So Much for Sacrifice

candy

 

There’s no way all those Reese’s Easter Eggs are gone! I have been all through the store and can’t find any. If I could, I’d get a freezer full and have them all year ’round. They have the perfect ratio of peanut butter to chocolate. Well…I’m just being a big baby. I’ll get something else, then maybe next year I can stock up.

Or…wait…the kids know how much I love those things. Maybe someone will get me some for Easter!

Or even just a big Reese’s Cup. Yum. Awesome. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Easter morning.

Yay! My daughter got me a huge Reese’s Cup! Wait. What’s that, Xavier? You wonder if she brought you anything?

Oh, daughter, don’t be embarrassed that you forgot him. We’ll think of something.

We look at each other. We look at the Reese’s Cup. We telegraph the message… She grabs the candy and tosses it to Xavier. He’s only eight, after all, sitting there all wide-eyed with anticipation. Who could resist that? So, here you go, X. “Sorry,” my daughter tells him, “I meant to give this to you and accidentally got it in Mom’s Easter basket!”

I sit there and feel so noble, having made such a sacrifice. I wonder if God sees it and feels proud of me. Then I blush and giggle at myself. It is a SMALL sacrifice, but it really is one of my ways of loving this child, and it feels pretty good.

Xavier rips the candy open and eats half. Then he brings the wrapper up around what’s left and slips the candy into his Easter basket to save it for later. And there it sits till it goes stale and has to be tossed out.

This is going to make me smile for a very long time.

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Reason to Write

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You may write because you love it. Maybe it’s the way you earn your living. You might not be able to help yourself. That’s where I am.

I read things penned by witty writers whose imagery is so vivid and thoughts so profound, expressions so witty, it just makes me sick to my stomach. For one brief, panic-filled moment, I think I’ll never write again. Why should I? First of all, I can never compare to so-and-so. Secondly, who reads my stuff, anyhow? One, two, three people here and there.

I wonder, in those moments, if I’m a “real” writer. I wonder how to tell what that is. What if you write a hundred stories and they are unimaginably brilliant, yet no one ever reads them? What if millions of people read, and no ones says a word about it?

As a writer you want to move, shape, teach, help, build…you want to whisk your readers away to a world that you created. You long for that audible sigh when they close the book and have to leave your characters behind. Your desire is that they will want to follow the trail of tales you’re forging.

This writing thing is fun, but it’s also hard work. Being appreciated for your effort is important. But more than just noticing that you put forth effort, you want what you generated on those blank pages to take the world by storm. You want your book to woo those readers and draw them in to a sort of love affair.

You want it all to add up to something glorious. You want your reward for spending your imagination, your sweat, your tears…for overcoming the “block” that kept you sitting there in horror for days wondering if you would ever come up with an idea again. All the rewrites, all the clever things you clipped out, even though it hurt, because they just weren’t right in that particular place.

I have actually gotten out of the shower to jot down an idea, knowing that, if I waited, it would go down the drain before I could finish shampooing my hair. I’ve pulled my car to the curb and fumbled for the notebook I keep by my seat just in case some fancy notion zooms though my brain and I need to capture it on paper. There is a notebook in my night stand for that very purpose. (Why are these ideas so whimsical in their timing?)

I have resented being interrupted by even the most treasured of family and friends, fearing my roll might not be able to get back on track. And the guilt! ah.

Many times I have suffered ridicule, rejection, and criticism for spending time doing what seemed useless to others, literary agents who decided we weren’t a good fit, publishers who said my story just wasn’t right for them, people who just plain hated what I wrote…  And, no, I don’t have a thick skin; I take it all pretty hard. It sends me reeling. What I do have is resilience.

So why do I write when others are so much better at this craft than I ever will be? Why keep going when I may never find a publisher who loves me or an audience who gets me? Because I can. Because I enjoy it. Because God made me this way.

Because, in spite of the fact that someone else can do it better, I am the only one who does it like I do it. And that’s reason enough.

 

You Wanna Help? Just Hush

 

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Just because you do things a certain way and that way is right for you, doesn’t mean it’s right for someone else.

When someone tells you they had or are having a hard time, lecturing them is fruitless. Shaming them shows your own ignorance and lack of mercy.

When you give advice or admonishment, it should always be spoken in love. I don’t mean, “Hey, I said that ’cause I love you.” I mean using LOVING words. Uplifting, encouraging, building.

Even when someone makes a terrible mistake, they don’t deserve be robbed of their dignity or your respect.

Sometimes it’s better just to say, “Sorry you’re hurting.” or “Sorry that happened to you.” or “Is there anything I can do to help?” without the allusion to the word, “…dumba**” at the end.

Sometimes people act like they’re trying to help, but all they’re really trying to do is make you feel stupid or low.

You don’t ALWAYS have to say what you think. If you don’t know what to say or how to help, silence is a great option. You can ask God how to proceed. You can give a hug instead.

If your kind of helping is only hurting, its time to go back to the drawing board.

Remember to treat others the way you want to be treated.

 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” —Mark 12:28-31

Confrontation

buddies

 

More than 200 miles from home, I found it comforting to make a new friend whose circumstances were so similar to my own. We were both single moms with two kids each. We had just moved into a new apartment complex; she was two doors down from me. We often drove to church together with our four children in tow, singing at the top of our lungs all the way.

I watched her kids so she could clean. She returned the favor. We shared meals and took the kids on outings. Long story short, we became closer than some sisters.

BUT, we had our differences. In many ways we were like day and night. We rubbed each other the wrong way at times. We were finding out how true this verse could be:

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. –Proverbs 27:17

We were also learning that you have to allow yourself to be sharpened. Let’s face it, it doesn’t FEEL good. You have to set aside your pride. You have to have the courage to tell someone they hurt you. You have to admit when you did something wrong.

You have to cooperate.

If you handle the differences the way God says to handle them, you grow. If not, you fall apart. You lose your friendship, you lose an opportunity to please God, and you lose the ability to mature.

When we felt like throwing dishes at each other, we talked instead. Emotional, trembling, smiling through tears…we talked. Little did we know that people were watching. They noticed the way we dealt with our disagreements and spoke about it. It was so foreign to the way most people fight.

There were no explosions, no calling each other names. No criticizing, one-upping each other, competing… no getting even. We were fighting the problem, not each other.

In the bible it tells us to “speak the truth in love.”  It tells us that our goal is unity in Christ. It instructs us not to let the sun go down on our anger and give the devil a foothold. It doesn’t say not to FEEL anger; instead it says, “In your anger, do not sin.” (from Ephesians 4)

This inability or lack of desire to confront one another is a serious problem among Christians today. We are just as guilty of gossip, criticism, and tossing our brothers and sisters to the side as people of the world.  Either we lack knowledge of how God expects us to proceed, or the guts to do it, or we’re just plain disobedient.

Even when the person who has offended us is a nonbeliever, I think it’s important to approach the person and at least, TRY to work things out. If it doesn’t work, you tried. You did your part.

Forgiveness is always important. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel hurt or angry any more. It means you have decided to allow God to work on the offending party and bring healing to your own heart. It means you will “keep no record of wrongdoings” and not throw the offense up in the person’s face. EVER.

Harder still is to go to someone when YOU are the one who did the wrong thing. You fear it’ll make you look stupid and weak. You don’t know if you’ll be forgiven or get the door slammed in your face. But you do it in obedience to God and allow him to work on the other person.

Hopefully your relationship will be healed eventually, here or in heaven.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  —Ephesians 4:11-16

p.s. Hanging your problems with the person who hurt you out on Facebook or other social media isn’t the way to deal. Talking to OTHER people about the problem isn’t going to fix it.

The classy, GODLY way is to go straight to that person privately and WORK ON IT.

THIS IS SOMETHING I’M STILL LEARNING. God help us and give us wisdom.

 

 

 

Welfare Bum

hungry

 

You scare and shame people out of getting the help they need for themselves and their children with your outrageous complaints and criticisms of  “lazy welfare bums” who use the taxpayers’ money while they sit on their butts and do nothing to earn their own keep.

Let’s look at the facts, shall we?

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/12/18/3081791/welfare-recipient-spending/

 

http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2013/07/02/poverty-in-america-myths-about-welfare-recipients/

 

http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reportsitem.aspx?id=102223

 

http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=children-in-working-poor-families

 

Give when you can; get help if you need it. Ignore the ignorant who try to step on your neck. Pray and ask God to help provide. He wants to.

If you have a bad attitude, pray and ask God to help you to be more understanding, more loving, merciful, and compassionate.

 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  —Matthew 25:41-46

Yes, it’s true that SOME people play the system. Some people ARE lazy and don’t want to work. But with welfare reform, it is next to IMPOSSIBLE for those people to get any help AT ALL.  No one who truly does need a hand up should have to suffer your scorn or ridicule. No one should have to lose their dignity.

Do yourself a favor and learn! Grow! ’nuff said.

 

 

 

 

Blooper Reel

bloopers

The horse really does know the way to carry the sleigh, and not necessarily with a passenger on board. My car, in other words. It just started taking my grandson to school as we usually do, but the boy wasn’t with us today. Yeah, I’m blaming the car. Glad I got control and steered us home instead. (laughing)

I just wonder, if I hadn’t noticed BEFORE we actually got to the school, what I would have thought we were doing there? This kind of thing is happening more often as I age. And, as I reread this paragraph, I see that I have used the term, “we,’ including my car in this mistake, as if it really did have a mind of its own.

Wow. If our lives really do flash before our eyes at the end, mine is going to be 90% bloopers.

Let me give you a few more examples of my bloopers and see if you agree.  Go get a cup of coffee if you like; this might take a minute, and should be entertaining. By the way, if you plan on using this against me later, get in line. My sister is actually keeping a notebook of these Cindyisms.

It was the 80s and even I had big, poofy hair and huge dangly earrings. My precocious, hyperactive two year old, Jesse, was sitting in my shopping cart (in the basket, not the seat) in the Express checkout aisle (10 items or less) as I placed my groceries on the belt. I had borrowed a car that day from Jesse’s Aunt Doris. Doris had her car keys, along with about 10 others, on a thick lanyard which I had placed around my neck. Can you picture that so far?

So the checkout girl is ringing up my groceries. The keys kept banging in to things every time I moved, so I decided to lift the lanyard up over my head, intending to put the keys in my purse. BUT, the lanyard grabbed my dangling earrings, popped them both out of my ears, and they went flying! I got down on my knees to search for the earrings just as Jesse decided to make his escape. He lifted the seat part up and ducked out, smooth as butter, and started to take off running! I grabbed him by the shirt and held him with one hand, but kept searching for the earrings.

My purse, which had been slung over my shoulder, could take no more and spilled its guts over all over the floor of the grocery store. In full view of the impatient customers behind me… tampons, mints, tissues, dimes and nickels…all went rolling off in all directions.

Finally I got all of that mess scooped up,put away, paid for groceries, and got home,blushing and giggling the whole way.

ONLY to have yet another silly episode at the same grocery store some time later. Back then they’d bag your groceries and have you drive up to the store for them to load them into the trunk of your car. Paid for the food, got in my car, went home. Opened the trunk of the car, and to my horror, it was empty! I flashed back on the long wait at the traffic light and wondered if anyone had had time to steal the groceries out of my car as I sat there! Sneaky people! But how had they gotten the trunk open? And without me noticing?

THEN I realized….oh. I drove off without picking up my stuff. Called the store. Went back. Picked up groceries, blushing and giggling.

Ok. Same grocery store. I bought a few groceries and some construction paper for a project I was working on with the kids. Left the store with my groceries in the cart this time. Going to put them in the trunk myself. Such a beautiful sunny day! I felt so young and alive. As I sometimes did, I revved up the cart and started to ride it through the parking lot. WEEEEEE! Fast as lightening! So carefree! Then I heard a voice calling behind me, “Ma’am?! Ma’am?! You forgot your paper!”

I turned around to see the checkout girl chasing me through the parking lot, out of breath and red faced, yet obviously amused at my shenanigans. Blush. Giggle.

THEN there was the time when I thought red mousse for my hair was a great idea. And it did look kind of nice. Until I got stuck in a downpour like I have never seen before. It’s like God emptied his mop bucket over my head as I scrambled to get home from the restaurant about half a block away.

Red mousse was streaming down my face and stinging my eyes. The front of my shirt was drenched in red and it began to look like something out of a horror movie. I heard people in my apartment complex murmuring as I hurried  by. “What happened to her?”  They probably thought I had been stabbed or shot or beaten pretty badly. I didn’t even know how awful it looked till I got home and could see myself in the mirror.  If you think that’s bad, you should see the way the red looked in the pool rippling outward.  Blush. I did stop using it after that.

Years later, after I had developed allergies and asthma, I had to take some pretty serious medications. I had such a hard time keeping track of what time the meds were due, I began to keep track on a little note pad. Took my pill at 9 a.m. Will take it again at one.

I got so used to doing that…one day I ate a Tic Tac and pulled out my notebook to write it down! It struck me as so funny, I had to call my sister and tell her what I had done. But I couldn’t get through the story without laughing. Especially when I said, defensively, “Well, it was a green Tic Tac. It looked medicinal!”

At this point we lost it so hard we BOTH had an asthma attack and had to end our conversation! Nerds! ha ha

When Christmas came I got a small gift in the mail. It was box of Tic Tacs with a “prescription” label and a small notebook for me to keep track of my dosage. My sister will NEVER let me live this down.

But even she and my cousin have done things like this. All three of us have sat at a stop sign,waiting for the light to change. Air heads!

There are so many more of these bloopers. We all have them. What fun would life be without them? I guess when my life flashes before my eyes, I will have some tears, but I will definitely be blushing and giggling quite a bit, too.

 

 

 

Red Jellybean

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I wasn’t allowed to ask my Grandma for gum. Mom thought it impolite. But that didn’t worry me, ’cause I knew that when she came to visit, she’d open wide her purse and let me choose from peppermint or spearmint; a whole pack.

When we saw Grandpa and her coming down the hill in their brown Oldsmobile, my two younger cousins, (who lived across the street from me), my little sis and I would hold hands and dance around in a circle singing, “Grandma and Grandpa are coming! Grandma and Grandpa are coming! Yay!”

It put us in such a festive mood to have them come to see us. They made us feel special. They made us feel safe and welcome. They made us sure of their love, whether we were good as gold or mischievous and trouble-making.

Mom made everything from scratch. She canned her own veggies, made jelly, and baked bread and rolls .Delicious! But a simple bologna sandwich at our grandparents was like a little slice of heaven.

The coffee pot was always hot at Grandma’s charming house on the hill; with people running in and out all day to enjoy a cup together. I was all grown up before I sorted out who was family and who was just friends of family. The atmosphere was just so warm and inviting. You always felt at home.

This is a sort of talent that not everyone has mastered. It’s important to me to learn it, because people don’t get how valuable they are sometimes. They can be in a room filled with people and still feel alone.

We were loved, but not spoiled. We didn’t feel like our grandparents owed us anything. When we entered their home, we removed our shoes. We ate at the kitchen table and played quietly. We didn’t tear through the house or touch any of her pretty decorations. We said please and thank you.

We were a bit competitive at times, though. I don’t know why; it’s not like we doubted that we were utterly adored. But sometimes we made life somewhat difficult for Grandma, as she indulged our whims like nobody’s business.

“How many red jellybeans did you get?”

“I got 14. How many did you get?”
“I only got 12! Hey, Grandma! Brenda got 14 red jellybeans and I only got 12! Red is my favorite! Do you love her more?”

“Now, don’t be silly! Of course I love you all the same!” She’d say. We were already working on bunny ears by then. No big deal. Just a grumpy moment brought on by not enough sleep and too much sugar.

But the following year, all four of her little girls got the same exact amount of red jellybeans. You’d better believe we counted them, too, then looked up to see her smiling. All of us remember it.

Why? ’cause those red jellybeans meant something way more than candy. And even now they’re a joy-filled memory for us to share.

Grandma is long gone and she’s still making us smile. That’s the kind of grandma I want to be.

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Grandma and me in the breakfast nook after making baskets for my kids.