“Pick some peaches while we’re away, they should ripen up this week,” says my dad as he heads out the door early Monday for a long drive down the West Coast.
So we pick peaches. And the boxes start filling up the kitchen and they’re spilling onto the table and the chairs and to look at the tree, you’d think we hadn’t even started.
In the middle of winter, it’s hard to remember that the dead, dry trees and the cold, hard ground are going to produce anything good again. Then one day you wake up and there’s more fruit than you know what to do with. So you start handing it out to everyone who stops by, calling your neighbors and getting everyone you can to share in the bounty.
This summer, it’s been a lot like the garden going nuts outside. We’re celebrating weddings and new lives and dreams realized and just maybe, a few more dreams on the horizon looking awful close and big and real. And you go from walking through deserts, pleading for just a drop of water, to being slack-jawed and giddy laughing with the rush of answered prayers pouring in.
And that plum-tree out front, the one my brother hacked in the wrong season in a feeble attempt to prune, yeah, it’s a standing miracle too. It wasn’t supposed to bear any fruit and yet the branches are so heavy with plums, they’re dropping daily and the neighborhood kids are having a field day with the free ammunition.
You can think you’ve messed things up so much, done such a hack job on your life that you’re never going to see any fruit. And then spring comes and you’re left marveling at the miracle of grace and goodness and God at work. But in case you didn’t know it yet, His speciality is doing the unexpected, using the broken and the beat down and the always-messing-up to do something stunning and extravagant and downright impossible.
Each day I’m peeling more peaches and we’re picking kale and tomatoes and beans from the garden and trying hard just to enjoy it all.
God gives the blessings and sometimes they feel like just enough and other times it feels like too much but it’s always just right. It’s just right for what the soul needs, just right for what will keep us coming back, desperate for more of Him, yet never left to doubt His love and His goodness towards us.
Because it’s all good. The barren and the cold and the endless desert where you think you’re going to die alone and forgotten. And the green and the answered prayers and good health and everything-going-great. All of it is good because all of it is soul-changing, sin-breaking, holyness-making. If we’ll let it be.
When that Wise, Proverbs-writing King finished building the temple, and brought the people together for a celebration, the presence of the Lord moved in as a cloud. And that cloud was so thick, and the place got so dark that the priests had to stop and the worship had to cease.
When life feels darkest, it might be the closest God has ever been.
And when you think you’re most alone, you just might be standing breathtakingly close to Heaven.
We measure blessing by comfort and success by stuff but what if the ones who are most blessed are those walking through the darkest night? We can’t see the hard work of seed cracking and soul prepping, but there’s a harvest coming.
When we see our future glorious self, will we think the price too high, the darkness too long? Or will we wonder how we ever doubted Abba’s love for us? Ever doubted that He knew exactly what He was doing?
Like Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall, I know I’ll find myself once again in a place where it feels more like surviving than thriving, where the pleas ring hard and desperate and the darkness is palpable. But maybe next time I’ll remember that not all darkness means death and not all silence is empty.
Peach Upside Down Cake
Adapted from Whisk + Whittle recipe at DarlingMagazine.com
Peach Upside-Down Cake
2-3 Large Ripe Peaches (more if you want a more even peach to cake ratio)
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter + 4 Tbs for bottom of pan
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar + 1/4 Cup for bottom of pan
3/4 Cup Organic Cane Sugar
Cinnamon to sprinkle
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
4 oz Whole Milk Yogurt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Melt all of the butter in a small saucepan. Let cool slightly.
Cut the peaches into 1/2″ slices. Pour 4 Tbs of the melted butter into the bottom of an 9 or 10 inch cake pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter and arrange the peach slices in a spiral pattern on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Mix the flours and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.
Whisk together the remaining melted butter and both of the sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and salt.
Slowly incorporate the flour mixture and mix until it is mostly combined.
Add the yogurt. Mix until the batter is smooth and clump free.
Pour the batter on top of the peaches in the pan and smooth the top using a small spatula or a butter knife.
Bake for 25-35 minutes until the top is golden brown and bounces back when you touch it. You may also poke the center with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean the cake is done, but don’t be fooled by the buttery peach juices from the bottom!
Let the cake cool about 25 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or serving platter.
Top with homemade whip cream and serve.