Sunday, May 08, 2011


They say that the way to man's heart is through his stomach. Darryl must have some other routes--believe me, I did not find the way to his heart that way. My excuses are many, but mercy, my children have got to eat.

That's why I rather sheepishly asked a friend for help. She has provided many a simple, nutritious, tasty meal for our family. That's how we like it, simple and wholesome. Thankfully she did not gawk at my having four children and still having no skill in the kitchen. Instead she's compiling her recipes and we are having a serious meal-planning pow-wow this week.

(I feel like I need to include a disclaimer for my mother here. My mom is a great cook. My older sister is a great cook. My younger sister is a great cook. Only I am the flunkie in the kitchen. So it's not that my mom wasn't willing to teach me. Nope, there were just so many other chores to choose from. Like sweeping out the garage, I always wanted that one. A beautiful garage to stare at for a whole week to remind me of my gracious servitude, rather than a meal that disappeared in 20 minutes. Or reorganizing the furniture, I would have done that every week if she let me.)

This is the great part of being in need, you let people in where you may never have before. You learn about them, hear their perspectives, and enter into their life just as they are in yours. Cambodia was a perfect training ground for this. Training ground for appreciating community and escaping isolationist tendencies. When you wake up in the morning and find five people in your kitchen you develop a tolerance for lack of privacy very quickly. When you pop out your back door to grab a bath towel off the line you begin to relish little moments of rubbing shoulders with others doing their chores, grinding spices, chopping fish, hanging laundry.

I missed this when we moved back here. I missed having people around me. On the other hand, it's still hard for me to let people in to my mess. I'm so grateful for the folks that come and help me out, however my house can rarely be ready for guests these days. When people come they see my dirty kitchen floor and stacked dishes. Laundry baskets sit by the steps waiting for me to fold their contents. Children may be spotted still wearing pajamas.

And when folks stay a while they find out even more. Yes, my children argue and there may be one particularly prone to temper tantrums. They are not always grateful and sometimes need a bath. All these are things we try to stuff away as we put ourselves on display for others. It's not easy letting people see our flaws.  However, I am learning to be grateful for those who are willing to come in and realize we are just another family. Another family needing large measures of God's grace on a daily basis. A family living and learning and making mistakes along the way.

That's why I'm so thankful to let real women into our real mess in our real need. Now when I clean you may hear me muttering,"Clean like Mary, clean like Mary," as I attempt to copy her stellar, super-speedy cleaning tactics. The list goes on, love like Lois, listen like Roelie, and more.

Hopefully I will be able to cover that ground from Darryl's stomach to his heart in the near future.  I hope someday I will have the opportunity to be knocking at your door, and please, just let me in already. Don't worry about the mess; let me in to your messy life or your messy house. Let someone stand by your side and sort it out together.


KarenKTeachCamb said...

Beautiful Kara!

I am so glad to admit that one of the things I really love about Cambodia is coming home to a clean house, clean clothes, and a cooked meal! I'm going to miss my current helper when I move at the end of June, but hope I can find someone just as trustworthy and competent. I can handle the cooking, and even the washing, but if it's left to me the house will get cleaned very irregularly, and ironing will only be done when I have to wear something! Love you!

Kate said...

I really loved reading this. Seems as if the States is the hardest place to act out the community aspect of church; we're all so self-sufficient, a good but dangerous place to be.
You'll have to share any new recipes that are simple but good!

Beth said...

I loved this, Kara. I've found it so true that in order to take advantage of the "community", we have to give up our pride and self-sufficiency. And in order to give to the community, we have to give up our feelings of superiority and our tendency to judge so easily!