"Some days a candle and a cup of tea is all you need...." (Contentment and joy)
photo by: Tammy Smith Holt
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” William Arthur Ward
After giving birth to her second child, Josie Robinson became depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. To numb the pain, she started drinking, and drinking heavily. She hated her life and she hated that she hated it. One day, she dropped to her knees and prayed to God. She asked for help.
Three days later, Robinson's sister Emma came for a visit. She gave her a Christmas gift. A gift that set into motion a life filled with contentment and joy.
The gift was a free session with a spiritual healer, Maleah. After the first session, Robinson’s life started to change. She quit drinking. She said she read a book called, “The easy way to quit drinking’ by Alan Carr and she stopped. Without the alcohol, Robinson had more energy, a lighter mood, and decreased anxiety. Without the booze she could think more clearly, make better decisions, and when needed...ask for help.
Before the intervention, every morning Robinson would awaken with a deep, dark sadness. Everyday was the same; laundry, meals, diapers, and dishes. There was nothing to look forward to. Maleah shared with Robinson a bit of wisdom, “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything." She suggested certain changes be implemented to help with the drudgery of the daily routine.
If there were chores to do around the house, crank up the music. Instead of doing laundry everyday of the week, choose one day a week to do all the laundry. Even if it piled up, crank up the 80’s music and celebrate until it was all washed, dried, folded, and put away.
Life was looking up. Robinson was feeling good. She had more energy. The days were brighter. Maleah asked, “Are you writing all of these good things down?” In Robinson’s mind, this was journaling and it sounded like work. Maleah then suggested she start a gratitude jar for these good and positive things. She said to ‘put down all your blessings on little slips of paper and put them in the jar.’ This was doable, thought Robinson.
Since Robinson was just getting started, Maleah said there would be ‘yin’ days. Days when Maleah wasn’t ‘feeling it’. Then, she could pull blessings out of the jar to remind herself that she’s supported, that she’s got this. On these little scraps of paper, would be blessings, gifts, little gratitude's or just a ‘win’.
There were a lot of positives happening in Robinson’s life. Her life was working. She had quit drinking. House chores were getting done. Kitchen, closets, life was getting organized. She would ask husband Sean for help when feeling overwhelmed. The only missing link was her connection with the children. Since baby Davis was born, Robinson hadn’t spent much time with her four year old son Lucas and she could sense the disconnect.
Robinson spoke to Maleah about doing the gratitude jar with Lucas. Maleah thought about it and said, “That’s brilliant.” She suggested recording the conversations with Lucas and writing those conversations down on paper for 30 days. So it began, 30 days of gratitude with a four year old.
The 30 days of gratitude started with simple blessings. Lucas would say he was thankful for his blanket, stuffed animals, or mom, dad, and baby Davis. As the days turned into weeks, Lucas gave thanks for his heart because ‘it keeps him going and holds love in it.’ As Robinson began giving thanks and gratitude, she started noticing the world around her. For instance, the sun didn’t provide only light but warmth, sustenance, and energy. She began to go through her day in a completely different way.
Little by little, Robinson noticed a bounce in her step. Even friends and Sean described her mood as joyous and content. Robinson said those two words had never been used to describe her before the gratitude jar. The grass had always looked greener on the other side. But now, “I had everything I needed.” said Robinson.
One day, around day 17 of the gratitude jar, Robinson was in the car with her two boys. Out of the blue, Lucas said, “I like my life.” A four year old said, “I like my life”. How amazing is that? Robinson was completely taken off guard by his comment. That evening, she and Lucas shared the gratitude jar with Sean and baby Davis. Their love, joy, contentment was spilling over and they wanted to share the feeling.
How many of us can say, “I like my life?” Can we admit we are content? Do we feel joy?
The Bible has a lot to say about being satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we’re going. In today’s world, many are displeased with their jobs, their marriage, finances, a whole host of issues that many of us could say was less than optimal. When feeling overwhelmed, trapped, or unhappy, apply these verses to your routine.
Bible verses for contentment:
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” First Timothy 6: 6-8
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
Bible verses for joy:
“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
As we consider the gratitude jar and continue this journey retelling Robinson’s story, take a moment to envision how it feels to be content and joyful.
Contentment is one of those feelings that completely envelopes your mind, body, and spirit. It can make you feel like you’re in a bubble, you're own little world. A bubble that can never be popped as long as we have Jesus Christ in our hearts and minds. And then there’s joy. Joy to appreciate and enjoy the simple things in life.
We’ll continue next week with more chapters from the book, “The Gratitude Jar” by Josie Robinson. Look around and see all things lovely.
The gratitude jar can turn life into miracles.
‘The Gratitude Jar’ is a book written by author Josie Robinson. It was published in small quantities over six years ago and has since become a national phenomenon. I became curious about the gratitude jar when I saw a post from a friend in early January. There was a picture of my friend’s blue and white ceramic jar sitting on the floor surrounded by little pieces of folded paper. Since the jar is a gratitude jar, I assumed little messages were written on each tiny piece of paper that had something to do with being grateful.
After seeing this post, I decided to find out more about the concept. That’s when I stumbled upon the book written by Robinson. For this particular journey, I decided to order the audible copy so I could easily take notes as I listened. I had a feeling it would be a subject that would require note taking. After all, the project would be ongoing and require forethought and mindfulness.
The author opened with some background information. Robinson was a young mother, wife, and part-time counselor. She didn't log many hours as a counselor, so the majority of her time was spent as a stay-at-home mom. Most of her friends worked and had careers outside the home and imagined Robinson's life to be a fairy tale. One in which she got to stay home all day everyday with her children.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a blessing to Robinson. She said that everyday she woke up with a ‘knot of dread about the day ahead.' In fact, she hated her life and said, ‘she hated that she hated it.’
To deal with the depression she started drinking heavily. The drinking actually started after her four year old son, Lucas was born. She called her mental state after giving birth to Lucas as ‘the postpartum blackhole.’
Robinson said she suffered from anxiety as well. Hence, the drinking. She couldn’t wait until after 5 pm when her husband got home from work to hand over childcare responsibilities and start the party. 'The party' that would last through two bottles of wine or a tumbler of whiskey until the next morning when it was time to start again. The knot in her stomach and the dread of endless laundry continued day-in and day-out.
Then, she hit rock bottom. After attending a party with friends, she got incredibly drunk, embarrassed herself and her family, cursed, stumbled over furniture, and really blew her cover as this together mom that everyone thought had it so easy at home with the kids.
The next day, she fell to her knees and prayed. She hadn’t prayed to God in a decade. Her idea of prayer was to talk to God like she was talking to her best friend, very conversational.
Three days later, her sister Emma told her about a psychic or ‘spiritual healer’ named Maleah. Robinson received a free session as a gift from her sister Emma for Christmas. Robinson was skeptical. After speaking with Maleah on the phone for only a few minutes, Robinson said she knew too much to not be the 'real deal.'
Maleah said Robinson needs to work on receiving help. She needs to ‘ask and then receive.’ Robinson admitted she wasn’t good at this concept. She considered herself ‘scrappy’. Maleah told her that she’s not scrappy. She needs to learn how to lean on people, people like her husband. She needed to receive help joyfully.
“How you do anything is how you do everything,” said Maleah. For instance, the laundry was something Robinson dreaded. She said it was the ‘bane of her existence.” The advice given by Maleah was to Do it Differently. Crank up the music. Listen to 80’s tunes. Make it fun. Robinson thought, 'I could try that.'
The answered prayer from God was bringing Maleah into Robinson's life. It had been a decade since she’d prayed but our God is a forgiving God. He will take you back anytime as long as you come to Him with a willing heart. Robinson knew of God’s power. And in three days’ time, he answered her prayers.
Bold, persistent prayer that is prayed according to the will of God will get God’s answer. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) “Pray without ceasing.”
You will find yourself praying without ceasing when your desire is to:
To glorify God
To seek God’s wisdom
To be set free from the guilt of sin
To sync deeply in fellowship with God
Believing that God will meet all your needs
To be delivered from temptation, worry, and anxiety
To grow in Christ-likeness and become a fruitful believer
In the coming chapters, we’ll learn more about the gratitude jar.
"Brad Smith is a former police officer and detective raising money through his fine woodworking business for LOTUS children's advocacy and sexual abuse center."
"There's a lot of character in this old slab of wood." said retired detective Brad Smith. As a former police officer and detective, Smith has seen more than his fair share of ugliness in the world. In hopes of providing a bright spot, he's selling his beautifully crafted, solid oak, eight foot accent table to the highest bidder.
Smith is auctioning off his table to the highest bidder and all the proceeds will go to LOTUS in Paducah. LOTUS is Kentucky's regional children's advocacy and sexual abuse center serving eight counties in the Purchase area. "Having dealt with children that have been molested or sexually assaulted...those kids will break your heart." said Smith.
In a video shot by Smith, he said the sexual abuse of children is one of the toughest things to talk about but 'it's a reality'. "Some of the toughest things you can imagine happens to these kids." he said. What LOTUS does is help children go from victim to survivor.
Smith went on to discuss his personal experiences with LOTUS as an advocacy organization and 'safe haven' for children. Nearly 700,000 children in the U.S. are abused or neglected every year. Based on a Norton's Children's study, Kentucky ranks among the top in the nation for child abuse. Statistics show that 23 out of every 1,000 children are abused in Kentucky.
Smith's personal Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/brad.smith.355 has the bidding ability. Opening bid started at $250 with the highest bid (as of early afternoon January 5) is $650. At 5:02 pm it's at $1,000. The hope is to raise as much money as possible and the winning bidder is prompted to write the check directly to LOTUS located at 1605 N. Friendship Rd., Paducah, KY 42001.
Bidding on the table will end on January 9, 2021. All you need to do is go to his Facebook page and place your bid in the comments. Smith said, you're invited to go by the shop and check out the table. The shop is located at 4161 State Route 1124, Mayfield, KY. And, if you're not interested in bidding on the solid oak table made from reclaimed wood, make a donation to LOTUS. Nothing is too small.
The Thanksgiving holiday will be celebrated differently this year but the SOURCE of our many blessings is exactly the same. Follow Pastor Grimes' sermon notes as he shares favorite Thanksgiving bible versus and discusses Luke 17. Jesus heals 10 men suffering from a dreadful disease, but only one returns to Jesus to give thanks.
Thanksgiving is mentioned 32 times in the Bible. Some favorites to remember.
Psalms 69:30 I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.
Psalms 100:4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
Psalms 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called one body; and the thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 And in all things give thanks; for this is the will of God for you through Christ Jesus.
Revelations 7:1-15 Tells us that one day, when we get to heaven, we will give thanks to God for salvation.
Can you imagine what that day will be like? You should shout Thanksgiving praises right now. God's promises have done so much for us. Great is His faithfulness.
Luke 17:11=19 Jesus heals 10 lepers and one gives thanks to The SOURCE.
Jesus is going to Jerusalem. As He enters a village He meets 10 men who are lepers. They ask Him to have mercy on them. He tells them to go show themselves to the priest and they would be healed.
After being healed, one returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16
Thankfulness is foundational to the Christian life. Thankfulness is a conscious response that comes from looking beyond our blessings to the source of our blessings. As Christians, we have been forgiven, saved from death, and adopted as God’s children. There could be no better reason for a grateful heart!
Lepers in Jesus’ day were social outcasts. Their highly contagious condition ostracized them from those they loved. When the 10 lepers encountered Jesus, they desperately implored Him to show them mercy. Jesus sent them to the priest. As they obeyed, they were healed! These ten men had been forbidden to enter their own villages, to live in their own homes, to work in their own jobs, or even to touch their own children. Imagine what unrestrained joy must have filled them as they ran back home!
One of the lepers, a Samaritan, stopped and ran back to thank Jesus. Samaritans were normally shunned by the Jews, but Jesus had healed him! Jesus asked him, “Where are the others?” Ten lepers had been healed. Ten lepers were reveling in their new found health. Ten men were joyfully rushing to share the good news with those they loved. But only one considered the Source of that blessing and stopped to thank and worship the One who had given him back his life.
We, too, have been healed and made whole by the Savior. We are free to enjoy the abundant life the Savior has graciously given us. Could we, like the nine lepers, rush off so quickly to glory in our blessings without stopping to thank our Redeemer?
God looks for our thanks. Our worship, prayers, service, and daily life ought to be saturated with thanksgiving to God.
Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Think about the lepers and which best represents you. Find peace in your life. Ask God to saturate you with his goodness. Be thankful in all things.
The general election was five days ago. I don’t know if you’re happy or sad, hopeful or hopeless, encouraged or discouraged. I do know, God is still on the throne. He’s still sovereign and in control. Even still, now what?
Let's forget about the election today and focus on what God’s calling us to do through the example of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. We want to see what the mind of Christ looked like in a difficult moment.
Mark 14:32-36 Jesus takes Peter, James and John with Him. He tells them that His soul is sorrowful. He tells them to stay there and watch. Jesus steps further into the garden, falls to the ground, and prays.
Mark 14:36 “Abba Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” In this passage, we read of the moment when Jesus – God’s Son is about to carry out the biggest sacrifice in history.
He KNOWS! He knows what’s about to happen.
He’s spent time teaching on it. He’s just had Passover with His disciples. And now, He takes a few of them down into the valley to do the most important thing anyone can do when times are messy – when things aren’t together. Pray.
So, He prays and prays, deep prayers.
“Father . . . take this away! Jesus says with intensity. Then, sensing the Father ministering to Him, Jesus says, “Yet – not what I will, but what You will.”
What a mess. We see the mess our leaders have created within our towns, communities, cities, and across America. What a mess. We see the mess of divisiveness ruining relationships among friends, family, and even within our churches. What a mess. We see the civil unrest in our country. What a mess. We see the pandemic claiming the lives of our loved ones. What a mess.
When in a mess, when facing a time that’s so immense - Jesus looked up.
• He could have looked down
• He could have looked at the shadows around Him
• He could have looked at the frail, tired disciples
• He could have looked for an escape route out of the garden
BUT He looked UP – to the father.
Because the father had the answer.
You know we don’t often have the full plan, all the answers, the way to get through the craziness of life. We don’t even see the complete picture. Sometimes life can seem like a handful of pieces, pieces that are hard to put together on our own. We think we have it sorted. It looks reasonable, but . . .
The disciples saw Jesus. They put the pieces together. It looked reasonable...He’s a good teacher that could one day become a ruler, king or leader. They could be his aids. The pieces started to fit together, yet they didn’t comprehend the words Jesus was saying about being handed over, dying or rising. They couldn’t see the ‘big picture.’
But it was there. The disciples focused on one area and one area only. We like to think we have the answers, that we see the end game. We would like to think we can tell God how to fit the pieces together.
But – you know what?
We don’t have the picture – we don’t even see half of the picture.
I want you to understand, we will NEVER see the big picture.
What we must seek to have in these times, is the mind of Christ.
What this means is that you want to do God’s will, even when it hurts, even when it’s difficult, even when it doesn’t make sense. Jesus gave us the ultimate example of this as we read in Mark 14 on the night before He went to the cross.
In the garden, Jesus was in agony. He knew the pain He was about to face. Not just the physical pain but the emotional and spiritual pain of being separated from his Father as He carried the shame and weight of OUR sin.
Even then Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father…everything is possible for You. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will”. Jesus said He wanted to do God’s will, not His own, even if it was painful.
So, I know we don’t have the big picture. We never will see God’s big picture. But we CAN have the mind of Christ.
The disciples didn’t have the full picture in Gethsemane and we don’t have the full picture five days after the election.
In our prayers we should say, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.” I want to see more than I do with my physical eyes. Open the eyes of my heart.
May I suggest you do something each day?
-Seek the Lord
-Read His Word each day
-Spend more time in prayer
-Spend more time listening to Him
-Ask Him to show you the ‘big picture’
Look up, and say, It is well with my soul. I’m going through this messy moment with God because only He holds the future and I’ll be guided by His hand.
With God, things don’t just happen –He is sovereign, He has the big picture – He has the big plan.
Keep growing in your walk with the Lord over this time. Pray like Jesus. Be spiritually mature and trust God will provide. Remember, “Look up.”
We all love our guilty pleasures, however, when the guilty pleasures start to fill the hole intended for God to fill, this IS sin.
We have all seen many changes. Attitudes have changed. Language has changed. The meaning of language has changed. One that particularly hit me is the meaning of the word sin.
Once upon a time the word ‘sin’ meant something. Proverbs depicts sin as very serious. If it were a movie it would be rated R. Having knowledge of sin opened the 'doorway to the gospel.' In today's world, sin has been downgraded to PG-13. Now, it’s just an extra piece of chocolate cake.
The question is: Did Jesus die on the cross for just an extra piece of cake? If this is how the world sees things, then why do we need a crucified savior?
PROVERBS 26:11 A dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.
Although the world we live in doesn’t take sin seriously, God still does. The vile image of a dog returning to its own vomit is how God sees it. And it’s exactly how we need to see it too.
So not only does the image reveal something of how God sees our sin, but it also reveals something of the nature of sin.
Why do we sin?
First, a dog doesn’t have a problem eating its own vomit...they’re used to vomiting. Maybe the food is too spicy or the flavor is different. Vomiting could be an everyday occurrence for the dog. In comparison, humans have cast iron stomachs...it takes a lot to make us sick.
But dogs are different. After they eat and they fall ill, they just see it as just the way it is. So, dogs have no problem woofing it down again. It’s that failure to recognize it that makes it so easy for the dog to carry on. People sometimes don't recognize their own sin, so they just carry on with it.
We don’t see it as God sees it; we don’t recognize it for what it is. Failing to see sin far too often in our actions may cause us to have no problem woofing it down again. We eat it because like the dog we don’t have a problem with it.
Second, we eat it because we’re used to it. It’s hard for us to change our sinful nature. Sin has become an unnatural part of who we are. For some, it’s so deep that we can’t even see it. We’re like the dog and his ‘eat anything’ habit. We’ve gotten used to sin.
Third, we do it because we think we need it. Dogs re-ingest their vomit because they think they need it. When a person has something missing in their diet, they take vitamins. For a dog, the richest source of vitamins is probably what they ate last night.
A reason why we sin is because we think sin offers us something we need. We spend so much time and energy chasing stuff that makes us happy. Is that sin? Yeah you better believe it. God is supposed to fill that space, that's why he made it. It’s sin to try and fill our needs with anything else.
I guess we don’t really see sin in the same way God does, but when you see it as vomit, and your stomach starts to churn a little, then you can start to realize how bad it really is. It should repulse us, but often that’s not enough. We actually need to reboot and figure out the behavior that got us in our current state.
The first thing is obvious...you need to name it for what it is – Sin. Then, you need to keep away from it. If something causes you to trip, avoid it. Try and recognize that it’s bad for you...it’s not what you need. Recognize that it’s an issue. Don’t brush it under the rug because vomit stinks...deal with it.
Give it to God. He hates it but he can deal with it. His Holy Spirit is there to help you overcome your sickness. Someone said to me a few months back that this whole thing doesn’t fit. How can we say God loves us, when He sees us for what we are? A vomit eating fool.
I guess we need to realize that God’s love is bigger than our eating habits. He loves us even if there’s a string of vomit hanging from our chins.
Maybe you feel as though you have done something so disgusting that you feel God could never want you back.
Are you a fool?
Mistakes are inevitable; we’re all going to make them. Every now and then, you’re going to “vomit”. But when you do, learn why it happened and resolve to never do it again. The fool is not the one who makes a mistake and sins, but the one who continually makes the same mistake without learning from it.
The good news is that there is a way back to God. As you give the contents of your sick bag to God...there is a way to forgiveness.
A holy man said, "it is my nature to save, and must I change my nature because the scorpion does not change its nature?"
How to Punish Your Enemy…in a Christlike Way (Proverb 25:21-22)
A reporter was interviewing an old man on his 100th birthday. "What are you most proud of?" he asked. "Well," said the man, "I don't have an enemy in the world." "What a beautiful thought! How inspirational!" said the reporter. "Yep," added the centenarian, "outlived every last one of them."
A parable: A man was engaged in his morning meditation under a tree whose roots stretched out over the riverbank. During his meditation he noticed that the river was rising, and a scorpion caught in the roots was about to drown. He crawled out on the roots and reached down to free the scorpion, but every time he did so, the scorpion struck back at him. An observer came along and said to the holy man, "Don't you know that's a scorpion, and it's in the nature of a scorpion to want to sting?" To which the man replied, 'That may well be, but it is my nature to save, and must I change my nature because the scorpion does not change its nature?"
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty give him water to drink. For so you will heap coals of fire on his head and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25: 21-22
We often hear people talk about “getting even with their enemies" but the Christian way goes well beyond just “getting even”, it describes an appropriate, powerful and effectual punishment.
CHRISTIANS MAY HAVE ENEMIES…BUT SHOULD NEVER BE ONE!
Paul had many enemies. Some were Jews; some were pagans; and tragically, some were professing Christians who were leaders in some of the churches he had established. Consider Paul’s declaration to Timothy regarding the persecutions that he endured at the hands of his enemies.
“But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra---what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” II Timothy 3:10-12.
Also we need to consider the word spoken by our Lord to His disciples: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” John 15: 20b
THE WORLD’S APPROACH TO THE "ENEMY PROBLEM"
The most common approach seems to be: “Do unto others as they do unto you!” Some would even say: “Before they do unto you.”
Under the law, the command was: “Then you shall do to him just as he intended to do to his brother.” Deuteronomy 19:19.
But the Christian is to be reminded that we are not under the law but under grace and that forgiveness…not retribution…should be the guiding principle of our life.
GOD’S WAY IS:
Unique because its concept is absolutely alien to the natural man.
Magnanimous: (“elevated above what is low, mean, or ungenerous. Exhibiting nobleness of soul.”)
Effective: in volume (“heap”); in intensity (“coals of fire"); and in exposure (“upon his head”).
Rewarding: (in four distinct ways):
1. A clear conscience before God because you have been obedient to God’s will as set forth in Romans 12:21: “Be not overcome by evil. But overcome evil with good.” An enhanced respect for one’s self
2. Greater respect from your fellowman.
3. A heavenly reward: “…and the Lord will reward you.” “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted the prophets so were before you,” Matthew 5:12
4. It is God-honoring because it leaves judgment and punishment in the hands of God. Paul made this quite clear when he wrote: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saithe the Lord.” Romans 12:19.
DEAR CHRISTIAN FRIEND, DO YOU NOT AGREE THAT THE CHRISTIAN WAY TO PUNISH YOUR ENEMIES IS FAR MORE EFFECTIVE….AND CHRIST-HONORING….THAN TAKING JUDGMENT INTO YOUR OWN HANDS?
John 13:35 “By this people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”
Local kitchen is 'cooking with love' and emerging as the Red Cross Emergency Center for Marshall County, Kentucky
Written by Liz Latta
Marcella's Kitchen's mission statement: Founded on unity, love, and acceptance. Marcella's Kitchen exists to unite a community of believers to be Christ's hand extended by loving and providing meals for those in need.
Marcella's Kitchen in Benton, Kentucky is a community kitchen that serves thousands of meals every month to those in need. After relocating the nonprofit organization to 868 Guy Mathis Drive, they've added another 'community program' to it's resume' namely, the official Red Cross Emergency Center for Marshall County.
The founder of Marcella's Kitchen, Marcella Perkins said the organization received money from the Marshall County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and the Carson-Myre Charitable Foundation. With the funds, Marcella's Kitchen bought a generator that can hold 325 gallons of diesel fuel and power which will operate the facility for approximately a week in case of emergencies.
Not only does the generator help Marcella's Kitchen become the new Red Cross Emergency Center but so does the new building. One side of the room could be used to set up cots while the other remains the kitchen and dining area. Emergency preparedness could be anything from a natural disaster to a an apartment fire.
Some volunteers for the community kitchen will have special training with the Red Cross next year. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, October 22, 2020 to inaugurate the new facilities' opportunity.
Since the pandemic, the nonprofit has more than tripled the number of meals served each month. Two years ago, they served 1,600 meals a month. Now it's closer to 5,000.
Meals served include home-bound deliveries and students at the Marshall County Exceptional Center. Deliveries have almost increased ten-fold. The community kitchen will continue on with their role as a kitchen feeding those in need and will add the new emergency center responsibilities.
Since the shuttering of businesses in March, Marcella's Kitchen closed in-person dining. Instead, the community receives prepared meals through a drive-thru service at the front entrance for meal pickup. They are open Monday through Friday 11 am to 1 pm.
If you would like to donate or volunteer for the community kitchen, reach out to Marcella's Kitchen through their Facebook page.
We’ve made it to August…and although it is like no other August we have previously experienced, some things are (mostly) the same. From kindergarten to college, our kids are headed back to school in one way or another and the home gardens we planted this pandemic spring are now producing in earnest. The seeds and tiny plants we nurtured through the heat of summer have grown, flowered and are now, with a little luck, producing lots of good food. During what I have been calling “a very corona summer,” many people planted vegetable gardens, quite a few for the very first time. Maybe you put in some tomatoes and peppers or maybe you planted zucchini. I read somewhere that zucchini plants are often so abundant, some gardeners complain that they are “too easy to grow.” Have you found yourself with an excess of zucchini?
When I was a young girl, my maternal grandfather, Granddaddy Hutchens, kept a very large vegetable garden. My grandfather worked nearly round the clock at his Benton restaurant, “Hutchens BBQ” but once he retired, the garden filled his time. Afternoons spent with Granddaddy often meant playing on the tree swing at “the garden, ” just a short walk from his home. Many, many times my mother and I would arrive home to find a big haul of fresh produce at the door….Granddaddy had driven over to Paducah and left his unique calling card…home grown tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and more, usually in an old cardboard box. “Daddy was here. Look at those tomatoes!” my mother would say.
In August of 1982, when I went away to college at Transylvania in the big city of Lexington, I received letters from Granddaddy saying “I dropped off some zucchini to Ms. Gammel.” Ms. Gammel was my paternal grandmother and I called her Granny Gammel. Having both lived in Benton many years, Granddaddy Hutchens and Granny Gammel had known each other most of their adult lives. My parents divorced before I turned five but my grandparents continued to treat each other with courtesy and kindness and respect.
A week or so after receiving Granddaddy’s letter, I would get an important notice in my student mailbox. It would read: YOU HAVE A PACKAGE. I would run to the student PO and grab my prize, a care box from my Granny….brownies and rice crispy treats were staples, as well as “Sock It To Me” or “7-Up” cake, a quart jar of homemade dill pickles (my absolute favorite)…and then, wrapped in tin foil, a loaf of zucchini bread. There was always a letter from Granny…“W.C. left a big box on zucchini on the porch. I’ve been making zucchini bread so I’m sending you some. I took about a half dozen loaves over to him.”
My Granddaddy would put his hands to the ground and grow zucchini, which he then would gift to my Granny, and other town folk. In her kitchen, she would transform the zucchini into moist, sweet bread and return it to him and a bunch more folks. One evening years ago, after a long, hot, wonderful day in my garden, I called my father…just a little giddy. “Mike made me a raised bed and I planted peppers,” I exclaimed. “He’s making a second bed but I don’t know what to plant.” “Plant zucchini!” my Dad said, and I laughed out loud.
I learned many powerful lessons from my grandparents…maternal and paternal: What you give always comes back to you, but it might look a little different. Be kind. Be respectful, regardless of the circumstances. Be respectful BECAUSE of the circumstances. Be generous. Plant zucchini. Give it away. Bake bread. Give it away. Love one another.
What does all of this have to do with prayer and meditation? John Shelby Spong says this about prayer:
So praying and living deeply, richly, and fully have become for me almost indistinguishable. Perhaps, I conclude, that is what the apostle Paul meant when he said, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17 KJV) or “constantly” (RSV). We are to live as if everything we say and do is a prayer, calling others to life, to love and to being.
During these difficult days of the corona virus, how can I live my life a little more like a prayer? Where can I be a little more generous…a little more abundant…in deed, word and gesture? In the spring of this global pandemic, what seeds were sown in my heart….and what is waiting now to be harvested?
“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always….” (Luke 18:1, NRSV)