Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Strawberry Ministry

While the world stands in awe of box office beauties and other spotlight seekers, my intense admiration is aimed at two unlikely women. We shall call them Mary and Anna, and I came to know of them came from hastily digested news blurbs that I read late at night. Both in the ninth decade of their lives, Mary sewed something like ten dresses a week for the purpose of having them sent overseas for women who had little or none. Anna, in her lifetime, has sewn over 23,000  cloth bags which are then filled with donated school supplies or hygiene items and again, shipped out for relief efforts. I've actually sewn a few of those bags in my time, a very few, and if you had to sew even one thousand of them you would go mad.

Anna said something like, "Well, I'm home all day with a sewing machine, and people donate the fabric for free so it seemed like something to do...around here they call it my ministry."

And I was in awe, this time at her combined humility and sense of duty. She might have just as well declared that there was air, so she figured she better breathe it.

I find personal ministries fascinating, and am always interested in finding out what people consider to be their ministry. There's a lot of talk among wives and mothers about how our families are our ministries, and yes, a home ministry is important, too. Yet, it's always the unrecognized workers toiling in the fields that get really pique my interest. It's also a little frustrating. My imagination holds a hundred ministry ideas, everything from giving breaks to young mothers so they can get much needed showers, to animal therapy and organic farm co-op ideas. There can never be enough time on earth for all of my wonderfully under developed ministry concepts. 


The past two weeks have found me buried in berries. We had an enormous strawberry harvest this year. Every time I turned around, stainless steel bowls glimmered at me with juicy red jewels in need of processing. I did all my jams, and a pie, some strawberry bread, and stuck boxes in the freezer. I actually got tired of them pretty fast, and found joy in passing out quarts to friends and neighbors. That joy was multiplied when I found out the local berry farm was charging a whopping six dollars a quart this year. For about a week, it was fun to surprise our friends and family with strawberries, and while putting my bigger dreams of grand endowments for the greater good on hold, it was somewhat fulfilling to have a brief strawberry ministry. After all, there they were and we couldn't eat them all. It's comforting that I might have another fifty years to find my footing as a Marry or Anna. Until I do, I'll keep looking for more opportunities in small benevolence.

Do you have a ministry? I'd love to hear about it.

17 comments:

  1. A strawberry ministry , thats wonderful. I have many in my head, mostly big ideas, but Jesus said if we give but a cup of cold water in his name, we won't lose our reward. In our summer heat that could turn into quite a blessing for some. Think I would love to meet Mary and Anna, I'm sure I could learn much from those two :) Blessings friend

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    1. That's a wonderful point, Shelley. Ministries are rooted and blessed in God's timing when they are needed according to His plans, so that cool cup of water on a hot day might serve a higher purpose than we can imagine.

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  2. I like your idea of a strawberry ministry. Mary and Anna sound like wonderful women. Inspirational.
    Like you, I'm still figuring out what my niche is.

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    1. Tracy, it's comforting that even if we don't find our niche until we're 80, the Lord can still use us. I'm always finding new niches, too.

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  3. Those are absolutely beautiful strawberries! I'm sure your neighbors were delighted with your gifts. And bless all the Marys and Annas of this world!

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    1. You have real Mary and Anna potential yourself, BAT Mom, and always make my day brighter.

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  4. Those berries are absolutely gorgeous! And my, I'm sure you blessed your friends and family immensely with those fresh berries. I know I would have been thrilled to be a recipient!

    I love how you chose to "do ministry" and bless others with what you had and in the way that you could manage to do it right now. I know for me, the IDEA of doing ministry seems amazing but it is so hard for me to put it into shoe leather. So often the things that I think of seem so small and insignificant and it seems like they won't really matter or make a difference. Or I can blame not doing ministry on the fact that I don't have the gift of servanthood, or that I don't have enough time or countless other things. But in reality, there are hundreds of "little" things (like sharing strawberries) that I could be doing and that would truly bless others that really don't take that much time and are very feasible for me to do. I've been really trying to be aware of the Spirit's prompting about the little things that I can do to minister too and bless others and then doing those things, even if they feel like work and don't feel glamorous and fun. :) I really think that is what living a life of ministry is all about anyway- doing those "little" things day after day after day.

    Hope that all makes sense...thanks for sharing this post. I was blessed and encouraged!

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  5. And guess what...as a result of being inspired by this post, I called up a friend that just had a baby and offered to get groceries for her while I was out and about today. She took me up on it and it was so fun! Thanks again! The ripples that you started are spreading. :)

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    1. Wow, Lydia! Now I'm the one who is blessed and inspired. (BIG GRIN) No doubt your grocery trip for that new mama will be an enormous help to her right now. Also, I completely understand with what you mean about how the idea of ministry seems amazing, but the tiny stuff seems so insignificant. That is yet another aspect of my struggle. It's so hard because there is always so little time or something else that needs to be done, I can get so easily lost in me and my family while finding excuses to never reach out. A big key, like you said, is learning to listen to the promptings of the spirit. Also, I think some of the older women I know have been wonderful Titus 2 role models to me and I've been able to learn much from them about offering help to others. So many good thoughts in your comment.

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    2. Oh the joy! ... of seeing those luscious berries, of the joy with which you are giving, and the inspiration in all of us to do good in our own little corner of our world.

      I honestly don't think ministries should be measured by volume, but by the spirit in which it is done. Kindness has no measure. There is no such thing as insignificant good in a world in which we hear of so much evil in the news every day. I literally cannot hear too much of what's in the news these days for that very reason... if I do, I get a skewed idea of human nature. It's these little things that mean so much... and help restore my confidence in the human spirit, when we allow the Holy Spirit to move within us.

      Thank you, Monica for inspiring the good in all of us.

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    3. Saloma, I also struggle with hearing all the news of evil in the world today. You're right, those little things do mean so much and if no one else sees it, God knows our hearts and the smallest of good deeds.

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  6. I wish I lived closer to your strawberry patch so you could minister to us. ;)

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    1. I love your attitude, Plainlady.

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  7. Strawberry Ministry?? I'd gladly be ministered to like that! ;-) Bless you, my dear friend! As to what my ministry is . . . well, I think you know. ;-)

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  8. Love the thoughts on this post. Especially since a friend and I were having a conversation recently on ministry and callings. It is easy to think that we have to do something large and great. Thanks for the reminder that sometimes it is the little things!

    Thanks for coming by and commenting. It reminded me of how very long it had been since I've been over to see you!
    Gina

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  9. Monica, I just love this post! Ministries seem like they change with each phase of life we go through - Our dear 90+ friend, Laura, made Raggedy Ann dolls and gave them away to children - many went to Timbuktu; I always admired her giving spirit. Some say mine is working with little kids - I love it, but want my work with them to count for more than just having fun - so I try to make sure they understand the Gospel when they come to my class during Bible Club or have their turn at Arts and Crafts at camp.

    People remember little things that are done, and if done in the right spirit, count for so much more! Who knows if years from now, a recipient of your luscious strawberries might begin to wonder why you gave them away when you could have sold them and then come to you with questions whose answers could make a difference for eternity ;-)

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  10. Lovely post! I think the things we do to help others, no matter how small of a thing, really matter :)

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