In the past two months, I have buried my father and walked my daughter through open-heart surgery. The “windsock in her heart,” as her surgeon described it, that had blood flowing the wrong way, was apparently congenital, but we didn’t discover it till July. She made it great through surgery two weeks ago today. So now, in my great relief, I have some time to reflect on the whirlwind that has been my life for the past two months.
My overwhelming sense is that I’ve been covered in the love of God. One manifestation of that great love is His perfect timing. Indeed, the Almighty works with precise timing that may not always thrill us in the moment (surgery the day before my first day of teaching classes!?), but it is always rooted in knowing all and loving deeply. That my father died during the summer meant I missed a free press junket to Germany. But then Oregon was beautiful (such beauty heals me), and I could stay long enough to get my mom moved as I worked remotely—without having to cancel one appointment. As for my daughter’s surgery, I wanted it on Thursday instead of Tuesday, but later I was thankful she had three days of healing behind her as we headed into a three-day holiday weekend with hospital staff maxed out.
My second observation: I’ve been covered in the love of Christ’s people. Over the past few days, I’ve spent a long time writing thank-you notes, and I’m sure I‘ve failed to remember some folks who helped us out. They did so in a thousand ways. But allow me to focus on just one: food.
When Dad died, his five kids traveled to Oregon to a town where we knew few people. His church generously provided a meal after the memorial service—a real gift that allowed us time with people we loved. But the food I appreciated most came from the sole neighbor who showed up at the house bearing two big pans of meat loaf. Our family was scrambling so much to pull photos together and design a program and plan a service and handle all that goes into accommodating guests from out of town that we didn’t stop much for meal prep. We ate that meat loaf for lunch and dinner and lunch.
Last week while my daughter was still in the hospital recovering, my husband came down with a really bad case of strep throat. So a friend from our ABF brought him Jello and chicken noodle soup, and two others brought him meals while my girl and I dined across town on hospital food. Since her release, a dear friend set us up for a few weeks of food from a delivery service that provides the kind of healthful stuff our daughter needs, and church members have provided enough gift cards for us to have this benefit as long as we need it—and more. One of my colleagues and his wife brought me a “care package” with Nutella and gum and peanuts and Granola bars . . . to help me take care of me.
A few days ago, a friend who lives a thousand miles away searched for restaurants near us with great reviews and settled on one called “The House of Gyros” that serves Greek food. She called and had them charge her card with the agreement that when I came in, the manager, “Victoria,” would fix me up with $30 worth of dinner. A few days later, I identified myself to Victoria and told her I was too tired to make good menu choices, so she said she would put something together. She sat down with me at the table and asked me about my daughter, brought me ice water and meatball soup to eat while I waited, and sent me out the door with my arms bearing enough food to cover us for three days.
In the past few months, the love of Christ has taken such forms as meat loaf, meatball soup, Starbucks coffee, Chick-fil-A salads, Subway sandwiches, Nutella, gyros, macaroni and cheese, Jello, chicken noodle soup, dark chocolate. . . .
The deacons in Acts 6 served food to widows. Whom can you serve this week through the ministry of food? Jesus said that when we feed the least of his children, we are really feeding him (Matt 25:36).