"Oh, Mom . . . can't I just stay home?" I pleaded. School was not my favorite place to hang out as a pre-teen. But I knew that my mother sent me out of love, not as some sort of punishment. This was evidenced not only by a long history of loving actions, but also by the promise of . . . soup. It became our code word. Our secret "I-love-you-more-than-anything-and-will-pray-for-you-today" word.
She gently led me to the door (no doubt assuming that I'd be chasing that bus yet again) and promised to have a steaming pot of my favorite soup waiting when I came home. She cupped my face, kissed my forehead and said, "Soup." Off I went, my school hours filled with reminders of my mother's love.
Last week was a soup week. Not because I made soup (which I did not), but because I needed it. I was grumpy and crabby and not a fun person to be with (even though I did agree to have my face scribbled on). I finally made it to Sunday. Jamie wasn't feeling well, so I took the kids to church. We were late, of course, so I stood along the back wall wondering where to put my sorry self. But God knew right where He wanted me. My sister caught my eye. She and her clan scooted over (even though there wasn't really any room), and I gladly let them enfold me.
I held my niece contentedly on my lap, and our row continued to blossom when Annie caught my eye. She, too, needed a place. The chairs were as full as could be, so she plopped herself down . . . on my purse. (Several chivalrous gentlemen offered their seats. She declined, preferring to hover gracefully over the bulletins.) So there I was, squeezed between this love, thanking God that He wouldn't let me wallow in self.
Thus began another soup week. But this time it was the food kind. I threw together a big pot of Italian sausage soup on Monday evening. As I stirred, I sensed God's love and provision, not only in meeting my physical needs, but my spiritual needs as well. I knew that I was surrounded by the promised prayers of a bulletin-hovering friend and that last week's valleys were only temporary. Those valleys served as points to which I could look back and say, "Thank you, Lord, for your grace. Thank you for keeping hold of me. And thank you for the reminder that I needn't struggle alone."
By piano lesson day, that pot of soup had dwindled to a few lunch portions. So I packed it up and we headed to my parents' house for lessons. The kids took turns at the keyboard and they took turns slurping their soup. When it was time to leave, I noticed that there was just enough soup left for one more person. I popped my head into the piano room. "Mom? Might you enjoy a nice, hot cup of soup on your lunch break?" Her eyes lit up like a school girl. And we both said, "Soup."