I remember the old tire store and garage. Well, it once was a tire store and garage. When God called us to a small town to preach the gospel, He provided that building for us to use. We knew that although it would take many buckets of soap and water to wash the absolutely filthy walls and floors, it would become so much more. It was destined to be a soul-saving station.

The front of the building became the church. The back, which was actually a barn, became our home. Walls were constructed from curtains, and end tables were made of re-purposed fruit crates. In the middle of that church/home, literally and figuratively, was my mother, an excellent, caring first lady, loving mother, and incredible homemaker.

On Mother’s Day, I share this story.

The town didn’t have much besides a grocery store, Dairy Queen, and a 7-Eleven gas station with a convenience store. Inside 7-Eleven was a deli counter, where they sliced cold-cut meats to order. They had the very best chipped chopped ham in the world. At least, we thought so.

I recall a missionary stopping by to share his burden with our small home missions assembly. We prepared a light meal of the “best-in-the-world” chipped chopped ham and condiments to be set out for after-service fellowship.

A phone call changed everything.

The visiting missionary was coming in early! He would be there for dinner! Dinner! Mom’s mind was spinning with the questions now present in her mind. What do I fix for dinner? What do I have to fix for dinner? God always provided what we needed, but there would sometimes be little left over.

After setting aside the offering for the missionary and buying the chipped chopped ham for after-service, there was no money left to buy special food to prepare for dinner.

I don’t recall whether there was any meat on the table when we all sat down. But after Dad said, “Thank you, Jesus, for this food,” I will never forget what Mom did place on the table—a steaming bowl of creamed peas & potatoes.

After eating and cleaning up our meal, we went to the missions service.

The missionary shared his burden and slides of people being baptized in Jesus’ name, filled with the Holy Ghost. There were pictures of beautiful, smiling men, women, and children standing together in a land far across the sea. As always, our hearts melted, and tears filled our eyes. Our burden for lost souls renewed yet again, knowing that the God who could do all those wonderful things across the sea could do it right here in our town, too.

After service, we left the church area in front and headed to the back, where we sat out the chipped chopped ham, buns, pickles, cheese, and all the other condiments like a banquet feast in a royal dining room. We were thinking, This will be the best meal! It will make up for that less-than-gourmet dinner.

When we got to the back, the missionary looked at my mother and quietly asked, “Do you have any more of those creamed peas & potatoes?”

I treasure the memory of this experience and the life lesson l learned.

It isn’t the gifts you bring to Jesus and all the talents and abilities you possess that He wants. All He really wants is you! You’re creamed peas and potatoes. Everything else is just chipped chopped ham.

A song written by Audrey Muir says it so well:

Something more than gold for the Master
Something more than gifts to appease
There is only one thing that you alone can bring
There is only one gift that will please

All He wants is you; no one else will do
Not just a part, He wants all of your heart
All He wants is all of you; all He wants is you

Nothing less than this can you offer,
Nothing less than this can you bring
It is not just your songs,
But for you alone, He longs,
Nothing less can you give to your king

All He wants is me, unreservedly,
Not just a part, He wants all of my heart.
All He wants is all of me; all He wants is me


Joanna is the wife of Carter, mother of two beautiful girls, Elizabeth and Lauren, and MiMi to her grandson, Isaiah Samuel. She is the administrator of The Lost and Found Fellowship – Dept. 99+1 Facebook page.