Truer words were never spoken than when Stasi Eldredge penned in her book Captivating the feeling with which we women most struggle—we feel like we’re “too much” and “not enough.”
We feel torn to bits among perfection, failure and just plain giving up. We cannot decide if Martha Stewart is attainable, because every time we try to make the perfect meal and keep the perfect home with a perfect centerpiece on the table, it would seem, we fail.
There’s nothing to see here—no pictures of perfection. I’m just a woman, who wants to be more like Martha in the Bible, when she understood that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.
Such was my struggle on that week, when not only my husband’s parents were coming to Colorado, but also his aunt and uncle. I was pregnant with our fourth child and felt inadequate to say the least. You could say my reality show would be called, “Woman Falls Short–in Everything.”
They all decided one day to take an excursion up the mountain through a bumpy road that I knew I could not, should not and would not take. I stayed at home alone and decided to impress my guests with a fabulous meal. Soon they would taste and see my mad cooking skillz.
First I started boiling the chicken for the main course of Chicken Pot Pie. Then, as it cooked, I pulled out my friend Holly’s grandmother’s recipe for Five Flavor Cake. I had prepared it quite a few times before, so I felt confident.
As the cake was slowly baking in the oven, I prepared the chicken pot pie, feeling like I was the time-management, cooking, queen-of-the-world. All of a sudden, as I was stirring the filling, I began to smell something burning.
“Hmm,” I thought, “the cake is almost done, but surely it couldn’t be burning, yet.” The burning began to smell electrical, then as I glanced at the oven—it was aflame!
I quickly turned off the oven, and grabbed pot holders. The flames had died down and the charred remains of cake sizzled (at this point I thought my oven had sizzled and died, too). I pulled the cake out and saw that nearly 1/3 of the cake had cooked over onto the element below. The cake was not ruined, but it also wasn’t very pretty.
When I turned it over on the cake plate, I realized how despicably ugly it was. But I decided that it was still tasty enough to eat. At this point I angrily and with vigor threw the pan in the outside waste receptacle.
That evening around the table, I served chicken pot pie, which was a hit by the way, and cake. I, myself, ate some humble pie—as my tube pan became fodder for the trash man and my oven smelled every time I used it for awhile, as a reminder. But at least the oven worked, praise God!
Looking back, I see several aspects of my attitude that could have prevented that whole incident.
First of all, the recipe came from my friend in Arkansas, when we lived there. I had also prepared it in Texas a few times, when we lived there. But Colorado, 7000 feet altitude and cakes can be tricky. I have since learned that the recipe need not be altered for high altitude, just fill the pan less full.
Also, I was full up with pride. I wanted to impress everyone. But that left nothing for me but a frustrating snare. I didn’t have to earn their love or acceptance. I already was (and am) loved and accepted by them.
Looking back I should have driven to the store for some take out and watched “Pride and Prejudice” again. It would have been received just as well, and my spirit would have been less frazzled.