Spic and Span! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Pliny the Elder: “Home is where the hearts is.”

Roman author, naturalist, and philosopher “Pliny the Elder” (AD 23 – August 25, AD 79) once stated, “Home is where the heart is.” How true! And all the modern-day gurus of interior design frequently add that “the kitchen is the heart of the home”! Fair enough.  In the same way that the human heart nourishes the body with continuous bursts of blood, from the kitchen come frequent meals that sustain the household. And when you invite people over, if allowed to roam freely, that’s where your guests tend to gather.  People want to hang out with you in the kitchen.  Everyone knows, whether your kitchen is big or small, that’s where the action is!

Before we go any further, let us reassure you: it’s not what’s in your kitchen that’s important, it’s what comes out of your kitchen. A humble heart can supply a whole lot of love! Also, your kitchen doesn’t need to be stocked with all the latest gadgets or high-tech appliances to be functional; nor do you need hand-rubbed custom cabinets or those highly coveted countertops of polished granite.  You absolutely DO need to keep your kitchen clean!!!  Besides the health hazards of a dirty kitchen, face it, nobody wants to wake up to an ugly mess.

Hi there! Make yourself at home. I’ll be out in the kitchen rustling up some “grub”!

It’s not at all appetizing to have a cup of coffee and a danish in a nasty kitchen. And after all, that’s where you prepare the food that you and the people you care about will be eating! Would you want to eat in a restaurant famous for keeping a dirty kitchen? Yuck! In fact, restaurant kitchens are periodically inspected by the health department for cleanliness, and if one repeatedly doesn’t pass muster, the owner is forced to close until he or she cleans up their act! (Literally)

Back to the home: Once on a Dr. Oz program, experts acknowledged that the kitchen is often the dirtiest room in the house! (Yes, even dirtier than the bathroom!) Even in the “cleanest” kitchens, the ones where the cooks always wash their hands and carefully preserve and prepare their foods, there was … (cue the creepy music) … nastiness unseen by the human eye!  (Oh, the horror!) When kitchen surfaces were viewed under a microscope, experts discovered germs and bacteria lurking in corners and crevices. And one huge source of bacteria? The always damp sponge used to wash the dishes was a breeding ground for the little buggers!

Now mind you, these kitchens looked and smelled clean; the people maintaining them were careful and conscientious and thought they were doing a good job. But under closer scrutiny their kitchens — the hearts of their homes — had all their dirty little secrets brought to light! (Now, if you haven’t guessed already, we’re about to compare the kitchen, with all it’s invisible bacteria and germs lurking about, to the human heart.)

There are a lot of nasty little critters breeding in our hearts. Everyone of us needs to take steps daily to keep our hearts sanitized, and hence, healthy. Like our kitchens, we all harbor dirty little secrets, often undetected because we simply don’t take time to thoroughly examine our hearts. Harmful parasites such as wrongful attitudes (prejudice, bigotry, jealousy, envy, strife, selfishness, self-centeredness, pride — hello! — and numerous other mindsets, so please feel free to fill in the blank) as well as unbelief. Sometimes a slight, whether intentional or not, can lead to a person holding a grudge. If not dealt with, a grudge leads to bitterness, and bitterness is a silent killer of the heart!

Sanitizing a kitchen calls for strong measures such as ammonia and bleach (Um, but not at the same time!); getting your heart spic and span calls for similar measures. The idiom “spic and span” comes from root words and imagery suggesting fresh, clean wood and the new beams of a sound sailing vessel. King David understood the need to keep his heart spic and span. He must have done a pretty good job at it, too, because God describes the poet and soldier by saying, “I have found that David … is a man after my own heart, who will carry out all my wishes.” Act 13:22 ISV)  So King David must have been perfect, right? If you believe that, we have some swampland in Florida we’d like to sell you. Check out 1st and 2nd Samuel and try to remember you’re not reading Peyton Place!

But David was loyal and devoted to God. He knew he made mistakes, but he was totally honest with himself and with God. He wasn’t malicious and always tried  to do his best. In other words, his heart was in the right place.

David examined his life daily and asked God to help him in all things. We need to do the same. Read what David wrote in Psalm 51. Spend quality time with the Lord everyday and make it your prayer. Below is just one
precious verse from the chapter:

Create in me a clean heart, O God (and) renew a loyal spirit within me.  (Psalm 51:10 NLT) David is essentially asking God to help him keep his heart spic and span! Let’s join him in that great endeavor.

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Fried with Words! (Angel in the kitchen)

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We don’t often fry foods; frying can be messy, and fried foods aren’t very healthy. Once in a while, though, we do fry thin-cut, lean pork chops. We set the gas at medium to control the heat and put a lid on the skillet to minimize the spatter of the sizzling olive oil. We recently discussed putting a lid on pots to prevent things from boiling over, and we compared the precaution to “setting a guard” over our mouths, lest we blurt out stupid and hurtful words. Keeping a lid on things is the best way to avoid having to clean up a mess, whether it’s on top of the gas range or in a relationship.

It’s impossible, however, to keep a lid on the skillet throughout the entire frying process. You have to remove the lid to turn the chops (or whatever you’re frying), and when  you do, droplets of flesh-searing oil take the opportunity to spatter your hands and the top of the range. And —  wouldn’t you know it? — those red-hot spatters of grease are just like words! Sooner or later, no matter how careful we are, we’re going to say something stupid or hurtful. We’re all sensitive about something, and some of us may be overly sensitive; so when we consider the human propensity for “Foot-in-Mouth” disease, we realize that when interacting with others, eventually someone is bound to get burned by a sizzling word.

I made a boo-boo. I’m sooo sorry!

When frying food, we expect to have a few oil spatters, so we keep a sponge with a little ammonia nearby. When the skillet spats at us, we wipe away the grease right then and there. Cleaning things up fast is always best, because these spatters can be nasty and things can get sticky, just like harsh words in a relationship if not quickly dealt with. But what substitutes for ammonia when cleaning up the messes we make with our mouths? Something much stronger than ammonia, something that removes even the toughest stains. No, not Tide! LOVE!♥♥♥

If you’ve read a few of these posts, you’ll realize we love old movies (and a few new ones, too), but movies, even the ones that seem realistic, are glamorized depictions of life. Hollywood tends to varnish life so it shines brighter. (As though life weren’t already bright enough — but then, that’s why Hollywood is called Tinsel Town.) It also espouses its own crazy philosophy. You can enjoy the show, without buying into everything Hollywood presents as “wisdom”! The 1970 tearjerker Love Story is a great example: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That might look good on a cheap t-shirt, but if you practice this philosophy you’ll never have a “love story” — or any meaningful relationships!

TRUE love is quick to say “I’m sorry” — wherever and whenever your words offend. And as often as your words offend! In fact, TRUE love means actually getting into the habit of saying, “I’m sorry I hurt you again. I was wrong. Please forgive me.” Here’s the two-step cleaning process: first, apologize to God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 KJV)

Second, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16 AKJ)

Making a habit of apologizing requires us to get rid of stinking pride. It’s humbling to admit when we’re wrong, but it’s always necessary. And it takes God’s grace, the supernatural strength to do what’s right in a difficult situation. So take responsibility for your words and actions. Don’t try to shift the blame. Don’t make excuses for bad behavior. Say the magic words: “I’m sorry.” Say it like you mean it, and say it quickly, before the mess gets out of hand. Don’t walk out the door or go to bed without making things right. Hurts build up and harden, like spattered grease on the rangetop. It’s easier to clean it immediately than to wait for another time. Apologizing only gets harder the longer you wait.

“…Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT)

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