Kindness

I am NOT forgotten.

A little elf arrived at our doorstep this morning. Funny, I’ve often thought of elves as Santa’s helpers. Today I realized how very wrong I have been. Elves are God’s angels on earth. Let me explain.

elves

Sometimes it’s easy to wonder why God has forsaken us. I try not to dwell in that sentiment when I feel it but I admit that I feel it often. Feeling forsaken has become a way of life for me. I think anyone who tries to live a faithful life must struggle with feeling resentment from time to time. After all, this life is a test. If it wasn’t hard it wouldn’t be a test.I personally always feel pretty guilty when I feel forgotten. I then try to remind myself that once Christ felt forsaken. If he can feel alone then it must be an o.k. frame of mind for me too. I am a huge advocate in teaching people to not be ashamed of their feelings. Feelings are what they are. For too many years I felt shame for my feelings and it got me nowhere but deeper into the dark and then I learned that I can’t control my feelings. I can only control what I do with my feelings.

So, I’m here to tell you that when a woman tries so very hard to live her life in a way that would be pleasing to God and keeps hitting the same brick wall over and over again she feels forgotten. In the past few weeks I’ve had to keep moving forward to keep myself from succumbing to the depression and discouragement associated with my brick wall. My forgotten place is not pretty.

What is my brick wall? I have many, but the one that gets to me more than any of the others is financial strain. I have never known a life without financial strain. I was born under a roof of financial strain. No matter how hard I work or how hard my hubby works we never seem to break free from financial strain. No matter how much we improve at frugality and income-earning it’s as if God doesn’t want us to ever have a better way of life. It’s hard.

LeGrand and I have discussed this a lot. We don’t understand it. We are good people. We are generous. We serve others. We share what we have. We are not selfish. We are not really worldly. We don’t try to keep up with the Jones-es. We don’t have a desire to impress other people with our worldly goods. We just don’t. We give 10% of our income to God’s purposes. We donate additional amounts in money, goods, and time to various other humanitarian efforts. We are honest in our dealings with our fellow-man. We don’t take advantage of other people. We don’t even like accepting gifts from others. All we want to do is provide our kids with their necessities and bless our fellow man, but so often we are left unable to do so because of our economic status.

I can’t complain because I’ve had it worse. Much much worse. I’ve had it so bad that even if I have nothing leftover but a little food in my pantry just being able to pay bills is a blessing I don’t take for granted. We pay our bills. We always have a little leftover and we never go hungry or without a home. However, moving into a basement apartment at 40-years-old with four impressionable children and a defeated husband still sucks. It’s hard. Everyone is left wondering why God gives to others so abundantly but only takes from us.

forget me not

And then a little elf knocked at my door. She said she had a gift from one of the other elves that she knows. She couldn’t tell me who.

This afternoon I opened the elves’ package to a large sum of money.  I could hardly believe my eyes. How do people always know exactly what we need? I mean EXACT down to the penny. I know how God knows, but how do elves know? How do people know? Oh yeah, because they are God’s angels and they are really good at listening and doing.

As I stood counting and recounting and crying and re-crying I remembered the drill. I’ve had this happen so many times in  my life yet I still shake my head in disbelief. How can this keep happening?

I then remembered that God allows me to struggle because He wants to manifest His power in my life. He allows other people to have more because He wants to manifest His power in their life too. He wants us to see how awesome it feels when we understand that we belong to each other . Life is most beautiful when we act accordingly. He also wants us to know the power and love that exists in caring for one another because his power and love is infinitesimally more.

I know these things. I’ve learned them repeatedly. Yet every time a miracle happens I am rendered speechless.

Along with the money, today’s elves gifted this quote along with a beautiful forget-me-not necklace that I don’t think I will ever remove from my neck. (LG said the necklace is for me and the money for him – which is true since he pays the bills.)

I am not forgotten. Ever. And neither are you. Thanks for the poignant and extremely timely reminder angel-elves. Oh, and thank you, too, my loving kind generous Father in Heaven. I’m sorry I always have to be reminded but thanks for your patience.

Lessons from the trail: A Scout Leader

This lesson from the trail occurred a few months back. It was dusk on a perfect-weathered weeknight and I was out biking with my hubby when we crossed a bunch of young men accompanied by their adult church leaders. They were all getting exercise at their own levels of ability. We observed the get-goers first as we were riding in the opposite direction. First was a group of about 10 boys with one pretty fit and younger leader cruising along at an admirable speed. The next four groups were varied in number of boys and accompanied adults but ranged no more than a few minutes behind the front group to trailing maybe five minutes behind. After a few more minutes we then passed the obviously struggling group with some of the younger boys as well as the overweight members of the troop (adults and boys). They were slow, but they were still persisting and seemed to be enjoying themselves and the camaraderie. LG and I discussed our pride and admiration for the whole group (at their varying abilities) as we rode away. We assumed that the last struggling group would be the last but we assumed wrong.

photo

This photo was taken at the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Church History Museum back in August ’13. No doubt my husband was having a moment of remembrance to when he earned his own Eagle Scout.

bike path

After several more minutes we came to a crossroad where the trail-users have to yield to the vehicles using the city road. Because we were stopped waiting on the traffic we were able to observe the very last Scout leader with just a single boy across the street. What I observed touched me deeply.

At every road crossing on each side of the street there are a set of narrow passages through gates that keep large vehicles from using the trail. I personally (as well as most others) pass through these gates with ease. Whether I am running or biking, I don’t have to give the narrow passages a second thought. When LG and I ride together, so that we don’t have to slow down, it is just understood that simultaneously he takes the passes on the left and I on the ones on the right.

This day however LG and I both stood still with our bikes as we watched this most amazingly patient Scout leader treat his troop member with great kindness, respect, and love. We had just passed the rest of the troop so we could tell that this young man wasn’t one of the youngest. He was probably about fourteen and looked like a completely healthy capable kid. Yet, upon careful observation it was obvious that this boy must have had some kind of mental disability. From across the street, we watched this pair slowly approach the gate and even more slowly come to a very careful stop.

With an encouraging smile on his face, the leader stood aside and let the boy struggle through the threatening narrow passage. For some reason the boy’s large motor skills created a mountain out of a molehill and he could not get through the gateway while peddling. He tried. He gave it everything he had, but he eventually dismounted his bike (while somewhat animatedly cursing the dang gate) and walked through awkwardly dragging his bike to his side.We took an extra long drink of our water and moved to the side of the path on our side of the street to stay out of the way. The same exact four minute process happened once again on our side of the street and we had a front seat view of one very determined boy and his ideal Scout leader. Thinking back on this is bringing tears to my eyes once again. It was such an inspiring interaction.

boy-scout_detail

I couldn’t help but find this event metaphoric in my own life. Don’t we all struggle at times in our lives? Sometime somewhere we may have been or will be at the end of the pack. We may be frustrated with a repeated obstacle. We may be giving it everything we’ve got (in fact giving it more than even the ones at the front of the pack) yet we remain peddling way behind. I’ve been there. I’ve wondered, “Why me? Why does it have to be so hard?”

When I get to my next obstacle I will think of this boy and let his determination and courage be my guiding light.

I will also make a very serious effort to be a leader with kind eyes, a patient demeanor, an encouraging smile, and a love bigger than the universe itself.

Kindness Begins With Me

wills

Here is the whole Wills’ gang.
In the family department, I do believe I am the richest girl alive.

that pizza

One of the coolest moments of our family reunion happened on Friday night.
My six siblings and I were each gifted a t-shirt to one our favorite family restaurants.
It may have been a silly little thing, but it will be a great memory to hold next to the many others we’ve already made at That Pizza Place.

Last night we celebrated my parents 50th wedding anniversary.
It was a beautiful evening adorned with a lot of old friends and fun memories.
Most of all it was wonderful to celebrate the lives of
two generous souls that I have the privilege of calling mom and dad.
I enjoyed reminiscing about the good people they are and reflected on the many attributes that they tried to instill in their children. Kindness was a priority for mom and dad and still is.

Shortly before the party was supposed to start I found myself stranded in the parking lot of Wal-Mart with a car that wouldn’t start. My hubby was a mile down the road waiting for the chicken we had ordered for dinner. I had just run in the store for the last minutes for the party: green onions, ice, and crayons. When I got back to the car I discovered that the kids had turned off the engine with lights on, A/C full blast, phones charging, and radio blaring….except they weren’t anymore because my battery was dead. I asked a guy to charge me, but it didn’t work. I sat in tears while waiting for a family member to reply to my SOS via text. Several of them went into action to stop what they were doing to come and help, but Abigail brought a man to my attention before any of them made it to me. He was walking up the car. He was an angel sent from heaven as he said, “I worked for Honda for years, let me see what I can do.” I guess we hadn’t hooked the cables up right the first time and he got me on the road in about 60 seconds. I cried some more. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to burden my already stressed family and I could get back to my hubby who, by the way, had told everyone via text that he was just fine as he had a bucket of chicken to keep him company.

Seemingly unrelated was an incident that had occurred day before. My two sisters made reference that this little Honda miracle was my payback for doing the right thing earlier. The three of us had stumbled across $60 in five dollar bills strewn across a loading dock. Instead of pocketing it, we took it in and got it back to it’s rightful owner who was obviously grateful.

As we were always taught as children: Kindness begins with me. I do believe in karma. I also believe that there are so many kind people left in the world.

Be the Rainbow

After recognizing my lonely state a few weeks back I decided I needed to be proactive about connecting with others. I realized I have a tendency to isolate and expect others to befriend me instead of reaching out to them. This may sound untrue to those who don’t me well because I believe “extroverted” would be on the Top 10 words people would use to describe me. Really I am extroverted, but only those who take the time to see past my surface and know me well, know that I tend to shut off the world, sometimes when I need it most.

Every human needs a place where they can honestly assess themselves. This blog is where I am choosing to be honest. I hope you don’t mind. { Time for some lyrics – I hope you don’t mind, I wrote down in words…how wonderful life is when you’re in the world.} Thanks for reading, if you are. Wow, there is power to putting words out there just for yourself. I pretty much don’t think anyone is reading this and I love it that it’s o.k. [I love that I got happy enough with myself to disable comments.]

So, back to working out the loneliness. I reached out. In the past couple of weeks, I did a bunch of out-reach. First, I went over and helped a friend move. I kind of forced myself on her. She didn’t seem to mind. I also continue to take the children of a friend on bed-rest on a weekly adventure to the park and library. Then I went over and helped another friend move. She also didn’t seem to mind. I got really brave and requested from the ladies from church that come on assignment to visit me once a month that we go to lunch. They seemed happy to oblige. I kept looking for ways to reach out and offered to bring another friend’s children home from swim lessons. I was already there and she lives right around the corner so it was nothing really. Another silly little thing: I answered my phone when a friend from high school called and found out that we will be having a great reunion dinner coming up very soon. I can’t wait. (I would normally just ignore something like that. – Should I admit that?) Last, I sent some giftcards via facebook to some family members who weren’t expecting it. Just for fun. Just to get outside myself.

rainbow

Guess what happened? I got immediate and tangible payoffs. Do you want to hear them? Well, you don’t really have a choice because I am telling you…isn’t that the point of this here blog?

I had fun with the first friend moving. She made me laugh. She also helped me to understand that it’s o.k. to not have a spotless house all the time when you are raising a large family. In fact when her kids came over the other day and our house was less than pristine, I was totally able to relax about it. That’s huge.

I had the privilege of being with my friend’s kids the day that their baby brother was born at 28 weeks –  he wasn’t supposed to come that early. I got to see their faces as they saw his first picture posted on facebook. What could possibly be of more value than that?

I got to have a powerful moving experience at the other friend’s moving day about the roles of women and men. I will share more about that in it’s own post in the near future.

I had a great lunch out with two fabulous ladies that are fast becoming some of my greatest friends. I only have one friend that I do lunch with since moving back to Utah, so to add two more feels pretty darn good. Lunch with the ladies is a great source of joy.

My sweet friend for whom I took kids home gave me a gift-card to my favorite restaurant. It was so unnecessary and undeserved but it made me feel loved and it helped me recognize how well this friend knows me and how wonderful it is to have a friend like her.

And last but certainly not least, I got dubbed as the coolest aunt ever for sending a gift-card through facebook. I even got my own post. Kylie is my newest niece (gained my marriage) and she is a gem! Check out the pic.

aunt

The moral of the story: Maya Angelou may have not always been an angel, but she sure knows what she is talking about when it comes to being a rainbow. It is pretty awesome being a rainbow!