Working With What You’ve Got – The Less Than Perfect Kitchen

Do you have the perfect kitchen?  No?  Neither do I.  My guess is that most of us don’t.  You may be the rare exception, but for must of us the ideal kitchen will remain forever in our dreams.  It’s fun to dream about the possibilities, of course; and I don’t think there’s really any harm in that, so long as you don’t dwell upon the dream.  In Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs said, “The way to be rich is not by increasing wealth, but by diminishing our desires.”.  Dream if you will, but what you must do is learn to work with what you’ve got.

The devil is a liar.  He will tell you that you cannot be expected to prepare meals for your family with that broken stove.  He will tell you that you cannot bake your own bread (or cakes, or cookies, or pies) because you lack adequate counter space.  He will tell you (oh, he’s crafty!) that you cannot possibly practice hospitality because your kitchen is___________ (you fill in the blank!).  I know most of these lies firsthand, because at one time or another I believed them.

When we moved into this house in 1998, the oven did not work.  Not only did it not work, but the timer on the stove beeped all sorts of confusing error messages to us 24/7.  Since our master bedroom is right off of the kitchen, Copper had to go out each and every night and throw the breaker for the stove so that we could sleep!  It would have been easy to believe that I couldn’t prepare meals for my family on just the stove top.  My girls and I, though, became quite creative at using just the stove top to fix all sorts of meals.


For the longest while, I could not figure out how to do my normal baking in this house.  I have what appears to be a lot of counter space, but it is not anywhere near the oven or the sink.  Because I knew that it was a lie that I could not be expected to bake with such limited counter space, I persevered (grumbling and complaining all the while, mind you (Philippians 2:14)).   Finally, when I STOPPED grumbling and complaining and began to work in my kitchen cheerfully, as unto the Lord, solutions started coming to mind (praise be to God!).  Daniel Defoe said this well in Robinson Crusoe,  “All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.”.

Fortunately, the lie about hospitality did not find its way into our home!!  For many years we were part of a home church that met for six months of every year in our home.  The families would all bring their own lunches, but everyone would bring full meals to be shared for the evening.  My refrigerators were full of all sorts of yummy salads, side dishes and desserts, which we creatively stacked to make fit.  There were frequently multiple dishes to go into my one oven.  My one long counter was filled every Sunday with quite an array of crock pots!!!  The ladies would stumble and trip over one another in my kitchen, because it has such a poor traffic flow;  but we laughed and talked and worked and didn’t really seem to notice (other than the constant utterances of, “Oh, excuse me!”, “I’m sorry, did I step on your foot?” and “Ooops!”, accompanied by that natural phenomenon, the feminine giggle!).

I thought it might be fun to share with you a bit over the next few days how I’ve learned to live with my less than perfect kitchen. Since we are all different, and I’m sure that our kitchens are all different, my ideas for being content in the kitchen might not be anything that you can apply, idea for idea.  However, maybe something that I’ve learned will inspire you to look for a similar solution in your own kitchen.  The first post will be tomorrow.

Note: I would heartily suggest that if you have never read Jeremiah Burroughs’ Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment that you obtain a copy and read it. This book was life changing for me!

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