Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)
TITLE: Perspective, Peanut Butter and Praise
By Kate Oliver Webb
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She wondered, not for the first time, whether the Lord was really providing for her and her family as well as He should. This isn’t turning out at all like I thought, Lord, and I don’t like it. Not one bit!
She heard feet thundering down the stairs, and bit her lip to stop the tears. Pat was first, as usual, his backpack stuffed, zipper closed; his hair stylishly tousled and shoes modishly untied. Carolyn, her perpetually preoccupied daughter (“spacey” Pat called it) straggled slowly after Pat, running a brush casually through her hair, her backpack unzipped and spilling out papers.
Patrick caught his mom’s eye, shook his head and rolled his eyes, silently expressing his disdain for his older sister, his polar opposite. Linnie stumbled slightly as she reached the bottom step, righted herself and skidded into the chair at the end of the table.
Abby fondly recalled the kids’ dad, Mark, who had passed along that “elsewhere” gene to his first-born. It was one of the traits that had charmed Abby; and one of the traits that frustrated her the most after living with it day in and day out.
It was also one of the things for which she chastised God in her mind on a regular basis. If Mark had just been thinking before he stepped out in front of that bus! I mean, they make jokes about that kind of thing! If You’re gonna make somebody with that kind of mind, why weren’t his angels keeping better watch? No, Lord, I’m not happy; not happy at all!
Pasting on her warmest mom smile, she said, “’Morning, kids. Cereal, milk, toast, juice, all on the table. Let’s sit and pray….”
The three took each other’s hands. Abby gave Carolyn’s an extra squeeze, reminding her it was her turn to pray. Linnie gave a startled little jerk, then bowed her head and began her nearly-rote meal blessing.
“Thank you, Heavenly Father, for providing our food, and for all your blessings. Bless the food to our bodies, and our bodies to your service. Protect us this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Abby gave silent thanks that her teenaged children were still eager about things of God. Their church had provided the perfect place to find comfort and balm following the death of their dad, and while it was an excruciatingly painful time, neither child had withdrawn, nor showed any outward signs of anger or rebellion.
Out the door and driving to her supermarket job, Abby continued her lament. What were you thinking to allow that to happen? My kids need their dad.
Abby made certain that none of her bitterness and rebellion against God ever showed. Not at home, not at church. Once in a while, at work, she let slip an angry word of frustration; co-workers were always eager to commiserate.
Before leaving work that afternoon, Abby studied her checkbook. Not much there. Returning the tubs of pre-sliced ham and turkey to the shelf, she headed for the meat counter, deciding that left-over meatloaf (stretched with plenty of oatmeal and soup for dinner that night) would suit for a couple days’ sandwiches for the kids.
Abby’s war with God raged on and on in the battleground of her mind. The cost of food: going up. Gas: forget it. When she arrived home, the usual monthly bills greeted her: utilities, all going up, up, up. Frustrated, she threw the envelopes up in the air and let them land wherever they wished, then began putting her groceries away.
Wadding up the last plastic bag, she felt something like paper, but a little stiffer. She pulled it out and read: “Grandma’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Spice Gems.” Suddenly a little more cheerful, she decided she had the ingredients to make those “gems.” Turning the card over, she read the only words there: “If you can’t praise Me for what I allow, praise Me for Who I Am. Habakkuk 3:17-19.” Stunned, she collapsed in the nearest chair.
The handwritten phrase, turning up out of nowhere, stilled the turmoil in her mind. Instead of a rebuke, God sent her a message.
That evening she would explore a special passage in Habakkuk.
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