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Vanilla Extract + Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Vanilla Extract + Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Tami Inoue

I think I may have trust issues because of Vanilla Extract.  Well, vanilla extract and oatmeal raisin cookies portraying themselves as chocolate chip cookies. :)

I still remember smelling vanilla extract for the first time.  

 

Oh. 

My. 

Word.  

No, no.  More like…

Oh! MY Werrrrrd.  

It snuggled up to all my safest memories of fuzzy sweaters, Saturday morning pancakes, snowdays, and blinking Christmas lights…the big colored kind.

It was my dear sweet grandma who let me smell the bottle she’d opened for the chocolate chip cookies we were making.  We were creating the best of midwestern cliche’d memories and I was exclaiming about how it was the most amazing smell. She grinned and said, “Here, taste it…”  and the greedy little person that I was, filled a tablespoon-full.  

It took a moment for the betrayal to set it…not sure who made me feel more silly, my grandma giggling at my soured expression or the fact that I felt like vanilla extract gave me a noogie.  Either way, it was awful…and I’ve never forgiven vanilla extract since.

I remember resting my chin on my arms that were resting on the counter.  My 7 year old, black-eyed reflection in the stainless steel mixing bowl staring right back at me.  I was thinking, “How is that possible?? I almost feel like I should try it again…I just don’t understand how something that smells so good can taste soooo awful.”

20+ years later, and I’ve taken tastes of vanilla extract…but the life-experience kind.  The kind that looked right…that felt obedient…that came from a pure place.  It asked me to take risks, open-up…but like vanilla, some of those Tablespoon-fulls were bitter.  It made me question my gut instinct, my ability to read good character.  I looked on them as some kind of failure when things didn’t turn out how I’d thought they would. I’d count anything less than perfection as a strike against my life-scorecard.

But you know what I recently wondered?…What if all shadows aren’t bad?  What if changes in plans, unexpected turns are all part of adding texture and arc to this story God is writing?  What if perfection to Him doesn’t mean flat-white, but to know a deeper color of love and experience the kindness of grace?

That 7 year old Tami still lives in me…reminding me not to taste vanilla extract.  That if I do, I’ll hate it, that people will laugh…but my 30+ year old self looks at that black-eyed reflection and wants to say, it’s not the end…just the means; the flavor for a deeper story.  It’s not the bitter taste that ruins a story, but how I let God incorporate it into my life.  So no, not all things are as they initially seem, but I wonder…if I allowed the kindness of grace in, that it would change what was meant to be bitter, to become the sweetest things of life.