Monday, March 10, 2014

A Question that Left Me Surprised and Speechless

Yesterday afternoon, after church, my four kiddos and I headed to Trader Joe's, a favorite grocery store that opened just last month. I hesitated in going, because there was much to do: cooking, grading papers, eating (for five hungry mouths), amongst other things. But, everyone was very stoked about going.

This store has been only nearly a month. Opened on Valentine's Day. This particular Sunday afternoon was crowded in store. But, push a tandem stroller (with the older two holding on to the stroller) and pull a shopping cart I did. Looking around and picking up a few odds and ends was cumbersome and slow.  But, inch forward we did.

Whilst in the produce section, a male voice said, clearly and kindly, "May I help you shop by pushing your shopping cart?"

What? Huh?

I was doing what I do routinely and sometimes several times a week, shopping with 2 or 4 children in tow. I thought nothing of what I was doing. Well, other than hearing the frequently unsolicited comment, "You've got your hands full."

No. No, I am fine.

"May I help you by pushing your shopping cart?" He asked me again.

The Trader Joe's employee might have even asked me this question three times.

I was speechless.

When I finally got around to finding my words, I told the thoughtful employee that I had never been asked that question before and wasn't quite sure how to respond. I assured him I would get along fine and that I did not want to cause any trouble.

He ended up being my shopping assistant. Wow! A first for me.

I am flattered and tickled pink someone would take action to help me shop!

Grocery shopping must get done. Given that the children and I eat mostly fresh food and there are five very hungry mouths that need to be constantly fed, I am frequently visiting various grocery stores several times a week. Usually, two or four little persons are with me; so, they come along with me!

That man's assistance offering made my day. I was exhausted, but the offer and the actual help gave me a resurgence of energy!

This morning, my four children and I met a friend for coffee. Well, I packed our breakfast, and the children (and I) had breakfast while my friend and I drank coffee. I ended up not appreciating the coffee that was made for me.

But, I do not like to make a fuss.

So, after hitting a grocery store, I went through a Starbucks drive-through. I discretely mentioned to the barista that I didn't really like the taste of the coffee I got earlier in the morning but that I still much desired some coffee. To make the long story short, she said that that coffee I had just purchased at the drive-through was on them, despite the fact that coffee purchased earlier was at a different Starbucks. The iced espresso-based drink was made incorrectly, they wanted to remedy the problem, and they hoped I would visit them (Starbucks) again.

So nice.

At least two blessings within 24 hours. I am truly grateful.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Zoo Craziness at My House

It's nearly 9 pm, and I am working against a fast-approaching grading deadline. Yet, what I desperately want to do is to seek the warmth and refuge underneath the covers of my bed. If you knew half of what my day looked like, you would, too.

I have four children, ranging from 2 yrs old to 7 years old. The older two did not have school today, because of teacher in-service day. So, I packed all of our breakfasts and we headed out to one of my favorite Starbucks. After that, the craziness ensued. The newest member of the family, a kitten who is approaching a year old, we think (she is animal shelter rescue, and her accurate age is unknown),  takes on every inch of the house as her adventurous playground, from the curtains to the twins' bed. Then, the twins, 2 yrs old, are all over EVERYTHING, dragging their toddler-sized chairs to help themselves to items on counter tops, table tops, where ever. One of the twins likes to help herself to toilet tissue 'to blow her nose.' One of the twins (both are potty training) constantly desired going to the bathroom's toilet (though they each have their own little potties). And, since they are potty training, I didn't want to thwart or discourage any genuine effort or desire to go. But, this child also insists on wiping herself (never mind the fact that a 2 year old cannot possibly wipe herself well), getting off the toilet, and flushing. She's in no hurry to get a diaper on after that, and I have wiped up one too many messes on the floor to want to wait. This is happening while the other twin oftentimes is harassing, I mean, playing, with the kitten. He wants to play with the kitten and love the kitten, but that often comes out in the form of laying on her, pulling her tail, or grabbing her fur. We have been blessed with a rambunctious and super active kitten who is gentle with my very active children. Even so, she can communicate 'stop bothering me' in a limited number of ways, so I find myself scrambling to see if my son is terrorizing the kitten and getting hurt in the process of doing so. Then, there is one of the older children, who has a spirited personality, who is known to pick on people; and I had to check and see if someone was screaming because of that. The older two have no problems snagging stuff from the younger two, and the fun never stops.

I was trying to manage the children and keep them out of harm's way, all whilst wiping bottoms, cooking, doing laundry, washing dishes, putting food on the table, tidying up (so I could eventually put in some time to work), and repeating many of those tasks. Now, everyone is in bed, and I have loads of grading to do. But I have very little time. There's no telling when a twin will wake up and want my company or want to nurse (the twins are sleep-trained and I don't give in to nursing requests in the middle of the night anymore, but still. . .). And, frankly, I am ready to call it a night. 4 or 5 am, which is when the twins regularly wake for the day, comes sooner than later!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday isn't just for the 'spiritual'

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Tonight was the first time I have taken the eldest two to an Ash Wednesday interactive service or to any Ash Wednesday service. I had to keep the point simple and age appropriate. The oldest two are seven years old and five years old.

I told the children: We all do wrong, wrong that sort of began long, long ago. God did something very special that wiped those wrongs clean and gave us a chance to be with him forever, by sending his one and only beloved son (Jesus Christ) to die (for our sins).

That there is a being - God - who does not hold that long catalog of sins against us blows my mind. That sort of love that involves forgiveness and grace for all the wrong doings is difficult for me to imagine and accept. Yet that love exists, waiting patiently for acceptance and embrace.

This Lenten season, my focus is learning more about this love, the Lord's love - unfailing love.