Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fill 'er up!!

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” John 6:27

I’m out of my routine today. For the past couple of months I’ve been cooking for our Wednesday meal at church. I usually cook on Tuesdays, and then on Wednesday, have to swing by the church to turn on the crock pots so that we’ll have hot food by 5:45pm. Since this is Holy Week, there are no Wednesday activities this week, which means no meal, which means I didn’t have to cook for 30 this week.

“Thank goodness!” you might be saying, but for me it is a loss. I’ll admit it - I enjoy cooking! I enjoy cooking for myself, my family and even other people. The more the merrier. Sometimes I get carried away and have to take some to the neighbors. I just learned how to successfully make bread around Christmastime that tastes just like my mom makes and I’ve passed up no opportunity to make a big batch of it. Loaves, rolls, cinnamon rolls, calzone, pizza crust. Practice makes perfect, you know!

I’ve also made some friends in the kitchen at church since I started cooking there. Flo and Lorna are each at least 40 years older than me, but they come together to help make the drinks and coffee about 4:30pm on Wednesday evenings before the meal. While I’m stirring and they’re mixing and brewing, we talk about the week’s happenings and they tell me about their lives. Flo is from New Jersey and had a husband who was tall, dark, and handsome. She used to ride horses and shoot guns with her brother. Lorna lives close to Flo and Flo picks her up on the way to church. Last Sunday they both grabbed me and hugged me, since they wouldn’t be seeing me on Wednesday. Lorna even kissed me.

The teenagers who come for Confirmation class always check with me on the way in to see what’s for dinner. I didn’t know many of them before I started my kitchen endeavors, but some will hang around a few minutes and chat every once in a while. I’ve even taken some suggestions on what to fix from a few of them. I’m beginning to think that not all teenagers are bad.

I also like sitting with my kids at tables that are far too low, in chairs that are far too small, with the other parents of little kids while the “grown-ups” sit at the big tables. There always seems to be a mad dash for the paper towels when somebody spills their Kool-Aid. Sometimes that somebody is me.

Then it is back to the kitchen where Flo and I clean up the mess. I get my weekly facial from the steam out of the commercial dishwasher while we dump, scrape, rinse and stack. Of course, more blabbing occurs amid the work. After we’ve finished, Flo gathers up the rags to take them home to wash, gives me a hug goodbye, and we promise to reconvene the next week with the same mission laid out.

For some, the thought of cooking for 30 people each week would be a nightmare. Just coming up with a menu each week would be more than they would want to tackle – let alone the shopping, cooking, serving, and cleaning that goes along with it. For some it would be a drain. But for me – it is filling, both gastrointestinally and spiritually.

I hope you know what fills you up. I hope you take opportunities to fill yourself both physically and emotionally on some of God’s great gifts. And if the opportunity arises, I hope you’ll volunteer to fill someone else’s need. Even if it’s not in the kitchen.

Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’” John 21:17

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Real Basket Case

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

I’m a real basket case today. Not so much in the figurative sense of the saying, but in the literal. Yesterday, my son’s first grade teacher asked me to come up with an Easter basket idea for the class. The egg hunt is Friday. I must have made a face because she said, “You have FOUR days!”

Granted, I am the crafty, party, crazy mom of the class and there is very little that I cannot accomplish with packing tape and paper. Still, it took me one night’s sleep to come up with a grocery bag Easter basket that would be perfect to hold their six eggs apiece.

There was one problem – grocery sacks.

I shop at a grocery store where you have a choice between paper or plastic and I always go for paper. I like the way my groceries don’t flop all over my trunk on the way home and those sacks come in darn handy. I’ve made vests, wrapping paper, and decorations out of those things. I save them for my 83-year-old neighbor who uses them as trash bags since he burns most of his trash in a barrel. I most generally have a stack of the things at least a foot high. Not yesterday. I had gotten over ambitious and taken them to the library recycling dumpster along with the newspapers. I had 8.

I called my neighbor – he still had a few, but not the 17 that I needed to make 25.

Plan B – return to the library dumpster at darkness to retrieve my paper sacks. Nope. Dumpster haul off occurs on Tuesdays at the library, so I would be out of luck tonight, not to mention the possibility of having our finest men in blue wonder what I was doing dumpster diving in the recycling bin.

So on to plan C – swallow my pride and ask for a handout in the name of a good cause from the grocery store where I spend thousands each year.

And guess what? They were happy to oblige.

That got me thinking: A lot of us have a need of some sort or the other that could be filled by others if we would only ask. The media would have us believe that no one ever helps anyone out anymore, or if they do, it is on a grand scale like giving away their business or their house or something. The truth is that most of us have more than we need of something and would gladly give it to someone who needs it and would put it to good use.

The truth is our pride gets in the way of asking someone to fulfill one of our needs. I like to say, “I have no pride,” because I seem to be in the habit of embarrassing myself on a regular basis, but the truth is, I would almost rather die than ask for help! And I don’t think I’m alone. There are a lot of you out there wishing you had help right now. Your basket needs filling – whether it is with eggs, love, or just some alone time. And that voice in your head says, “Maybe I should just ask.”

Well, maybe you should!

Or maybe that voice in your head is saying, “Maybe I should offer.”

Maybe you should do that, too!

In fact, maybe if we all did a little more asking and offering, everyone would be better off! We are all in this life together, after all.

(Just don’t tell my uncle that I posted this, as he’ll somehow tie it to the healthcare bill and swear I’m a socialist. I’m just a sharer, I hope!)

They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” Luke 9:17

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blessed Assurance

“This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long.” Blessed Assurance – P Knapp 1908

Ok, so maybe I don’t praise Jesus all day long. You probably don’t either. In fact, there’s a good part of my day where Jesus goes on the backburner and his spot is taken up by what I need to get done today, where the kids need to go, who spilled Hawaiian Punch all over the kitchen floor, and who forgot to take the dumpster out to the curb. In between homework, housework, yard work, gardening, animal chores, baths, books, and bed, I’ll admit that I don’t have a lot of time to sit and read the Bible. But… I signed up for a bible study at church based on Lisa Welchel’s (Blaire from The Facts of Life) book called Taking Care of the Me in Mommy. One of the chapters is on meditation – meditating on God’s word, not sitting around going “ohmmmmmmm” – to open yourself to what God may be trying to tell you, may be trying to get you to do, to change, and so on. So here goes…

I’ve started this blog to give me a responsibility each day to read some of God’s word and chronicle how it applies to my everyday life. I feel a calling to write and will pray that my ramblings will make sense. My everyday life includes two young sons, a foreign husband (although he’ll argue he’s not a foreigner anymore since he is a citizen), horses, chickens, cats, neighbor cows, backyard wildlife, gardening, and small town observations. God has given me a lot of material by which to relate back to his word. Let’s just see if I can get the message!

And since we’re all on the road to heaven together, I thought I might as well share. Maybe my observations and discernments, frustrations and shortcomings, will help you get a little closer to where you want to be, give you someone to laugh at, or at least make your life seem a little more normal.

Since I was born a Lutheran and probably will die a Lutheran, we’ll be using the red (The Lutheran Hymnal) and blue (Lutheran Worship) hymnals for most of our songs, and the Concordia Self-Study Bible that has been with me since my Confirmation Class days – it’s the New International Version - and maybe a little Luther’s Small Catechism, just for kicks.

I promise to be honest, coherent (unless it’s a bad day), and entertaining if at all possible. I ask you to help me keep up with what I’ve set out to accomplish by commenting if I’ve said anything that has rang true to you, and forwarding on to friends if you think my thoughts are worth sharing. I promise to read all comments posted and consider them as a part of my journey to becoming a better mother, wife and Christian.

Oh, and pray for me. I need all the help I can get!

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18