that sometimes people do things and say things that hurt your feeling and make you feel powerless and small, as if you don’t matter and never will. His sweet, gentle world was rocked just a bit and it stung. He was wounded. Not physically, mind you. But this boy, who has always thought the best of people and always felt safe in his own little world, sees things a bit differently now. This, obviously, has been the hard part, especially for us as parents.
There is this line in the gospel of Luke that is seemingly so small and so insignificant in the greater story of the birth of Jesus that you can almost gloss right over it, miss it completely. But being as it was important enough to be said twice, I don’t think it was meant to be ignored. It’s a verse that focuses not on Jesus, who by all rights is the star of this show but on His beautiful and courageous mother, Mary. Not being raised Catholic, Mary has not been a heavy focus of my spiritual life. But this tiny verse humanizes her to me, it brings her right into my heart and makes her real. It’s so relatable. It’s so honest. It’s so motherly. Amidst the fanfare of angels singing, shepherds visiting to worship, and the glory of the birth of her child whom she knew to be the Messiah, Mary quietly and beautifully took all of the events, the truths and the thoughts on her son and simply:
“…treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
And to me, this is the essence of motherhood. When our children are born, we treasure them up and keep them in our hearts. As they grow, and we learn more and more about who they are, their little hearts and their little minds, we treasure that up too. We treasure the good, and if we’re honest about who they are, we treasure the bad. Because we know that they are a treasure….both to us and to the Lord who loves them infinitely more than we can imagine.
And this, this is exactly why watching them hurt is so hard. It’s why we feel near physical pain when they suffer, when their world seems unfair and unsafe. Because we have treasured up these things about them for each and every one of their days and we want to protect them and keep them there, pondering them in our hearts where their worth is known and understood. But we can’t……
Mary couldn’t. She stored up the treasure of the truth of her son, yet watched the world reject, betray and ultimately kill Him. She knew who He was, she loved Him I’m sure both as a son and as a Savior, but she had to let Him go. And I can’t imagine the torture and heartache that that was for her. Yes, she knew her divine purpose. Yes she understood her role in the story. But the understanding had to be at odds with her love and pain as she watched the events play out in front of her eyes. How she didn’t take a rock up and throw it at the nearest Roman solider on that hill named Golgatha, I will never know.
And we can’t, either. We know who our children are deep in their hearts. We have treasured up the truth of their story and their soul for all of their days. But we have to let them go and learn and get hurt and experience beauty, pain, hurt and forgiveness all by themselves. And that’s just one of the reasons why parenting is so damn hard.
So, yes, it was really hard to see my son hurt. It was heartbreaking. But it was also beautiful because he saw a true act of bravery in one child coming to him, asking for forgiveness for his actions. It was beautiful because, without qualification, he gave it. He knows that no one, not even in our worst moments, is perfect and that we all need forgiveness for what we’ve done wrong. It was beautiful because, even at the young age of 8, he understands God’s grace and mercy so well (not by my doings, I promise) that he extended it even to those that didn’t ask for it. Because he knows that we’re more than just one action, one moment in time, and that we all need love. LOVE, people, was his answer. And that was really humbling for his mom who was standing there with rocks in hand, ready to throw to protect my child. His answer was better. And I know it.
Have I mentioned that this child is amazing to me each and every day? If you know his story, you know why. If you don’t, read it here, and you’ll see what real courage and character look like.
So, tonight, while my big boys are experiencing camp life and eating S’mores and hopefully staying warm, I’m going to feed the souls of my littles with the balm to all souls, soup. It’s finally cold here, and I feel like what we need is a big cup of love in the form of some steaming, luscious tomato soup. Campbells marketing clearly worked on this lady, right? I’ve been making this soup for a few years now, because tomato soup is one of my all-time favorites. Sadly for me, Mr. BurntToast HATES it. It’s just not his thing. So when he’s away, I get to enjoy it without hearing complaints and gags as he tried to spoon it down. It’s very quick and easy to make, perfect for a weeknight dinner. And with the addition of grilled cheese croutons, kids love it! I promise, no matter what your week has been like, no matter how hard, this will put at the very least a tiny smile on your face and remind you that there is always LOVE if you look hard enough for it.
15 Minute Tomato Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
- For the Soup:
- 1 (28) ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 14 ounce can of chicken (or vegetable broth)
- 10 fresh basil leaves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup butter
- For the Croutons:
- 1 Loaf good, crusty bread cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces (I use Ciabatta
- Provolone and Colby Jack Cheese
- Step 1 To Make the Soup:
- Step 2 In a large saucepan combine broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Step 3 Add the basil and sugar.
- Step 4 Reduce to heat to low
- Step 5 stir in cream and butter until melted.
- Step 6 For the Sandwiches:
- Step 7 Butter one side of each slice of bread
- Step 8 Place face down on a hot pan, topping with provolone, colby jack and a second piece of bread, butter side up.
- Step 9 Flip when bottom piece is browned, reduce heat and cover to melt cheese.
- Step 10 Make sure to flip once while under the cover to melt the cheese equally to each side of the bread.
- Step 11 Remove from pan and cut into 1 inch square croutons
- Step 12 To serve:
- Step 13 Top soup with croutons and serve more on the side for dipping