Three Green Peas and Two Pennies


I am easily overwhelmed by many things such as a menu of many choices, a department store of many cl othes, a gift shop, a flea market, household lists of things to do, the many chapters in the Bible, praying for many people and situations, the needs of so many people and the list goes on and on.

At the age of three my son did not like to eat anything that was green. I would put one green pea on his plate for him to eat. Later I put two green peas and then three green peas. He seemed to think that was enough, and I knew that it was good to eat three green peas.

When my dad and mom were first married in 1933, they lived with my paternal grandparents on the family farm. My dad milked the cows and saved the cream, which he took to the country store on Saturday to sell and buy staples such as flour, sugar and salt. One Saturday when he returned home he had two pennies left. When he asked my mom what they were going to do with two pennies, she said, “Give them to the church; they can always use them.”  She knew that giving God two pennies with a heart of  love and compassion would help in His kingdom.

These two stories have become very important to me as guidelines for tackling big, overwhelming needs that I see daily in God’s beautiful world.

My journey with reducing, reusing and recycling began very small with recycling aluminum cans about 10 years ago. Slowly I began to recycle other things such as cardboard and glass. In 2006 I read Dr. Matthew Sleeth’s book, Serve God and Save the Planet. It was an encouragement to do more. I began drying at least one washer load of clothes per week on a drying rack inside or outside, if weather permitted. When I first started using the reusable shopping bags, I would not always remember to take them into the store. Now after five years, it has become a great habit and I seldom forget. At this point in 2010 I have graduated to recycling all that I can, using compact fluorescent light bulbs, and turning down the thermostat two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer. I continue to add new things to my list.

As we have heard many times, it doesn’t take a few people doing a lot; it takes a lot of people doing a little to make a difference. As my faith journey grows and deepens, I am learning that I do not have to do it all – just do what God calls. Small amounts add up to large amounts when we all join in together to work in God’s Kingdom.

The philosophy of three green peas and two pennies has become a constant in my life with everything that I do. If a job seems to big, just break it down and do a little at a time and know that a little becomes a lot when doing God’s work and that everything is God’s work.

By Zadie K. Ryan

Zadie K. Ryan is a homemaker, mother to three sons and grandmother of four girls. She enjoys volunteering, helping others, reading and knitting with all natural fiber yarn. Zadie and her husband, Pat, reside in Lexington, Ky., where they are active members in the Centenary United Methodist Church.