Just a regular Wednesday

There are some mornings when it doesn’t pay to get out of bed. Take this morning, for instance.


I killed a wasp in my bathroom. Getting to our master bathroom involves a series of turns—five turns from the front door, to be exact—so it was a bit of a surprise to see it buzzing around my mirror. I had a bad reaction to a sting this summer, so I have to admit I went a little Rambo on the poor creature. I ran to the garage to get wasp/hornet spray. I drenched the insect (and my mirror and everything on my side of the sink) with the horrible stuff until it fell, paralyzed, into the cup full of Q-tips. Then I dumped out the cup and beat the wasp to a pulp with a flip-flop. Not a very romantic way to go.


My nostrils full of pesticide, my husband texted me from work to say he left his coffee on the kitchen table. I told him I was having a similar kind of day.


Then I listened to a voicemail from my bank saying my debit card was suspended due to questionable charges. Seeing as how someone once stole my credit card to buy a subscription to Soap Opera Digest, I took the call seriously. I got it all sorted out and wheeled my bike out of the garage to go for a ride.


I paused in the driveway, weighing the risks. With the way the morning had been going, would it be more prudent to stay indoors?


Because that’s a lot of what my day boils down to: balancing the risks and the rewards. Should I drink the milk a day after the expiration date? Should I stop at the yellow light or keep going? Should I introduce myself to that person? Should I quit this job to take that one? Should we buy that house? Should I start an adoption?


As I walked my son to school this morning (before the wasp episode and the call from the bank), we talked about his classmates and what the day might bring. He told me that he was worried no one would play with him or talk to him. He feels unsure of how to make friends, though we have seen him win over most anyone in a one-mile radius of him with a giant smile and a side-hug. I asked him if he thought he should go back with me and do school at home. He chewed on the thought for a few seconds, then he said he should go to school.


“Me make friends,” he said, adjusting his backpack and squaring his shoulders resolutely. “School hard but good.”


Risks and rewards. Totally worth it.

Summer Time (and why it shouldn’t be wasted)

Yesterday my 15-year old daughter approached me in the hallway of our home and asked me a question. With utmost sincerity and concern, she said, “Mom, are we having money problems?”


“Money problems? No. We’re not having money problems,” I answered. “Why are you asking me that?”


“Because I noticed that this week you keep turning off all of the lights in the house.”


“Like in the rooms that no one is in…in the middle of the day?” I asked with utmost sarcasm and cynicism. “Of course I’m turning them off. IT’S WASTING ELECTRICITY!”


I couldn’t believe she had asked me that! I mean, she’s lived with me for 15 years so even if I had only said, “Don’t leave the lights on. That’s wasting electricity!” once a week for the entirety of her lifetime that’s 780 times! And I know I say it more than once a week. (It’s from my Mom Playlist which is on constant rotation. Others hits include: “For the love of air conditioning, close the door!” and “Why are there so many shoes in the living room?” and “This is my drink. Get your own.” and for our youngest family member: “Are you wearing underwear?”)


There’s just something hardwired in me that can’t stand to waste things—electricity, water, food. It feels so extravagant (not in a good way) to dump half of a casserole in the trashcan because you forgot it was there and now there’s a gray fur growing on it. So much time and effort and cream of chicken soup to be discarded as if there aren’t starving people all over the world! It bothers me to no end.


Even Jesus saw the value in leftovers after He fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. He told the Apostles to wander all over their mountainside picnic area and collect what wasn’t eaten. I’d like to think every bit of the contents of those 12 baskets were eventually eaten and savored for the delicious, miraculous leftovers they were.


Now that I’m in the slow, sweet days of summer break—a place that really only feels different from the rest of the year if you’re a teacher, a student, or a parent of a student—I feel extra motivated not to be wasteful, and I don’t want my kids to waste this time either.


I want them to play in the rain.

I want them to catch lightning bugs.

I want them to lose track of time while they read good books.

I want our family to do things after 8:00 pm on weeknights: start a movie, go get ice cream, play Frisbee or freeze tag or some game we invent on the spot in the backyard and commit to it until it’s too dark to see each other’s faces.


We are so often warned to be good stewards of all the blessings we’ve been so graciously given. Perhaps the most abundant yet most wasted gift is time. I will try—starting with the months of June and July—to make the most of what I have.


Soon after my husband Brent and I were married, my in-laws treated us to a trip to California. We toured the coast and visited all kinds of amazing, glamorous places.


One of my favorite memories was a tour of Hearst Castle in San Simeon. It’s a beautiful palace built over several years during the first half of the 20th century by a wealthy newspaperman named William Randolph Hearst.


Every inch of the “castle” was dripping with over-the-top grandeur. Driving up to the estate, we were even greeted by zebras grazing in the fields nearby. There were turrets and ornate vaulted ceilings and a dining room table fit for a king and his 20 best friends. It was almost too much for us broke newlyweds to take in.


The four of us were joined by a host of other tourists as we followed a tour guide in and out of many rooms (though not all—there are 56 bedrooms) and through various parts of the grounds.


When we came to the Roman Pool (an indoor swimming pool), I was left speechless. Millions of tiny blue, orange, and gold tiles covered nearly every surface. The water from the pool reflected the blue tiles in an infinite echo of serenity and brilliance. To drive home the ancient Rome theme, there were statues of Roman gods and goddesses placed along the edge of the pool. It was stunning.

Not everyone in our group shared my opinion. A fellow tourist, a man in cargo shorts and a white, sleeveless t-shirt, held his camcorder aloft his shoulder, narrating his videography.


“Indoor swimming pool,” he droned, sarcastically. “Whoop-de-doo.” He was unimpressed.


Brent and I thought this was enormously funny. During Hearst’s lifetime, this guy probably wouldn’t have been allowed to clean the pool, let alone take a guided tour through it, and yet there he was, belittling the beauty and splendor of this place.


I told my 11-year old son that story just the other day and it got me thinking: How often do I devalue the miraculous and the splendid with no other excuse than my own self-centered ignorance?


When was the last time I really appreciated a sunset? They happen every day but how often do I stop and take note of them? Especially those cloudy evenings when the streaks and smudges made by the clouds are lit up by the sun’s dying rays and magnified in brilliant pinks and purples and oranges.


How long has it been since I held a tiny baby? Wrinkled fingers and toes. Paper-thin eyelids. Infant yawns and sleepy grins. Like all of us, this child began from something microscopic. What’s more miraculous than that?


Lord, let my “whoop-de-doo” moments be sincere and frequent. Thank you for all of the changing seasons but especially springtime with its feats of beauty around every corner. Help me to stop and enjoy your everyday magnificent displays!