Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Surely God understands. It’s Trowbridge’s!
While making a spring break visit to my hometown of Florence, Alabama, we made a stop at one of my favorite old haunts. Trowbridge’s is a sandwich and ice cream shop that is a fixture in the life of our small town. Open since before my parents were born, it saw me through my own growing up years. It has changed not at all.
Trowbridge’s is a small cafe with a lunch counter and pictures on the walls of Florence from decades past. The lunch menu still offers egg & olive sandwiches - which I swear I’m going to try some day if I can tear myself away from their hot dogs – as well as lettuce and tomato, chicken salad and other traditional southern favorites. They still serve Coca-Cola in small glass bottles. On my way out, I overfed their gumball machine with dimes, never dreaming that anything could still be bought with a penny.
So even though I have given up sweets for Lent, it seemed mandatory somehow that I eat ice cream at Trowbridge’s.
I have never been great at fasting. While I have displayed enough self-discipline to earn a master’s degree and become an elder in full connection, somehow food is my undoing. Being such a weakling in this area, I stand in awe of the dedicated Christians who can – and choose to – miss several meals in a row for the sake of their souls. This Lent I decided to give it a try, but my beginning was in baby steps.
The original plan was to fast one day a week from sun up to sundown. I accidentally scheduled the first day when I was having guests for lunch. Then I changed sundown to dinnertime, so I could eat an evening meal with my family. If I have breakfast before sunrise then I am really only missing one meal, plus the snacking that is more habit than hunger. It sounds wimpy, I know. I call this my “baby fast.” But what is even harder to admit is that this small amount of hunger is still very hard to contend with.
I continue to learn the things that come with fasting, or from disciplines of any kind. Whenever we try a new discipline – when we extend ourselves or try to control our habits or actions – we get a front row seat to our own weaknesses. We are reminded not only of our constant need for grace, but also the fact that grace is really and truly available. We learn about ourselves from our failures, and we grow from our perseverance.
Today I accidentally forgot to eat breakfast before the sun came up. I fully intended to eat enough for two meals while it was dark, then piously forego lunch. But night became day while I was distracted, and in an unusual exercise of self-restraint, I decided not to go ahead and eat anyway. In fact, this is the first of my fasting days that I have practiced fully. I did not eat until this evening when my family sat at the table together and said grace.
Since I made dinner tonight, hunger became an even more interesting choice. I decided not to even sample the recipes as I was making them, but learned their quality at the same time as the rest of my family. Though I was becoming ravenous by the time I started cooking, I found that it passed. Or I became distracted enough not to care. While I have lived through immense sadness in my life, it is a new lesson to learn that simple discomfort can, in fact, be endured.
I know that God actually does understand our weaknesses, along with all of the other beautiful quirks and imperfections that make us who we are. But the understanding is really beside the point. Keeping a commitment to God means also keeping a commitment to ourselves. Maintaining a discipline that we have chosen is not an obligation to our Creator, but a gift of which we are both giver and recipient. Success comes from a belief in our own ability and worth. Disappointment calls us to compassion. I hold for dear life to the belief that such efforts cannot really fail. However we may stumble, we make our way forward inch by inch.
The tuna casserole was great. I added some crushed corn chips to help thicken it. The cake also tasted really good – yes, I ate dessert – although its appearance was comic. This is the first time I have made icing, and I was far too lazy to work all the lumps out of the butter.
May you come to know yourself in this Lenten season.
Large cans of tuna, drained 1 can Cheddar Cheese soup
1 container of sour cream ½ cup minced onion (optional)
1 box egg noodles salt & pepper to taste
1 package shredded cheese
Put tuna into large bowl. Mix cheese soup and cheses and tuna together. Cook package of noodles as the directions say. Put into bowl with tuna. Add onion, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Put mixture into buttered 9”x11” dish. Put dish into oven @ 350o for approximately 30 minutes. – Lisa Wade
Lemon Orange Cake
1 c. margarine, softened ¼ c. shortening
2 c. sugar 5 eggs
3 c. plain flour 1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda ½ t. salt
1 c. buttermilk 1 t. vanilla extract
½ t. lemon extract
In a mixing bowl, cream margarine, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir in extracts. Pour into three greased and floured 9 inch cake pans. Bake at 350o for 25-30 minutes or until cakes test done. Cool for 10 minutes in pans before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
½ c. margarine, softened 3 T. Orange juice
3 T. lemon juice 1-2 T. grated orange peel
1-2 grated lemon peel 1 t. lemon extract
5 ½ to 6 c. confectioner’s sugar
Beat margarine until fluffy; add the next five ingredients and mix well. Gradually add sugar; beat until frosting has desired spreading consistency. Spread between layers and over the top and sides of cake. Yield: 10-12 servings. – Jane (Wavie Lee’s co-worker)