Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Granola That Changed My Day

This adventure I'm sharing with Sam (my elderly neighbor) has been quite a change for both of us. 

If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that Sam's wife of 60 years died back in October. Since then, I've been looking out for him, as I gave my word I'd do. That promise was given in 1989, when we were both much younger, but a promise is a promise, and I've tried to live by it. 

Sam always says, "You're only as good as your word." I intend for my word to be as good as I wish I were.

Because of that decades-old promise, I've helped manage his finances, pay his bills, and buy his groceries. When he stopped driving because of his poor vision, I became his driver. When cooking was too much of a challenge, I became his cook.

Lest you think I'm doing a noble deed, let me dispel that thought. Sam is probably the greatest man who's ever lived. The joy and the blessing are all mine. He's already given me far more than I'll ever give to him. After all these years, we're family and there's lots of love in our relationship.

Sam, at 86, likes to eat "country cooking". He wants sausage and eggs for breakfast. Preferably accompanied by homemade biscuits and gravy. I prefer homemade yogurt and granola with a little fruit. 

Sam likes well-cooked peas, turnip greens, and cornbread. I like my vegetables a little crunchy, and my bread gluten-free.

It's been quite a change for us both, even though Sam agreed to eat whatever I cooked without complaining. I've tried to cook his favorites, but they aren't my usual fare. He's stuck to his bargain, despite my struggles, and has learned to eat cottage cheese and tuna salad, among a variety of new foods.

Day before yesterday, I fretted about our menus all day long. I couldn't think of a single thing I wanted that would also be palatable to Sam. I prayed about it. I cried about it. I whined about it.

After dinner (which wasn't Sam's favorite, and which, after my modifications, wasn't my favorite either), I was downcast. Okay, pitiful might be closer to the truth. Sam had balked at spinach madeline (too spicy) and didn't much care for spaghetti, either. He ate it with a smile and a thank you, but admitted it wasn't his favorite.

I realize, in the big scheme of things, the menu is not important at all. I know that better than most, because I've spent hours this week reviewing all the terrorist attacks of 2016. I've been sick with grief. Maybe that's why I needed something to feel familiar.

I plopped down in my comfy chair and blinked back tears. "I don't know how to do it, Lord. This is hard." There wasn't any one thing that was hard. It was the accumulation of responsibility, and fear of the future that had me rattled. The new schedule. Cooking three meals a day. Continuing to write and do all the other things I do. Rhythm and balance had been hard to achieve.

"I don't know what to do. Just tell me something. Anything. I'll do it."

This sounds crazy as I write it, but the thing that came in my mind was a picture of my orange-pecan granola recipe. "Granola? What kind of answer is that, Lord?" 

I'm not sure that making granola was a word from God, but it definitely helped me. I laughed so hard that all my despair faded as I preheated the oven, gathered my ingredients, and went to work. In less than 30 minutes, the granola was cooling and the aroma of brown sugar, cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg filled the house. 

Yesterday, Sam heated the sausage and eggs I'd prepared for his breakfast and I had homemade yogurt, granola, and fruit. He ate at his house and I ate at mine. (He likes to eat breakfast about 8 am. I like to eat breakfast at 5:30) For just a few minutes, life felt normal again to both of us, and it was enough. 

I still find it hard to believe how much emotional strength I gained from that granola, but it was exactly as much as I needed. God knew what would make the biggest different, and that's what He gave. Admittedly, I had to cook it, but even that was therapeutic.

What's equally amazing is that Sam had a container of left over tuna salad and another of leftover creamed style corn. He combined the two and heated it up as a kind of tuna casserole. "It was delicious," he told me later. Sam prepared a meal for himself and it felt like normal to him, too.

We were both equipped to go a little further on this journey of life we're doing together.

It's easy to forget, but we serve an on-time God who loves us and provides everything we need, exactly when we need it. Whether it's finances, strength, or encouragement, our Lord is able to supply, and He does. Every single time.

Sam and I have seen that truth over and over again. This isn't how either of us expected life to be. Sometimes, it's just plain hard. The sweetness, though, outweighs all our struggles. There's not a day that I'm not grateful for Sam, nor him for me. No matter what we decide to eat. 

Just in case you thought Sam is missing out, today we're eating breakfast together. Eggs, sausage, biscuits, and gravy. All his favorites. 

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, who you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." 

James 1:2-4 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: There's Still Good in the Midst of Evil
Here's a link to The Prayer List 
#persevere #SamWiley #disciple #loveoneanother