Faithfully Fueled Flames of Sparky! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Over the past year we’ve introduced our readers to all the “angels” in our kitchen: those appliances, gadgets and food items which continue to teach us lessons about life, love and relationships. We wrote, among other things, about how our toaster can “talk”; the call oangelic-pop-up-toaster-smiling-with-wings-and-halo-emoji-102714f the Keurig; and how Fridgey (our refrigerater) enjoys the nightlife. These articles have been collected in two softcover books.

Now we’d like to share a little more about Sparky, our gas range! (Yes, we can be silly at times! What’s your excuse?) Sparky is faithful; even in the midst of a prolonged power outage, our trustworthy kitchen friend didn’t let us down! Please read on.

One fateful Christmas Eve, over a decade ago, Virginia and several surrounding states endured a massive ice storm. The day before, we had prepared a variety of tempting treats to enjoy throughout the holidays, including stuffed mushrooms. All our goodies were crammed into Fridgey, awaiting a bit of rewarming on Christmas day. But on the morning of the 24th, we awoke to the gunshot-loud crackings of tree limbs breaking under the weight of a thick coating of ice. And because we live in the woods of New Kent, barely 30 feet from dense stands of trees in every direction, we weren’t in the least suprised to learn the power was out — a frequent pitfall of having powerlines near trees.

Turned out that power outage affected thousands of homes spread across several states — and in more isolated areas (that would be us) the outage lasted weeks!! But we managed. We transferred our gourmet goodies to a big cooler, and on Christmas night, huddled about the fireplace, sitting in a room illuminated by hurricane lamps, we enjoyed a hot meal that included stuffed mushrooms! How did we heat them?

Well, Sparky is fueled by a huge propane tank behind our house. The local propane company keeps the tank topped off, so we’ve never run out of fuel. And the beauty of propane is that the pressure of the gas forces the fuel through the line and into our home, where it feeds our water-heater and Sparky.

All we had to do was turn on the gas knob, light the flame with a match, and Sparky came to life. We gently warmed the stuffed mushrooms and other foods in a covered skillet, and enjoyed a gourmet meal in the midst of a semi-disaster! So, in a pinch, our faithful Sparky came through, because he’s powered by a dependable source of fuel — and the flow never stops!

In life, those who believe in and follow Christ are also powered by a dependable, neverending source of fuel. It’s called God’s Holy Spirit. When He walked the earth, Jesus said, “…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever … the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive….” (John 14:16-17 ESV) The word helper comes from a Greek term that conveys the ideas of “advising, encouraging, comforting and strengthening”: the basic survival gear needed to get through tough times.

With the power of the Holy Spirit we can make it through all of life’s little disasters, whether they’re icestorms or job layoffs or broken relationships. But we need to be careful to maintain the flow of the Holy Spirit’s influence in our lives. There are certain things that can block the natural flow of this “fuel”; thoughts and actions that can crimp the gas-line, so to speak.

“For you have been called to live in freedom…. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. …But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. …Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.” (Galatians 5:13-17 NLT)

Keep the supply lines open: read and think on God’s Word; talk to your Heavenly Father (praying about your fears, weaknesses and concerns, asking for His guidance, and always thanking Him for all He’s done for you); and stay connected to other believers. When you do, you’ll always have fresh supply of God’s power and influence flowing into your life. You’ll be able to weather any storm … and even dine on gourmet stuffed mushrooms while you’re waiting for it to pass!

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Frozen! People Should Never Act Like Peas

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Hello, dear friends! I’m Mr Freeze, Tom and Wilma’s faithful upright freezer!

When my masters asked me to tell you readers about frozen foods I naturally jumped at the opportunity. Well, actually I just sort of continued to stand in the corner of the room I share with Blue the SUV. (Which for some strange reason, Tom and Wilma refer to as the garage.) Anyway, the history of frozen foods is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. In fact, just thinking about it sends chills down my cooling coils!

Believe it or not, people have been preserving foods by freezing them for hundreds of years. Fishermen and trappers first started the trend by storing their fish and game in unheated buildings during the winter. They had learned, quite by accident, that freezing foods slows down and even halts the forces of nature — namely, the growth of bacteria which otherwise hastens spoilage. But the first large-scale commercial use of preserving foods by freezing was in 1899, when warehouses in Russia routinely shipped about 200,000 frozen chickens and geese to London each week, where specially devised cold-storage facilities kept the meat frozen until it went to local markets.
Later, in 1929, Clarence Birdseye introduced the American public to “flash freezing”: quick freezing reduces the formation of large ice crystals, which can damage the taste and texture of foods. The company started by Birdseye continues to be an innovator in the production of frozen dinners and vegetables. But today there are dozens of businesses producing what companies such as Swanson once called “TV dinners”; as well as frozen pizzas, pies, cakes and ice cream — mmm, just the sort of heartwarming comfort food I keep in my frosty compartments.

Further advancements in frozen foods came about out of necessity: during World War II, the U.S. Military researched better ways of freezing orange juice and dairy products for troops serving overseas; and in 1957, when then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited Russia, the U.S. government devised new ways of packaging frozen foods for her trip. Speaking of Russia, I’ve always wanted to vacation in Siberia. I understand that year round the weather is quite lovely.

But enough about me and my passion for all things frozen. I want to share an interesting observation about people: some of them are frozen! Not literally, mind you. But remember that I said freezing stops the forces of nature? In a manner of speaking, it puts life on hold — and sometimes people want to do the same thing.

There’s a character in Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations who did just that: Miss Havisham stopped all the clocks in her house, then shut herself away from the world after she experienced a devastating disappointment. She was to be married, on what should have been the happiest day of her life. Many elaborate preparations had been made, including a long dining table exquisitely set and groaning beneath an abundance of gourmet foods; and crowning the center of the table, a wedding cake fit for a king and his queen.

All of Miss Havisham’s guests had arrived to join in the celebration, and together they waited with the bride-to-be — uncomfortably, for what seemed an interminable time — for the groom to arrive. But he never did. So, the wedding guests silently returned to their homes, and Miss Havisham, whose heart was broken, whose dreams died that day, withdrew
from the world. She cloistered herself in her darkened mansion, with all the wedding preparations left untouched, preserved as a burial shrine to her dead hopes. The clocks stopped ticking and she stopped “living”! Miss Havisham, for all intents and purposes, allowed herself to become mentally and spiritually “frozen in time”; trapped like an ancient relic in the ice of her own pain and grief; unable to move beyond the disappointments and bitter memories of a single moment.

Brrr, pretty dramatic, huh? But just like Miss Havisham, there are people today who, because of past hurts, mistakes and disappointments, are “frozen” in their own emotional and spiritual growth, no longer moving forward in life — no longer even enjoying life.

Have you made bad mistakes? Have you been severely hurt, betrayed, or disappointed? At some time or another, we all have. But the more important question is, were you “flash frozen” in your moment of grief and despair, anguish and disillusionment? Symptoms of being frozen include frequently reliving a past hurt, harboring a grudge, being afraid to trust again, or refusing to start over. If any of this describes you, it’s time to come in from the cold: take steps to forgive and forget; make a conscious decision to put the past behind you, and then start moving forward.

People should never act like peas!

It always helps to “get things off your chest” and out into the open, so consider talking to a trusted friend or a spiritual leader. If necessary, seek out a professional counselor. But above all, ask the God of all comfort to heal your emotional wounds. (2 Corinthians 1:3) “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 ESV)

There’s room for only one Mister Freeze around — and that’s me! But I only keep foods frozen! I like people well thawed! And unless you’re a box of snow peas, you shouldn’t allow anything to keep you frozen. Don’t allow someone who wronged you in the past to continue to steal your present peace and joy, or your future growth and happiness. Break out of the ice. To quote the lyrics of a popular song from Disney’s Frozen, if there’s something bothering you, “Let it go!”

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NLT)

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