Twisted…like a pretzel

blogIMG_5786Do you ever feel like you’re just all twisted up in knots?

Like all the stressful events happening in your life just latch onto your insides making your stomach twist and turn more than Chubby Checker teaching everyone in the 60’s how to learn a new dance craze. 

Or physically when everything – muscles, ligaments, tendons –  in your body decides to revolt against you resulting in the feeling that you’ve been rolled out by a heavy hand, turned and twisted like a pretzel.

Often I find myself twisted. And I have to remind myself that it’s usually me that stresses myself, me that let’s my stomach knot. Me, me, me. It’s all about me.

“Ego and pride is a two headed twist.” ~ T.F. Hodge

But it’s not all about me. The world does not revolve around me. Nor does it require my two cents to continue to revolve around the sun.

I find myself twisted when I focus on myself instead of on God. When I don’t rely on my Savior. When I don’t trust Him to work things out, smooth things over, untie the knots that bind me.

When I don’t allow Him to untwist my pretzel self.

Back in late summer, we took a little respite away from home for just a couple of days to unwind a bit. We traveled to a popular tourist area in our own state and our middle daughter and granddaughter accompanied us on our little jaunt.

One of the fun spots we visited was the Julius Sturgis Pretzel BakeryWe learned a mouthful about pretzels there and we stuffed our mouths with that yummy snack too. 

Back in the 1700’s, German immigrants, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch, began baking “soft” pretzels. That was the norm back then; there was no such thing as eating hard pretzels.

But one day, baker Julius Sturgis over-baked a batch of pretzels resulting in hard, what was thought to be inedible, pretzels. But instead of throwing them out to the animals, as was usually done when pretzels were over-baked, he decided to taste them.

He liked the result, so he began deliberately baking hard pretzels. They were a hit and he opened the first commercial pretzel bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania in 1861.

We not only learned about how the pretzels we eat today got their beginnings, but we got to practice shaping a pretzel as well.  The story of that distinctive shape is very interesting.

Legend has it that a monk in 610 AD in either Italy or France invented the pretzel when he decided to devise a way to reward little children for memorizing their prayers during the Lenten season. He took some unleavened bread dough and twisted it so it resembled arms crossed in prayer.

blogIMG_5785While touring the colonial aged building where Julius Sturgis’ pretzel bakery originated,  a tour guide talked us through a hands-on demonstration as so we could shape our own pretzels. First we were given a lump of dough (similar to play-dough).

Next we were instructed with the official Sturgis Bakery directions: 

  • Twisting a pretzel starts with rolling a string of dough 12 inches long. 
  • Then form a U shape with the dough. This represents a child’s prayers going up to heaven.
  • Cross the ends of the dough to form an X, then twist one time. The knot represents the union of marriage between the child’s parents.
  • Pull the ends of the dough down and press them unto the bottom of the pretzel.
  • The three openings represent the Christian Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The shape also resembles a child’s arms crossed in prayer.” (from Sturgis Pretzel Bakery information sheet)

Who knew? We surely didn’t.

We are a family of pretzel lovers and we just so happen to live in the state where about 80% of America’s pretzels are made. If you’ve never eaten a Pennsylvania pretzel, you don’t know what you’re missing.

At the end of our tour, we each were given a complimentary bag of Sturgis pretzels. Delicious.

Now every time I eat a pretzel, I think of the meaning behind the original pretzel shape. And what I really need to remember is when I feel twisted up like a pretzel, I must raise my pretzel arms in prayer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

That’s when I will be untwisted.

“Sometimes God writes straightforward in twisted lines.” ~Gloria Trevi





Life’s twists

blogIMG_0765.jpgHave you ever heard or seen something that just goes beyond what you call normal? Often times, we shake our heads and say, “Man, that’s twisted.”

This week’s photo challenge theme is exactly that – twisted.

I really haven’t had time to grab my camera and go out to capture a shot that would fit the challenge, so I resorted to my photo files. As I searched for a picture, the image of twisted that sprung forth in my mind was of tornadoes – sometimes called twisters.

I do have a bit of experience with twisters and have witnessed firsthand the devastation they cause. But I’ve never had an opportunity to capture one with my camera. And you know what? For that I’m grateful. I’d rather be safely ensconced in an inside walk-in closet than be sticking my camera out at a funnel-shaped onslaught of destruction.

In their wake, tornadoes leave a lot of twisted debris. The force of a twister is unreal, bending metal, stripping trees bare of their bark, picking up and smashing houses to smithereens.  As I was considering that, a photo I’d taken last summer came to my mind. (The photo above)

On a day trip, we ventured northward and visited Kinzua Bridge State Park located in the Kinzua Gorge. Years ago a tornado slammed into a railroad viaduct there, which was once the longest and highest such structure in the world, and destroyed a good portion of it. Its twisted metal skeleton still remains several feet below the surviving towers of the structure which have been turned into a sky walk.

But twisted things aren’t always the result of something horrific. Sometimes twisted items are things of beauty like this exquisite and huge glass sculpture fashioned by artist Dale Chihuly. One long winter season a few years ago, Papa and I visited our nearby city conservatory and botanical garden just to get a glimpse of color and this sculpture hung in the entrance hall of the conservatory.

blogDSCN0573 (2).jpgSo when it comes to twisted things, it’s all in your perspective, isn’t it? Just like life. Are you going to go through these days on earth you’ve been given with a negative attitude every time life doesn’t turn out quite like you planned (that could be really twisted) or will you embrace each day of life with an upbeat spin no matter what happens?

It may take some tweaking here and there, but I’m choosing to twist my attitude. Go for the optimistic. Be encouraging not critical. It’s up to me to decide which way I turn. And on that note, maybe I’ll just go fire up some oldies tunes and if I’m lucky, I’ll hear Chubby Checker singing “C’mon baby, let’s do the twist.”

You’re never too old to twist and see where it takes you.

“Life has many twists and turns and sometimes what looks like a very bad day can just be clearing the way for good things to come.” ~ J. Kim Wright