I was the one who forgot the mozzarella.
At a family barbecue in the swelter of early July I stared down at ingredients for bruschetta. Crusty baguette, heirloom tomatoes, and sprigs of basil lay before us like the wells of an artist’s pallet. But no cheese.
My kindred spirit friend has always had a particular gift. She can take what looks like less to everyone else and magic it into more. For our entire friendship, I’ve seen that she’s not just resourceful. Her talents are more akin to perspective with a dash of whimsy.
In college she used to make us both bowls of oatmeal with brown sugar. We sat cross-legged on her couch and I watched the pat of butter melt pools of yellow into swirls of cinnamon. The first warm bite always tasted like home. Indirectly, she taught me to hold whatever I had in a view that made it become enough. More than enough though, it always became… plenty.
On this particular day, we had eighteen collective members of family waiting for an appetizer. Neither of us wanted to put on shoes and run to Winn Dixie. But after a quick deep dive into my mom’s fridge, Courtney turned around with a block of cream cheese and a smile. A brief wait produced a platter full of summer. In twelve minutes, that platter held only crumbs and a stray ribbon of basil. Everyone raved and my Dad asked for “Courtney’s Bruschetta” at every family gathering for the next few years. That summer was years ago, and I don’t even order bruschetta at restaurants anymore. The usual recipe is null and void. All I want is this bruschetta. For life.
What I remember in crystal clarity isn’t the way everyone loved it, but the way not one single person asked where the mozzarella was. They all accepted this novel southern twist and took it as a gift.
Glad for what was there, no one missed what wasn’t.
The more I know about my search for contentment, I realize how mystifying it can be. Contentment isn’t something we can produce like a forgotten block of cheese. True contentment is harder won. It is a nook where we choose to live, a more spacious place of gratitude and eyes that choose to see.
Still— seeing what we have as plenty is never easy, is it? What we hold in our hands can seem fearfully small. The beginning of a week, a month, or a year is all hopeful vision and optimism, until actual life cuts in on our dance of making things happen. Often we just have less. Less time, less energy, less resources, less of all that we feel we need in order to do the next thing, and to do it well. Having what we think we need and knowing what we have— has never been the same thing.
We cannot always choose to arrive instantly at contentment, but we can choose gratitude. In my own heart, it is the daily steps of gratefulness that move me in the direction of contentment. If contentment is the destination, then perhaps daily gratitude becomes the set of map points along the way.
We can do so much for one another as we struggle toward contentment. I know that when I am surrounded by people who help me to see what God has done, I am far more likely to start seeing it myself. We need each other. And I want to be that friend— the friend that illustrates the plentiful way of gratitude; the perspective shift that shows not what I have— but Who my God is.
It is also true that when I am not comparing my lack to someone else’s plenty— I am more at peace with my own path.
And my own path is exactly where I truly want to be.
Not just because I know that God is sovereign like I know that summer tomatoes are sweetest. But because I can trust that what He gives me to hold is more than enough, it is plenty.
Even when what He gives, hurts.
Even when I wish He would heal and He doesn’t (yet.)
When I would love to see Him act on behalf of someone and He hasn’t (yet.)
Because even when the world is aching, falling apart at the seams, groaning with the weight of all the waiting for Him to make all things new– He gives us the reminder that He has, He will, and it will be better than we ever thought.
We get to choose to count our gifts, one by one until the pages turn and the pen scratches bleed through and we have page after page of all that He has done and is doing.
Let us be the ones who choose gift counting over kid shaming, husband ranting, and self-deprecating humor. Let us be the ones who choose to see even in the dark. Not from a fake place of plastered smiles—
—but from hearts who choose to count the plenty in the midst of the lack.
And now for a recipe– this is so simple to pull together. Maybe call a few friends and soak up one of these last few summer nights together?
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 cloves of minced garlic, separated
- 1 fresh baguette, sliced thinly and painted lightly with olive oil
- fresh tomatoes, diced and well drained
- 2 tbsp. diced red onion
- Salt & Pepper
- fresh basil, cut into a thin chiffonade or sliced
- 2-3 Tbsp. of balsamic glaze
- Add one clove of garlic to the cream cheese. Add a dash of salt and cracked pepper.
- In a small bowl, mix the drained tomatoes, the other clove of garlic and basil together.
- Add salt and pepper as needed.
- Toast the baguette slices at 400'F for 5-8 minutes until lightly toasted
- Spread slices with a thin layer of cream cheese.
- Top with tomato mixture.
- Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve immediately.