A Chronic Nightmare

I’m having a tough day.  It appears that I triggered another flare up with the travel and yard work I endured the past few days.  The Humira gives modest relief for about three days after each weekly injection.  Only two more days until my next one.

I’ve been caught in this chronic nightmare for six and a half years.  I don’t think I can endure another twenty or thirty years like this.  I did the math.  I have endured constant pain for 17.5% of my life.  If I see 63, I will have spent 50% in pain.  

That’s a far cry from my aspirations of success and happiness in years past.  Those are gone.  Dreams are silly delusions reserved for children.  Reality is cold and hard, and for the lucky ones, well, I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes:

“And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I know I may be taking this passage out of context because my oppressor isn’t a man–it’s my immune system that has turned against me.

Life is hard.  The novelty is that we don’t know how much we will have to endure nor do we know how long it will persist.  Regardless, I hope tomorrow will be better.

The Folly of Vanity

I know a guy who has some really wonky ideas regarding religion and the afterlife.  In comparison to every other post modern, I suppose his ideas aren’t all that wonky–in fact, they are consistent with just about every other new age seeker.  They are persistent and may be sincerely held beliefs, but they are wrong.

His early years were influence by Catholicism, but I suspect that came from his grandparents and I don’t know how devout he may have been.  By looking at his other endeavors he has encountered over the years, I have to assume that had no lasting impact, save for the fact that he partly attributes his “falling away” from these “oppressive years”.  If he would read his Bible, he would see that he never was a convert as the act of backsliding is evidence that, to quote Todd Friel and Ray Comfort, “he never slid forward in the first place.”  Nonetheless, his rejection of Christ led him to dabble in silliness such as his opinion that all religion is invalid because some practices “such as sun worship” are ridiculous.  I believe that is the Fallacy of Division.  This guy not only perpetuates fallacies, but vehemently defends his logical errors.

He props up his unbelief in the assertion that God is some big meanie because some people living in the jungle may never have the opportunity to hear the Gospel.  However, he argues from the assumption that people are innocent when that is clearly not the case.  We all sin, and those sins make us worthy of hell.  Everyone can look at the world and know that there is an eternal Creator.  Paul makes this point very clear:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”  (Romans‬ ‭1:18-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

It’s easier to reject the truth rather than face it.  Submission to God requires us to deny ourselves. (Luke 9:23) That symbolic death to self runs counter to what is taught in the world.  This guy I know wants to be a big man with accolades.  He wants to be puffed up by others.  He wants people to tell him that he is brilliant when he parrots new age heresy that all religions and all manner of unbelief lead to God.  This guy is a cosmopolitan man of the world and expends great effort to fool himself with his self-styled intellectual grandiosity.  He is drunk on vanity.  Just a cursory perusal of Ecclesiastes would expose his folly.  Everything apart from Christ is meaningless and this person’s entire existence is nothing but chasing after the wind.

Restaurant Sage–Monroe, LA

The widespread flooding brought us to Monroe, LA.  I’ve passed through this city a million times, but when I came to serve with Mercy Chefs, I came prepared to stay a couple of days.

We typically spend fifteen hours a day preparing restaurant quality meals in a mobile kitchen.  It’s hot and we continually have to watch out for hazards.  It’s only a small price we pay so that we can serve those whose lives have been disrupted by disaster.

After a busy day, four of us chefs decided to enjoy a nice evening at Restaurant Sage. We met Executive Chef Blake the day before as he came down to volunteer at our mobile kitchen.  (In the spirit of full disclosure, we demurred when he said there was no check.  At our insistence he sent out a check, but he discounted our appetizers.) 

Louisiana gulf oysters with garlic butter and parmesan.
 He brought out all sorts of food for us to sample from the grilled oysters and crab cakes, to the sage wraps which were chunks of filet stuffed with cheese and jalapeño and wrapped in bacon. Absolutely unbelievable.   Another high point was the andouille and duck gumbo. Chef Blake told us how intricately it was prepared and all of that effort in preparing it was not in vain. It was incredible. 

Jumbo lump crab cakes with green tomato relish and red remoulade.
 Finally, we fell upon the main course. A couple of us fawned over the short ribs, another had the blackened snapper, and I had the soft shell crab with alligator sauce piquant. Everything was great but I have to say the alligator stew was “on point” as one of my fellow chefs kept saying throughout the meal. Next time I’m in Monroe I may have to enjoy another unforgettable meal.


(Top photo consists of soft shell crab and alligator sauce piquant.)

Operation:  Monroe, LA

Somewhere on the order of twenty four inches of rain fell on the great state of Louisiana last week and thousands were affected.  I can’t even begin to imagine how many people lost everything in the flooding.  Here we are nine days later and the water has finally receded from the only road to my house. We had to get creative to get to and from home because of this.  I only had some minor flooding in the living room and I think we cut the pad out in time to rescue the carpet.  My problems pale in comparison to those we are serving this week in Monroe, LA.  

Chef John Stout smiling as he stirs red beans and Chef Gary LeBlanc assembling meals.

As a Mercy Chef, I serve alongside many talented chefs to provide restaurant quality food to victims, volunteers, and first responders.  Our numbers have been increasing daily.  As I headed home today, I was advised we prepared 1000 meals at lunchtime.  The hours are long and the work is strenuous–over two and a half days I worked nearly 40 hours. 

Chef Buddy raking a much needed break.
 
As I lay in bed reflecting on the past few days my body, my swollen hands, aching back, and angry feet remind me that I’m going to pay for it.  But I’m in my bed.  I’m not cramped in a Motel 6 relying on the kindness of strangers to meet my basic needs.  I’m in my warm home listening to my sixteen year old daughter practice her piccolo solo.  

My friends are still serving in Monroe as the need is great.  We don’t do anything special.  In comparison to other disaster relief ministries one might think we don’t do much at all.  And they would be right.  We provide a meal.  It’s intransient, yet a hot meal brings comfort in crisis. 

Chef Lisa peacing out while Chef Blake prepares apple Brown Betty. I’m the joker washing dishes.
 I’m reminded of Luke 14:12-14:

“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” 

M3 along with its companion cooler trailer.
 That’s what Mercy Chefs does.  

Grub Burger Bar–Shreveport, LA

I always get excited to eat burgers. Not all burgers, though.  I’ll wrestle with a couple of McDoubles now and then, but when I have an opportunity to enjoy something remarkable, I’ll sometimes feel those butterflies of excitement in the pit of my belly.  Or it might be a McDouble returning with its greasy wrath.

I brought my daughter Zoe’ on a lunch date and we ventured into Grub Burger Bar.  It’s only been here about a month and I’ve heard mixed reviews.  It was time I brought my eleven year old burger expert to investigate.

I knew I was in for a treat when I saw a guy making the rolls from scratch, (These fresh rolls are better than Mooyah‘s), but I still couldn’t shake the mediocre review the the lady who insisted on talking as she cut my hair a couple of weeks ago.  Then again, hairdressers don’t have palates.  They have scissors.

The meat was fantastically juicy and nicely seasoned–a stark contrast to the over salted shoe leather I consumed the last time I ate at Twisted Root.  I’m not saying Twisted Root is trash, I’m saying that the last time I was there it was nightmarishly mediocre that I’m not sure I can return to take a risk on returning because their prices are already sky high.  All I’m saying is that if I’m going to spend my kid’s college money on a burger, it better be good.

All in all, it was great and I know that because my redheaded burger critic loved it.  She just wished that it could have come with Five Guys’ fries.