Every Sunday morning my alarm clock shrieks at 5:30 a.m., jarring me from a fitful sleep.
I stumble from my bed to the bathroom mirror and attempt to convince myself and others that I am awake by slapping on a bit of makeup. I throw on a T-shirt and jean skirt. I make coffee. I grab my keys. I step out the door.
I am headed to our church’s activities building to help our ladies’ cooking team make breakfast for the men in our church. The men meet every Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. for prayer. For the past month and a half, I have joined a group of four or five women who make breakfast for the men. The crowds vary from 60 to 90 men, depending on various factors. (Our team usually has a 2-month on, 4-month off schedule throughout the year.) This group of cooks is officially known as the “Cook Team.”
When I talk about “breakfast,” I mean breakfast. Scrambled eggs. Flaky biscuits with sausage gravy. Bacon. Lots of bacon. Ham. And sometimes cinnamon rolls.
My dad loves biscuits and gravy. Growing up, it almost became a contest to see who could make the best biscuits. . .and Mom made sure all of us girls had a chance to learn. Making biscuits was an art, and I attempted to learn. Making flour gravy came with the territory. But when I started making gravy for Men’s Prayer Breakfast, I had to learn again.
I had to learn about lard. I had to learn about making sure that the lard and flour mixed perfectly. I had to fill two pots full, stretching my gravy-making skills to feed 80 or 90 men instead of a family of 12.
Once I put in sugar. (Unbeknownst to the biscuit maker and myself, the container was not full of salt.) Another time I conducted a small science experiment when I grabbed the baking soda container instead of the cornstarch. (They have identical containers, but they are definitely two different colors. I must be color-blind.)
I think it’s safe to say that cooking is not my top skill. But the cooking team is not solely about cooking. I have found that it’s more about mentoring than anything else. And that’s just one of the benefits of being on the team.
Our team leader is one strong lady. She makes the most amazingly crisp bacon, all the while directing each step of our team’s progress throughout the morning with calm efficiency. When I asked her how she made the bacon so perfectly, she said she didn’t know. She just did it. And when my pot overflowed from my science experiment, she gave instructions without batting an eye.
I have noticed some things about Oklahoma women. They have a kind of toughness born of living on the open plains. I know of one lady in our church whose dog attacked a snake. The dog was bitten four or five times and later died, but the lady finished off the snake with a shovel. I am fairly certain many of the ladies “pack heat,” as we say out here. (Just a hunch.) And one of them even chases tornadoes with her husband, driving all over the state for local News Channel 9.
I’m just saying. . .these are tough women. Strong. Independent. Capable. But they are also gentle and understanding. They know how to cook for a farm hand and sew like a fashion designer.
And then. . .there’s me. Here I am, stirring my gravy, hoping it thickens. Hoping to catch some of the scraps that may fall from the table. . .hoping their characteristics will rub off on me.
You see, I wished I possessed the same characteristics I see in these women. I have been blessed with a large portion of empathy, but, it seems, nothing else. And that’s why I try to spend as much time as possible with them.
The mentoring done by the Cooking Team reminds me of a familiar passage in Titus 2:3-4:
The aged women likewise. . .that they may teach the young women.
I have learned from many women in my life. My mother. My sisters. Older women. Middle-aged women. My peers. Teenagers. Little girls. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned from each one. And especially those on the Cook Team. . .or should I say, The Cooking Club.
And maybe someday I can pass on what I have learned to a younger woman.