Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Omnipotence in My Kitchen

Oh my goodness. If you even know me AT ALL, you are not going to believe this. I'm shocked, flabbergasted, and amazed. I am in TOTAL AWE.

Okay. Here's what happened.

Eight years ago, after graduating from college and living at home for a while, I moved out of my parents' house into a little basement apartment.

Then I met Jeff.

Then we fell in love.

Then I said he should come over and I would cook for him.

Then I called my mom, all overwhelmed, thirty minutes before Jeff arrived, and asked her what in the world I should do, onaccounta I didn't know anything about cooking.

She said, "He's going to find that out anyway. You just need to be honest. If he's a keeper, he'll stick around."

So when Jeff showed up for dinner, I said, "You're taking me out for pizza."

One evening a little farther along in our relationship, Jeff was at my place and I cooked him an omelet. Well, I learned to cook omelets at high elevation on a gas stove, so my sea level, electric range omelet was a mess. Not to mention the fact that Jeff kept adding veggies I'd never associated with an omelet before. Burned on the outside, runny on the inside, soggy veggies.

Jeff forced down the omelet, and said, "Okay. After we get married...if we ever have company, I'll cook."

Some might think this was a slam. But it wasn't a slam to me. Jeff and I were both exceedingly aware of my cooking ineptitude, so I was very relieved to hear him say, basically, that he'd cover for me. My knight in shining apron.

We got married. I cooked dishes I knew how to make.

One evening Jeff asked me to make a meal instead of a dish. I panicked. My cooking went downhill from there. I felt like such a failure. I stopped trying.

Our first baby came. I plunged into mommyhood, armed with menus, shopping lists, and cooking plans, ready to take on the kitchen.

Every evening, my meals were just okay. And my husband has the talent of a master chef. Unaware of my overpowering insecurity, he often tried to help improve my cooking skills. It usually went like this:

Becky cooks meal.

Jeff takes one bite of meal.

Jeff says around first mouthful, "It's good. Know what I would have done?"

Becky feels like a failure.

This pattern continued until the birth of our second child, at which time I had a c-section and spent a while 'recovering'. During my recovery, Jeff took over all the cooking.

Both of us liked the arrangement.

Since the birth of Jonathan, five years ago, Jeff has cooked 80% of our family dinners and 60% of our breakfasts. I still cooked lunch, because all I had to do was smear some stuff on bread. Even I can do that. Plus, Jeff was at work. :)

During the past five years, Jeff and I have worked out my feelings regarding the "know what I would have done" statement, and I trust that he was just so passionate about food that he wanted simply to share his passion with me. I'm over it.

In my family of origin, Mom did all the cooking. So I have this expectation of myself that it is my responsibility to cook. If I don't cook scrumptious meals every evening, I feel like a failure as a wife. Isn't that silly?

So I kept trying to start cooking again, and kept quitting before I even got started. What if I failed? What if it didn't turn out? What if Jeff offered to tell me what he would have done? What should I cook, anyway? It's too much work! I'm too tired, ad naseum.

Plain and simple, I was just scared to death of cooking. I actually had a cooking phobia. Whenever it was suggested that I cook, a weight pressed against my chest and my breathing came in short bursts. I saw stars. I had to leave the kitchen before it swallowed me whole.


Remember what I said a few posts ago about giving everything to God?


I forgot that included my cooking fears.

But today was the day.

Sort of off-hand, as I had my heart-to-hear with Abba this morning, I said:

I surrender cooking to You. Help me to 'kitchen' for Your glory. What do You want? I want to do what You want.

Well. You know how when you submit something to God, He doesn't say, "Okay, I'll help you with that tomorrow"? Oh, no. That's not how He is.

He's standing there, waiting to help you, eager for you to turn to Him because He CAN'T WAIT to pour out blessings on you!

Okay. So here's what happened today. God softened my cooking heart this morning around 11 am, which is a miracle in itself. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that I can surrender anything. I'm so thankful for God's grace.

By 12:30 pm, I had a roast bubbling merrily in the crockpot, an apple crisp in the oven, and I was well on my way to finishing the chopping for my first batch of applesauce. Now that may not seem like a lot to some people, but believe me. For me, it's a TOTAL MIRACLE.

If you had asked me last year, last month, last week, or even YESTERDAY if I thought I would EVER make applesauce all by myself in my own little kitchen, I would have laughed in your face. Me? Make applesauce? HA!

So how did all that get accomplished by anti-cooking Becky? Well, what happened was...(and you know who you are)...we were suddenly blessed with an abundance of super yummy apples. :)

And I had this bottom round roast.

So I called my mom (who was baking cookies when she answered the phone) and asked her if it would be possible to make an apple roast. :)

She said, "Uhhh...no." Then she helped me fill up my crockpot with stuff that *does* go with a roast (carrots, celery, onion, onion soup mix, brown gravy mix), and she took me through the steps of getting it into the crockpot, instructing me on everything from what shape the onions should be to how much of the roast should be covered with water.

From there, she went on to fill my little head with ideas about what to do with my abundance of apples. Hence the crisp. And the applesauce. Both of which she explained to me, step by step, while I went through the process. I'm so glad we pay a flat fee for long distance!

The process was so easy--and super fun--when I had my mom helping me every step of the way. So I tentatively asked her, "Could we maybe...make dinner together every day?"

At first, I wanted us to shop for all the same things all the time so we could cook the exact same meals, but she explained that wouldn't work. :)

But we worked out a plan.

Every day, while I'm in the kitchen making lunch for the boys, I'll call her and tell her what I have on hand, and she'll help me figure out what to fix for dinner. And while we're having that conversation, I'll set meat out to thaw for the next day. Then the next day, we'll plan a meal around the meat I have thawed, and I'll set meat out for the next day. And so on.

Beginning to feel that I was going to impose on my mommy, I started to hesitate, in my heart. Until she said, "Thank you for helping me feel useful."

I nearly giggled. Useful? Doesn't she know how much I need her?

But Mom had to have a hysterectomy, which forced her into retirement, and she's not a sitting-around kind of gal. She's always had things to do and places to go. So her slower lifestyle in her empty nest has left her feeling lonely and sad.

Enter Becky the Cooking Novice. (Not to mention my five siblings, all of whom need their mommy as much as I do.)

So do you see what God did?

He changed my mind and heart about cooking, as only He can. Then, not only did He immediately bless my kitchen efforts, but He instantly brought me the best cooking angel I could ever have hoped for, who will lovingly and gently hold my hand all the way around the kitchen.

Just in time for my cooking angel to need a hand to hold.

"And my God will meet all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:19

Oh, and by the way. Jeff's eyes shone with gratitude and pride when he arrived home to find the house smelling of cinnamon and stew. He gobbled up his dinner ravenously, claimed he didn't notice any of its flaws, and said he wouldn't have changed a thing.