Sunday, December 07, 2008

Muncie Star Press Column December 5, 2008

Linda Crow: Perfection is Not the Goal in Family Foundations

Recently, I created a gingerbread church from scratch, with stained-glass candy windows and a roof of candy shingles.

Since this was my first attempt, I gathered tips from experienced bakers and researched blueprints in order to prevent catastrophes. Even so, when I assembled the sections, I found odd structural problems.

None of the research advised that when your cookie sheet goes "boing" in the oven, your walls might warp, turning your creation into a wonky funhouse instead of a sweet fairy tale cottage.

I added candy to detract but only felt dissatisfied. I considered placing a gift-laden sleigh on the bowed roof to imply the cause of sinking, but I knew that camouflaging the flaws compromised the integrity of basic gingerbread principles. (I'm serious about this stuff!)

So, I heated a knife in a candle flame and painstakingly cut through the thick royal icing, removing one section at a time to begin again.

After reassembling it with truly flat pieces, I added ribbon candy, peppermints, gumdrops and dripping icicles, which I then enjoyed with a clear conscience -- no artful deceptions on my church!

My experience made me think about how real homes and churches get off-kilter, literally and figuratively, when they're built on shifting ground or with compromises in integrity.

Sometimes, couples try to candy-coat flawed relationships by buying more stuff, as if to say, "How could our marriage be bad? We have worked together to buy a great house, take tropical vacations, fill a four-car garage and enjoy lavish Christmases."

But if there are foundational flaws, the sugar frosting belies the funhouse incongruity in their hearts.

My parents, celebrating 66 years of marriage on Dec. 14, built my childhood home on a foundation of faith in Christ, and my brothers and I enjoyed the sweetness of a loving home as a result.

There weren't a lot of Dr. Phils or premarital counselors in 1942, and I'm sure there were bumps and cracks along the way, but they have always painstakingly sacrificed whatever it took to stay true to their vows and to God, their foundation.

No family is perfect, and I've learned through gingerbread baking that perfection is not the goal. I now embrace small glitches that prove my gingerbread wasn't stamped out in a factory but rolled out by my hands.

However, I'm grateful to know that when my marriage or my individual life shows signs of cracking or warping, I can bring the pieces to God, who straightens crooked hearts and rights wrong thinking.

And that is the good news of this season -- through the events of the first Christmas, God provided a way to re-build, restore and renew our relationship with Him and with each other. Those are indeed good tidings of great comfort and great joy.

Merry Christmas, and happy anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Check out Linda Crow's blog,, to see pictures of her gingerbread house.

See yesterday's post for pics of this house.


Susan Storm Smith said...

My hat is off to anyone who even attempts a gingerbread house, church, or cookies LOL. And great analogy with the church.

You make it sound fun to do, but I know if I once got the gingerbread made, that would be the end of my artistic endeavor and just call the kids to come and sample.

Barbara H. said...

Your cookie sheet goes boing in the oven, too? I thought mine was the only one due to some baking secret I had somehow missed.

You're brave to even try a gingerbread house. My baking disasters forewarn me it wouldn't be a good idea.

Great applications and lessons learned!

annie's eyes said...

Your parents' 66 years are a testimony of God's faithfulness and their own. You are a blessed woman to have their example. We made gingerbread houses from scratch for years, but haven't in a while. You make me want to get back to the art. Great tie in to the Christmas hope for which we live. Merry Christmas to you and your dear family. Annette

Smilingsal said...

Congratulations to your parents who knew long ago that love is the glue that makes a marriage stick.

Mel said...

Happy Amazing Anniversary to your mom and dad. I love the way you used your gingerbread making experience to tie into life!!

Melanie @ This Ain't New York said...

Great post, Linda. As always, excellent writing.

Susanne said...

66 years of marriage! I stand and applaud them. That is amazing and beautiful.

Wonderful post Linda.

Brenda Susan said...

Congrats on the great article. How did you get on a newspaper? Is it a church page or general?

Chatty Kelly said...

Excellent writing Linda! You are truly gifted, as well as a gift!

Happy Anniversary to your parents!

Blessings to you.

Nel said...

Happy Anniversary to your Mom and Dad.
God is so awesome!
I love your blog!
God Bless...

Mocha with Linda said...

What a great article. I'm impressed it's in the paper. And you don't even live in the Biible Belt!

Happy Anniversary to your folks.

thouartloosed said...

You touched my heart with this one.
Happy anniversary to your parents.

Darlene R. said...

What a great article! It spoke straight to my heart today. You are such a talented writer. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

Sitesx6 said...

AWESOME Gingerbread church.

I stink at simple graham cracker pseudo gingerbread houses that I make with my ten year old twins.....I'm very impressed! :)

40winkzzz said...

That was a great analogy! (Or is a parable? I know there's a difference, but I don't remember what defines which as whom...)

I am forever drawing analogies/parables/whatever in my head-- every time I garden, look at the messy garage, drive down the road, you name it. I just rarely take that next step of writing them out. You did a wonderful job of that.

Melanie said...

Fabulous writing! I would love to hear more about your role as a columnist.
Is there something on your blog already about how you got the opportunity to write for your paper?

Missy said...

God's ability to right the wrong and carry the weak is truly amazing. Thank you for this awesome post! Also, Happy Anniv to the rents!

Anonymous said...

Kudos to your parents for modeling marriage to you and others! Great post!

missy said...

what a beautiful article and tribute!