Monday, November 29, 2010

Well, Doesn't Everyone?

I keep a ketchup bottle, full of ketchup mind you, in my china hutch. Many visitors have tried to put it away in my cupboard for me, but I don’t allow the correction. It’s there on purpose. I finally added a blown glass cross ornament to the bottle so that it doesn’t look to be a misplaced grocery item.

Here is the very abbreviated story: My family lives in the house where I grew up and that my father built with his own hands. Shortly after my Dad passed away, we moved in and began a huge renovation that required nearly all of our energy and resources to pull off. When the renovation was only about 80% complete, we moved away in order to transfer our son to a better-suited high school. Some new friends of ours rented our home while we lived in a neighboring city for about 18 months.

What we found when we moved home was a disaster. The one important detail to this story is that there was ketchup and gum everywhere. On the carpet, on the walls, in the basement, on the window blinds, on the stairwell, in the cupboards, on the outside of the refrigerator. I do mean everywhere. The entire situation made me nauseous and I’m embarrassed to say how profoundly I lost my composure. One afternoon, after several days of heavy cleaning, I pulled into my driveway and saw a gift bag just outside my front door. Inside the beautiful bag was a brand new bottle of ketchup.

I hope everyone has someone in their life like my friend Lori. She brings laughter with her biting wit and can crack me up in two words or less. Lori makes me laugh because she’s funny, and because she helps me laugh at myself. While she didn’t include a card or let me know who the gift was from, there was no doubt in my mind. The beautifully gifted bottle of ketchup was Lori’s way of saying, “That’s enough wallowing in self-pity, Cathy, and it’s time to find some humor in the situation.” But Lori said it without the use of words, without including a card, and without making me feel like a self-centered heel. I love her to pieces and the bottle of ketchup is one of my life’s most cherished gifts.

God used ketchup to help me surrender my home to Him. As I said, we poured our hearts and lives into the renovation and we were making our home something to be very proud of. But the house along with the energy, ideas and resources to renovate it, were never ours in the first place. They all belong to God and I learned a lesson of surrender through a mess of ketchup smeared all over what had become an element of pride.

Now when I feel like a “Negative Nancy” or like I can’t stand up under my circumstance, looking at a simple bottle of ketchup reminds me that God is growing me deeper with Him through every situation I face. How can that possibly be a bad thing? My faith is fueled and I use His strength to find joy in my trials.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2-3 NASB


  1. Isn't this like God to Sanctify your place!
    Like in Egypt, blood of the lamb around the door.
    In this case the inner rooms.
    The cleansing involved, in your case is "literally" in your home. Transformed and ready for living, 'home!' Just as the rooms in our heart that Christ cleans and anoints.
    May we "ketchup' with God and His leading, and do all we can to "mustard" the times, eloquently!

  2. I love this story!