Secret Shopper

IMG_1062 - Copy kitchen table

It was only a table, well, two tables actually, and their matching chairs. The kitchen set was worn out by two childhoods’ worth of homework and supper, birthday parties and art projects. At the dining room table, family dinners once melted into lingering conversations, multiple generations swapping stories and sharing laughter.

Those tables don’t fit in our new home. Their replacements, chosen through long pleasant hours of shopping with Steve, are truly lovely. After months of navigating a garage clogged with cast-offs, I knew the Salvation Army truck was sorely overdue. But I still cried. My tears were happy and sad and unexpected. They surprised me, because I didn’t know that sticks of wood could mean so much.

I walked outside and headed two doors down, where Nick saw me right away. He waved and said, “Hi, Nana!” His mom, having already seen the truck, asked how I was feeling about parting with my longtime belongings. Love. Compassion. Understanding. They comforted me. Soon I was almost as good as new.

Someone around you is holding back tears today. You can’t see their emotion. You don’t know their struggle. Chances are that person is hiding it all rather well. ‘Could be over something as simple as a table or something far more serious. Often the people who need our love, our compassion, and our understanding are the ones we least suspect. So, the only answer is to offer it to everyone. A tall order? Yes, but one I believe pleases our Lord.   

Advertisements

Black Tea

heart bear pixabay 1 10 18

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you, but especially to my husband, who never complains as I write about our lives on a public platform. (Thank you, my love!) Before I relate the story below, let me applaud the way he takes my teasing—and this blog—with humor and grace. Even after four plus decades (we were very young when we met) of friendship, we miscommunicate on occasion. Here’s one of our latest faux pas.

 

Elizabeth had flown from California to Texas to celebrate Christmas. The two hour time change was wearing on her a bit, as was a bout with a cold and the fatigue of a busy week. Having never been a coffee drinker, she asked me to add a caffeinated tea to my Christmas grocery list. I had a looonggg list, and managed to come home with a trunkful of culinary delights, including many flavors of delicious tea, but not her caffeinated request.

The next day was baking day, and we discovered a few needed items were missing. My loving husband offered to make the run to Kroger, so I added black tea to the list, sure that he would enjoy choosing a delicious flavor for our much loved child.

Oops.

Steve came home with everything on the shopping list, proud of himself for discovering that Lipton makes huge boxes of plain black tea bags that average about a nickel a serving. Yeah, that wasn’t what I had in mind. I was expecting something with pumpkin or spice or at least bergamot.

The most gracious thing I could have done, of course, would have been to drop the subject altogether. (Too much to hope for, my friends.) Instead, I teased him a bit about his frugal but boring choice. I chuckled and went on with my baking, having cited the wise writers of Driver’s Ed in a Box who taught me years ago that, when there is miscommunication, the fault generally lies with she who speaks, not he who listens, as nobody wants to misunderstand on purpose. There was no harm done. Son-in-law Jake brought home wonderful tea soon thereafter. I now have a lot of plain black tea in my pantry at home.

What does this story have to do with living as the Lord would have us to? Simply this. We need to get along. To cut each other slack. To take the blame ourselves. To swallow pride. To put up with inconvenience. To encourage one another. Petty grievances, and the discord they can create, are as old as the hills. Cain and Abel. (Okay, that’s a little extreme.) Euodia and Syntyche (Check out their story here in Philippians 4.)

Peace on earth? It really does begin with you and me. And now is as good a time as any to get started!

Pop Quiz (Amazing Grace) by Beth Smith

grace cross pixabay 10 17Remember those rolls of candy called Lifesavers? Well, grace is, quite literally, our lifesaver. It’s sometimes explained by the acronym God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. We’re saved for eternity by God’s grace, and we’re sustained here on earth every day by his grace.

Indulge me for a minute while I make sure you know the truth about grace. Here’s a little pop quiz. I’ll ask the questions. And if you’ve understood what the Bible says about grace, your answers will be, in this order, “no, no, never, noooo, not a chance, and no!”

  • Can you buy it?
  • Can you inherit it from your mom and dad?
  • Can you get it because you are talented or smart?
  • Can you do enough good works … get enough gold stars … to erase the black marks on your record of life?
  • Can you earn it?
  • When you get it, can you brag about it?

We’ve settled the fact that grace is God’s gift and our eternal lifesaver. But what about right now? How do we live “by grace” until we die and go to our eternal life? As believers in Christ, we are already able to rely on God’s grace every day. His power far exceeds our own resources. In fact, lucky for us, his power shows up best in weak people who submit themselves to his grace.

Now, sometimes truth and feelings collide, but truth is truth and feelings are feelings. Never does the second change the first. We may say, “I don’t feel that God loves me or cares for me.” That does not change the truth that he does indeed love you and care for you. Truth never ceases to exist just because we choose to ignore it. We may ignore the fact that we are saved by God’s grace. But that doesn’t change the truth of it.

Now you have the facts about God’s grace. It is amazing. That’s the word that John Newton used to describe grace in the hymn he wrote, Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now I’m found;

Was blind, but now I see.

We are indeed amazed by grace. We all thirst for it, and Christ offers it to us now and for all eternity.