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Tuesday
Sep032013

It's not going to look how we think it should

I struggled for a bit thinking about what to name this post and am now laughing as I look at the title, because, this was a lesson I thought I had learned through the journey of my kidney failure, dialysis, and transplant. For those who haven't heard that story, a bit of background...I went into kidney failure when I was 18, started dialysis when I was 19, and had a transplant 5 years later. The 5 years between dialysis and transplant surgery was where the learning occured (or rather the first level of it)  Because my sister had offered twice to give me a kidney and both times hadn't been able to follow through on that offer, I naively assumed that God was going to restore my health or heal me another way.  So, I did everything that the Bible said to prove to Him that I had faith that He could work a miracle in my life. And wouldn't that be such a great testimony?? Well, after three years of no signs of that happening, I had had enough and told Him so in no uncertain terms.  "What's the deal GOD? I trust you, I don't understand!"  His reply, "You trust me to do it your way."  Ouch!!  I hadn't done well with surgery.  The offer from my sister had been tabled twice.  What else was there??  The Bible clearly states that "My ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts."  I was a living example of that, and by my holding on to my concept of what my healing should look like, I realized I was wanting what would be the easiest, least traumatic experience for me.  So, I submitted to my healing to GOD and HIS timeline and it came about much quicker and more profound that I could have arranged it.  Within two weeks, my sister came back a third time to offer and this time it didn't get tabled.  We went through the tissue typing to determine how good a match it would be and the test came back showing a perfect match.  The operation was successful and we both are doing well.  The remarkable part of the story is that my sister had believed her entire life that she was adopted.  Letting God be in charge of what my healing looked like allowed HIM to show my sister with incontrovertible truth that that was impossible.  The other cool part is that I was able to get off all anti-rejection and anti-imflammatory drugs after 10 years!! (At 6 months, I got permission from my doctor to start reducing the amount I took.)  So, I learned a valuable lesson about trusting GOD to work in HIS timing for HIS purposes.

I'd like to say that I haven't struggled with letting GOD continue to work that way in my life, but alas I'm human and that isn't so.  In the case of the transplant, I did, but I've recently realized that I still tend to have a picture of what something should look like when I have an idea for something. 

If you've been reading my posts, you'll remember that when I exited teaching last year, the only job or direction that I had an ok to follow was a food truck.  The food truck revolution is big here in Lafayette, and I was so excited because there isn't one that offers gluten free food, and wouldn't it be so cool to have a food truck that sold something unique??!!  So, I began knocking on doors, asking people for help in looking for one, following up on leads given to me.  Excited at the prospect and the adventure and always coming short.  Every lead turned into a dead end.  Well, because I already had a product, I kept on baking and selling when I could, giving away lots of biscotti and gluten free cakes and brownies.

Sometime in midspring, I heard an interview by Jon Bon Jovi during which he talked about his wife's restaurant "Soul Kitchen" in New Jersey.  I remembered hearing it before and got excited.  Lafayette needs one of these, I thought to myself and off I went researching, talking about it, looking at logistics, inviting friends to be a part of it.  In my mind, I'd start with a Saturday brunch and then expand as word spread and suppport came in.  If you don't know about Soul Kitchen, look it up, it's truly inspirational.  In a nutshell, there is a suggested donation for the meal, if a customer can pay it, good, if someone can pay more, even better since it helps cover the cost of another's meal.  If a patron can't pay, there are volunteer opportunities in the restaurant that they can do to earn a voucher.  Wow.. brilliant.  I even e:mailed them to ask for advice or any tips they could offer.  They wrote back!! Immediately!!  Their consensus was that I was wise to start small and let the customer support drive the expansion.

The next cool thing happened on my way home from the gym.  I saw a friend of mine who managed a club going into said club. "What?!?!" I said to myself. "What's he doing at 7:30 in the morning?"  I wheeled over to ask him and he proceeded to say he was coming in to work on the computer and see if he could find a partner who could get some sort of food operation together.  I looked at him dumbstruck and proceeded to tell him my idea for a kitchen in Lafayette based on the Soul Kitchen model.  He returned the dumbfounded look.  So, we started talking and making plans.  I'm still looking for a food truck mind you, but a food truck needs a kitchen and this seemed like a workable plan.  But it was not to be.  A couple of weeks later he ended up moving to NO and I had reached another dead end.

Meanwhile, I was playing a musical at Cite Des Arts, and I mentioned the idea to my drummer friend, Charles who said, "You know some mutual friends have been hosting Saturday breakfasts for a couple of years for the homeless people of Lafayette."  "What?!?!"  How did I not know this?  I knew that they had tried to do it on occasion, I didn't realize it was a weekly thing.  I had to investigate.  So, I woke up one Saturday morning and went to meet them.  And I started talking to them about my idea.  I already had permission to use the kitchen at church, and wouldn't it be cool to have an enclosed space with tables where they could sit down and eat.  They were receptive to the idea of a brunch.  They were not so keen on the idea of moving the location.  At first, I did not understand that at all!

I continued to go out though, bringing a dish or biscotti to supplement what was being offered.  In doing that I started developing relationships with the people who were coming out to help serve the breakfast and those who were enjoying the hot meal on a Saturday morning.  Meanwhile, I'm still baking the biscotti, still talking to my friend, Guy, in Nashville, about business development plans, and although I had kind of accepted the fact that I wasn't going to have a food truck, there was still a part of me that wanted one.

Sometime in July, the couple started talking about serving food every day.  That was a cool idea.  I was away for a week and when I came back, I showed up on a Monday with some Rice Krispies, per one of the guys requests.  Nobody came with breakfast.  Hmmm??  What happened?  Saturday rolled around again, and I went to the parking lot where they set up breakfast.  When the crowd thinned out again, I asked what happened to the weekday breakfast idea.  "It got hectic and we couldn't manage it." was the gist of the reply.  The conversation went on to discuss the idea of area churches getting involved to sponsor a day or a week and I reiterated how I had access to the church kitchen which was 4 blocks away and was sure that we would be able to take over Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We parted ways and I went back to baking biscotti and selling at the farmer's market where I had lots of time to mull over the situation.

At the beginning of August, I was off to Birmingham for a business planning meeting with Guy and the long drive gave me ample time to reflect.  I had time, I loved to cook and if nobody else stepped up to take over Monday, Wednesday, and Friday breakfasts, how could I just do Tuesday and Thursday?  I decided to accept the challenge and step up to the plate (no pun intended) and take over the weekday meals and I would continue to serve it in the parking lot across from the bus station. I approached a friend about working with me in the kitchen to help prepare and clean up and she was thrilled to be a part of the process.  I met with the pastor and told him of my intent and he got me a key to the kitchen.  My friend showed up on Sunday evening with a box of food that she was donating. Monday rolled around and we prepared a meal, took it out, set up, served, packed up, and cleaned up.  Afterwards we were both overjoyed at the opportunity.  We laughed at the forgotten items.  The first day, I forgot to put the pump mechanism in the coffee urns.  That was an adventure!!  Another day, I forgot the milk.  Another day, I forgot the juice.  The guys didn't complain or get upset.  In fact, they were very appreciative and grateful and I was pleasantly relieved to find that I could laugh at my endeavors to have everything perfect and yet not succeed.  Clean up afterwards was a sweet time of fellowship in the kitchen with my friend.

Week one went by.  Week two came along, and support started coming in from different quarters.  The church offered me use of the van.  A friend offered to get supplies at Sam's. We were starting to get our rhythm and routine down to a science and we were pretty consistent about getting out to the parking lot and set up close to 7:30.  I began to realize why we were bringing the food to them.  The bus station and parking lot was where they hung out.  It was a picture of what Christ did when HE left heaven to come to earth.  He came to where we were.  WOW.  That was pretty profound and I understood why the couple hadn't wanted to make use of the offered space.  Thursday rolls around, and I'm packing up to return to the church and clean up, still thinking about how and where to get a food truck, when the realization hits me that I HAVE a food truck (I load it up with food, drive to the bus station, serve breakfast, load it back up, and return to the kitchen to clean up) and I started laughing...Yep, GOD, you did it again.  See, last year, I bought an 86 Suburban.  I bought it from a friend, because, 1.. I needed a vehicle, 2.. I had 4 dogs, one being a Great Dane, and 3.. I often hauled instruments and kids, so I needed the space.  The joke was, when I bought it, that I could load up my biscotti and drive around selling it.  That plan didn't work out, or hasn't yet.  It still might, but for now, I have a food truck that brings food out to those who might not otherwise have a chance to eat breakfast before heading off to work, or going out to look for work, or just trying to survive another day.   Once again, GOD's picture is much more comprehensive and complete than mine and I wouldn't have it any other way.

 

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