Family Stew

I’m addicted. Katrina’s addicted. Our kids are addicted.

It started a couple of months ago when we “bundled.” Yep, we put our phone, internet and TV all with one provider. It felt inevitable in one regard; against my principles in another. But I’m OK. One bill is nice. What’s not nice are the hundreds of TV channels I didn’t ask for and don’t need. Is it really necessary to have an SD and HD version of everything? Basic cable and I got along just fine. Oh well.

Fortunately, there’s a sliver of silver in our technological cloud – the Food Network. My family likes food, so food-based programming is a double-portion of love. The addiction I mentioned earlier is to the show “Chopped.” In Chopped, professional chefs are presented a “mystery basket” of food items. Their challenge is to create an appetizer, main dish or dessert from the mystery ingredients. Judging is based on creativity, and of course taste. It’s fun, fast-paced and fascinating. The cooking techniques we’ve gleaned from our viewing have already brought new tastes and presentation to our toast, salads, mac-n-cheese – you name it.

My Chopped addiction stems from the enjoyment of watching seasoned chefs make amazing dishes from ingredients that have no business being together. Ingredients like smoked chub and strawberry milk. Peanut butter cereal and Saki. The sweet and sour, pungent and savory, common and exotic – all brought together through a coaxed harmony.

Sounds a bit like a family, doesn’t it? A coaxed harmony of mysterious ingredients. Take my family, for example. Some of us look alike. Others, not even close. Some are sweet, some sour (not all the time…on either count). We’ve got actors, singers, writers, and readers. Some builders, some painters, some sculptors. Linear thinkers. Dreamers. Brown skin. White skin. Athletic. Clumsy. Talkers. Thinkers. Risk takers. Each person unique in their personal “flavor.”

In Chopped, there is a key requirement of the competition that is sometimes overlooked by the chefs. That is, the flavor of each ingredient must be evident in the final composition. Flavors can be subtle or overt, but not masked. This means coexistence must be negotiated between all ingredients. In the context of family, God brings diverse individuals into coexistence through a mini-community. Some combinations are unpredictable, even volatile. No matter the ingredients, God’s desire is for a tasty “family stew” in which individuals contribute their unique flavor toward seasoning the whole. Every member is critical to the overall quality of the mixture. No one lost, hidden or neglected as each takes part in the fullness of the finished composition.

God uses the family dynamic to teach giving and receiving. Family living accentuates the value of relationship in community while not dismissing the inherent worth of the individual. As we live-out our uniqueness side-by-side with our spouse, children, brothers and sisters we learn to treat others the way we want to be treated. We grow our pallet toward accepting – and hopefully enjoying – different flavors of people.

My desire is to be a savory stock that brings richness to my family as each member fully expresses their flavor – and enjoys the flavors of one another. To celebrate unity while tasting diversity. To be a great family stew.

Bon Appétit!