What’s for supper?

She made her way to my house she had a meal for someone riding shotgun and she was picking up goody bags to deliver to the co-laborers in Christ who were still at the mercy of quarantine. I apologized for my rushed goodbye and sausage residue in my hands.

 “I’m in the middle of cooking supper.” She’d made a casserole for the ones she was delivering dinner.

“What’s for supper?” She asked me.

“Shrimp boil. I make it a lot on Wednesdays. So easy to just dump it all in and go.”

That was the abbreviated explanation. There really is more to it than that, but I didn’t have to explain. She knew. She understood without me offering much more in the way of explanation. 

“Ooh that sounds good.” 

She has seafood allergic people at her house; shrimp boil isn’t a good option for them, unless they want anaphylaxis and an epi-pen for dessert. I felt a pang of sadness for my friend that Wednesday night seafood boil isn’t a part of her regular supper rotation. We said our goodbyes and see you laters. I told her to be careful and I headed back inside to finishing the dumping of the items. The aroma filled my house and the lost-to-other-things teenagers began to make their way into the kitchen. 

“Is supper almost ready?”

“Did you put lots of nekka sausage in this time?”

“Mama, I’ll start making drinks, whatcha want?” 

“I’ll get the table ready, where’s that plastic throwaway table cloth?” 

I answered the questions, not necessarily in the order they’d been presented, but answered nonetheless. 

“About 5 more minutes, top drawer of the China cabinet, don’t forget to add newspaper and paper towels. I did 2 pounds tonight of nekka (“nekka” is Martin for Conecuh sausage made in Conecuh County Alabama, it’s a Martin favorite and hits our dinner rotation in some form no less than 2 times a month.) I’ll take ice water.” 

The teenage boy, the bottomless sausage pit, he towers above me now. It’s hard to believe I was just carrying him on my hip, naming him, nurturing him, teaching him sign language and begging Jesus to make him talk. Another pang of sadness. He came and stood beside me as I stirred, and I inadvertently said out loud what it was I was thinking. 

“I love to cook seafood. It always tells you when it’s done. I don’t have to guess or pull out a meat thermometer to know.” 

His deep baritone stated, “It floats to the top?” 

I chuckled, “Yeah, I reckon so, but it also tells you by,…“

The oldest teen interjected, “It changes color. Right Mama? Fish does and shrimp do too.” 

“Yes ma’am. It does indeed.” 

They’d just uncovered my Wednesday night supper choice secret in the middle of the conversation.

On Wednesdays I work for the King, it’s been nearly a decade now that Wednesday is my Bible study day. My co-laborers and I spend our Wednesdays pouring out and investing in the people of God. I ain’t even gonna lie, it wears me out sometimes. Well most times, even in the age of technology where everything is a zoom call or an internet dependent action, Wednesdays wipe me out. By pouring out I’m filled back up again that is just how the King’s economy works. That pouring out comes at a cost, everything does really, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay to know my peeps and I are being transformed by the Word of God. 

Years ago shrimp boil was reserved for special occasions and to some degree I guess it still is. We have minimal in way of clean up as I literally dump the meal out on a lined table, there’s no request to eat separately or in front of the TV on those supper nights, clean up is a breeze, one big pot to wash and very few utensils in general. When we are finished, on the rare occasion there are leftovers we pack those up for lunches and such the following days, we roll up that paper lined disposable tablecloth and with the remaining trash and toss it in the can. 

Thursday is garbage day so it is a perfect opportunity for me to remind the garbage chore person to gather trash and drag the can to the street. 

We don’t shrimp boil every Wednesday, sometimes I am just too tired, or haven’t planned that far ahead and we have something else for supper, something less exciting or not as easy, something that doesn’t let me know when it’s cooked fully thereby taking the guesswork out of my supper rotation routine. 

Those shrimp boil suppers have taught me a valuable lesson about the King’s economy. Very often our motives don’t match the actual consequences of our actions. His economy takes ashes, burnt ruins, and transforms them to beauty. His economy trades death for life, conquers death by death, opposes the proud and uplifts the humble. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Unexpected Dividends

I’m not much of an investment banker. One would think one must have something with which to bank and to invest to be an investment banker. I am of the lower economic echelon, therefore I get a bit confused on how all that works. I think the general idea is to take some money, give it to an organization, said organization makes a copious amount of money and gives you your money back and then some. If said organization loses money, then so do you. Nothing gained, everything lost. I could be way off, and that process may have another name, like scratch off lottery, but I kind of think that’s how it works. Keep in mind I am the same person who will frequently lose a bet over a simple math calculation to Scott Martin.

I do think on a day to day I am making investments, but they are of a different nature.
Included are, investments of my time, my skill set. Investments of words, investments of money (albeit small amounts), investments into friendship and other people’s lives, but investments nonetheless. Some of the investments I make, I don’t see the payoff. Sometimes, well lots of times, that is frustrating for me. I’m not known for my patience. Several years ago I made the widow’s mite kind of investment, or at least what I thought was.

My heart was hurt and broken to bits, my vision skewed by the world around me. The King’s people especially frustrated me and I wanted nothing more than to not invest in them, despite being a them. I just wanted to crawl into my bed of hurt and pull the covers of disappointment and cynicism over my head and sleep. As I pondered putting on the pj’s of self pity the time-consuming practice of Bible study came up. I had always enjoyed knowing about the King’s book. I’d read it and occasionally studied it, liked it, found it fascinating. I certainly didn’t love it, not even close.

bible-christian-christianity-272337So on a warm September morning one who knew me well insisted I drive across town to the Bible Study where I was sure to find out where in the King’s book my dinosaur questions could be answered. I went reluctantly.

Over the course of time, something happened, the investment of others began to pay off and I was reaping the benefits. I was beginning to see how the King’s economy works. I grew to love that book, and now the thought that I haven’t always makes me sad inside. Eventually the need to drive across the town would not be necessary and not only did I figure out the Dinos, I began to appreciate the King’s book a bit more. As I meandered around in my pjs of hurt I was asked to pray, to pray about making an investment, an investment I viewed as one of epic proportions, for it would take all that I had to give, and the payoff wasn’t guaranteed.

I wasn’t sure if I were willing to risk it. I’d have to think about it. A few weeks later I received the go via the TV weatherman. Give it everything. Blindly. Stand back and reap the dividends I’d never even begun to consider. For several years now, during the school year, I’ve invested in Wednesday.

Wednesdays have been aptly named by a friend of mine as “Wipe out Wednesday.” At the end of each Bible Study Day, I’m exhausted.

Over the course of time, I’ve counted snacks and crafts, I’ve sparkled, sorted, and separated and herded Sheeps of all manner to and fro. I’ve disciplined and discipled, and doctored boo-boos. I’ve hugged, now I’m both the initiator and receiver. I’ve pondered, cried, and laughed so hard my body has physically hurt. I’ve surveyed a room full of women seeing each one as absolutely stunning, convinced this is how the King must see them. I’ve prayed with, cried with, and have just been present with women from all walks of life. I have seen prayer after prayer answered and over time healing has come.
This weekly investment though can cause one to grow weary. During the summer months it isn’t as easy to see a payoff. During the summer months when one is not in the thick of it, the encouragement to press on is difficult to distinguish as well.

This brings me to a dividend I never expected. I had the privilege of glimpsing into that in the most unlikely of places.

best-friends-blond-hair-bonding-1574650It looked something like this. Recently, when asked what she wanted for her birthday Charlotte told me 2 things, a set of colored pencils and time with her friends. After some text messages and such, the plan was in place. Despite not realizing it until well into the evening, the friends all had a common denominator, their Mamas were made up of Wipeout Wednesday Workers. I observed them as we traversed the roads picking up and meeting and such, one-by-one the meeting of the last just as giddy as the seeing of the first. Their conversations tickled me and I inwardly laughed, remembering those years when I was their age.

They talked comics and Marvels and DCs and mission trips and church and music and snacks and oh how they’d missed one another. They captured a “night butterfly” known to the rest of the world as a moth and tormented the hater of winged creatures of the group until I confiscated said night butterfly. They ate more than a swarm of locusts and my picnic bag looked like it had been merely a light snack. They giggled and shrieked over the thought of a port-a-potty and oohed and ahhed over a fireworks display. They circled up and every time I said “Girls, we’re prayin’!” they dutifully bowed, and immediately quieted and it hit me none of them was unfamiliar with the act. As they giggled late into the night, talking and shhhing and talking again I clearly saw the payoff. The King’s book says as metal sharpens metal, two King’s kid friends will do the same (Paraphrase Amy Martin style).

I am thankful that once again the King’s economy means investment from me, dividends for my children. My imagination wandered that night and I saw each one of them grown, sharing that common denominator of friendship and Bible study, and I wondered where it would take them. Among them they are sure to change the world. The possibilities are endless: artist, comedian, athlete, missionary, nurse, spy, administrator, teacher, mom, wife, writer, pharmacist, doctor. At the heart of them all is a love for the King. And as the Mama of one of them, I can say confidently, that is what I desire most.