Saturday, February 5, 2011

#5: God's Recipe: Muffins from Pumpkin Pie Mix

     This entry is not just another take on "when you find yourself with too many lemons, make lemonade." It's more about when you intended to make orange juice and found out you purchased lemons!!
     When I go to the grocery store these days, I am often there for two hours at a time--even with a list. With the tunnel vision that is part of retinitis pigmentosa, I find it difficult to locate a particular item on the myriad layers of shelves packed with a mosaic of products. Other shoppers sometimes glare at me with impatient grimaces because I spend too much time in the aisle with my shopping cart looking for Kate's favorite cereal. One such occasion was the week before Thanksgiving at Central Market in Dallas. Two separate basket-pushers gave me "the look" when I was apparently in their way and impeding their progress toward their goal of completing their pre-holiday shopping.
     I was looking for canned pumpkin and, under pressure and with not-so-perfect vision, accidentally ended up with huge cans of pumpkin pie mix. Now, for those of you who use pumpkin pie mix, I am not being critical of your preference not to cook from scratch. I just like to start with the canned pumpkin. (I have actually started with the whole raw pumpkin a couple of times in the past, but that was just to-o-o-o labor intensive and time consuming.) When I got home and discovered I had bought pumpkin pie mix, I was dismayed and exasperated with myself and didn't know what to do with it. I put it on my already well-stocked pantry shelf at the edge of the fruit section (two cans, mind you!), and they have fallen off a few times to smack my shins, bang my knees, or smash my toes. Injuries like these are far too common, because I am prone to knocking things off counters and shelves because I just don't see them. Big, heavy bulky cans like these are a particular problem.
     The second part of the story is that Kate was supposed to be in charge of the the pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. She didn't want to use pumpkin pie mix either. When she discovered that her Aunt Gloria had already made pumpkin pies the day before and that there was no need for more pumpkin pie, Kate went ahead and made her now "famous" coconut flan from a recipe she had wangled  from the Crystal Palace at Disney World. She just got over her disappointment and made something new. Wow! It turned out perfectly and was delicious, but I was still stuck with two BIG cans of pumpkin pie mix waiting to ambush me every time I stepped in the pantry to search for a can!
      Last week I spent a day reorganizing my pantry. Sure enough, the pumpkin pie mix kept falling off the shelf and being a constant annoyance. Finally, I removed it from the pantry shelf, set a can on the kitchen counter, and glared at it thinking, "What am I going to do with you?" Those cans had become a symbol of my own growing ineptitude and evidence that I continue to make mistakes because of my poor vision. I resented them and didn't WANT to use them, yet, in my stubborn frugality, I refused to give or throw them away. I picked up the can and looked at the label which read "frequently asked questions and recipes inside". I didn't want to see the recipes, but, boy, did I have questions!
     "Lord, why do I keep making so many mistakes? Why do I keep injuring myself? Why does it have to take me so long to shop? Why do I have such a hard time staying organized any more? Why is it taking me so long to clean this pantry? Why does life have to be so hard? Why do I have to have this vision problem? Why?"
   In my frustration (and pain) I was asking the Lord of the universe why He allowed me to have this handicap, why He chose to make me this way, and why He allows difficulties in my life. Why? Because I need such challenges to teach me some things God thinks I need to know. A simple can of pumpkin pie mix focuses God's magnifying glass over my impatience, my stubbornness, and my problem with pride.
     Pride? Yes. Absolutely. I recently had a friend tell me that I didn't have a problem with pride. Either she doesn't know me as well as she thinks, or I am doing a "good" job at hiding my true self. It is pride that has driven me to hide my visual disability from those around me as much as possible over the last ten years. I used my mobility cane only when I couldn't afford to be without it but still suffered the consequences of not having it even when I thought I was safe. I fell in a candy store in Rome because I thought I was safe once inside a building away from the uneven cobblestone streets. I fell on the handicap ramp outside our new Crosswalk Center the first Sunday we had worship services there and bruised my elbows, wrists, and knees because I felt safe at my place of worship. I broke my toe tripping over a coffee table leg in my own living room because I felt safe going barefoot in my own home. But what I was really doing was protecting my pride.
     Carl, my vocational rehab counselor with DARS-Division for the Blind, told me that I have been trying to pass for sighted for far too long. That statement hit home with me. I was indeed trying to appear "normal" and go on with my life unhindered by public scrutiny, invisible to most people as I shopped the mall or traveled. I didn't want to draw attention to myself, I said, but in truth I didn't want uninvited attention. It's one thing to get attention for giving a good speech, teaching a class, or singing a song and quite another to be looked at differently and with pity or disdain because of a disability. I didn't want that kind of attention.
     However, I started doing what my counselors and physicians advised. I am using a cane most of the time now, and it does change the way people treat me. In the grocery store shoppers don't seem to be quite so impatient with my slowness. In my home I wear solid-soled slippers which my sweet husband gave me at Christmas. No more broken toes. At church I get into the choir loft with less risk and more safety to myself (and others) and then fold up my cane and put it away. My heart is no longer racing when I start to sing! At work I sometimes have to explain to my patients why there is a cane leaning against the wall. It helps them not be as upset with me when I mistakenly leave something blank on their prescriptions (because I see only a portion of the page at a time.) At the airport I even get to pre-board! I bump fewer people and get seated in a timely fashion instead of having people wait on me.
     God has no use for perfect people. There aren't any anyway, but people don't readily accept that fact. If we could be perfect, there would have been no need for God's Son Jesus to come! Many of us keep trying to be perfect instead of accepting God's grace and His ability to work with our imperfections. He wants us to be more transparent about our flaws and failures and to give Him the chance to work through those problems and use them for His glory.
     Using my cane one night at a play performed in a dark theatre provided an opportunity for friends to ask questions about it (some with more tact than others) and opened a door for a woman to share with me that she has a hearing problem that has affected her career. On that common ground we are becoming actual friends rather than just acquaintances, and her friendship is a developing blessing in my life.
     So, what about that pumpkin pie mix? I finally swallowed my pride, looked behind the label, and read the recipes, one of which was for pumpkin muffins. They were amazingly easy, low fat, cooked up quickly, and provided a great snack for the students in Kate's Art Club. And using that blasted can of pumpkin pie mix got it out of my pantry and off my feet!
     What do you have in your pantry? What's hiding behind the cupboard doors that you think you have no use for? Does it get in your way or cause you pain? God has special recipes to help us use even the unwanted ingredients in our lives too, if we will just look behind the label, "Holy Bible".

" My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body." Proverbs 4:20-22


1 comment:

marcia said...

this reminds me of Frances Schaffer's story about her houehold help error with dumplings. Frances immediately told the help, there is never something that cannot be created from a mistake if you take time God will make something new. They did. They had noodles instead of dumplings.
How true - we all have something that our best of effort/intentions was not the "it".
It was not the effort that would bring the outcome/the product.
HE would totally give us a something new & unique...unplanned on our charts of life.