When It Takes More Than You Thought

I thought it was about time to get out my red Cuisinart grill pan and give my rusty cooking skills another try. It’s been months since I attempted to cook after taking a culinary course last summer.

I had chicken skewers on my mind when I ran into the butcher {are they still called that?} in the meat department. I was hoping to anonymously spend as much time as I liked perusing the meat, but he immediately asked if he could help.

With exclusive access to a meat expert, I asked him if I could cook the skewers indoors on my grill pan.

He said of course and handed me a packet of them, but when I turned down the graham cracker aisle, he came running after me. {Maybe he sensed I needed an extra serving of advice?} 

“You’ll need to season those, you know,” he said. “And cook them for about 20 to 30 minutes.”

How lucky could a girl get with personalized instructions from the butcher for her dinner? 

But he failed to tell me that cooking on a grill pan on top of the stove is like bringing the patio grill into your living room. 

There was an awful lot of sizzle and smoke. And my entire house smelled like chicken. Even my upstairs guest room - -the farthest room from the kitchen — was permeated with the fowl fragrance.

It made me want to pack up my red grill pan for good.

What’s a girl to do?

Bake something, of course. 

I figured the only way to remove the odor of chicken was with the aroma of chocolate.

So I mixed up a batch of cream cheese chocolate cupcakes. But grilling skewers and baking cupcakes involved most of my day and took much more than I thought.

More time, more effort and more clean-up. 

This happens more often than I would like to admit. With people, events or circumstances in my life, many times it takes much more than I thought.

The problem needs more solutions than I can piece together. 

The project involves more persistence than I ever dreamed. 

The relationship requires more patience than I could have imagined. 

The friendship calls for more understanding than I can give.

Or maybe you’re like me and it’s your confidence that’s wavering and wilting. Or your hope is standing on its last leg before collapsing in a heap. Or your joy is so elusive that the moments seem few and far between.

So how do we get by when what's in our lives takes more than we thought? 

All I can do is turn to the expert. 

The one who knows my life better than I do. The one who brings peace and offers his presence. 

I don’t know what God might have around the next corner for me. But when it seems as if there might be nothing more, I trust that God is planning new things for me.

Possibilities instead of broken pipe dreams.

Confidence instead of crushed hopes.

Faith instead of failed aspirations.

And he promises to continue the good work that he started in me. Just this promise alone gives me hope for the future. 

Maybe for you too?

So I guess I’m not ready to give up my cooking dreams yet.

It’s on the agenda for my trip to Italy this summer. I’m traveling to an art & faith retreat and the travel director emailed us to ask our preference for a cooking class. 

Would we like to cook in a group with a top chef who owns a restaurant in Bellagio or would we like to cook with Mama Italiano who owns a cooking school and will take us shopping for ingredients in the village?

I couldn’t decide since they both sounded spectacular. 

But I think I’m leaning toward cooking with Mama Italiano. My Italian grandmother died long before I was born so I wondered if this class would be what it might have been like to cook with her.

The hearts show my grandparents in this 1920s photo before they were married.
I’m not sure how much cooking I’ll be doing until my cooking class in Italy, but I was thinking maybe I could grill some pineapple on my red Cuisinart pan. 

Somehow I wouldn’t care so much about the aromas of cooking if my house were filled with the fragrance of fresh fruit instead of slightly smoky chicken.

And I guess I'll hold onto my red grill pan. Unless I decide it could bring more than I thought if I sell it at my next neighborhood garage sale.

{And here's a little Easter wish from one of my vintage postcards for all of you!}

I'm joining with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart


  1. I always love stopping in for a visit with you, Valerie, for you're always serving up some kind of rich feast for eyes and soul.

    And after reading about your kitchen time, I am now famished! Would love to share morning tea and a cupcake or two with you ...

    And my grandpa came here from Italy, too!


    1. Linda,
      Oh how sweet your words are! :) So we are Italian kindreds? It would be a delight to share cupcakes and family stories with you, friend!

  2. Wait! I'm not the only one who bakes to fix things in life?! Those muffins sound delicious btw. I love how you bring it all around to this: "I don’t know what God might have around the next corner for me. But when it seems as if there might be nothing more, I trust that God is planning new things for me." YES! Glad we're neighbors today at Coffee For Your Heart! Oh! and those cupcakes sound AMAZING!

    1. Becky,
      Baking does amazing things to bring me peace and tranquility and joy! Love it that you feel the same way!

  3. ♥ Amen some days just take more than you have for sure!! (Today is one of those for me..!) But I have to keep remembering that God's got this. Love the cupcake tea towel!! And I totally relate to the not so invited perfuming of the house! We have a little house, so you can definitely tell exactly what I'm cooking from anywhere in it! haha! Oh and I second that vote for Mama Italiano!! ♥

    1. Heather,
      That's it! I need a bigger house to cook in so the aromas disseminate over more space! :) (and I'd have more space to decorate! Win-win!)

    2. Hahaha! ♥♥ Right on!! I love your logic!

  4. Valerie- I look forward to visiting here each Wed.! It is beautiful and refreshing to my heart and soul. I love your stories and you pictures and I always feel that I have traveled to somewhere beautiful and heavenly- And can almost smell the cupcakes- yummy!!! I can totally relate that things take longer or require more than I think- My weekend bathroom re-paint/redecorating project is now going on a month! and other more heart things are following suit- It is taking me longer and is far harder than I though to break free from certain thought patterns etc. Thank you for reminding me of his good promise to complete the work in me- and that he has new things planned for me! - Your trip sounds so wonderful- I think I would choose the Mama Italiano too! :) Thanks for blessing me- Happy Easter!

    1. Susie,
      I'm so glad you feel at home here, friend! :) Your words are sweet to my soul! I hope the bath redecorating will soon bring you a new space to enjoy . . . and I know that in time new thought patterns will emerge too, just as we renovate and redecorate -- the time it takes will be worth it!

  5. I've been thinking lately how abundant everything is with God and how limited all these earthly things are. You got me thinking down this path again today. Thanks for your post. Love to come along in your life as you prepare for your trip. It sound so amazing! I think I may be living vicariously at this point. : )

    1. Jenni,
      I'm happy to have you travel alongside me, vicariously or otherwise, friend! :)

  6. I have a problem with underestimating too. Time, effort, money, my skills (those are overestimated usually). I am so glad God is there to reassure me and get me through!

    1. Sarah,
      Me too! What would we do without God alongside us?!


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