Our simple life

Last night we got an invitation to a Christmas party that includes a church potluck dinner. Oh my, is there anything better?

A few years ago, for a week we hosted a Portuguese young professional as part of a Rotary exchange program. The young man’s family owned a medical business that he would eventually lead; they were well off. His visit to the United States involved weeklong stays in several northern Florida cities with a daily schedule of tours and lectures and outings. But, we entertained him at our home every morning and several evenings. 

We weren’t sure what to do about church attendance on Sunday morning, but the program coordinator explained that our guests expected to do whatever was on our normal schedule. And, so we explained to our houseguest that we would be going to church on Sunday morning. I knew that the awake time would be tough on him. His home routine was to sleep in late and to work late. But, he was willing to leave the comfort of our guest room and experience an American, Protestant service. 

His reaction was fun to hear. He had not expected such a “lively” and “exciting” worship service. And, he enjoyed the sermon. But, his real praise was for what followed: a church potluck dinner. The folks at our church go all out and nearly all of the food that was being served was new to him. He later explained that he had never eaten either the amount or variety of food in his life. His breakfast the next morning was just several cups of hot and strong coffee. 

The week went by quickly. We talked about the economics and social issues situation of our two countries. We shared family stories and histories. Our conversations were often held outside, next to our pool, or on a picnic location of our community. Before meals John and I prayed aloud regarding the specifics of our day. Later, he shared with me how surprised he was that we enjoyed being outside so much and that our prayers were different every time. He realized that our daily routine of up early and to bed early was so that we could enjoy the sunlight more – he was right.

His food experience ended in a fun way. After dinner one night, John opened up a package of Fig Newtons. Our guest had proclaimed that he was not a “sweet eater” and he rejected John’s offer of a “fruited cake.” But, during the night, he must have become curious, because the next morning he confessed to me that a Fig Newton was the best food that he had discovered in the United States!  

When he left a day later, John and I prayed with him, gave him a small painting of Pensacola Beach and two packages of Fig Newtons and he and I cried as we hugged one more time.

Funny, before he visited, I was concerned that our lives were too boring, too simple and definitely not cosmopolitan enough to interest this young man. Instead, we realized anew that potluck dinners, enjoying nature, prayer and Fig Newtons were great reminders of how God has blessed our lives. 

Don’t apologize for what God has placed in your hands. For someone else, your life might be, for them, like eating Fig Newtons for the first time!

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

++++++

Come, Thou Fount of eve’y blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount–I’m fixed upon it–
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand’ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.

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