My Paltry Pantry

“Baby, what are we having for dinner tonight?” my husband asks me after a long day.

Long, pregnant pause as I stand in front of Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.

“Egg sandwiches? Spinach? Cereal? Canned black beans? Squeezey apple sauce packets?” I less-than-confidently reply.

I wish I could say that this exchange was the exception rather than an expected weekly occurrence in our home, but I cannot. Meal planning is not my gift, it seems, despite all the friends and apps who have given their suggestions.

When I have conquered Cosco and subdivided months worth of meat into small freezer bags, I stand admiringly in front of my open pantry or refrigerator doors. On these days I exude confidence, surety. Life can throw at us whatever it will; we are ready. We have a pantry full of semi-healthy whole grain snacks, a crisper drawer full of cuties, and enough Greek yogurt to feed the small army housed in the house for a half a week.

This false air of confidence and control daily diminishes until we find ourselves back at the scenario stated earlier. The paltry pantry.

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As I sat down during my extended time away yesterday, I found myself looking into my tired, empty momma soul much like I do when I stand in front of the empty cupboard. Where did it all go? I could have sworn I had planned enough summer activities and play dates to bring us through summer. I have been rationing my patience and kindness and energy, so how have I found myself here yet again? I have been doing my best at being God-dependent rather than self-sufficient, what am I missing?

Thankfully, I have been here before; I have learned just enough to know that this is exactly where God wants me to be, despite the fact that it is the last place that I would choose to be. When the cupboard is bare, when my energy has waned to near non-existence, my eyes are forced upward to the One who has silo upon silo, storehouse upon storehouse of energy, patience, creativity, forgiveness and all their kin.

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 1 Corinthians 3: 10-13.

There was a time early on in my parenting when I read these verses and proclaimed that I would be a gold, silver and precious stone parent. I would not build upon the foundation of Christ in my children’s lives with cheap, easily accessible, but weak materials like wood, hay and straw. I would not settle for quick fixes or mere behavior modification.

While my desire to parent only with the best, only the most durable, dependable materials has not changed, the way I read these verses has drastically changed. At the onset, I really thought that if I looked deep enough within myself, I would find gold, silver and precious jewels with which to work. I truly believed that if I read the right books, prayed the right prayers, I would be able to do this well. Notice the emphasis on I.

Years into this parenting thing, I find that when I fling open my parenting pantry, all I have is a less-than-steady supply of wood, hay and straw. So how am I to build with gold, silver and precious stones when I don’t have them?

I think that is the point. I don’t have them. But I know the One who has ample supplies of all that I need. He has an endless pantry of the best building materials, patience, energy, grace, forgiveness and such.

He loves when I look honestly at the bare cupboard of my soul, because it is only then that I look up to Him, the abundant One, in utter dependence.

So, here’s to building with the gold, silver and precious jewels He promises to provide to those that rely solely upon Him.

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