As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Sunday, March 2, 2014
eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out
around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy
quench in order to finish strong.
Approx. reading time: 7 - 10 minutes
A Cookbook, A Kitchen and well...Me
As an 8th grader with dreams and ambitions, finding a cookbook in
the kitchen was like finding a perfect shaped sea shell at the beach.
It was a rare find, something that seemed to cry out for attention
saying, "Don't walk by me like I'm nothing! I've been beached on this
deserted island of a kitchen for too long. Come see the beauty I hold,
pick me up and flip through my pages! Listen close because you might
just hear the ocean!" I was not one to ignore a talking cookbook.
recipe had well-staged pictures with easy-to-follow instructions. I
started to consider each recipe as one I might be able to make. Where
these crazy thoughts came from is still a mystery. The most I had ever
done in a kitchen was help set the table before dinner and wash the
dishes after my family was done eating. One things is for certain, a
teenage brain is like a car with the keys in the ignition and a sign on
the window that reads, "Highjack me please."
treasure was being overlooked and I seemed to be the one to find it. A
certain responsibility comes with being the finder. I read through the
ingredients, the prep instructions and took a good look at the pictures
as I flipped through the pages. Could I be the one that was to unlock
this book's beauty; turning a two dimensional page into a three
dimensional meal that would unlock my family's senses? The fact that I
had just completed Nintendo's game called Super Mario Brothers in one
long turn was reason enough to answer that question with a big fat,
"Yes! I'm invincible and the one to do the unlocking."
pages passed I realized two things. First, although the book seemed to
be written in English there were enough clues that hinted at a hidden,
underground language that only chefs spoke and understood. And second, I
didn't have an interpreter. Although these things were true, I felt
like I had a good idea on what I might be able to handle. When these
unknown words and abbreviated symbols appeared all I needed to do is use
the text around it to draw a sensible conclusion of what it might
mean. When a single recipe contained too many ingredients I didn't
recognize or an excessive amount of instruction I didn't understand it
was on to the next page.
At last I turned a page and gazed upon a
picture that intrigued me. Displayed with a spiral layer of cheese and
broccoli within a perfect cylinder shaped meat formation was a meal
that beckoned my name. "Michelle...free me from this page!" I started
to read through the ingredients and to my delight I understood it all.
The prep seemed completely manageable for someone who didn't really know
anything about cooking. I called back, "I'm coming Princess Peach!" I
set out to make my first ever meal, and it was going to be meatloaf!
needed to organize my thoughts. That was what I did when I received
writing assignments at school. I went through our kitchen cupboards
gathering all the ingredients and supplies. When I knew what we were
missing I gave my mom a list of things to buy at the store.
"Hey mom, could you pick up a few things for me?"
was not abnormal for me to ask for a few things from the store.
Usually the list was more along the line of school project supplies and
beautifying products so you can imagine the confusion on my mom's face
when I handed her a list that included raw ground meat and frozen
"I'm going to make dinner for the whole family," I said.
to her confusion was now shock. If you could read the thinking cloud
above her head it would have said, "Where is my daughter and who is this
child in front of me?"
"Okay." Was all she said out loud.
It was like having to play level one on Super Mario Brothers over and over again. Day after day my mom failed to pick up the items causing my new treasured experience to slip farther and farther away.
So much for playing this game in one long turn. I had to continue to
remind her to get the items until she finally realized that I was
serious about making dinner for the whole family. Finally the day
arrived when my mom came home with all the things on my list.
afternoon I kicked everyone out of the kitchen. My excitement grew as I
imagined myself placing the main dish on the dining room table and
cutting into the meat that would reveal the artful display. I also
imagined my family's reaction, "Wow, that looks awesome Michelle... and
it tastes great too... good job... you will have to make dinner more
This magical ending played out over and over again in
my mind as I organized everything on the counter. I looked at the
timing and planned out the afternoon. Right as I was getting started my
mom peeked her head in and asked if I needed any help.
her away, "Don't come in! It's a surprise!" Although there were a few
abbreviated marks in the recipe that I didn't understand, it wasn't
anything I couldn't figure out on my own.
Spices and bread crumbs
were massaged into the meat. I pounded the mixture flat and squared it
off into a thin layer making sure the dimensions fit perfectly with the
baking pan. Then I added a layer of cheese followed by a layer of
broccoli. With the layers complete it was time to roll the creation
into a loaf. From the moment I saw the recipe I looked forward to
getting to this point, the point when a math equation becomes clear.
All I had to do was plug in the right numbers and the answer would
appear. Carefully I maneuvered one side over itself and slowly rolled
it up so that it resembled a loaf of bread. It worked! It looked
better than the picture in the cookbook! Finally I placed it in the
preheated oven and set the timer.
With every level successfully
completed came a greater sense of accomplishment. I washed the
measuring spoon and cups. The left over food went back in the
refrigerator and I set the table for dinner. The house started to smell
delicious. As I flipped through the cookbook I thought to myself,
"Maybe I could play the part of my family's chef more often."
It was the timer. I called my family to get ready for dinner and they
did. As they found their seats I removed the meatloaf from the oven.
The juices dripping out of the sides made it look like the most mouth
watering dinner ever created.
As I set the meatloaf on the
table my family sort of nodded. When I cut in and the beautiful
swirling layers were exposed they seemed a bit more impressed. I
explained that their vegetables were conveniently cooked right inside
As a good host would, I served everyone else
before myself and they started to eat before I had even sat down. Here
it came. The last flag...the answer to the math problem...the sound of
The room was silent. I waited.
"Yea, it's um, strong."
My mom asked me how much salt I put in the dinner.
of a sudden I noticed I was standing in quick sand. I was sinking into
a trap of disappointment. I thought I had unlocked the hidden treasures
of the kitchen's cookbook only to find myself facing the wrong answer.
followed the directions. I measured everything." As I took my first
bite, I quickly realized that the taste did not match the beautiful
smell and display. It was so salty that one bite was hard to swallow.
Had I been highjacked?
My first time ever making dinner for the
family on my own, without an interpreter, and the car was stopped,
facing a dead-end street. In the kitchen for hours only to present a
salty mess. When I was taught to be the salt of the earth I don't think
this is what God had in mind.
My family continued to try to be
as polite as they could, as to not to hurt my feelings. I managed to
pull my two feet out of the quicksand and drag my heels into the
kitchen. Where was that silly cookbook? I looked at the directions. 4
tsp of salt. I looked at the measuring spoon that I used. I put in 4
tbsp. I had failed!
I could hear my siblings whispering about
what they should do and that they couldn't finish it. I walked back
into the dining room, defeated. My family quickly silenced their
whispers and tried to smile.
"It's okay," I told them, "I messed up. You don't have to eat it."
The entire room sighed with relief and the sun came out again...as a black cloud hovered over my head.
Noticing the storm of a crushed spirit coming upon me, my sister tried to make me feel better, "It looks really good."
My mom added, "It smells good too."
My brother couldn't help himself, he had to add the punch line to this enormous joke of a dinner, "It just doesn't taste good."
Laughter filled the room and I gave a slight smirk, but didn't really find any of it funny.
all that work, hours of planning, preparing, baking...one little
misread ruined the entire thing. I could have used an interpreter and
since I didn't have one I never played that game again. The cookbook
went back on the sandy shelf and the unfortunate conclusion was made
that the cookbook was meant to be someone else's find.
Thrive Over Survive
back I can see that it was such a little fix, a small scale
adjustment! I wish I could go back and give that teen a little bit of
insight and perspective that might have lead to a series of different
choices. Maybe, just maybe, I would enjoy creating dinners for my
family today. God only knows the awesome things I could have done for
Him and with Him if I had not shelved that book.
For a young
teen the disappointment overshadowed any potential and one failure
represented a series of failure that I did not think I could handle.
Settling for the easy and fast way to be fed and abandoning any desire I
might have had to bless my family with a meal led to my most common,
single serving, self-prepared meals throughout high school and into my
college years. Microwaved frozen burritos or microwaved "baked"
potatos. Yes, I survived but my healthy eating habits, my pallet as well
as my desire to bless others with a good meal did not thrive.
that the best God has for us? To live in a constant state of survival
sprinkled with some self gratifying pleasures that don't last long? Or
is His best more along the line of thriving? Thrive, marinated in God's
deep and purposeful love!
When I think about the shelved
cookbook I can identify with King Solomon when he makes the life
altering argument in Ecclesiastes that in the end life is sweeter when
it has been lived in relationship with our God.
Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and
the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them'"
"Remember him-before the silver cord is
severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered
at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to
the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it."
After 6 chapters of establishing how
meaningless life is with an earth-bound perspective, King Solomon
encourages us to honor God...and the sooner the better!
who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and
meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what
will happen under the sun after they are gone?" Ecclesiastes 6:12
shelve it, letting the days go by with an earth-bound perspective.
King Solomon had all that the world could offer and in all his wisdom he
too wanted to go back to the youths and encourage their hearts to enjoy
life WITH God.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body
you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ
dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all
wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God
with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or
deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the
Father through him." Colossians 3:15-17
Living in a way that
gives purpose and opens opportunities for God to use us for His glory
and for our good...that is what iPray all of us would grab off that
shelf sooner rather than later.
When to Unshelve
knew a man that wished he too could go back and do things a little
different. One of his last messages before the Lord took him home was a
message to the younger generation. This man was my Opa (my step
Disappointments and misreads caused him to shelve the
Bible and the opportunity to connect with God along with it. He watched
many of his family members become Christians throughout the years,
discovering what it meant to know God and live for Him. Their hopes,
dreams and passions became purposeful. One daughter, then another. His
wife, grandchildren and then other family members. They experienced
great spiritual freedom and joy at all kinds of levels and my Opa stood
in the middle of it. Still, with a hardened heart he shelved a
treasure, thinking it was good for someone else, but not him. My Opa
grew increasingly bitter as his health declined.
Weeks away from
meeting his maker, my Opa's daughter sat by his bedside. Again she
asked him if he would pray to God and know Him through His Son Jesus
Christ. It was a tender moment as he let go of all he had been holding
onto. The earth-bound perspective that seemed to keep him in spiritual
bondage blew away like ashes in the wind. My Opa made the life-altering
decision to know God through His Son Jesus for the very first time. A
hardened and bitter heart melted away. My sister heard the one piece of
advice he wanted to leave to the younger ones, "I wasted so much time,
years I cannot get back. Tell all the others this: Don't waste a day by
living that way, know God now and live a better life than I did."
There is no better time than right now to unlock...to unshelve...to connect with God.
you will not ignore the treasures in God's living Word - The Holy
Bible. That the two dimensional pages of God's words in the Bible will
become a three dimensional reality.
...that the Spirit of our Lord will unlock the beautiful love language of the Bible to you.
when your magical endings do not pan out the way you expect, you will
not give up so quickly on living a life of faith that unlocks true
...that when you do not understand, you will abandon any earth-bound conclusions and cling to eternal truth.
you will never choose to shelve a relationship with God because of
glitches and disappointments but instead choose to see what God can do
in and through you in those moments.
...that God, who is so faithful, will provide encouragement, interpretation and help.
when the not so favorable court ruling...the loss of a job...becoming a
single parent...an unbearable grief...news that, "Nothing else can be
done" you will run TO Him rather than shelving Him.
...that you will know that above all else, life is sweeter lived WITH God.
...that your life will be less about surviving, and more about thriving.
...that right now will be your time, now and not a moment later, to pray and connect with your creator.