Friday, October 14, 2011



For the annual Fall Festival at our kid’s high school my husband, Rich, lugged in a 25 pound Libby's pumpkin. I was pleased. This plump, pale apricot boulder had "pies" written all over it. It was a surprise for my friend's front porch, to be surrounded with October offerings of gourds and field corn. By Thanksgiving it would surrender its throne to be stuffed into pastries, breads and soups. Rich asked, "WHY are we doing this?" I laughed off that reality question as an editorial remark and browsed the booths, challenging him to "dunk the teacher." Then a table full of cookbooks caught my eye.

Rich was headed for the parking lot. He'd paid his dues by appearing at the fund raiser and had that "yardwork is calling me" look. But those cookbooks...the poor mom who'd tried to hawk them still had 150 left. She’d reduced them from $5 to $1. Such a deal. Within seconds I offered to sell them as a fundraiser at my Bible study. I'd charge $2, give her $1 and our group would get $1.

Are you excited yet? Neither was Rich. As he loaded the 150 cookbooks into our car, exactly where the Libby's pumpkin had been, he mumbled, "WHY are we doing this?" At that precise moment a wise friend waltzed by wondering what was IN that big box. He was hoping someone would ask. She sized up the situation, and blessed us with, "Phyllis does tend to go off the end of the scale when it comes to Mercy!" That sweet summary left us both intact and able to get home with a minimum of hard feelings about my typically eager, instead of meager, responsiveness. I can justify my actions faster than any computer can set a margin. But in this case, the good Lord reminded me that not every need is a call from God on my life! Add Rich's query, "WHY are we doing this?" and you get a theological dilemma. What about all the needs I sensed, purportedly with my spiritual antenna? Do I tend to react more than act? This is not a fun exam. Instant replays are indelible in my mind. Wednesday Woman, a Bible study I led for 10 years, is an example. One hundred women from 14 different church backgrounds were empowered by God's Word. Marriages were saved, depressions lifted, confidence restored, faith in Christ increased. Supervising a staff of 24, affirming individuals in small groups and writing the study, eventually began to consume me.

One family night [don’t go WOW, we only had 3 all together] the 6 of us shared observations, all in love. Jennifer, 12, noticed I'd been more of a “Wednesday Woman” than a mom lately. Sarah, 4, said prayers that night, ending with "Make Mommy a good “Wednesday Woman!" A creative “ditto” came the next day when my husband and I attended a funeral. I jotted a note asking what he wanted on his tombstone. “Do you know something I don’t?” He answered, adding "I know what I'm putting on Yours! ‘SHE DIED ON HER WAY TO WEDNESDAY WOMAN.’" Within a year I transferred my leadership to others. That Bible study continues to this day very nicely without me. It was the Lord's work. He gave me the burden and then took it away. His timing was perfect. Next He led me into broadcasting. In fact, He’d been heading me in that direction all along!

If I hadn't listened to feedback, I may have missed that opportunity and continued writing weekly lessons, panicking when childcare staff didn't show up and trying to master the F sharp chord on my guitar. How do we know when to play what role? It would appear far better to seek it, even trial and error it, than to pontificate and debate it. In the Lord's Prayer we ask God to enable us to accept His will AND to DO it. Back to pumpkins. While the Libby pumpkin makes great pies...the other one, called a jack-o-lantern, is good only for eyes! One of these things is not like the other. A face pumpkin tastes terrible. A pie pumpkin doesn't make a very brilliant show.

Are you like the pie or the face pumpkin? One way to tell is to let others taste and see that the Lord is good through you. Their feedback can reinforce wise use of your talents. If folks move away from you in the choir loft, it might signal a misuse of gifts. If people are drawn to you in times of crisis, consider it the gift of encouragement. And don't be DIScouraged if you knock on a few doors that won't budge. It's another way God steers us in the right direction.

Speaking of directions, I have this great idea about opening an intimate little tea room. On the FACE of it, it looks like a golden opportunity: great location, favorite recipes, a friend who can help. But I wonder if I'm confusing pies with eyes in this patch of possibilities? Since there's no way he can fit this one in the trunk of the car, I could ask Rich for some feedback. Or maybe I'll just ask myself, WHY are we doing this?

No comments: