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Memorial Day Lasagne

I am sorry that my blog has been quiet this past week.  It was a very emotionally charged week for me.  We lost a LAHIA family member and the emotions were running high.  We are holding a Memorial Day Service for Guy on Saturday June 2, 2012.  Please pray for his family as they grieve.

I had been praying for the trapper to deliver us a hog for today almost all week.  I found out when I arrived at LAHIA that the trapper was on vacation so no hog. I had hamburger meat. Chris said we could go in the pantry and look for what else I could do. I decided on lasagne. Ummmmmm, no cheese so of course I collected some funds and off to Winn Dixie I went.  Dr. Joe was happy to contribute when I told him what I was making.

Danny decided to take the ride with me. I have spent a few minutes talking with him but never had any time alone. He is a funny character.  I am well respected by the family so I have no fear in spending time alone with most of them. It is easily discernible for me to know who is not safe.

While I was out at Winn Dixie, Greg got the water going for the noodles.  6 boxes had to boiled.  He and I work really well together. I got back with the cheeses and got working immediately.  Lasagne for 50 is a big job!  We worked to get the ground beef browned, noodles cooked and cheese shredded. I bought cottage cheese instead of ricotta. Added a few eggs, some parmesaen cheese and tons of oregano to the blender and no one could tell it started out as cottage cheese!

We set a production line once we got everything prepped.  2 large pans ready for the oven with 20 minutes to spare. On to the homemade garlic bread and dessert. Watermelon and strawberries………..YUM

Though the week was emotional and the moods not so great, I was able to go in daily and love on my LAHIA family. The extra hugs and love I was able to share through my food never stopped.  I have been heavy in prayer for healing hearts. I am reminded daily that everyone grieves differently. Anger, sadness, and silence are just a part of the healing. I search for the right words letting the Lord lead me when counseling those who seek it.  The Lord has been speaking to me through Psalm 119. These are a few verses that have talked to my heart!

Psalm 119:28

My soul is weary with sorrow;  strengthen me according to your word.

Psalm 119:49

Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.

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I am NOT eating that!

First impressions are never what they seem, especially at LAHIA! In order to be able to love you have to get past the exterior to see the life behind the brokenness of the people there.  No one plans to live in a tent in the woods in a secret spot, praying that no one finds them and complains.

I met T months ago when I first started going to LAHIA. He kept to himself and was quite a grump when you did get a few words out of him. A man in his late 50’s. He walks with a cane and has a grizzly adams kind of beard. Everyday I made a point to say hello but moved on to the others that were more talkative and looked for the attention.  I never really gave T much thought until we started serving dinners.

Night after night I watched him push the plate aside and not eat. I would ask him why he didn’t eat and he just gave me the “I am not eating that” and shut down again. “Can I get you something else?” I would offer but he never accepted.  It was kind of personal to me his not eating, I needed everyone to be full and happy to know I had served my purpose.

One afternoon I kind of pushed T to talk to me about why he wasn’t eating. I had no idea I was opening a flood gate of emotions and a story I will never forget!  T shared with me how he ended up homeless, how frustrated he was with his twin boys and how he has a ton of allergies and the food I was preparing had some component he was unable to eat.

Prayer and persistence had broken through the wall of grump which was T. Now I get to hear about his day, I get to hear him share stories of his childhood and the walls are crumbling as the Spirit starts to work within him. He has told me I remind him of his mother, she was a Godly woman too.  Each and every day I pray for T and my LAHIA family to find salvation in Jesus.

Titus 2:10-12

10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

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Lobster with a side of chaos!

I got up this morning not feeling much like doing anything. I bummed around my house for a bit then headed to LAHIA before lunch. I figured I would hang with the family a few hours then come home motivated to do something before I had to be back to prepare dinner.

I worked on the menu for dinner at 11am. We had received a large delivery from Red Lobster earlier that morning so I grabbed a few bags of lobster tails. Lobster scampi with pasta & brocolli, lobster in a cream sauce,  twiced baked potatoes and a green salad. I also had 10 bags of prime rib to prep since there was no room in the freezer. That came from Longhorn!  God is good at feeding us amazing food!

I have to laugh when I make my own plans since God always has something else in mind!  I got there in time for the drama of the day. It was if the moon was full and  everyone was completely PMSing (they are mostly men) all at once.  It was just a complete basketfull of crazy!  It is my daily goal not to get sucked in but today I was being used by the Lord to give guidance.  I listened to several stories from R, K, B & G. I play no favorites and don’t make any judgement, no matter how insane it all sounds.

Since I was not involved with preparing or serving lunch I took the time to escape and take T to the library. We worked on a food stamp application, got a few library books and had time to just talk.   It was a great conversation.  I shared some of my testimony and listened to some of his.  It was a great spiritual lift midday. I really appreciated his honesty and grateful attitude. We arrived back at LAHIA at 2pm. In time to start dinner.

For the first time all day the basketfull of crazy seemed to be closed. Most of the guys had gone and the few that remained we reading books or relaxing in the quiet.

This was the first time Scott was not in the kitchen with me, he took the night off so I was alone. I turned up the radio and started working on dinner. Dottie & Lynda eventually arrived and I grabbed Cowboy.  Dinner was amazing.  It easily could have been a $20 plate in a restaurant. It is nice to hear the compliments but I have to remind them that I am just blessed in the cooking department.

Sometimes I wonder if I am making an impact at LAHIA, after all this feeding ministry has been around for many years now then I realize the seeds I am planting through my service there makes a giant impact!

Matthew 4:19

Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.

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Do we have enough??????????

We have now been serving dinner for 2 weeks. It’s kind of surreal to see the number growing each night and each week. Saturday is always busier than the weekdays.  Tonight’s menu was grilled pork, roasted red potatoes and homemade cole slaw.  My partner in crime, Scott, works on Saturday and usually doesn’t arrive until 4:30-5:0o. Today I started at 2:30.

It’s all good because I usually recruit one of the guys to join me in the kitchen with Kathy, another volunteer.  Tonight it was M.  He is affectionately called Cowboy.  He is a Tennessee redneck with a tough appearance but the heart of a gentle soul!  Tonight I grabbed him to help me prepare the cole slaw.  It gave me an opportunity to hear a bit more of his story. I am always interested in how they ended up in a tent. Cowboy’s story is not much different then most. The construction market in TN bottomed out. He came to FL hoping to find work and of course I don’t really need to go any further, do I?

Anyway, we prepped the slaw and got the pork ready to go on the grill.   I handed off the potatoes to Kathy and headed outside to the grill.  Got the meat going and at this time we had about 10 people hanging about. As it was cooking a few more came in. It has been that way. 5:30 and we have hardly any people. 5:45 and we have about 20 or so. Tonight by 6:15 when we served we had 44!

Scott and I had a quick discussion as to whether we had enough food. 1 of the pork legs wasn’t finished and had to go in the oven. We decided to say a quick prayer and were confident the Lord would provide.  We made our normal reminder to the gang to allow everyone firsts before we started on seconds. With seconds and thirds WE MADE 62 PLATES!

I was reminded yet again that we do all we do at LAHIA for His Glory!  He allows us to be his hands and feet and takes care of the rest!

John6:10-12

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

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Finally understanding

“Mom, Can I have a new bathing suit?”  What’s wrong with the 2 you have now?  They are old, I really just want a new one.  Again I have to have the conversation about needs versus wants with my wonderful 14 year old Em.  She gets it for the moment but I can completely see her resentment.  “Can we have McDonald’s for dinner?”  “Mom, Did you know that Hollister is having a huge sale, can we go to the mall?”  I just have to say no these days but remind her that she is having a birthday in 6 weeks.

My children have never seen what a life without abundance means. Of course they have cell phones, televisions in their rooms and have never known what it means to go to bed hungry.  For me, I was overwhelmed with frustration as spending the time at LAHIA brought be a constant reminder of the blessings the Lord has provided me on a daily basis!

We arrived to make dinner and Em was assisting me along with L. L has been in a tent in the woods for almost 2 years now. He is only 25. Em had a chance to talk with him and really enjoyed his help in the kitchen.  She was quite comfortable and showed that unconditional friendship from minute one.

We served dinner, cleaned up and headed home. Once we arrived home I went in my room to clean up and change clothes and Em went off into her own space for a little while.  She walked into my room and looked at me with her big blue eyes. The tears just falling. Suddenly she was balling like baby. All I could do was hold her and ask what was wrong. She looked up at me and said ” We have so much don’t we Mom.”  I agreed and continued comforting her.

I am a proud Mom! Em now understands how blessed she is and that the Lord provides our needs!  If we are obedient the wants will come.

Philippians 4:19

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

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It’s a family thing

When we started serving dinners on April 28th I decided it was important for my girls to be involved. We arrived at LAHIA at 3:30 to prepare eggplant parmesan and we had no idea how many we would be feeding that evening.  I gave each of my girls a task and they assisted in the meal prep! Even better when they helped do the dishes with not one complaint!

It was awesome to see them interact with the LAHIA family. Em was especially involved in conversation with several of the family. Her kindness was obvious as she opened herself to allow them in. It was amazing to see my daughter bloom in front of my eyes!

We ended up feeding about 30 which was an overwhelming feeling since it was our first dinner.  The amazing satisfaction I felt when one of the guys complimented us on the food. I explained that LAHIA was an extension of my own home and kitchen. My joy was found in making everyone feel at home!

My girls have been serving with me almost daily, asking to be included and shifting other things to make this a priority. I have always taught them to act unselfishly and seeing it occur with no prodding is a true gift from God!

Judges 5:9

My heart is with Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the LORD!

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How shepherd’s pie opened my heart

God has blessed me with incredible cooking skills.  I credit my Mom and The Food Network for fine tuning them!  I had never made shepherd’s pie before let alone to feed 40. I had searched the internet for recipes and many were filled with things that I was not sure I wanted to eat let alone serve others. I finally decided that I would follow the basic premise but the concoction would be my own! I invited my friend Christina over to help and jumped in head first. 25lbs of hamburger, 100 servings of mashed potatoes, 5 lbs of yellow onion, 8 cans of corn and some cheese.

I can’t take credit for being any more than the hands and feet of Jesus when it comes to what I cook. As lunch was finishing up, Chris asked the gang what they thought of lunch. I heard things like “this is the best shepherd’s pie I  ever ate” or ” WOW, that was delicious!” Not a day goes by where someone doesn’t ask when I am going to make that again. Really????? Was it that great or did it come with something they hadn’t felt before; that warmness and love that goes into any meal I make.  My smile was genuine as I made my way into the dining area to talk to some of the people sitting at the tables. I met a lady who just can’t find work. She still lives in her foreclosed house but has no more unemployment, no food stamps (no minor children) and shared with me how she walks 50-60 miles per week looking for work. I listened to her as she shared her story, wondering how far away I was from that situation myself.

I realized at that very moment that my time unemployed was best serving the homeless with an open heart and a willing spirit! Instinctively I want to save them all, figure out how to help each and every one but financially I am just living on what the Lord provides me and my girls. I can cook them a great meal, I can befriend them with a warm smile and open ear every day and funny enough that is all they seek.

John 13:34

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

 

 

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How I found LAHIA

Love And Hope In Action (LAHIA) is a feeding ministry in my neighborhood. Months ago my church asked for volunteers to prepare a meal once every 8 weeks. I had done a meal in January and dropped it off with a friend to take to LAHIA for serving. I had not had an opportunity at that time to visit the facility or meet the other volunteers.   My next turn in rotation was April 3.  I spent the morning cooking shepherds  pie with Christina . We had a blast together cooking. It was a great opportunity for friends to spend time together. She and I delivered the food together and I met Chris who runs the facility.  She was warm and inviting.  I asked about more volunteer opportunities and  she let me know that I was always welcomed.  I went the very next day to help serve lunch.  I have never stopped being involved.  I should mention that I became unemployed since my first rotation. Serving at LAHIA has been a constant reminder of how fortunate I am no matter what my circumstances are.  This blog is my place to share my daily interactions with the homeless men and women of Martin Co. Florida.  I have met some wonderful people truly down on their luck. I have an opportunity to serve the Lord through LAHIA and want others to be as Blessed as I have become.

Matthew 35-40

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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