Monday, November 26, 2012

Being Thankful on Purpose

I like to think of myself as a thankful person. I'm quick to say "thank you" to those who help me or show kindness to me. Of course, it's super easy to be thankful for nice people and nice things. Even a toddler will grin at you when you give him something exciting.

Last week I had the story time at Kids Club. I talked about being thankful in all situations, and used the example of the Apostle Paul. I asked the children why they thought Paul was sitting in prison. "Because he did something bad!" one child said. "Yeah," said another, "he probably stole something or killed a guy." They were quite surprised when I told them that Paul was rotting in prison just for being a Christian. Meanwhile he was whipping out the letters to the churches, admonishing them to be thankful. "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." -Philippians 4:11

I'd like to think the Lord chuckled when He heard me speaking about this subject. Several situations have come up recently to try my thankful attitude. Some of you may remember that I had some possessions stolen from me just before my 23rd birthday this August. Nothing has resurfaced, and although I initially wanted to replace my video games right away, I've had to rethink my priorities. (insert a big "HALLELUJAH" from my mother). I determined that I can't afford the time I spent on entertainment. I instead made the decision to be thankful for God's blessings. Besides, I wasn't completely robbed of all my possessions. What would I do if the thieves had taken my coin jar? *shudders* 

The other day I spent half an hour buying socks at Kohl's that ended up being the wrong size and felt slightly like I was being subjected to Chinese foot binding, but since I got such an amazing deal on them, it wasn't worth the trip to return them. I spent a considerable amount of time whining about the $7.00 I lost on 11 pairs of socks before I just donated them to my normal-foot-sized roommate Victor.

Then I went Black Friday shopping. I was completely determined to fight off the other greedy shoppers at Best Buy to ensure that I'd be in line for a tv. Not just a tv. THE tv. The perfect blend of technology and low-costery. The more I thought of that beautiful 40" LCD 1080p 60hz Toshiba for $189.00, it became my own. I was no longer worried about getting it, I was concerned more about whether it would fit in the back of my car or if I should borrow a van. 

I arrived at Best Buy at 7pm Thursday, with the store to be opened at 12am. With me were my trusty friends Jordan and Alaynna, who also wanted a deliciously cheap tv. There were roughly 100 people in front of us, waiting patiently in line on the sidewalk. Thanksgiving may be a American holiday, but Black Friday is a Mennonite holiday. I determined that everyone is a Mennonite at heart, based on the frenzy a few sales and promotions can whip up.

At around 10pm, we were corralled into a maze made out of steel gates. We packed in close, knowing that soon the Best Buy staff would be walking through with the item papers. These papers were divided into their categories: Cameras, Laptops, Video Games, Cell Phones, Televisions, Desktops, etc. For the items that had a limited supply, it was first-come, first-served. However many papers they had on a certain item, that's how many they had in stock. 

It was about then that I noticed the kid with the purple Dr. Dre's. If you don't know what those are, allow me to show you a photo. 

Granted, these are nice headphones, but at $489.00, they would have to make delicious omelets each morning before I considered purchasing them.

The kid wearing the headphones was standing about 60 people behind me in line. I didn't notice him again, until he was 20 people in front of me. He had cut in line! I turned his direction and said "Heeeeeeeeeeyyyyy....". He turned toward me with a look of sheer guilt on his face, but stood firm in line. At this point the employees started walking out with the brochures. 

Long story very short, that kid stole my tv. 

I confronted him TWICE about cutting in line. Many of the other people, good citizens that never THINK about cutting, chimed in "yeah, I saw him cut!" and "You tell him, man!" I told the kid that he can't stand in line where he doesn't belong, taking MY tv. The first time I confronted him, he told me "Dude I won't take it. You can have it." 

He then turned and immediately took the brochure. I strode up to him again and confronted him. He played dumb, as did the Best Buy employee standing there. His friends denied his existence, while he denied doing anything wrong. In fact, he started threatening to report me, to which I retorted, "report me for what, standing in line legitimately?"

I didn't get my tv. Looking back, I realized that the 20 people between him and I would have snatched up that last tv anyway, but they were people that deserved that tv FAR MORE than he did. Some of the frustrated nice folks came up to me and whispered "they (Dr. Dre kid and his friends) took all the tv's!" I had become the rebel leader that stood in defiance against all things line-cuttery. But unable to do anything about it and with nothing else on my list to purchase, I left, cold and bitter. If only I had come at 6:30pm or even 6:45pm. I grouchily hoped that the kid would feel guilty every time he watched his new tv. 

But then Alaynna pointed out to me that if God wanted me to have that tv, He would have given it to me. Wisdom coming from my friend in the exact same position I was in, since she wanted the same tv as well. I again was reminded of the lesson I taught the kids, about being thankful in all situations. So I stopped, thanked God for all the blessings I had, and hoped that He would bless the kid in the purple Dr. Dre's, who perhaps needed a blessing more than I did. 

And then this happened. 

I left my car at church on Sunday to ride with my family to my uncle's place for Thanksgiving. While I was busy stuffing my face with potatoes and turkey, snacking on gluten-free pumpkin pie and candy, and playing Murder Mystery and Mau (the details of which I cannot speak about lest I receive another card), my car was being mauled. Since there was no note on my car when I arrived later that evening, I immediately panicked that my car had been the victim of a hit-and-run in a church parking lot. My mother loudly announced that her poor son had been the victim of a "cruel prank" although I was fairly certain/hopeful that people don't damage their own vehicles to prank others. Dad and I immediately became crime-scene sleuths. We probed for evidence, clues, interesting tidbits that might be helpful to the police. There was rust, dirt, and a piece of plastic from the vehicle that hit mine, as well as a white paint mark on my bumper. My car had been shoved back 8 inches, as evidenced by the skid marks from the front tires.

I ran home and received the message about the accident. A friend from my church had been trying to contact me on my phone, which I had left at home. He had accidentally backed into my car with one of the Kids Club 15-passenger vans. My friend was very apologetic and dealt with it professionally. Today I got an estimate for the damage, and he contacted his insurance company. I nearly chuckled, realizing I had just talked at Kid's Club about being thankful in every situation and here a Kid's Club van mangled one of my most favorite possessions: Celia. (what, you don't name your vehicles affectionate terms?) 

Could I be thankful in this situation?

It took me a little while, but I found things to be thankful for. Nobody was hurt, the airbags weren't set off, there's no serious structural damage, and everything will get repaired soon. Also, it's just a sedan, a mutant salvage that won't make it to Heaven, (sorry, Celia) and the car is ultimately God's so He may do with it as He sees fit, especially when I leave it in His parking lot.

That tiny amount of visible damage amounts to just under $1,500. Kids, don't hit stuff. 

But life hasn't been all formaldehyde and bunions. God has really, really blessed me lately. I have awesome friends and family. I have more money than common sense. I have roommates that not only buy Snickers and star fruit, but also share it. I shot trash bags full of stuffed animals on Thanksgiving day with a firing squad made up of cousins, during which I got to spend some quality time with my cousin Kyle. I'm going to Oregon shortly for a welcome vacation where I'll get to play with all my little half-Graber midgets.

So I'll leave you, dear readers, with the calm assurance that I know the One that spoke the cosmos into existence with a commanding word. He is in charge and I'm secure in the knowledge that He knows what He's doing. I mean, God made THIS FRUIT

The Carambola just SCREAMS "I was created by Someone that knows what He's up to."

It tastes like a cross between crisp green grapes and crisp green apples. AWESOME. 

(Kids, if you give Victor socks, he will magically turn that good favor into a delicious snack).

Thank you, God. You never fail me.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Beginnings

I've been a xanga blogger for many, many years, so I've put up with a lot of updates, changes, bug fixes, etc. but I shalt do so no longer! Yesterday I tried making simple modifications to my profile, but xanga stubbornly refused to accept my alterations. I did some research and found a whole plethora of crabby xanga users that had come across the same problem. This has been going on for a while now, with no hope for repair in sight. So, like many of my friends did years ago, I'm abandoning the sinking Xanga ship. My blog will be found on the shores of Google, where updates will be accepted and bugs will get fixed.

Google, you practically own every part of my web existence, but since you've been so nice to me, I don't really mind.