|Photo Credit: Anita Patterson from morgueFile.com|
Ahhhh, the leftovers - the scraps and random odds and ends of food left on a plate after the kids are done. A half-eaten chicken nugget. Ten macaroni and cheese noodles. Five green beans. Two sips of milk. One strawberry with a bite taken out of it. My husband refuses to waste and is forever (poor thing) the one to make their plates…happy plates.
He always takes his lunch to work and I’m certain his co-workers wonder if I ever cook normal meals. His lunch medley is usually a fare of whatever leftovers are in the fridge and they never go together. Let’s just say that no one has ever asked him to trade lunches. Why refried beans, fish sticks and an egg roll would NOT appeal to someone, I don’t know! But, that’s just how it is around here.
The one thing that he adamantly refuses to eat is my daughter’s hamburger. She loves ketchup, which makes for a very soggy bun for daddy. That’s when he puts his foot down and into the trash it goes without a second thought.
Leftovers can be found in many areas of our lives. On many days, it seems as if we save our leftovers for the ones we love the most. We spend our day giving what we have to give and sometimes our family gets the leftovers – our leftover time, our leftover patience, our leftover attention.
Can you just imagine if Mary had given the Angel Gabriel her “leftovers?” It might have gone something like this – “Hey, look Gabe, I REALLY don’t have time right now. I know what you have to say is important, but I’m so busy. My to-do list is a mile long. I’m beat. I’ve had a long day. I have nothing left to give. I just can’t help you.” Whew! I’m so thankful that she said, “His Will be done” instead.
Just the other day, an elderly woman I met told me her story about leftovers. She said that she and her husband never had any money to give to church. She said that once the bills were paid, repairs were made and groceries were bought, they had nothing left to give. She explained that she and her husband wanted to try something different. They gave to their church first. She said from that day forward, they always had enough. Always.
I think God sometimes gets our prayer leftovers, too. I know at the end of the day, my prayers are much, MUCH shorter. So, I did something that I had never done before. I went to Mass…mid-week…at 7:30am. I’m NOT a morning person, so this was a sacrifice for me. I mean, I’m glad I wake up in the morning – it beats the alternative of NOT waking up, but let’s just say that I’m not fully functional until later in the day.
My main reason for going was not for me (so I thought). I went for a friend who was struggling. I set my alarm and left the house before my family of snoozers even stirred (my husband was off – no worries – I did NOT leave the children at home unattended J). It was an amazing experience. I saw the morning sun peaking through the clouds (a rare occasion for me) and there was such a calmness in the air. Palpable peace.
There were only a handful of people there, so it was very intimate. It was especially touching because the people there really wanted to be there. They came to offer themselves, their time, their fears, their intentions...their everything...at the foot of the cross.
The message that echoed throughout Mass that morning was this..."The Lord will not abandon his people." It took everything out of me not to just sob myself silly in that pew, since I knew that was a message directly intended for my friend. He listens.
Ironically, my friend had actually given me a gift - the gift of knee time - a gift that she didn't even know she had given me. That morning, I felt like I didn’t just give God my leftovers. I had given to Him first. I have never started my day off more wonderfully. When I let my friend know that I had gone that morning for her, she responded, “Today was the best day I’ve had since he died and now I know why. Thank you more than words can say!” God’s mercy. (sniff, sniff)
A few days ago I had an e-mail chat with two of my friends, Milissa and Anne. The topic was “knee time vs. me time.” Milissa said, “I thought of what Jesus says in Matthew 16:24 – you must deny yourselves, take up your cross and follow me. We must deny ourselves…myself…me…and get on our knees to be with Jesus. The world today doesn’t accept ‘knee time’ as a necessary and vital part of life.”
Anne explained her take – “Knee time IS me time – it’s time to separate from all the worldly obligations and responsibilities and turn to God and empty the space between us and Him. No matter who or what the prayer intention, the end result is the same…being closer to God…that’s definitely a me thing.”
And, from the wonderful book, “Relentless Hope” –
“No matter the desert, no matter the wilderness, there is nowhere we can wander off to, no land where the heat is too strong, nowhere God can’t make a roadway or a river of living water to refresh us. God is doing something new. The story may look grim, but he’s turning the page. What are my choices? Despair. Discouragement. Anger. Self-pity. Self-righteousness. Self-destruction. Or. Faith. Grace. Joy. In others, with others, in and with myself, in God. Hope. For a lifeline, for a bigger picture, for a heavenly purpose, for what we need exactly on time. I will lean in. I will stand up. I will reach out. I will hope. Relentlessly.”