The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~Frederick Buechner

Your Fingers Are Not a Serving Utensil

Watering Camels. Washing Feet. Being delegated to clean the elephant quarters on the ark. The Bible is full of dirty jobs, many of them taking as much faith as elbow grease to complete. And that’s not even including building a temple without a nearby Home Depot.

Living in a faith-based intentional community has its share of dirty jobs, too.

In this new In Some Measure series, will be highlighting some of those jobs at JPUSA. The ones we love, the ones we hate, the ones that keep Colossians 3:23 top of mind:

Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men.

No better person to start this series with than the anchor who is up at the crack of dawn doing her job so we can all of us do ours.

The queen of our kitchen, the thumpity-thump in the heart of our home, Jane Hertenstein.

As we see her scrambling around the kitchen in colorful scrubs every weekday morning, few will doubt anyone works harder than her. Except of course, the chicken who laid the three hundred eggs she’s scrambling. (I know, a chicken isn’t a person, but work with me.)

Jane started working in the kitchen in 2005, being inspired to do so on a vacation in Italy. One morning, the seductive smell of espresso lured her out of bed, to a small cafe where she ordered a tiny cup, only to discover there was nothing to eat with it.

“I was so hungry for breakfast when I returned, I started making it and never stopped!”

No kidding. Depending on the day, Jane will scramble three hundred eggs, sizzle up ten pounds of bacon, one hundred and forty sausage links, plus a bathtub full of creamy oatmeal and lump-free grits topped with a puddle of butter. And once school kicks in, she’ll flip six hundred pancakes every Tuesday.

I figure that’s a stack twelve feet high.


All that takes a lot of muscle, making me wonder if Jane has some serous girth under her checkered pants. Yes, she does. She’s able to roll heavy carts twice her small size and refill the mighty milk udder, something I can’t even do. That’s why her vacations spent cycling cross country are a breeze.

Jane doesn’t do her job alone, but that doesn’t make it easy. The other half of her job is teaching kitchen workers food policies and laws so our kitchen stays “up to code.” Things like bare feet in the kitchen can be as costly as a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s. But Jane was as cool as cucumber last month when the city food inspector made a surprise visit. I was in the kitchen the day he arrived and was sweating bullets just watching. I confided in Jane afterward, “If that was me handling the inspection, I would’ve faked a seizure just to get out of it!”

Jane laughed and replied, “I had survived so much stress by the time the inspector arrived, I was already numb.”

You got to admit, Jane is a busy bee, just like Martha, Jesus’ friend. When asked if anyone in the Bible was equipped to do her job, Jane replied Deborah. “She’s prepared for a battle!”Jane replied.

As I listened to her share the secret to her lump-free grits, I imagined Jane getting zapped back into the Bible times, adding twists to our favorite stories, like Jesus feeding the five thousand. I can hear her say, “Hey, you with the beard . . . Where’s your hair net? and “If these fish have been out in the sun for more than four hours, they gotta be pitched!”

I can also imagine Jane giving Moses a lecture about manna and the five second rule. “If it’s been on the ground for more than five seconds, you can’t eat it!”

As long as Jane is around, she’ll keep the kitchen running as smooth as butter. So don’t forget to thank her for all that she does, from her cranberry granola to her homemade jam. And thanking her can be as easy as remembering one thing: your fingers are not a serving utensil.

Ginger MacDonald
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