Sunday, February 26, 2006

Here's My Lunch, Lord

To my Readers: Here’s something I wrote (and published) several years ago. It seems applicable to me once again today. I need this reminder everytime I feeled stretched to the max! Perhaps it will also resonate with you.

I awoke this morning feeling overwhelmed at all that I needed to accomplish today. I felt as though I didn't have enough time or energy to do all that I needed to do. I felt inadequate for the tasks at hand. I absolutely had to finish my college class assignments and prepare the lesson for tonight's meeting. I was confident that all the things I was currently involved in and committed to were things that God had lead me to do. I had already learned the valuable lesson of saying "no" when necessary. I hadn't been procrastinating, but a multitude of tasks lay before me, needing to be accomplished.

"God," I cried out on the pages of my journal, "what do I need to know and understand?"

His answer came back immediately, "I know how to bless the loaves and fishes. Bring Me what you have and trust Me to multiply it and make it enough. I will be with you, and you will know that it was by My strength and not your own."

Refreshed by this reminder, I began the day, but my mind kept wandering back to what I had "heard" on the page. I thought of the little boy in the New Testament that gave his meager lunch to the Master, and what He accomplished through something small and insignificant. Jesus had taken one little lunch and turned it into more than enough to feed a hungry crowd. It was all the boy had to offer, but Jesus multiplied it into a bountiful picnic for thousands.

Later I remembered how as a child I was ashamed of the sack lunches I took to school. At lunchtime, I held my sandwiches, often mashed beans on crumbly homemade bread, under the table because I was so ashamed of my noontime fare. I did not want the other children to see what I was eating. (Today if I had mashed beans on a tortilla, I would have a burrito! But this was before I had ever heard of tortillas or burritos!)

Sometimes I even threw my lunches away and endured the remainder of the day with a grumbling stomach. From my perspective, my lunches did not compare to the lunches of my fellow students. They had enviable little bags of chips, sandwiches on brand-name bread, and store-bought cupcakes. I was not so fortunate. I even had to reuse my paper sack. Each day I would carefully fold it and take it home to be used again the next day. After awhile even the sack became cause for feelings of utter humiliation. I was never proud of my lunches.
Somehow what I had to offer today seemed much like the meager lunches of my youth—not good enough. However, today I offered my pitiful little lunch—all that I had—to Jesus and believed that He would use it and make it sufficient.

As the day draws to a close, I am filled with gratitude. God helped me to accomplish what most needed to be done. Most of all, I am grateful for the wonderful lesson that he taught me. He only desires that I give Him all that I have, presenting it at the foot of the cross and believing that He will multiply and use whatever I bring. If I offer Him all I have, then who I am and what I bring to the Master is enough.

(c) Marlene Depler

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's a girl! Laura Marlene, my sixth grandchild, is here! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Waiting Game

Wait! Wait! Wait! We spend much of our life waiting for one thing or another. At the moment I am waiting for the birth of my sixth grandchild! I’m both excited and anxious.

At the moment—while I’m waiting—I’m thinking about all the other times in my life that I’ve spent waiting: in traffic jams, in line at the grocery store, on hold on the telephone, in the waiting rooms of doctors' and dentists' offices. (It's kind of funny that they are actually called waiting rooms!)

I've waited on innumerable occasions to pick up my children from school, little league, ballet, piano and voice lessons, swimming lessons, etc. I've waited for wash cycles to finish and cakes to bake. Each summer I wait for the first ripe tomato. I often wait for flights to arrive or depart. I've waited for company to arrive, and on rare occasions, for company to leave. Then there’s the time I nervously waited for the doctor to give a report on a CAT scan on my mother. I waited during a quadruple heart by-pass surgery on my father. And this only scratches the surface in my lengthy repertoire of waiting.

We start the waiting game early in childhood. We wait for birthdays, Christmas, and to be old enough to go to school. Ironically, when we start school, we then wait for the final bell so we can go home.

We wait for summer. We wait for supper to be served. As young girls, we wait to be old enough to wear make-up, jewelry, and high heels. We wait for our parents to think we are old enough to date. We wait for the day we get our driver's license, and then for high school graduation.

Then we wait some more. Many wait for a good job, for love, for their first home, and perhaps for children. When the babies come, we find ourselves waiting for the day when they are finally out of diapers. On exceptionally frustrating days, we may even find ourselves waiting for our children to grow up. Then when they do, we wait for them to come home. Amazing how that is! Before long we are waiting for retirement. All of our life is spent waiting for something.

We wait for many other things that may be less obvious; yet, they are no less important. We wait silently for an apology or for someone's behavior to change. Approval and appreciation—for that too we wait. We wait for our prayers to be answered. Many wait for the romance that seems to elude them. Others wait for a wayward child to have a change of heart. Some wait for a promotion at work, for opportunity to knock, for the proverbial ship to come sailing in, and for dreams to come true. Maybe you are waiting to win the lottery or the sweepstakes. Just don't count on winning the Reader's Digest sweepstakes. That's the one I'm waiting for!

What are you waiting for at this moment? As for me, I'm waiting for my dress size to shrink. I’m waiting on a package that was supposedly shipped two weeks ago. Then I'm also waiting on publishers and editors to respond to manuscripts. Yes, I spend a lot of precious time playing the waiting game.

The truth is that we will always be waiting for something. Since that's the case, we must learn to live and enjoy life fully while we wait. If we are always waiting for something before we can enjoy our lives, we may end up missing out on the life we were waiting to live. We must remember to live life in the meantime—while we are waiting. Life is not around the next bend in the road or over the next hill. Life is now—this very moment.

Isaiah 40:31 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." NIV
(c) 2006 Marlene Depler

Monday, February 13, 2006

It's what's for dinner---Spaghetti Steak! Posted by Picasa

In The Kitchen

“What’s for dinner?”

For over 35 years, this has been the daily question. I’m not alone. Women throughout the ages have asked themselves the same question. And if we aren’t asking the question, our families are certainly are.

Thus, we barely clean up the dishes from one meal before we start thinking about what to cook for the next. Add to that the shopping time and preparation time—which then leads to a continual cycle of more dirty dishes. Is it any wonder that we sometimes get a little weary of the never-ending process of “kitchen duty”?

Yet when we think about our kitchens, they are central to family life.
Much more happens in the kitchen and around the table than the feeding of hungry tummies. Hearts are also nourished by conversation and laughter. Stories are shared. Blessings and prayers are spoken. Birthdays, graduations, and holidays are celebrated. Families connect and reconnect. And have you noticed how family and friends all inevitably congregate in the kitchen?

I loved the bustle in both of my grandmothers’ kitchens. After we helped pluck the feathers off the chickens, Grandma N. fried up a huge platter of chicken. Put that with her homemade brown bread and some veggies from her garden. You couldn’t beat it! Especially, if she made a cake with brown sugar frosting.

Grandma H. made the best homemade dill pickles. She canned them by the half gallon. And it took a whole jar per meal by the time all of the grandchildren made trips through the kitchen to snitch. And who could resist her blackberry cobbler and biscuits? Grandpa would loving tease her about the biscuits, “Elsie Lorene, it looks like a cow stepped on these biscuits!”

When I was raising my children, they did their homework, worked on projects, shared snacks with their friends, and played games around the kitchen table or at the kitchen bar. As soon as they walked in the door from school—you guessed it—they headed for the kitchen.

Now my grandchildren often join me in the kitchen. We bake together. They color in coloring books or play with Play-Doh. We play games. The kitchen table becomes a fort. My youngest grand-daughter often builds a “cozy home” under my kitchen desk. And at the kitchen table, I teach my oldest granddaughter to sew.

From my kitchen, I’ve made meals for sick friends and for funeral dinners. I have pulled fresh baked bread or cookies out of the oven just in time for kids just arriving home from school. I have brewed mullein tea for coughs.

It’s where my husband reads the newspaper. And it’s here I often sip steaming coffee or tea with a friend as we share our lives and encourage each other. Today my writers’ group will gather in my kitchen to fill mugs with hot, herbal tea and to eat cranberry-apple muffins before we get down to the business of writing critiques.

Now and then I need to be reminded of the importance of life in the kitchen. Its legacy is far beyond its size or the occasional clutter—and has little to do with gourmet recipes, fancy dishes, or designer decorating schemes. The kitchen’s legacy is the family and friends that have been blessed as our hands serve and our hearts extend love and warmth.

Yes, I still must answer the question “What’s for dinner?” As I do, I will remember to cherish all the rich and wonderful history that has transpired within these walls. I’ll remember everything from the warmth of hot winter meals to the refreshment of cold summer beverages. I’ll remember the family and friends that have graced my table. I may loose my culinary joy from time to time, but for today I’ll count my blessings as I face with the daily-ness of cooking and doing dishes.

My kitchen: tis’ a blessin’!

Bless our hands and hearts, O Lord,
as we prepare “daily bread” for our families
and nourish the hearts of those we love.

(c) 2006 Marlene Depler