Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dealing With Mistakes In Life

Kentucky Derby Pie.  It's been a recipe which was handed down to me to my mother.  It's not too difficult to prepare, even for someone like me with limited cooking skills.  Yet, over the years, I've carried Kentucky Derby Pie to numerous social functions. 

Recently, my church was having a covered dish supper before a special evening service.  Not wanting to come empty handed, I brought the old staple, Kentucky Derby Pie.  As a matter of fact, I made two pies the night before.  One for the church and one for me to enjoy at home.  Of course, I had to make a double recipe to accomplish this feat.  I doubled all of the ingredients, placed them in my pre-heated oven at 375 degrees, and removed them per custom after about 50 minutes. 

However, after removing the pies, something just wasn't right.  The top crust of the pies was extremely flaky and not quite as brown as usual.  I stuck a fork in both pies and knew they were done, but there was an inner sense that something peculiar was going on with what I had cooked.  I wrestled in my mind with questions like, "Did I really double all of the ingredients?" or "Did using real butter make the pies come out differently?"  Mind you, the pies still tasted okay...I still took one to church and the majority of it was eaten with no casualties.  Yet, although I couldn't put my finger on it, these pies just didn't look or taste as scrumptious as before.

A couple of days later, I had to heat something up in the microwave.  When I opened the microwave door, I saw a coffee cup with some yellowish liquid which had seeped over the sides.  Then it dawned on me.  This was the butter I had melted in the microwave two days previously to put in the Kentucky Derby Pies.  In other words, the aberrant pie mystery was solved.  Much to my dismay, I had forgotten to add the butter to the rest of the ingredients.  No wonder the pies weren't as moist as usual.  I had ultimately cooked low fat pies (without the butter).

So, I had made a mistake in cooking, gratefully not a fatal one.  I can kind of chuckle about it now.  I made a mental note to always check to make sure all ingredients have been added before baking.  Check the counter tops and especially the microwave.  Perhaps this will prevent baking mishaps in the future.

Hence, what should we do when we make mistakes in life?  Simple things (like cooking errors) should be shrugged off.  I think my aunt even told me at one time that the French Chef Julia Child dropped an egg on the floor during one of her cooking shows.  Her response was "Well, that's why we have a whole bowl (of eggs)". 

How about major mistakes that get us into major trouble?  That may be harder to address in one blog.  Yet, the simple answer is to learn and grow from them.  For example, part of my health issues occurred because I naively didn't recognize one of the seven warning signs of cancer (see my previous blog on April 4, 2013, "Seven Warning Signs of Cancer").  By the time cancer was diagnosed in my body, it was at an advanced stage, requiring major surgery and chemotherapy. 

Yet, I've tried to learn and grow from this.  I've written two books.  I publish a blog.  I try to make people aware of these warning signs and encourage others in sickness.  My errors or losses can be someone else's gain.

Therefore, by learning from mistakes, hopefully, my life will be as delightful as a perfectly cooked Kentucky Derby Pie.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Fighting Back The Tears

I recently read the book, "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson.  In one chapter, he describes the many inspirations for crying.  Listen to his description of tears on page 210:

"There are the tears shed by the mother of a little boy in ICU who is far too young to fight leukemia, but he fights anyway.  There are the tears shed by the father of the bride as he walks his daughter down the aisle on  her wedding day.  There are tears that stain divorce papers, and tears mixed with sweat that stream down the faces of grown men who have just won a national championship.  Then there are the tears shed in prayer."  

I haven't cried in a long time.  Yet, I remember specific incidences where I literally buckled over  in grief.  In 1997, after my mother had fought pancreatic cancer for eight months, I knew she was close to death.  I remember walking to my car to retrieve a few items and being overwhelmed with sorrow.  I knew her condition had deteriorated.  I even slept by her bedside that night and woke up frequently to check on her.  She died the next morning a little after 7AM. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2004.  My oldest daughter Bethany was about to start college in Auburn and was attending a student orientation camp.  I had a biopsy done of my bladder around that time.  As I drove to visit her and stay a couple of days, my doctor called me to inform me of the seriousness of my cancer and the major surgery I would need.  As I saw Bethany enjoy the excitement of the sights and sounds of college life, I again buckled over in grief, not sure if I would even live to see her graduate from college.  Those were difficult days.  Afterwards when the cancer appeared in my lymph nodes in 2006, the agony of chemotherapy ensued with multiple hospitalizations.  I remember trying to cry as I was being admitted to the hospital for yet another time, but yet the tears wouldn't come.  Only a few people had glimpses of the horror I was going through at that time.

However, the Bible proclaims how our tears do not escape the notice of the Heavenly Father.  Psalms 56:8 says, "You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle.."  He keeps track of them in a unique way.  Why does He keep our tears?   I'm not really sure.  Maybe He looks at our tears a divine measuring rod to show how much we suffer.  As a result, perhaps He pours out enough goodness to compensate for the amount of despair we endure, ultimately turning our mourning into dancing and our pain into praise.  Sorrowful crying has its purpose, but I would much rather be crying tears of joy.