Friday, February 1, 2013

Dinner by Candlelight

[Note from Phyllis: In case you hadn't noticed, Sarah is also a new contributor. We're so glad to have her! I'll be adding her bio to the site soon....]

On Tuesday this week, as I was preparing a dinner for some guests visiting from the States, I started to notice that the water was coming out of the faucet in a weaker and weaker stream until it was finally just a trickle.  Just before our guests arrived, I tried to turn the water on and only heard the all too familiar hiss that indicates all the water is gone from our storage tanks.  I ran to put a bottle of hand sanitizer in the bathroom as our guests arrived, calming myself with a memory from our first year living here in the mountains of Costa Rica...
It had been frustrating day, and, really, there had been too many days like it lately.  There had been no running water all morning and then the electricity had been off and on all afternoon, so very little cleaning had gotten done, no clothes had been washed, and the meal I had planned was not going to happen.  When the electricity did come back on, I decided to just make cornbread and heat up some soup.  About 20 minutes later, while the bread was in the oven, the electricity went off again.
I got upset, "Now the cornbread will be ruined! I didn't even get to heat up the soup! We can't even see anything it's so dark! We won't be able to heat up water for our kid's bath! Dan (my husband) won't get to eat anything before his meeting! Why can't basic things like running water and electricity just work in this country!?"
It hit me... I needed a big attitude check.
Be thankful. Rejoice in the LORD. Be content in all circumstances.
As I shifted my attitude, the situation changed. It was still dark, and I still couldn't heat up any soup or water. But, suddenly the situation was... fun. It was... dinner by candlelight! By the light of flickering candles, Dan reviewed his Bible study.  Our son was entranced by the candles on the table. I let the cornbread sit in the oven that was rapidly cooling, and when I did get it out, it was done perfectly, so we had a great candlelit dinner of warm cornbread and cut up fruit. We talked about how we should have candlelit dinners more often.
I still fail so many times to be thankful and find my joy in the Lord right away, but the memory of that simple little dinner by candlelight has stayed with me over the years and has encouraged me to keep the right perspective as little inconveniences and less-than-comfortable circumstances arise frequently here.   
Have you had any "dinner by candlelight" experiences lately?  What past experiences or Scripture encourage you as you face some of the little inconveniences that can build up frustration? 


  1. We've had many fun dinners by candlelight too. It's nice to be forced to enjoy candlelight and use creativity. The challenge of completing basic daily tasks (laundry, dinner, cleaning, bathing) can be discouraging, but it is really helpful to find the hidden blessings. I try to enjoy the time in the sunshine while hanging laundry. "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart," has been an encouraging verse (Gal. 6:9)

  2. I love this, Sarah! Thank you for the encouragement to be content in all circumstances. We had something happen just recently that might fit here. We had the most horrible trip every on our way back to Russia recently. It involved traveling with sick kids, missing flights, getting stranded for 2 days mid-way in a snow storm, losing all of our bags for 5 days, and our children's beloved stuffed animals being lost in a bag that didn't come for 10 days. I was very tempted to get mad that we have to deal with such ordeals just to be able to serve here in Russia. We want to serve, so why does it have to be so hard?! (I know that this is a silly question, but sometimes my heart doesn't really take in the big picture). Anyway, as my children grieved over the potential loss of their most treasured possessions, I realized that I needed to help my kids through this in a way that would help them trust the Lord. God helped us to not only process through this time, but even to have a number of spiritually teaching moments with our kids about God's goodness and sovereignty even in trial. One of the last of such teaching moments that came about was that we threw a little party with a cake to celebrate finding the lost monkeys. We also read the parable of the lost coin and talked about how just like we rejoiced over the monkeys being found and the woman rejoiced over finding her lost coin, that Jesus and the angles rejoice over each person who repents of their sins and comes into relationship with Christ. I am thankful that God was gracious to get me out of my mode of self-pity and to redeem the situation and help us grow closer to Him through it.

  3. I've had a ton of those moments where my ingratitude takes over the ability to be "content in all circumstances." I have to stop sometimes and have a big chat with myself, reminding the complaining Christie that I knew this place wasn't going to be like home, and that this is all part of the adventure of missions. Then I run for some way to play peppy music and change my bad attitude. ;) Thanks for sharing, Sarah!