When we bought our first home a couple of years ago, there were many things I loved about it – the open floor plan; that extra bathroom, the big back yard. I was especially happy to have my own kitchen peninsula and its accompanying stools. To some women, having a kitchen peninsula is no big deal – just extra space to deposit junk or to feed the kids their cereal. But to me, having a kitchen peninsula with stools is a special blessing from God. As I sat on one of my kitchen stools for the first time, filled with joy at owning our own home, I thought about the stools I sat on during my teenage years.
When I was in high school, tow young mothers, Terrie and Susan, took me under their wings. These best friends, along with their husbands, helped with the youth group at my church. Because for some reason they saw potential in me, each of them invited me over often. I vividly remember sitting on a kitchen stool, opposite one of my mentors, while we cut out cookies, formed yeast rolls, or made noodles. We always spent the time talking about how things were going for me at home and at school and how I could better handle my problems. I don’t know what it was about sitting on a kitchen stool that enabled me to open up and talk (I was terribly shy and preferred to listen rather than talk when I was a teenager). Maybe keeping our hands busy and our eyes diverted to the tasks in front of us made me feel more comfortable opening up. Maybe I was more comfortable because we weren’t sitting down purposefully to have a conversation about me. As we worked in the kitchen, conversation sprang up naturally.
I learned a lot by spending much of my free time on a kitchen stool – not just the way to make fantastic cinnamon rolls, the secrets to a great piecrust, and many other cooking skills, but also how to handle my teenage crises Biblically. By watching my mentors in their everyday lives, I learned how to submit to and love a husband, discipline children properly, interact kindly with people on the telephone, show friendliness to neighbors, and a plethora of other things. I never did an official Bible study with either Susan or Terrie, but I learned to apply the Bible to my life by watching those godly women.
Now, as a wife and mother, I still use the wisdom I gained from Terrie and Susan. Knowing how crucial their friendships were to me during my most impressionable years, I want the Lord to use me to mentor teenage girls in the same way.
The Lord has already been putting my kitchen stools to good use since we bought our home. One time, two girls came over to make brownies for their dates to a college concert. This time I sat on a stool and greased the pan while the girls mixed the ingredients together. I wasn’t surprised when one of them piped up, out of the blue, “There’s a guy in my class who I think likes me, but I don’t like him. What do you think I should do, Mrs. Forrest?” Another girls has, on multiple occasions, sat on one of my kitchen stools, nervously pulling her fingers repeatedly over a strand of her hair while pouring out a dramatic tale of woe and asking for advice on how to handle the crisis at hand. I love helping these girls by sharing with them the wisdom I’ve gained only because I was once just like them, and because I had some great mentors who shared the Bible with me at their age.
My kitchen stools have been a means of ministering to people other than teenage girls as well. My seventeen-year-old bother, whom I don’t see often, visited us during Christmas break last year. As I assembled a chicken enchilada casserole, Jason plopped onto one of the stools opposite me, tipped it back precariously on its two hind legs while holding onto the counter with his fingertips, and started talking. He shared some struggles with me, and I was able to give him some sisterly advice. With my back toward him, I put the casserole into the oven. I wiped away the tear that threatened to spill out, and I thanked God for giving me a comfortable place in my home for my brother and me to have a good talk.
I’ve noticed, too, that whenever my dad comes to visit, he finds a parking space on one of my kitchen stools (whenever he’s not holding or playing with his grandkids, that is!). He occupies his spot with a mug of coffee and a crossword puzzle in front of him. We have great talks while I tinker around in the kitchen.
Although I live hundred of miles away from Terrie and Susan now, my husband, children, and I still visit twice a year. I’ve found that I’m still not too old to need an occasional visit to one of their kitchen stools.
Recently, Terrie and I were making egg rolls. Terrie stuffed and wrapped the wontons while I supervised the frying vat. We’ve both come to expect that these cooking sessions are really chances for us to talk, and I’m not timid at all anymore. As I dropped another egg roll into the vat I asked, “Terrie, how did you deal with your children when they…?” The egg rolls were done all too soon, and our hungry husbands and children were upon us. The stool-time talks sometimes just aren’t long enough.
I’m so thankful that the Lord provided us with a house that had everything we needed, plus a kitchen peninsula and stools. A kitchen stool isn’t the most beautiful of chairs, and it isn’t the most comfortable either. But in many ways, I think my kitchen stools are the best seats in the house.
Written by Addy Forrest. This article was published in the Fall 2006 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.
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