Wednesday, June 23, 2010

365 served

My second shift at The Mustard Seed was last night - I had to be up early this morning so I didn't stay up to post when I returned home. It was another fantastic evening - I handed out 365 plates, and recognized a handful of people that came through, although there were a lot of new people. My friend with the puzzle was not there last night, but maybe I'll see him again one of these weeks. Some of the people smiled genuinely as I handed them their plates, and even though I don't know all of their stories, part of their story is definitely the fact that they need to come for a free meal, whether they have money to buy groceries or not, the need for a free meal exists. And for that, I am eternally greatful to The One who sent me to do His service.

I'm thinking about them a lot again today - the young girl with her boyfriend who could hardly walk, and how they did last night under their blanket, for they were homeless - the young deaf man who signed "Thank you" every time I gave him something, but who asked to be escorted out of the building due to an altercation that occurred inside, as he feared for his safety - the other young man involved in the altercation, the one who loved lasagna (so he told me last week), and gave me a flyer promoting his new business - the guy with a mohawk who sang a Stone Temple Pilots karaoke song - I wonder what they are all doing today.

The time went so fast, and soon it was 1000, and I didn't want the evening to end. What a joy it is to serve, and to receive smiles, just for being nice to someone who maybe has had a rough day. I hope that I feel this way every time I go, but it seems like those who have served for a while aren't quite as enthusiastic as I am. I will pray each time I drive the long drive into the inner city that I will serve with the same joy as I have this past few weeks.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One Billion Percent Sure

I just arrived home from my first shift at the Mustard Seed Church, and had to write everything down before I lost these feelings to a world of sleep. What an amazing night! I started out by handing out plates to each person who came in for dinner - I would say 8 out of 10 said thank you for the plate - they were a polite group of people, but they were hungry. At 800 the food was cut off and there were still many who came in looking for dinner or asking for seconds. They knew that I was a newbie and tried to get through the line twice - one young smarty-pants asked for a second plate, in a way that I knew he was just testing me. I politely declined. At least one person snuck through for seconds - I only recognized him because he was wearing a baggy blue dress shirt. However, I wasn't 100% sure, so didn't say anything.

After dinner, the coffee bar lineup began. I offered to help, and was astounded by the volume of sugar and hot chocolate that people were drinking. I guess the sugar helps calm down the hunger pangs a bit. There was one younger man who came through four times while I was there, each time getting two scoops of hot chocolate in his coffee. A lot of people kept asking if there was any food left, and finally at about 830 we brought out some leftovers from the kitchen. The lineup suddenly grew much longer. We went through all of the leftovers, and then put out some day-old bagels and pastries - there weren't very many, just a tray full. It was sadly amazing how everyone went into self-preservation mode, not caring that there were hardly any buns and pastries to go around. One young guy filled a container that he said would be lunch tomorrow. One older guy took at least four donuts. I guess when you're that hungry, you look out for number one.

And so I'm going to sleep now in my cozy bed, with mountains of food waiting for me for breakfast, and a lot of the people I met tonight will be eating the leftovers they snuck out tonight, or nothing at all. I'll be thinking about the young mom and her two kids who kept coming through the lineup for some extra buns, and the young man who liked hot chocolate in his coffee, and the guys playing crib at the back table, and the man who had a puzzle in his pocket that I wanted to try. I looked for him after dinner but couldn't find him - maybe I'll try his puzzle next week.

It sure puts some things in prespective, as I purposely starved myself in the past couple of weeks to try to win a stupid challenge at our local gym. At least I now have the choice to be able to eat whatever I want. Those people are starving all the time and are so grateful for the meal we served tonight.

As I left the Mustard Seed Church, I had no doubt in my mind that it was exactly where God wants me to be and to serve. I had ignored the calling for so long, and now I am positive that this is where I need to be. My only wish is that I could be there every night instead of just once a week.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A friend! A friend!

As I type this, Matthew has his friend Marcus over, and he hasn't been so excited in ages! They have been hanging out together for a few weeks, and have been trying to get together after school, but of course I needed to talk to Marcus' mom first, and Matthew kept forgetting to ask for his phone number. Finally, yesterday Matthew brought home a thin piece of paper with a phone number on it. We phoned Marcus this morning, and he's been here all day, and they are watching an Indiana Jones movie now.

In a way it makes me sad that we're switching schools, but there's still summer, and friends seem to change so quickly at that age. If they stay friends over the summer, they can always get together after school in the fall. I still think the change of schools will be the best choice for Matthew, and I'll be able to be so much more involved as the teachers want as much parent help as can be offered.

So I guess my mother was right - the loners always seem to find each other and make friends. We all just want our kids to be happy - and today I have one happy boy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Found It

After all of the dreams, visions, and calling from the Holy Spirit, and after second guessing myself, procrastinating, and humming/hawing, I finally made it back to the Mustard Seed church and I realized the calling was real. As I explained to someone on Sunday afternoon, there are other things I "do" for the church - organize kids' ministries, teach a financial class, but I see those things more as giving back to God using the gifts he has already given me. He created my organizational skills and my mathematical aptitude, so it is only fitting that I use these gifts to benefit the kingdom. But this isn't the same as my calling.

My first realization as I parked in front of the Mustard Seed was that people had lined up for 700 supper over an hour ahead of time. By the time we had finished our tour, the lineup stretched around the block. The meal was a delicious looking stew, nice salad, and mountains of rice crispie squares. We then walked through the clothing depot and the food bank, and the reality of the inner city was right in front of us. I thought of pretty much everyone I know, and how we all have too much, and these people stood in line for over an hour for stew, and there was a shortage of shampoo and razors.

Our calling is to make sacrifices to further the Kingdom of God, get out of our comfort zone, and help those in need. Jesus spoke of WHEN we help the poor, not if, and even Deuteronomy commands us to help the poor. What a great gesture of God's love we can give by spending a few hours of time serving those in need.

My calling. My purpose. Visions realized.

God has spoken.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ezekiel Bread

I had always heard how healthy this bread is, but only recently discovered that it has beans and lentils in addition to the bunch of different grains. My friend Melisa and I made a bunch of loaves tonight, using her electric flour mill to crush whole grains and beans into fine flour. I am so excited to have another super food to eat! I'm planning to go out and buy my own mill so that I can create pure flour to use for baking - I haven't been this excited in a long time!

As I read more about this bread, I learned that the four grains, combined with lentils and beans, together form a complete protein with 18 amino acids. This protein is 83% as healthy as the protein found in milk and eggs - how amazing is that. It made me take a new look at Ezekiel 4:9, and realize that the recipe for the bread was spelled out in God's own words, thousands of years ago. No scientist would have known back then that this combination of foods would have produced a complete protein...other than the Greatest Scientist of All!

It seems that everywhere I look I see further evidence of His amazing's becoming more difficult to deny the more time I spend in His Word.

If only more people would just look - it's so easy to find.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wierd Kids

I guess ever since God invented kids there has always been a "wierd kid" in the bunch. The one who was a little off the wall, who didn't really have very many friends, and who kids generally stayed away from.

It turns out that I have one of those wierd kids.

We all want our kids to be happy and to have friends, and generally be content with the world. As the school end draws near, I look back with the sad realization that Matthew didn't get invited to one birthday party all year....and I'm sure there were kids who had birthdays during the year! The realization was punctuated as I read some Facebook postings about a boy in his class who had a birthday party yesterday, a boy I thought Matthew got along with, but no birthday invitation for Matthew.

Of course, there are only so many kids you can invite to a birthday party (unless you're one of those crazy parents who invites the entire class!!), so it's not like Matthew would get invited to every birthday, but I would have thought maybe one at least? In the end, I don't think he cares, but sometimes I wonder what goes on in his head.

And so I think the move to the new school will be a good one - he may be the "new wierd kid", and may still not get invited to any birthday parties, but when the school is small, the loners aren't so obvious to themselves. Right now he sees hundreds of kids playing together and he might be lucky if one will talk to him over recess. When he is only one of forty or fifty kids, hopefully he won't feel so ostrasized.

In the end, we like to say that school popularity doesn't really matter, but how long can a kid go before he starts to think something might be wrong with him? And it sure doesn't help that he has an uber-extroverted sister with more friends than she can count.

Aaaah parenthood - the pains along with the joys. We can all just rest assured that God has a plan for all of the kids, even the wierd ones.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Old Friends

When I was in elementary school, there was a huge core group of kids that grew up through elementary school and into junior high. We all walked to school, our parents knew each other, and it was a safe time to just be kids.

One of those friends I had was named Chris Dary - I tended to hang out with the boys more than the girls, mainly because they were more interesting and liked to play sports at recess. As an aside, I still struggle to relate to the female gender - my brain just doesn't seem wired in the same way most female brains are. I really don't like getting together with "the girls", find mindless chatter extremely annoying, and abhor shopping. But I digress.

Anyway, on Sunday morning, I was puttering down the trail on my Sunday morning "run" (more like a limping shuffle) and remembered a dream I had the night before. "Chris Dary!" I mused out loud (to the birds and squirrels, I guess), "I haven't thought about him in years!" I chuckled to myself, remembering innocent times of the past, and continued shuffling along.

That night, I had a friend request on Facebook from a friend at the gym. I confirmed, and then had access to her Facebook wall. As I'm reading down the wall, imagine my surprise when I saw a posting from none other than CHRIS DARY! I looked at his pictures, and sure enough, there was my old friend, hanging out with buddies, beer in hand, all grown up. My friend from the gym confirmed it was the same Chris Dary, and next thing I knew there was a Facebook friend request from him. I had to confirm!

Stuff like this makes me wonder about the ripples and waves of time and how we all flow towards one another (sorry, Mr. Spock reference again). Why my brain would have picked that night to dream about an old friend, I'll probably never know. But it makes me ponder dreams and where they come from....supernatural perhaps? I'll never forget the dream I had the night after Scott's grandma died, where we sat at a kitchen table and she told me how great things were now that she had passed. She looked thirty years younger, and was as real as I am sitting here today.

I think it's time to take a closer look into my brain, and start figuring out what it's trying to tell me.