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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Green (10/22/09)

TITLE: Kitchen Therapy
By Betty Castleberry


I jumped at the sound of the phone ringing. Mumbling about the interruption to my morning Bible reading, I grabbed it. My hello was harsher than I meant for it to be.

It was my sister, Becky. “Don’t bite my head off, Gail.”


“I thought you might like to know Val is cooking again.”

Our baby sister Valerie only cooks when she is upset. Her cooking marathons often produce enough food to feed her whole neighborhood.

I took a deep breath. “What’s wrong this time?”

“I don’t know, but she was sobbing over the phone. We should go over there. I’ll come and pick you up right away.”

Within ten minutes, we were walking through Val’s front door.

The aroma of onions and something else I couldn’t place greeted us. Val was in the kitchen stirring the contents of a huge pot on the stove. Unidentifiable blobs of green were splattered on the stove and utensils littered the countertops.

Becky patted her shoulder. “We thought you might like some company.”

Val turned around and brushed a lock of silver hair out of her eyes, then burst into tears. She grabbed us both into a group hug.

“Oh sisters”, she blubbered, “The most awful thing has happened.”

I saw the look of concern on her face. “What?”

“Jennifer and Paul got engaged.”

Becky and I exchanged confused glances. Val’s daughter and our niece Jennifer had dated Paul for a long time. We knew Val loved him like a son.

Becky spoke first. “But you adore Paul.”

“Oh, I do. It isn’t Paul. It’s that church.”

Becky shrugged her shoulders at me. “Church?”

“Yes. You know Paul goes to that other denomination. I can’t even say it, but Jen has gone to church with him the last few Sundays. And you know what? She likes it. Val turned back to the pot on the stove.

I decided a subject change would be in order. “What are you making?”

Val snuffled into a tissue and answered. “Split pea soup. See?” She held up a ladle of dense green liquid. I don’t like peas. I almost gagged.

Becky rescued me. “It looks great Val, but why split pea soup?”

“Because green is my favorite color.”

Chuckling, I asked, “Whey don’t you just steam broccoli?”

“Pea soup is warm and thick, like a blanket. I need a blanket on the inside right now.”

She got another big pot out and ran water into it. “I’ve got to make more.”

I offered to help.

Val handed me the salt and pepper while she chopped and stirred. “Don’t overdue the pepper.”

We worked in silence until Becky broached the subject again. “Val, you know Paul comes from a Christian family.”

She pointed a spoon in our direction. “Maybe so, but Jen just can’t change churches. I don’t know what they do over there.”

I intervened. “Well, I do. I’ve gone there a few times myself.”

My baby sister stared at me like I had sprouted horns. “You haven’t.”

“I have.”

“You know Mama and Dad raised us in our church. I‘ve never gone anywhere else. Never wanted to.”

“Val, Mom and Dad were good Christians. They were happy in our church, but denominations shouldn’t be so important. We’ll all just be Christians in Heaven.”

Becky nodded in agreement.

Val sighed. “Of course that’s right, but I just never imagined.” She wiped her eyes again.

Putting down the salt shaker, I continued, “Do you know what they do at Paul’s church? They sing hymns. A lot of the same ones we sing. They sing praise songs, too.”

Becky added. “Been there myself. Lovely church.”

“Yes, and their pastor is nice. He preaches from the Bible. Did you know that, Val?”

She looked defeated. “Well, I hope he does. It’s just not…” She almost whispered, “Our denomination.”

I smiled. “That’s okay. Maybe Jen and Paul will want to attend our church after they get married. Either one is fine.”

We worked in silence for a few minutes. After awhile, Val spoke. “Do you think I have enough split pea soup?”

Looking at the two huge pots on the stove, I asked, “Who are you feeding, the Marine Corp?”

“No, but I’m thinking about giving some to Paul’s pastor.”

Becky winked at me.

Val forced a smile. “You girls take some home, too.” She ladled the pea soup into quart jars.

My stomach protested. “Give mine to Becky. I’m trying to quit.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 10/29/09
How right you are about heaven not having denominations--just Christians. Excellent point softly woven into this delicious piece.
Lenda Blackmon10/29/09
Oh, the things we get upset about especially as parents. That subject(denominations) can be like pea soup sometimes, thick and yucky. And can make you feel a little green. LOL Enjoyed reading it.
Catrina Bradley 11/01/09
So cleverly written - "controversial", yet doesn't offend anyone, AND connects with most everyone on some level. The kitchen action gave life to the dialog, and I had a movie playing in my head. I'd say this is masterful writing! Well done.
Colin Swann11/02/09
Would love my backslidden kids to go anywhere that's christian. But we christians have some bigotted ways. Thanks for this thought provoking piece. Very clear story not at all a pea-souper. Colin
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/02/09
What a lovely sermon you preached without climbing into the pulpit. Your message is clear, though wrapped in a delightful story.
Chely Roach11/02/09
What a great commentary on the "us and them" problem with the Church, and told in such a non-preachy way with a much needed side of funny. Wonderfully written. :)
Ruth Brown11/02/09
Very well done. A real slice of life. What good sisters!
I may go do some therapy myself!
Kate Oliver Webb 11/03/09
Good commentary subtly presented. Aren't we Christians somethin'? Guess we've all been there....
Jan Ackerson 11/04/09
Oh, I'd love to show this to my parents, who had even stronger reactions when my adult children chose a different denomination!
larry troxell 11/04/09
I do some of best meditating when I'm cooking. Great thought provoker. How many of us fail to get close to God because we're hung up on denominations? Thanks for this unique perspective.
Diana Dart 11/04/09
Makes me want to have a sister (and not just because she'll cook for me when she's stressed out!). Excellent message tucked in here amidst the giggles. Well done.
Bryan Ridenour11/04/09
Good humor, better lesson, well done!
Laury Hubrich 11/04/09
I love the relationship of these three sisters. Great story with a wonderful message!
Carol Slider 11/04/09
I love how you interwove the story and the cooking lesson. Well done!
Amy Richie11/04/09
This is such a good story. I think this is such an issue too..Sometimes we get so caught up in "religion" that we miss the point. Great story!!