Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Mountains Trembled

We took the walls of the kitchen down earlier this month. Look. We expected the kitchen to feel more spacious and be more navigable. Those were our only expectations.

God has surprised us with two additional benefits. The first is not a miracle. The second totally is.

First, our breakfast bar makes sense now. We had basically used it as a giant hot spot. Any junk we couldn't find was probably on the breakfast bar. But the first morning after the walls came down, we actually had breakfast at the breakfast bar, which included relaxing, visiting and coffee-sipping just feet away from the crackling fire visible through the glass front of our new wood stove.

Since then, we have eaten several meals around the breakfast bar, our dining table chairs have migrated over, and the junk pile has become mortally offended and moved away.

Second... and this is the part that's a miracle...

I have started...

well...

...cooking.

There. I said it. I have started cooking.

Even more miraculous is the fact that I'm actually enjoying it.

I know! I'm thinking the same thing you are!

"Who are you, and what have you done with Becky?"

Well, I'll tell you.

One night, I reheated frozen lasagna, reheated pre-buttered garlic bread, dumped a lot of bag salad ingredients into a bowl, and ran some EasyMac through the microwave.

That was actually more kitchen work than normal for me, but it just felt... so... prepackaged. Depressingly prepackaged.

I said to Abba, "Well, Lord, I did my best... this meal would have been better if I knew how to cook, but..."

The whispered reply was instantaneous.

"Learn."

Shoot.

What? Learn?! Come on, Abba. This is me we're talking about. I don't cook. I set stuff out.

But it wasn't me we were talking about at all. It was God. I took a deep breath and sighed. "Okay... but I can't do this alone," I informed Almighty God in no uncertain terms, "You're gonna hafta help me."

He wouldn't have it any other way, of course.

Cooking didn't happen the next day. I began by re-subscribing to The Pioneer Woman's cooking feed. While I was doing so, I found she also had a community cooking blog, called Tasty Kitchen. I subscribed to that, too.

"I'm just going to read these posts every day," I told Jeff, "Just to start learning the language. But I'm not going to cook anything yet."

He nodded. Wordless. Bemused.

But after just a couple of days, I discovered I had on hand nearly all the ingredients mentioned in several featured recipes, their difficulty level was easy, and they took just minutes to prepare. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I felt empowered. (Writing that sentence about cooking makes me tear up. Not kidding.)

My first dish was ham and cheese frittatas. Aside from learning a new word (frittata), two things were marvelous about that experience. (And when I say "marvelous" I mean I marveled.)

First, I had ideas for how to improve the recipe.

Second, Jeff told me what he would have done, and it didn't make me angry. In fact, I was so distracted by the fact that I wasn't angry that I forgot to pay attention to what he would have done, and he had to repeat his cooking tip.

Bolstered by the successful frittatas, I felt brave enough to attempt a pesto potato salad. It worked! And it was yummy! After that, I was on my way. I am now a member at Tasty Kitchen, and I have a whole arsenal of recipes in my online recipe box. I also try to watch The Barefoot Contessa, who yesterday made me feel I could easily prepare an entire Thanksgiving feast all by myself, and tonight I am watching The Pioneer Woman compete against Bobby Flay.

I think it's safe to say that I have been afraid of cooking. Afraid of failing. Of ruining a meal. I placed so much expectation on myself to cook perfectly and thus fulfill my wifely role that I psyched myself out to the point that even the thought of cooking sent me into a total panic. The lie in my mind was that my worth as a wife lay in my cooking skill. Rather than cooking and failing, thereby proving definitively that I was a worthless wife, I just didn't cook at all.

As a church musician, I've learned over the past twenty years of flawed musicianship that one of the joys of serving in a worship team is that you always get another chance. Every musician makes big, ridiculous mistakes every so often. I enter at the wrong time, or don't enter at the right time, I bang out glaringly discordant notes, I mess up rhythms and throw off the band, my voice cracks like I'm going through puberty, and on more than one occasion, I have made such a train wreck out of a piece of music that I've had to stop the band and the oblivious congregation and start the whole thing over. But it's all good. I get to try again the next week. Every week, I get another chance.

Well, guess what I learned this month about cooking? I get another chance every single day! It's just like church music. Only better. More chances. WAY more. Three per day instead of one per week! What great cook hasn't burned a meal and had to order take-out? What amazing culinary expert perfectly poached their first egg or mastered the art of soufflé overnight? And I am only using those examples because Jeff told me it's hard to poach eggs and I've seen movie clips about fallen soufflés! I don't even know what I'm talking about! But the point is I'm talking about it! And I'm not scared! Seriously! It's a total miracle!

Here's the thing.

When we took our kitchen walls down, in one fell swoop God drew us to the breakfast bar as a family -- a pleasant development -- and crumbled the wall of fear separating me from cooking -- an absolutely divine miracle. Amazing results when our walls came down! Results we couldn't have produced on our own, even if they had occurred to us, which they certainly did not.

So I'm wondering...

What are my other walls?

What are yours?

What would happen if we let our walls come down?

What if we made our hearts more spacious and our souls more navigable?

What closeness of relationship would surprise us?

What miracles would God perform?

For when You did awesome things that we did not expect,
You came down, and the mountains trembled before You.

Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides You,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember Your ways. ~Isaiah 64:3-5a