Meat Hungry

When you tell life stories to people do you wonder if there’s any common thread between the teller and the listener, the writer and the reader? I do.

Can you relate to me? Can I relate to you? Do my words speak your language?

Certainly we are not all the same age (stop clapping your hands–I can see you). Is it true that the readers within a 10-year range on either side of my own age are the only few who glean bits of goodness or encouragement or, if I dare ask, wisdom, from words I scatter around? I hope not. I’m still a kid on the inside.

What about perspective? Did we all get to whatever age we are by putting our feet in the same footprints along the same pathway? Ridiculous to think so. From our first breaths outside the womb our life roads diverged. For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. Loved. Unloved. Doted upon. Ignored. Encouraged. Beaten down. Make your own list. Your list influences how you perceive stories.

All that to say, these last weeks as we’ve moved through the holiday season, being thankful and celebrating the manger Baby and ringing in 2023 (I’m sorry . . . WHAT???), I’ve been stirring a pot of nostalgic thoughts in my already brimming-over insomnia brain, finding impossible tidbits to stress over, mulling my stories and mingling them with your stories, and eventually winding down to the question of how in the world I’m going to fill up my time in eternity — well, besides riding horses of course. (So there’s a peek into just one of the slightly unhinged 3 a.m. thought processes). Eventually an idea materialized. Instead of just focusing on my own reality and tales, I’d like to know everyone’s story. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E.’S. Why not? It’s eternity after all. There’s time.

And so, because I still have to wait to get in on E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E.’S. stories, I’ll give you another one of my own because that’s all I’ve got until, well, you know. It features my mother-in-law, a subject who has graced several previous stories you may recall. I hope your life’s pathway will allow you to hear it and understand it as I intend. I’m praying it will be so.

The year 1992 is a blur smeared across our family photo albums in such a sloppy discombobulation that it makes me squinch up my face in an attempt to even recall how those pictures came to be. There would be busier, heavier years in our future, most certainly, but we were experiencing multiple life circumstances for the first time, new baby footprints in the snow so to speak.

It had become apparent to Bob’s family at large that his dad was declining in health and in the capacity to care for himself. The two, Alva and Betty Mitchell, moved down from the ranch in eastern Oregon to the small city of Nampa, Idaho where it would be easier to cope. She had looked after him for nine long, snow-bound years up there after his early retirement from a good career as a juvenile probation officer in Nevada, honoring him by surrounding him with his boyhood memories, an attempt at regaining “him.” The time had come, though, to stop it. Not to stop the caring. Not to stop the long nights, the doctors, the management. But to relocate it all to where people were, where help could be found.

And help was indeed found. In community, church, and the sudden lurch of adult children and their families making the move to Nampa to surround Alva and Betty. So it came to pass that we planted ourselves in a U-Haul truck and a mini van with three (only 3!) children and drove from Kansas City back west, back home, back to Nampa.

Mother Nampa.

This is where we always land. Life outside Nampa has just been a necessary orbit until we touch down again. Mother Nampa.

Bob had a job waiting for him as a registered nurse in the ICU at St. Luke’s in Boise, thanks be to God. We had purchased our first home from long distance after husband picked it out on a house-hunting trip weeks before. (THAT topic could be blog fodder in the future. We discovered Molly just thought she was flexible about a house. See what I mean about new baby footprints in the snow? Much to Bob’s relief, I am now the house-picker-outer. In his complete defense, we got what we could afford. I wasn’t used to that.)

I enrolled the children in school. Second grade, preschool, and toddler home with mama. Did we put them in convenient close-by schools? Of course not. It had to be hard. I didn’t want to stay long-term in that part of town so we got 2nd grader set up in a school where I had a lot of experience due to my elementary education degree work. The preschooler started at the church near the school. So it was a load-em-up-and-move-em-out across town situation five days a week. Daddy was working 12-hour night shifts so the kid transportation was mama.

Regarding the night shifts. Goodness. Bob needs a little sympathy in hind sight here. To his credit he’s a good sleeper so the kids and I didn’t have to tiptoe around during the day in our little house. No, his trouble getting enough sleep came courtesy of me. When it would get to about 1:00 p.m. or certainly by 2:00 I’d get him up to help. Sorry, honey. Good thing you were young, huh? I just simply didn’t have the capacity to handle what I should’ve been able to handle. In that case, youth was not my friend.

By the time a few months went by and we’d been in this routine a while, it became apparent to someone that I was not running on all cylinders and hadn’t quite adjusted. We were indeed getting places on time. We had found a wonderful church home. Though we’d made the cross country move to “help,” in all probability we weren’t exactly helping a ton with the Alva and Betty situation except when Bob would go over for a bit here and there. Regarding my unhappiness with our house, I’d finally come to be able to giggle a little about our next door neighbors’ regular weekend inebriated scuffles when she would lock him out of the house five feet from our bedroom window and he would bang on the door for middle-of-the-night hours calling, “Frankie! I luuuuuuuv you, Frankie!”

But life in our little house was tense.

My mother-in-law was an astute noticer.

One day as I was herding babies out to the mini van from Grandma’s house, she pulled me by the elbow and stuffed a check into my hand. We hadn’t asked for assistance and weren’t about to go financially belly up or anything. But her words to me struck a blow to my heart as if they came from heaven itself. They were literal and deeply symbolic at the same moment.

“You are meat hungry. Use this.”

It wasn’t the first time, nor was it the last, that I’d have to mull over words coming from her. True, we could use some more substance in the family food diet. It’s possible I had drifted into the boxed macaroni and Cocoa Puffs way of life a little too far. So I bought meat — a couple roasts, chicken legs (kids, you know), ground beef, etc. It may not sound appealing now, but it was a ramp up from where I had let the family dinner menu slip. And my eyes were opened to it.

But that afternoon in her carport changed me more than in the area of my grocery list. I began to shut out the noise of my maladjustment to the move, my inner moaning for a way of life we’d left behind in Kansas City. My children became less of a cluster of “management issues” and I began noticing their gloriousness as beautiful, smart, sassy, chip-off-the-old-block blessings from God. We ate at the table more instead of around the TV and took walks around the block noticing perfectly wonderful families living in our neighborhood. Bob got to sleep a little more, but why lie? I was still prone to waking him up too early and never quite got over that. What can I say? I like the guy.

Even though I had spent years in a profession preparing materials for use in Nazarene Sunday Schools, it wasn’t until our little blue house that I personally began to eat meat, solid spiritual food. Certainly I was living as a Christian and had gleaned knowledge and a certain level of maturity from church and work before that time, but God clearly transitioned me from a diet of Cocoa Puffs to pot roast in 1992. Thanks be to God and to Betty.

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature?
Aren’t you living like people of the world?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NLT

Here’s our little blue house.

How wonderful is the timing of the Lord? Do you ever look back and realize that?

Over the next couple of years we settled into a calmer routine. It was no less busy. No less difficult. My dear father-in-law continued to decline but somehow we felt more present and able to be available for those circumstances. We ran hither and yon seven days a week and we were happy doing it. Our involvement in our beloved College Church took a lot of time which was fine by our kids because the nursery and children’s departments loved them, cared for them, and showed them Jesus regularly. Bob built a garage onto our little blue house and we sold that puppy in the blink of an eye and built a house across a field from where our two oldest were in school on the other side of town. I was expecting our fourth little lovely in November of 1994. Bob’s dad was released from the burden of what his body had become and left us for heaven in January, 1995.

Then came my need for spiritual solid food. Big time. I am so grateful for the time I had between the summer of 1992 and the summer of 1995 to grow, listen to the Lord, and get a grip.

Bob was called to full-time ministry.

This is not the place for the story of what all those days entailed. Some of it’s pretty funny. All of it involves two adults, four kids, various dogs, accidental cats and chickens, lots of miles, several houses, U-Hauls, wonderful people, challenges, blessings, a tear or two or three, and God’s hand in it visibly. It’s been a 28-year journey, the last two of which have brought us back to Nampa and back to the world of full time nursing employment for Bob and a sweet part-time ministry at our new church home for which we cannot be thankful enough. Radiation oncology nursing is not something you could have told us he would match up well with, but hallelujah to that too!

Friends, I hope and pray that my story can convey its way to you. Your life list of circumstances, your history, profoundly influences how you receive information, how you process others’ stories. In a nutshell this is it: I’d heard of Jesus and even asked Him into my life, to be my Savior. All of that is good and as He desires. But my life was not a reflection of it. When I truly trusted Him, studied His Word, went deeper and ate the spiritual meat He offered, I matured in my faith. And that made all the difference. It can to you too.

Please enjoy this song. I like it.

My mother-in-law didn’t always strike a perfect chord with me in what she would say during our conversations. And the same could be said in reverse. On this occasion, though, she reminded me of the scripture from Isaiah 50 about knowing “the word that sustains the weary.” And I’ll be forever grateful.

Now I must leave you to go put a meatloaf in the oven. Seriously. I’m not kidding. Hahahaha.

Much love,

MM

“”

5 thoughts on “Meat Hungry

  1. Oh how I can relate to these times you describe! Yes a move was involved but I unexpectedly gave birth to twins only a few months after that move! Good thing we were young for these times in our lives but most important was these circumstances definyrequired eating meat: growing spiritually in the knowledge of God’s word but especially in the relationship with Him❣️🙏🏻❣️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Molly, you always strike a chord! I’m in awe of your gift. Thank you for using it so beautifully to spur us on in ways we may not even recognize as needed. Love your music choices too! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Molly i so enjoy your words…..one big challenge in my life is being kind to even a clerk that didn’t agree with what I expected. I’m sure I am being “checked” on my attitude and response to that individual. Help me pray, that I will be patient and kind. Even if I am “right” and don’t get what I expect I should. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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