Make Life Sweet! (Angel in the Kitchen)


Hey, sugar! No, not you! We certainly hope you’re a sweet person, but today we’re referring to that granulated stuff on the kitchen counter: table sugar; brown sugar, confectioners sugar … shoog-er! (Ah, honey, honey!) Sugar is one of those things that make life more enjoyable. If you’ve had a hard day, there’s nothing quite like something sweet to bring a little cheer. And sugar manages to find itself in a variety foods, including items you’d never suspect, such as canned green beans!

Sugar dates back to ancient times, but because it wasn’t always plentiful or affordable, most people sweetened with honey, instead. But now sugar is everywhere. In fact, the world produces over 200 million metric tons of sugar each year. And the average person consumes about 53 pounds (24 kilograms) of it annually. Face it, we prefer things in life be sweet.

One morning we were about to have our extra-dark coffee, along with our daily time of praise and worship, and we got an eye-opening revelation: we forgot the sugar! We both took one sip of the brew and then made faces at each other. It was bitter as quinine! Not that either of us has ever tasted quinine, mind you, but it is a familiar expression. How can something so tasty WITH sugar be so horrible WITHOUT it? Now, we know some of you probably do like it black, but we prefer a teaspoon of sugar. Or honey. Or Splenda. Or Stevia. Or SOMETHING!

There’s a lot of truth to the song actress Julie Andrews sang in Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins: “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down!” And ya know what? Love is the spiritual sugar of life! A little love can help us swallow even the most bitter pills of everyday existence. This is important to remember. If you’ve ever had to confront someone with the truth, then you probably know this. The unvarnished truth can be painful. Truth forces us to face facts … about ourselves and our choices. Truth — in essence, the Word of God — is like a brightly lit mirror that exposes all our flaws. And a little reassurance in the form of love makes facing the truth much easier to handle! That’s why the Bible commands us to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

Part of speaking the truth is sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. By all means, do this in love. After all, God is Love (1 John 4:7), and salvation is about His love for us. (John 3:16) We need to be able to communicate this love in our attitudes and actions, as well as in our words. As a matter of fact, everything we do — whether correcting a child or discussing a problem (or a controversial issue) with a spouse, friend, or coworker — should always be done in love. No matter how right you are, no matter how justified your actions, if you fail to respond in love, then you lose the “high ground”! Hence, there’s a good chance you’ll lose the “argument” — so to speak.

If you confront someone with the truth, but do it in anger, that person will mostly see only your anger. You may be right, but you get no points because you lost control. And if the other guy stays calm, guess who looks “wrong” in this situation? Of course, we should never approach sharing truth as an opportunity to be right. Getting out the truth isn’t about “Aha, I’m right and you’re wrong!” That’s PRIDE! God wants us to share the truth in LOVE — not pride. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV)

So, walk in love — and humility. As the old saying goes: “You can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.” Love will win people over, not anger or arrogance. Be a sweet soul, not a bitter or sour one. Get God’s sugar — er, love — in your heart and life. “…Above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 King James 2000)


Nothing’s Wasted (Angel in the Kitchen)


We have a friend who’s a folk artist. A few years back he carved and painted two small refrigerator magnets that have become prized decorations in our kitchen. One is the Planters mascot, Mister Peanut; the other is the Pillsbury Doughboy, Poppin’ Fresh. Both are well made and absolutely nail the characters.

Our friend also likes to cook — Southern-style! Once, he said that whenever he boiled potatoes for mashing, he’d drain off the water and save it. The “broth” contained a lot of the starch from the spuds, as well as the potato flavor that’s currently popular in breads. He’d use this liquid instead of plain water whenever he made biscuits. The biscuits held together better and had a richer flavor!

It’s similar to what we do when boiling chicken for certain dishes: we save the “stock” and use it to flavor soups, casseroles, and our favorite chicken and rice dish. Guests often ask what gives the rice such a savory flavor. We always give the short, direct answer. But the longer, indirect answer is that we don’t waste anything; what many people decant, cut away, and cast out — assuming it to be worthless — is always put to good use in our kitchen. Even fruit and vegetable peelings can be composted.

Another item we save and “repurpose” is stale bread. We use it to make stuffing and bread pudding. Why waste a good thing, even if it appears to be “bad” — just like the cloudy liquid left over from boiled potatoes. In the kitchen, EVERYTHING that’s seemingly of no value, seemingly a “lost cause” or a “complete waste” can serve a good purpose. Savvy cooks never waste. And neither does God.

The savviest “cook” in the kitchen of life is our Heavenly Father, and He never wastes anything. He simply repurposes it for His use. That means the fallout from a failed relationship or business venture will be put to good use in our lives. God may use a painful or embarrassing experience to teach us a truth, help us develop better character, or get us ready for a bigger challenge. Sometimes, He simply wants to get us on the right track again, so that he can fulfill our special destiny.

He uses defeat to make us stronger. He repurposes grief to make us compassionate. He allows closed doors and missed “opportunities” to keep us out of trouble. He doesn’t waste anything.

Whatever we’ve suffered, whatever we’re going through, whatever mistakes we’ve made, God always finds a good use for these “bad” experiences — which seem at the time like “lost causes”; like a “complete waste”! But in God’s kitchen there’s no waste. Every tear you’ve shed, every heartache you’ve endured, every moment of sorrow and suffering, doubt and despair — He’s restructured into something new and more wonderful. We usually don’t know what God is cooking up. Nor can we often see how He’ll repurpose something wrong and destructive into something right and renewed. But His Word explains to us that He continually does so. We can trust Him that our losses, our failures, our sorrows are never wasted. He is truly the God who renews, repurposes, restructures and reuses all we have and have gone through — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

“…You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result….” (Genesis 50:20 NASB)

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)