Posted by: trevormeers | August 22, 2010

What I’ve Learned from Goldfish Crackers

Groceries don’t normally play with my emotions. Like most guys, I get a little giddy when I drop a truly fine-looking steak into the cart, but otherwise, I generally keep a pretty even emotional keel right through the paper/plastic finale. But yesterday afternoon, Teri and I were both getting all misty-eyed as we transferred several bags of groceries into the cabinets of our field headquarters at the Ronald McDonald House.

Our friends Ryan and Michelle—emissaries from our fellowship group at church—met us in the hospital skywalk Friday morning, loaded down like nomadic bag boys. We hauled their delivery back to our room, spread it out on the table and surveyed what our church pals had sent in the care package. The sheer amount of it struck me first. But as we dug deeper into the delivery, the quality of the thought behind the stuff quickly overwhelmed the quantity.

Let’s face it: We all know how canned-food drives tend to go. The collection box outside the football stadium or in the office break room reveals how many people treat the food drive like a culinary Goodwill. It’s a chance to finally off-load those cans of hominy, beets or creamed corn you bought in some ill-advised 5-for-1 sale. I watched the same thing happen as a kid, when some church folks would use the “missionary closet” as a place to dump clothes too out of date for them to wear in public, but apparently plenty good for missionaries to wear. I used to imagine missionaries preaching away in some foreign pulpit in the late ‘80s while rockin’ the wide lapels, white belt and shirt-width tie.

The baskets our church friends sent us this week, on the other hand, didn’t contain a single one of those half-hearted efforts. There was trail mix and granola by the pound, a pitch-perfect delivery of my fuel of choice. There were little Dove chocolate bars, the ideal fix for the after-dinner chocolate cravings Teri has had this week. There were a Starbucks gift card and instant packets of Starbucks iced coffee. Sweet nectar running hot and cold. There was a gift card to Target, the spankin’ clean store Teri calls her “happy place.” The lip balm threw me for a second, but Teri saw it and said, “This is perfect! Have you seen my lips from that dry hospital air?”

Then came the kids’ stuff. Stacks and stacks of books and DVDs and toys for Katie, which we’re sure to wear out in the long hours ahead when she’s well enough to want out of bed now but not well enough to go home. We pulled out jars of nail polish, including the blue shade a salon-owner friend must have seen Allison ogling at her shop last week. Great touch, keeping the other kid in mind through this. We found a package of toilet paper from a friend who’s learned that having your own supply of the good stuff is handy at hospitals. The next day, more bags arrived from family in Missouri, adding animal crackers and a Barney doll (Katie’s favorite celebrity) to the stash.

All the thoughtful gifts were already making me get a little verklempt, but I really started biting my lip and blinking a lot when I loaded the cabinet above the microwave with bag after bag after bag of Goldfish crackers. If you were tailoring a buffet line around Katie’s tastes, it’d be piled high with American cheese and Fruit Loops. And for the main event, you could tear out the roast beef carving station and make the guy in the big white paper hat hand out Goldfish crackers. You wouldn’t think little packages of cheap crackers could mean so much, but to me, the paper bags stacked two rows deep spoke of busy people who had listened to what we said about Katie’s tastes, then made the effort to go to the store and pick something that could make a recovering little girl a little happier.

Many of us (and by that, I basically mean “I”) slip into thinking that if we can’t offer some major assistance, then it’s not worth offering anything. But you just don’t get many opportunities to help with a grand gesture like harvesting 1,000 acres of wheat for an ailing farmer or going all Extreme Makeover on a single mom’s house. And if you spend your life standing by for your buddy’s desperate call in the dead of night, you’re going to miss most of the real opportunities to help–perhaps because they just don’t have enough drama to satisfy your ambitions. The goldfish prove you don’t have to swing for the fences. Even if the actual expenditures any one person made were mostly small, the specific concern represented by everything in the basket will lift our spirits for days. Every snack we pull from the cabinet will be a reminder that a lot of people went out of their way to think of us, pray for us and send something our way. (Ditto for every e-mail, Facebook message and phone call in the last week.) In Galatians 6:2, Paul writes that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Our burden is lighter today, and the only thing people had to lift was a bag of crackers.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for another amazingly well written update – we are so thankful for daily images of just how your family is faring. And we have more cause for thanksgiving; as we read your posts we are reminded over and over that though God chose to move you across state lines and out of our daily life (sniff), the blessings didn’t end there. Seeing the ministry of your home church friends to you makes us very aware that God has chosen to use your family to bless a multitude of people that you wouldn’t have reached had you stayed here (which is evident in their outpouring of love back to you). This in turn blesses us 🙂 Missing you guys and praying for you often…

  2. We will continue to pray for Katie and your family. It is a testimony of Gods glory to hear how His family is loving on you! Hang in there my friend.

  3. Isn’t it absolutely amazing that our Lord uses His children still in their “earth suits” to meet the needs of His children with needs they sometimes don’t even realize they have?! They Lord has laid you & your family on the hearts of many of us…It is a privilege to be a prayer partner…and faith building to follow God’s work in your lives.


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