Sharing is Caring

There are a lot of positives to having a baby: the miracle of birth, the revelations about the preciousness of life, the somber bestowing to parents a new purpose and responsibility. The epiphanies go on and on. But the real beauty of bringing home a new baby is the free meals.

 

When my twin daughters were born, our church family fed us three times a week for two months…two months! We ate casseroles and lasagnas and chicken potpies. They brought their best, for-company recipes, complete with desserts. It wasn’t a great plan for shedding those pregnancy pounds, but it was a load off my mind (though not off my thighs and rear end).

 

Being a first time mom was excruciating at times. I had dreamed of being a mom my whole life but the reality of it hit me hard. We had no family in town and I had convinced myself that it was all on me. The pressure led me to one afternoon, alone in the house with two squalling infants, crying and telling my girls, “I’m so sorry I’m your mom! I don’t know what to do!” My hormones were at Threat Level: Inferno.

 

Soon after that break down, a woman from church brought us a meal. When she brought the food and laid it out on the kitchen counter, she stepped into the living room to check out the babies. Then she sat down beside me on the sofa and said, “I know this is hard but it’s going to get better.” I must have had HELP ME written all over my forehead. Her few words of kindness were a succor to my soul.

 

I couldn’t tell you what she brought for supper that night other than a loaf of banana bread. Months later, when I was a little bit more myself, I asked the woman for her recipe. The taste of the bread, paired with her sweet words had remained in my mind. I’ve been making the bread ever since.

 

This recipe makes two loaves. When making the banana bread, it’s become our family’s tradition to keep one loaf and ask the Lord who should get the other loaf.

 

Over the years, we’ve had lapses into greediness and we’ve tried to eat the second loaf, too. But like the Israelites who were warned not to gather more manna than they needed, the second loaf never tastes as good as the first one, convicting us that sharing really is caring.

 

Find a way to share with someone today. It doesn’t have to be baked goods or handmade quilts (no wonder grandmas are so beloved!), but there will be a multitude of opportunities available to you, if only you keep watching for them.

 

In case you would like to share a loaf of this banana bread, I’ve included the recipe below:

 

Share-a-Loaf Banana Bread

(makes two 9×5 loaves)

Ingredients:

3½ cups all-purpose flour

2½ cups sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

4-5 ripe bananas (makes about 2 cups mashed)

1 T lemon juice

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

½ cup + 2 T buttermilk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Puree bananas in a blender. Add lemon juice, oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Add to flour mixture and mix well. Grease and flour two 9×5 loaf pans. Pour the batter evenly in the two pans. Bake at 325-degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Elastic

A new study finds that very tiny chameleons—like the ones from Tanzania that can sit on the tip of your thumb—compensate for their small size with incredibly long and incredibly fast tongues. They may seem like harmless, little lizards but bugs should consider themselves warned. Scientists assumed there would be some sort of adaptations for these tiny creatures but they were surprised by what they found.

 

When I heard about those chameleons and their super-stretchy tongues, I thought of that feeling you get when you’re stretched to the limit. One more thing, even something as small as a stubbed toe, would push you tumbling head-first over the edge.

 

It also makes me think of my friend who received bad news about her daughter’s health last week. There has been physical and emotional pain, sleepless nights and difficult choices. My friend has been stretched to the limit and beyond. She saw the sign THIS IS YOUR LIMIT as she passed it then kept on going.

 

But the truth is she does have a limit. We all do. We hear well-meaning people tell us that God won’t give us any more than we can handle, but I’m here to tell you that sentiment just isn’t true. In fact, it’s a lie disguised as a scripture you won’t find in the Bible.

 

The Book of Psalms is full of people who were given more than they could handle. For instance: “I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.” And then there’s: “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” This is not from a person who is in control of the situation. This is definitely someone who cannot take it another moment.

 

My friend has been like the Apostle Paul, suffering hardship on top of hardship. When Paul said, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself,” he thought they wouldn’t survive.

 

So if there are times when we’re given greater burdens than our capacity to bear them, how is God good? Maybe our understanding of goodness isn’t Biblical either.

 

God never promised this life would be easy but He did promise He would never leave us. Again and again in Scripture He says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

 

So my friend is allowed to be mad. She’s allowed to do the very Biblical act of crying out to God. She’s allowed to ask “why?” And through it all, the Lord will never leave her. He’s a mighty God. He can take a few accusations and some angry finger-pointing.

 

He will send comforters, both spiritual and physical, to meet her needs, also both spiritual and physical. He will weep with her and rejoice with her.

 

And His Son will say to her: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

My friend will be stretched farther than she ever thought was possible, and if the tension becomes too great and she snaps, God will be there for her at that moment, too.

Gorilla Parenting

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, my family and I visited the Knoxville Zoo. On Saturday, my kids were lounging all over my in-laws’ living room furniture like there was a gas leak in the house, full of turkey and a bit grouchy, but they perked up when their grandmother mentioned there were two baby gorillas recently born at the zoo. I mean, who can turn down a chance to see baby gorillas?

 

In my experience with zoos, there are many times when the animal doesn’t live up to the hype: the bear just lies there like a rug or the monkeys are quiet and standoffish. This visit exceeded my expectations.

 

When we reached the glass enclosure for the gorillas, both mom gorillas cradled their babies. One mother-baby duo sat in a hammock, suspended from the ceiling high in the air. The other pair sat inside a long tunnel, also hanging from the ceiling.

 

The baby in the hammock peeked over the edge several times, tiny fingers then precious face peering meekly at us. Each time the baby looked like he would climb out of the hammock, the mother would pull him back in, safely nestled on her stomach.

 

When she finally decided to climb down, the baby wrapped his arms and legs around her arm to ride along. Now on the floor, the baby picked up a stick. The mother took it and placed it back on the floor. When a male gorilla got close to them, the mother gorilla picked up the baby and moved a safe distance away.

 

Everything the mother gorilla did for her baby seemed intentional but it was done so slowly, like she was moving through water. The expression on her face was one of complete confidence. I expected her at any minute to look at me and say, “Kids…am I right?” without any exasperation, only commiseration and acceptance.

 

As I watched in awe of her maternal skills, I thought that if that mother gorilla was on Facebook (which I don’t think she is), her pictures would be of elaborately decorated birthday cakes and links to her homeschool blog and posts about her kids’ achievements, like their innate ability to memorize Scriptures while simultaneously feeding the homeless and solving complex math problems.

 

I wondered if the other gorilla mom, the one who had barely moved from her hanging tunnel while we stood watching, felt inferior to this super mom. Did she constantly compare herself and her baby to them?

 

But then I saw the reason momma gorilla had climbed down from her comfy hammock. She needed to pee. She turned her back to all of us at the window, and let loose a stream of urine while her baby played with a plastic bowl nearby. She was not a superhuman (or super-ape) after all. She did her best to make decisions for her baby to keep him healthy and safe, but there comes a time when every mom has to take care of a few things for herself.

 

Because, in the end, we’re all just imperfect humans (or in her case, gorilla) doing the best we can with what we know and until we know better or differently. Comparing our parenting only creates distance when what we need most is the closeness of community.