OK–sweet readers you know I’m a writer…and writer’s usually = thinkers. And thinkers usually really think BEFORE they write…and HAVE everything flowing nicely, pieces put together…and a theme in mind before they even start. Today’s post…bear with me. Actually–why don’t you come with me instead? My mind keeps drifting to 3 different encounters I have had this week, and some how they all go together to tell my heart something. And I had to laugh as I thought about what they were—presentation, popcorn and a preacher. Three P’s. Coincidence maybe so…if nothing else it makes a great title;).
There are two words that can make my husband roll his eyes and take a breathe quicker than anything…usually followed by “Oh no, here she goes!” They are: “OUR CULTURE.” That’s all I have to say, and he knows I’m thinking. I’m bothered. I wish things could be different. And I wish everyone “got it”…including me. As we were out on a date tonight (happy birthday to me!), I *tried* my best to make conversation—but these three topics were bothering me…so I said it. “Richard—our culture…” Followed by deep breath, eyes—“Oh no, here she goes!” But “not on your birthday” also followed. [Ok…I am a BIG birthday person and just wanted to say that again so you heard again it’s my birthday…well, because I’m also human and as hard as I try…some days…especially my birthday [said it again;)]…well, I make it more about me. And that brings me back to the 3 P’s–presentation, popcorn and a preacher. Are you hangin?
I couldn’t concentrate on the memorized menu verse of the waiter. Salmon somethin’, covered in this and that…wow–and he spent how long memorizing that? Dressed in black from head to toe. Black shoes shined. And the specials of the night five minutes long to recite, yet he didn’t miss a beat. Because…well, we know presentation in our culture is very important. Sprinkled with cheese. Dashed with herbs. Accompanied by a crisp glass with a fruit finish. And that my friends…is what we expect…because PRESENTATION is everything and well—to be frank some will complain if it’s not exactly right. I sat there and thought about the server—and his heart. Why he had to work night shift, and with the ring on his finger…knew someone was at home waiting…and with his age—she may be putting the kids down by herself again. I thought about him memorizing that script of specials over and over again–and I thought back to many dinners out when I heard other tables complaints too loudly (I also have a horrible temptation to ease drop…just confessing my weaknesses here;). How much different would our world look if we looked at EVERY person we met–EVERY person we serve–EVERY person who served us…and instead of EXPECTING, WAITING, WATCHING for things to be done the way we thought…instead we wondered, contemplated and prayed for what was going on in their hearts?
Help me Lord Jesus, to look at others and love them as you do. Help me to not EXPECT, not to complain when things are perfect…but in EVERYTHING by prayer and petition come to you with what I think, want or what bothers me—and smile back, say a loving word and die to my old yucky flesh. Presentation they say is everything—but help it not be much to me. 1 Samuel 16:7 says it well–man looks at the outer appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Help me to be more like you Lord.
I’m all over the place these days…and I can only image with 4 how much more EXCITING (good word choice;) life will be. We jotted to Target last night to buy teacher gifts for the kids. I’m dying to myself this year–normally I take a lot of pride in teachers gifts—I’m just being honest here. I think ahead—I monogram—I go nuts…because I used to be a teacher and I know how good it feels to be really appreciated…and nice gifts are fun too;-). But this year, I was running behind and I decided to LET the KIDS pick out the gift THEMSELVES. This was hard for me. About as hard as it was to let them decorate the tree, the gingerbread train and every other craft we do. So, they picked out their gifts. I tried REALLY hard to redirect…but P-man was INSISTENT–Mrs.K needed something silver “because she looks so pretty in silver” and Mrs.H had to have “something golden because I know she would like something golden!” SO SWEET. L-bird was the same way. SO after an hour at Target, TRYING to redirect and realizing it was more about them loving on their teachers than me…they won. I realized our time at Target had pushed us WAY back–and thankfully I ran into a Bible study friend who said she was going to eat the Target PizzaHut from the concessions. (See! I am NOT a supermom!) SO, I sat there loving on my babies—thankful that I let THEM bless their teachers instead of me IMPRESS. Thankful that I can let dinner go and pray that some how pizza with grease will nourish them. I was sitting there taking it all in and enjoyin my kids and laughing at my 13 month old drinking a JUICEBOX (gasp!) and up walks a lady. (No she didn’t say a word to me if you thought that’s where I was going;) That would make a good story though. In my enjoyment of my kids and thanking the Lord for helping me let things go, she walks up the counter and in a squeaky voice says, “Um, excuse me. I need some help. Is the popcorn fresh?” The conversation about fresh popcorn went on and on, and let’s just say she was disappointed that it was over an hour old. She rolled her eyes—with her stale popcorn—she was frustrated and now the sweet lady behind the concession was too. And my sweet dinner turned a little sad as I watched. And that’s where I don’t know where I’m going with this post. It really bothered me—and it was all over popcorn…in the midst of sweetness. But I had the gift of experiencing letting go—and joy—and then to watch this unfold made me wonder—HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I DONE THAT?!
Oh Lord—let us be JOY givers. Let us not fret over the small things. And Lord help us to not bring others down in our fretting. That could have just as easily been ME—I mean, don’t get me started on fresh coffee…but help me to remember that some times it’s JUST popcorn.
Here’s our best creation of the holiday…best because it was the MOST fun…and guess what I had NOTHING to do with it?! Literally, I had to leave the room SEVERAL times so I wouldn’t put my finger on it!
Last–a quick trip to Kroger. For the last serveral weeks I have had the pleasure of getting to know the Salvation Army bell ringer at our nearby Kroger. AND WHAT A BLESSING! For several weeks I have observed how at first no one paid him attention—and now…oh now, he is a people magnet. If you try to walk by—he hollars, “Hey BROTHA! Merry Christmas!” He isn’t intimidating in the least…he is JOYFUL. He doesn’t make you feel guilty–he geniunely wants to make you feel loved. He is a 60ish year old African American—and it’s been amazing to observe how now…weeks later…customers come out as if we live in a quaint, small town and talk to him. Can I just say I love our bell ringer? Last week he told me this, “I work for the Salvation Army 6 weeks out of the year—every year. I just ring this bell. And well, after that–I’m a preacher.” Where? “Well, darlin’—I don’t have a church. I just wait on the Lord…I wait to see what the Lord wants to do—and then I go do it. And well, right now–it’s just ringin’ this bell.” I love that he said he waits to see what the Lord wants to do RATHER THAN what the Lord wants ME to do. After all—it’s the LORD doing it. Not me. Too often I look for what the Lord MIGHT want ME to do…instead…
help me, like this bell-rining preacher to LOOK for you and what you are already doing and just join you in it. I just looked at him and said the only thing I could think to say, “AMEN!”
In every circumstance…use me for your glory
So…tonight—thanks for hanging in there if you came by my blog—for a little presentation, popcorn and preachin’. And for all three stories—how ever they relate together…during each of them while they were happening there were 145,000,000 orphans in the world…and as they happened I couldn’t help but think of them too. Where do THEY come in while we are busy worrying about presentation…things being perfect…impressing those around us? Where do they come in when something silly bothers us—what is really happening when we get distracted by the mundane and forget the real issues in the world? The truth of it all—is that change must first always happen with our hearts. I can’t change our culture–but I can change MY heart. So my prayer this Christmas is that I can just ring my bell—wherever that is—and be obedient in the small things…trusting the Lord will use even that…and in the process make a difference, impact hearts…that can also in turn impact our world. Help us Lord as we LIVE in this world to not be like the world…and instead to LOVE abundantly, LIVE joyfully and do all things whether they seem mundane or glorious…with passion knowing it is YOU who works through us and can do anything when we open our hands and say use me wherever, whenever, however.
Merry Christmas!!! May this holiday be full of sweetness…both in your family—on the outside…and in your heart. From our family to yours…MERRY CHRISTMAS! (how YUMMY are these cheeks?!)