Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pocket Change

     What does it mean to be rich?  After all, even chocolate milk can be rich.  Christmas season always seems to bring me to these introspective questions.  Am I rich?  When Jesus speaks to the rich, am I included?  Do labels such as, "rich in love" truly have meaning?
Paula pours the wine and we remember Christ's sacrifice
     Surely, I think, a rich person would be someone I would envy; therefore, I have cast about in my mind for someone I envy.  The truth is, I am not certain what it means to envy someone.  I do know that where jealousy denotes ill will, envy denotes a longing.  Yes, there is someone whose life details fill me with longing:  my mother's pastor, Paula.   I find myself intrigued by and drawn to her life.  The details and requirements of her life would keep me from living it, but the longing I feel could be equated to a benign envy, I think.
      You see, Pastor Paula lives a life of intentional poverty, singleness, and devotion to God and His people.  She lives in an impoverished neighborhood close to the church.  She remains single and gives her full attention to her flock of churchgoers and the people God sends her way.  One Sunday, Paula shared that many people come to her during the week, asking for some very small help.  Paula took to keeping five dollar bills on her person to hand to the people for their small needs.  One bill here, two or three there.  Paula lives on a tight budget, and she shared that she always ran out of money before the week was out.
My daughter changes the world $7 at a time.  Her club volunteered to man the
Operation Christmas Child distribution center for a weekend.
     This is how you change the world, five dollars at a time:  my mother was moved deeply by Paula's story.  She took to handing Paula a five dollar bill at the end of each Sunday service.  Soon enough, moved by the Holy Spirit, Mom was restless and wanted to do more.  She asked me what I thought she should do.  I simply suggested that she hand Paula two five dollar bills and see where the Holy Spirit led her from there.  She did so.
     As of this writing, and as far as I know, Mom has significantly increased her regular giving to the church; she has continued to increase her five dollar bill giving; she buys a goodly amount of food for needy children fed by a program through her church; and she is leading a ladies' group in a study of Crazy Love, by Frances Chan.   I see Mom's growing sensitivity to the movement of the Spirit, her desire to make the world more like the Kingdom of God, and I feel envy.  Mom has grown rich.  I want to be rich like that.  The Holy Spirit stirs within me.  I must act.

     Perhaps you will see me grow rich, and you will feel envy.  You may be intrigued by the details of my life.  The Holy Spirit may stir within you, and you may act.  The world will change a little bit.  You will become rich.  Perhaps you will move someone else to feel envy.  They will want to be rich, like you.  That is how we change the world, five dollars at a time.

This Episode's DIY
     I know that making hot cocoa with a mix is incredibly easy and fairly tasty, but have you ever read the ingredients in that stuff?  The small effort and amount of time you will invest in homemade cocoa is definitely worthwhile.  I think you will be as surprised as I was at how easy it is to make.  Here are two recipes I use.

Perfectly Chocolate Hot Cocoa (from Hershey's)
2 tbsp sugar*
2-3 tsp cocoa
dash salt
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in a large mug.  Heat milk in microwave at HIGH 1 1/2 minutes or until hot.  Gradually add hot milk to cocoa mixture in mug, stirring until well blended.  Stir in vanilla.  Serves 1.                                                                                                             *I use sweetener, usually stevia.

Hot Cocoa for a Crowd
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup hot water
1 gallon milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Combine sugar, cocoa and salt in 6-quart saucepan; gradually add water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils.  Boil and stir 2 minutes.  Add milk.  Heat to serving temperature, stirring frequently.  Do not boil.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Serve hot.  Makes about 22 (6-oz) servings.  

      You could easily find advice online for mixing up the dry ingredients and keeping them on hand that way, I am certain.  We like to play with these recipes, adding coffee or liqueur or some such things.  The cocoa is incredibly delicious, and with the real milk in it, you are being nourished body and soul.  Enjoy!