Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rice Nights

Sitting at a wedding last fall, I listened as friends described a mission conference their church had just finished hosting.  One of the nights a meal was going to be served, and there were many different ethnic foods displayed, but when it came time to eat, the only thing served was. . . rice. 

One bowl.

Our friends described the shock and underlying surprise of the attendees who didn't expect to be served rice;  and the impact that this rice meal had was great as the leaders went on to explain the reality of hunger and poverty that Americans just don't comprehend.

Can you imagine your daily meal being a bowl of rice?

This idea, of serving rice and thinking about how the other half lives, stayed with me and in January we implemented our very first rice night.


We served rice and water, that's all, googled some world hunger facts [that were frankly, staggering], and then each week we've followed our own little youtube video trail searching relief, World Vision, Compassion, children and poverty.

Did you know that every five seconds a child dies from hunger related causes?

It has been eye opening for our kids.  I love that they're seeing another side of compassion;  our family has focused on grief so much that sometimes its easy to forget that there are many more needs out there in the wild cruel world. 

On a teaching note, the geography absorbed is phenomenal, because the kids like to see where the stories are coming from.  Last week we were watching something about a little boy in Niger and Jacob piped up oh, yeah, that's right below Algeria.  I, of course, had no idea if that's true cuz my world geography is pathetic, so I snuck over to the globe to see if he was right. . . yeah, he was.  ;)

And it keeps reality in view.

We've been given so much.  Most of us have no idea what hunger truly is, what famine and poverty and water shortage really look like. 


This was a rice + lentils night. :)



Then we ran across this great organization when our friend Rachel married Jonathan, the operations director for Live58.  We were intrigued by the line Live 58. . . a challenge to believers to live Isaiah 58.  Daniel looked it up via YouVersion and read aloud from the NLT to me:

“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel of their sins!
Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.

“Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
Then the Lord will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
 
 
We were both a bit stunned by the directness clarity of these words, humbled to realize that often our lights as believers are clouded because of our selfishness and the modern day equivalents of fasting to please ourselves can mysteriously look like
 
squabbling over sunday school room placements
 
righteous indignation over music preferences
 
endless critiques of public Christian leaders
 
proving that my philosophy of ministry/outreach is better than yours
 
how this must grieve the heart of God.
 
 
For us, these little rice nights have been a tiny step in a direction of opening our children's eyes to the real, physical needs of little ones around the world. 
 
I pray that God breaks my children's hearts for a world in need of Him, the living Water and Bread of Life.
 
 






Thursday, April 4, 2013

when no one notices



This dish.

Beautiful china, tiny roses.  Wrapped in press n' seal, placed in our freezer with a meal, three years ago when the bottom dropped out of our world. 

I looked for a note, a marking, some clue to the whereabouts of the owner and the person who had taken time to prepare, braved the unknown to deliver their kindness. 

Nothing.

I asked around, kept my ears open, checked off all of the people I thought it might belong to, and after two years of no one claiming the dish, I started using it.

Every time I lay bread slices on it, muffins, strawberries, I think of the unnamed person who blessed us and never was thanked.

I think of the kindness that no one noticed, the offering that went to the seemingly ungrateful, the good deed that never got a thank you card.

I think of the frustration that I feel bubble when I offer good deeds to the thankless;  it's . . . well, thankless.

But a thankless task, an unnoticed offering, a kindness unrequited: it's a little hollow, maybe, but oh so important. Thankless does not equate unnecessary.



Today in the middle of teaching third grade and kindergarten and managing trying to love a toddler through a green playdoh snake mess,  I think: this job doesn't pay enough and I want the thank you, the pat on the back, the hey you did great today, the you matter and you're important. Never mind the sweet nothings, how about a paycheck to compensate the stress?  That could work too. 

I picked up my coffee mug to get some liquid encouragement and squinted down at 5 little green playdoh balls, floating in my Dunkin' Donuts blend.  Flavor of the day. I blink tears. 

No one notices. 

Or does someone notice?

Or does that even matter? 

why am I here?  why do I show the kindness?  what are my motives?


[so when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full] Matthew 6:2

But. . . I like trumpets. . . maybe trumpets would help. . . maybe we need to queue up some Henry Purcell for the weekdays.

Actually I'm all about trumpets.  But if I'm living for the trumpets, Jesus points out so clearly, then I'm living for the trumpets.  And that's the reward.  To be honored by others?  That's why I'm loving my kids?  That's why I show kindness?

Well, that's humbling to throw out there.

[So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.] Galations 6:9

Maybe the right time doesn't mean that Eli will thank me for reading I am a Bunny 42 times this week.

Maybe the right time . . . to be thanked. . . is not going to be here.

Am I okay with that?

Am I okay with pouring my life out and never being noticed, the thank you note left unwritten?

Yes, I am, right now, with my feet kicked on the coffee table, my children in bed, my own playlist through the speakers, but the rubber doesn't meet the road while I'm writing in my calm 10pm living room. 

The rubber meets the road when people put playdoh in my coffee and my kindergartener's eyes glaze over and she shrugs:

I dunno, 1 + 2?  Um. . . 56?

I have perspective when I can back away.

But when I'm in the thick of it, life closes in and I struggle and I just want a lil thank you note, y'know?

And I'm full circle, back to the dish in my cupboard, back to the feeling of being overwhelmed by a stranger's kindness, back to the carried part of my life where I didn't take a single step alone.

Back to the dish that didn't seem to matter. 

But it did matter.



To you, the unnoticed:

You matter.

Thank you.

Thank you for being kind, for being faithful, for caring, for doing good when no one notices, for loving without the fanfare.

Thank you for loving when those you love don't love you back.

Thank you for demonstrating faithfulness.



More thoughts on being overwhelmed:

A Life Plan When You're Overwhelmed: Sanity Manifesto

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

homemade tortillas pt. 3

I promise this will be the last tortilla post for a while. 

We keep coming up with more varieties;  tonight we tried whole wheat tortillas with one of my favorite go-to meals for cah-rayyzzy nights- scrambled eggs, sauteed red skinned potatoes, zucchini, green onions & peppers with cheese & salsa.  Yum.


Basic Homemade Tortillas

2 cups flour
1/2 t. salt
3 T. oil
3/4 water

Stir, let rest for ten minutes, divide into eight parts, roll thin on lightly floured surface.  Cook on nonstick electric skillet set to 350 for about 45 seconds on each side.

tomato-basil

Put 4-5 grape tomatoes in the bottom of measuring cup and fill with water to the 3/4 cup line.  Blend until smooth and use the liquid in place of the water. Add about 1 t. italian seasoning.

spinach
Blend a handful of spinach with the 3/4 cup water. 

whole wheat
Use 1 and 1/4 cup of whole wheat and 3/4 cup white flour.





Monday, April 1, 2013

#mondayquotes

We do our best to live with one foot in heaven and one foot on earth,
 
partaking in the everyday things of life and looking to participate in the
 
things that last forever.
 
 
It is a beautiful way to live.
 
(Jennie Allen, Stuck, Chapter 5::Overwhelmed)