A Good Soak

I'm bringing back a post from last year (I'm not doing the cooking this year, so the 'brining a turkey' part doesn't apply, but the rest is relevant). Whatever your plans for this holiday, the next month or so can be really busy as we try to make sure everyone else has what they want/need. At the end of this post there's a recipe for bath salts; I hope you'll take the opportunity to take a bit of time to relax and pamper yourself. Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm brining a turkey for the first time this year. Alton Brown has long declared that it's the best--no, the only--way to get a really moist, flavorful turkey.

It's really counterintuitive to me. How can something that is used to dry things, also be used to make them moist? I mean, have you ever played with homemade playdough? The kind made with enough salt to preserve a side of beef for a cross-country trip in a covered wagon? That stuff does not moisturize my hands!

But nevertheless, when you add the right amount of salt to some water, and throw in some other spices for good measure, you get a juicy, sweet, turkey! (Who figures these things out?!)

The Bible talks about salt in a number of different places. One of my favorites is:

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6

It's estimated that there are more than fourteen thousand commercial uses of salt. There must be nearly as many effects of words. Words can inspire or undermine, affirm or tear down, motivate, destroy, manipulate, calm, stir up, persuade...the list goes on. It's easy to find parallels between the properties or uses of salt and the influence of words.

Salt is a flavor enhancer. Especially this time of year, this is probably the first use for salt that comes to mind. Salt, as a substance, doesn't actually do anything to the flavor of the food itself. The perception of "enhanced" flavor is a result of how it affects the tongue. The simple explanation is that it takes the senses of smell and taste to actually taste the flavor of foods (I'm sure you knew that). But did you know that when a salted food hits the tongue, it "wakes up" those taste buds and the brain then triggers the nose to start to work, which allows the flavor of the food to be sensed. The food has the same flavor whether it's salted or not, but the ability to distinguish the flavor is dependent upon salt.

Our words can do the same thing to our relationships with people.

When we first started dating, one of the qualities I most admired in Hubs was how he never intentionally said rude or unkind things. He once told me that he tried to measure his words by this standard, "Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?" The more time I spent around him, the more I found my own tendencies for sarcasm and put-downs changing. The words we choose can enhance our relationships or tear them down.

Salt sets dyes—in other words, it permanently reinforces color. Has anyone ever said something to you that "permanently reinforced" something you thought about yourself? Perhaps when you were young someone called you "chubby" and you've been fighting that as you grew up. (In my case, as a knobby-kneed youngster it was "puny-bones." No one ever calls me that anymore!) We are more likely to remember the negative things we're told, but words can also reinforce positive concepts.

I remember being in first grade learning my telephone number and address. I pointed out to Mrs. Walker that there was a "p-h" where the "f" sound was. She responded with enthusiasm, "That's right Mary. 'P-H' makes an 'f' sound! Very smart." Actually, I was kind of confused by that "p-h," but as a very shy and insecure 6 year old, her praise meant the world to me. For years I remembered Mrs. Walker as my favorite teacher because she was the first person to make me feel smart.

Salt melts ice. We know that salt is used to defrost ice on frozen roadways and keep it from freezing over again. A Japanese proverb expresses the thawing power of words, "One kind word can warm three winter months.”

Salt is necessary for life. Salt is a mineral and the only non-biological food that humans eat routinely. Salt is required in the nutritional and bodily processes of all animals, including humans. It is present in all our body tissues and fluids. Without salt these systems would eventually shut down, resulting in death. Here too, scripture offers a parallel:

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Proverbs 18:21

Whether you're doing the cooking this year or accepting someone else's hospitality, it's likely that some time in the next few weeks you'll find yourself in a situation where you might need a reminder to make sure your speech is "seasoned with salt" and always full of grace.

While you're shopping for ingredients for your famous pie or your favorite side dish, pick up the ingredients for these simple bath salts and then take some time to "brine" yourself.

As you measure these skin softening salts into your bath, think about measuring your words. When you soak in the fragrant water, think about ways to use your words to refresh the hearts of people in your life and allow His spirit to soften you on the inside. (And in this busy week, you certainly have my permission to have this experience with any bath salts you have access to.)

Basic Bath Salts
1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup coarse sea salt (you can often find both of these at dollar stores)
10-20 drops fragrance oil or essential oil
10 drops food coloring (optional)

Place the salts in a large bowl and mix well. Add the fragrance oil and food coloring and mix well. Allow to air-dry overnight, then pour your salts into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake every day for one week before packaging.
To Use: Draw a warm bath and add 1/4 cup of the fragrant salts to the running water.
Makes six to eight uses.


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Found a great book at Ollie's (discount store) today; "the Shine Man" by Mary Quattlebaum. A beautiful Christmas story; we're having so much fun reading our Christmas stories each day in December. My eyes are peeled for good bargains along these lines...

peace, friend. Hope you are enjoying these holidays~elaine

RefreshMom said...

Thanks for the suggestion Elaine. I haven't heard of that one and I'm on the lookout for more stories too. One of my favorite new finds is Five Minute Christmas Stories. There are 10 stories in the book, each focusing on a different person/aspect of the Nativity. For example, last night we read the Joseph story; turns out there aren't many books that feature him but he's an important part of it all.

I'm so glad you're sharing in this tradition with me!


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