Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Lemon Theory

Here in the Deep South during the hot and humid summer months you will see almost everyone with a cold drink, and always with ice!  Usually it's iced tea - the best kind is very sweet with a wedge of freshly squeezed lemon mixed in.  There is nothing better to refresh or to rehydrate with, than that treasured, old-fashioned favorite.

Since I spent so much time in the kitchen growing up, cutting up fresh lemons was a normal routine.  And during my last year of high school I was a waitress, and part of my job was to prepare batches of lemon wedges for the day.  Lemons aren't grown here, but we sure use alot of them!

Did you know that there is actually a certain way to "squeeze" a fresh wedge of lemon? Here in the South, I consider it an art form! Bartenders twist lemon wedges- they get the goodie out of them fast! It's almost like a love affair, and falls somewhere between watching ballet to watching a tire being changed with precision during a pit stop at a NASCAR event. I guess it just depends on how you look at it. 

What most people may not know is that almost every single bit of a lemon is usable.  The only part that is not is right below the firm and dimpled surface.  It's called the "bitter".  The dimpled outside is called the "essence."  When lightly peeled, a powerful and fresh aroma is released.  Chefs often use it on top of desserts for a beautiful garnish.  Just below the bitter the pulp is filled with wonderful juice.  The thing is this: to get a great tasting glass of iced tea, you must squeeze the wedge of lemon hard, then kind of sideways until you feel a slick feeling.  That is when you really have the art down pat!  You see, lemons must be literally crushed before they can deliver the wonderful essential oil that is hidden within  before it can release the bountiful aromatics and healing properties that it possesses.  Lemon oil is used in lots of consumer products such as cleaners and furniture polish, as well as men's colognes and women's perfumes, a favorite of many because of it's light and uplifting scent.
Have you ever felt like you've being squeezed or crushed?  I have. The feeling of having your back against the wall because of the seemingly relentless pressures of daily life, or the pain of heartache?

In looking back though, I realize it was in those intensely hard times that I grew the most.  Unless I had been pushed to the brink where I had to push back, maybe I would have given up.  Being squeezed by fear only made me pray harder to find the way out of my situation.  Quitting would have been easy, but there was no future in it.  Who wants a life with no future?

You may be thick-skinned with a soft interior, and although you may not realize it at the time you have something wonderful beneath the surface.  You may be the answer to somebody's prayer. Maybe someone is thirsty for company and you're a great listener.  Or, you may have the gift of understanding. It is possible that you will become the healing balm to someone through their roughest moments. Your loving deed will leave behind an beautiful aroma that will never be forgotten by the benefactor.

Just think how valuable you really are.  Allow yourself to be squeezed!

And, per chance you have been squeezed til there's nothing left, here is a promise for you from Matthew 11:28-30

"Come unto me, all you that work hard  and are heavy with burdens, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 

Now, take a slow, deep breath--and as you let it out, in your mind think of all your troubles leaving too! 

Bits of Trivia.....

You can grow lemons in a pot!
                    Did you know this music exists?
 the Lemon Tree song!

I did not know that the day I posted this originally June 10, was National Iced Tea Day!
How cool is that?!