Peas in the butter

Peas in the butter

Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt

When businesses or organizations hire me to speak, they usually put me up in nice hotels. They don’t realize that I’m the kind of gal who packs bananas and Ritz™ crackers in my suitcase. I don’t need room service, indoor pools or mints on my pillow. I would actually feel more at home in a hotel that requires me to come down to the lobby and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every night. In fact, I always e-mail my host saying, “I’ll be glad to stay in your Aunt Dorothy’s guest room as long as she doesn’t have attack cats.” Of course, no one ever puts me in Aunt Dorothy’s guest room. I usually sleep on a heavenly king-size bed in a room with a gift basket.
That’s why a recent speaking experience in Illinois was such a lovely surprise. For the first time in years, I stayed in a home. It was a far more heavenly experience than any fancy hotel room. My hosts were a lovely older couple with a beautiful home. The guest room walls were covered with photos of family weddings, mission trips, graduations and holiday celebrations. The double bed was stiff but I slept in total peace. I just had to remember not to put the guest soap and shampoo in my suitcase. Old habits are hard to break.
I was blessed the next morning to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with my hosts. They both shared a passion for mission trips to Africa and were glad to impart their experiences as well as show me a myriad of African art pieces. They asked questions about my family and career. I asked them how they managed to raise four great children who love God and others. They smiled as though they didn’t have a clue. Their humility inspired me.  
At one point, the kind old gentleman rose from his chair to retrieve a small tub of butter from the refrigerator. All three of us were happily chatting a mile a minute. He opened the butter lid and a large splash of creamed peas poured out onto his fresh sourdough toast. “Oh, Hon! Haven’t I ASKED you to stop using the butter tubs for leftover vegetables? Lisa, she’s been doing this for years! She refuses to buy those little clear storage containers. Instead, she likes to fill the refrigerator with leftovers stored in butter tubs. I never know if I’m getting butter or creamed spinach in the morning. It’s like one of the great mysteries of life.”
His wife patted his back and laughed out loud in a way that said, “You know I’m gonna use those butter tubs until the day I die.” He smiled sheepishly as if he fully understood and didn’t mind at all.
I didn’t sleep on the most comfortable bed in Illinois. There were no flowers or gift baskets waiting in the room. No TV. No room service. No free bars of soap to bring home to the children. But it was the best overnight experience of my career. I didn’t just rest. I learned the secret of rest. I thought about sending the couple a set of storage bowls to express my appreciation. But then I remembered that special way they looked at each other when the creamed peas came pouring out. I wrote a letter instead.  
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website

Published in The Messenger 9.22.10


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