Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Don't Turn This Down

Diane Leary, MeMe
Do you remember Sunday lunch with family? Even though it's the decade of crowded restaurants, I know several women who cook for their families on Sunday, but I'm focusing on one particular family today, the Leary family, because Diane, MeMe, posts on Facebook the incredible feast she's preparing. Her menu is long, usually two meats, many sides, and several desserts. So, after church on Sunday, I like to offer a few of her grandchildren the option of a sandwich or O'Charley's.  They say, "No." They're not going to turn down lunch at MeMe's. I offered her son-in-law a pop tart instead of MeMe's pie.  He said no, too.  I don't blame them. You'll know why when you read their answers to my questions.

1.  What are some of your favorite foods on Sunday?  
Pork Loin wrapped in bacon, macaroni and cheese (a weekly staple), chocolate chip cookies, hamburgers in gravy, pork chops and rice, fried chicken, chocolate delight, cabbage casserole, squash and cheese, pound cake, wild rice casserole, tomato pie, peas and dumplings, cheesecake, lemon icebox pie, coconut pie that makes its own crust, red rice, sweet potato casserole, caramel cake, ETC, ETC, ETC

2.  When you're away, do you miss eating Sunday lunch at MeMe’s?

Graham, grandson, Yes! It’s the highlight of the week I can always count on.
Michael, son-in-law, Yes! If I have an out of town business trip, I will try and schedule my flight to make it back in time for Sunday lunch.  
Kaylene, daughter, Yes! Totally messes up my week if I don’t eat at MeMe’s on Sunday.  Besides corporate worship it’s my true-north for the week.  With all of our schedules, Sunday is a time when we can come together… if only for a little while.
Katrina, daughter, and family- Duh- Not only do we miss the southern cooking, but we miss the time with our family.
Teresa, daughter-in-law, Yes!  And most of the time since Ken works out of town he's sure to call and interrupt our lunch, but we don’t’ have to the heart to tell him what we're eating.
3. In-laws, what did you think about the big Sunday lunch?
They had Sunday lunches growing up, so they feel blessed to have this special time with family.
4.  Do you think MeMe enjoys this? 

They all agree that she does. It's her hobby, love language, and spiritual gift. It's her favorite thing.  She loves having her family together, she looks forward to it, and it gives her joy.  Caroline made an interesting observation, "She loves to cook, and we love to eat.....it works out well."
5. Has MeMe always cooked a big Sunday lunch?
Papa Lee on the grill
at Red Bluff, S.C.
Kaylene- She's been doing it a long time. As we were growing up she cooked every day, so years ago we went out on Sundays to give her a break. But once we were all married and she wasn’t cooking for us every night, she made Sunday the day for the family gathering. We go to church together, then continue our fellowship at MeMe and Papa’s. (We can’t forget Papa because he is the grill master… awesome ribs, steak and bbq chicken). Our kids don’t know anything different than lunch at Meme and Papa’s!

6. Do you think sharing meals together makes your family closer?
Graham- We wouldn’t be the family we are today if we didn’t gather together for worship then have lunch on Sundays.
Michael-  If it weren’t for Sunday lunches… we would go weeks without seeing one another. 
Kaylene- Yes!  It makes us closer.  On any given Sunday there is the blessing, incredible food but even better fellowship.  There is always laughter, stories, and leftovers to go around.
Caroline- It brings our family so much closer.  Without our weekly meals we wouldn’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives. It’s a time to laugh, catch up, and a great countdown. We countdown all of the time: to Red Bluff vacations, Christmas, or the next holiday from school.  Each time we meet we are a week closer.  It’s nice to have a close family that can be together every Sunday for a huge “feast” as my great-grandmother (Mammie) named it!
Katrina and family- Yes.  It encourages family bonding that we otherwise wouldn’t have, and it's an important tradition.  Another tradition is saying the blessing.  We take turns but often we say it together… “God is Great”… and that is Mackenzie’s favorite.
Teresa- Absolutely! After busy weeks of working and exhausting schedules we come together to share a delicious bounty.  We talk and share stories and experiences of our lives.  We celebrate each other… and believe it or not we each get a turn to talk! 
When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!“So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Matthew 22:3-5
Can you imagine turning down a great feast?  They all had excuses: the farm, a family, or the business.   But the parable takes an interesting turn.
And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’  Matthew 22:8-9
He invites us to a feast like no other, an opportunity to be close to Him. A banquet we should feel honored to attend, yet so many turn it down.  Maybe we're busy, maybe we think there's something better, or more than likely maybe we think whatever banquet we prepare for ourselves will be grander.  We're refusing God's richest blessings prepared with His untiring love for us: redemption, peace, mercy, and compassion. Many refuse God's great feast for their lives, and I speak from experience - there is regret. We're refusing fellowship with the One who loves us the most. 

Jackson & Katrina

Mackenzie Collins
Kaylene -MeMe never complains but does it with a smile and spends most of Saturday preparing: buying groceries, cooking, mixing, etc! We can’t forget Papa. He's gracious to have us as well and often contributes by grilling or smoking the meat of choice : ) And birthdays? MeMe lets us choose our own menu.  And.. please notice… very rarely if ever does MeMe serve anything out of a pot.  Everything is either cooked in a decorative dish or put in one for serving!  And… she loves decorative napkins.  We often give them to her for birthday, Christmas… so that she can use them on Sundays. Crazy, right?

Why do we need this feast, this fellowship?  It brings us closer to Him, to share our lives with Him. God offers His best to His children.  He made the ultimate sacrifice yet doesn't invite us begrudgingly. He looks forward to the time he spends with us, hearing our prayers. God knows life is difficult and rejoices in bonding with His children.  Fellowship with God is a privilege, and He urges EVERYONE to come. The Great Feast is a highlight you can always count on.  You're invited.
Don't Turn This Down,

A tremendous thank you to Diane's family for sharing their memories, thoughts, and pictures. Writing this not only spoke to me about fellowship with God but with family and how easy it is to refuse both.  


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