25.4.16

Friends Stick By You When You Run Into Hot Water, or Out of It


by Sally Matheny
Friends Stick By You When You're In or Out of Hot Water
Occasionally, I underestimate the amount of help I'll need for a project, and later find myself struggling. 

When our first daughter got married, I thought it wouldn’t take long to clean a reception venue designated for 155 people, especially if friends chipped in on the effort.

My assumption was wrong on two accounts. I assumed people would stay and help with the clean up. Our friends assumed we had a clean-up team in place, and since they weren’t asked to stay, they did not. It was my fault. 

Plus, I should have realized if I find a home for five difficult to clean, then a space for 155 would be challenging! Nonetheless, God was merciful and we completed the job with a few family members.

But, when our second daughter began planning her wedding reception, I knew we had to do things a bit differently. My aches and pains had increased greatly in the three years since the last wedding. I’d need more assistance on all fronts.

Three relatives and a friend were coaxed into helping decorate for the reception while another friend and I worked on floral centerpieces and bouquets. Two more families helped with the baking. My wonderful mother took charge of pressing all the table linens. Thankful for my dear friends and family, I thought I had all the reception bases covered. Right down to the servers and a clean-up crew.

Three servers were designated for the buffet and two other people were in charge of clearing dirty dishes from the tables. Two more delegates were to run the rented china and glassware through the commercial dishwasher. Impressed with my planning, I imagined a beautiful, snag-free reception.

Eh. Even the best-laid tables can go awry.


Don’t get me wrong. It was a beautiful reception. The food tasted delicious and the fellowship delightful. However, pretty early in the evening we were in “hot water.”

Even though we tried to think through all the logistics in advance, we still encountered a few hurdles. It soon became evident the salad bar and the buffet line would go more smoothly and move quicker with more servers.

The dish-washers were needed to help serve food. And later, the original food servers and the two collectors of dirty plates were desperately needed to help the initial two dish-washers.

Apparently, after the meal began, the facility ran out of hot water.
Then, after a few loads, the commercial dishwasher broke down. My diligent plan for a smooth evening was in a heap of “hot water” for the lack thereof.

Even the best-laid tables can go awry.

However, if my friends panicked, I didn’t see it. No one made the comment, “You said I’d only have to collect dirty plates—no one said I’d have to wash them.” No one high-tailed it out the back door. In fact, they didn’t even tell me about the simmering situation in the kitchen until the evening was almost over.

After the guests gave the bride and groom a sparkler send-off, we gave our guests good-bye hugs and wished them well. Then, I went to the kitchen to see if we were in knee-deep or barely treading water. 

To my surprise, my sweet friends—all of them—the catering crew, servers, dish-washers, and plate collectors were in there smiling and chatting away. They rinsed what food they could from the plates and stacked them for washing later, when the hot water hopefully returned. I knew they had to be exhausted. I hugged each of them and told them how much I appreciated them. 

They only had one request—wedding cake! 

My friends could have left, but they stayed. They worked with what they had to make the best of a tough situation. I love my friends. Moreover, I must add my love for my family as well.

When I left the kitchen, there they were, already busy clearing and breaking down tables. And not just the ones I had asked in advance to stay and help. God opened the floodgates. Grandparents, siblings, cousins. My heart swelled with gratitude. Not just for the family and friends God has blessed me with, but especially the ones with whom He has blessed my daughter and her new husband.

One of my greatest joys was watching their friends. Most of them had a one-to-three hour drive ahead of them and it was already almost nine o’clock in the evening. When I came out of the kitchen to help clear tables, there stood a troop of college kids and recent graduates. I never expected them to stay. 

God always takes my assumptions and uses them to teach me. Sometimes He teaches me through the tough love of consequences. Other times it's lessons of mercy and grace. But one thing I'm learning is to trust Him with all things. 

“What can we do to help?” one of my daughter's friends asked.

Knowing some had a good distance to travel; I told them they needed to get on the road. They weren’t lightly responding out of politeness.

One said, “But we’re not going to do that. We’re fine. We want to help. So tell us what we can do.”

They wouldn’t budge until I began sharing ways they could help.
That’s when this mama’s heart was blessed beyond measure. Just as God had led me to choose wonderful friends, so too had He led my daughter.

It's encouraging to know your child has friends
who will stick by her even when the days
aren't so sweet.


It’s encouraging to know my daughter and her husband have the caliber of friends who will stick by them in the future. When they run into hot water…or out of it, whatever the case may be.


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