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KITCHEN KAPERS AND GRACE GIVING

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)


Our resort room in Maui was equipped with a refrigerator, toaster, coffee maker, microwave, blender, and all the dishes, utensils, pots and pans travelers might need for preparing meals away from home. Because this unit had been converted from a hotel room, the remodelers were not permitted to put in a stove top and oven. To remedy this inconvenience, the resort provided a communal kitchen for those times when the microwave and barbeque weren’t sufficient for your needs. On this particular night, we needed to bake a mac-n-cheese casserole from Costco.


When my husband, Jerry, and I arrived at the kitchen space, the oven was already in use, so our cheesy delight fell in line for its turn. The family in front of was roasting green beans and potatoes. They also had two of the stove tops going with a heavily greasy fried dinner. The odor and residual grease particles quickly overwhelmed the room, even with the exhaust fans whirring and the windows wide open to the tropical breeze. The Fat-frying Family, comprised of the dad, mom and two teens, were running back and forth to their room to retrieve forgotten items and to resolve upstairs “crises.” We knew of their predicaments because of the cell phone calls we could not help but overhear.


In the meantime, a happy-go-lucky tanned gentleman waltzed in with his tray of eggplant. “Just put it in when the space becomes available,” he smiled and left, apparently not caring how much time it needed or at what temperature. Eventually our meal made its way to the heating rack. I wasn’t convinced that we should include the garden side, but Jerry said that’s what Eggplant Eddie had meant for us to do. Fortunately, he sashayed back into the kitchen and rescued his veggie dish before we potentially ruined it. He had decided to grill it on the barbeque since it had stopped raining. Disaster averted!


Just before the Fat-frying Family left, Grouch Granny and her hubby entered. I think they had hoped for a space to themselves, and GG (Grouchy Granny) was especially disgruntled at having to share. She immediately began bossing people around regarding how to cook their foods and where everything should go. She and said hubby started heating water for spaghetti. Next they began rolling meatballs, which she dropped into a frying pan, adding to the already greasy ambience. Her sheer delight at watching those little balls of meat was almost diabolical.


The room emptied of one family, and a couple of other groups joined us. We discovered, through conversation, that GG was always commissioned to make her famous meatballs for everyone when they vacationed. I think I would be cranky, too, if I felt pressure to cook in paradise. Their meal prep was completed while we were still waiting for Mr. Mac and Cheese to come out of the oven. As the meatball couple left, we were happy to note that nothing had soiled GG’s make-shift cellophane apron she had clipped on to the front of her shirt.




Earlier, on the same vacation, we were settling into our rooms. The bell service brought up our luggage, which included our Costco purchases for the week. As I was putting our food away, I realized we were missing a bag of chips we had purchased. We knew it had made it into the rental car, and we had the receipt for proof-of-purchase. We checked our car to no avail. The front desk was notified, and they did a diligent search of their storage areas. We figured that some other lucky family had ended up with our chip bag, and the hotel was willing to credit us for the cost of our snack, plus a little extra for our emotional distress.


Low and behold, when we began emptying our suitcases and setting up our bedroom, we discovered the bag of chips and our pineapple (which I hadn’t even missed yet). The bellman had put both items in a bag which was placed behind our backpacks in a chair in our bedroom. I hadn’t recognized the bag or thought to look somewhere besides the kitchen for these objects of our frustration. We immediately called the front desk to apologize for our mistake and request that they take the credit off of our bill. They appreciated our honesty, but left the $8 credit.


Later in the week, we took our guests to Haleakala, a volcanic crater that rises over 10,000 feet on the island. It provides spectacular views of the big island, Hawaii, on one side, and panoramic views of the peaks and valleys of Maui on the other side. On our way down from this height, we stopped at the Kula Lodge restaurant, one of our favorite restaurants on Maui. One member of our party ordered their stone fired pizza, for which they are famous. We watched out our window as the pizza was strategically placed in their outdoor brick oven, anticipating our meals and enjoying each other’s company.


When his pizza came, it was still cold in the middle. The crust was soggy and undone. The waitress apologized and took it back immediately to remedy the situation. Twenty minutes later, he still didn’t have his pizza. Multiple managers and cooks had come to oversee the pizza project during that time. Something was definitely not right. Come to find out, we were visiting on the first day of new ownership. They evidently didn’t have the pizza oven figured out yet, and the temperature had never been brought up to its optimal heat for properly baking the pizzas. We weren’t the only customers to experience this plight.


Our waitress was beside herself. She was trying to do her job, but she had several tables of unhappy people. The rest of our party had finished our meals, and the one who ordered the pizza just decided to skip lunch. He had nibbled some of our food, which was now eaten and gone, and he later munched on some snacks we had in the car. In the meantime, we decided to “feed” our waitress. None of this was her fault. She was close to tears as she came to deliver our bill (minus the charge of the pizza, or course). We assured her she was doing a good job, and spoke a blessing over her. We left her a little extra tip for her deep concern over her patrons. I hope we brightened her day.


What I concluded from all of this is that food is important to us. It’s something we partake in every day. It can make us angry if we don’t nourish ourselves in a timely manner. We often are thinking about what is for the next meal before we even have finished our present one. Our holidays and vacations revolve around traditional fare and tasty delicacies. We are very particular about some foods. For others, we acquire a taste. Foods can conjure up memories, be a comfort (momentarily), or provide the catalyst for fellowship with others.


Yet as important as food is, words are just as important. They can be like honey or like a bitter pill. We could have complained to the Fat-fryers that they were spoiling our environment or that they were hogging up the entire cooking venue. We could have bit back at Grouchy Granny’s attitude. We could have berated management for “losing” our chips, and would have definitely had to eat our words later. We could have been ugly about our service at the restaurant and the fact that one of us didn’t even get to eat! But because of God’s grace to us, we chose to be grace givers.


We need to be intentional about the things we say, using words that will build others up and encourage them. The best way to do this is to feed ourselves with the Word of God. We wouldn’t even consider eating meals just once a week. Neither should we allow ourselves to feast just once a week spiritually by going to church on Sunday, neglecting our nourishment the other 6 days. Daily time with God and the Scripture will fill us with His love, mercy, and grace. We will experience peace and joy in Him. And when that is in place, our words will overflow with grace to others.


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