Sunday, October 7, 2012

Prison Cookie Break

For the past few years our church has been somewhat involved in the Kairos Prison Ministry. As I understand it, it is supported by and modeled after The Upper Room's Walk To Emmaus (I can’t tell you much about either otherwise I might get into trouble…it’s all hush, hush; I mean, I could tell you, but we all know what might have to happen if I did.  Don’t make me say it.)

There are many aspects of the week-end for prisoners who opt into participating, but (and I hope I’m not spoiling any surprises for someone about to attend...I’m not for certain who my blog audience is right now) at some place in the 3-day event, each of the prisoners receive some home-made chocolate chip cookies.
And how do they get all these home-made cookies, you may be asking. Well…let me tell you: many people volunteer to make them. And the organization is very prescriptive in how these cookies are made. So much so that there is only one way or the high-way. No add-ins, no substitutions, no deviations. But I have to hand it to them…they have a good recipe going there. If you are interested in making cookies for Kairos (or your own family), check out this recipe.

Which brings me to my next point. I love to make these cookies for Kairos. I understand what it means to these men and women who desire that little taste of home, that little bit of love. Ok – upon re-reading that, it sounded not as I intended. I cannot UNDERSTAND, but I can IMAGINE what these cookies would mean. As an aside (shocking, I know, from me): part of the week-end also includes the inmates sharing half of their cookies with their worst enemy. Oh yeah…tough stuff right there. I can also imagine how that would be a truly meaningful gesture as well.
Just last week, my friend SV and I were talking about baking cookies…not Kairos cookies, just cookies, for our families. She said she made some cookies the day before and the first thing her boys asked was, “Are those cookies for the prisoners or for us?” Seemed kind of telling to both her (and me, as she was telling it) that perhaps we overlook loving our families well because we are busy loving others …strangers even in this case…instead. Now I don’t mean to say that she doesn’t love her boys or that I don’t love mine. We all know that is simply not the case.

And I also don’t mean to say that we always have to put family first…sometimes other people take priority. Also a topic for another time (well, maybe…seems a little headier than this blog likes to be…upon thoughtful consideration it, do not expect a blog from this writer on that topic.)
But what I am saying, here in the midst of all this superfluous rambling (which I’m certain by this point you would be disappointed if I did not deliver), is that perhaps I should take a little more time and energy to do for my children what I would do for complete strangers.  To take from the Indiana Kairos website, “DO NOT USE PRE-MADE, DRY, REFRIGERATED OR FROZEN COOKIE DOUGH. THE IMPACT OF AGAPE LOVE FELT FROM HOMEMADE COOKIES IS OVERWHELMING WHEN THE INMATES (and possibly my children) REALIZE THE SACRIFICE OF TIME IN MIXING AND BAKING COOKIES FROM SCRATCH.”

I guarantee that the inmates realize the labor of love that home-made cookies are. And I wish I could say that my kids care if they’re getting home-made treats or not. But I honestly don’t think that they do. They are a box-mix generation, I hate to say it. I do still take the time to bake things for them with love, but Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker do most of the heavy lifting. And I LOVE them for it. See, it’s a big love-sugar fest.
But regardless, this time, I doubled the recipe, thereby killing two birds with the proverbial one stone. My recipe makes EXACTLY 3 dozen (the website shows it making 5 dozen, but it’s the same ratio of ingredients; I had no idea until I wrote this post that the website had the recipe AND that there is a Cookie Calculator, which will help you determine ingredient portions based on the numbers of cookies you need/want to make…I’ll be using that next time). Anyway, I simply doubled my recipe, assuming that I would end up with 6 dozen. Clearly I forgot to take into consideration my love of sugar: that being in both forms: the raw cookie dough and the freshly-baked, still gooey-and melty chocolate chip cookies. I ended up with just over 5 dozen. Now, I had a little help with the cookies (eating…not making), and I know that my cookie size was a little off as well. And my oven bakes slightly unevenly.

There are many tricks to doing this right…it’s beyond simply MIXING and MAKING 3 dozen cookies; it’s following the recipe, it’s scooping out the dough in the proper amount, it’s baking them just the right amount of time, it’s letting them cool enough, it’s bagging them up correctly. Cookies have to be bagges correctly…one of those things I will go ahead and tell you now, as it was a surprise to me the first time I made them. Yes: Quart-Size Ziploc bags, 6 cookies per bag. See…it’s NOT as easy as it seems at first blush.
These Kairos Cookies brought up a whole bunch of things for me, so many bunny trail for me to follow…and I covered a wide gamut of topics for you, the reader, as well. So for those of you following along at home and feel your head spinning slightly by the wide swings in topic, here is a recap for you in succinct bullet points:

  • The Kairos Ministry needs LOTS of cookies from volunteers.
  • You have to follow their recipe. 
  • My kids may be neglected because I don’t make home-made cookies for them. This is doubtful but they may be.
  • Other people sometimes take priority over my nuclear family.
  • My kids just love sugar…regardless of who makes it.
  • I ate too many cookies this week-end. 
  • I ate too much raw cookie dough. 
  • It was delicious and I would do it again. (I know…that wasn’t in the above text, but that doesn’t make it less true.)
  • My oven doesn’t work as well as it used to…which isn’t saying much because it’s never been fantastic.
  • I need a new oven (yes, that wasn’t in there either, but in case anyone was looking for a last minute Christmas gift idea, that is one…see, that’s funny because it’s October 7…).
  • I apparently take issue with having to repeatedly count to 6.
  • I don’t stay attentive to my topic (also not written above, but we all know that’s what you’re thinking anyway…)
So now that I have my cookies made and my blog written, I am off in a bit to the Super Bowl. No worries…you’ll get a recap at some point. Try not to hold your breath. There undoubtedly will be so much to share that it may take me a couple days to assemble my thoughts in a rational fashion. So while you wait, have a fantastic day!  Go Ducks!

Editor’s Note: In all seriousness, Kairos is a fantastic organization which does much to bring, show and share Christ’s love with people who may not otherwise be aware of the hope which can be found in Him. If you are interested in learning more about Kairos or would like to get involved, go here.

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