Why was I suprised? I had created, fed, watered and encouraged the monster. Each year, with a heart primed with ocd combined with a major sweet tooth as a solid backer, I had made each one their pie of choice for Thanksgiving - that's a minimum of 6 pies. (I say minimum because if there was a tie for first place in the heart of any of my loved ones, I would make them their top two . . . because really, it's a hard choice - pecan . . . no chocolate pecan . . . no . . . pecan. Who can really make that call definitively? Call me crazy, I'll agree.
BUT this year I had decided that I would scale back and maybe only make one pie since we were being prepared an amazing Thanksgiving meal by an awesome short term mission group for Makarios that had given up time with their own families to come serve alongside Makarios! (HELLO - they brought cool whip in a cooler as one of their suitcases - Thank you Hill Country Christian School!!!!) By golly, this year I would take a pie making hiatus and eat the pies somebody else put together. And then, they rioted (my children).
"BUT you ALWAYS make lots and lots of pies for Thanksgiving!!!!! It won't be right if we can't eat pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner for several days! It just won't feel like Thanksgiving if you don't make a gizzilion pies!!!!"
Wednesday afternoon, the eve of Thanksgiving, secretly excited that my children required their mom's pie baking frenzy as part of the holiday and secretly dreading the work I had ahead, I snatched up the last bottle of Karo syrup at the supermarket (the other Gringos in the area were way ahead of me!) Shortly after I arrived home, our landlord showed up . . . with new granite counter tops and the men to install them. Unannounced.
Oh . . . okay.
I mean . . . "YAY!!!! New countertops!!!!! Seriously, yay!!!"
But . . . . . . . NOW????????
(Both relieved and frantic, wild eyed and calm, a flood of conflicting emotions created a tornado-ed frenzy on my insides.) Hey, wait . . . I KNOW THIS . . . . This is what it feels like when the Lord uses circumstances in my life related to being on the mission field, a guest in this culture called by God to share His love here, to remind me of what I already know but sometimes forget:
I, Rachel Sawyer, am NOT in control. Nope. BUT, I know who is, AND I trust Him. The only thing I truly have a say in is how I will respond (and in this moment, well . . . . it wasn't pretty.)
AND, I could hear the question NOT being asked . . . that silent space where truth sits in waiting . . . . Rachel, what are you focused on? On a thankful heart, a contrite spirit, an attitude of gratitude, on the Giver of every perfect gift from above?
But YALL, I had PIES TO BAKE!!! For Thanksgiving!
"Isn't it enough to be far from home, far from family, far from the familiar things of the holiday, GOD???? Isn't our sacrifice enough, God???? Can't I just carry on as if everything is normal?"
And as if I could hear Him respond:
"No, it's NOT enough, Rachel. I want your obedience and your whole heart. Sacrifice is not a guarantee that you will receive everything you think you want, and it doesn't earn you deservedness. I want you to throw yourself into me like you're rolling out pie crust - with love and sweat and floury hands - I want you ALL IN like a mama crazed to delight her family. My way is better than anything you could try to create."
Yall, being on the mission field challenges what you REALLY think. Not what you tell people you think or even what you think you think, but it creates this awesome/not awesome space that is less about talk and more about action, less about the outward and more about the heart, less about bells and whistles and more about the simple truth, less about human tradition and more about honoring God. And at that moment, God was exposing something about me that I really didn't want to face. I had allowed human tradition and my fondness of it to trump God and what He desires from me.
Honestly, I have been very convicted lately about this, and how that trickles or rushes like a raging river down to my children - either way it reaches them. I want to be careful what I teach them, and sometimes I am not intentional about digesting how my actions or lack thereof says something to them about who I truly believe God is (i.e. If I truly trust God, why do I show them what worrying looks like?)
The day they took my countertops, the eve of Thanksgiving and the whole day of Thanksgiving with workmen in my house, the day I still managed to bake 3 pies from my kitchen table ("We're GONNA eat PIE - by golly!" she shouted clinging to her sweet holiday idol), is a day I won't soon forget because I remembered:
Thanksgiving is NOT about pie (or turkey, sweet potatoes, etc - man I miss me some American sweet potatoes!) It never was and it never will be. Thanksgiving is not just a day, but it is an attitude of gratefulness to God for every circumstance. That is the smell I want wafting through my home, the sweet fragrance of praise to God offered with a sincere heart! That is the kind of thing I want to teach my children . . . . I can now appreciate that God interupted my plans to bring me back to Him and expose where I had sold out to something less.
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. " Psalm 100:4
And the new countertops are nice.