Generally, I consider myself a pretty clean person. I’m not obsessive by any means but I’m naturally pretty organized and tidy, which makes it easy to keep up at least the appearance of clean on the daily. Our house is not a showplace, but for having three kids I’d say we manage to keep it half way presentable at least half of the time, which I consider a win.
But all of my thoughts about my cleanliness and my (dare I say it) pride about the typically tidy state of the home went out the window last week when I was faced with what was, quite possibly, the most disgusting mess I have ever seen hiding right in plain sight in my very house. Yup, what started as a somewhat half-hearted search for a pair of socks turned into a full-on cleaning emergency. Because what we found behind our washer and dryer was HIDEOUS. And also 100% a huge fire hazard. Piles of solo socks lay covered in lint at least an inch or two thick, forever discrediting my assertion that we do in fact have a house elf that steals socks for fun and games. Multiple spoons, caked in old ice cream or pudding lay abandoned in the gap between the washer and the counter, no doubt dropped by a child about to be discovered elbow deep in contraband ice cream. A hammer, socket wrench, flashlight and multiple legos were taking a long vacation under the dryer and a giant spill of what we now believe to be apple sauce lay next to them, a virtual death trap for visiting ants, flies and other insects. It was a disaster.
Turns out that cleaning requires you to actually MOVE things and clean behind them. Who knew?
Now, before y’all go into a panic and start lecturing me on fire safety and cleanliness, I will say that Mr. BurntToast and I spent one entire afternoon crouched behind heavy appliances in a tiny laundry room scrubbing, mopping, and dusting so it’s now SPOTLESS back there.
But let me just say this was a humbling moment for me. This was a moment where old thoughts and ideas and feelings came crashing back into me with a guilt arrow pointed straight at my heart.
Because not too long ago, I would have felt that I deserved better than to be stuck behind a dryer on my Saturday cleaning up a mess that I most likely didn’t make. I would have been slightly indignant that it fell on my shoulders to make this mess go away. I would have felt that my need for rest and relaxation on my day off should trump the need to get a handle on this potential fire hazard. I honestly would have considered paying someone to clean it up for me.
Let’s just say that my ideas on who I should serve were a bit out of whack. And my sense of what I deserved was completely wrong. I was absolutely buying what the world was selling.
This world, it will tell you that you DESERVE a free ride. You DESERVE better. You DESERVE to buy that shirt, those shoes, that car. You DESERVE to take that drink. You DESERVE to feel good. You DESERVE happiness.
But the bible is pretty clear on what we deserve. It’s pretty clear about what our behavior, our thoughts and our actions make us worthy of.
“For ALL have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
There is no mincing of words. The word of God is not sugarcoating our condition here. It’s not saying, “Man, I know you’ve had a rough life. You work hard. You deserve better.” Nope. It’s saying that we all sin. And we all deserve death.
What a depressing thought, huh?
But thank God that the Bible also has a lot to say on who God is and what He has done for us that we could never do for ourselves. The bible has a lot to say about undeserved grace. About our value to the Lord. About the amazing gift that Jesus gave to us all.
“for the wages of sin is death BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6: 23
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139: 13-16
And when I finally got these two facts through my thick head, when I finally began to understand that yes, I really do deserve death but also YES, I am loved beyond measure and more valuable than I could ever imagine, then I began to understand the fallacy in what the world sold and I bought.
Because what an “I DESERVE” mindset buys you is am empty cup that can never sustain fulfillment. What “I DESERVE” buys you is financial debt. What “I DESERVE” buys you is marital strife and disengagement. What “I DESERVE” buys you is gluttony, addiction and lust.
Not much of what “I DESERVE” buys you is anything you’d want to purchase if you knew the final and ultimate price.
But the story doesn’t end there. And this is where grace takes over. The story ends with a Savior. The blameless Son of God. It ends with cross on a hill and an undeserved shameful death on a Man who knew no wrong. All for us. All for each and every one of us. The story is of a God that loves us just so very much that He said “I’ll pay for that.”
And once you understand the full story, “I DESERVE” goes out the window. For this man, this Son of God, He came and washed our feet. He came in humble form and taught us that we are here to serve and not to be served.
And once we understand this, SERVE takes on a whole new meaning. Because let me tell you, there is no greater cup filler than a heart of service and giving. There is no greater sense of well-being than putting others first. Serving them. I know we worry about giving from an empty cup and that’s where the whole self-love movement comes from. I get that. But I promise that if you are serving and giving from a position of gratitude and grace, then your cup will not be empty. EVER.
And for me, well this has changed how I approach a lot in my life. I am fully aware of what I DESERVE. But I am also fully aware of the love that took that burden away from me. So I serve. I serve with a grateful heart. My family is my ministry. I serve at my home. I am grateful for the chance. My cup does not feel drained. Or empty. Serving them allows me to love them more fully. I know now that a grateful heart is the key to peace. And with that love comes the greatest life change I’ve ever seen.
Now, of course this doesn’t mean that I love it when muddy footprints appear on a freshly mopped floor or I have to pick up a pair of dirty underwear stashed behind a potty. But it does mean that I don’t mind pulling on those rubber gloves and scrubbing behind the dryer for an hour or two. It doesn’t mean that I’m always a happy homemaker, but it does mean that I’m a grateful wife and mother.
And gratefulness, my friends, fills my cup more than entitlement ever did.
So with that grateful heart I’m sharing this recipe with y’all today. This is a recipe from my paternal grandmother. A woman from humble means, a devout Irish Catholic from Philadelphia and someone who was very no-nonsense and tough throughout her less than perfect or easy life. She’s still alive and kicking as she nears 100. Sadly, she’s suffering from severe dementia, but if she weren’t I promise you that the idea of “self-care” or “self-love” would have been met with a scoff and an eye-roll. My grandmother was of the “greatest” generation that just did what they had to do. There was no “mindfulness.” There was no coddling. They were too poor, too war-torn and too downtrodden. They were too busy surviving to worry about taking a mental health moment. I’m not saying that this is how we need to be today, my how things have changed. But this woman, she spent her entire life in service to others (not always willingly, for sure) and didn’t really have too much time to complain about it. That’s what living through a few wars will do to you, I guess.
This recipe highlights the resourcefulness of her age, too. Using leftovers and a few humble ingredients this turns day old bread into something delicious and comforting. Feel free to play with it. Add a sliced apple, raisins, or chocolate chips for a twist. Vary your bread choice for more texture. Enjoy it. Serve it with a humble, grateful heart. You won’t regret it. I promise.
Old Fashioned Bread Pudding
- 8 pieces of leftover crusty bread, cubed. (I used French but challah or ciabatta would work as well)
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- butter to grease the pan
- cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 350.
- Step 2 Grease an 8×8 casserole dish with lots of butter.
- Step 3 Place cubed bread in buttered casserole dish.
- Step 4 Whisk eggs in a small bowl and set aside.
- Step 5 Mix sugar and cinnamon in separate bowl and set aside.
- Step 6 Put half and half in a small pan and warm slightly over medium heat.
- Step 7 When the milk is warmed (just slightly skimmed) add the cinnamon and sugar mixture, stirring to combine.
- Step 8 By the tablespoon full, temper the eggs. (whisking to gradually bring to warm and prevent curdling).
- Step 9 Once the eggs are warmed (after roughly 4-5 tablespoons), whisk into the half and half mixture.
- Step 10 Pour mixture over the bread, making sure to toss completely to coat.
- Step 11 Combine about 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle over the mixture. (optional).
- Step 12 Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. Stirring once or twice to make sure that the bread is evenly baked.
- Step 13 Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Best served warm, but can be refrigerated and warmed gently for leftovers.