Leftovers AGAIN?!? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Previously we discussed how a Chinese cook worked magic with leftovers by creating chop suey; and how our Heavenly Father can work wonders with the “leftovers” we often toss Him. But while the leftovers from an excellent meal aren’t bad, we should never give God the leftovers of our time and talents. He deserves far more than that.

Getting back to food, however, leftovers can be delicious. We actually look forward to leftovers. After all, if it was good the first time around, why wouldn’t it be tasty the second time? And some dishes, such as Puerto
Rican rice and beans (from a secret recipe Wilma’s mom taught her) are actually better after they’ve had time to “rest” overnight in the fridge. All the seasonings seem to rally for another round of culinary adventure. That’s why we make extra: so we can have more (!); and also to save time (by cooking one meal that feeds us over the course of about 3 nights). Waste not, want not.

But not everyone likes leftovers. In fact, we have a friend who refuses to eat leftovers. He grew  up in extreme poverty, and leftovers were all he ever had to eat — and by “leftovers,” we don’t mean a cold drumstick from a turkey feast. Fortunately our friend is married to a very understanding lady who loves to cook and doesn’t mind serving up something different at every meal. She gets the “Kitchen Saint” Award.

Speaking of drumsticks, there’s one time of year that no one — at least not here in the U.S. — says NO to leftovers, and it comes around on the fourth Thursday of every November!

After observing the great feast of Thanksgiving, a day on which we cook way too much food, and then end up as stuffed as the turkey, people really start getting creative with all the leftovers. They have a sliced turkey sandwich while watching the big game, or try to eat lighter the next day by having a salad with diced turkey. And then there’s chipped turkey on toast, creamed turkey on rice, turkey omelets, turkey casseroles, turkey soup, turkey stew, turkey turkey…. Excuse us, but does anyone have an Alka-Seltzer handy?

Eventually everyone gets sick and tired of turkey, and the “magic” of leftovers loses its … well, magic. In life, also, “leftovers” grow tiresome and can quickly drain the magic from our relationships with friends and family.

Oftentimes, a person gives so much time and energy to a project at work, or to building a career or running a ministry, that he or she has very little left for the people closest to them. Instead of serving those closest to them with love, patience and encouragement, they instead dish out what’s left over at the end of a hard day: grumpiness, defensiveness, and possibly even outbursts of anger.

Today there are far too many neglected spouses and children who are sick and tired of getting the “leftovers”! They resent seeing their husband or wife or mom or dad play the role of Mr. or Ms. Wonderful while in public, when behind closed doors they are anything but wonderful. And the excuses of work stress and fatigue soon grow old. Leftovers are still leftovers, no matter what the reason.

Some parents make up for giving their kids the leftovers by buying them “expensive desserts”; but kids want attention, not toys. They need their moms and dads, not their purses. Word of advice to parents: don’t toss your kids the leftovers of your time and energy. If you do, you may be in for a surprise: as you grow older, your kids may start giving you their leftovers. (Psalm 127:3)

Having problems in your marriage? Could it be because you’re serving your spouse the leftovers? Or maybe the demands of life have caused both of you to serve leftovers to the other. Examine the state of affairs — honestly — and then do your utmost to give your spouse the BEST you have to offer. Like you did when you were dating. Remember?

Guys, when was the last time you brought flowers home to your wife? Or sent her a pretty card — just because? When was the last time you told her how much you love and appreciate her? Do you make her feel like a princess? The Apostle Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25 NIV)

Ladies, when was the last time you made your husband his favorite meal, or sent him a card? When was the last time you told him how much you love and appreciate him. Do you make him feel like he’s your hero? Saint Paul also writes, “Wives should respect their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:33 GOD’S WORD)

Is your spouse (or friends and relatives) lamenting, “What, leftovers AGAIN?” Sooner or later, people get tired of receiving only the dregs of our time, talents and energies. When it comes to relationships, there’s nothing magical about leftovers!

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Magic with Leftovers? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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We have this wonderful cookbook in our collection, titled Magic with Leftovers. It was published in 1955 and contains over 300 recipes for turning the remnants of our meals of yesterday (and perhaps the day before) into something fresh and new. One such recipe is for a chef salad that makes use of whatever meats you happen to find in the fridge — and not just the usual salad ingredient of ham.

Personally, we like to cook up stir fry using leftover meats and veggies, which we serve over a bed of fluffy rice. And while we’re discussing stir fry, here’s some trivia for you: chop suey was created in America by Chinese immigrants … using leftovers! The name of the dish actually comes from the Chinese tsap seui, which translates “miscellaneous leftovers”! According to legend, several grizzled and half-starved customers walked into a Wild West saloon circa 1890, demanding food! The saloon had been busy that day, and had run out of steaks and stew. The poor Chinese cook was too scared to break the bad news to this pack of tough-looking cowpokes, so he quickly threw whatever he could find into his wok: bits of leftover meats and vegetables. He quickly fried these remnants and served them up to his enthusiastic diners.

Like hey, dude. You’re eating leftovers! (Heeheeheeheeeee!)

When asked what the wonderful dish was called, the cook didn’t lie. He nervously responded, miscellany — only in Chinese! The words came out, “Chop suey!” But this savvy chef had turned leftovers from a long day of serving breakfast, lunch and dinner into something magical! Nice ending, right? However, we don’t want to know exactly where he found these leftovers.

Okay, when it comes to food, leftovers can be magical, but when it comes to our relationship with God, there’s nothing magical about giving Him our leftovers! And yet, that’s exactly what we often do; we serve up to our Heavenly Father whatever’s left over of our day, after we’ve already consumed the best parts of our time, energy and talents.

It’s usually only after we’ve worked and played, after we’re worn out and the day’s almost done, that many of us decide to toss a little something to the Lord. It’s often not even as appetizing as the impromptu chop suey served up at the end of the day by that hapless Chinese cook: a half-numb and, hence, halfhearted prayer of Thanks, God! Please watch over me while I sleep!  before slumber claims the one praying.

King David, the prolific poet and giant-slayer, the busy warrior and the writer of the Psalms — the most encouraging words ever penned — once wrote “…Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee; my soul thirsteth for Thee….” (Psalm 63:1 King James Bible)  King David was telling his Lord that, before scheduling or doing anything else, he would spend time with God; that he would make Him the Number ONE Priority.

Not keeping God as our first priority in everything is hazardous to our spiritual health. We must always seek to do His will, not ours; and ensure that we spend quality time with Him. He deserves more than our leftovers: three minutes here, two minutes there. And since it’s so easy to get busy and then run out time, it’s best to schedule God into your first hour of the day — before you go for a jog, or make breakfast; before you get the kids off to school;  before you check your email or watch the news. Before you meet the challenges of the day, first meet with the God who created the day!

Don’t fool yourself that you’ll do it later. “Later” never comes. And the “enemy of your soul” will do everything in his power to keep you too busy, and to distract you from reading the Bible and praying to the Lord of ALL — from spending quality time with your Heavenly Father.

Don’t serve God your leftovers. He is loving and gracious, and He’s willing to take whatever we give Him. In fact, He’s able to take our leftover time and talents and cook up something MAGICAL with them. But He does this in a pinch, like the Chinese cook. Imagine what God could do with a prime cut of your day? Please, stop throwing God your scraps.

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