Who Needs a Dinner Bell?

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The first home we ever owned was situated at the mouth of a cozy little cul-de-sac, which gave every neighbor on the block an unobstructed view of our house and yard. Clearly, then, my husband was not thinking of my reputation when he slapped the lid on my flaming hash-browns one Saturday morning and rushed out to the front curb to extinguish them. And this only days after we moved in!

First impressions are not always right, but in this instance, our new neighbors were given a fairly accurate indicator of my culinary skills (or current lack thereof). In the five years we lived there, it was not at all uncommon for them to look out of their own windows and see smoke pouring out of mine. My husband often teased me, “Who needs a dinner bell when you’ve got a fire alarm?”

It wasn’t that I was incapable of cooking a decent meal. It was just that I was (and am) so easily distracted. I’d barely get dinner in the oven before I was completely absorbed in some other project. I wouldn’t give the meal a second thought until it had burnt to a crisp and its charred, smoldering remains triggered the smoke detector.

At least now I’ve learned to use a kitchen timer. And I’ve come to realize that delicious, nutritious meals don’t just happen. They require attention to detail and diligent work.

If you are anything like me, there are countless things vying for your attention these days. Some of them — like folding laundry or watching the news — can be done on autopilot without causing harm. But other things — like building a marriage or raising kids– may crash and burn if you don’t tend them carefully.

Healthy marriages and happy children don’t just happen. They require attention, commitment, and work. We mustn’t wait until we smell the smoke before we give it.


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