What have I seen this past week? A house that remains constantly messy. A kitchen sink always filled with dirty dishes (and no, I am not exaggerating). Piles of laundry that cover the basement floor, muddy footprints tracked through my freshly mopped kitchen floor, fingerprints covering every glass surface possible. It's frustrating, discouraging, and maddening.
I have seen too much fighting this week. Whether it be at my own home or a home I am babysitting in, with little babies or older ones who should know better. I have seen too much selfishness, heard too much yelling. There has been too little sharing, and kind words remain sparse. The fights, even the little ones, break my heart and they make me mad. Can't we all just get along?
The drilling going on next door, it has been constant. Monday through Friday (occasionally Saturdays as well). They hammer and they bang, they run their drills and their construction trucks. From 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. there is a constant noise that surrounds my thoughts, and sometimes it gets to the point where I can no longer think. This house being built next to us, it's huge. Slowly it gets closer and closer to our house, one day the patio will be right outside our dining room window. The claustrophobic feeling of clutter is already starting to press in around me.
I think of this past week, and those are my initial thoughts. But there is a voice that whispers in the back of my mind, "Find the beauty." Yeah, ok. Beauty? I don't think so. But still, It presses, "I am good and I am holy. I have created every moment. I am good and holy. And all I create is good and beautiful. So yes, Anna, find the beauty. In this past week. And right now, in this moment."
I blind myself to the beauty in each moment by focusing on what I perceive as ugly. Yes, it is a choice to do that. And usually I am well aware of what I am choosing. "Ok, Lord," I say, "Show me the beauty." I look back out the window again... and everything looks the same. My frustration is growing. "I don't see it! I'm looking for the beauty, but I can't find it."
It takes a minute, but the beauty is in the rain. It still slides down my window, but it is not gloomy, depressing rain that annoyingly makes things wet and slippery. It is rain that nourishes, gives life. The beauty is in the flowers that are wet, small pretty circles of water left on their petals. Beauty is inside, in this house. Beauty is in the raspberry candle that burns on my desk, so warm and bright. Beauty is in the messy kitchen that will be cleaned this afternoon, the soap suds and warm water. Beauty is in the noise coming from downstairs- the piano bringing music to the house, the sound of friends playing. And beauty is in the girl whose knees are bent on wet pavement, taking pictures of the beautiful things she is thankful for.
The beauty is always all around me, I just need to look at it the right way. I don't always look for it, but it is always there. The beauty doesn't have to be in big things, happy things, or elaborate things. Beauty is in the simple, in the every day. Sometimes, I think beauty shines best in the ordinary.
It's silly isn't it? I see a simple thing like blackberry almond bars as beautiful. It seems child-like that photographing wet flowers fills me with joy. But isn't that what I want? To be like a child, to trust, to be satisfied with what I have, to not question or doubt, to find joy in everything? I have found beauty in today, and my ungratefulness is ebbing away as joy takes its place.
I want to find beauty in the rest of this week and watch the joy grow. Because joy can grow out of something silly and simple- even blackberry almond bars.
(click 'read more' for recipe)
Blackberry Almond Bars (from 17 and Baking)
1 C. butter, softened
2 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
3 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. seedless blackberry jam
1 C. powdered sugar
3 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x18 rimmed sheet.
2. Cream together butter and sugar in stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extract. Slowly add flour and salt, mixing until just incorporated.
3. Spread the batter in the prepared pan (it will be thin, but it'll cover it). It will spread during baking, so don't worry if it doesn't quite reach the corners of the pan. Drop teaspoonfuls of jam evenly over batter (they'll spread slightly, so you can put them pretty close).
4. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
5. Once cooled, cut into squares. Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and extract. Drizzle over bars.