Tag Archives: Truth

I’m Normal. What Are You?

After a full day of playing with Legos, Matchbox Cars, Wii, and various outdoor toys, the time had come for Owen’s best friend, Alex, to go home. As we  entered the van for the fourteen mile drive, Alex chose to sit in the far reaches, the very back seat – because providing additional challenges in a conversation can make it extra interesting, right? As I chatted with Alex over the expanse of empty seats, our conversations flowed easily, especially considering Alex is only five years old and doesn’t really know me very well. We were, however, trying our best to listen to each other over the noise of both the engine and the road.

When Alex told me he was learning Spanish, my curiosity was piqued.  See, Alex is Asian – but beyond knowing THAT, I have no idea what Alex’s heritage is, so the following conversation ensued:

Me (trying to peer into the rear view mirror to occasionally establish eye contact):  That’s really cool that you’re learning Spanish, Alex.  What is your ancestry?

Alex (pausing, not quite sure of the meaning of the word):  Ummmm ….. I don’t know.

Me (trying to help him out with both an explanation and a prompt): Ancestry means lineage or where your parents and grandparents came from. Are you Korean?

Alex (quickly): No.

Me: Are you Chinese?

Alex: No.

Me: Are you Vietnamese?

Alex: No.

Me (now floundering as I was running out of options): Japanese?

Alex: No.

[Since Alex was so sure these options were not part of his ancestry, it struck me that Alex might KNOW his ancestry and I need only quit prompting him. So I continued my line of questions in a new manner:]

Me: If none of those are part of your lineage, then what ARE you, Alex?

[Alex’s reply was quick as a wink and sure as a boy could be, causing me to really hear his answer.]

Alex (simply):  I’m normal.

Touche, Alex.

Pause for consideration, Reader. How do you see YOURself? It occurs to me that we all too often view our differences in a manner that set us apart from others, in both a positive and negative manner. If you’re seated across from a potential employer in a job interview, that may be a necessity to secure employment.  More often, however, we need to look for commonalities that enable us to be ONE with each other.  At the tender age of five, Alex seemed to understand that commonalities make for both a confident person and a more peaceful community. Additionally, it is what Christ calls us to do.

1 Cor 12: 24-26:  But God has so composed the body … 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Are you normal, Reader? It IS a more excellent way!

Knee-Jerk Notions

Gorilla Glue is probably one of the best modern-day inventions.  It seems to be an oft-thought of solution for a vast number of situations that occur in our household based upon it’s ability to create a permanent bond between an almost limitless variety of items.

When the top of my coziest slipper found it’s way free of the slipper’s sole last year, my first thought was … Gorilla Glue! Without any hesitation (or much forethought), I placed an ample supply of the product in between the two surfaces of my slipper. My second thought wasn’t far behind … Pressure! Knowing this product worked best under pressure (just like me), I decided to place my foot into the slipper and apply that pressure while I navigated through my Facebook messages that evening.

It worked like a charm. Really, it did. But it did MORE than intended. While it did, in fact, stick the sole to the slipper top, it ALSO stuck my foot to the inside of the slipper proving that this was probably not my most brilliant moment! So what went wrong? As I pried the outer epidermal layers from the skeletal remains of my right foot, I realized that there were definite drawbacks to swift solutions, even when the issue at hand was of minuscule magnitude.

After initiating my knee-jerk notion of using my foot to apply the pressure required of Gorilla Glue, these were the lessons learned:

  • The first solution is not always the best;
  • Some solutions can be more painful than others;
  • Planning for all potential outcomes is always wise.

Often I learn lessons without the loss of body parts. Other times valuable lessons are somewhat elusive, albeit more permanent than Gorilla Glue bonds themselves when they come with a cost. While I quite liked the sole of my foot as it was, I must admit … I enjoyed the softer, callous-free foot while it lasted.

Knee-jerk notion: Could Gorilla Glue double as a spa treatment?

Thinking Outside the (Crayon) Box

Owen, my sweet-as-pie six year-old, loves to be creative so it never surprisesme to find him sitting on the floor surrounded by crayons and paper, sometimes adding scissors and glue to the mix. Recently he invited me to join him as he conceptualized his next great feat of artistic expression. Quite often I look for an out, deferring him to one of his older brothers as a potentially better partner in craft. On this particular day, however, I decided to color with him, elbow to elbow.

Owen: Mommy, want to color with me?

Me: Sure, Honey. Could you bring the paper and crayons to the table please?

[He arrived at the table with the paper and immediately left the room in search of the crayons. It took him longer than usual to return and I will admit, I was growing a bit impatient as I sat there pondering what to make for dinner, thinking about the homework I needed to tackle with his brother, and feeling somewhat dismayed at the depth of debris stuck to my sock from the unswept kitchen floor. After quite some time Owen returned to the table with the crayons and a proclamation.]

Owen: Here are the crayons, Mommy! I broke them all in half so we wouldn’t have to fight over them!

(Sigh. We each took our half-set and began to color, him a bit more contently than me.)

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The first thought to cross my mind as we bumped elbows and noses while we colored was that I would probably only fight to the death over the yellow and pink crayons, at least one color of which he would likely have no interest in using anyway!  The second thought to cross my mind was that we would soon be buying a new box of crayons. Fortunately this was just a small set that needed replacing.

Looking at Owen’s actions in hindsight, a few thoughts pop out beyond the fact that I happen to be bugged by the chaos created by broken crayons. Owen thinks much differently than I do. Given that there is a vast age difference, that doesn’t entirely shock me – but I also see a difference in how he thinks in comparison to how I thought at his age. Growing up in a small town in a one-income household, possessions were both few and treasured. To break something of value intentionally would have been far beyond my comprehension of sanity and respect for personal property!

In that regard, many children today show a lack of appreciation for the items they own. Elaborate gifts for birthdays and Christmas have become the new normal, the expectation rather than the exceptional blessing they should be. Because they happen to be part of the modern day culture, for example, many teens feel that iPhones, game consoles, and cars are inherent to who they are, essential for their happiness, and indispensable in their daily activities. As a result, the value of the expensive toys, iPhones, and game consoles is lost, as broken items are typically tossed rather than repaired. Even those broken crayons have value though. They just await an art project of new proportion and different dimension.

On the other hand, I absolutely applaud my six year-old for his ability to both anticipate a problem and create a solution before coming to the table! Owen saw his limited resources and realized immediately that product distribution might pose a challenge. That showed ingenuity beyond the capability of many adults who are no longer able to think outside the crayon box.

I held my tongue that day deciding instead to instill in his being a sense of harmony as we colored shades of scarlet and tints of teal, creating a masterpiece previously unparalleled in his short history.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/weekly-writing-challenge-a-splash-of-color/

Life – The Game

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The Game of Life

It’s been a while since I’ve played Life. My older kids (19 and 17 years old) are really not interested in board games and haven’t been since they discovered video games. o_O  My two younger kids (8.83 and 5.92 years old) have recently rediscovered these gems that were long ago relegated to the far reaches of the basement, however, and LIFE hasn’t been quite the same since then.

Now I am greeted in the morning with an obligatory good morning, followed immediately with the question, “Do you want to play Life?” or “Can we please play Spy Alley?”  Don’t get me wrong – I’m SO glad they are requesting board games! They require cooperation, communication, creativity … most of which are all lacking when they choose the alternate – those dreaded video games!!

I couldn’t help but laugh as I played The Game of Life with my youngest yesterday!  How closely it emulates real life, right?

As the players spin and move around the board, they land on squares that are supposed to replicate …. LIFE.  One of several things may happen: the car lands on a happy little square where you’ve done something grand and you get to choose a LIFE card (seemingly no big deal immediately, but WOW … it pays off later in life!); the car lands on a happy little square where you’ve done something grand and you realize immediate financial gain; OR the car lands on a sad little square and you pay money either to the bank or to other players for a plethora of reasons (taxes, tattoos, and TVs to name just a few). But the number of happy, financial beneficial squares outweigh the sad, cost-incurring squares, so …… LIFE IS GOOD!  🙂

Each player begins with a car.  HEY!  I never began life WITH a car! Before I could get a car, I had to have a job and have money in the bank so I could make payments.

The players are given the option to buy or NOT to buy automobile insurance. That’s not even a CHOICE for most of us. In Minnesota, a licensed vehicle MUST carry liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, and under-insured motorist coverage. To opt out of this is illegal and carries a significant fine if the indiscretion is discovered. Buying automobile insurance WILL save you cash later in the game, however, if you happen to land on one of those sad, cost-incurring squares declaring you’ve been in an accident. So while this does not quite imitate the legal consequences to non-insured motorists, it DOES imitate risk-avoidance assessment!

Each player can choose to go to college, acquiring immediate debt.  OK, admittedly that part is incredibly realistic, but the debt incurred in the game is a mere pittance in comparison to actual debt incurred by young adults unequipped with wealthy parents – which are NOT an option in this game!  Deciding against college is an option in the game but will limit your salary immediately. OK, that is probably pretty realistic, too.

Quite often a spin can result in passing TWO PAYDAY squares simultaneously. Sweet!  I would LOVE that option in real life! How do I sign up?

Securing employment is not optional in Life. Everyone has to work if they expect to proceed! What a noble concept that is!  You can, however, choose from a few career cards ranging from a rock star to a doctor, with a number of obsoleted careers falling in between those choices. And you’ll have some options regarding an associated (or not!) salary!  Beware though, because if you BEGIN your career as a doctor earning $100K per year, someone MAY have the privilege of exchanging salaries with you midway through Life while remaining in their same career! That’s realistic, right?  o_O

You don’t WANT to get married? Tough. You can’t proceed without a spouse!  But take heart … You’ll also get a LIFE card (with the promise of future riches!) with that spouse!  It’s as though that spouse came with a modern-day dowry! And per my youngest (and wittiest?) child, women CANNOT be in the driver’s seat. It’s to dangerous. Even WITH insurance! (What da ….. ?  Makes me wonder whom he’s been talking to!)

You don’t WANT a house?  Again, if you want to proceed, you’ll have to buy one! And again, insurance is entirely optional, mortgage or not. Realistic …. um, no. Definitely not. But it’s a consistent (just not fair or well thought out) 25% of the value of your chosen home, whether you choose the home on Monsoon Bay, the Victorian mansion with a nicely manicured lawn, or entry level, split-level, fixer-upper dump!

You don’t WANT kids? You don’t get to choose that for yourself but kids come with Life cards, too!  It’s incentive to have MORE kids. Load up the car, Honey!  One day this will all pay off financially!!

There are stock options, too, where you can either make a small fortune or dole out a few easily earned pay checks to the bank. We ignore those. I decided to do that after observing the deer-in-headlights stare after I tried to explain stock options to a five-year-old.  THAT probably emulates Life since I don’t really have a good grasp of the stock market and largely ignore it myself! 🙂

As each player spins their way into retirement, there exists a choice to live at either Countryside Acres or Millionaire Estates. Either way, you’ll end up retiring wealthy as all those Life cards are redeemed so it’s a win-win situation. Assessing your accomplishments, totaling their value, and counting your cash at the end of the game of Life will determine the REAL winner. In this case, yes, the old saying rings true: He who retires with the most money wins!

In hindsight, I’m not sure if I inadvertently taught Owen that material STUFF with great monetary value are the greatest goals in Life. I could argue with myself (and I always win!!!) that he is learning turn-taking, counting, the concepts of banking, and the fleeting nature of money, and risk-assessment. But he’s five. The latter items are entirely unnecessary for him however at this stage of his Life!

I guess the game DID teach him a few things though.  He probably noted that he was broke after spending money on things he didn’t really need to have … that lake cabin and sailboat comes quickly to mind!  He also likely noticed that, as we journey through Life, events will likely occur that will not have been in our own foreseeable future.

He probably missed the very real lesson that risk is inherent in Life. Some risks will require more thought or effort than others and may or may not work in our favor. We will take other risks that afford less effort and garner and the payback might end up being incredible, even if delayed.

My own Life has been fraught with risk. While I’ve taken numerous risks, there has been one risk I’ve been unwilling to take. That would be the risk of neglecting to entrust my Life to Christ. With Him, the journey can still be bumpy but without him the end is so very, very bleak. With Christ as my Savior, I WILL end up at Millionaire Estates regardless of my financial status here on earth.

Where will YOU retire? Do you know? Don’t risk it … It won’t bode well for you, Friend.

Life Anew

All along I’ve been thinking that who I am and what I do

would be seen and blessed by You,

my Lord.

But my desires and my designs

are just that; they are mine.

Now help me see Your will and follow through.

Just on my own, I know I can’t.

But You are there. You promise that.

Show me Your ways, teach me Your paths.

Guide me in truth and righteousness.

Your ways are best. In that I need to trust.

So today I give my life anew.

Help me to see things from Your view.

Kneeling down, my head bowed low,

I hear Your challenge … You say, “Go!”

ImageI’m on my way, albeit somewhat slow.

My eyes refocused, I can see

the road map You have marked for me.

I consider no job is to small,

for that would surely be my fall.

Lord, stay with me and speak to me through all.