There is no denying that kids, even the smart, well-behaved, happy ones, are challenging. Some years back my son decided that he didn’t like caramel. My guess is that he tried a candy bar he didn’t like and threw that baby out with the bath water. About that time I re-discovered a childhood favorite recipe, monkey bread. If you don’t know monkey bread, it is refrigerated biscuit dough cut up into small pieces, tossed in cinnamon sugar, and baked in a Bundt pan with a delightful brown sugar and butter combo that becomes ooey gooey caramel. When you invert the pan, the caramel fills the cracks between the soft pull-apart biscuit pieces. It’s delightful.
So the first time I made monkey bread for my little family, J turned a wary eye on its perfection and said, “Is that caramel? I don’t like caramel.” In that moment I had a choice; I could admit that it was in fact caramel, keep the monkey bread for just the adults and rarely make it again (with just three of us in the house, if one doesn’t like something it goes on the more seldom rotation because we generate too much waste when things don’t get eaten), or I could find out in an I’m not lying, per se, I prefer to think of it as a psychological experiment kind of way if he did, in fact, dislike caramel. “No,” I replied, “it’s a brown sugar sauce.” The kid ate half the pan and asked me to make it again the next day.
At this point I had another choice to make. I could pounce on him with the revelation that he did like caramel, or I could keep it to myself. There was a lot at stake. If I revealed the truth he would probably stubbornly refuse to eat the monkey bread again. And I admit that I don’t mind being given the caramel portion of his Halloween candy. So I let it ride.
I love being a mom. My son is a definite highlight of my life. But sometimes he is a challenge. Kids whine, they talk back, and they cost a fortune to feed (Mine is 14 now. If yours are still little, just wait, soon they’ll obliterate your grocery budget). Kids make you worry like nothing else can. They are a burden, but a precious burden that is worth every minute of lost sleep and every dollar of expense.
That is the best metaphor I can come up with to describe my burden to feed the hungry. Every book I read, every website I research, every news report I see is a burden. My heart breaks a hundred times a day. I want to gather up all the hungry kids in the world and make them cookies. Or monkey bread. Now that I thought about that again I’m going to crave it for a week… I want to open my home, my pantry, my wallet. I know that the poor and the hungry are important to God and I want to show His love by serving them.
This burden is so heavy, but it is so precious. It gives me right perspective and adds a sense of value and purpose to my life. Like parenting, my burden for the hungry keeps me up at night and messes with my financial accounting. And I love it.
But I have only begun the journey of carrying this burden for the hungry and living a lifestyle of intention and focus on others. It’s a process. I can’t tell you how often I dream of putting more time and energy into feeding the hungry only to push aside God’s prompting with promises about getting to it after I finish grad school, or once this or that is paid off. I’m inching into the kiddie pool when I should cannon ball into the deep end. According to the UN, 21,000 precious people die of hunger and hunger-related illness EVERY DAY. They can’t wait for me to finish being entertained; I need to act on their behalf NOW.
That’s easier said than done, I know. Like you I have a mortgage, school debt, a car payment, etc. My home needs to be maintained, and I appreciate the importance of down time in a person’s life and date nights in a marriage. There are a lot of things to juggle. But a lot of them aren’t as important as I make them. I know I have a long way to go. I don’t want to wait and lug around this precious burden for no reason. I want to jump into the deep end and live a life that makes people a priority. I hope that, whatever your burden, you feel the same way.Thank you for caring for the hungry.
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Bonus: Monkey Bread
2 cans refrigerated biscuit dough
1 Stick of Butter (1/2 cup)
1 Cup of Brown Sugar
Open the tube of biscuits and cut each individual biscuit into 3-4 pieces. Drop the biscuit pieces in a baggie, add some cinnamon-sugar, and shake to coat. Put the cinnamon-sugar coated biscuit pieces into a Bundt pan (non-stick or greased). In the microwave or on the stove top, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and stir until combined. Pour the melted butter-brown sugar mixture evenly over the biscuit pieces. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown. Let the monkey bread sit for about ten minutes, then invert the pan onto a plate (not plastic or styrofoam, those monkeys are hot, and you only make that melting mistake once…).
Double Bonus: Tonight’s FSF dinner, Cheesy Rice and Beans. My local food shelf gets a bag of rice, can of beans, can of tomatoes, and can of corn, and my family gets this tasty dish. Since I make my chicken stock from the bones of the chicken we eat (FREE, less wasteful, low sodium, no preservatives or mystery ingredients, I know the quality of chicken that went into it, and delicious flavor), the grand total for this meal and the matching food shelf donation is around $10
I got this recipe from the Cheese Pusher, and made a few alterations/corrections. See her original HERE.
1 Cup White Rice (or 2 cups Minute rice)
2 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Tbsp. Cumin
1 Can Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
1 Can Whole Kernel Corn, Drained
1 Can Diced Tomatoes with Chilies (I prefer the tomatoes petite diced)
Cheddar or Mexican Cheese Blend
Sour Cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
Prepare the rice like normal, using the chicken stock in place of water. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onions. Cook onions until translucent, then add the garlic for one minute more. Add the cumin to the onion mixture, stir gently. Add the drained beans and corn, and the undrained tomatoes to the mixture. When the rice is done, add the bean and veggie mixture to the rice and stir until combined. Serve with a generous amount of cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. For those who prefer more spice, add hot sauce to taste.