Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Homemade Lasagna Attitude

"What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted."  Proverbs 10:24

"Devil With the Blue Dress On"

We called her devil with a blue dress on.  My grandma knew how to have fun, though I have to admit it was a sad moment when I realized that my grandma was having more fun at a wedding than I was.  She was in her mid eighties.  I was in my mid twenties.  She had enjoyed several cocktails and was dancing the night away.  All the while, I was sitting at the table watching her.  She really started to boogey when “Devil with the Blue Dress On” by Mitch Ryder came on.  Suddenly, I started laughing.  First of all, I was laughing that I was sitting at the table while my grandma was getting down on the dance floor and secondly, I was laughing because she was wearing a blue dress!  The nickname was perfect. 
Even though that night, she was the "Devil with the Blue Dress On", she was actually a kind-hearted, Christian woman who never met a stranger.  But anyone that knew her would agree that she was one feisty lady.  She was stubborn.  She had opinions, and she was going to tell you exactly how she felt exactly when she felt it.  Because of her incredible stubbornness and my incredible stubbornness (hmmmm, I wonder where I got mine), she and I didn’t always get along, but I loved her. I always admired her love of sports, her ability to save money and yet be very generous, her genuine love of everyone—no matter their background, and especially her love and support of her family (she came to everything I was involved in).  Despite our often differing opinions and despite her need to point out everything that I did wrong, there were two things that she always complimented me on…my driving and my delicious lasagna.  Even though she only had my lasagna one time, she talked about that lasagna for ten years.  She told everyone that she met that it was the best lasagna she ever had!  It always made me feel so good and a little guilty.  Let me tell you a story about the best lasagna she ever had…
I was during my senior year at EIU.   I had the opportunity to live with my grandma for a semester when I did my student teaching.  It actually worked out for both of us because for some reason, I was assigned to do my student teaching in Danville even though I lived in Charleston (an hour and a half away).  My grandma had just lost my grandpa after being married and caring for him for over 60 years, so living in her little house in Champaign was the best solution and would cut my drive in half.  Plus, she would have someone to take care of again.  And she did.  She would leave a bowl, a spoon, a box of cereal and a juice glass out every morning for my breakfast before I had to leave.  She would have dinner ready in the evening and we would spend time together at night watching a tv show or two.  It was wonderful to get to spend more time with my grandma, but it made for a very busy life.  Every Friday that fall, I would pack a bag, kiss Grandma and drive down to Charleston.  I was on the dance team at Eastern and had to learn a dance routine to perform at halftime the next day since I would miss rehearsal all week due to student teaching in Danville (another reason that it made no sense that I was assigned to Danville).  I would perform at the game, go out with friends, get up Sunday and drive back up to Champaign only to have to get up the next morning and drive to Danville to student teach.  It was exhausting. 
That semester flew by with all the teaching, grading papers, lesson planning, driving, learning dance routines, performing, and more driving.  Soon, it was going to be my last night staying with grandma, and in appreciation for her hospitality that semester, I offered to make her dinner.  I was so grateful for her opening up her home to me, and while living with her, she and I both gained a new appreciation and respect for one another.  I wanted to treat her to my homemade lasagna, salad and garlic bread.  Unfortunately, that week leading up to my last night with her was incredibly busy with student teaching, dancing and driving that I didn’t have time to make her the lasagna, so, with my parents’ blessing, I gave myself permission to buy Stouffer’s frozen lasagna.  To me, the most important thing was for she and I to spend time together and enjoy our last night.  I had it all ready.  The garlic bread’s aroma filled the air.  The salad was incredibly colorful.  And the Stouffer’s lasagna actually looked and smelled homemade. 
I have to be confess here.   I didn’t tell her that it was Stouffer’s because I knew that she would automatically hate it without even trying it---she came from the generation that everything has to be made from scratch or it’s AWFUL!  I just didn’t say anything.  As delicious as it looked, I was very anxious for her to try it.  I just knew that she was going to know.  I was so nervous waiting for her to put that first bite in her mouth.  She LOVED it!  I couldn't believe it!
She loved it so much that she wouldn’t stop talking about it.   She went on and on, and I kept thinking that she just had to know, but she didn’t.  In fact, from that moment on, anyone that she talked to, she would tell them about the best lasagna that she ever tasted that her granddaughter made for her.  All I would say to her is “I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Grandma.”  For 10 years, that woman brought up how delicious my lasagna was and she never knew that it was a store bought lasagna!
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking…why would you not tell your little old grandma the truth?  You know what…you're right, I should have.  To be honest, it was such a rare thing to get such raving praise from grandma, that I didn't want to spoil it for either of us.  But it really made me realize how the mind is a funny thing.  Had she known that it was store-bought, she wouldn’t have enjoyed it.  And for 10 years, she would have complained that I made her the worst lasagna she ever had.   And trust me, (anyone who really knew my grandma would agree) she would have brought it up any chance she got.  But because she thought it was a homemade lasagna, she thought it was the best lasagna she ever tasted.  A delicious homemade lasagna was her expectation, so a delicious homemade lasagna was exactly what she tasted even though it wasn’t. 
Our expectations of people and things in our life can have a huge impact.  How we feel about a person beforehand can have an enormous effect on how we interact with that person.  “That woman is so rude”---all we will notice is her faults.  How we feel about a situation can have an enormous effect on how that situation goes.  “Church is so boring”----all we will notice is the downtime. “The kids are going to behave horribly”---all we will notice is the chaos.  
Our expectation of something or someone is powerful.  This week, I pray that you will be aware of your expectations.  Are you expecting the worst in every situation?  If so, I pray that God will give you a more positive outlook?  Are you expecting to see the flaws in people?   If so, I pray that God will give you the eyes to see them differently.  In every person and in every situation, I pray that you will have a homemade lasagna attitude.  I pray that you will expect the homemade lasagna and even though you may end up with the store-bought, you will be none the wiser and enjoy every bite just like my grandma!

To my Grandma who would have been 99 on October 4th.  Grandma, we love you, and we miss you!

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