Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Friendly Welcome in Annapolis

Have you ever been to Chick and Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis, Maryland? Today my husband and I took a little day trip to Annapolis and stopped in at Chick and Ruth’s for lunch. (and, yes, D-e-l-l-y is the correct spelling!).

We found Chick and Ruth’s Delly in the late 80’s while on a little vacation with our kids. Chick himself was living at the time and running the delly with his usual friendly banter and gusto. As we enjoyed a delicious breakfast with our children, Chick made the rounds of the tables like a doting grandfather, engaging customers in conversation and ensuring that everyone cleaned their plates. We received such a warm, gracious welcome we eagerly stopped by on subsequent trips to Annapolis and always found the visit like returning home to family overjoyed by the sight of you.

Today was no different. Though Chick and Ruth are gone, their memories and traditions live on with their son Ted and his wife Beth. The Delly was bustling as usual with busy managers, friendly wait staff and busy cooks—and of course, with happy, satisfied customers. Managers, whose eyes constantly roved the restaurant anticipating needs, directed us to a seat beside a fresh-faced, college-aged couple with whom we shared bits of conversation and a bottle of ketchup. Our multi-tasking waitress offered us a wide smile, good recommendations, and attentive service, despite the lunch rush.

Chick and Ruth’s Delly is a unique delicatessen that has lasted through the years not only because it serves tasty, feel-good food, but, due to the Levitt’s offer of lasting, genuine friendship to the people who enter their doors. Their interest, love, and concern shows in the amiable attitude of their staff, the vigilance and accommodation of their managers, the homey layout of the deli, and in the wholesome variety of their menu.

Our experience got me to thinking. Am I this welcoming in our church on Sunday mornings? Do I show authentic interest in the person who sits next to me for worship? Do I let my glance slide over visitors as though I didn’t quite see them as I look for my friends?

God’s Word speaks directly to us about welcoming others:

  •  “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)
  •  “I was a stranger and you received me in your homes . . . whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!” (Matthew 25:35)
  •  “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2).

Maybe we can learn from the kind of hospitality that Chick and Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis exemplifies:

  • A quality product: We offer a relationship with our God, who can meet every need!
  • Capable managers: Letting Jesus take charge puts our ministry into hands scarred with the greatest labor of love.
  • Amiable workers: When what we do is out of gratitude to God and genuine interest and concern for others, our face, our demeanor and our words can show it.
  • Comfortable atmosphere: Does our church offer worship services with both traditional and contemporary music styles? Is there a choice of settings (sanctuary, fellowship hall, chapel) for people to choose from? Are there safe places for a visitor's little ones?
  • Warm welcome: It's easy to be friendly. Reach out a hand, ask a question or two, offer to sit with newcomers, direct visitors to restrooms, Sunday school classes, etc.
  • Extended Hospitality: Look for these visitors next week, call them during the week, or invite them to lunch following church.
Tackling even one aspect of welcoming visitors will mean so much to the stranger who feels like a deer caught in the headlights. Let’s take God at His Word! 


©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot Days/Cool Fun

Along with two thirds of the USA, central PA is experiencing dangerously hot days. Yesterday, as I sat on my back porch with my eyes closed trying to catch even a whisper of a breeze, I could hear my neighbor kids and their friends splashing around with a hose, a baby pool, and a blow-up slide.  They laughed, role played, and screamed in delight.

The kids reminded me of Paul who said "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . ." [including "blistering hot"?]

As a tribute to Evan and Christian's resilience and contentment, and as a reminder of my own childhood, I am posting a portion of a story I wrote for REMINISCE magazine. 

For my siblings and I, summer vacation afforded a wonderful opportunity to exercise our ingenuity. Before computers and video games, soaring summer temperatures and a garden hose sparked creativity in our young minds.

With no community swimming pool and private pools a rarity, our parents occasionally drove us the four miles to the Methodist campground where we each paid fifty cents to swim for a few hours. Those with the means joined the local golf club which included a swimming pool, but most of us made do at home.

On sweltering days, Mom would let us drag out the hose and squirt each other. We tied it high up on our old pear tree and pretended we had a shower, something many people didn’t have in their homes at that time. I remember shampooing my hair, then rinsing in water cold enough to numb my head.

Turning the nozzle to a fine mist, we created beautiful rainbows. With the water just dribbling out, we wrote our names and drew pictures on the sidewalks, then watched our artwork evaporate right before our eyes.

Soda pop was purchased only at Christmas time, but we never lacked a good cold drink while we played.  Shoving the end of the hose nozzle into our mouths, we sucked on the fine mist. Or, turning the water to a thin stream, we pretended the hose was a fountain like we used at school.

We played many games with just that few yards of tubing. While one child gradually lowered a stream of water the rest did the Limbo, competing to bend backwards the farthest and inch under it. The one holding the hose could never resist dousing the others with the icy water. It’s a wonder the neighbors didn’t complain about our screaming. Stuffing the nozzle into someone’s bathing suit when they didn’t expect it always elicited plenty of whoops and hollers, too.

Wheeling our bikes out onto the grass, we made believe we operated a car wash. With buckets, sponges, old rags, and plenty of dish detergent, we soon had our bicycles sparkling clean. Borrowing our dad’s car wax, we rubbed and polished till the paint and chrome shone like new.

For a little variety we removed the nozzle and screwed on a sprinkler attachment. As the top spun around, the water arced across the lawn. We jumped over it like the hurdlers on a track team. One summer we had a watering hose, a flat length of flexible tubing with little holes all through it to water your grass. The tiny jets squirting along its length tickled our feet and we giggled as we ran through them.

The humid weather and the inviting garden hose even motivated us to scrub the front and back porches of the house. Donning our bathing suits, we gathered up enough brooms and scrub brushes so each of us had something to clean with. We turned work into pleasure and spruced up those porches in record time.

Hot days flew by for us. We stretched our imaginations and cooled off at the same time. Combining a garden hose, a hot day, and four little kids, we whipped up a recipe for fun that didn’t even require electricity.

Stay cool!

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Plans Interrupted

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

“Let’s take a hike and picnic lunch;
Have Bible study with the bunch.”
Our nice relaxed and thought out plan
Went well—until the rain began.

We trekked through sprinkles here and there;
Then water let loose everywhere.
A big pavilion near the bus;
Gave shelter to the twelve of us.

Although we tried to concentrate
The Bible study wasn’t great.
Our eyes were drawn to giant drops
That pummeled nearby table tops.

Perhaps the lesson didn’t lie
In questions we had planned to ply.
Did God decide to send the rain
In order to make something plain?

Although we made our plans that day
It’s God who had the final say.
I’m glad that He is in control.
I see in part; He sees the whole.

“We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”
1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Watching Michael in Church

“As a father tenderly
loves his children,
so the Lord is 
tender and compassionate
to those who fear Him”
Psalm 103:13

Two small hands stroke Daddy's scratchy cheeks,
And a quiet giggle bubbles up.
An inquisitive tongue flicks out to touch Daddy’s nose.
Michael's shoulders shake with stifled laughter.
Milky soft breaths warm Daddy’s neck;
A tender kiss brushes his ear.
"Love you, Daddy", loudly whispers Michael.
Tiny fingers rub up and down the back of Daddy’s head,
Relishing the “vrrit, vrrit, vrrit” of freshly-clipped bristles.
Staring straight into Daddy's eyes,
Michael leans forward,
Till nose meets nose,
Chin meets chin,
Lips meet lips.
"I love you, too, Son,"
Daddy murmurs softly,
Nuzzling Michael's ear.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
1 John 3:1

©2011 Pamela D. Williams