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The Right Ingredient


My mother resisted learning what I call the "domestic arts." She grew up on a farm in Ohio. She preferred to be outside slopping pigs, picking apples, or chasing her younger brother. But learn she did. Her mother was a home economics teacher. And grandmother was determined that all of her daughters would know their way around a kitchen and what to do with a bolt of fabric.

As a child, I wanted to learn how to cook, bake, sew, knit, embroider, and even iron! I received my first cookbook from my grandmother. It was Betty Crocker's Boys and Girls Cookbook. Every Mother's Day featured yet another experiment. And then there were the cakes and the cookies. Both my sister and I liked to help our mother bake cookies, an activity that escalated exponentially around this time of year.

When I was in middle school, I wanted to work on my own (go figure!). I made a batch of ginger-molasses cookies. They looked good. They smelled good. And they were - in my brother's words - like hockey pucks. One little ingredient wasn't right. I confused the baking soda and the baking powder. Lesson learned the hard way (pardon the pun)!

We live in a society which values the "right stuff, don't we? Certain brand names suggest status and wealth. Particular types of vehicles imply the same. Some clothing lines sport more expensive price tags than others just because of a name. We've come to think that owning/driving/wearing these things implies something about us. We are tempted to believe that if we don't buy into a well-known name, we're a nobody. We don't have the "right" stuff to "make it" in life. We're like hockey pucks in a world of fluffy confections.

So, what happens to us if we prefer to use our financial resources differently? What kind of life can we expect if we simply don't have vast financial resources? What will others think of us if we just don't like the look of designer clothing? How can we withstand the pressures of society if we choose to believe that what matters most in life isn't what we wear or what we drive or whatever else external to ourselves might brand us as people with the "right" ingredients?

Many years ago, I stopped wearing a cross. I have quite a few. Some are lovely. Several are unusual. A few are sentimentally special. But it seemed to me that some people viewed that symbol as only a piece of jewelry. While it's an important symbol to me and while I want others to know that I follow Jesus, I decided I didn't have to display something around my neck. I would prefer that my living be evidence of whose name I bear. To cut the fluff, that's the "right" ingredient for me!


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