woman cooking

As a twenty-three year old newlywed, I found myself flying solo in the kitchen for the first time in my life. Clueless, yet willing to learn, I recruited Rachael Ray and her 30-minute meals to help me get dinner on the table night after night. I fumbled my way through each recipe, but Rachael made me brave. I made great strides in my cooking skills—even if her 30-minute meals took me 60 minutes to complete.

Then one night my hungry husband sliced into his chicken breast and discovered its still raw center. The confused look on my face caused him to pull back his knife to reveal the pink, jelly-like middle. That evening I got my first lesson in food safety. Turns out, medium rare isn’t an option with poultry.

The rice pilaf that shared the plate with the bacteria-ridden chicken also lost its appeal, and I trashed the entire dinner for a safer, pre-packaged alternative. For a long time after that we ate anything I could take directly from freezer to oven to table.

Early in our marriage, I had full-on meltdowns at the suggestion of inviting family over for dinner. I’m talking sheer panic. Invite a stranger in? Forget about it.

To this day, the kitchen is an intimidating place and a reminder of my weaknesses. I avoid cooking for anyone outside my immediate family. I’m the one given the “rolls and wine” assignment for family gatherings. I much prefer the role of sous chef with exact instructions coming from someone who knows their way around a mirepoix.

Being comfortable in the kitchen may not be a prerequisite for being hospitable, but dwelling on my incompetence has straight up stifled my desire to show hospitality to others.

My husband, on the other hand, is at ease in the kitchen. He has the patience for pre-heating and takes his time to chop and prepare before he’s knee-deep in the heat of the task. He has the palate to know how to adjust the seasoning and the confidence to improvise. He doesn’t skimp on fresh rosemary and he always seems to have a secret ingredient to make each meal extra special. He jokes the secret ingredient is love. I think it’s actually the result of growing up in a kitchen.

But just in case he’s onto something, I began to mimic him in the kitchen earlier this year. I slowed down and forced myself to reject the urge to rush to get something, anything, on the table. I tried new recipes with new-to-me ingredients and cooking techniques. I resisted the temptation to slip back into laziness. I asked my family for feedback when I served something new and tweaked recipes based on their input.

My motivation was simply to show my family I cared enough to try harder in the kitchen, but these small shifts caused something I never expected. Slowly I began to enjoy the chopping and sauteing, setting the table and pouring the milk. As I sliced fresh mozzarella, I took in the vibrant red of the nearby tomatoes and the sweet fragrance of basil leaves — a trio that comes together to form one of creation’s greatest culinary blessings — and I delighted in a God who would so lovingly provide more than just sustenance. He gives delicious provisions that bring Him glory. Yes, I found myself worshiping the creative Creator God right in the middle of my least favorite household duty.

I spent ten years dreading the kitchen and making sure everyone knew it. Yet when I humbled myself for the sake of others and in the name of love, the God who made me with a particular set of interests and gifts softened my heart toward the work it takes to set the table to share His grace with others. When I got over myself and pushed past my imperfections, he was faithful to meet me and mold me into someone who looks more like Jesus to my family.

And I know He can grow within me a heart for hospitality that extends beyond my own walls. He commands it and will be faithful to equip me for it.

Sarah / Posts / Blog
Sarah is a wife and mom who lives imperfectly for Jesus. She’s a communication professional by day, word girl by night, and always an appreciator of art. She's on a mission to know and love God so she can love others like He commands. She calls it scattering gold. Sign up for monthly newsletters at www.scatteringgold.com.
  • Leah Adams
    http://www.leahadams.org/

    What a lovely and transparent post! I totally agree with your husband. Love is the secret ingredient to every dish. It’s what make a plain dish great, and what makes a house a home. Grace and peace…

    November 17th, 2014 12:17
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    • Sarah

      Thanks for the encouragement, Leah! The time and energy my husband puts into preparing a meal makes me feel loved, and I wanted both the children and him to feel the same from me. Such a great lesson to learn while my kids are still young.

      November 17th, 2014 13:23
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  • Christine- Fruit in Season
    http://fruitinseason.blogspot.com

    Such a beautiful, truthful post, Sarah. And what wonderful growth you’ve experienced! I pray that God would multiply the blessings he shows in and through you. <3

    November 17th, 2014 13:09
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    • Sarah

      Amen. Thanks, Christine!

      November 17th, 2014 13:24
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  • Anita

    Bravo for you! What’s for supper–maybe I’ll drop by ;). All joking aside, your husband has it right. Love (the slowing down and remembering that meal preparation is an act of service) is the secret ingredient to every good meal :).

    November 17th, 2014 15:09
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    • Sarah

      Anita, you are welcome anytime!

      November 17th, 2014 17:51
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  • SimplyDarlene
    SimplyDarlene
    http://SimplyDarlene.com/

    hospitality that extends beyond our own walls — of comfort, heart and kitchen. <– my takeaway message from what you've shared.

    thank you.

    blessings.

    November 17th, 2014 15:40
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    • Sarah

      Yes! Hospitality most certainly asks us to extend ourselves in tangible and non-tangible ways. Thanks for sharing!

      November 17th, 2014 17:54
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  • Kris Camealy
    http://kriscamealy.com/

    I love this post, Sarah. I have read it repeatedly, and it continues to speak to me each time. Thank you for sharing this. I love what God is doing in your home, and in your heart.

    November 18th, 2014 2:30
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  • Kirsten Oliphant

    I love this. From your descriptions to your confessions, it’s beautiful and amazing. Love this new blog!!

    November 18th, 2014 4:33
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    • Sarah

      Yay! Thanks for stopping by and for sharing. I love the way you show support 😉

      November 18th, 2014 17:56
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  • Ashlie
    http://ashliewrites.com/

    I can relate to your words Sarah! I’ve had many similar kitchen hangups over the years, along with crazy expectations that rarely matched what I was able to deliver. 😉 It has been discouraging to say the least. I adore you and your honesty. What a gift you are to your family! <3

    November 18th, 2014 13:36
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    • Sarah

      So glad I’m not the only one!!! 😉

      November 18th, 2014 17:55
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  • Traci Rhoades
    http://www.tracesoffaith.com/

    Well said Sarah! I think God calls all of us to step into new ways to serve the church. Even outside of our immediate giftings. For me, it has been delivering meals. I’m the gal who procrastinated and got so busy, my delivered meal was delivery pizza one time. But it was a call they didn’t have to make! Keep serving well.

    November 18th, 2014 15:00
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    • Sarah

      I have also called for a pizza before when it was my turn to deliver a meal. I felt a little shame, but you know what? You’re right…was one last thing for them to concern themselves with. Glad to find someone who knows my struggle so well 😉

      November 18th, 2014 17:57
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  • Brie E

    Great story from start to finish. I can definitely relate when it comes to the kitchen- it used to be a very stressful place for me, but once I learned to stop and smell the garlic I look forward to cooking. It might not always be the way I planned from fridge to table, but at least it’s not pizza every night. Mostly.

    November 19th, 2014 1:23
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