Feb
02

Dinner Time Disasters

Last year we had dinner a disaster. Our then 9-year-old son, Noah, was diagnosed with Celiac disease and we were in the process of removing gluten from our diet. It was I tried to find tasty meals that didn’t have gluten hidden in the ingredients.

Noah had been a trooper so I thought I’d attempt to make his meal of choice, broccoli cheese quiche. It was a challenge. It took me an hour to perfect the gluten free piecrust. Excited about my accomplishment, I added the filling and popped it in the oven. Everyone was hungry and eager to try it.

Thirty minutes later I pulled it out of the oven, unaware that our 75lb lab was behind me.

I stepped on his paw, lost my balance and dropped the quiche onto the floor. Mark claims I spewed out some “wordy durds” in the process. I don’t recall this but perhaps the stress hormones flooding through me momentarily blacked out my memory.

I yelled, I mean, called everyone into the kitchen and they looked at the pile of quiche at my feet. “Grab a fork” I instructed, then sat down on the floor and began eating the quiche.

Anastasia quickly joined me, “Okay, this looks good!”

Mark and Noah stood behind us, holding their forks, watching us, “Really?”

“Yes! This is dinner. I spent too much time on this for it to go to waste.” (Yep, it wasn’t one of my finer moments.)

Mark kneeled by me, preparing to join us when he notice a dog hair on the floor next to the quiche, “Nope, can’t do it. I’m going to Alberstons and to buy fried chicken.”

Okay that sounds better! We salvaged enough to make Noah a plate and cleaned up the mess.

Dinner was saved – well, until thirty minutes later when Anastasia began crying mid-meal, deciding that she wanted to be a vegan and no longer felt it was right for us to eat animals. OMG – open me a bottle of wine!

It wasn’t until I pulled out the gluten-free chocolate cupcakes that everything returned to normal. Ahhh – chocolate – proof that God loves us! It made everything better and the events of the night humorous. It was bonding.

Meals are important and were often central in Jesus’ ministry. He ate at the house of Pharisees, tax collectors, Mary and Martha. He fed the 5,000. He invited himself to the home of Zacchaeus and prophesied and encouraged the disciples at the Last Supper.

A lot happens at a meal. We talk, we share, we debate, we encourage. It may not always be uneventful but when we invite God to join us, healing, joy, growth and bonding take place.

I fear our culture is losing the art of sharing a meal. In our house we’re often guilty of rushing through dinner in order to make it to a meeting or when we’re tired, eating in front of the TV.

The disciples entered the Passover meal unaware that it’d be their last meal with Jesus before his crucifixion. What if they had rushed through it in order for Jesus to get some more healings in? They would have missed the spiritual food Jesus gave them that night.

Often when I pick my kids up at school I ask them, “What did you do today?” to which they often reply, “Nothing.” It’s not until the dinner table we hear of the playground drama and are invited into their lives.

I’m realizing I’ll miss those times of communing with them if I don’t make an effort to eat together.

Have a great weekend and may you table be full of family and friends. And if you drop the meal on the floor – grab a fork and send someone out for chicken and chocolate and have a great laugh.

Do you have any dinner disasters that turned into wonderful memories?

Feb
01

Lessons of Suffering

Recently, Mark and I had a conference call with a pastor of a large church to pick his brain on some potential writing projects. As he spoke wisdom poured out of his mouth and one of his comments struck me, “God just doesn’t seem real to a lot of people any more.”

He believed a big reason why is due to our avoidance of suffering.

Okay – I don’t like to suffer and I’m guilty of doing my best to rid it in my life and my family’s life. I want everything to be fun, easy-going and feel-good. However, by doing this, am I missing out on an opportunity to experience God in a new and deeper way?

Perhaps I’m not alone in dodging suffering. Our culture has made it convenient for us. If something hurts, we can numb it with a pill. Our mobile and transient lifestyle allows us to escape stressful relationships. We can change churches, schools, jobs, even marriages instead of dealing with the issue.

Please don’t get me wrong – there are times when meds are a must and for safety and sanity, it’s best for us to flee a situation and change location. God did give us a flight instinct as a survival mechanism.

But as I thought about our pastor friend’s comments I realized he’s right – not all suffering is bad and can be beneficial to us.

1.    Suffering shows us what is important – A good friend was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. She’s not talking about success in work, the larger home or new car. Nope, she’s talking about the love of family and friends and a God who saves. Her uncertain future has cleared her vision and she sees what matters – God, family, friends and love.

2.    Suffering makes us stronger – The best athletes are not always the most gifted but the ones who work through and endure the pain of training. Their bodies are stronger and they’ve earned a “can-do” attitude that won’t let them quit. The same principle works with our hearts and mind. We’re able to handle more and what use to paralyze us no longer has control over us. We develop perseverance through pain.

3.    Suffering brings us to our knees – When times are good, we look to ourselves but when times are hard we fall on our knees and look to God. It is these times we see His face and feel His touch. We are able to overcome obstacles that we couldn’t do without Him.

4.    Suffering engages our emotions – Emotions are strong motivators that push us to act. Our compassion and empathy go into sleep mode if they’re not used. When we’re sleeping life around us is happening but we’re not engaged with it and when we’re not engaged, we’re wasting the time God has given us on earth.

There’s a lot of suffering in our world and our quick-fix lifestyle tempt us to avoid it and by-pass it any way possible. But, by prayerfully enduring and facing our challenges, we’re experience God in a whole new and real way.

Praise God in times of peace and embrace Him in times of suffering. In both ways you’ll sense His presence.

What are your views on suffering?

Do you embrace it or avoid it?

How has suffering helped you?