59 – Ingredients (2008)


Looking back to a memory from February 2008

I did it! I finally did it! Through the clouds of my mind and my own (indulgent) low self esteem in this area of my private universe, I came up with a success. Now this was not a universe shattering, Sky News Headlines sort of success, but that is all relative anyway.

Picture the scene with me as memories of childhood came flooding back as all the different aromas clouded in on my senses. Pictures of the old kitchen with the clothes pulley hanging down the centre of the ceiling, freshly washed clothes still soaking wet. Sounds of brothers and sister playing safely outside our tenement block. We lived in a middle flat and we had a sort of verandah next door to the kitchen which was halved with Mr & Mrs Woods next door. The times we had there growing up. Family of five brothers, (well actually only four at this time, Neil had not arrived yet), and one sister, she was more of a any than any of us. Days of innocence before what my life was to become actually did become.

I can picture it all as I stand over my own cooker, in a different house, in a different city, even in a different country. the family and the children are different as well. This is my house, the children outside playing are my children, but more importantly, the aroma willowing its way up from the pot on the cooker is an aroma that I have created.

Ever since time immemorial I had convinced myself that I could not cook. oh sure I could boil, and even scramble then if the need arose. I could cook single ingredient meals and get them on a plate in an almost palatable manner, but this was different.

This was new territory, I had never ventured this far into adulthood before, (and i am 38 years old next week). The chances of failure were far too high; and conversely – of success were far too low.

Th crowning point of my achievement was when I overheard my beautiful, precious wife tell my unbelieving mother that it tasted …… wait for it…… nice.

I know some of you think that is a real anti climax, but for me it was wonderful, it was exciting, it was new ground in our 7 year marriage. My wife called something I made nice.

Are you wondering what could have elicited such wonderful memories yet? Or is it just me that is being taken onto a fantastic journey of life through a gently rising aroma, floating up from a potful of ingredients, all intermingling and cooking themselves together to give one universal flavour. Its the sum of the whole that makes all these individual moments taste so real. Each and every ingredient has had its own remarkable journey to end up here as part of this now moment. Each of them, since the day they arrived on planet earth were destined to make their way to a back kitchen on the north side of Ballymena, to be part of a success story, as they all came together at the right time, with the right temperature and the right consistency to make this moment what it was.

my success was a pot of Scotch Broth. We call it broth rather than soup because it gives us the right to put absolutely any ingredients in that we want without breaking any culinary traditions or methods. its the final satisfying taste that is important.

God does that with our lives, you know. We are all a mix of experiences and emotions, memories, good, bad and indifferent. Each and every one of them absolutely essential for us to be at the most important time we ever have.


You see, even a bowl of Scotch Broth has a sort of template pattern. A rough guide if you like. But, when it is cooked, it will never taste the same twice. the few times I have managed this success now, it has never been the same. very very slight differences in the mix can make a massive difference to the finished bowl.

And that is the beauty of it. just like our lives, when we trust God with our lives and believe His Word, then we see that, even though we are all being made into the likeness of Christ, none of us will be the same. Our different ingredients, our different trials and choices, good and bad, mean we all reflect the God Image in each of us in a different way. Those of us who really trust Him and stick to the recipe, find that it is much easier for the ingredients of our lives to make sense.

Times of high emotional trauma become a little seasoning in the overall mix. They tend to make a massive impact on the overall taste. When we even commit these traumas to the masterchef who is watching over us, then He makes sure that only the RIGHT amount of this seasoning. is added.

As I added my herbs, i noticed that it could take quite a while for some of these quite strong tastes to have an overall effect on the pot. Just like our lives. Strong tasting going in, but it takes time to see the flavour they give overall to our lives.

I want to use this blogspot to try and recall some of the memories of my life and show the ingredients that have been cooking away for 38 years to leave such an aroma of satisfaction in me as I stood over that cooker. 38 years is a long time for a recipe to be cooking, but it ain’t done yet.

Please, if you like what you read, let your friends know. and if you don’t, let me know.

As you read through this, think of the Scotch Broth that your life is and ask yourself if you are taking the Master chef’s directions. He knows what the final broth that is you should look like.

This was originally posted on Blogger.com in 2008.

This POST is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.

Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.

I have now released an early edition of my story, Completing the Tenner

I have also published two poem books: Simply Jesus  and Five Weeks in May

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