Saturday, November 20, 2004

Soup Kitchen or the Buckeyes?

It was tempting. VERY tempting!

Now that we have cable, I could have gotten a pay-per-view showing of the Ohio State vs. Michigan game. THE game of the season. It's hard not to get to watch the OSU games each week. Instead it's Maryland with BoDiddley Tech on the local stations. Ugh.

BUT - today is the day our church works at a local soup kitchen, The Lord's Table. We usually take the girls and go make bread, set tables, serve the guests, and help with clean up. It's a hard afternoon's work. And right in the middle of it is an important college football game! Oh my.

So yes, I could have stayed home and sent my family. Or, we could have gone earlier in the afternoon and then left in time to watch the game in our cozy family room. But, what message would that send? I tried to imagine saying to Jesus, "sorry, have to watch the Buckeyes. Someone else will have to serve today."

I chose to be a good example and go work at the soup kitchen. I chose to put my comforts aside, and my preferences. I don't feel holy about my choice. I just know that Jesus was pleased. I totally forgot about the game because of the pleasure of being His Servant. And win or lose, I knew that the game would go on without me. (But they won?!!! YAHOO!!)

Sometimes, the little steps of obedience are the ones that make the biggest impression on my heart. Forget anyone else's. It was a pleasure to obey. How often do I say that (HINT: not very.)

From our home to yours...


Monday, November 15, 2004


I am still mulling over a recent trip to West Virginia. The object lesson I received concerning encouragement keeps coming back to mind...

We hiked trails every day during our stay in the Dolly Sods area. Some were well-marked. Some were deer trails in the grass and rocks. Others were completely unmarked and you could only guesstimate where you were going. Some were rocky and flat, others were quite steep. But all of them had something in common: the occasional hikers we met on the trail gave us some kind of feedback as to how far along we were and whether or not it was worth the trip!

Of course, we met some jokers. "You are MILES away from the look out point." That from a smirking young man, who was promptly whacked on the head by a buddy. "Give up and go back. Boring." said another, followed by a fast "NOT!" "You look pretty worn out, there." (Yes, red-faced, wheezing and sweating is quite a fashion statement!)

There were families, couples, some with small kids, who would greet us with a smile and a hello, quite cheery and relaxed, as they hiked DOWN the mountain, and we toiled upwards. They were breathing easily. We were puffing and panting. One family told us "only two more switchbacks and you are there!" Another told us "it's so warm and sunny at the top!" (This was encouraging because we were hiking through drizzle.)

SO upward and onward we climbed, stopping to rest, consult the map, and then go on again. We kept looking back down the mountain and across the valley to see how far up we had come. Surely it wouldn't be much farther!!

Then it was our turn! We made it to the top, enjoyed the view, chatted with fellow hikers, and headed back down the mountain to our car.

ON the way, we met puffing hikers. And, we encouraged them. "It's beautiful!" "Worth the hike!" "Not too much more!" This time WE were relaxed and smiling, THEY were huffing and puffing. It felt good to encourage them.

The object lesson God brought home to me was that we so much need encouragement. REAL encouragment, based on truth, not platitudes. For instance, "you're almost there" would mean nothing if we were just getting out of our car. "Worth the hike" helped us keep going, persevering. "Only 2 switchbacks more" was for someone with recent experience that remembered how close we were to finishing, and how tired we were.

SO it is with our lives... remember that last lap around life's track? Was it childbirth? or teenagers? cancer? test anxiety? potty training? Isn't it more helpful to say, "it's worth it" than exclaim over how tired and exhausted they look???

I remembered the first part of Philippians 2:
1) If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
2) then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
3) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
4) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The lesson really hit home about three days AFTER we were home. I did some "errand chauffering". It required most of my morning, with multiple stops, retracing my steps to get forgotten items, and then found my car parked in by a garbage truck when I was finally ready to leave for home. Because I couldn't go anywhere, I ended up chatting with a neighbor. This neighbor, not a Christian, was dealing with the exact same family issues that I was.

My experiences were there to give her hope and ENCOURAGEMENT! What I had gone through was to help me understand her worries and affirm her efforts were worth it. I was humbled, and joyous. How funny, that the very things I had been "sweating over" (literally and figuratively) were exactly the preparation I needed to minister to this friend.

And WHO do you think had walked me through all of these situations?? Yes. God. What is more, He had given me the experiences I had to be His Hands and Feet to this friend.

Wow. Wow. Wow. He is faithful.

I'm ready for the next lap. How about you?

From our home to yours-