Meatloaf Blues? (Angel in the Kitchen)


There’s a scene from an old sitcom, and it plays something like this: a teenage boy walks into the kitchen and asks his mom, “What’s for dinner?” After she tells her son she’s lovingly made his favorite, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, the boy whines, “Aww, meatloaf? I just came from Johnny’s house and his dad’s grilling steaks!” Who’s to be pitied more? The poor mom who’s slaved over the hot stove trying to please her family — or her ungrateful son, who’s got the meatloaf blues, a symptom of “the comparison complaint”?

Unfortunately, we all periodically suffer from this complaint. It’s a common malady of the human race, but there’s a cure. Just stop! The kid in the aforementioned sitcom ought to have been happy that his mom cooked his dinner to start with — let alone made his favorite — and we would all do well to stop comparing what we have with what someone else has. Life is more enjoyable when we’re grateful for what God has provided us. And, personally, we LOVE meatloaf, with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy! Of course, we serve a pretty mean meatloaf at our house!

Still, we tend to get caught up in comparing, and when we do, we inevitably reach the same conclusion: there’s always something better than what we have. The neighbors are having steak and we’re stuck with meatloaf! Or, we’re having meatloaf but the neighbors are having meatloaf with gravy! Yes, the dinner is always more delicious on the other side of the fence — or is that grass? After God led His people out of bondage from Egypt, He daily provided them with a perfect food called MANNA! Manna was “a flaky substance” that “tasted like honey wafers.” (Exodus 16:14,31 NLT) The Israelites collected the manna each morning, and we can imagine it might have been a little like Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. To quote Tony the Tiger, “They’re grr-reat!!”

But God’s people started comparing, as we all tend to do, and suddenly they were “homesick” for the foods they ate when they were slaves! Seriously? Yeah, the “comparison complaint” really is a sickness; and we’ll never truly enjoy life if we’re always “sick” about what we could have, but don’t have. How can we enjoy a delicious cool glass of freshly squeezed orange juice if we start contemplating what else we might have had? Remember the TV commercial for vegetable juice? The guy suddenly stops sipping his OJ, slaps his forehead, and cries, “Wow, I coulda had a V-8!” Don’t fall prey to the comparison complaint. Enjoy the moment. “This is the day [or food, or home, or opportunity] the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NLT)

Another symptom of the comparison complaint manifests when we start comparing ourselves to others. Trust us on this one: no matter how beautiful or talented you are, how much money you make, or how big your home is, there will always be someone somewhere who’s just a little prettier, more gifted, more prosperous, more whatever. So … since these things are all relative to begin with, then why compare — and compete? Catch the comparison complaint and you’ll probably also come down with “inferiority fever” followed by “insecurity sickness”!

On the other hand, there will always be those who don’t seem to measure up to you and your standards. Should you take what God has blessed you with as a reason for pride? If you do, then you’re suffering from the vanity virus.

We mentioned we serve a mean meatloaf. We have a friend who started comparing her cooking skills to Wilma’s; and she felt she came up short. As a result, she was reluctant to have us over for dinner. Sad and unnecessary! We all have different gifts and abilities, and there’s no point in comparing. When we do, nothing good ever comes out of it; instead, we miss out on the joy of life. But our friend was mature enough to confess she was feeling a little inferior in the kitchen. We told her not to worry: we’re not into comparing and competing. And we’re grateful whether we’re served pheasant under glass or a plain pizza. Then we reminded her just how talented she was in areas that remain a complete mystery to us.

Our friend relaxed, realized what’s most important, and then had us over for a take-out pizza. And we’re not sure why, but … apparently her fellowship added a lot of extra flavor to the food, because it was one of the best pizzas we’d ever had! Get the lesson here? Please don’t catch the comparison complaint. At first it just makes you sick, but later it can kill your joy. “I ask you not to think of yourselves more highly than you should. Instead, your thoughts should lead you to use good judgment based on what God has given each of you as believers.” (Romans 12:3 GOD’S WORD)

Remember the symptoms: the meatloaf blues, inferiority fever, insecurity sickness or vanity virus. Nip them in the bud before you get an incurable case of the comparison complaint.


Got A Light? (Angel in the Kitchen)


Have you ever had trouble finding something in a kitchen cabinet because all the labels were shrouded in shadows? Have you ever scrubbed furiously to remove a stain from a dinner plate, only to realize later that it’s a blemish in the plate itself? Have you ever had difficultly reading a cookbook laid open on the kitchen countertop? Responding yes to any of these questions could be an indication that your kitchen has insufficient lighting.

Ah, there’s nothing as romantic as a candlelight dinner — even if you can’t see the food on your plate. “HEY! You’re about to eat the cork from the wine bottle.”

Assuming there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight, the lights in your kitchen may be too few, or improperly placed, or simply not emitting enough bright light. And most cooks agree, there’s nothing more frustrating than working in a dimly lit kitchen where you can’t see what you’re doing.

You can have the latest, most expensive “designer kitchen,” but if it’s poorly lit, you’ve just wasted your money. You won’t be able to see which spices you’re sprinkling into the soup, or how badly you’re bleeding after accidentily slicing open your finger while dicing onions … because you couldn’t see!

Let there be light!

A great kitchen has lights everywhere: over the stove, over the sink, above every foot of counterspace. And if you have an island, over that too. There are even lights for UNDER the counters and INSIDE the cabinets! You need to be able to see what’s lurking under the sink! But lights aren’t just for function. Good lighting adds to the esthetics of both the kitchen and dining area. In fact, a handsome light fixture properly positioned above the table, such as a chandelier, is just as important as your place-settings and centerpiece.

Form and function. Lights are useful tools that add beauty to life. It’s close to impossible to get along without light; but light is something you rarely think about until you have to do without it. Living in the woods of New Kent, we’ve had many occassions when we lost power. And when it gets dark in the woods … IT REALLY GET’S DARK! So we’ve stocked up on candles, flashlights, and hurricane lamps. Sitting in the dark is no fun, and a world without light would be a dark and gloomy place.

In society, light promotes safety and order. (If you don’t believe this, read your history: people seem to go crazy during blackouts in major metropolitan areas. When the light goes out, the looting and vandalism starts.) Lights illuminate and guide our way. (Streetlamps and fluorescent signs.) They control and direct traffic, further ensuring order. (Traffic and crossing lights.) We could go on, but we think you get the point.

The Bible explains that God and His holy Word are the ultimate source of Spiritual Light.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John  8:12 NLT) “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NLT)

This Divine Spiritual Light serves the same purpose as natural and man-made lights: it illuminates the truth and guides our ways; it brings beauty to life; it promotes order and safety; it directs all human activity. And without God’s Word, this world would be a dark and gloomy place. Funny thing is, just like natural and man-made lights, we often don’t miss the illuminating, organizing, cheering, reassuring, and safety-promoting effects of God’s Word until it’s taken away from society. People living in countries where Judeo-Christian beliefs have been banned, know this truth well.

One last thought: When the sun goes down and the house grows dark, we switch on a light. Flashlights and candles bring light into the darkest corners of a room. In life, we’re to be God’s spiritual flashlights and candles, helping to dispel darkness wherever we go. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His followers, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see….” (Matthew 5:14-16 NLT)