Friday, April 4, 2014

Preaching by Our Deeds

We have a little tradition - the kids and I - on their 1/2 days and at the end of school before breaks, I take them to YC's Mongolian Grill.  

I love it for a few reasons.  First, I get an enormous amount of healthy food for about $25.  That includes drinks and take home containers for 5 people.  Honestly, we have lunch and then enough usually for at least a start for dinner another night.  I also LOVE their chicken soup and I get my asian food fix.  They have lots of drink options and the place is great for people with allergy issues because you build your own.  They have allergy alerts and clean the grill before they cook your stuff.  The down side is that it is a little stressful for a mom with 4 little ones to help.  It is serve-yourself.  So I have to serve up 3 bowls and supervise/critique/warn the boys as they are doing their own.  Thankfully my eldest has figured out that in order to keep going to this place he has to Step It Up.

So this most recent trip, rather than try to handle 4 bowls and baby, I sent Anthony ahead of me and I gave him the baby in the little highchair on wheels.  Now I just had 2 hungry voices to contend with.  His food was done early and so he choose a table, got napkins and forks, and went about filling up drinks while chatting with Anna.  I sent Gracie over to 'help', by which I mean to just do something, because she wasn't up for standing around and watching her food cook.

And unbeknownst to me they had an audience.

As I got to the table with more bowls, Anthony was counting drinks and soups and straws.  Seeing a need, he left and gathered the missing items.  At which point the woman sitting alone, thumbing through her magazine while she ate a lazy lunch, asked me how old Anthony was.  "Eleven.  And the other ones are 8, 5 and 2" I replied with a smile.

Her reply startled me.  "My kids are horrible.  Your's are great.   My daughter would NEVER help like your son is.  He is taking care of her.  My daughters fight all the time.  Just watching your kids makes me realize I really need to have a serious talk with my kids".

I didn't know how to reply.  So I just smiled and said "Well I am sorry, but thank you also.  They are great kids and they know that I won't take them to do fun things if they can't behave and help out".   I probably COULD have made a comment about having 4 children versus 2… and that when you have more kids they have to take on more responsibility…but I didn't.  Thankfully.

Instead I sat down.  And as my fork was poised for my first bite,  JR cried out "We didn't say prayers!" The woman once again looked over at us while we all bowed our heads, gave thanks, and made the sign of the cross.

We didn't exchange any other words with the woman during our meal, but I was very conscious of her gaze as we talked about our highs and low from the morning and our goals for the weekend.  Miraculously there was no fighting at the table and the kids left with their bellies full and their smiles wide.  And my heart was joyful.  Not just because we got through a meal in public without any spills or  fights or trips to the bathroom…but because I felt God working through us.

"God" is my only answer for why that lunch went so well.   It doesn't always go smoothly.  For instance JR is storming around right now and Anthony has been sent to his room - but as a Catholic family we strive to take care of others, we give thanks, and we share all that we have every day.

St Francisis is often quoted as stating

Preach the Gospel at all time.  Use words if necessary.

Fact checking came up with a somewhat similar quote

Preach by your deeds (St. Francis from Rule of 1221, Chapter XII). 

And that is just what the kids were doing.  Dressed in their Catholic school shirts and making the sign of the cross, they were ambassadors for The Word and His Church.  Their behavior was more powerful than any homily that I have heard lately.  When we enter this world and we have the potential to be the Light of Christ for others.  Not just in our words but in our actions.   Praise God!

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