I wanted to update all of you on Operation Baked Blessings! What an amazing thing this has come to be for our family. I would love to share two interactions we had today: one planned, and one not so planned.
We prayed about whom to bless with some baked goodies to celebrate and honor my dear cousin. My boys and I decided to bless a lady who lives a few streets away and walks around our block every day. She’s a devout walker. We see her pass in the sun, the snow, the sleet, and the rain. She’s become a staple part of our everyday lives for years, but shamefully we never exchanged names. We’ve talked before, about kids, animals, neighborhood happenings, and her allegiance to Weight Watchers. Lately, I have been praying for every interaction with someone to be meaningful. Because I have 4 little ones, I don’t get many opportunities to serve and be part of groups and activities like I used to be. This was a perfect opportunity to extend love to someone and make a mere “hello” a bit more meaningful.
I looked up some Weight Watcher recipes and baked her a loaf of banana pumpkin bread. While I was doing that, my boys were drawing her pictures and writing her notes. When everything was finished, we waited by the front door at her usual walk-by time. We were all so excited! So excited, in fact, that when we spotted her cruising down the street, the boys burst out the door and almost scared her half to death!
She stopped and we, familiar strangers, bombarded her with pictures, kind words, and a baked treat that was diet friendly. She started to cry…I hadn’t even shared with her why we were doing this yet! We invited her into our home and she just hugged on my kids. She was so touched and blown away! I told her that we are honoring my cousin’s memory by doing what she loved most: loving others through her homemade/handmade treats. When we shared our story, she continued to cry. It turns out, she lost someone special to her many years ago during the fall. She said she still thinks about it often during this time of year and struggles. What a blessing it was to be able to extend some cheer to her! The best part of the story is this: her name is Grace. Grace was something that my dear cousin absolutely loved! Her email address was graceflowsdown. Her daughter’s middle named is a derivation of grace. Stephanie was all about grace, and now we extended Stephanie’s love to Grace today. How fitting!
My second story isn’t so graceful! Right now, I have 4 sick kiddos in the house. My baby girl is also actively teething (one popped in yesterday!) We’ve been sleepless and moody over here. After the excitement with Grace, it was as if a peace had settled on our home. Each little one closed his or her little eyes and drifted off to sleep. I hadn’t slept in a few days myself, so I loaded the dishwasher and was about to climb into my warm, inviting stranger of a bed when the phone rang. It was our phone company. My husband called for service, and guess when the guy was coming? In 5 minutes. O.k., breathe in and out. No nap for mom, but at least my kids get to rest, right? Wrong. This man had the absolute loudest voice ever. I greeted him at the door with a quick smile and the important information that my children were sleeping…I even gave him their ages, hoping to drive home the fact that if they should awaken, it will not be pleasant.
Mr. Technician proceeded to come into my house, and talk to me in decibals that far exceeded my approved levels. I grew really anxious. Still, I heard no cries, no voices. Breathe in, breathe out. Practice love. Practice kindness. I was talking myself into trying to use this experience for personal character development…until Mr. Technician decided to use the bathroom. The only bathroom in the house is next to the boys’ room. After slamming the door, but before emerging, he answered his cell phone in his booming voice and woke all the boys up. At least baby girl was still catching some z’s. Until he decided to drill a hole through our living room wall to run a line out of the house (which was not approved, and which caused my dear husband quite a tantrum of his own when he got home!)
Here I was with four tired, sick kids and Mr. Technician, berating my lack of knowledge of all things modem, router, and other computer lingo that might as well been Klingon. My oldest knew that I was upset, and asked me what we could do about him. Why isn’t he being quieter mom? Why is he yelling into his cell phone? What are you gonna do mom? Why won’t he leave? My response: we’re gonna bake him some bread! My boys were in the kitchen with me, and while Mr. Technician went outside to do some wire things, I told them life was full of choices. Today, we are going to choose to show love when we are inconvenienced. They just got really quiet. I think they were considering the possibility that an alien had abducted their mother. I had made a double batch of dough from our morning’s endeavor, so I threw the extra in a loaf pan and secretly hoped his job would be done before my kitchen timer was complete.
Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, my husband came home and had some words with Mr. Technician since he did some things that he was not authorized to do. I actually felt sorry for Mr. Technician. We got to know him during our afternoon with him, and he got to know a little bit about our world. He was stressed out and felt bad, and though we accepted his apologies, he seemed to be very down. All I have to say is it’s amazing what some baked goods can do! When I emerged with a loaf of pumpkin bread (which he could smell baking during his wire fixing), his demeanor changed. He thanked us thoroughly, gave us his cell phone number in case we need anything else, and all was well.
Here’s what I have learned: even with our limitations and resources, even when we are inconvenienced and tired, even when we have the “right” to be upset and feel wronged, we can choose to put smiles on people’s faces. We can be an encouragement. Our actions can redeem our words. Love isn’t light and fluffy, it’s nitty gritty. It’s getting out of our comfort zones to make others comfortable.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to look outside of ourselves and spontaneously bless people who are not a regular part of our lives. We learned a life lesson right alongside of our kids, and we gained a friend today. Grace asked if she could stop by from time to time and chat. My heart leapt! I never expected to gain anything from giving, but I gained so much today!
P.S. I think it was my oldest's drawing of Darth Vader that won Grace over! It was spot-on an accurate rendition of him! Somehow, he thought that would bring her cheer!