Scrambling Forward (Angel in the Kitchen)

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We once hosted some guests who quite inadvertently reminded us of an important lesson. Which we’ll now pass on to you, dear reader. Because it’s, ahem, eggs-actly what we need.

One of our guests, when asked how she wanted her breakfast eggs, quickly responded scrambled. When she came downstairs to join her husband at the kitchen table, she found him about to enjoy two of the loveliest fried eggs you’ve ever seen. They were nestled between a couple slices of ham and a pile of hash browns. Contentedly occupying his plate like twin smiley faces. (Hey, we aim to please at Woodhaven.) His wife stared, as he eagerly cut through an egg and the warm yolk mingled with the ham and hash browns. Then she announced she wanted to cancel the scrambled eggs and have them fried instead.

One very big problem: her eggs had been cracked open, whisked together, and were in the process of being scrambled in a skillet with several pats of butter! Too late, we said, a little bewildered. These were the last two eggs in the house, they were now being scrambled, and you can’t unscramble eggs. Period. You got scrambled eggs, lady. Bon appetit. As with anything in life, next time, you need to know what you want, understand what’s involved, make better plans, and be careful not to break any yolks. Meanwhile, all is not lost. Scrambled eggs are great, especially with crispy bacon and toast!

It’s going to be all right! Just add buttered toast and some nice crispy bacon!

Same goes for life. We make mistakes. We make the wrong decisions. We break our promises and get our priorities scrambled. We make a jumble of our relationships. But we cannot unscramble the messes we make. Certain situations in our lives may no longer be appealing, but we can’t rewrite history. We can’t reclaim the rich, golden yolks of opportunities missed, or repair a fragile relationship once it’s cracked apart. What we can do is to live and learn: Live to our utmost potential, with God’s infinite love and strong support: and when we do fail (and we will, repeatedly), learn from our failings.

We all have regrets. If we had time machines, many of us would spend so much time in our pasts, trying to fix things, that we’d miss out on what the future holds. The Apostle Paul once wrote: “I don’t mean to say that … I have already reached perfection. …No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on….” (Philippians 3:12-13 NLT)

We can’t unscramble our past mistakes. So learn the lessons they teach, but put the mistakes behind you. And then move forward. Everyday provides new opportunities. Let’s embrace tomorrow with genuine optimism and gladness in our hearts!

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What’s Stewing? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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What’s cookin’? A stew! Stews (and stewing) are as old as cooking. A Roman cookbook published during the 4th century AD mentions stew; but most of us know of an even earlier reference to the dish, in the Biblical book of Genesis, which historians believe was written between 1410 and 1450 BC. As recorded in Genesis 25:27-34, an apparently extremely hungry Esau — who also was apparently extremely short-sighted — sold his Jewish birthright to his younger brother, Jacob — for a bowl of meat and lentil stew. Esau thereby gave up pretty much everything that counted in his culture, but hey, can we really blame him? After all, we’re talking about STEW here: a tender, savory mixture of meat, fish, or poultry, and assorted vegetables — cooked with a little water for an extended period over a low heat. Stewing foods means that the cook brings them to a slow boil, and then allows them to simmer. Meats and veggies stew in their own juices, allowing the flavors to truly blend and seep in. Meats are suffused with the aromatic flavors of spices and fresh veggies, such as onions, peas and carrots. Hungry yet? Well don’t forget that rich brown gravy that envelopes most stews! Mmmm!

There’s another definition of the verb STEW: to worry, to sulk or to fuss. And as with the culinary definition, performing this “action” yields similar results: a stew! In this sense, a stew means a state of agitation, uneasiness, or worry. Interestingly, the emotional “cooking” process is pretty much the same. A mixture of different, and often conflicting, thoughts and feelings fill our minds, and we allow these thoughts to simmer. For an extended period. Over a low heat, as our emotions come to a boil. The results of our stewing are that feelings of fear, hurt, doubt, and anger blend together and seep in — deeply! The results, however, are far from pleasing.

We’re all familiar with the idiom “to stew in one’s own juice”; but when we do this, negative thoughts and emotions penetrate deeper and deeper, the way spices penetrate and suffuse stewed beef. Hurts, when allowed to simmer in our hearts, can suffuse our attitude toward every situation and every one. Anger, after a long period of stewing, can lead to bitterness and an inability to forgive. When we allow worry to simmer in our thoughts, we eventually become nervous wrecks. And fear? Allow fear to simmer very long with your other emotions, and soon its horrid flavor will taint your entire outlook on life. In any of these scenarios, we’re essentially “cooking” our own hearts and minds, only this emotional stew doesn’t produce tender results.

God doesn’t want us stewing over stuff. That’s why he admonishes us to take several important steps. For instance, are you mad about something? Are you upset with someone? “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT) Meaning: resolve your issues and/or turn the situation over to God, trusting Him to heal your hurts. In other words, get over it before the day is done, so that you can move forward.

Are you facing big problems or issues that have you worried? “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT) Hey, this verse says it all. Besides, worrying accomplishes nothing but a sour stomach.

Fearful? “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

Has someone hurt you? “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” (Roman 12:14 NLT) Stop stewing, before all the wrong juices seep into your soul. “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” (Hebrews 12:15 NLT)

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