Friday, December 25, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Wish You a Merry Christmas

There's nothing like being a "people watcher" . . . especially during the holidays. It's fascinating-a little disheartening at times, but also uplifting when you are blessed to see some cool stuff happening during this time of the year. (See my previous post for an example of that cool stuff!) Unfortunately however, this season can bring out the best AND the worst in people. As I have spent the last Christmas and this current one working a second job in retail, I can tell you for certain that there are some people who desperately need to have a Merry Christmas. Below is my wish for one particular customer. With all my heart, I hope he has the best Christmas ever.

Dear Sir,

I wish I had been able to complete your transaction from start to finish yesterday. I really enjoyed talking with your young son as he was handing me items he had chosen to give his mom for Christmas. Your son looked to be about the same age as my oldest daughter. I wondered if maybe they were in the same grade. He seemed so pleased with the job he had done picking out those things for his mom. It appeared that he was paying with his own money, as he had a fistful of bills wadded up in his hand. I really wanted him to be able to get the most for his money and of course, we both know what happened next.

When I tried to point out a better deal on one of those items on sale, I truly didn't realize that the item he had already chosen was also on sale. I do apologize for the error. I am human. Humans make mistakes.

While I am hurt that you chose to begin yelling and screaming at me, causing an entire store to grow silent and uncomfortable, I can only imagine that you are perhaps under some stress yourself these days. You are not alone. Trust me.

What was most concerning to me was the look on your young son's face during your tirade, as I attempted to offer my apologies. I wondered if this was a typical display of behavior for you. For his sake, I hope not. I hope that he wakes up on Christmas morning looking forward to time with his parents and not wondering what he might be facing when he greets you after waking up.

I apologize for turning my back on your son, and for asking my manager to finish up the transaction for me. You see, I have my own "stuff" too and you triggered an avalanche of emotion in me at that moment. For everyone's sake-especially your son, I knew at that one moment, my staying at the cash register would have been a bad decision.

As I wiped the tears from my eyes in the privacy of the back room, I must admit to being mortified and hurt. At that moment, admittedly it was all about me-it was about my hurt, my embarrassment and my "teetering on the edge of losing it." That all changed however, when my manager came back to check on me after she finished up with your son. As she hugged me and reassured me I had done nothing wrong, do you know that she told me that your wife felt horrible about your public outburst. Did you see your wife begin to sob as she apologized for your behavior? Did you hear your wife ask my manager to apologize to me? I can only wonder.

Here's the amazing thing though. There's this thing called grace. Notice how I used the word "amazing." Immediately, I felt a tugging on my heart to extend you some grace. You were obviously having a bad moment. Sadly, that moment extended next to your wife. I can only guess that it may have extended to your son as well. I felt so sad for you. Sure, I was still hurt and humiliated at best, but I have a Savior who has extended grace to me time and time again. I continued to think about it for the rest of the night and through the day today.

As I stood and sang with the choir this morning in church, I felt the overwhelming presence of my Savior come over me. My eyes filled up with tears. THIS is what Christmas is about!!! Our Lord came to earth in the flesh!!! He was born in the worst of conditions, but He came anyway!!! He came for you and for me!! Is that not mind-blowing???? I sure think it is! How can we even begin to let the small things of the holidays get to us like this when He did this for us?

I made myself a promise at the start of the holiday season. I will also be the first to admit that I'm not doing such a great job at keeping it. I promised myself that I was going to stop more often. I was going to take more deep breaths. I was going to not let the small stuff get me down. It's Christmas after all. It'll be over in the blink of an eye. Do I want my family to remember my weepy moments and sheer exhaustion or the moments that I stopped and decided to forgo the work at hand and spend time with them instead?

That's a silly question. You already know the answer. And you know something else? I've prayed that very thing for you several times since our encounter yesterday in the store. I've prayed with such a passion that you would find joy in this Christmas season in an undeniable way! I'm going to continue to pray that very thing not only for you, but also your wife and son. What a gift that would be for them!!!!

So, from me to you, I wish you the merriest Christmas ever. I pray that your heart can feel that "busting out of the seams" kind of joy that mine did this morning and that it's contagious to everyone around you. I pray that you smile and laugh a lot! I pray that you feel that feeling that is undeniably the presence of our Lord tugging on your heart.

And not only do I wish you a Merry Christmas, but I also wish you love. When it's all said and done, that's really the only thing that matters-not only during Christmas, but every day of the year!

In His Grip,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Happenings . . .

Whew. 'Tis the season . . . and what a whirlwind it's been so far. It seems that every time I turn around, there's something on the calendar that involves the likes of Thing 1 and Thing 2, but that's ok. People with grown children continually remind me that these days will be gone before I know it, so I'm savoring each event.

Mackenzie has finished her last day of preschool for 2009. She had a Christmas program on Friday, but was most excited about the reception following, where she could load her plate up with cookies. Ah, that's my girl. LOL!

Earlier in the week, however, her class did some shopping for their 6 year-old Christmas angel named Mark-chosen by the teachers. After several notes went home to the parents-explaining that their desire was for our children to earn $2 by helping out around the house, shopping day finally arrived. As their teacher divided the bills into piles, the preschoolers started counting out loud in unison, starting with $1. Evidently the preschoolers did a lot of work, because they didn't stop chanting until after squealing $102! Right after learning how much money they had to work with, they discussed the rules of shopping . . . how to behave, where to meet, etc. Their teacher leaned in close. "What's the most important thing to remember when we get to Walmart?" she asked. One little boy immediately shot his hand in the air.

"Have PATIENCE" he sighed. Us moms standing along the sidelines giggled. His mom grinned and pumped her fist in the air. "That's my boy," she cheered quietly.

Off we went. Per Mrs. M's instructions, the children scattered with their moms to choose one toy that they thought Mark might enjoy. The picture below shows a perplexed Mackenzie holding up an item she thinks that boys might like to have. (That's the problem with the high level of estrogen in this house . . . we just try and do educated guessing when it comes to the mystery of little boys.)

After the kids had made their choices, the next destination was the bike aisle ("more room to have a meeting," explained Mrs. M.). Here is where she held up her class' choices one at a time for a vote to determine if (1) all the kids felt it was worth keeping and (2) they had enough money for all the approved items. Upon holding up the first item for the power of democracy to begin, she announced that the "Mega Deluxe Lego Set" was going to cost $98 . . . leaving no more money left for any other gifts for their angel. One little boy spoke up and said "NO way-that's WAY too much money!" The other kids quickly echoed similar sentiments and the Lego set went into the reject pile. Onward and upward.

Once the class made their final decisions, they made their way over to the checkout. Mrs. M handed each child a few bills in order for them all to help "pay" for the gifts.

The photo below shows the pile of loot that Mark will be unwrapping on Christmas morning. They were so excited with their choices. I don't think I will ever forget this field trip!

Last week was also busy for Cassidy. Along with students from other schools in the district, she sang in the annual "This Is Our Story" concert. Last year was my first opportunity to attend the concert and I walked away-totally blown away by the talent in our school district. In addition to vocal and instrumental presentations is an art show featuring all age groups in the district. The photo below shows Cassidy next to a piece of her artwork that was chosen for display. (It's the one with the people, directly to the right of her head.)

She also was busy at work with the K-Kids group at school. Each year, along with the Student Council, they put together the secret recipe for reindeer food and sell it to anyone seeking to attract Rudolph and his friends to their house. The money received benefits the Salvation Army AND anyone living at the house with a lawn sporting reindeer food. It's a win-win for everyone involved! Here is a photo of the kids taking a break to pose for me. The daughter of yours truly is bouncing up and down in the very back, sporting a Santa hat with a sign taped on the front. In other words, you can't really see her.

As the bake sale and reindeer food prep take place, so does the "Secret Santa" shop at school. I can remember these types of shops at my own elementary school. God bless each and every single one of my loved ones for their display of awe and wonder upon opening each gift I lovingly chose for them. ;-) Oh my. Enough said. Here is a photo of Thing 2 carefully labeling her chosen gifts. I think this year's winner of the "best gift ever" will be Papa Dean. I'd go ahead and tell you what Mackenzie thought seemed the most appropriate gift for her grandfather, but he reads my blog (I think) and I don't want to spoil the surprise. Perhaps I'll save that for a post later this month . . .

And that, my friends, is what we've been up to at our house . . . craziness, chaos and laughter (I did mention Papa Dean's gift, right?). Life is hectic, but it's good.

Really good.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Dose of Medicine AND Humility

I picked up my youngest child from preschool this morning . . . noting that the medicine I'd given her before school for her sniffles seemed to be working nicely. She was so excited when she saw me standing outside her classroom. If she could have turned herself inside out, I think she would have done just that.

"Mommy?" she said excitedly.

"What sweetie?" I answered.

"Mrs. Holmes knows how to wipe my nose really REALLY good!" she replied.

"Well . . . good!" I ventured, not quite sure of where she was going with this.

"Yeah," she added. "She actually does it MUCH better than you do!"

Nothing like a slice of humble pie, served by my youngest offspring, to go along with my morning coffee. It's one more reason to love mornings.