What Oklahoma Gave me: Beans and Cornbread (humility of place)

What Oklahoma Gave Me

Yesterday I said it a little. Today I am going to say it a lot: I was pretty snobby when I arrived in Ada.  Before we ever arrived in our rental house Kel’s board members loaded up our fridge with food so that we wouldn’t have to do a grocery run upon arrival.

I assured Kel that they wouldn’t get it right and that I’d end up throwing most of it away, after all they were southerners and I didn’t like chicken fried steak or fried pickles.  (I know… I know… pretentious with a capital P!)

I’m pretty sure that I scoffed and made jokes about what I found in the fridge, turning up my nose at most of it.  I have no idea what I was trying to prove to the state of Oklahoma, but… ugh…what a snob.

So, when I heard about the classic Oklahoma dish “beans and cornbread” I turned my nose up at it.  Who would just eat beans and bread for dinner?  What Nonsense…Crazy Okies!

Then I was given 2 ham bones and a bag of pinto beans all in the same week and the die was cast.  I don’t waste food and Beans and Cornbread fit the bill.

So I simmered up a big ol’ pot of beans on my stove and dove in that evening with a little pretentious sour cream and cilantro on top.  And I loved it, A lot… like A LOT A LOT.  

As The Pioneer Woman says: There’s something so pure and elemental about a pot of dried beans, don’t you think?

Yes Ree, Yes I do.

So now, when it’s chilly or rainy or I just plain feel like it… I grab my large, red dutch oven and start a pot of beans to boil on the stove.  And then I promptly feel like an unlikely Okie and a pioneer of sorts.

Because there isn’t a thing that’s pretentious about a pot of beans for dinner.  It’s simple cowboy food, something I make when the budget is tight but we need protein on the cheap.

And with every bite of beans and crumbled morsel of cornbread I swallow a bit of humble pie.

Because it turns out that Beans and Cornbread is great and that every state has delicious flavor to bring to the table.  And I’m not just talking about food here.

There is no superior state in the union, or place on earth that’s necessarily better than any other.  Oklahoma is the perfect fit for the souls who were cut out for it.  It’s a land and a life beloved my many people I love myself.

 beans and cornbread

And so it was that Beans and Cornbread gave me not only delicious food, but a hearty lesson in humility.  Also it helped me give up my Oklahoma bashing once and for all, and that caused me to surrender the practice of bashing altogether.

Every place is someone’s beloved home, whether they live there or not.  Even if Oklahoma’s not for me it’s certainly for some people, most of them my current friends and neighbors.

This lesson doesn’t just apply to humility of place but to a slew of other things as well.

There is almost always more then one way to do things whether it’s parenting, church, diet, house color, mailbox style, fashion sense… the list is endless.

The only instance I can think of where this doesn’t apply is in “what order should one dust and vacuum?”  And in this case it’s dust first vacuum second I don’t care what you say.

But really, truly we should stop our bashing on other people’s way of life.  It’s pretty pointless, even if we happen to be right we aren’t doing anything but gossip or complain.  

We help no one and accomplish nothing.

So now I’m a more humble person, I make cornbread and I praise the grand state of Oklahoma for all it’s given me and in honor of all those who love it and call it home.

Thank you oklahoma for Beans, Cornbread and all that humble pie.  (Here’s my favorite recipe for beans and cornbread... which I make with a ham bone or bacon)

What unlikely source gave you a hearty dose of humility?

What dish did you once hate and now can’t help but love?

What Oklahoma Gave Me: Church

What Oklahoma Gave Me

Our time in Oklahoma is drawing rapidly to a close.  It’s been five years since our moving truck arrived here in Ada, OK after exiting at the Wayne Payne exit and driving through an hour of nothingness. Some days it feels like it’s flown by and then others I can’t believe we’ve ever lived anywhere else.

As I drive around town and move my feet through our awful WalMart, Our favorite park and our beloved church I’m starting to feel like a ghost. I can feel myself fading away from these spaces and it’s ever so bittersweet.

I see our footprints all over town, cataloged in moments and photographs. This place has shaped me into the woman I am today, our other homes did as well, but it feels like Ada bore the brunt of it.

My heart swells with love for this town, these roads, these walls and these people have woven themselves into my story.  I am thankful, deeply, powerfully thankful to Oklahoma for all that it’s given me.

So I’m going to spend a week thanking Oklahoma for the gifts, joys and memories, pouring over my keyboard with teary words. This will be a heart-taxing week and I’m not sure I’m ready.

First Off: I want to say thank you to Oklahoma for our church, H2O Church.  This is the place that has sustained me in a somewhat foreign land.  Yesterday I walked out the doors for the last time (for now) and my heart could hardly bear it.

This place has given me a sense of what Church Truly Is that I deeply needed, it was part nourishing and part kick in the pants.  I went from being a church critic and consumer to being spiritual contributor, a lover of the bride of Christ.

One of our church’s core values is: The church does not exist for us. We are the church and we exist for the world. This focus will forever change the way our family does ministry and I love it endlessly.

We stepped foot into our church, on main street in the heart of town the day after our moving truck settled into our rental home with the 1970s kitchen. I was newly pregnant and completely overwhelmed, I had no idea which end was up in my own life, given the fact that nearly everything had recently changed.

We choose it because it was the only contemporary church that supported my husband’s ministry.  There were a lot of colored lights, a smoke machine and at the end of each service they did an “ask” where people were invited to ask Christ into their hearts.

Not only that, the sermons weren’t live, we watched a feed from a larger sister church in Oklahoma City, that was weird and trendy…. I wasn’t sure I was okay with it.

It was a challenge for me, I’d never been this evangelical before.  I was sort of a snob when I arrived in Ada, and when it came to church I had big, huge, snarky opinions which I  always flung upon Kel the second our car doors clicked shut.

But, at some point in the last five years I laid most of my snarky ways down in the flow of the love of God at the hands of his people. When you feel the spirit moving and the authentic, powerful love of God all around you… style just doesn’t matter that much anymore and snark smells awful in your own nostrils.  

You just let God work and do your part to be a member church as much as best you can.

You try to get your snarky, crazy, humanity to make way for the refreshing work of the Spirit. You worry less about what you’re getting and focus more on what you have to offer, how you can give more.

This church provided my bread and wine in every possible way.

When we arrived I wondered if anyone would come to the hospital when I had Noelle, but our church was there, they sent flowers and brought meals to our door.

When my mom died our church was at our door at 1 am with a basket of travel essentials for our arduous drive to Michigan.

They Christmas Caroled our house that year when my heart was too broken to feel the joy of that season.

They were there again when Caedmon was born, laughing with me as we prayed that my bladder would start working and I wouldn’t need another catheter… “Dear Lord, we pray to pee.”  Oh the camaraderie of women and childbirth… it’s a club I love to participate in.

This church has given me so much and taken a piece of my heart that belongs properly in those walls with these people. 

So… Dear Oklahoma, Dear Lord, thank you for this Church on main street, this place where your spirit dwells in the hearts of your people. Thank you for all you have given me here and all you’e taught me to give away.  Dear H2O family, I am eternally and forever grateful for you, you’ve changed our family and we don’t walk away easily.  Amen and whimper.