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Month: January 2017

It’s not you, it’s me ….

It’s not you, it’s me ….

I really don’t understand why cooking has to be so hard. Take for example the crock pot. Why do you have to plug it in? Is it not enough to just turn it on? I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve smugly thought to myself … “Won’t my family be so happy when they come home tonight and smell the deliciousness of dinner wafting through the air as they walk in the door?”.  And then, as if it wants to bring shame to my name, when I go to take the lid off our dinner, I discover it’s sitting in the pot exactly like I left it, uncooked.

Just last week I tried a new crock pot recipe for Mongolian Beef.  I remembered to buy the ingredients and when I put it in the crock pot I remembered to turn it on AND plug it in.  Miracles abound!  But what I forgot was that I needed to put the food IN the crock pot earlier in the day.  (Again, this is another reason why crock pots are tricky … I don’t think about dinner at 10 am or 2 pm or however many hours before I need dinner. I think about crock pots when I start to realize it’s almost dinner time).  The recipe said to cook for 5-6 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.  I realized a little before 5 that I forgot to start it but I thought it would be ok. I’d cook it on high and whisper encouragingly to it … “hurry, hurry” … while it was cooking.

Turns out the “hurry, hurry” command is really more of an insta pot thing. Much to my dismay, 2 1/2 hours later (which was the absolute very longest I could stave off my family before mutiny ensued), I called them to the table.  It looked ok and smelled pretty good.  As they scooped the meat out we realized the pieces which had cooked on the outside of the crock pot had cooked but were pretty tough. Poor Brittany got a piece from the middle that was not thoroughly cooked and when she screamed “THERE IS COW’S BLOOD ON MY PLATE!!!”  … well let’s just say I knew who was going to be having a bowl of cereal for dinner.

Anyway, a few days after the cows blood debacle I decided I could use some help from professionals so I ordered up a “Hello Fresh” delivery.  I had a $30 coupon and a friend had told me she really liked it for her family.  She showed me her box and how “Hello Fresh” sent the meat and spices and just everything you could possibly need for your meal.  Plus they included step by step instructions for exactly how to make your dinner. (One thing I’ve realized about myself since I started seeing recipe videos online and cookbooks with pictures in them is that I am clearly a visual learner.  Maybe things would have turned out differently in my kitchen if, when I got married, all the recipes in cookbooks had come with beautiful step by step pictures to guide me).

So I thought … “well, my goodness, Hello Fresh buys the food, delivers the food and shows you how to make it!”.  What could possibly go wrong?

And well, the first thing to go wrong was that I placed my order to be delivered on 1/17.  I thought that meant it would arrive on 1/17 in the afternoon and when my family saw my cooking WITH SPICES and OLIVE OIL and ALL KINDS OF THINGS that I don’t normally cook with they would rise up and call me blessed.  I knew Bill would praise my name at the city gate. There would be great rejoicing.

But it didn’t happen that way because the food was delivered at 6:30 pm.

Here’s the deal … Bill calls home pretty regularly late in the afternoon and says “What’s for dinner?”.  (Sometimes I feel badly about the hopeful optimism I hear in his voice). Because he loves me and God loves me when I (fairly regularly) say … “I don’t know, I meant to go to the store …  do you just want to go out” he usually says “sure”.  (Step back ladies, he’s taken).

But this day, well I thought this day was going to be different.

I thought he would call and I would tell him the name of a very fancy recipe (which means it had more than three ingredients). I thought all would be well. All manner of things would be well. But when he called and asked what we were having for dinner I had to reply “well, what we were supposed to have” … and that’s as far as I got before he started to laugh.  I’m telling you, he’s lived with this for a long time.  (Have I ever mentioned the time when we were first married and I thought it would be fun to cook manicotti together?  The recipe called for a clove of garlic and did you know a clove is only ONE of those little pod things?  We reeked of garlic FOR DAYS and had to throw the manicotti out and go to Wendy’s.  Like I said, Bill is used to me starting sentences about cooking with “Well, it was supposed to be … “).

Anyway, I had to tell him that I was throwing together plan B which always means pasta.  All the while I could not believe that even when I brought in professional help I still didn’t have a meal to serve.

So just as the timer for the pasta went off the doorbell rang and there was my big “Hello Fresh” box.

Well Hello Fresh.

The box had such high expectations. It said we were going on a delicious adventure. I thought that might be a stretch.

I was super excited to try the first recipe so I read the brochure and studied the pictures.  The recipe was for “Juicy Apple Pork Burgers”.  I have to be honest here and tell you that I didn’t even know a pork burger was a thing.  I knew of hamburgers and turkey burgers but now I know … pork burgers want a place at the table too.

The box contained everything.  I sliced the potatoes, peeled the rosemary off the stalk and tossed it with olive oil and put them in the oven.  And isn’t this the cutest bottle of balsamic vinegar you’ve ever seen?

Step two was to core an apple which did not go well so I ended up with apple slices.  Then it said to grate the apple and THERE WERE NO PICTURES OF THIS STEP.  Not that I really needed them but that just seemed weird to grate an apple … I mean who does this?  But I tried it and followed the directions when it said to wring out all the excess moisture over the sink … and I added those grated apples and a little more rosemary to the pork and we were set.

The recipe said to add a little olive oil to the pan and heat it and then cook the burgers for 4-5 minutes on each side.

I made it about two and a half minutes before the smoke alarm started going off.

Of course that doesn’t scare anyone in my house because basically it just means “mom’s cooking” … but still, it’s so loud.

I tried adding more oil to the pan while I fanned the smoke detector and turned on the vent over the stove.  (Why is cooking so hard?! This step was not in the pictures!).

One thing I want to add here is that I was a little disappointed that the meal they sent me was burgers because I was hoping for something a little fancier, more elegant maybe.  But perhaps they did a little research and felt that burgers fit my cooking capabilities and picked it for me.

We sat down and it was moment of truth time.  Would they like the pork burgers?  Would anyone notice they were pork?  What if I grated the apple wrong?  Turns out I had nothing to fear.  They weren’t bad at all.  Good actually.  Bill did say he would have rather had a hamburger instead of pork but I reminded him that pork is the “other white meat” and he let it go.

And then today I got the survey wondering how we liked it, how things went … and I just didn’t have it in my heart to tell them about the smoke alarm.  But should Hello Fresh happen to see this, please know … it’s me, not you.

And one last “I couldn’t make this up if I tried” thing to note.  The other recipe they sent me? It’s for MONGOLIAN BEEF. (hahaha!)

Of all the recipes in the world!! They want me to stir fry it so fingers crossed it goes better than the Crock Pot.

If not there is always a bowl of cereal.



What about her?

What about her?

Today was my first speaking engagement of 2017. I was super excited about it and loved having the opportunity to share with a group of mothers of preschoolers. As I was waiting to turn into the parking lot I watched wistfully as the mothers crossed the street taking their young children into the school. Some were pushing strollers, some had their sweet ones perched on their hips and many were squeezing tightly on to chubby little hands. Some moms were dressed for the gym and others for work.  I’m sure many had their errands planned for their next few hours of precious freedom.

As I looked at them I thought back to when I was in their shoes. For me it was usually a mad dash to get my kids to school on time with their nap mats and lunch bags in hand. Often we would remember on the way to school that it was show and tell day and I’d tell them to look around the car for a “treasure” … and more times than not we found one. (McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys for the win … don’t judge).

There were always mothers dressed in the cutest and most current outfits with their hair looking salon perfect. I would wonder how they did it. I mean, truth be told, part of the reason my kids were going to school was so I could go home and actually shower in peace.

Walking in this morning, nine years since my last preschool drop off,  was no different. The first woman I saw had on the most fabulous pink sweater I think I have ever seen. Everything about her seemed perfect … and that same question/feeling swept over me … “Why can’t I be like her?”.

What it comes down to really is a comparison game. I was comparing myself to her. And as much as I have read about how much social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram are contributing to the rise of the comparison trap …the game is not new. In fact it’s a “tale as old as time” as Disney would say.

Perhaps it started in the Garden of Eden. Eve was told she could enjoy everything in the garden “except” the forbidden fruit. But Eve wanted what she couldn’t have … and when the serpent convinced her that eating it would make her like God, she believed him. In verse five the serpent says … “For God knows when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

She wasn’t content in her situation. She wanted something more. She wanted to be the girl who could have ALL the fruit.

Later in the New Testament Peter and John were walking along the beach. Peter was talking with Jesus and stopped and pointed to John and said … “Lord, what about him?” (John 21:21) . How often do we feel that exact same way? We want to point to someone else’s situation and say .. “well what about her?”. Why does her life seem so perfect? Why do her kids obey?  Why does she get to go on that trip? The list can go on and on.

C.S. Lewis famously said … “Comparison is the thief of joy” … and yet over and over we allow ourselves to get robbed of our  joy and peace. Because we want what another has or we want to be like someone we aren’t or have what they have … we miss resting in the contentment that Christ alone provides.

I love Philippians 4:11 where Paul (who was sitting in jail at the time!) said … “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want”. And then … drumroll please, he states the secret of being content in verse 13 when he says… “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”.

That’s is, that’s the secret. Christ . He alone can give us strength to be content in our circumstances. And when we are content we don’t have to compare.  God created us, He knows our situations and our circumstances and He wants us to keep our eyes on Him, not others.

So back to my morning … I began to laugh as I continued to watch the moms file into the building with their babies. This sweet group of moms asked me to come share … not about how to get everything done, how to get their children to obey or the best and newest ideas in parenting … no, they asked me to come and share my real life mishaps and mess-ups. The longer I thought about it, the funnier it became. It is hilarious really that God can use even our imperfections for His glory. The things I used to compare myself about all those years ago now He is using to encourage others.

Things are never going to be perfect.  We are never going to be perfect. But  we know the perfect one and He  knows everything about us and our situations.

I have a sign on my desk that says “Live imperfectly with great delight”.  I love that thought. Despite the fact that things may not be as we wish… we can live with delight.

Sounds like a pretty good plan to me.