Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thoughts from Black Friday 2010

Every year we spend Thanksgiving with Burt's family. Generally we all meet in Tennessee because that is basically in the middle between Florida (where his sister and her family live) and Michigan (where we live and his brother and his family live). We have a tradition that every year the women get up early and go shopping on Black Friday. It is a long standing tradition and the highlight of the trip for some. Not so much for me as I really don't enjoy shopping unless I have a specific goal in mind. My sisters in law and my oldest niece all know this and are always patient with me as I try to get myself mentally prepared for several hours of shopping with crazy shoppers. In spite of the fact that I don't enjoy shopping for the sake of shopping, I do value the time spent with my sisters and niece.

This year, Target had a door buster sale on something that I really wanted to get Daniel for Christmas so my niece, Christen, volunteered to get up with me and be at Target when the doors opened at 4 a.m. Although I was advised against going at that time we were up and out at 3:40 anyway. The line to get in stretched to the of the building and it was chilly so Christen and I drove around the parking lot in her Mini Cooper a couple of times and got out to get in line at about 3:59. It took about three minutes for us to get in the doors and we fast walked to the toy department. There were two lego sets on sale and we quickly found the lego aisle and began looking for the one we wanted. Sadly, we were greeted by a big empty space where, I presume, the item should have been. We carefully looked all around with no luck. Christen commented that she could not believe that they were sold out at ten after 4. I decided that since we had put all the effort into getting there so ridiculously early we should probably ask someone before we gave up and left. I found a young man standing near the zoo that was the electronics department (there was some huge deal on TVs) and explained what I was looking for. He walked to the aisle where we had spent 5 minutes looking at every box of legos, turned to the other side, reached to the top and pulled down the only remaining set. He commented that he had been there since 2 a.m. and had stuck it up there because he could not find any other place for it. I nearly wept I was so happy! Not only was it significantly on sale but it also is part of a discontinued set that Daniel really wanted.

Having had such stellar success in our first outing, Christen and I got in the car and were home by 4:45. I could have been done for the day but we had plans to go to the mall at 8:00 with everyone else so I got ready when I got home and then just chilled for a couple of hours. Christen went back to sleep :o)

The rest of Black Friday shopping was pretty typical. We started at Starbucks, as is our tradition, and then hit the mall. I really was not looking for anything, as I had already gotten my prize earlier, so I just browsed and hung out with the girls. We shopped for about 4 and a half hours and near the end of it I bought some perfume. With that purchase I got a free bag. It was a BIG bag and bright red, faux alligator print. Initially I thought it was kind of neat but quickly I decided that it really was not my style and that, while some people would look very chic with it, it looked a bit gaudy with me.

As the mall trip drew to a close I went outside to get some fresh air. I was tired, a bit grumpy, and getting a little stressed because it was nearly 12:30, we had not had lunch yet and Burt, Daniel and I had planned to be on the road to Indiana by 2:00. As I started back into the mall to meet up with the rest of my party a woman probably in her 50s came out with another woman who looked to be her mother. The older woman admired my red bag and asked where I got it. I explained that it was a gift with a purchase and then, on a whim, asked her if she would like to have the bag. She looked a bit surprised and said that, yes, she would love to have it so I quickly removed my perfume and wallet, gave her the bag, and wished her a Merry Christmas. My mood was considerably better and my step a bit lighter as I went back into the mall and rejoined my girls. It was a wonderful reminder that doing something kind for someone else can do wonders for one's mood and disposition!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Part II

It's Thanksgiving morning in Nolensville, TN. I am enjoying the sounds of the house waking up around me ... boys playing in the hall, breakfast being prepared downstairs. As I sit in the quiet and listen I reflect on Thanksgivings past. I think about how the kids have grown. The oldest kids in Burt's extended families are adults now. As I came in from walking the dog earlier I could not help but think that in just a few short years even the youngest ones won't be children any more.

I think about how I have changed. About how weary I am. The last 9 years have been a battlefield as my life has taken turns that I never would have anticipated. I have been blessed beyond measure with an amazing son, a great job (two, really), an enduring marriage, wonderful family and friends and an incredibly supportive church community. I want so much to dwell in the positive and I think that most of the time I do. At the same time, I struggle and lately I have been realizing that, in the last two or three years I think I have lost some of my ability to be patient and forgiving of others. I am bothered by this.

I know that my life is not what I expected. Having a chronically ill spouse with no answers to the physical issues and no end in sight is draining. I have had to let go of many of my dreams and ideas of what my life would be like. Mostly they are silly little things ... like going camping on weekends and taking road trips and serving together with my husband ... but those little things seem to touch every area of my life.

This month I have been surrounded by grief and, although it has only touched me in a somewhat peripheral way, it has permeated my life the last few weeks and brought my own grief over what I have "lost" into sharper focus. Even in the midst of this heavy and unpleasant angst, however, I am inspired to be better; to do better. I am inspired by Becky Milligan who, in spite of the loss of her mother to a long struggle with cancer, is positive and encouraging. I am inspired by Veronica King who has been so open in her grief over the loss of her husband and, without realizing it, is ministering to so many people as they grieve his loss also. I am inspired by Jeremy King and by Katie Kirkpatrick who left this life so early ... far before we were ready let them go ... and who left such amazing examples of living for Christ.

I am here. I have good health and am blessed in so many ways. Katie and Jeremy are not. They have no more opportunities in the flesh. I cannot waste my life wishing that things were different. I must move forward and embrace all that is good and do what I can to make the world better for those in my immediate circle and those who the Lord puts in my path.

So, on this Thanksgiving day, 2010, in spite of a heavy heart, I will move forward with thankfulness and endeavor to make the most of every moment. The Lord is my strength and my comfort. He will provide the way and He will bring joy out of sorrow.

Friday, November 19, 2010


This November has been a challenging one. The community I live in has faced tremendous loss and yet God is near and, in spite of pain and suffering, we have so much to be thankful for. Tomorrow morning I will be at God's Helping Hands for the annual Christmas shopping Saturday. This will be the third or fourth year that I have taken my Diversity and Cross Cultural Psychology class to participate in this incredible day as a service project. The need is great and I anticipate a big crowd tomorrow ... both of shoppers and volunteers. Lisa Cain posted on Facebook an hour or two ago that people were already lining up ... not many people in my world can probably relate to staying all night in the cold to make sure that you have an opportunity to "shop" for Christmas gifts. It's ironic perhaps, that this amazing work was born of tragedy. So, tonight I am thankful for Brian, Lisa, Darren, Kevin and Devin Cain. I am thankful for Jeremy and Veronica King and their children. And I am so thankful that God continually resurrects joy, peace, and hope from tragedy and despair!