Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Strange Way to Refresh Yourself

We've been talking about generosity around here lately. The word generous means to give more than what is expected or required.

I repeat: More than what is expected or required. 

I tend to give what's necessary or expected--not what's lavish or excessive. But so many times in scripture, we're counseled to give generously.

This kind of teaching exhausts me on days when I already feel like I have nothing left to give anyone.

Yet, I'm reminded of this gem of a Bible verse that reorients me (and brings joy!) during this last week before Christmas. It's in Proverbs 12:25:

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed. 

I think about refreshing others through whatever God has given me to give--whether time, money, talents, or material goods. Then, I find I'm even more refreshed.

Can it be true? How amazing! This upside-down, counter-intuitive principle tells me to give more when I need refreshment.

But I want to rest! I want to hide away! I want to keep my time for me! I want a spa day!

I know the truth today; whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

I'm putting it to the test, and I find it's true. Praise God that it's true.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sadness in the World

As I read about the school children killed in Pakistan, I don't know how to handle it. It's a reality too horrific to understand.

I go about my ordinary day and feel the cold rain on my face as I walk children to school. I return to clean the bathroom and think of the people in the world who wish for just one ordinary day when nothing terrible happens, when nobody dies and nobody is hurt. I shop at the grocery store and choose crisp apples for my cart. I greet excited children after school who gather about me and organize play dates. I wipe down a counter. I brush my hair. I listen to a daughter play piano.

This is an ordinary day.

Everything suddenly seems so precious, too precious to really understand: this peaceful neighborhood, these school children, this warm home with lazy cats beside me.

The apple I eat seems too good to be true--too privileged--in light of the horrors all over the world.

So many people are suffering today. Oh, Lord, help us. Help us now. We need you. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Expressing Love Through Food Isn't Always the Best

This week, I've been reminding myself that I don't need to express my love to people through food all the time.

But I do! I always do! What do you need? Buttery cookies, rich peppermint bark, buttermilk fried chicken, elaborate mugs of hot cocoa, yeast rolls carefully risen, or a thick oniony roast? What might bless you? Dumplings, lemon bars, Irish cheese, a flaky pot pie?

I wake up thinking of ways to love my family and neighbors through food.

My great friend and walking partner tells me recently that she's noticed that I prefer to express love through food. I hadn't thought of it like this. And I know that's not always the best expression of love, especially as we try to gain health in my family. Moms can do so many other things to express love that have nothing to do with food.

As I gain fitness and shed extra weight, I'm thinking about food and love differently.

Did my children feel less loved when the after school treat was a game or a snowflake cutting craft? Did they feel less loved by a long conversation on the couch? Did they notice that the once decadent after-school snack platter was oranges and red pepper? I can find some healthier alternatives to sugar and butter. Will they care?

No. Nobody complained. I want to break the symbolic connection that food means love.

Love doesn't always have to be food.

But when there's a need, and someone's hungry, I'll bring it. In the meantime, I can love you in a million other ways.

(Once I asked my daughters what communicated the most love to them from me. Was it chocolate cake? Presents? Clothing? No. My youngest said she loved it when I talked to her while she was in the bubble bath.)