Teriyaki Hot Chocolate & the Sweetness of Shared Stories

At this time of year, much of the world is thinking about lemonade more than hot chocolate. But I recently attended a graduation celebration and traveled down a dusty, bumpy, laughter-graced memory lane to Guatemala as I chatted with old and new friends. That’s how teriyaki hot chocolate came up.

The incident of the teriyaki hot chocolate could make one wonder why my mother ever let me in the kitchen. In self-defense, I was only eleven or so – old enough to know better, yes, but still…My family was living in Guatemala, and it was around New Year’s Eve. Now you may think that it would never get cold enough on the edge of the jungle even in January for hot chocolate to be desirable. However, when you’re used to temps in the 90s, the 50s with no home heating can feel plenty frigid! A family from the States was visiting us, so their mom, my mom and I were all in the kitchen, making a gigantic pot of hot chocolate from scratch (more or less). 

To make a potentially long story short, when a girl isn’t paying much attention, bottles of vanilla and bottles of teriyaki sauce can easily be interchanged. As you may imagine, the results were less than appealing. Down the drain went the whole pot of hot chocolate.

It was an opportunity to laugh at myself. (I’ve had quite a few of those.) The visiting mom made it easier on me by sharing a kitchen tale or two of her own. (Something about warming socks in the oven…?) Then, when the other kids heard about it, I was comforted by admissions of brownie-baking blunders.

All these years later, we still remember these moments with grins. Chatting at the graduation party, I realized how good it is to talk with people who shared snippets of my Guatemala years and was reminded of the truth I gained from the terrible teriyaki hot chocolate tale: shared stories sweeten life. By being a part of my kitchen catastrophe and then sharing their own stories with me, these friends sweetened up my life. The same thing can happen each day as we take the time to share even a sentence or paragraph of our lives with others and take part in a page of theirs. It’s kind of like a dash of vanilla or a sprinkle of marshmallows in a cup of hot chocolate. 

Maybe you don’t have many people who are sharing your story right now. I’ve had seasons like that, too. Talk about hard and lonely! Here’s the thing:  even if no one else is sharing your story right now, God is. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, however you’re feeling, God is right there with you. Along with His presence, He’s invited us to share in His Story through His Word and through the lives He gives us each day. (Psalm 25:14, 2 Corinthians 3:3, Ephesians 2:10, ESV.)


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