FAITH: Cookin’ Up Some Strength

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My encounter with Sallie helped fortify my faith.

I’ve only had two friends in my life named Sallie – with an i-e.

One was a dear high school friend whom shared my joy for journalism and she worked with me on our award-winning high school newspaper. The other – a more recent friend – is one I see occasionally at my local grocery store. Her job – to prepare recipes and serve them – as shoppers sail in after work looking for something to make for dinner. Her mission – to help care for others.

Recently my sister’s health has taken an unexpected dive. As I dashed into the store the other day, I saw Sallie’s smiling face and remembered her telling me years ago how she had survived cancer when her daughter was only one-year-old. Interesting, I thought. A sturdy woman. Good for her. Today that daughter is in his late 30s.

Since we had a moment, I stopped by to sample the spinach and pasta, salad and strawberry shortcake she had prepared. While we chatted, I asked her to tell me once again about her survivorship. Breast cancer – now 35+ years. A successful struggle with stomach cancer, more recently. I found strength in her resilience.

“God put us here to take care of each other,” she said in a matter of fact manner.

Since I hail from a generation that used the word “ladylike” as a compliment you will understand why I’m not disclosing Sallie’s age even though she spoke of it during our time together. I was amazed again – thinking to myself that I’d like to have her spunk and certainty through life’s tsunamis.

It’s people like Sallie who remind me about the faith I say I have in God. Who believe – not just mentally or intellectually – in His existence, love for us and care despite our current circumstances.

In between standing to the side for a few moments so she could serve others, we continued talking.

“Girl,” Sallie said looking me directly in the eyes, “and you know I don’t mean anything by callin’ you a girl…I raised seven children, my husband left me and I have owned three houses in my lifetime. You don’t tell ME what God CAN’T do.”

Shame on me for my limited thoughts about God and His abilities – not only for myself, my sister and family and everyday people like us. In our 10 minutes together, Sallie did so much for me as well as some spiritual optometry to help me get a better picture of God.

Her message: zoom out, baby, and keep going.

Talk about food and thought.

Just wondering: How have others helped to strengthen you in times in trouble?

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