Friday, September 20, 2013

Wisdom from a Homeless Man...


Today I was super busy.  I had children to school, errands to run and a house to clean, all before Emerie's nap time.  I was in auto-pilot mode so we could stay on task, which meant during errands I was buzzing my kids around the store in the cart, paying no mind to others around me.

This selfish mentality followed me into the parking lot where I hurriedly ushered my kids into the car and put the shopping bags in the back.  As I began to get into the driver's seat, I looked up and noticed a disheveled man approaching me.  While I did not know him personally, I knew who he was.  He was a homeless man.  A homeless man I didn't have time to entertain.  A man who was going to interrupt my schedule.  A man who would ask me for something.  As he approached he began speaking in a very humble manner, "Excuse me miss.  I don't want to bother you, I know you are busy and I'm sorry to interfere, but I haven't had anything to eat in two days."  I gave him my false look of empathy and said, "I'm sorry but I don't have any cash."  I wish that were true.  I had a ten dollar bill sitting idly at the bottom of my purse.  I lied.  I didn't want to give it to him in case I needed it later.  He said, "Oh, okay.  Thank you anyway!"  and began walking away.

I was struck immediately by a sense of guilt.  Not only for lying, but suddenly I realized that the man never asked for money.  What he said was, "I haven't had anything to eat in two days."  I looked over at the grocery bag in the passenger seat.  A bag that contained two unopened bags of pretzels.  One for us, and one for him.  Before I could speak, Ethan piped up from the backseat, "Mama!  Let's give him one of our bags of pretzels."  I hurriedly started my car to catch up with him as he was nowhere in sight.  I drove up and down the parking lot aisles as the two big kids and I kept our eyes peeled for him.  Ethan exclaimed, "There he is mom! Hurry!"

I drove up to him and he looked at me.  He had a half-eaten hostess chocolate cupcake in his hand and was polishing off the last bit as I rolled down my window.  I held out the bag of pretzels to him and said, "I have a bag of pretzels...they're yours if you want them."  He smiled at me and shook his head, "That's ok.  That guy over there gave me one of his cupcakes."  I looked where he was pointing and sure enough there was a man sitting in his truck holding the other cupcake.  The gift giver smiled at me, held up his cupcake and nodded.  I looked back at the homeless man and insisted, "Yes, but you don't know when your next meal is, you can have these and save them for later."  He smiled again and said, "That's okay, I don't need them.  Someone will take care of me."  Then he nodded at the cars piling up behind me in the parking lot and said, "You're holding up traffic."  I pulled the pretzels back into the car, smiled and drove away.  My first thought was, "Geez you're dumb.  I'm giving you a bag of pretzels for FREE and you're turning me down."  Then it became clear to me.  And I began to cry.  The irony was not lost on me.

This homeless man was no dummy.  He was wise.  He trusted that he would be provided for.  He trusted that his hunger would be met with food, though he didn't know when.  He didn't need to store up anything for later.  There would be a gift giver who would make a sacrifice and would care for him.  It was as if the Holy Spirit removed my blinders of selfishness and scripture began running through my mind:

Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Then I immediately thought of the children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness for 40 years.  When the Lord provided manna from Heaven he gave them the warning to only gather what they needed for each day.  If they attempted to store any food for the next day, in the morning they woke to rotten, stinky, bug-infested food.  The Lord, in His wisdom and mercy was teaching them dependence on Himself.  How would the nations around them see God as a perfect, holy provider and come to Him, if the children of Israel only depended on themselves?  He wouldn't get the glory.

The lesson for me was two-fold:  be a giver, and be dependent.  Give as the Lord has so graciously blessed me, and be dependent knowing that the great gift-giver who sacrificially gave His life will meet my needs (ie. give up the stinking $10 if the Lord is asking for's not mine anyway!).  In being a gift giver, and being dependent, God gets the glory.  I am so struck by this situation that I can't stop thinking about it.  Lesson learned, Lord.  

This homeless man got it.  Or was he even a homeless man?  Did I fail at entertaining an angel? (Hebrews 13:2 "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.")

Monday, May 13, 2013

Family Photo Outtakes...

Yesterday I rounded up the littles and begged my hubby to put down the garden trowel so we could capture a family photo.  We smoothed our hair, plastered on smiles and came up with one lovely gem.  But, what good are family photos without showing you the outtakes.  I'm all about keeping it real around here...

Ethan:  "Mom look, I'm flying with my elbows!" Me: "Dude, put your elbows down! Everybody smile big!  Seriously, Ethan put your elbows d..."

"Oh, hey.  This one isn't too bad...wait, the baby's eyes are closed.  Okay guys one more time!"

Ethan:  "Ummm guys...Emerie's pulling my hair.  Oh wow, this really hurts!"

"Wait...everyone come back we're not done yet!  Eva, stop jumping!  Guys just one more pic..."

"Okay guys...suckers for everyone if we can make this our last one!!!"

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand that's a wrap...
A friend of mine saw this photo on Facebook and commented that it was a "sweet family photo." I had to laugh, knowing all it took to capture one good shot.  Can you imagine the film we save by using digital cameras these days?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Waking Up A Mom...

"(24/7) Once you sign on to be a mother, that's the only shift they offer."
Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper

For me, the best part of waking up has zero to do with Folgers in my cup...

I will never forget the very first morning I woke up as a mom.  It was super-early while still in the hospital and I could hear the sound of the nurse pushing the little rolling crib holding our newborn son down the hall.  The door opened and the light from the hallway flooded into the dark room.  This scenario happened with our daughters as well, and it will always be something that I remember and cherish as a new mom...those tiny swaddled bundles being brought to me to care for in the wee hours of the morning.  The chaos of the delivery the day before had worn off, and I officially felt like a mom to the little baby in my arms.  I love those precious times with those sleepy little faces.

Our little Jackson's are still early risers.  Every morning they pile into our bed, well before 7 am.  There is lots of blanket tugging, squirming, tossing and turning and knees and elbows to the back...but, there are also sweet whispers of, "I love you," kisses to the forehead and soft talk of what's in store for the day.  As tired as I am and as much as I am looking forward to a bit of caffeine, I will always love starting my day this way.  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Knocking Down Cobwebs....'s been five months since my last post...five months!  I admit, this unintended hiatus has gotten a little out of hand.  Somewhere between giving birth and sleepless nights, posting on the blog got neglected.  Not only do I have to knock down a few cobwebs and do a bit of dusting and decluttering of the ol' blog, but I practically have to reintroduce myself.  So, I'm taking a cue from this girl and this girl  and telling you more than you ever wanted to know about me.  A post like this sort of writes itself, which is awesome since my creativity is a bit zapped right now.  I guess we can just call this a TMI here ya go!

*I love food and am a self-professed food snob.  I am pretty adventurous and really love ethnic food.  I am not  a fan of chain restaurants and usually seek out local places in any city.  Brent and I have been known to plan entire vacations around the restaurants we want to visit. 

*I loved being pregnant all three times.  Seriously, love. the. belly.  If I could go back and get a different degree, I would be a labor and delivery nurse or an ultrasound technician.  I love listening to other people's birth stories and just love the whole pregnancy process so much.

(preggo pics from left to right:  Ethan, Eva, Emerie)

*I have always been an early riser but would not consider myself a morning person at all.  I usually don't sleep past 7:00--not taking into account the early wake-up call from the kiddos.

*I hate going to bed with a messy kitchen...and whenever I do, it makes me grumpy to see a mess that I have to clean first thing in the morning.

*I consider myself a good cook, but I make crappy pancakes.  I cannot for the life of me get it right.  Brent however makes amazing pancakes and is the Saturday morning pancake maker.

*My mama intuition stinks.  We never found out the gender of our kiddos, but I guessed wrong all three times. Even when the old wives tales proved to be a good fit, I still stuck to my (incredibly wrong) guns.

*I (we) named my kids all 'E' names but it wasn't on purpose.  The names just stuck.  Eva was supposed to be Avery, but the name just didn't sit well.  Emerie would have broken the mold and been 'Miles' had she been a boy.  We affectionately refer to our brood as the 'Trifecta' or 'E to the third power'.

*I can't handle the smell, taste or texture of eggs.  They make me gag.  Eggs and I will never  be friends.

*I always wear either leggings or sweat pants to bed year round because I don't like the feeling of my legs rubbing together in my sleep.

*I don't like chick flicks...I'm more of an action/adventure/comedy gal.  

*I love reading, but I totally cheated and did the cliff's notes version of most of the required reading in all of my literature classes during college.

*I've never had a cavity.

*As a kid, I was an extra on a dumb Steven King movie called, "Sometimes They Come Back."  Seriously, a horrible movie.  More cheesy than scary.  My sisters and I were in a scene set up as a hometown parade/festival.

*I had to wear glasses beginning in second grade until three years ago when my optometrist said I shouldn't be wearing glasses at all.

*I have been asked by strangers (more times than I can count) if we've met before or am told by others that I look familiar or look like someone they know.  Maybe this happens to lots of people, but it seems to happen to me all the time.

*I always wash my hands and make my kids wash theirs when we get home from church or public places...I am a moderate germaphobe.

*I do not like alcohol of any just tastes gross to me.  If I have to acquire a taste for it, then it isn't worth the calories.

*My favorite drink is a non-fat chai with vanilla.  Brent makes an excellent true Indian chai that I can never say no to.

*I'm afraid of heights.  Like absurdly afraid.  I have tried several times to overcome my fear, but once I'm at the top, I freeze and it takes me forever to get back down.

*I have this weird fear of knocking out my two front teeth.  I once hit them on a slide as a kid and since then, if I trip or slip and fall, I will sacrifice any body part to save my teeth.

*I love to travel, but really hate to fly (that's probably a 'duh' since I'm afraid of heights).  I can't relax on a plane and don't feel completely at ease until I've landed.

*I am really outgoing and make friends in the weirdest on vacation.  It always shocks me a little by the depth of what acquaintances are willing to tell me (though, I really enjoy listening to others).  I guess I have a trust-me-with-your-life-story kind of face.

*Brent and I have known each other since the fourth grade.  We had huge crushes on each other in middle school but never dated.  That means we've known each other for 24 years, been together for 14 and married for nearly 12.  I've always thought he was super-attractive, but I think he gets hotter with age.

*I don't like regular jelly beans, but my favorite candy is Jelly Bellies.  I even have a Jelly Belly dispenser on my desk at work.

*For the better part of the week I am a vegetarian, but when the weekend comes I give myself the freedom to eat meat.  I do not champion a vegetarian lifestyle because of morals and, my reasons are pretty shallow.  I do it because it's cost effective.

*When I was pregnant with Emerie all I wanted was meat...which is why 'Meatless Monday' posts were shelved for nine months.  I felt like a hypocrite posting meatless recipes while regularly devouring a juicy burger in secret.

*I don't like messes or clutter.  I have a hard time functioning when there is chaos...but with three kids, that means I'm having to learn to both relax a little AND task the kids to pick up their own stuff. It's GLORIOUS (the kids picking up, not living with clutter).

*I hate doing laundry, it will always be last on my long list of things to do.  Seems a bit out of place considering the above confession.

All it's your turn!  Tell me all about you!