My kitchen windowsill. I love my kitchen windowsill. It’s somewhat dirty from splatters and lack of cleaning. But it is probably one of my most favorite spots in the house. It better be, since I spend way too much time in front of it (did I mention, it’s the windowsill above the sink?).
It has a few containers with plants (seedlings that the kids have brought home from school or church), a vase with a handful of flowers (weeds) picked for me by my daughter. There’s a seashell which reminds me of Florida (my home) next to a picture of my three kids at the beach. I have a miniature ceramic nest with three birds in it (actually, one of the birds has been missing for months), to represent my three kids (don’t worry, I’ve not been missing a kid for months). I have a Willow Tree “Angel of the Kitchen” holding a teapot (it helps to think of myself as the “Angel of the Kitchen”). I also have a couple of my favorite Bible verses taped to the window, which encourage me and remind me “where my help comes from.”
These things keep me going. As much as I love to cook (under ideal circumstances), it is truly one of those things in my life through which I feel I must persevere. Life in the kitchen as a mother, in my opinion, is a delicate dance. I’m dancing (it usually feels more like trudging) between time constraints, enjoying cooking and hating cooking, cooking gourmet and going simple, figuring out easy meals, healthy meals, cheap meals, kid-friendly meals, meals that stretch my kids and at times appeases them, having a variety of meals and being stuck in a rut, having fun with kids in the kitchen and wanting them out from underfoot. The list goes on…
An object I didn’t mention on my windowsill is a little pin. Actually, it’s not on the sill, it’s attached to the curtain on the window. It’s just a little white button-pin with these letters written in black: SDWSC. Most people probably don’t even notice it there. Quite honestly, I don’t always remember it’s there. But it’s there for a reason, and it’s good for me to remember why.
The letters stand for “She Did What She Could.” A few years ago at a MOPS Convention, Elisa Morgan (the CEO of MOPS International) introduced this acronym. It comes from Mark 14:3-9. It’s the story of a lady who approached Jesus while he was sitting at the table in the home Simon the Leper. She came with an alabaster jar of perfume (apparently very expensive, worth a year’s worth of wages). She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Those who were present questioned this act. They thought she had wasted the perfume. It could have been sold and given to the poor. Jesus admonished the men and told them to leave her alone.
“She did what she could,” he said (verse 8), “She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”
Elisa Morgan explained that what this lady did was an act of devotion to Jesus. She may or may not have known he was going to die. She loved him, and wanted to show him her love. Others around may have done differently with a jar of perfume. Others may have shown their love for Jesus in other ways. She knows why she did what she did and Christ knows why, too. Despite what others did or didn’t do, or what they knew or didn’t know, Jesus (and this lady) knew that she did what she could.
I placed this button above my kitchen sink for a purpose. In an ideal world, there is so much much more I could do (and would like to do) as the cook of my house. I’d love every meal to be homemade. But amongst time constraints, and budgeting limits, I’m doing what I can do. I can’t compare myself to June Cleaver, Martha Stewart, or the other moms out there. Sometimes I do cook amazing meals (if I don’t say so myself). If I enjoy it, it’s okay. If I feel bound by it or overwhelmed by it, I need to remind myself that it’s okay to let go of my ideals and just do what I can.
And I must remember why I do what I do. Other than the obvious fact that I have to, I cook because I love my family. Because I love Jesus and value my role as wife and mother. Not to impress my children with my cooking skills (I actually receive much more praise for my hot dog, mac-n-cheese, and potato chip dinner than most of my slaved-over-for-hours meals). Cooking is so much more than providing necessary nourishment. I’m providing them love and sense of place and belonging. I’m shaping their characters (as we eat and talk together). I’m providing an experience. As often as possible, these meals are enjoyed together, around the dinner table. It’s the “togetherness” that’s more important than the food itself.
I’m doing what I can ~ day after day after day after day after day ~ to provide much more than just a meal for my kids. Others may do it differently than me. They may save more money, cook nicer meals, set a prettier table…but we’re all doing what we can. And I think God knows that, and will honor that. Whatever it takes to get my family around the table together, no matter the meal, I will do.
The final item on my windowsill I’ve not yet mentioned is a little quote by Brother Lawrence: “God regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” The quote is illustrated with miniature drawings of Brother Lawrence (a monk) working in a kitchen. He spent years as the cook of the monastery in which he lived. Not the high profile “job” of a monk, but the behind-the-scenes necessary (and often dirty) work.
As I wash endless dishes, put away endless groceries, cook endless meals…this quote is an encouragement and reminder: Am I performing my work with love? To do so is an act of worship. Just as great and necessary as any public profile act of service, and maybe even more worshipful than raising my hands and singing praises to God on a Sunday morning.