Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ever have one of those days...

... when you can hardly believe how good you've got it? The last few have been like that for me, so even though I'm supposed to be balancing the checkbook, I want to take no more than 15 minutes and tell you about it.

I'm on the "nominating committee" at our church, which among other things means we consider who will become the "incoming class" of elders this September. The congregation recommended several dozen folks (nearly 60) and our job is to meet with and pray about and discuss and try to discern who the Lord wants to appoint: eight of them, to be installed this September. We've been meeting for about an hour a few times a month, and given the long weekend, I thought to invite them over for dinner.

So even before that, I have to say that is tremendously nourishing and encouraging and uplifting and very sweet to spend time with these mature, committed, energetic folks, focused on this very important task.

OK, so I thought about dinner, and it occurred to me that it might be nice to roast some lamb. I have a Weber® kettle barbecue, which actually smokes small cuts of meat quite well. The local market had apple chips, which as it turns out give a terrific flavor. "But," I said to myself, "not everybody likes lamb" -- especially something like a roast leg of lamb, which is practically baaa-ing when it comes to the table; I mean it is really lamb-y.

So I thought, fine, I'll take a leg of lamb and roast/smoke half of it, and make stew out of the rest. Our son-in-law gave us a gift card (long story) for Safeway, and they had boneless lamb legs. Yes!

But even the lamb stew might be too lamb-y for some folks, I thought, and having in mind the recent news story which said your chances of dying in a 15? year period were 20? per cent higher if you ate a lot of red meat, I also got a salmon fillet. I decided to smoke half of it and grill the other half after marinating it in "soy vey" sauce.

What occurred to me part way through this whole thing is, I guess I'm part "Japanese mother" -- as some story goes, the mother shows her affection for her children by what she packs for them in their lunch-boxes. In a similar way, I guess it was my fond affection for these dear brothers and sisters that expressed itself in these four dishes (only three of which involved the Weber).

The other thing of course was the abundant blessings I've received, not only the gift card but the time and resources to prepare something like this; one of my friends said "We're going to eat like kings" and indeed we did: not just the stuff I prepared (and some very kind words were said about my cooking) but also things others brought: cole slaw made from a family recipe, an exotic "cheesy-potato casserole" from the wilds of Ohio, a rice salad... and a home-made lemon cake, made with Duncan's assistance. Duncan Hines that is.

But how many people throughout history have been able to eat like this? How many people today have friends they're involved with, working on a task that's bigger than all of them and has nothing to do with making money? How many people are as fortunate as I am?

And as I sometimes say, there are few pleasures in this life greater than preparing food for dear friends and enjoying it with them.


My employer allows us to take days off to do volunteer work, and that's what I did for most of Tuesday. This wasn't building a house or feeding the poor—not directly, anyway. There's some programming work that needs doing for a nonprofit organization; they do medical education around the world. Anyway, I've been taking a day or two a month for the past few months and slowly progressing this work. They are patient because I'm doing it for free.

How many companies give employees a paid day off to do volunteer work? How many of us get to do things they love to do, to help accomplish something really important?

During the day, I took some time off to interview someone who may be an elder starting this fall. Another committee member and I heard about his faith journey, his desire to serve the Lord, the things God has been doing in his life and the way God has been using him. Wow -- how often do we get to hear stories like this?

That was rhetorical, but the answer for me is: three times this week! I had another one that evening, and I have one scheduled for this coming Saturday.

I've spoken with both my daughters this week and my wife a couple of times today (they're all in other states at the moment); I have health enough to ride my bike to and from the train station; our friends are willing to take the dog for a bit so the poor creature won't be bored to tears, alone at home…

I could go on and on, but it's already been half an hour and I need to get to work.

It has been one of those weeks... how could anyone be so fortunate as I am? I sure don't know—not that I'm complaining! Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

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