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    Meatloaf Mishap

    by Christie Browning

    I believe it's important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, I am completely comfortable in declaring that I am weak when it comes to cooking. No, this isn't the type of bad cooking that produces dry chicken or overly bland potatoes. My bad cooking brings about burnt, charred, inedible dishes that make the stomach turn. Yes. I cannot cook and I am OK with that. 

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    However, every now and then I convince myself that there's a certain dish or recipe I could indeed pull off. This thought happen recently and resulted in my attempt to make a meatloaf. 

    It was one of those weeks where my husband, who is a master chef and usually handles all things food related in our house, was working a lot of long hours. He had planned to make a meatloaf, but time was just not on his side. I sincerely tried to help when I pulled that helpless lump of meat out of the fridge and began trying to morph it into a meal. But the end result was not as I had hoped.

    With all the ingredients in place and the meat perfectly "loafed" in its pan, I shoved the dish into the oven and waited the appropriate amount of time. I must divulge that I used a recipe. Maybe that was where I went wrong, because the recipe called for the dish to cook for 40 minutes at 400 degrees -- a temperature that now I've been told is too high.

    When I pulled the pan out of the oven, my meatloaf was a rich brown color on top and the aroma was rather inviting. Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I cut into the middle to find...RAW HAMBURGER!! So raw it practically mooed at me! 

    I wasn't real sure how to handle this uneven state of affairs, so back in the oven it went, still at 400 degrees, until the middle was done. You can only imagine what the outside looked like -- charred to a crisp and the inside was dry as a bone.

    When it comes to our hearts and our emotions, it's easy to become calloused and hardened. When we're hurt, betrayed, mistreated.... all of these are prime crimes to toughen our exterior. Often times we wear that hardened shell as a barrier that protects us from being hurt again. Or better yet, we let the love and affection from others bounce off, proud that we are tough enough. 

    But the truth lies inside. We are raw. Left hurt and bleeding, we don't heal. What we do is deny, push on and move forward. Raw in the middle -- it makes for an unappetizing meal for a meatloaf and it also makes for a hostile heart for you, dear friend. Choosing to be calloused and chaffed by the world or those in it only conceals the pain that is left inside. It doesn't allow you to properly "cook through." 

    On the other hand, the opposite is equally damaging. If we choose to stew and overheat about a situation, we do nothing but dry out and become unappetizing to be around. We can loose all our flavor and crumble under any amount of pressure. 

    God has a different plan for these wounds. He wants us to give them to Him. He wants to apply His love and grace in such a way that we do more than just move on from the pain -- we are strengthened, empowered and inspired by it. Our flavor is amplified and we are able to share pieces of ourselves with others, offering our sweet aroma to those who need it most. 

    The New Testament declares believers are "salt of the earth." That salt brings out the best in others and also heals where there is pain. It's true! Salt is used to enhance the flavor of meats and vegetables. And you know the power of salt in a wound if you've ever experienced salt in a paper cut! But... salt, although it may sting at first, heals, cures and preserves. 

    I don't think my meatloaf needed more salt. What it needed was more time on a lower temperature with a tin foil for protection. In my own life, I need to cool my temper and my emotions, slow down to let myself deal and heal, and always keep God's love and His word as a protection around my heart and mind.