Good Works and Ground Beef

It was to be a lovely birthday party. Gracie had requested a “camping-princess party.” One can search the General Dollar Store all day but I can assure you, one will not find a princess in a sleeping bag printed upon a plate. My friend, Michelle, had already checked. She called me and asked if I would be up for just such a challenge. I couldn’t guarantee a bunting with a sleeping-bagged princess but I would see what I could come up with. We arrived at the campsite early and hung paper lanterns and buntings, we glittered and sparkled that campsite up so well, the soon to be campfire would pale in comparison to the decor. 

We left the campsite to run by the grocery store for supplies and to pick up the birthday girl and her guests. It was to be a lovely spend-the-night camping princess party. As we stood in the grocery store, I watched Michelle toss buns in the cart, and she declared she had “cow at home” she was picking up.

I knew precisely what she meant, as I too offered my cow, “Do you need me to grab some of my cow, when we run by my house to get my girls?”

She and I, along with several of our friends and acquaintances would purchase and share a cow, have it processed, frozen and would then consume it. She and I had been known to split a quarter of a cow. When we did that she was always responsible for the mathematical part, the dividing of our quarter into eighths. 

We arrived back at the campsite, had pizza for dinner and made s’mores and crafts. Those 8-year-old girls had a lovely time. They laughed and laughed and my friend and I did too. While they danced and played and behaved like little girls full throttle in the middle of a princess camping party, we laughed about things middle-aged women laugh about. It was a glorious night that lives on in my memory as one of my most favorite. The party was set to culminate in a cookout-picnic to include the boys and families of the girls, the next day. 

The next day, the boys arrived, brothers and daddies. I helped to prepare burgers and fixings while a candy crammed crown pinata was strung from a tree by the tallest of the dads. As Michelle removed packages of white-butcher-paper-wrapped ground beef I saw her counting. She was drawing imaginary lines in the air, I watched her hands move, she moves her hands whenever she is figuring mathematical things out. Her fingers dance in a rhythmic way akin to drawing; it looks like she makes plus signs that hover invisibly over the object she is focused on. 

When we first became friends, she was an accountant turned seamstress so that she could be at home with her small babies. She always drew those imaginary lines when she was sewing and figuring fabric dimensions. I have seen her move her hands just like she did over those packages of ground beef more times than I can count. 

She asked me how many buns we had. I told her the total we had purchased the day before. She reached down into the cow cooler and pulled out another package of meat. She pattied the meat into burgers and headed out to the grill. I laid the table with buns, chips, pickles and condiments in an atmosphere of the princess camper theme: pinks, sparkles, shiny napkins and party horns.

At the end of the cookout-princess-picnic I marveled at how the clean-up lacked one element that is always characterized by my party or meal planning. There was not an uneven number of burgers and buns, thereby resulting in either a leftover, bunless burger or excessive buns destined to become breadcrumbs. As I cleaned up, the thought never crossed my mind, the answer lay within the prep work and an action I had seen a half a dozen or more times. 

I was thinking about that event one day recently when I stood over the meat counter at the grocery store and I was trying to figure out how much meat to buy, too little or too much is my typical. I remembered how she stood over those packages of meat. As I meandered down Memory Lane, I had recalled something she mumbled simultaneously as her fingers danced over those 1 pound packages of ground beef. 

Four, into one is a quarter. It would take two packs of beef for every one – an eight count package of buns. When she asked me how many buns we had, she simply calculated that number by four and figured out how many packs of meat she would need. Then she evenly divided those packs into four quarter-pound patties. I stood there in the Piggly Wiggly and I laughed out loud in the direction of the meats. I was amused that I had finally figured it out. 

I am fairly certain, the rump-roast-purchaser to my left was not nearly as amused by my seemingly random meat induced hysteria. 

“Four.” She had simply said “four.” My mind worked as I stood in the Piggly Wiggly, my gaze fixed downward into a sea of red rectangular mounds. 

Four. 

She had prepared perfectly  in advance by way of her mathematical skill the task set before her. I had witnessed her do it numerous times before and never quite figured out how she always managed to get numbers correct. I always just figured it had something to do with how her brain worked. 

It dawned on me later, in that perfection of plan and preparation she is like the Lord. And like my taking a hot minute to figure it out, I am like…well…I am like me. As per usual, sometimes it takes me a while to get it, to connect the dots, and figure it out. 

His  word says is Ephesians 2:8-9, 

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We were created to do good works, not for our salvation but because we are saved. And not just random haphazard works but good, perfect, works that God prepared for us in advance. Taylor made. Specific to me, specific to you. Good works that the King of the Universe determined in advance for us. 

Perfect callings that each of us are to fulfill. We are not all called to be preachers and teachers. We are not all called to be writers and speakers. We are not all called to international missions, but we are all called and created for a specific purpose in the family of God, in the Body of Believers.  

Michelle asked me to merge the world of dainty princess and rustic camper because she knew and had the confidence (even if I didn’t) in me to pull it off. She sees in me a potential I do not always see, and in that, yet again, demonstrates how she is like the King. 

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