The Blue Couch and Grandpa

My grandparent’s basement was always dark and dank. I led from a very steep narrow dark passage way from the kitchen into a large mud room that went all the way to the back wall. To the right there was a doorway that led to a secondary sitting room with a small black and white TV and far too many pieces of antique furniture seemingly left scrunched together or practically on top of each other.

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A Weird Conversation: ‘Merica!

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I hadn’t seen her since she got back from vacation. My brain was racing as she recounted the story to me. What would I have done? What could one do?

“So what did you do?”

“I ran towards her and it veered off, and thankfully it didn’t fly off with her.”

“What would you have done if it did fly off with her?”

“It’s a Bald Eagle, there wouldn’t be anything I could do. I can’t harm it…can I?”

This baffled me. She was on vacation, and her daughter of 6 months old, was moving from her to her grandmother. A bald eagle let out a cry in the direction of another, the one who swooped down towards the baby. She saw it, and she was able to move quickly enough before it got to her daughter, scaring it away. She admitted, if that other bird hadn’t let out a call, she wouldn’t have thought to look, and it might have been too late.

You would only hope that if you got arrested that the jury would see you innocent. Or was it a large fine for killing an Eagle under such circumstances? Were there laws protecting you from this? Probably. I would hope. How strange of a situation for the Fourth of July huh? How strange for a parent to have to encounter! How oddly desperate for an eagle to behave, but then again, I have heard of hawks trying to take small pets from their owners arms.

Were it me and a baby….I’d just kill it. Just saying.

Church Notes

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Reading 2Timothy 3:1-9 and feeling super convicted. I myself feel weak and drawn to the self absorbed pleasure culture that is Western society. Working in retail opens you to a great deal of “I wants” versus what are considered needs. You compromise. You rationalize. But all you are doing is wounding your own soul. Falling into the brokenness you are supposed to be fighting hand, tooth, and nail to stay away from. For what? For the sake of imperfect and broken people’s approval? To people please?

I also find myself distracted. Very humanly so. The children around me are chatting endearingly. I find myself in the overflow area of my church. It consists of a small group of young parents with young children and those of hacking cough send illnesses like I find myself now.

The children are such a beautiful energy. Such a stark contrast to my own energy level (being sick with a runny nose and coughing up a lung). They seem so joyful in the presence of Scripture spoken. Their parents are upset that they lack the attention. Oh, let them be little. I keep silently pleading with these parents. Let them be little before they become bitter and confused like me.

The parents ignore my silent plea. One has picked up the noisy little ones and is taking them to the hallway. Now he has, Returned to us with a child in silent tears. Lips quivering. Even at a young age children are taught not to enjoy life. They’re taught to hate church.

“Mommy can’t we just play a little bit?” An honest and loving plea from a three-year-old girl. Rejected. My heart aches.

God would let her play. He knows her little heart loves Him. He knows she is hearing this Word in the background. He knows what she is experiencing: His creation, in pure innocent curiosity, joy, and slight human selfishness. He understands her selfishness. Loves her. Forgives that selfishness, knowing one day she would understand it. Fight it. When she could actually pronounce it.

Who am I to speak for God? I was brought up in a culture of people pleasing, selfish persons, and could simply be pressing my own selfishness into the situation. A selfishness to see joy, where I struggle to feel it. To see children understanding the social aspect of church that I have not encountered. To live with others, and enjoy their company. To build relationships and accountability in our faith. To find others to be the Sam to our Frodo on Mount Doom. The ones who help carry us. Who show us God, when we struggle to see Him.

Then again, I could be wrong on all of it. All I know is I am not perfection nor am I God Himself. That’s why I need Him in the first place.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful moms who took on the challenge of raising children like myself. Who were handfuls. Beyond handfuls. More power to you ladies!

Also happy Mother’s Day to those who are pet moms. Birds, cats, dogs, iguanas, tigers, bears, hedgehogs etc… Are happy to have a family to call their own and a place to belong. Way to give your home up for fur on everything! Your hospitality is appreciated by this animal lover!

Children and Retail

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“Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!”

Her little high pitch squeals could be heard from across the store. She stumbled only once but caught her balance before she hit the ground. Her shoes lit up with every step, and glittered as the lights reflected in every jewel adorning the little sneakers. She only hesitated to take a breath maybe three times the whole run across from one end of the store to the other. Her eyes gleamed with pure innocent joy.

It fell off her head. She stopped, picked up the bra, and put it back on, looping her arms through the straps to keep it in place. Smart kid. She continued to run to the other end of the store, lungs fully warmed up. It was impressive. Her mother ran behind….frantic and embarrassed.

I laughed. This is what made retail worth while.

The variety of parents and children you see in retail is fascinating. I especially like observing the children. Not in a creepy way. In the kind of people watching way that the common (bored) employee does. It’s lively and authentic. I say that because every child I observe has the ability to add excitement to the trip. Some cry. Upset that mom isn’t paying attention to them. Some half complain and half entertain themselves with the varying objects they encounter. Some children try to be helpful. Some just run around the store gleefully expressing themselves with a bra on their heads. Those last two tend to be my favorite.

I remember one little girl a few months ago. Her mother had that look about her. High maintenance, wealthy husband, never had anyone say no to her. The little girl, just sweet as can be. Her mother was looking at jewlery and she so desperately wanted to help her mom. She was reaching for necklaces on her tippy toes and climbing on carts and counters to reach those pretty dangling chains. She’d slip them over her little head and dance over to her mom saying “Mama look. Oohlala!” In her little child voice that sounded so out of place. Her dress would twirl. Even now women love dresses that twirl. The mother would look, slightly amused, make a single comment, and then ignore her daughter to look further for an appropriate accessory. Sometimes she wouldn’t look, and her daughter would scold her. She just wanted to be pretty. She just wanted someone to notice her pretty.

I enjoyed that little girl. I enjoyed her sense of wonder. I enjoyed her little “oohlala” and the little fancy shuffle she did every time she put on something she though was pretty. I admired that spirit. That fearless confidence that children have. They don’t care what people say. They don’t care how they look with a necklace that hangs down to their feet. All they know is they like it. They need no approval, just attention. They want someone to look and admire their exploration of self. I admit I admire it and envy it. I wish I had that kind of innocent confidence. That need for no ones approval. To be that kind of childlike beauty.

I often wonder what happens to that quiet confidence in people. Where does that go? Does it become prey to social convention? Does it disappear when childhood does? Do we lose it when we realize that creativity outside of function, is frowned upon? I venture to suggest all the above. I think adulthood takes a great deal of our confidence and creativity away. Not because we lack creativity when we are older, but because to be creative can sometimes mean being deemed a little bit crazy. Out of the ordinary.

I love graphic design. I know it sounds like a random topic switch, but just hang with me a sec. I love it because I get to incorporate playtime with work. I love drawing. I love critical thinking and problem solving. I love coloring. I love being able to come up with solutions. I love playing with ideas on my computer. I love presenting the options and seeing that moment when a client gets the idea. When I capture their interest. I especially love when they are a small business owner who is finally seeing their dream come true. They get to see their creativity live. Have function. I get the perfect combination of learning and play. It’s almost as fun as playing dress up with mom at the store.

When I’m not designing, I’m critiquing designs. Figuring out ways to make them better. More functional. Because of my childlike joy with design, I also have the gift of childish authenticity…okay I complain like a kid who has been in the store too long. I say what I like and don’t like shamelessly. I don’t like things that are too wordy. I don’t like fake embossing and am not a fan of gradients and drop shadows. Foil printing in large amounts is gross. I hate the typeface Papyrus! Really hate it. It’s cheap. Awful to work with. So over used, and…over valued. Hate it so much….that I’m glad the Egyptian empire fell because they have hieroglyphics that were just to close to the style of Papyrus, and I don’t care how cool their culture is. That kind of hatred. I’m not afraid to say it.

Anyway I digress. Where was I? Oh yes…

We never take the time to just play. Or to find places for ourselves that let us play. We don’t take the time to do what we enjoy. To be a little crazy and funny. To laugh. To be ourselves. We just don’t take the time to be authentic. To be real. Honestly, we just don’t run around department stores screaming enough….especially with bras on our heads. That part is important. We should do that more.