Thursday, October 12, 2017

It's A Wrap!

My first week serving at the Food Pantry is in the books.   We served 456 meals this week, but now the kitchen is clean and the lights are off.

This is how I feel...

  • I'm exhausted.
  • My feet hurt.
  • I'm excited.
  • My heart is full.
  • I'm sad.
  • My arms are like jello.
  • I'm exhausted.
  • I'm happy.
  • I'm thankful.
  • I'm in awe.
  • I'm heartbroken.
  • I'm happy to have a long weekend break.
  • I can't wait until next week.
  • Did I mention that I'm exhausted?

This last three days have been a roller coaster of emotion.  I'm so thankful and blown away by the help that I have received from those that I know and even strangers.  On Tuesday and Thursday I had four different family and friends show up to help me.  On Wednesday I had four ladies from church that serve the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.  Everyone was willing to help out in anyway possible.  Some did dishes, mopped floors, served food, wiped tables, cleaned up spills, made food, etc.  The list could go on and on.  Then some of the ladies went above and beyond and just went to work cleaning around the kitchen.  The toaster, microwave, sink and counters have never looked so good.

I've also had a couple people donate some money so that I could purchase some needed items.  Some just put it in my hand and others have had a message waiting for me upon waking up in the morning to let me know that they've put a check in the mail.

I've also had strangers come into the pantry and volunteer.  It's pretty typical to have people that come every once in awhile, but one person today was definitely a gift from God.  He came in this morning, introduced himself, said that he volunteered occasional Thursdays and asked me to put him to work.  Some volunteers are more skilled in the kitchen than others, so I asked him what he was comfortable doing.  He said anything.  I asked him if he could cut salad fixings.  He said he was a chef at a local restaurant so he was sure he could handle salad.  Hallelujah!  My next question was "Have you ever made macaroni and cheese with yogurt?" as I'm standing over a pot looking confused.  He laughed and then he asked me how I normally made macaroni and cheese.  I admitted that I opened a box labeled Stouffer's.

His next question was "How did you get this job?"  Ha!  He gave me suggestions, helped, made a great salad and stayed to help us serve.  He's even planning to try to come back next week to help me make pork belly.  That will be another new one for me. (By the way...the yogurt mac and cheese went over well.)

I've also had heartbreaking moments.  I've seen people come in to eat carrying all of their belongings on their back.  I've seen people come to tears over a simple glass of milk or cup of coffee.  I've seen teenagers come in filthy and starving with no place to go.  Most heartbreaking is hearing the story of a gentleman who volunteers five days a week and sorts donations that are given to the pantry.  He's diabetic and also disabled.  Many years ago his first wife died.  He turned to alcohol.  He attempted suicide.  He got the help he needed and has been sober for 25 years.  He got married again.  Again his wife died.  Again he attempted suicide.  He sleeps in a van that he borrows for the night.  He has been sleeping in the van for several years.  He has no hope.  He feels he has no reason to live anymore.  He volunteers at the pantry because he has no place else to go.

This week has been exhausting.  I'm tired.  But I wouldn't change it for the world.  It's life changing to hand a plate of food to a dirty starving teen.  It humbling when I help a homeless person find a place for their backpack of items in the corner while they eat.  It makes me count my blessings when I see someone tear up over a cup of milk.  And each time I pass the gentleman with no hope I am reminded why God has me here.  Serving food is good and necessary, but more than anything this man and so many others need to know that they can have hope and eternal life with Jesus.  I pray that each time I pass him in the hall, speak to him in the warehouse, smile at him as I hand him food...that he will see Jesus in me. 

So thank you for all of your prayers.  Thank you to those that have volunteered their time or given money.  You too are all apart of those hope giving moments.  Thank you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Grand Terrifying Adventure

Today I started a Grand Adventure.  At least that's what I keep telling myself.  Mostly I want to call it a Terrifying Endeavor.  Maybe I should combine the two and call it a Grand Terrifying Adventure.  Yep.  That sounds about right.  Today I started a Grand Terrifying Adventure.

For several years now I have been a part of a group of ladies that prepares and serves food at the Mishawaka Food Pantry twice a month.  The pantry already serves free lunch every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week.  We just cover a couple of Wednesdays for them so that it helps their budget, chef and volunteers.  It's been an amazing experience and I love how God has been working to help us build relationships with the people there.  I have story after story about how God has touched lives through this ministry.  These two days of the month are days I look forward to and most of the time I believe I walk away more blessed than the people that I've served.

Anyway, the regular chef at the pantry had to have surgery and will be out about 8 weeks.  The pantry had this covered, but about a week and a half before the surgery, the person who was going to fill in had to back out.  So long story short ... I am filling in for the chef at the food pantry.  I've never done anything like this before.  I cook for five.  Like I said, I started a Grand Terrifying Adventure.

Let me tell you, serving twice a month with a handful of ladies is totally different than being the full time chef.  When we serve with the church, we make a menu, shop, each cook part of the meal and then show up and put it together and serve it.

That isn't quite the same when you are the full time chef.  This is how it works.  Basically, people donate to the pantry, or we pick up whatever items we can from the food bank.  All of these items go into cooler or freezer.  Then I walk into the cooler or freezer, see all of these random items and then figure out how to make something out of them for between 125 and 200 meals.

And while I'm at it, I have to try really hard not to let anything go to waste because everything is valuable. You know, like the yogurt that was donated yesterday but was out of date today.  We can't just serve it because of the date ... even though the yogurt really is still good for a few days.  It has to be cooked.  What do I make out of yogurt?  Google has been my friend.  On Thursday this week I think we are having mac and cheese made with yogurt.  I didn't even know that existed. I' ll let you know how it turns out.

Last week I trained.  Today was my first day.  Oh my goodness it was a doozy!  We served 192 meals.  Let me just say that that was more dishes than I've ever seen at once!  I'm so thankful for my mom and for another lady from my church that came and helped with dishes and clean up today.  They saved me hours of work.  I also had some amazing volunteers from the pantry that were a lot of help.


For the last week I've been repeating in my head "when I am weak, he is strong."  ("But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9). I keep telling people at the pantry that "I'm nervous, but God's got this."

I've asked a few prayer warriors I know if they would pray for me this week.  One was by text message.  I explained the situation and told her that there were random things at the pantry to cook from and that I really wanted some simple things to go with them ... like chicken broth or potatoes.  Her response back was "Dear Marcia, God definitely has a plan and you are a part of that.  AND.  He can provide potatoes."  That was Wednesday
morning last week.  Wednesday afternoon I walked into the cooler and what do you think had suddenly appeared?  That's right, potatoes!

Tomorrow is day two.

So ready or not ... one Grand Terrifying Adventure coming up.  But God's got this.

Friday, March 31, 2017

This time last year

This morning when I was looking at Facebook, I clicked on "See your memories".  This is one of my posts from this day last year:

"My grandmother passed away today.  I was blessed to be able to hold her hand as she took her last breath.  My childhood is full of memories of time spent with her.  My heart hurts, but like my grandpa said when he heard the news "Praise the Lord!"  There's no more pain and suffering and she's in the presence of Jesus."

That was a tough day.  There has been a lot of tough days this past year.  There are days that I miss her so much it brings me to tears.  There are so many days that I want to call her and share with her things that are happening in our lives.  There are days when I drive by her home or the nursing home and I want to stop in to visit and see the smile on her face when I walk in the room.  I want to hear her tell me that she loves me.  



I spent this past week with a friend.  During that time we talked about my grandparents.  During the conversation my friend said, "It's such a precious legacy they left for you."  I looked up the word legacy.  One definition is:  anything handed down from the past.  

My grandma definitely left me a legacy.

My grandma could not leave me the gift of salvation.  Salvation is something personal between Jesus and me.  I am not saved because my grandma was saved.  But my grandma did lead me to the foot of the cross...to Jesus.  My grandma faithfully took me to church starting at the age of two.  She taught my Junior Church class.  She helped me with my memory verses.  She showed me what it meant to serve.  She prayed for me.  She prayed with me.  She read her Bible faithfully and in front of me.  The list goes on and on.

It's all a part of her legacy.

Last Sunday we baptized five people at church.  My grandma loved baptisms.  She loved that people who had accepted Jesus were following Him in baptism.  Grandma knew that baptisms don't save people, but that it is only a picture or symbol of what someone has already done in their heart.  But she saw it as such a time of celebration.  I remember being small and helping her gather towels and robes in preparation of a baptism and afterwards gathering those same towels and robes to take home to wash.  It was never a burden to her.  It was time of joy.  Last week as I stood in her place handing out towels I couldn't help but think about how excited she would be about the baptisms.  Later I cried because I wanted to pick up the phone and share the excitement with her.

It's another part of her legacy.

I miss her.  Occasionally the tears still come and my heart still hurts, but I am so thankful for  her legacy.

On another note...just to leave you with a laugh...

My other Facebook memory from this day last year says:

"I just heard from downstairs 'Hold him!  Hold him!  I can get his nipples'"

Boys!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I've Missed This.

Ahhh...I've missed this.  Writing.  It's a creative outlet that helps me to process information...and emotions...and relationships...and scriptures...and parenting issues...and well, lots of stuff.  My family has gone through some sad times in the past year and over and over I've thought to myself that I wanted to get back to writing, but I just never made the time.  This morning I decided the time is now.

My prayer is that God would use my writing time to strengthen my faith and relationships and that by sharing others might also be encouraged and strengthened.  So as I sit here on the couch this morning,  I pray to our Father, the one who loves us more than any other, that he would use my words to work in not only my life, but yours too.  I'm praying for you, dear reader.

A few weeks ago during my devotion time I came across this verse:

 "And the Lord said, 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'' 
Exodus 33:14. 

It is such a comforting verse.  I've been focusing on the first part "my presence will go with you".  It's one of those things that I learned in Sunday School so many years ago. I know it in my head but day to day I don't really grasp it.  As I sit here and really try to comprehend what that means it's overwhelming.  The presence of God is with me.  With you.  The same God that created the earth, that split the sea, that rained down manna from heaven is here.  In this very room.  Isn't that amazing?  How do I so often take that for granted?

The view from the deck at The Cove.
Last fall Denver and I had an amazing opportunity to attend a retreat at the The Cove.  It's the Billy Graham Retreat Center in Asheville, North Carolina.  Each year Church of God Ministries and Christians Broadcasting Hope, rent out the facilities there and hold a retreat.  Denver and I were able to enjoy some time away together and to attend a few classes especially for pastors.  It was a great weekend and I hope we can go back again sometime.

The speaker during the retreat was Jim Lyon.  He is the General Director of the Church of God.  He weaves a lot of storytelling and history into his messages.  He shared a lot with us over the long weekend, but one simple thing he said continues to come back to me much like the scripture above.  He said, "Whenever you enter a room, the Spirit of Jesus Christ enters with you."  It sounds simple but something about it really spoke to me.  I kept entering different rooms in the beautiful buildings with vaulted ceilings and giant fireplaces and each time I would cross the threshold, I would think "He's here."  It's amazing how differently you think about things, how differently you treat people, how differently you speak when you first think "He's here."  I want to get back to that way of thinking again.

I've started today.  When I walk into my kitchen "He's here".  When I head down to do mounds of laundry "He's here."  When my boys fight or ask what's for dinner for the hundredth time "He's here." When I'm serving at the food pantry tomorrow "He's here."  When I feel like someone isn't treating me fairly "He's here."

"And the Lord said, 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest'" Exodus 33:14.

"He's here."

Friday, April 22, 2011

He's Alive Buns

It's Easter time already.  Everyone is thinking about dresses with ruffles (well, except for in our house), Easter baskets, jelly beans, peeps, egg coloring, and Easter Egg hunts.  Easter doesn't seem to be quite as busy as Christmas time, but it's still so easy to become so distracted by all the "Eastery" things that we forget to take the time to remind our ourselves and our children why we celebrate Easter in the first place.  Our family is no different.

Last year I ran across a repipe for "He's Alive Bun's"  I've heard others call them Resurrection Rolls.  Ben and I made them together last year, but this year all three boys are going to help.  I am excited to be able to share the story of Jesus' resurrection with them in a way that they can see and feel...in a way that they will find interesting...in a way that will keep their attention.

I will post the recipe below.  It's really simple.  For those of you that have never made or heard of them they are simply marshmallows wrapped in a biscuit.  The really neat thing is that when you bake them, the marshmallow melts....leaving the inside of the biscuit empty!

I plan to make the buns with the boys and then while we are eating them we'll read this:


"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they
had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering
about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 
In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground,
but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"
Luke 24:1-8



Here's Ben with a "He's Alive Bun" last year.

We also plan to make enough for the boys to take to their Sunday School Classes on Easter.  We'll attach the scripture to the plate of buns so that the teacher have a little something extra to share with the students.

So what are your Easter traditions?  Do you have a neat or interesting way of sharing the gospel with your kids?


He's Alive Buns

1 roll- Refrigerator Biscuits (Pillsbury or similar)
Large Marshmallows - 1 per biscuit
Melted Butter
Sugar and Cinnamon mixture- Just enough to cover the buns.

Directions:

Wrap one biscuit around 1 large marshmallow. Brush on melted butter and roll in cinnamon/sugar. Bake as directed on biscuit pkg. The marshmallow will melt and the bun will be hollow inside.

Note: Make sure to pinch the dough together as much as you can. Some will still pull apart and marshmallow will spill out. Also, your pan will be a sticky mess, but it washes with a little scrubbing.