I kept stirring…I keep striving

By Becky P.

Mettre à feu doux en remuant avec une cuillère en bois jusqu’à ce que le mélange épaississe.

pâtissiers disent partout

Put on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. 

— say pastry chefs everywhere

The only person more impatient than I waiting for the créme pâtissière to set was the 3 month old watching me, waiting for me to stop stirring and pick him up! He was content enough for the first ten minutes. I thought I’d be done with this part of the recipe long before he would need something.

The recipe said: Mettre à feu doux en remuant avec une cuillère en bois jusqu’à ce que le mélange épaississe.

After a few minutes, I checked another recipe — this time in English just to be sure. It said, “Set the pan back over medium heat. Whisk constantly. At first, the pastry cream will look very thin and frothy, but it will start to thicken after a few minutes.” A few minutes had certainly passed.

I could smell the heat coming off the burner. It made me think that the milk or the sugar must be burning on the bottom of the pan. I was so careful to stir constantly, making sure the milk kept moving and the sugar was dissolving. The smell of heat intensified, but nothing was happening in that pan. I was sure all of the ingredients were there. I was sure I had the burner set at the right temperature. And I was right. I had all those details right. 

I kept stirring.

“Why is she making créme pâtissière?” you ask. Confession time: I stress bake — and benefit emotionally from conquering a new-to-me recipe. No doubt these are stressful times. But I’ve found a rhythm of sorts in this slow and yet busy time. I’m a wife/mother/linguist supporting language development and translation projects in West Africa through linguistic research and training. Early mornings are my only chance for the writing that needs to be done. I manage to keep up with reading, while feeding the baby, but it is difficult to type. I homeschool the eager-to-read 4 year old in the mornings, and somehow after lunch, the rest of the day dissolves into the stuff of life.

We’ve just come through eight weeks of strictly regulated and strictly enforced “lockdown” in France. Only grocery stores/food shops, pharmacies, and medical offices have been open, and in order to leave the house, we had to carry an official attestation that states who we are, where we live, where we are going, and what day and time we left. There were only seven approved reasons to be out of one’s own house. This is not how anyone imagined we would spend these months. Thankfully, we’ve not experienced shortages of supplies where we are, and this weekend I knew I had the necessary ingredients to attempt my daughter’s favorite bakery window treat. Try a new recipe. Practice your French. Win win. 

Lait. Jaunes d’oeufs. Sucre. Café de vanille liquide. Farine. Sel.

Faire chauffer. Ajouter. Incorporer. Reverser. Remuer. Laisser. Faire refroidir.

One of the benefits of being locked down is that I’ve been zooming into one of the UFC Women’s groups as we read In His Image by Jen Wilkin. While reading about the attributes of God, I have been struck over and over and over by how much these attributes we might long for are only possible in our lives through the work and power of the Spirit. Without the right source of strength, our striving is in vain. Without His power, we strive aimlessly, much more deceptively so if we think our striving is the way we receive any attribute of God in our own lives. 

The Apostle Paul to the Colossians:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:9-14

The Apostle Paul knew the burden of praying for others to know the will of God. He also knew the knowledge of the will of God comes through the “wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” There is little hope of grasping the will of God without what the Spirit gives. The Spirit of God must strengthen us so that we can have endurance and patience. 

No amount of my stirring was going to make that pot of ingredients into pudding. The wrong burner was on. The burning smell was from the empty pan sitting on the back burner. It wasn’t until I realized I had no power that things started to change. 

Stirring without power produced nothing regardless of my striving. 

Striving in life without the power of the Spirit, even in pursuit of the good things God has for us, is futile. 

If you have a few basic ingredients on hand, you can have your own pastry making adventure. For the tart crusts, I used this recipe and clever technique — except I used slightly cooled, melted butter instead of oil (https://bit.ly/tart_base). For the pastry cream, I used these ingredients (https://bit.ly/cremepat_ingredients) but this technique (https://bit.ly/2zw692A). Don’t be intimidated by the French. A quick internet search will help you translate the ingredient lists and convert grams to cups. And the videos show you just what to do. Bon Appétit!

Becky has a heart for words, especially God’s Word. She is a linguist, who recently received her doctorate from the University of Oregon in the linguistic study of the U̠tma’in language in Nigeria. As she works to help translate the Bible into this language, Becky and her husband, along with their two children, are currently in France, working on language development techniques that will help with translation.

3 thoughts on “I kept stirring…I keep striving

  1. I love this! Not only because I also stress bake & love just about anything 🇫🇷. I loved being reminded of the step I can frequently overlook of really searching for the Holy Spirit before and while I seek to please Him. Your phrases, “Stirring without power produced nothing regardless of my striving. Striving in life without the power of the Spirit, even in pursuit of the good things God has for us, is futile. ” really brought it home! Thank you, Becky!


  2. Thank you for your post, I was finally able to read it. I have been reminded of my own impatience and striving and quite an achy heart this morning. Not able to find myself to pray, I grabbed a steno pad, thus recoding the turmoil of my heart…I was praying and when I quit trying to figure me out and my impatience with myself that the Holy Spirit responded in the Bible.

    Proverbs 9:25-36 Long to put here…so will get to it. The Holy Spirit in great patience help me see all the ways Jesus delighted in the Father…”I was there when He established the heavens…”…many verses “I was there when He..but Vs 30, 31 was the real point for me…”I was the architect AT HIS SIDE (my emphasis) I was his delight, rejoicing always in His presence.” The icing on the cake vs 32: “And so my children listen to me for all who follow my ways are joyful.”

    Stop striving and be with the Lord, watching and listening for His instruction…He provides every need in the power of the Spirit.. BE STILL

    While today was like so many days at the beginning, found myself at Proverbs 9


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