What I Learned From Feeding 1000 People

posted on: Friday, September 27, 2013

Our church put on a luau two Saturdays ago. People showed up. People had a good time. No one got hurt. Success. No one really knows how many people showed up, mostly because it was impossible to count the kids since they were running around everywhere. I was in charge of planning the food. They told me to plan for one thousand. So I did. Some people say that we had between 800-1000 while others are saying more like 1000-1200. I don't know. At some point it stops mattering. As long as you have enough food it's all good.

Here's the thing, it was really hard. If I had to do it again I probably would not. It was a lot of work and I frankly did not grasp the scope of organizing something so big. Not only do you need people to cook it all you need people to serve food, to get food on the tables, to fill up water pitchers. You need to come up with a budget, call around for the cheapest price, order food, be there when the food is delivered and a bunch of other things. And I was in charge. It's too much for one person to try and do solo. Don't do it. I wish I had organized myself earlier to get a committee together, but I didn't even know where to start until it was crunch time and then I cried out for help.

People came through in a big way. My friend Ruth frosted 30 big cakes on the day of the event. It was her birthday. She couldn't even have a single slice because she's celiac. But Ruth is a problem solver so she got it done. I had a handful of people who helped me get organized that were problem solvers. Some people tried to help that were not problem solvers and I "fired" them quickly. You can't have people complaining, whining, and being critical, not when you are on a time crunch (plus, I did enough complaining for everyone) and you still need to make 150lbs of macaroni salad. No thank you. I love you but no thank you.

Some people are really good at problem solving. I appreciate people like that.

I'm not a great problem solver. I've had to learn a thing or two because our life depends on problem solving with me working full time, Christian in school, and those three kids we need to raise. I have to say though that my strength is not in actually solving the problem but surrounding myself with problem solvers and knowing what to ask for.

Service is a tricky thing. You want to serve and be generous but you also need to guard your time. My good friend, a full time professor, mom of 3, and also Mormon, told me that her service is to her family. Since she works she guards her free time so that she can spend time with her family. This luau took me away from my family, a lot. Even on Sundays, the one day where we just relax together, I was on the phone for hours trying to coordinate things. Have you ever resented service? It's such an unsavory feeling right?

If I were to commit to doing something like this again I would ask for more help from the beginning. And maybe, if I were in the situation that I am now with our hectic life I would say "no." I know it sounds terrible, I know it does, but it's the truth. People ask me all the time "how do you do it all?" I know you read my blog and you see pictures of my kids on Instagram. What you see is a split second. You see a moment that was captured. You don't see that after I put the picture of the delicious dinner I served my family Eliza pooped in the tub and instead of eating dessert as I had planned I cleaned a poopy tub. No, I don't do it all just like you don't do it all. When I approach social media and read blogs I enter it with a filter. I know that people's lives aren't perfect. If they're sharing a perfect moment that's great. I love it. I love reading about your awesome husband who brings you breakfast in bed. I love seeing your kids all cute and tidy ready for school. I love seeing your fabulously designed house. But even awesome husbands can be irritating, and tidy kids rip their jeans, and fabulous decor gets dirty or broken. I know that and I hope you know that too. It's called life. It doesn't mean that life isn't good, it just means that life is normal. And because I have a very busy normal life sometimes I have to say no.

I am a happy person. I am in love with my husband and we have a great relationship, My children are healthy. We always have what we need. It's a good life and it's also hard because doing simple things, like going to the post office with three kids is akin to swimming in a pool of acid.

And although I probably wouldn't do the luau again it was really neat to see people coming together to help out. I am so thankful for the helpers, for the woman who came and put foil over everything because the flies were starting to appear. I love that woman! I don't know what her name is but I love her.

Thank you to everyone who came and helped. Obviously I could not have done it without you!


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