Yesterday was a big day for me. Oh, most people would probably just say, "So what's the big deal? Get over it." But it was a healing moment for me. What was this "big" thing, you ask? Well, I cooked a recipe that I haven't made since my Dad died...to be more exact, since our family (all 13 of us) was together at Christmas 2000. I better give you some background...
It was time for my parents to get closer to either my sister in Ohio or myself here in UT. We gave them the option, leaving it totally up to them on where they would like to settle in. Dad and Mom decided to come live with Jim and me. They made the move in the fall of 1999.
My Dad loved to help me in the kitchen. He was so fun to make plans with. If I was having a Super Bowl party, a Progressive dinner, a dinner party, a get together, a holiday meal, or all of the family for two plus full weeks, he helped me plan the menu, do the shopping and even, bless his heart, would chop onion and celery and anything else that needed chopping! Our menu planning would require lots of discussions and then there would be some changes perhaps, until we felt like we had arrived at just the right things. He became such an integral part of my kitchen! It's a wonder I ever managed to put on a decent meal before they moved in with me! LOL!!
We have a very special memory of my niece's son, Nathan, and Papa, helping in the kitchen. I was making Swiss steak to cook in my crock pot. Papa was sitting at the table, pounding the meat with the tenderizer while Nathan (who was on a stool helping Aunt Claire) and I would drag the pounded slices through flour. Nathan decided he didn't want his hands all messed up with the flour so he thought his job should be to take the meat back and forth between Papa and myself. As he stood on the stool at the counter, he looked across the counter to the table where Papa sat pounding and offered encouragement saying, "What a mighty fine job you are doing, Papa! What a good helper you are!! Yes, indeed, a very good job you are doing, Papa!!" My dad and I are burst out laughing and, in turn, told Nathan what an excellent job he was doing, too!
The kitchen was always such a happy place to be and so much living took place in and around that area. My kitchen and upstairs family room are all combined and so my Dad's recliner was right there, too. After he died, it was so very hard for me begin cooking again. My heart sure wasn't in it. In fact, so many of my recipes are written by him (and by my sister). So, when I would pull out a recipe...it was just plain hard. Well, eventually, I managed to get 'back in the kitchen' but it hasn't held the joy that it once did. But, it is easier now. There have been several recipes that I haven't even touched just because it brought back too many memories. However, yesterday I stepped forth and made my Cranberry Pork Chops in my crockpot. Not a big thing to other people, but for me, a huge step!
I thank the Lord for being faithful to heal the sore spots in our heart. Thank goodness the loss of someone dear doesn't mean that our abundant, joyful life as a Christian comes to an end. Joy and effectiveness may seem to pause for awhile as grief runs its course. But, for those of us in Christ, we will experience the joy and goodness again. As Beth Moore says, "Perhaps the most profound miracle of all is living through something we thought would kill us. And not just living, but living abundantly and effectively."
She goes on to share how "...the life of a Christian is never about sameness. It's always about change. That's why we must learn to survive and once again thrive when change involves heartbreaking loss. We're being conformed to the image of Christ. When our hearts are hemorrhaging with grief and loss, never forget that Christ binds and compresses it with a nail-scarred hand. Life will not ever be the same, but I have the invitation from Christ to rise to a new life--a more compassionate life, a wiser life, a more productive life. And, yes, even a better life. Sound impossible? It is without Christ." (from Breaking Free by Beth Moore)