Valentine’s Victories and Vagaries

Marnell had just gotten home and I had just popped two individual heart-shaped cauliflower pizza crusts into the oven. Since we are going to be gone over Valentine’s Day, I thought a little Valentine’s themed cooking might be nice this week.

The doorbell rings. Of course.

It’s Jen. Of course.

“I have a Valentine for you,” I say before she can speak. (Remember, I used the cute printables from Laurel St Design to make valentines for the neighbors?)

“Oh, that’s cute,” she says, clearly pleased. “Katrina, I have a prescription that I need to get, can you take me? I went to the hospital last night, because I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die,” she wails. “I was so scared.”

Marnell and I have a small conference there in our front room with Jen sitting on the ottoman. The pizza crusts need to be flipped in 20 minutes, and the prescription might take 20 minutes for the pharmacist to prepare. I kind of want to do the pizzas myself, but I don’t want to make Marnell take Jen, and I will never make it back in time. Marnell agrees to flip them. Jen and I head to CVS on Jackson Street.

As we wait for red lights, I ask Jen what it would take for her to not be afraid of dying.

“I know you told me once Jesus is your friend,” I say. “Can you ask Him about the anxiety?”

She doesn’t say much. We pull to the next red light.

Back in the kitchen, Marnell is living life on the edge experiment with the pizza. Here at the Main Street light, I’m living life on the edge experimenting with Jen’s anxieties.

“Do you have any Scripture memorized?” I ask.

“Yes I do!” she says. “‘Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.’ Psalm 27:14. I’ve known that one since I was eleven!”

“That’s a good one to recite when you’re anxious,” I suggest.

At CVS, the pharmacists move slowly. I call Marnell, because I can’t help checking on the crusts, and I forgot to mention toppings.

“I think they’re done,” he says sounding just a wee bit pleased with himself.

“Well, I feel like the recipe says the toppings go on and then the crusts go back in the oven,” I say. “I was planning to use the marinara sauce in the fridge.”

Marnell finds the sauce.

“But you should TRY to put it on in the same heart-shape as the crust so it’s cute!” I say.

“How did you know what I was doing?” he asks, sounding even more pleased with himself.

Jen and I head home. I’m relieved we are done, and I’m afraid I was congratulating myself for taking the time to run her on her errand in the middle of making supper.

Then, she starts talking again.

“Well, I missed going for the meal tonight,” she said.

She and Harvey frequent the free meals in town. The Salvation Army does breakfast. Guidance Ministries serves evening meals Tuesday and Thursdays. There are several churches that serve meals.

“Did Harvey go?”

“No, he can’t walk that far. And he needs medicine and has prescriptions but his insurance card hasn’t come. He has a paper from the insurance company. I tell him to take that paper to the pharmacy,” she says. “The pharmacy can call the insurance company.”

“Yes, he should,” I agree, suddenly overwhelmed by the complexity of life.

There’s the food problem for instance. With the exception of coffee and the time she asked for bread and milk, Jen historically wants money, not food. In fact, she sometimes takes the food they receive at the food pantry and peddles it door to door to sell it.

Over Christmas, she brought frozen meat to sell. I’m not sure if they bought it or received it free.

“That would make a good meal for you and Harvey,” I said.

“Our freezer is full of meat,” she snapped.

She wanted money. We bought the meat, partly because we weren’t sure what else to do.

Back to the paper from the insurance company.

“But the paper started on fire,” she adds, as we drive down into our neighborhood.


“Harvey put it on the heater and it started on fire. We put it out.”

I dropped Jen off close to her house.

So much for feeling good about myself. Not only can I not solve everyone’s problems, I can’t even solve all the problems of one person. We take care of the prescription, and find three more problems: inability to get to hot meals, a tardy insurance card and unfilled prescriptions, and a heater that starts papers on fire. That’s without counting the problem that last I knew both Jen and Harvey have continued to smoke (what, I don’t know) despite their diagnosis of lung problems. They know they shouldn’t, and they have talked about stopping, and I get it because I feel the same way about chocolate sometimes. But it’s still a problem, and all the medicine in the world won’t reverse the damage.

I get home and the heart-shaped pizzas look perfect. I had thought they might be too fragile to flip whole.

“You didn’t even break them!” I say.

Just like me, Marnell now notices two problems he hadn’t anticipated. Perhaps he should have left the pizzas in longer to get the sauce a little hotter. And what about those pepperoni?

“I was trying to figure out if there would be a way to keep the pepperoni from curling,” Marnell said.

Isn’t serving God like that sometimes? We jump out on a limb and do something a little hard. We keep a heart from breaking and congratulate ourselves that it went well. Then we run into two or three more vagaries that we never anticipated.

Vagary–an unexpected or inexplicable change in a situation or in someone’s behavior

Google Definition

But perhaps there’s no point in either congratulating ourselves on what we’ve done, or despairing about the things we can’t figure out. After all, our work in someone’s life isn’t ours at all, but God’s. He can keep hearts from breaking all on his own. Maybe the only thing we should feel pleased about is that we can be in His service and be part of His great scheme.

I wish I would have taken a photo of the pizzas. They were really cute and also quite good. But here’s the recipe for the crust. And an internet photo proves that the internet cook didn’t know how to keep the pepperoni from curling, either!

There are no get-perfect-quick answers to complex problems. But there is a perfect God. If we are in His service, I really believe He knows how to multiply our feeble efforts.

Cauliflower Crust

  • 2 Cups riced cauliflower (you can do this yourself in a food processor, but you can get frozen riced cauliflower which is so much easier)
  • 1 Cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2/3 Cup flour
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Mix crust ingredients and stir to combine. Spoon crust mixture into two 8-inch circles or mold into a heart shape. Smooth with a spoon to form an even layer. Bake until medium brown on bottom about 20 minutes; flip over. Bake until evenly browned, 10 minutes more.

Spoon 1/2 cup pizza sauce over each crust and sprinkle each with cheese, pepperoni, or other toppings. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted. (Or broil to brown cheese, if desired, about 5 minutes.) Garnish with fresh basil if you have some!

(This is a WW recipe although its not super healthy. It’s about 6 points for half a pizza, depending on the sauce and cheese. I use turkey pepperoni.)

10 thoughts on “Valentine’s Victories and Vagaries”

  1. Katrina, you somehow managed to once again touch on subjects that have been very real to me in the past week. I’ve had to realize that even Jesus, the perfect person-helper never cajoled or pressured anyone to reform. I want to bring light to darkness not manipulate improvement. Thank you for writing this post!

  2. I just attended a conference where the featured speaker was Matt Whitlock. He encouraged us all to be lifestyle missionaries. I think you would fit the bill. He’s written a book called, “Change. Together. 7 practises of a lifestyle missionary” Check it out.
    I wish you wisdom and creative ideas as you work with those in need in your neighborhood.

  3. I like this! It really is His work not ours.. we just join in where He is already working…like the thought that He can multiply our feeble efforts 🙂!

  4. Good words dear friend!!! I cringe sometimes (no, often) at how many answers I think I have. Then, I have to realize that I really don’t have answers… God does.
    On a lighter note… I can’t wait to try your pizza!!!

  5. “But perhaps there’s no point in either congratulating ourselves on what we’ve done, or despairing about the things we can’t figure out. After all, our work in someone’s life isn’t ours at all, but God’s. He can keep hearts from breaking all on his own. Maybe the only thing we should feel pleased about is that we can be in His service and be part of His great scheme.”

    YES, to the above! I’m going to be mulling over that one… thanks for sharing!

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