Casseroles can be hit or miss, to be honest. I know people who love them, and people who loathe them. For me, it’s all about blending the flavors, good seasoning, and a balance of texture. I like a little crunch. But if the casserole is from a Church Lady who has time to stay for a cup of coffee and an interesting conversation, because she cares, that’s the CL trifecta.
I think we can all agree when church ladies come together on behalf of someone in need there is a special kind of warmth that blooms in the heart of the recipient.
And, as entertaining as it is to tell the cringy CL stories, I love the stories when they get it right even more. This story is written by my friend, Lynn Juliak, who found herself in need, and was blessed by some of the very best kind of CLs. I am blessed by her friendship, and am grateful she allowed me to share her story here.
Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6: 26)
“You are going to need surgery. We will be adjusting your ankle and inserting 2 hollow pins into your tibia which enables bone to grow through them. You will need physio but should be fine in about 6 months.” Surgery! Yikes!
It all started with a fall outside my car on the way to a physiotherapy appointment. I was rushing from work and failed to notice the ice beneath my feet. I was down before I realized it, got up, walked to my car and drove to the appointment. It was only as I started walking up their sidewalk that it suddenly occurred to me that something was wrong. I phoned their office and they quickly came out with a wheelchair, covered me with blankets and gently assessed my ankle. “You should get this checked,” said Paula kindly and calmly, ”I think you might need an x-ray.” Before I knew it, my son Joel and a good friend came to collect me and take me to the clinic for x-rays. Yep, broken and dislocated. My son pushed the wheelchair all the way through the snow from the clinic to the ER where dozens of people sat, many of them with fractures from falling.
It was going to be a long wait and, because of Covid, waiting alone, but the time passed as the people, united in kind, told stories among ourselves about what had caused us to be together in emerg. I can’t recall how long it took, but I was finally admitted to a bed for surgery which was canceled at midnight that night due to the backlog of patients. I can say that egg salad sandwich that the nurse gave me tasted like heaven after not eating that day.
The next day appeared to be a wash until a nurse whisked into my room to inform me I was about to go down for surgery immediately. It seemed like a blur talking to the anesthesiologist, having a spinal block and waiting in post op. I was back in the room in no time and then after physio confirmed I could use crutches up and down stairs I was discharged and picked up by my son.
I think it was then that the gravity of the situation hit me. I was at home, alone for the most part, unable to drive and unable to work. How in the world was I going to manage? How was I going to make meals and how was I going to get around with these blasted crutches? Coordinated I was not!
Cue the church ladies!
Amanda came to my place with a meal, an orchid and a knee scooter. She also came with an ice machine and instructions on how to keep the swelling down for my ankle using that contraption. In the days that followed, there was a steady stream of church ladies that came, visited, cleaned, brought amazing meals, and checked up on me all coordinated by my friend Joy Klassen. I can’t tell you how great they took care of me!! Every visit, phone call and supper just blew me away with the love of that community!! Taxi service to and from medical appointments made easier by Joel and these ladies confirmed I was in such good hands. Physiotherapy, that started once the cast was off, was done by a great friend, Ron Jersak, who reminisced of the time when we worked together. Can I say that this time was one of the best times of my life? From the end of February til May the meals continued to come and only when I was capable of walking with the walking boot did they cease. But I had a bunch of leftovers frozen to last a while after that.
I don’t know if I had been so well cared for before in my life!
Instead of worrying, I was wrapped up in the love of my church community. Instead of loneliness, I experience the love of these wonderful ladies. What would have happened without them?
So, when the text came that Maria’s mom was in hospital, I donned my apron and got busy making meals, visiting, and encouraging.
Casseroles, conversation and caring!
Why? Because that’s how we do things – how we do community in my church. Church ladies rock!! And I am one of them! Who knew?!
Lynn Juliak is a Canadian church lady, a mom to three amazing adults, and makes a delicious casserole. Youth For Christ in Brandon Manitoba is fortunate to have her on their staff.
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