Gifts for Cooking Up Hope

I have acquired quite the collection of cooking gear. 

Since I took a culinary course over the summer, my friends gifted me with all sorts of lovely cooking implements for my birthday a few weeks ago. 

I have a Mediterranean cookbook boasting 150 recipes {which is about 149 more than I could ever cook}. 

I have spices with the glamorous names of Sunny Paris and Tuscan Sunset {to ensure my dishes are the height of fashionable spice-couture}. 

I am now the proud owner of a never-needs-sharpening ceramic chef’s knife, just like the one that so intimidated me in cooking class {you can read about here}. 

I have a chic black and yellow apron with coordinating oven mitts to wear while I cook. {My black high heels look stunning with the apron, by the way.} 

I even have an Eiffel Tower bottle opener and a set of French handpainted plates to serve my guests their eatables on. 

So what’s a gal to do with all this cooking paraphernalia? Why, cook, of course, right?

Well, I have to confess.

I’ve discovered that I like taking cooking classes, but I don’t think I like to cook all that much. 

I had high hopes that since I like to bake, I’d like to cook too. But I realized that although cooking and baking might be related, they’re more like cousins than sisters. 

Getting three or four different dishes ready to serve at the same time requires quite a bit of skill and planning. When I bake, I’m whipping up just one sweet treat with a side of frosting that grants me quite a bit of grace. I can let a cake cool on the counter for a few hours and frost it much later if I want to. 

Cooking is a much wilder adventure. 

But I’m growing a little more daring. On this adventure that is my life. I feel sure that your life is an adventure too?

My bold adventure is reshaping me, where God at first awakened me, pursued me, then beckoned me to come along and join him. 

I’m hungry for more of him, and this is what draws me to the table. His table.

Where he is creating in me a capacity for wild hope, where even amidst delays and longing, hope still surges. I wonder and search and wait, and question what I’ve heard, and debate if I’m doing enough. But I know I can trust him.

I think about how faith and trust are related but different too. Faith is what moves me to put my trust in the one who is drawing me closer. 

While God reframes and writes fresh pages to this story of my life, it’s only by looking backward that I can recognize that the broken pieces are gifts too. 

Gifts that he will use to make his future purposes and plans for me unfold and blossom in his time.

If you’re discouraged because the calendar has turned to fall and you can’t see a sign of a flowering bud through all the leaf-shorn branches, keep hoping. If you are losing heart because winter is approaching again, hold tight to what he promised. 

The seasons will change again soon. They will for me, and they will for you too.

This vision is for a future time.
It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed. Hab. 2:3

In the meantime, I’ve been checking the cooking school’s calendar of upcoming classes. I wonder if Pumpkinology would make me a gourd gourmet. 

Or would “What’s Shakin’ Bacon” help me face my fear of fixing bacon?

No, they're not what quite I'm looking for. 

But I think Using Your Noodle might be just what I need to put all my cooking gifts to good use. 

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for Your Heart. Join me there?


  1. Valerie, i would love to come sit in your gorgeous kitchen - even if you just get some takeout and lovingly arranged it on those plates ! ;) I always love the way you tie things together and I really liked your sister and cousins idea about cooking and baking. I'm a cook and not a baker. I envy bakers. My baking skills are subpar to say the least. Can we trade??? As my life has increased in people and activities I've found that simple recipes that satisfy are better than trying to whip up a four or five pan dinner. (I have a fish recipe that is so easy and always satisfying) One day my daughter remarked, "You are not very nice when people come over." HA! I knew I needed to scale down what I did when I had company over. Last time we ordered pizza! that was a new one for me. I love to cook for people but honestly I'd rather have the fellowship. You are gifted in making things beautiful in the written word and in your world. Those are things to smile big about. And I'm sure you can make a mean noodle dish. :) I like that you take cooking lessons (i've always wanted to).
    On a serious note I really like your distinction between trust & faith. Like two that walk together but are distinct in their own. My favorite line was, "While God reframes and writes fresh pages to this story of my life, it’s only by looking backward that I can recognize that the broken pieces are gifts too. "
    Perfectly said.
    Sometimes I catch a glimpse of that truth. That truth that says that which I wish I could press delete on God will use to bring Him the most glory and bring me the most healing. Those things that serve as my broken places perhaps may one day be transformed to my most grace filled places.
    Love you Valerie! I always appreciate your encouraging words!

    1. Summer,
      I would love to trade -- or at least -- borrow your cooking skills in exchange for my baking ones! I love it that you ordered pizza for entertaining -- what a way to enjoy their company and not stress over preparing the meal. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and encouraging words to me here - they mean more than you know! So grateful for you, friend! :)

  2. Great article! Super that a friend gave you Penzey spices - I love their products.....have a cupboard full! The secret of cooking is to keep trying - but baking is by far the better talent! Keep stretching and reaching into the unknown - you'll love the experiences... and look at the wonderful memories you collect on the way!

    1. Sharon,
      I agree with you that baking is the better talent -- and a lot more fun! :)

  3. What great gifts! "Using Your Noodle" sounds perfect! I love your stories about your cooking classes, they sound like such a great experience!

    1. Maybe that's the reason to take a few more . . . :)

  4. Your posts always bring a smile to my face! I love how you connect your experiences, pictures, and what God is teaching you!

  5. Thank you Sarah -- so grateful for your encouragement!


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