Monday, October 20, 2008

Dog Burritos, Car Keys and Fish

Ok, so this weekend I kept seeing a pervading theme developing around me…..and actually even into this morning too. One of BEING a friend and helping others when they need it and the intrinsic value of HAVING friends to help when you need it…..and the really cool thing is that I got to see it from three viewpoints…..the doer, the receiver and the observer.

So it all started late Saturday night. I was talking to a dear friend of mine who is going through a really hard time and towards the end of the conversation she mentioned to me that her family (her siblings and elder relatives) had all decided that evening at the dinner table that family is everything…because essentially friends will just stab you in the back. Now, my friend doesn’t feel that way at all but no matter how much she has tried to sway her family they just won’t budge…to them, blood is everything and the ONLY thing. (Visions of countless mafia movies filled my mind…lol) So this got me thinking….and sooooo the chain of events began……

Event #1) Yo Quiero Taco Bell: As this friend was sharing her family’s views on friendship with me, I heard a bark coming from our bedroom. Now yet another quirk that the boy has is he LOVES to attack his toys. He will carry them into the bedroom, jump on the bed, fling the toy into the air, let it land and then pounce on it and bark at it as if it’s going to bark back. We’ve gotten used to this nightly routine of his so most of the time Ben and I just tune it out. So when I heard that bark I just assumed this is what he was doing….even though it did sound a bit muffled. A minute or so passed and then another muffled bark. Again, I didn’t think anything of it because it’s become so normal to hear Sarge do this. So I continued with my conversation, but I could hear Ben get up from his chair in the office and go into the bedroom to check on the him. I heard him saying something to him, but couldn’t hear what it was and a moment later I heard Sarge running down the hall and looked up just as he bounded into the living room towards me. Then I saw Ben standing in the doorway, red from laughter. “Would you like to know what your son just did?” he asked me…. I KNEW this was going to be good so I said yes, and as he tried to hold back his laughter, Ben told me why Sarge had sounded muffled when he barked. On our bed, we have several layers of covering, a top sheet, a cotton blanket, a fleece blanket, a goose down duvet, and a regular bedspread. Lately, the boy has discovered how fun it is to burrow under all the layers of covers and zip around like a mole underground. Well apparently, that’s what he had decided to do, however this time he had gotten so excited that he had tangled himself up in the fleece and in trying to get loose had in fact wrapped himself up tighter like a little doggie burrito…(gives new meaning to the Taco Bell dog…lol). So when Daddy Ben had gone in to see what Sarge was doing all he could see was a whimpering, wriggling lump under the many layers of covers. The pitiful furball was completely helpless and Ben had to come to his rescue….

Event#2) Fish Sandwich: Sunday’s have simultaneously become my most fulfilling yet most exhausting day of the week. Without going into a long self-absorbed brag list of what I do, let’s just say I’m VERY busy with a new undertaking at church. Now I love this new project, more than I ever dreamt I would to be completely honest…but I LOVE it! So when I get to church on Sunday mornings it’s pretty early and I hit the ground running. By about 11 I’m still going strong, but I’m beginning to slow down a little. When 1 o’clock comes around however I’m starting to feel the exhaustion. Now I know in time, once I build up my volunteer base, things will get significantly easier, and the load will become much lighter…until then however, it’s just me and another woman closing up shop and cleaning when everyone else is gone for the day. Thankfully we get along very well….it makes the job much easier when you enjoy the person you are working with. Yesterday however, she had to be somewhere and had to leave early. She felt bad and kept making herself feel guilty and I kept telling her not to worry about it. “Loaves and fishes” I kept saying. I’ve seen it happen too many times out at the street ministry we work at. When all the volunteers have to be somewhere and you’re operating on a skeleton crew…out of the blue, a group of volunteers will show up to help. So I knew somehow it would be ok, but even it if it ended up being just me and taking a lot longer I wasn’t going to make myself miserable by complaining. So we went along doing as many of our chores as possible before she had to leave. Then just as she had to go, a man walked up and asked me if I needed help. I told him I would very much appreciate any help he could offer if he had time. He said ok, immediately went out, and came back a few minutes later with his son in tow. Not only was he going to help me, but so was his son, his daughter and his wife! WOW!!! I was practically in tears…I was soooo thankful. Then, another couple that are in charge of another ministry at the church also came in to help me… just spontaneously decided to help. LOL….it was awesome! It was a total “loaves and fishes” moment complete with so much extra help that I didn’t know what to do with it.

Event #3) Buzzed: So normally Ben and I will take Sunday evenings off instead of going to the evening service, because it’s the only rest we really get during the week. Last night however it was our turn to help with baptisms so we went and had a blast, and I got to take pictures of the people before, during and after they got baptized….it was really fun. Well, midway through the service the cell phone rang. After feverishly rushing to turn it off (in my defense we always leave it in the car which is why I wasn’t used to turning it off before service…lol) I looked to see who called and it was my mom and brother. I thought it was a bit odd for them to call on a Sunday on the cell phone and hoped it didn’t mean there was an emergency. I decided to wait until after service to call back though and dropped it back in my purse. Then about 20 minutes later it rang again (in silent mode…don’t give me that look…lol), so by this point I knew something was wrong. I got up and called my brother back. Sure enough, mom had gone to the grocery store across town and accidently locked the keys in the car, he didn’t have a way to get to her with his key and we had the spare. Sooooooo…..after service was over and we had a couple more spontaneous baptisms, helped clean up and get everything settled, we headed out to help mom.

Event # 4) Nothing is Impossible: So first thing this morning I came into work and there was no heat…..ohhhhhhhhh…joy. LOL. I decided not to complain and just be thankful that for some odd reason I had decided to wear my ski jacket to work instead of my lighter Fall jacket. THANK GOD!! About an hour into the morning one of my friends here at work came over to say good morning and she looked about ready to cry. She suddenly opened up and asked me to pray for a family member….a potentially serious need. So I told her of course I would and gave her as many encouraging words as I could at the moment and told her to never lose hope….that I would stand with her and pray for a miracle. So we are…..

After all of those things is when I began to think about what my friend’s family had said about friendship. Yes, it’s nice to be close to your family…and it’s GOOD to be close to your family…but you need outside friends too. If you seclude yourself into a cluster of family only and nobody else just because it’s “safe”…YOUR entire life suffers as well as those that would have benefitted by having you as a friend. I remember a couple of years ago reading a VERY interesting article about a science study going on in England. It’s called The Eden Project. What it is, is an absolutely Fascinating GIANT domed ecosystem. I highly recommend you read up on it…very interesting stuff. ANYWAY….early on they discovered that the trees grown inside were large and beautiful but they weren’t as strong as trees outside of the dome. WHY? Simple, they hadn’t been exposed to the elements……they had been sheltered. The elements of driving rain, wind, extreme heat, extreme cold…though temporarily unpleasant and potentially deadly for sustained amounts of time…temper the trees with strength. Life is like that too…and so are friends. Sometimes friends will hurt us, sometimes people that call themselves friends, aren’t really friends at all….I’ve had my share of those too, sometimes family will hurt us when they are supposed to be our biggest support. Regardless…good or bad, sometimes we just can’t do it alone and we need people to reach out to us and lend us a hand and vice versa. The more we reach out to others in their time of need, the more they will reach out to us in our own time of need.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NLT)

9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.