Crock pots are one of my favorite kitchen tools. Stick a few raw ingredients in the pot in the morning, and by dinner you’ve created something delicious. It’s especially helpful for my family, since we often can’t predict when we all will get home for dinner. Just switch the appliance to “keep warm,” and dinner can wait for everyone to arrive, even if they are more than an hour late. Not many dinners can survive that!
The single biggest hurdles to using these devices, however, is remembering to start cooking everything well in advance. There’s no rushing an 8 hour cooking time. Sure, you can crank up the heat, but the secret to the delicious flavors of most recipes is time for the ingredients to mingle with each other. Turning up the heat may cook things quicker, but usually at the cost of flavor.
It reminds me of the time I spent working with homeless teenagers several years ago. Many of these young adults struggled with education, job security, social skills and other difficult to solve issues. In their quests to secure food and clothing, many had committed crimes; and many others had turned to drugs and alcohol.
It was a constant struggle, trying to help them turn their lives around. But the biggest hurdle was time. Everyone wanted to see them turn their lives around quickly, but it just never worked that way. Time and time again I would see them try and take shortcuts to stability; buying a car without considering all the additional costs that come with owning a vehicle, signing up for student loans they couldn’t afford, or taking questionable jobs in the search for quick income.
The sad truth is that many of these young people’s problems stemmed from their early childhood. Many had failed early on in school, and had lacked support at home to catch back up and stick with school. They had never been taught basic life or social skills many of us learned in elementary school. Because they never learned these valuable skills, they faced a long and challenging road as adults.
This is why seeing our Leaven kids grow and succeed in school fills me with such hope. I know that each of them is on the right path to successful adulthood and independence. By giving these kids a strong start, we are helping to ensure a brighter future for all of them, and that helps not only kids, but also communities, rise!