Rusty cars, Awkward Obedience and God’s Grace

Sometimes, especially at the beginning of a new year, I get this lumpy-dumpy feeling. It’s not so much about fat handles or a rotunduous tummy. It’s more about my ineffectiveness as compared to other people.

Maybe comparing is the operative word.

You see, compared to most people I feel like I move at a snail’s space- with about as much fanfare. I mean how many snails have you seen with super dynamic personalities or exploding ministry?

(The fact that I’m actually considering relationships with snails may be part of the problem.)

To be honest, people scare me. That’s why I often wonder how God could use me to show his love to other people.

That all changed a few months ago.

I was taking my mom to the eye specialist. There was almost zero parking space around the office building.  Barely any place to drop her off.

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The very suggestion of slowing down could end your life. Death by pile-up. Yes, in Surrey, B. C. its a real thing.

So is frustration.

Mom had a two-hour appointment. What was I going to do in the meantime?

Then I noticed the Safeway parking lot across from the doctor’s office. It spread out farther than the dimensions of a Wal-mart Superstore.

So, why not park?

Then I saw the signs-

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and the men in green vests everywhere. They re-enforced the same  message as they circled the lot looking violators.

With the Skytrain and the Guildford Rec Center and Ice Rink across the street, a university satellite campus half a block away, parking spots were at a premium.

Obviously.

Fortunately, I spied a small square of Park and Pay signs to the side of Safeway.

That’s when a rusty tank of a car almost mowed me over.

I caught a quick look at the driver.  Her matted hair, tired eyes and sunken cheeks reminded me that this area was a dangerous place to be in the middle of the night.

Good thing it was in the middle of the day. Even more good news. I found a spot. It cost me all my change and then some. But, I parked.

I pulled out a paperback and tried to lose myself in some somebody else’s problems in some other place. That worked until I checked the time on my phone.

Dead battery.

Not good. How was I supposed to pick up mom? She’d never find me in this maze.I read a few more pages. Then, I sighed, shoved my book in my purse and got out of the car.

I walked across the parking lot and stood by a small bank on the corner.

Awkward.

I wasn’t used to being just “out there” standing around with nowhere to go, nothing to do. But I didn’t want my Mom to get lost or panic trying to find me.

So I let awkward be awkward. And actually kind of enjoyed it

The same rusty car that almost mowed me down earlier  pulled up. A woman in a bathroom and pajama bottoms got out. She opened the back door, unstrapped a toddler from a car seat and headed into the bank.

Dumpy  car, worn PJ’s, erratic driving. I should have felt concern and compassion, maybe even prayed for her. Instead, I waited for her to do her banking business and be gone so I could get on with my awkward wait.

It seemed to be working.

This woman came out of the bank almost as quickly as she entered.

But, she didn’t  get into the car. She plopped down on the curb beside her car and put her head in her hands. Her toddler danced around her while she sat motionless. Tragic. Sad.

I tried to put the entire scene out of my mind.

Not a chance.

God wanted more from me. And, I knew what He was saying even if I didn’t hear an audible voice.

This woman needs money.

She needs love.

Go talk to her.

I took a few hesitant  steps toward the woman. Almost got to her car where she had her back to me. Then, I got scared and circled back to the sidewalk and wrestled with my fears.

What if I was about to offend this woman? What if I made her mad?

When I gathered enough courage to start walking back to the woman again.

“Excuse me,” I said. The woman didn’t turn around.

Excuse me, ” I said so loudly I was sure everyone in Safeway heard me.

She turned around slowly.

“I’m sorry, but I had to talk to you. You seem to be having a hard time. And…I want to help you and your son.”

I held out some money. She shook her head.

“He’s my son, not my grandson,” she said, “And, this is not me. I’m the one who helps other people. This is not me…”

She looked about ready to cry. I told her how brave she was and how blessed her family was to have her.

I”ll take your money, but not for me. For my daughter. She needs medicine,” the woman finally said as she looked past me as if I was not even there. Suddenly, she grabbed me in a big hug and started to sob.

For a few moments, we stood as one. Two women, trying to get through the day.

Not sure what else to do, I asked if I could pray for her and her family.

After that, she got into the car with her grandson and drove away.

I don’t know if I will ever see her again. But, God sees her every day. And, he cares.He cares so much that he will use the most awkward of means to show his love.

Even people like me.

 We all we need to do is obey.

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The Strange World of a Weird Kid–why it’s worth exploring.

 

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The weird kid.

There’s one in every group.

You know the child who acts like she’s got invisible headphones tuned to some crazy music from another planet.

I know. I once was one, too.

I was an anomaly of shy mannerisms and impulsiveness. One minute I pressed myself against the wall in an effort to become another layer of paint.

The next minute I was trying to figure out how much saliva I could gather in my mouth at one time. Once the experiment reached a critical point, I spat the entire glob on the classroom floor.

The teacher interpreted my scientific studies as a deliberate attempt to take over the class.

Not cool.

And, not true. I was offended that she would think I wanted to spend the rest of my life torturing students with reading, writing and arithmetic.

I wanted to be home. A place where weird was not so outrageous.

In fact, my younger siblings loved me for it. My unique take on life helped me see things differently. I entertained them with my off beat imagination. We played Natural Disaster games like Tornado and Flash Flood.

Of course, I had to go over the line with games like Concentration Camp in the abandon chicken coop behind the house. What else could I do with the information from school?

Most weird people draw from the same information bank as other people. It’s how  they put it together that makes them hard to understand.

It can be a good thing.

  • Einstein
  • Edison.
  • Beethoven.
  • Michelangelo.

None of them were exactly mainstream. Yet, their

  1. inventions
  2. art
  3. music

reshaped society.

Maybe there is a weird kid who drives you crazy with incessant questions or sullen silence.

Have a little patience.

Try to get to know them on their own terms. You may be just fall in love with a fascinating soul.

It happened to me.

Adults reaching out when I thought no one in the world understood who I was. The time they spent with me changed the way I saw the world.

Why not get to know the kid who seem a little unorthodox?

Trust me. They will be glad you did.

When Great Expectations Get In the Way of Celebration–How to enjoy the person that God made you to be.

zuchini cake

I’m not a good cook.

To be honest, I’ve had few moments of brilliance. The rare alignment of the planets when I

  1. stir the ingredients together just right.
  2. put the concoction into the oven at just the right time and temperature.

Everything comes out bubbly and golden brown.

Most times, my attempts at cooking are more like stars colliding.

  • Potatoes have the consistency of Elmer’s glue.
  • Gravy is the shade of a river bottom in the middle of a drought.

Yesterday, the planets aligned.

I was tired. Emotional. Stressed out. Yet, all nine got in line. (Yes, I allowed Pluto back in line. So, sue me!)

What did I make?

1. A delectable chocolate zucchini cake. I found the recipe on therepressedpastrychef.com. I mean, if that’s repressed, let me in on the action.

2. Creamy, savory potato salad –my mother-in-law’s recipe. Now, that’s a feat in itself.

My mother-in-law should have registered her skills with the local authorities. She made killer French silk pie, elk burger chili and Cornish pasties.

Yesterday, I made Tina Hixson’s signature potato salad speak my name.

potato salad

What can I say?

We all have areas in our life that challenge us. Areas that make us face our weakest self. We’re human. We fail. We try. We fail again.

When we do triumph, celebrate.

Maybe you finally break out the band. Dance in the streets. Life is short. I might as well celebrate my triumphs.

  1. Parked your car within the white lines.
  2. Remembered to put gas in the car before it gets to empty.
  3. Told a joke without forgetting the punch line.
  4. Made a meal that actually tasted the way it should.

It’s those little victories that make life sweet.