Monday, January 23, 2012

The Blessing

I love to cook.
I enjoy everything about it...the planning, shopping, scrubbing, chopping, sauteing, braising, grilling, whisking, mixing, dicing, mincing.  To me it is a creative outlet, a challenge, and one of the more rewarding things in life. It's about learning what is good and healthy for my family, and at the same time figuring out how to make things flavorful and yummy.  I love using all of the bounty that God has provided for us. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, all so colorful and lovely, are truly a joy to prepare. To my mind, few things in life are as rewarding as preparing a meal for the people in my life who mean the most to me, or sharing a meal with a new friend that I want to get to know better.

(A little side note...I DO NOT like to bake.  I can bake.  I even make a pretty mean pie, but I don't enjoy it. If I bake, it's because I enjoy eating the results.  I would much rather cook dinner and have someone else bring dessert.)

Over the years, I have had so many women tell me that they just can't cook.  They tell me they hate it, that it is a drudgery and a chore.  I was thinking about this the other day as I was chopping veggies to put in a salad for lunch.  Perhaps I am odd, but it is strangely comforting to me to be in my kitchen chopping veggies and I had a few thoughts about why that is and I would like to share some of them.

I recall with perfect clarity a day just a few short years ago, a moment really, that changed how I felt about all of the things I do as a wife, mom, and homemaker.  A young mom with 3 kids ages 4 and under, I was completely overwhelmed on this particular day...exhausted, fed up. After getting my little Maddy down for a nap and my 2 older kids on their beds for a quiet time, I went to my room, laid down on my bed, and cried. I told God that I was sick and tired of doing all of these things that nobody noticed anyway and who really cares if the top of the cupboards is dirty or the kitchen floor needs scrubbing? Let's face it, with 3 kids it's just going to get dirty again anyway. I told Him that all I ever did was change diapers, fix food, run errands (with 3 little kids!), clean, and do mountains of laundry.  Yep, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and thinking that all of those things I did everyday had no meaning. 

As I was lying there feeling sorry for myself, I told God that I really, really needed to hear from Him and could He please make it sooner rather than later. He is so sweet and so faithful to answer our cries. On that day I heard God say to me so clearly, "I see."  On that day, I met El Roi, The God Who Sees. I knew then that all of those "thankless" chores weren't so thankless after all, that my Father sees and He knows my hard work. He knows the love and the heart that goes into every meal, every scrubbed bathroom, every freshly made bed, every apple that I cut up or sandwich I make.  He knows how much of a mother's heart goes into wiping grubby little baby faces or as years go by, wiping tears off the cheeks of a heartbroken teenager.  He knows. He sees. He is all we need.

These days I am in the throes of being a mom to teens and all that it entails. The years fly by, and in the blink of an eye I will be in a new season of life, with grown kids and an empty nest. I consider every meal that I get to prepare for my family, all of that hard work and time spent in the kitchen, to be a blessing.  When we sit down at the dinner table to eat, I am thankful for every minute.  I am thankful for provision, for stores full of food, for a car that allows me to get to the grocery store, and for the home I have that gives me a place to store and prepare all of that food.  Every hug, every "Thanks, Mom! That was delicious!" is precious.  

As I am cooking, I often think of other moms around the world who don't know how they are going to feed their families. What a nightmare that must be for a parent. I always see that as an opportunity to pray, being thankful for what we have, but also asking for eyes to see those in need around me. El Roi can open my eyes, too.  I've only to ask and then do.

So I suppose the point of this rather long post is this...It Ain't Just Cookin'! 

One last thing.  I have days where I just don't want to spend another minute in my kitchen, thankful for it or not.  On those days, I have somebody bring home pizza or maybe we grab fish tacos at Taco Del Mar.  You understand.  It's a whole other kind of blessing.  :-)

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