Here we are in the last week of Lent. It’s time to reflect on the past nearly forty days and examine how we did, not as an exercise of beating up oneself for our failures but in recognizing how far we have come. Have we grown spiritually? Have we gotten better at prayer? Have we grown closer to God? What sacrifices did we make, and how did they improve us?
Sacrifices come in many different forms. I’ve often wondered about those who forego chicken on Fridays but dine on lobster instead. I’m not judging. Perhaps they would rather be having chicken! Besides, in our house, Friday dinners during Lent consist of homemade crab cakes, but it’s not the crab cakes that I see as the sacrifice.
It’s everything that goes with them. Here’s what I mean…
Anyone who has picked Maryland Blue Crabs knows that it’s no small feat. While catching them is loads of fun, it’s also hard work. My husband spent many mornings last summer getting out of bed at 4AM, lugging his equipment and bait-laden trot lines onto his boat, and making haul after haul to harvest enough blue crabs to sell, eat, and pick for crab cakes. And you know what? Ken doesn’t really enjoy eating crabs all that much. He’s in it for the social opportunity that is gained by sitting around a long table with family and friends and picking and talking for hours.
But the sacrifice isn’t just in the time or the money spent harvesting, and it certainly isn’t in the social gathering of eating the crabs. There is sacrifice in the many hours that Ken puts into picking the crabs long after the last guest has left, after the enjoyment of the feast is over, after fingers and minds have grown tired of the tediousness of the task. For days after catching the crabs, Ken sits at the table and continues to pick, night after night, and week after week, filing containers with meat.
Each time he reaches a pound or two, I spend an afternoon making crab cakes, cooking them 2/3 of the way, then gently slipping them into plastic pouches and vacuum sealing them before putting them in the freezer.
And that’s where the real sacrifice comes in – it’s in the waiting. I can’t count how many times we have to remind ourselves and each other that the crab cakes are for special company and for Ash Wednesday and Lenten Fridays. Knowing they are in there, waiting to be eaten, is so tempting, but putting off taking them out and cooking them all the way has its rewards.
Instead of going out to a fish fry or visiting one of the many local seafood restaurants, we spend Ash Wednesday and every Lenten Friday eating crab cakes. This Friday, with two girls at home, we will come close to finishing our supply and will begin planning for next year’s catch.
We could choose to eat these delicious gems throughout the year. We could tell ourselves not to worry about saving them and force ourselves to find other non-meat meals throughout Lent, but I like to believe that holding off, saving these special meals, and savoring the bounty of our hard work has a Lenten message in itself.
Whether it’s good things come to those who wait, or forming good habits by being patient, or simply resting in the knowledge that it’s one less thing to worry about during the Lenten season, I have come to see great beauty in that stack of vacuum sealed crab cakes. It’s not just an easy Friday night dinner. Those crab cakes have come to symbolize many things – hard work, patience, perseverance, thanksgiving, time with family and friends, God’s great blessings for us to reap, love, overcoming temptation, and sacrifice. They are a symbol of all that we can do for each other and all that God, and His Son, have done and continue to do for us. They are more than food. They are reminders that when we work hand in hand with God and each other, we can create a beautiful feast to be savored and shared.
Whatever you eat on this coming Good Friday, may you see it as a sign that God provides. His hand reaches out to us and saves us in many ways. He gives us so much, including His life. What small sacrifices ours are in comparison.
Grandma’s Crab Cakes
1 pound of lump crab meat
Combine crab meat and egg, with enough mayo to moisten. Add a squirt or two of mustard. Season with Old Bay and pepper. Add about 1/2 – 3/4 of a cup of bread crumbs to hold mixture together. Make into cakes or small balls.
Place on a foil-lined cookie sheet that has been buttered well. Add more butter to the top of each crab cake. Broil until golden brown on one side. Flip and broil on the other side. If freezing, only broil until the second side begins to turn golden. Seal tightly or serve hot.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020).