I have this weird problem with getting lost easily. I tend to remember things being on the opposite side of the road from where they actually are. I also tend to transpose certain roads—mix them up.

When my kids were little I was afraid of being asked to be a driver on a field trip. Having lived in the same city for my entire life, I was embarrassed by how easily I got lost and afraid that this odd deficit of mine would get in the way. I bought a small car so that I could honestly say I didn't have room for other passengers. But still, one day my daughter's teacher said, "That's okay. You can drive your daughter. Every little bit helps." 

So… I got lost on the way to Bud’s Best Cookies. Very lost. And suddenly fear flooded my mind. Not just the fear of getting lost, but the fear of not having what it takes to do whatever was going to be expected of me in life, as a mom in particular. Have you ever gotten scared like that? Ever had one of those moments when your particular deficit stares you in the face and you wonder if  you just don't have what's necessary to get through life? It's a bad feeling.

Another bad feeling is getting to Bud’s Best Cookies so late that you and your daughter have to ride on the little train through the factory with a different class because your train already left. And it’s even worse if you cry really hard the whole time while wearing a silly looking paper hat.

Since the Bud’s Best Cookies incident I have cried that hard a few times, and most of them have been due to fear. Fear is awfully powerful isn't it? But truth is even more powerful. The truth is that getting everything right in life is just not that important. God's goodness is not hindered at all by my deficits or yours. Not even a little. My kids are teenagers now. They've seen me get lost countless times, and make all kinds of other much bigger mistakes as well, and it hasn't thwarted God's love or presence or provision for me, or for them. In fact, it's given them a picture of what it looks like to be an imperfect person finding hope and courage in a loving God. I'm perfectly qualified to do that and so are you. And that is what truly matters.

Isn't that wonderful? Isn't it a relief? And also, isn't GPS great?


The World is Full of Characters

I often view people as though they were characters in a book or a movie. Have you ever done that? It can really help you to enjoy people you might not enjoy otherwise. Because if someone is incredibley grumpy, for instance, and you're viewing them as a character—you can take a step back and appreciate the scene. I'm not saying you're necessarily going to look forward to time with this grumpy person (though I have looked forward to it before) but you will likely come to appreciate the grumpy person as an interesting character. 

Many years ago I lived across the street from an elderly man who was often shirtless and always grumpy. Have you seen the movie "UP"? He was like that man minus the shirt. I enjoyed trying to befriend him though it never really worked. One evening, I'd just gotten back from an art class and I saw this grumpy man (I'll call him Mr. Blake). He had his back turned to me, pruning an already stumpy looking shrub at the edge of his yard. I called out across the street cheerfully, "Hi Mr. Blake! I just got back from an art class! Do you want to see what I made?" He turned his head only slightly and said, "No", which to this day, is so funny to me. Mr. Blake was a fantastic character! It would have been such a shame to miss out on that scene, and I'm thankful I got to be in it. Maybe when I moved away he looked out his window and muttered, "good riddance." I wish I'd heard him say it. It would've been worth needle pointing on a pillow. 

Here’s another example, but of a totally different sort of character: This guy was helping me to my car with my groceries and he sneezed so loudly that I couldn't even believe it. It sounded like a combination of a throaty yell and a sneeze at the same time. I was astonished and it took all my power of self-control to keep from laughing in front of him. That sneeze made my day. I can't tell you how may times I've imitated it since. And he didn't seem to think anything of it—totally oblivious to his own explosive sneeze. What a character!

 This week, be on the lookout for characters. I promise, they're out there. 


Speaking Each Others Language

When I was little, my mom used to take me to visit my great grandmother who lived in a nursing home in the country. I've found that people usually associate nursing homes with sadness, and that makes sense. But as a child I remember thinking it was a happy place. I got to know the people who lived there and I enjoyed visiting them. My favorite person there, aside from my grandmother, was a man I referred to as the Weeble Man. For very good reason. He only ever said, "Weeble." He clearly believed he was saying a great variety of things, and he used lots of inflection, but it all sounded like, "weeble, weeble, weeble." I usually found him sitting on the porch looking out toward the grass, trees and sky. I would sit next to him and we would have lengthy Weeble conversations. I loved it! I was a very imaginative child (surprising, I know) and I loved talking Weeble. I would ask him, "Weeble weeble weeble weeble?" and he would nod his head and reply, "Weeble weeble weeble."  For your sake I won't bother typing out a really long example of one of our conversations. That might get tedious. But it was such a sweet experience talking to that man. I feel like we were often talking about the weather because he looked at the sky a lot. I wonder if he had been a farmer when he was younger? He seemed like a farmer to me. 

I think we all speak different languages to some extent. That's why there are so many misunderstandings. But isn't it beautiful when we (whoever we are) sit next to someone (whoever they are) and try to learn their language? And as we learn their language, our own language becomes richer. It changes us for the better.