Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Warning: Doesn't Share Well with Others

There are two things I hate sharing; desserts and garage sale profits. For obvious reasons, my dessert sharing takes number one rating because I choose my desserts carefully. Fancy cupcakes partnered with ice cream is one in particular which I highly pursue. Since I am attracted to elaborate forms of dessert pairings, people vie for what I have, always. If others would choose better, they wouldn’t need to infringe on my personal property. The struggle is real.
Garage sale profits take a close second. These entrepreneurial dreams deliver dirty dollar bills and coins which I work hard to hoard collect. Weeks prior I scour our home snapping up outgrown clothing items, kitchen wares sitting unused, and toys tossed by uninterested children. Each pile grows as I diligently fold, clean, and organize the items in anticipation of quick sales. While my husband refuses to take part, I willingly accept his hands-off attitude with a curt reminder that all earnings will remain entirely mine to spend as I choose.
He was unfazed by my selfishness.
The morning of the garage sale, outfitted with an apron equipped with large pockets, I descended on the anxious buyers. The coin jingle increased and my pockets grew pregnant as the morning sun rose and the ebb and flow of customers continued. Every glass vase vended, pair of shoes sold, and air popper peddled was tethered to anticipatory greedy gains.
As negotiations are finalized and stock is depleted, I tuck the money inside a zipped pouch in my purse where no one can see it, smell it, or touch it, because it is mine. Forever. I set the money securely in my purse without a thought to counting the amount, a rare occurrence. Forgetting the weight of the coins, I went to church the next day still excited about the payoff I had in my possession. The intoxicating smell of wrinkled bills permeated from my purse.
While the pastor spoke of blessings and provision, I gave my handbag a reassuring pat, thanking God for my bulging Ziploc baggie of coins and dollars. Within moments a thought came over me, “Give the pastor your money.” The suggestion to give it all away continued throughout the service. “Give him your money, give him your money.” Dismissing the nagging whispers in my conscience, I unleashed a stronger grip on my purse and greeted the pastor on exit, passing quickly with my coins, and guilt, in tow.
Halfway through the parking lot, guilt making the purse grow ever heavier, I turned with a sigh and walked back toward the church. Catching the pastor’s attention, I motioned him to come my way. As he approached, I reached inside my purse, grabbed the baggie of money, handed it to him, “I don’t know how much is there, but I need you to give it to someone.”
His response was quick, “I know just the person.”
Joy did not immediately flood my soul. I had just ended a relationship with my profits that was necessary, but tough. I missed my money and the short time we spent together. My dreams of indulgent purchases were dashed instantly, so I stopped for a donut to soothe the ache of my loss. Doing what is right isn’t always easy.
The next day the pastor emailed me with the following message:
“I felt compelled to give the money (whatever the amount was) to a single mom who has four children. I walked up to her and said ‘Someone gave this to me, and I am supposed to give it to you.’ She looked down and burst into tears. During the service she felt an impulse to pull out all her cash and put it in the collection basket. It was less than $10, but that was significant to her. She was so grateful for the money.”
After reading the email I no longer missed my money. I began to realize the pleasure of sharing, something I teach our children but obviously had difficulty living out in my own life.
I wish that I could say that I have had nine more garage sales and shared all the money with the pastor. I wish that I could say that I sold some clothes to a consignment shop and shared the money with a stranger, but I cannot. I am trying to do the right thing, but I often fail.
And when it comes to dessert, unless I take a liking to cherry cordials or spice gum drops, which I currently despise, I probably won’t be sharing my dessert…but I’m working on that, too

Sunday, March 5, 2017

An Elephant Eventually Forgets

At some point we were only allowed to call our only daughter Mrs. Jumbo. This followed her obsession with the movie Dumbo and her compulsion to nurture a fictional elephant painted on a television screen. For Halloween she dressed as a newsboy, donning tweed boy pants, red suspenders, and a Scottish touring hat because “Elephants don’t dress up as elephants, silly,” she remarked.
While most girls in the 1st grade had their bedroom strewn with princesses, all things glitter and fluffy, and closets bulging with tutus, and dresses that twirl, our girl was swooning over animals, not cute animals, ugly ones. Her room was lined with posters and photos of varying sizes of bat species and her shelves were heaped with non-fiction books about Vampire bats, Fruit bats, and all types in between. Her jeans pocket was home to a stuffed bat with long brown wings and tiny ears and, if they were available, her comforter, sheets and pillowcase would have been printed with frightening flying creatures. There’s a reason why bat sheets aren’t available, anywhere.

While we secretly hoped that her bat fixation would pass, quickly, we always welcomed a new bat book, key chain, or plush into our home without hesitation. While talking about bats we withheld wincing and spoke positively about their behaviors keeping all bat opinions impartial. We celebrated national bat week, viewed bat videos on YouTube together, and visited museums which housed bats and their habitat. When her birthday arrived, we enthusiastically threw her a bat themed party complete with bat shaped cookies. We embraced bats. Figuratively speaking.
Our only girl hated Barbie and loved bats. Flying, blood sucking, creepy, fly-in-your-hair-and-get-stuck, bats. She has never owned a doll or Hello Kitty pillow, and was more interested in drawing dolphins on doodle pads than painting toes and fingernails.

After the bat stage passed our only girl went through a phase of pulling her hair into a ponytail and wearing boys’ basketball shorts and t-shirts every day. She never played basketball or any sport requiring the taming of unruly hair or baggy and breathable shorts. This wardrobe lasted 3 years.

Our. Only. Girl.

And while I thought that she would never wear a dress, they are now her favorite, and when a birthday warrants celebration, she opts for a manicure and shopping for shoes. Her Instagram account is strewn with elements in nature, mugs brimming with cappuccino, and adventures with friends, and she prefers yoga pants over shorts.

Every child in unique, with different interests and skills. Celebrate the individuality of your kids. Find the common thread no matter how different they are from you. Engage in conversations surrounding things about which they love to talk and activities they are interested in doing. Thankfully, stages pass, interests shift, and maturity happens. Sameness is dull and ordinary is boring. Cultivate your child’s distinctive personality. But be warned, you may have to learn how to discern between a Little Brown and Bumblebee Bat. My condolences.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Loving Laundry

More than once I have made the mistake of picking a boy’s sock up from the floor of the laundry room and smelling it in order to discern its cleanliness. Baseball socks score highest on the foul smell test, if you were wondering. While I should have learned my lesson the first time, I did not. 
   Thanking God for loads of laundry spilling over the plastic baskets doesn't happen at the same frequency as thanking Him for Cinnabon. However, after a poignant story told by my girlfriend, my “Thanks for laundry” meter is on the rise.
 When my friend Catalina was a young mom, dumping baskets of clean laundry on the kitchen table for folding was an every other day occurrence. Her boys were smaller then and the frequency of outfit changes was multiplied. When she inadvertently complained to her barren, childless, girlfriend, the lack of sympathy was significant. “Be thankful that you have laundry Catalina. I would love to be home doing laundry.”
    Hearing this story led me to take a different perspective on my complaints. I haven’t mastered thanking God for piles of dog poop in the back yard, but I thank Him for a back yard. And although I need more practice thanking Him for bulging trash cans that only I notice, I thank him for providing the funds to purchase the food whose wrappers have been trashed. Finding ways to change my complaints into thanks is mood boosting and showing God my appreciation for what I have instead of what I have to do makes Him happy.
    Our daughter came home from college and my laundry piles have exploded. I’m certain that the washing machine in her dorm building doesn’t even recognize her. In addition to bedding and clothes she had a few pair of dirty socks to clean. And if you care to know, girl socks are equally as repulsive to boy socks. I know. I’ve smelled them.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Seeing Clearly

I ruined my vision in the 7th grade. Because my head was lazy, I began resting it on the back of my hand, fingers sprawled in a tripod position in order to complete schoolwork from a 4-inch distance from my paper. At first notice my teachers questioned my vision and my desire to be so close to the paper, but I assured them that it was just comfortable for me and that my vision was perfect.

Fast forward a few years and because my eyes have gotten used to seeing clearly at five inches in distance, I cannot see far away very clearly. Although my far vision is lacking in all areas, my close up vision remains nearly perfect. I can read 1-point font with accuracy and will probably never need reading glasses.

By the time I reached college, I needed glasses in order to correct my far vision and after wearing them for several months, I opted for contact lenses. When contact lenses are clean and doing their job correctly, they are wonderful, providing the clear vision that I need for seeing anything farther than 5 feet away. When they aren’t performing correctly contact lenses can be irritating. At times they immolate dry, crispy, corn flakes, and at other times the slightest fleck, can feel as if a hunk of bark were lodged in my eyeball. If I try and move them with my finger when they veer off course, the smudge left behind from whatever was on my fingertip often results in my vision shifting from 20/20 to cloudy.

When I can clearly see what is ahead of me, I have confidence. When I cannot see what is in front of me, I am filled with fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration.

Sometimes my experience with God is like my experience with my degree of eyesight clarity. I cannot always see clearly what God is doing in my life. But when I put on the “contact lens” of faith, I can see more clearly what God is doing. There have been times when I have questioned God’s direction, but, in the end, I have been able to witness His divine path with clarity. I just have to keep my “contact” on and clear. Knowing that God always knows what is ahead and that He is the tour guide of my life, gives me confidence.

Although my eyesight fails me my Father never fails to lead me. And although I cannot see far enough ahead to what is coming, He always sees what’s ahead and takes me along the perfect path. His vision is perfect, and better than 20/20.