A New Beginning

studyingNext week I’m embarking on a crazy new adventure.
Culinary School.

It happened like this:
I love to cook, right? Well, for a while I’ve been praying about how I could use this talent (Not sure this is the right word for my “abilities”, but whatever) to please God and serve his people. I spent a year cooking for the teens on Sunday nights.  Last winter I taught a community class on how to cook healthy foods within a very tight budget (that was such fun!) but neither of these opportunities lasted very long. I wanted to do something more. Bigger! Something that would last and really help someone.
Then, I had a new thought. A big scary thought.
What if I went to culinary school?
It seemed crazy. I mentioned it to my husband expecting him to hate it, but instead he was excited. So, I did a little research and a lot of praying. I even went ahead and filled out the application and got accepted. It all seemed so exciting. What could happen? What kind of work could I do? I fantasized daily about all kinds of work: as a personal chef in the Hamptons to celebrities, as a TV show host on Food Network, a chef running her own restaurant, and a whole slew of ideas about working in non-profits like Homeless Shelters and Children’s Homes. All of it sounded like fun and as I began to get excited I realized that I was on to something here. This could be big. This could be fun.
Then, I got a message from the director at Camp Caudle. He was looking for a full time Kitchen Manager for the summer to oversee all of their inventory, ordering, menu planning, and kitchen volunteers. Well, I love camp and this seemed exactly like the kind of work I wanted to be doing, so I said “YES!”I started working on the menu and pricing right away and all the while I was praying, “Lord, is this what you want me to be doing? Is this the work you have in mind for my cooking skills? What do you want me to do?” And everytime I would pray, I would hear this word in my head: Prepare. Eventually, “Prepare” became my prayer.  “Please, Lord, prepare me for this work.”
So, a few days later I get this message in my inbox asking me to please consider finishing up my application to culinary school. It seemed a perfect answer. How better to prepare for using my skill at cooking than to go to culinary school? So, I jumped on board and finished up all of the remaining paperwork, turned in my transcripts from college and waited for my advising appointment to be scheduled. A month later I still hadn’t heard from them and my online status showed they still hadn’t filed all of my paperwork. I called and called, but every time they assured me they would take care of it. Meanwhile, the summer was inching ever closer.
Then, camp started. I went in terrified I would fail and guess what – I did! I failed a lot. But I didn’t only fail. I also learned and grew and succeeded and cried tears of joy over more days than not. It was thrilling and overwhelming. It made me want more and at the same time it made me afraid I would never be any good at juggling all that a chef has to manage in a kitchen at once. It’s a lot, y’all. You just have no idea. This was the one thing that became very clear to me over the summer. WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT TAKES TO RUN A BIG KITCHEN! It’s crazy hard. And I think of how impatient and unkind we are toward kitchen staff in general from cafeteria workers to waitresses. It’s hard work and long hours of sweat for a lot of complaining people.
And it’s something else, too. It’s beautiful. I’ve always thought so, but even more so on a grand scale, this thing about turning raw unpolished things into something delicious and oh so satisfying. It makes me weep. And you know what is even better? Doing that for someone who is hungry. I mean REALLY hungry. Now that is good stuff! I love the way food brings people together and literally creates community right there in front of your eyes. It’s gorgeous and THAT’S the good work I want to be doing with my life. Every. Day!
So, in the midst of all of this I realize that I never ever heard back from the admissions office. My status was still listed as incomplete and the summer was nearly over. I decided maybe it was time to let it go. I was probably being silly to think I could do it anyway. Then, a friend came to visit at camp and it wasn’t long before she was asking me about culinary school.
“Are you excited to get started?” she asked.
“Well….” I told her the whole story. She pulled out her phone and began typing.
“There. It’s taken care of. You are going to school and it’s going to be awesome. You were clearly meant to be doing this, Heather, and you’re not going to let a little paperwork stand in your way.”
And she was right. The next morning I had an email from the school president apologizing for the “misunderstanding” and before the end of the day I had an advising appointment scheduled. A week later I was enrolled and it was all official. I’m going to culinary school.
It’s big and scary and absolutely exciting, too. I’m half convinced I’m going to completely humiliate myself (again) and half sure I’ll be the best chef on the block. It’s such a jumble in my head and in my heart that I am still reeling from it all. And when Monday comes I’ll be a nervous wreck, just like any first time college kid in a new school who has no clue how hard the next few years are going to be. But I’m ready and succeed or fail, I’m determined to give it my best…and to share it all with you. So, say a prayer for me, friends. I’m going to need it.

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