It began with a prayer, but not just any prayer; the “Help Us Be Nice, Amen” prayer. Once I decided to write a blog, I struggled with the name. I knew I’d be sharing funny family stories, my love of food and how my faith in Christ has guided me along the way. But what could I name my blog that would encompass all those things in just one sentence? As my hubby and I sat around the kitchen table trying to come up with something catchy, our #2 just sat there ignoring her crazy parents. I’d glance over at her every so often and I could tell, she simply could care less about this whole blog thing, all the while secretly rolling her eye balls at us. I was so wrong! Boy was I wrong! Suddenly, out of nowhere she spoke. “Ma, this is easy. Call it Help Us Be Nice, Amen!”
I was stunned. Hubby and I fell silent. And then the tears started rolling down my face. That was it! Perfect! Gloriously perfect! Here’s the reason why.
My dear hubby and I have been together since high school. Before every evening meal I shared with his family, the same prayer was recited. I’m not sure where my dear mother-in-law found this prayer. As I got to know her, she quickly became someone who I greatly admire. She raised 4 very active children all the while working full time and being a very supportive military wife on top of it all. She is incredibly strong and did whatever she could do to ensure that her children were on the right track.
“Dear Father, Thank you for this food and the blessings of this day. Guide, guard, direct us. Help Us Be Nice, Amen!“
From what I understand, the last sentence was not part of the original prayer, but my mother-in-law added it to remind her children to be nice. No matter our circumstances, I think we all need to be reminded to just be nice for heaven’s sake! And this was her way of reminding her family to love one another. God calls each of us to love. He doesn’t ask us to love the world, just our neighbor. Imagine if each and every one of us did just that every day. Love our neighbor; that person sitting right next to you.
My hubby and I continued with the tradition of reciting this prayer before dinner each night, even before we had our own children. And now that they have all practically left the nest, before dinner we still say the prayer together; once again just the two of us. When we have extended family or friends over for dinner, we say it. Those dear folks that join us often now even have it memorized! And if Grandma is joining us, she has stepped up her game now days. We hold hands and often pass an air kiss after the “Amen”. If we get some eye ball rolling from the kids, that’s a bonus because we know we’ve made an impression.
So when #2 spoke those words, “Ma, this is easy…”, now you know why I was brought to tears. “Help Us Be Nice, Amen” encompasses our connection to food, family and faith like nothing else. It’s our evening meal prayer, it’s a prayer that is being passed on to future generations and it reminds us of who God calls us to be. And to think that my kids get it! Just with a simple prayer that was said each night as we ate dinner as a family. Somehow that prayer has made its way into their hearts and has taught them simply to be nice. Now that’s powerful! Something so simple has the power to change the world, or at least our little world. Do they live it every day? Nope, but neither do I. We all slip. But at the end of the day, when we come together for our evening meal, that prayer is there to remind us what God calls us to do. Simply to love your neighbor.
In honor of my dear mother-in-law, I share a family favorite; her glazed carrot recipe. This was one of the things my hubby asked me to make for him when we were first married. When I asked her for the recipe, she told me that it was just in her head. After a bit of tweaking, I got it pretty close to what he remembers. I make it several times a year and it has become a standard at our Easter dinner table. Enjoy and remember to ask God to Help Us Be Nice, Amen!
Kay’s Yummy Carrots
3 lbs. carrots, cut up and cooked until tender, drain
3 Tb butter
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
salt & pepper to taste
On low heat, melt butter in small saucepan. Add vinegar, water and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper. Add carrots and stir to coat carrots completely. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with dried parsley.