Posted in Different Scriptures, Different Thoughts

giving God our scrapple.

We were on vacation, and Sarah had found the restaurant using one of them hip-trendy restaurant-finder Apps.  It was ranked #1 in the area, so we knew anything on the menu was going to knock it out of the park.  As we looked over the choices, we realized the reason it was so highly ranked was probably because they served just about everything you could imagine.  Among the choices, there were several options I’d never heard of.  Always the adventurous type, I decided to take a chance:

Me: Hmm, so what is this “Scrapple”?

Waitress: Well, you know how hotdogs are made out of the leftovers of meat?  Scrapple is made out of the scraps scrappleleftover after hotdogs are made.  Absolutely nothing goes to waste.  Then they add some cornmeal, and season it up.  I grew up eating it.

Me: Sounds great.  I’ll take some.

My stomach an hour later:  (shaking it’s fist at me)  Whhhyyyyyyy!!!!!????

You know what would’ve been great for breakfast that morning?  Ham.  Yeah, ham definitely would’ve been awesome.  I think God knew that as a people, we’d become more and more okay with serving our “lastfruits” not only as an item for breakfast, but as our worship and sacrifice to Him.  We have the commitments we’ve made with each day, whether work or home or play, and somewhere in between all the important stuff, if we really love him, we’ll carve out a few minutes for a devotional or Bible reading.

We’ll stay out/up late Saturday night doing whatever we want, make plans for Sunday afternoon, and feel great about shoving the family in the van – everyone too tired to know exactly what’s going on.  Blurry eyed, we’ll make it through service, check “Sabbath” off our list, and make it to lunch/etc. just in time.

Or the one I’m most guilty of, we’ll arrange our finances.  Make commitments for a lifestyle that fits the American Dream in our context, and with whatever’s left we’ll try to get close to 10%….or something…to give as our offering to God.

I say all of this not as a pastor trying to bring guilt on other church-goers, but as a fellow scrapple-server, realizing I want to give God ham. (I realize the irony in serving God what was traditionally an “unclean animal”…oh well.)  I want to give God the first moments of my day, when my brain is firing well.  I want to give God my focus and energy as if communion with the body of Christ at the banquet table of His Word is the most important aspect of my Sabbath.  I want to give to God sacrificially, making choices to deny myself bits of “The American Dream”, so that I can experience the blessings of being completely yielded to Him.

But instead so many times I offer him my scrapple.  I give to him whatever I’ve got left after I’ve cut out the bits and pieces I really needed for other things.  I’m so incredibly thankful for His grace, and the smile on His face.  As he takes the plate from me, and looks down at what I offer.  He loves what I’ve given.  He eats my scrapple.  He gently reminds me of the pattern He set, offering the very best to us.  He hasn’t left the table…but waits with a loving smile, expectantly….(Proverbs 3:9)

Posted in Uncategorized

smile (a reminder to pray)

She looked up at me with a smile on her face.  I had a split second to convey soooo many messages.  “You are loved!  More than you know, and more than you  might be shown.  Your value is infinite, and there is a hope for your future beyond pretty dresses.  You’re not defined by your present situation, nor by the decisions of your parents.  You’re a child of God, creator of all things.  He has spoken a big fat “YES!” over whatever “no” your life situation might be whispering.  You have amazing capacities for good, for love, for becoming an incredible woman and changing the world.  There are arms that want to hold you, that will never let you go…and He is always with you.  Jesus loves you…”

But as her mom spewed obscenities into the video phone, having a conversation with the girls father who was in jail for what sounded like really good reasons…all I could do was bundle all of those thoughts into a smile.  A prayer, as I continued to wait for the person I was visiting to appear on my screen.videovisitation

I do this every week.

When I began, I felt like I was being stretched.  I was excited, after all there are so many places in scripture that tell us as Christ-followers to love and visit those who are in prison.  I was nervous, to begin visiting 2 who I’d never met.  They’ve received me well, and God has been in our conversations.  I hadn’t previously thought much about my purpose in that environment as a living prayer.  Nevertheless, it’s what those times become.

There’s always a line.  I pray for the loved ones buying phone cards, sitting and waiting for updates, verbally spouting all sorts of obscenities about their situation.  They’re so frustrated.  They’re confused.   They’re upset.  Usually it comes out in the direction of the woman who works the window.  There are 4 of these women, only one works at a time.  They have the patience of someone who knows the anger they receive is not really for them.   I pray for their strengthening.

The elevator door opens, and the next single parent walks in, holding a girl who shouldn’t be in places like this.  She gets yanked along by a mom who’s way too upset to think about much else.  But she’s obviously shown great care in getting this girl all ready for daddy to see her.  Braids tightly done, each decorated with it’s own colorful barret.  I smile at her, trying to offer her the facial expression that communicates, “It’s okay.  Life is so much bigger than this moment.”

I hear and see glimpses about each case.  I sit in my booth, waiting for the screen to turn on, and quietly pray for those in booths around me.  I hear a few positive words, it sounds like he compliments babygirls’ hair.  Then the conversation quickly changes to more weighty topics, and she’s left wondering what is being said over that phone.  I pray for her, by name if I’ve heard it.  So many broken lives.  So many children, not quite understanding why they can’t be held by daddy.

There are so many experiencing brokenness of a world impacted by sin.  These were sounds and images I was disconnected from a few years ago.  I believe one of the many reasons I’m there, is to speak about it.  To remind those of us who will hopefully never find ourselves in the waiting room of a county jail – pray.  Pray for the families in our city that shattered late last night.  Pray for the restoration and healing of the man who was released this morning.  Pray for the children who need to know they’re loved…

And when given the chance….smile at them. 🙂