Made from Scratch, Made with Love . . .

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” Isaiah 55:2

When I think back to my childhood, my teenage years, and even the early years of marriage I think with the fondest of memories to the kitchen and someone cooking, making a meal from scratch, with love for their families.

              My mother is the first one that comes to mind, followed by my Granny and my Mimi. Memories of my Aunt Sue, Aunt Lois, and Aunt Ann follow those, memories of them cooking, the great food, and lots of love and laughter. My childhood and teenage years also include memories of some of the best cooks in Burlington, NC: Dianne Hearne, Helen Chandler, Ethel Smith, Frances Allison, Ramona Glenn, and so many more. They cooked, served, and opened their homes with love. Then strong, sweet memories of Mrs. McGinnis and her incredible kitchen and food, and some of the most special memories of family and love. Later in life there are such sweet memories of Mrs. Murrell, and her sisters Eunice and Juanita, and some of the best cooking ever!

Just so many incredible cooks, who made delicious meals from scratch for their families and friends to enjoy – each item was made and served with love. They filled their homes with the delicious aromas of some of the best meals ever prepared.

This morning I wanted homemade biscuits, and all I could think of was all the times biscuits were made with love for me: before I even had them in the oven I could already smell that delicious aroma that only comes from biscuits made from scratch, with love.

As I worked to make our biscuits this morning, I had my music playing, and of course it must be good old Southern gospel music. The playlist included: Pray for Me, The Old Rugged Cross, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, Sweet Beulah Land, In Christ Alone, Amazing Grace, Take My Hand, Precious Lord, and so many more.

Just ever so slightly, I could hear Mrs. Murrell humming and singing right behind me in her kitchen, her presence offered such a sense of peace and love!

As we sang together, the images of what her kitchen would have looked like while she cooked for her husband and her three boys popped into my mind. I could just imagine the sounds, the sights, and the delicious smells coming from her kitchen as she prepared each meal from scratch with love for her family. It would have been filled with love.

As I continued to bake my biscuits and listen to the beauty and meaning of the gospel music, my mind started comparing the kitchen I grew up in with my granny’s kitchen, then to my Mimi’s kitchen, and then to all the incredible women who cooked and served with love for their families and friends, and then finally to my own first kitchen when I got married in 1976. No matter how much I wanted to be the cook my mother was, it did not come naturally for me. It took several years to feel comfortable in the kitchen, to feel comfortable trying new recipes, and to feel comfortable to create my own new recipes, and then finally to become a cook who was half as good as my mother and all the incredible women in my life.

I remember well the first days and how much I wanted to cook like Mrs. McGinnis, my mother-in-law, I wanted to cook all of Mike’s favorites, but that did not come naturally either. I will never forget our first Thanksgiving together as husband and wife. Mike loved pumpkin pie and I wanted to make one for him. I asked Mrs. McGinnis for her recipe because I wanted it to be just like hers. She shared her recipe with me, and I carefully copied it down on a recipe card, or I thought I did. Personally, I am not a pumpkin pie person, and since this was the first time, I was making one it did not strike me as odd or strange that the recipe called for garlic, 3 Tbsp. of garlic. I just mixed all the ingredients and very proudly placed that pie in the oven. Mike was at work that day at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, or he would have noticed that something did not small right, that something did not smell like pumpkin pie. However, when he came home, I had his slice of pie with cool whip on top, waiting for him. I just could not wait for him to take that first bite. I wanted to see the smile on his face as he took that bite, but what I saw was sort of a smile, but more of a look of surprise, even shock and disappointment. However, he ate the entire slice and did not say a negative word. He told me thank you! It was not until I realized the rest of the pie still sat in the fridge at the end of the week, that I asked him about it. He looked at me with sort of a painful look on his face and told me he loved me and told me he loved that I tried so hard to cook for him, but then he said there was something not right with the pie. I just did not understand! I followed his mother’s recipe completely. Mike asked to see the recipe and when he looked at it, he busted out laughing, not at me but just at the fact that I had included garlic in a pumpkin pie. We called his mother and she confirmed that garlic was not in the recipe. I laughed at myself, bought more ingredients to try again, and was taken off any list to bring pumpkin pies to any future events.

Looking back now though I see how even though it took me years to become a cook life the women in my life I looked up to, I did follow in their footsteps in the most important way – each time I tried in the kitchen, each time I succeeded in the kitchen, and each time I cooked for my family, I have done it with love. Each meal, each recipe may not have been perfect while I cooked and the result may not have always been perfect, or look perfect, but each attempt, each meal, each recipe was perfectly made with love, love my family!

Then my thoughts went to a whole different level, I started thinking of God and at all the things He has create – He started it all from nothing, from scratch, and yet He created this incredible world and everything in it with Love. His love is for each and everything He has created!

We are not perfect; actually we are messy, dirty, and immature, we do not always follow His recipe for our lives, but He loves us anyway. He made us in His image, the most perfect recipe; He stirs us, He mixes us with others, He changes the directions in our lives, He waits for us to become what He wants us to become; and He does it all with love, unconditional love. Each minute of each day, he waits patiently as he stirs us with the Holy Spirit to become the person He wants us to become. Through each moment He loves us; He fills our lives with love, with song, with guidance, and with all the ingredients we need to be that perfect recipe He is creating.

I spent some time today thinking about the times I have made a mistake or committed a sin, and I have thought about the look on God’s face when I sin or make a mistake. I imagined the slightest hint of a smile because He knows me, but even more I see a look of surprise, of shock, and then of disappointment – just like the look on Mike’s face the day I made my first pumpkin pie, the look he had when he tasted my mistake, when he tasted that garlic filled pumpkin pie.

What is even more amazing is that even when I sin or make a mistake and believe me, I am going to make mistakes and sin, God still loves me. He loves me still; He loves me always. Just like Mike still loves me even though I ruined my first pumpkin pie; and then I realized my family still loves me even though every meal I have baked for them over the years has not been perfect.

God’s love for us far surpasses that love, but the love from my mother, my Granny, my aunts, Mike, Steve, family, and everyone else keeps me going; God’s love fills us with His grace, mercy, and His Redeeming Love.

What an incredible feeling to know we are all made from scratch from God’s love!

In honor and memory of all the women in my life who constantly set the example of cooking for their families, and who serve and care for others, each one of you are an inspiration to me. Love you all!

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