I’m thankful I finally learned how to make a beautiful, delicious pie. On a cold day in January the oven warms our home and the fragrance fills the house with a promise of good things to come.

Apple Cranberry

Today I made an apple cranberry pie; I also like preparing pot pies filled with meat, gravy and vegetables. And pie is where this story of mothering and mentoring begins.


I was a 4-H member for ten years, and each year club members would choose projects to learn about over the course of a year and present a product of their learning at the county fair. My mom told my sisters and I that we had to take two projects: clothing and foods. My sisters hated to sew, and I hated to cook and bake. My mom probably hated entry day at the fair.

If you put off doing something you dislike, then you can relate to my childish efforts to avoid the kitchen. County fair day arrived, and I had not practiced baking or cooking anything of note. (Does a failed attempt to make strawberry jello count?) Skipping the project wasn’t an option, so my mom instructed me to look over the list of foods appropriate for my age group, pick one, and make it. Her theory is that anyone who can read a recipe can cook and bake.

Of course I chose what appeared to be the easiest food to prepare from the list: a pie crust. I didn’t intentionally set out to prove my mom wrong about that reading/baking connection, but I did fail miserably at making a pie crust and I burned my fingers to boot.

I gave up on pie baking for years until I was an adult with a home of my own. One fall day I really wanted to eat warm pumpkin pie. How hard could a single-crust pie be? After all I could use a frozen pie crust and bypass all that rolling and crimping. So I opened up a can of pumpkin, plopped it into the frozen crust, and placed it in the oven. Why didn’t it smell like Thanksgiving pumpkin pie?

That’s when I remembered the Betty Crocker cookbook tucked away in a cupboard. Hmm, pumpkin pie apparently needed more than a crust and pumpkin pulp: eggs, spices, sugar and evaporated milk. Who knew? I scraped the orange mass out of the pie shell and into a bowl, added the transformational ingredients, and popped the pie into the oven again. It was a baby step toward pie-baking success.

I confess I felt disappointed with my initial efforts. After all, my mom is widely known for her tasty meals and desserts, and my grandma delighted us cousins with pie at every holiday and many Sunday dinners. Did I belong to this family of great cooks? So one day while I was helping my grandma pick up apples underneath her tree, I asked her to teach me how to bake an apple pie. Her response: “There’s more to life than baking pies.”


So how did I finally learn to bake a great a pie? It turns out my mom was right! I found a recipe for Blueberry Nectarine Pie in Country Living magazine, read the instructions, learned some helpful tips, followed them carefully, and then enjoyed great success!

So I didn’t learn how to bake a pie from my mom or grandma, although they were certainly qualified! Yet, I did learn other life lessons from them. Wisely they understood that they didn’t have to be my only teachers. There were other people who were willing and able to speak into my life, either in person, over the radio waves, or on the pages of books and magazines.

Often there’s more than one right way do something. That’s why a multitude of mentors are beneficial as we learn new skills, incorporate new information, and gain insights into our lives. I haven’t had a single mentor; I’ve had many and still do.

Do you long for a mentor – someone to teach you how to navigate a new opportunity or role in life?

I suggest asking someone you respect if they have time to meet over a cup of coffee. A lot can be gained in a short time! Perhaps that initial meeting will lead to more meet ups. Or maybe you’ll be pointed to yet another voice with a different layer of insight.

Elisabeth Elliot was one of my early mentors. I read several of her books: Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty, Keep a Quiet Heart, A Chance to Die, and The Shaping of a Christian Family. I also listened to her radio broadcast, Gateway to Joy, and attended a conference with my sister to hear her speak in person. As a young wife and mother, Elisabeth met me when I had time in a convenient location. Not many people can do that for another person!

Now my mentors include my Christian friends who talk with me about what they’re reading, challenge me to adjust my thinking/attitude/actions when necessary, and encourage me during the challenges that arise while rearing children and caring for parents. My other mentors include pastors, authors, speakers, bloggers and podcasters.

Who are you going to invite to share your perspective on life over a cup of coffee?

If only you could sit here with me. The coffee is brewing and I’m ready to serve pie!

 Slice of Pie
A Lesson from Pie: Mothering and Mentoring
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Tracie grew up with three sisters and a brother in a farmhouse surrounded by cornfields and relatives. She draws on that early foundation to write about her Christian faith, creative activities, and family life.

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3 thoughts on “A Lesson from Pie: Mothering and Mentoring

  1. Enjoyed your post on learning styles. Yes, there are different ways to learn, and people who can teach you other than family. For instance, my mom is a great cook, but she doesn’t use measuring utensils. It’s a pinch of this and a cup or that, which may be a tea cup or a mug, it is hard to learn anything from her :). I’ve learned how to cook through trial and error, or a friend who has a recipe :).

    1. My mom is the same way! That’s why I had to learn from cookbooks. I’m a rule follower — and I lack Mom’s ability to adjust to taste on the fly. I wish I could cook that way 🙂

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