Monday, December 8, 2014

The Blessing of a Meal Delivered

Sometimes I like to pick organic food from my winter front yard garden like onions, chard, kale, spinach, lettuce and herbs and prepare a healthy meal together with my three children.  The girls are much more likely to eat vegetables that they have helped to prepare. Even Josh gets into the kitchen activity by helping out with the washing and cutting.  I like how everything feels very warm and "hearthy" as we cook our dinner together.  We often end up singing together and I tell them stories of how my sister and I used to enjoy learning about the pleasure of cooking from my mom.

I'm just kidding.  The above paragraph is me falling into a fantasy of idyllic, unrealistic mommyhood.

Yes, there are days when I pick vegetables from my garden and whip up a salad.   Yes, sometimes I have a vision for dinner early in the morning, prep it all and pop it into the crock pot by ten in the morning.  Yes, the girls do sometimes help with dinner prep and they always set the table but it's rarely the happy, zappy picture that I imagine that it could/ should be.

But there are days, my friends, there are days when I feel like would rather stick knitting needles in my eyes than make dinner.

Do you ever approach 5pm and find yourself realizing that it would take every single ounce of motivation and energy that you have in your profoundly tired and spent body to cook dinner for your family?  Are you ever tempted to spend large amounts of money on cardboardy, unnutritous food YET AGAIN because you cannot bear the thought of pulling out that skillet to create something that comes from your own refrigerator?  Does the thought of doing dinner dishes fill your heart with heavy, gummy, sticky dread?

It was on a day such as this a few weeks ago that I experienced "The Blessing of a Meal Delivered." My husband had had a minor surgery on his knee and, therefore, had to ask for my help every time he needed a glass of water.  The girls were taking turns being sick.  Sleep was not good for anyone that week.  Joshua's home autism therapy was hitting some walls and needing much more of my attention.  It wasn't like my life was on fire but I was WORN DOWN.

A few friends from church rallied to deliver us a few meals.  Each meal was stupendously delicious because someone else made it and they infused it with love.  The picture at the top of this post captures one such beautiful meal.  Ironically, it was a vegan meal delivered by a family that is vegan.  I don't know if my kids even know what veganism is and they certainly have never had a whole vegan meal but we all devoured this dinner with deep appreciation.  German vinegary potato salad, super wholesome, nutty, chunky bread, well-spiced and tasty veggie burgers, it was all fantastic.  And it had been delivered by a smiling, empathetic person who cared about us. Truly, it was the grace of God made manifest in a real way to my somewhat mildly overwhelmed life.

If you know someone who is having a hard time, consider offering to bring them a meal.  Prepare something yummy and somewhat homemade.  My suggestion is that you bring it to them in either disposable or pretty serving dishes which they can return with no hurry.  Include something healthy and something chocolate.   And never, ever underestimate the blessing and power of a meal delivered.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What if People Misunderstand My Son?

Sometimes I fear that, one day, Josh will do something that gets misunderstood as threatening and that people who are afraid of him will take harmful action.   Because of his disabilities, my son's behavior can seem suspicious and erratic if one doesn't understand what is going on with him.

There have been times when Josh has touched women inappropriately in public contexts, patting their butts or touching their breasts.  Usually this is just part of his flapping behavior, never something sexual.  Some people have been very understanding when they turn to see Josh and discern that he's developmentally disabled.  Some people have gotten very upset and have responded with great hostility.  Josh has picked up food at stores and has started eating it without paying.  He is twelve (and still very cute in my personal opinion) but he is already quite tall for a mostly Asian kid.  When he's wearing a big jacket or hoodie, he looks like a typical high schooler.   I wonder, at some point, are people going to interpret something that Josh does as threatening, dangerous or illegal?  And if that happens, will there be time for me or someone who is with Josh to interpret who Josh is and why he does things?  What if Josh happened to be alone?  Could he have a weird, random or intense encounter with police, a security guard or a neighborhood watch person? Could things go bad fast?

If someone told Josh to put his hands up in the air or to get down on the ground, he is not likely to comply because he wouldn't comprehend what was going on.  Josh does not understand what a police officer is.  He has no concept of legal or illegal.  He is not good about boundaries and social expectations.  Given recent events which have been in the news, such as the deaths of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, I can't help but to play a dark scenario in my imagination where a tense situation leads to his injury, arrest or death.

In general, I still believe that police officers are men and women who are out for the good of the general public and I am very grateful for them. I hope and trust that most have been trained well enough to slow down and try to understand what is going on for people when things seem strange. Yet I cannot deny that somewhere deep inside me is a dark fear that is rooted in the reality that the world is not a safe or fair place, especially for young men of color.  My heart breaks because of this. Lord have mercy on us all.

Today I will lift up a special prayer for the mothers of all of the young men who have been the victims of violence.

"And a sword will pierce your own soul too."  Luke 2:35