If I Really Want It, Why Can’t I Have It?

Who knew radio could be so entertaining?

Driving back and forth in Chicago with my sisters to visit Mom, we listened to Gayle’s favorite station. WSHE 100.3. I’m not a huge radio listener, but I was in stitches listening to Brooke and Jubul on their morning show.

They’ve a segment called “Second Date Update” where men and women call in to talk about wanting another chance at being with someone they’d seen once. The other person hasn’t called or indicated they were even interested.

A gal named Carolyn called who’d been out with Rob, a guy she didn’t find interesting or attractive. She was rather blunt–read “rude”–in explaining how the date was a bust.

However, she was calling in because she wanted another shot with him.

Seems Rob had mentioned at some point in their evening together that he’d won tickets to an Adam Levine concert with a Meet and Greet pass thrown in for good measure.

Carolyn was a huge Adam Levine fan.

Brooke was asking her why she’d go out with someone she didn’t enjoy, and when she heard the reason, she called Carolyn a snake.

I completely agreed.

Jubul got Rob on the phone, not telling him Carolyn was listening. He told Rob that she was actually interested in going out with him a second time. Rob rightly responded that he didn’t think she was all that into him. Jubul didn’t respond to that–he merely said she was on the phone and wanted to talk.

The two connected.

What transpired was as manipulative and deceitful as I’ve heard in awhile. Carolyn said she wanted to give it another chance, and Rob offered to get coffee with her a few days hence. Carolyn, with more gaul than I could imagine, said she remembered he’d told her of his Adam Levine tickets and thought that would be a great second date.

He, however, had given one ticket to his young niece, who was as big of fan of Levine as Carolyn. He would take her.

Carolyn then asked if he really had to take the niece. Couldn’t he just say he’d made a mistake and get the ticket back?

Rob finally caught on. She could have cared less about him. She wanted what he had to offer, and when he said he wouldn’t disappoint his niece, she responded, “I have wants, too.”

The conversation that ensued with the radio hosts was how anyone could be so self-centered and calloused to another.

I stopped laughing at that point.

What Carolyn did blatantly, caring only for her desires in the moment, I’ve done in a passive/aggressive way. Hurting others with my attitudes or my perception of them because of what I need in the moment. Where Carolyn was young and self-centered, I’m an older, more careful version of the same person.

I want what I want when I want it.

Jesus tells us that we should treat others as we want to be treated by them. That doesn’t guarantee we’ll receive a fair and kind response from them. We’re only responsible for our actions and attitudes.

Selfishness is our human condition.

Not something I’d want to admit or share on public radio.

 

It Doesn’t Cost To Say Thanks

With so much in the news lately of the military and first responders going above and beyond to help people powerfully affected by this hurricane and wildfire season, it’s been a great reminder of how those who serve our country do so at a high cost to themselves.

Often with very little gratitude from those they serve and protect.

We’ve come to expect help when we’re hurting or in need. That police and paramedics will show up at the scene of an accident. That firefighters will do what’s necessary to stop raging blazes. That military personnel will do what’s necessary to save people caught in floods or are buried under earthquake rubble.

I’m embarrassed to say how little I respond with gratitude for their work. They’ve done their jobs well. And selflessly.

Flying out of Reagan International Airport this week, I encountered a group of war veterans–World War II, the Korean War and Viet Nam–who were being flown to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials created in tribute to them. The announcement came over several times about these individuals coming in, encouraging those present to take the opportunity to thank them.

I was catching a flight to Chicago; I had things to do and places to go.

A large group was getting off several elevators in my path, hindering my progress. My immediate reaction was annoyance. Really? You wanna slow me down?

These were the veterans. Many in wheelchairs, some with walkers. All grinning and grateful to be there. They were joking back and forth, even though some were obviously not having as easy a time as others.

The emotion that flooded me was a sense of gratitude I hadn’t expected.

It was easier to snap pictures from a distance; I was afraid I’d break down and cry. I got the courage to walk up to a few, introduce myself, and get some pictures of these brave men and women who put it all on the line for our country. When I shook several hands and thanked them for their service, I could barely get the words out.

True gratitude is deeper than words. It’s a recognition of the good someone has offered me without expecting anything in return. Their gift of service comes from hearts wanting to help others. To acknowledge that is giving back.

I doubt any of these folks went into their jobs for all the affirmation they’d hoped to get. They don’t sacrifice life and limb for a kind pat on the back.

They do it because they’re called to serve others.

We, as recipients of their courage, need to be grateful.

God encourages us to have a thankful heart. Not because life always works out the way we want it to, but because, if He’s in it with us, He will use it for our good.

In an age where it’s easy to criticize and complain, gratitude is something I can bring to daily living. To learn to be thankful for small things. To appreciate others that we encounter. To validate their gift and sacrifice.

When was the last time you thanked someone for their kindness to you?

It doesn’t cost a thing.

 

 

 

Live And Let Dye

Tie-dyed shirts have been around forever. Interest in making and wearing them cycles through generations like a reliable friend. Creativity comes in how and where you bunch the shirt and the color palette chosen.

There’s a little bit of hippy in all of us.

Isley, at seven, made a shirt with her bestie, Talia. Their shirts reflect their identities.

The fascinating aspect of dye is how you can change the look of an article of clothing with a small box of dye. The color on the box identifies what color an article will become.

People have been dying items for centuries. The first recorded use of dye was natural pigments mixed with water and oil for use on skin (yes, the original temporary tattoos), jewelry and fabric in 2600 B.C. It’s always been a useful and creative way to change the look of something, to improve the appearance with added color.

To dye is to identify. We choose to identify the who that we are with so much more than color.

We had the chance to visit Melody and Chris in D.C. and witness our granddaughter Sloane’s baptism. A sacred ceremony where church and family work together to help her understand and grow in her covenant relationship with Jesus. I became more aware of how this was an identification ceremony–identifying with Jesus and what He has done for us. This commitment colors the framework this little gal will have in life, one of faith, hope and love.

We all identify with something that is more than what we are. As Americans, people scramble to identify as Republicans and Democrats depending on their political bent. That identification has split our country quite a bit of late. Sports fans identify with their favorite teams by wearing jerseys or hats that honor team colors and names. Music fans identify with their favorite artists by their personal playlists. We’re identified by culture. You can even identify our favorite foods by how our breath smells or the stains on our clothes.

Some identities are more subtle. Our character is identified by how we treat others, how honorable and full of integrity we are, by how hard we work and how well we love.

Sloane was identified in her baptism by how her parents intend to raise her with a knowledge of Jesus. With an understanding of His grace and gift of forgiveness.

Does this mean, at fifteen months, she’ll act with respect, kindness and obedience? That she’ll honor her parents in all she does? That her life will reflect a wholeness that comes from knowing she’s made in the image of God?

If you think yes, whatever fifteen-month-old you know must be a mini Mother Teresa or future pope.

We grow into our identity as we grow in who we choose to be. Sloane’s baptism doesn’t make her good. It’s a commitment to help her grow into who she can be. Who God made her to be. It does color a hoped-for path.

Our identity doesn’t result just from our culture or preferences. From family, job or talent.

It’s how we show up in this life.

What’s the dye that identifies you?

 

The Age Of Rage

 

Silhouette courtesy of Josethestoryteller

I grew up in a family accustomed to raising their voices. With four kids, some of that was necessary to be heard over the din of everyone else talking.

A good amount had to do with how Mom sought to keep order. When Mom spoke, you listened. Or else.

Having six kids of my own, I’ve developed a big voice. It’s become a joke here, but when a room full of women needs to come to order, I’m often asked to do it because I can be heard over the general clamor of many conversations.

In a one-on-one conversation, however, loud can be construed as anger.

We’re living in a world culture of increasingly angry people. We see anger on the news, among family members, in government offices, on the streets with random people. It’s a reaction to being hurt or misunderstood and is rarely thought out. For me, it often means I haven’t listened well enough to the whole story. To know what’s going on behind an attitude or a comment. It’s easy to take things personally when all I’m thinking about is me.

My husband was raised in a family that didn’t exchange verbal fisticuffs. They’d raise voices because Grandpa was hard of hearing and refused to wear his hearing aids. My family was quicker to engage in loud words. I grew up thinking yelling was the norm. When I married, we didn’t fight fairly. John would listen to my tirades and be silent. When he wouldn’t react, as I expected him to, I got louder.

And angrier.

It’s not all that different from these hurricanes that keep popping up in the Atlantic and the Gulf. Whirling storms that carry a huge punch that grow from nothing. They need the right conditions to increase in size, intensity and become more dangerous. If I focus on my feelings rather than the importance of a relationship, my irritation can escalate out of control. When that happens, I lose the capability of being reasonable and trying to respond with kindness. My words become fast and furious, fueled by emotion, not fact.

None of us has the privilege of omnipotence. I need to be more intentional about engaging in conversations to find out why someone responded the way they did. Why they said something that came across hurtful. Too often, instead of listening, I launch into a counterattack, wanting to wound as deeply as I’ve felt wounded.

Photo courtesy of Skitterphoto

Is it a wonder governments don’t get along when individually we won’t sit and listen to one another? When world leaders accuse and point fingers, when everyone talks and nobody listens, there will be disagreement.

Jesus tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Listening fills in the facts behind what we hear. Human anger accomplishes nothing except hurt. It’s the fodder for revenge, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness.

It’s hard to pause and listen when anger has become a way of life. We talk like we want peace. What we really want is our own way.

If we pause to listen, we just may learn a better way.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Good Times

When I make it through stressful times, my natural inclination is to celebrate.

That often includes chocolate and a party atmosphere.

Irma and Harvey are gone. Clean-up is underway here and every place storms hit.

More hurricanes are on their way. It’s the nature of the season.

Ryken turned three Saturday. We were all ready for a reason to party. Anticipation made his wait excruciating. (And we thought waiting for Irma was hard.) So celebrated we.

All the family in town went to Crayola Experience. Lest you think it lame, they do a boatload of incredible things with crayons. From melting crayons to make drip art to enjoying a play space where they want you to draw on anything with markers and chalk to coloring figures attached to magnets that danced by themselves to music.

Who knew colored wax could be so fun?

To top the day off, there was a birthday party full of Mickey and the Roadster Racers–one of his current favorites. Including a Roadster Racer racetrack cake. I made the cake, but Tiffany transformed it into a speedway course, complete with a grassy infield and Donald and Mickey pushing for the finish line. Add ice cream and presents and you’ve got more than enough moments of awe and joy to fill the heart of any three-year-old.

Such elation spreads to everyone in close proximity. It was fun to laugh, tell bad jokes and tease one another about things that didn’t alter life. We played together. Enjoyed one another’s company.

Celebrated.

Watching my family interact and smile about sweet, silly things was more than celebrating three years of young boy’s life.

It was a celebration of life in its totality. An acknowledgement of good times in spite of–and often in light of–difficult and trying situations.

Granted, we didn’t fare badly. Minimal damage. Tiffany and Ramsay finally got power restored and headed back to Miami on Sunday to assess how their apartment. Because of the hurricane, they were able to be part of this celebration and get their minds off what they didn’t yet know.

We will always have tragedy in this life. Some have it more than others. Hard times aren’t meant to be measured or compared. We each have what we’ve been given. We all have the chance to deal with disappointment and pain, disaster and discomfort.

It’s why we need each other. To remember the good times that have been part of our lives. To recall victory in difficult circumstances. To recognize how we pushed through trying times and didn’t quit.

God gives us community, the opportunity to share life with one another. He gives us the strength we need to persevere when all we want to do is opt out of whatever is uncomfortable in the moment.

He’s in it with us. If we invite Him in.

God celebrates and delights in us. He longs for us to come to Him with our need for His comfort and perspective.

What better way to celebrate than with the One who makes all of life possible.

That’s an eternal party.