Sunday, November 24, 2013


“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.

                                    Luke 3:4

The gravy was lumpy and the beef had too much salt.  Still, after stirring it in the skillet, I put the Beef Cream Gravy on the table for better or worse.  Dried beef is new to me.  I haven’t done very much food drying for preservation.  A good friend gave me a dehydrator and I’ve used it on tomatoes, apples and a few other vegetables, but never meat.

But it seems that dried beef is a common staple to some of my relatives.  I imagine it may have once been a necessity.  In the day before refrigeration was common or grocery stores carried every type of food in every season, preparing and preserving what was needed to eat took on a far greater importance.  Preparing foods for long-term storage could mean the difference between a meal and hunger.  Lots of time was given to this important and life-sustaining effort, though such necessity is all but unknown to us today.

Still, preparation has been on my mind.  My family has been doing a lot of it in recent times.  Over the past several months, we have been working with the United Methodist Children’s Home in the application process to become foster parents.  Now, toward the end of that process, we are preparing for home visits, cleaning, making changes to our house, cleaning, putting up gates and covering electrical outlets, cleaning.   A new wall has divided what used to be one room into two.  Lots of moving has been involved.  Things have been thrown into disarray, giving us the opportunity to go through, to throw out, to think hard about what we need and what we don’t. 

And did I mention cleaning?  Much of the work we have done in our home isn’t technically necessary.  We are not likely to be refused because of dust on our baseboards.  But I feel the need to make ready. 

It is important to me and to my family – as well as those who are to come – that our home is arranged; that we are prepared.

A dear friend recently pointed out the beauty of taking in a child at Christmas.  As we make room in our hearts for the Christ Child, we will welcome another child in the name of that One.  During every season of Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, we prepare our hearts to welcome a newborn savior.  This year, our preparations take on new meaning and new hope as we plan a welcome with a much more urgent purpose.

I try to hold no illusions that this work will be easy.  We are excited and hopeful, maybe even a bit naïve, but we know there are challenges ahead.  We are dealing with the messiness of broken lives.  Scrubbing our walls, cleaning our carpets, buying extra Christmas stockings plus toys to go in them may pale against the harsh reality of hurt that has been endured and won’t be easily overcome.

Isn’t this why Jesus came?  To heal the brokenness and the ugliness that is very real among us.  Isn’t this the reason that he was born in the dirt and humility of a rickety stable?  Because our lives are dirty and gritty in a way that no amount of preparation can completely erase? 

So we deal with it as best we can, wiping away each stain as we see it.  Trying to create spots of beauty where there the dirt is caked on.  This work is never finished.  Our house will never reach the point of perfect cleanliness or organization, and even if it did, life would quickly take it off course again. 

And I cannot be perfectly ready for this life or for the new one that is coming.  All any of us can hope for is to make do as we go.

I have to accept the fact that we are never fully prepared, never completely ready.  But the Christ Child comes anyway, in the midst of our preparation, to hallow and speed it; to show us which messes to clean up and which to ignore, and to bless our humble efforts in making a home for a child.



Beef Cream Gravy
¼ cup butter or margarine          ½ c all-purpose flour
1 t. salt                                            ¼ t. black pepper
2 c. milk                                          4.5 oz. jar dried beef – sliced
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
Melt butter in a skillet.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Slowly stir in milk.  Stir in beef and Worcestershire sauce.  Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened; 10-15 minutes.  Serve over Toast or Biscuits – Lisa Wade

1 comment:

  1. As a former foster parent let me say I hope you will love your new family member as much as any biological children you may have. That's what we did.