God's Sense of Humor

I remember praying for patience when I was 15 years old.  I had a short-temper, got easily frustrated (particularly with my mother, as most 15 year old girls tend to do), and just was generally...impatient!  I could see it in myself, and I wanted to change it, but didn't know how to do that on my own.  So I prayed that God would help me to be more patient.

Then I got a phonecall.  I was offered a babysitting job for two kids.  In retrospect, they really weren't bad.  They were normal kids, and I didn't have much experience.  But for a 15 year old with very little patience, it was a harrowing summer job to say the least.  I remember fixing bagel bites in their kitchen for lunch one day, as they got further and further under my skin.  And I closed my eyes in front of the microwave, and prayed yet again for God to just give me some patience.  Then it hit me, all at once in that minute and a half...

God doesn't just hand over patience.  God puts us in the situations we need to be in so that he can help us learn.  Life is one giant learning experience.  God delivered me to that job so that I *could* learn patience.  Those two rambunctious children were the answer to my prayers.  So with a shake of my head, and a "you got me on that one, God", I passed out the bagel bites and tried to change my attitude.

I've had similar experiences recently in my life.  My wonderful, unbelievably patient, and always optimistic husband had an intervention of sorts with me regarding my negativity.  I've always considered myself to be a realist, but truth of the matter is that I'm a cynic.  I was jaded early on and I don't know where it came from.  So, I prayed that God would make me a more optimistic person.

Then He delivered a new office manager to my workplace.  I have never in my life met a more negative, miserable person in my life.  I could literally write a book about her, but that's not the point.  The point is, that I truly believe that this miserable wretch of a woman was brought to me so that I could see how *not* to act.  Everything that came out of her negative mouth, was a slap in the face.  It was a mirror of how I'd been living my life for who knows how long.  So not only did I commit to changing, I decided that I would try to bring this oh-so-grumpy lady a little sunshine into her day.  I don't know how well that's working.  I think she's much grumpier than I am sunshiny, but it truly has helped me in my outlook!

The main lesson I've learned from observing this woman (and believe me, it's a big one, considering I'm one of the world's foremost complainers) is that there is no point in complaining about things over which you have no control, nor is there any point in complaining about things over which you do have control.  If that's the case, it's your duty to make it right.

God has also put me in situations that have helped me to be less judgmental, more compassionate, you name it.  But when you stop and think about it, God has an interesting way of answering prayers.  Some call it "working in mysterious ways", but mostly I like to think God has a sense of humor.

And Another Thing

It has come to my attention that some people think that they are owed things in this life. 

Case and point:  A certain mom on a message board I read believes that the Georgia lottery owes all preschool aged children a spot in the state funded pre-k. 

To which I sat on my hands and didn't type back the following:

I think the point is that since pre-k isn't *required*, there's no point in worrying about it regardless of whether your child was chosen or not.  If they get in to a free program, you can count your blessings that they get that opportunity.  If they don't you can count your blessings that they have another year to be a kid.  The Georgia state lottery doesn't owe every child the chance to be enrolled in pre-k.  It's a privilege.  

Furthermore, you have to consider the other fund that the lottery pays into…the HOPE scholarship which enables deserving students to attend public colleges in Georgia for free.  I guess what it boils down to is, do you want to take away a college education from someone so that a handful of kids can go to pre-k?  I don't think I would.  Just my two cents.

Aren't you proud of me for resisting?

The examples don't stop at this and they didn't start with this either.  People think that they are owed lots of things...like vacation time, healthcare, a better parking space, for everyone to bow down to them when they enter the room, whatever.  I don't think we're owed much in this life.  In fact, I think we need to be grateful for just about everything...even the bad stuff (that's right I'm going that far).  Even the hardships in our lives teach us about ourselves and if we never went through it, how would we learn?

The things I have, I owe to God.  The things I owe to other people are my respect, my courtesy, and whatever help I can give them.  I'm trying.  I'm doing my best.

All I ask is that the next time you start to place blame, complain, or that you feel that someone owes you something, stop and think.  Look inward.  Where is *your* responsibility in the matter?  Consider...is this something I am owed?  Or is a privilege that I missed out on?  Chances are it's the latter.

A Hero in my Book

Benjamin Solomon Carson was raised by his 3rd-grade-educated, illiterate, single mother in one of the most impoverished sections of Detroit.  In his words, she "pulled a fast one" on him and his brother by encouraging them (and sometimes forcing them) to read anything and everything they could get their hands on, when she couldn't even read herself.  He evolved from hating it, to liking it, to loving it, and ultimately craving it.  He realized that through learning was the ticket out of poverty...and out of any situation, really.

In about a year he went from the popularly dubbed "dumbest kid in the school" [kids are ruthless] to the smartest in his class.  All thanks to reading and a thirst for more knowledge. 

Dr. Benjamin Carson is now one of the most accomplished neurosurgeons of all time, literally carrying out God's miracles through the gift of his hands.  He's performed so many unbelievable surgeries including countless seperations of conjoined twins, intra-uterine spinal surgeries on yet unborn children, and hemispherectomies which remove half of the brain to stop seizures, allowing the other half to compensate for the missing half (and it does!).  On a personal note, he has been the surgeon to a dear friend of my family's who was born with spina bifida.  In his mother's own words, they are so blessed to have Dr. Carson as their surgeon.

Dr. Carson has written two books; Gifted Hands (an auto-biography) and Think Big (a motivational book).  The 2nd is an acronym for:

Talent: Our Creator has endowed all of us not just with the ability to sing, dance or throw a ball, but with intellectual talent. Start getting in touch with that part of you that is intellectual and develop that, and think of careers that will allow you to use that.

Honesty: If you lead a clean and honest life, you don't put skeletons in the closet. If you put skeletons in the closet, they definitely will come back just when you don't want to see them and ruin your life.

Insight: It comes from people who have already gone where you're trying to go. Learn from their triumphs and their mistakes.

Nice: If you're nice to people, then once they get over the suspicion of why you're being nice, they will be nice to you.

Knowledge: It makes you into a more valuable person. The more knowledge you have, the more people need you. It's an interesting phenomenon, but when people need you, they pay you, so you'll be okay in life.

Books: They are the mechanism for obtaining knowledge, as opposed to television.

In-Depth Learning: Learn for the sake of knowledge and understanding, rather than for the sake of impressing people or taking a test.

God: Never get too big for Him.

Carson further outlines what he believes to be the keys to success: "One's ability to discover his or her potential for excellence; the acquisition of knowledge to develop it; and a willingness to help others."

While I definitely don't claim to be on the same level intellectually as Dr. Carson and I'm certainly not wise (or motivational for that matter!), I have expressed before that I believe success is measured in the ability to live up to one's God-given potential.  Reading the biography of a man who overcame the situation into which he was born, ultimately to become not only a physician but a notable neurosurgeon who performs God's miracles on daily basis, I'd say this rings true.

I pray this for my children (and truthfully for everyone).  That you will always know that you were successful, as long as you did the best you could possibly do.  That you can do amazing things when you tap into your potential.  That you *never* let someone tell you, "you can't"...because chances are, You Can.

This is my thanks to Dr. Carson who is not only a respected neurosurgeon, but a respectable one.  And this wouldn't be complete without a thanks to Sonya Carson, his mother, for recognizing the potential in her children and doing an amazing job raising them in the direst of circumstances.  They are *both* heroes in my book.

I'm rich.

I took a quiz yesterday that asked me to pick my socio-economic status from a drop down menu.  Aside from being completely irrelevant to the quiz (it was about being right or left brained, I'm obsessed), the options were intriguing to say the least.  They ranged from Lower Class with an associated $ amount in parentheses to Upper Class, again, with an associated $ amount.  There are SO many reasons that was a dumb question, particularly the $ amount of earnings having such different implications based on geography.  What I make is peanuts compared to someone in the northeast or California...and on the other hand, probably seems like a lot to people in other parts of the country.  So of course my mind starts going in a gazillion different directions.  (Must...stop....the tangent........)

The point of the blog is this:  What is your definition of rich?

Dictionary.com (one of my all time favorite websites, along with it's counterpart thesaurus.com) gives MANY definitions for the word:

1.  having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds; wealthy
2.  abounding in natural resources
3.  having wealth or valuable resources (usually fol. by in)
4.  of great value or worth; valuable
5.  (of food) delectably and perhaps unhealthfully spicy, or sweet and abounding in butter or cream
6.  costly, expensively elegant, or fine, as dress or jewels
7.  sumptuous; elaborately abundant
8.  using valuable materials or characterized by elaborate workmanship, as buildings or furniture
9.  abounding in desirable elements or qualities
10.  (of wine) strong and finely flavored
11.  (of color) deep, strong, or vivid
12.  full and mellow in tone: rich sounds
13.  strongly fragrant; pungent
14.  producing or yielding abundantly
15.  abundant, plentiful, or ample
16.  Automotive(of a mixture in a fuel system) having a relatively high ratio of fuel to air
17.informal~highly amusing

I realize how nerdy this must be of me, but there really are just so many ways to use this word, I figured why not put it to rest right now and look the darn thing up. 

So the next question...considering only the 1st definition...do you consider yourself rich? 

When I ask you this question, what does your mind immediately turn to?  Money, right?  But money isn't the only "resource" by which wealth is measured. 

In light of certain events in my life recently, I stopped and did a little soul searching.  I took notice of the sheer amount of *stuff* in my house and it made me kind of sick to my stomach.  I have no right to complain...ever.  In terms of material possessions, I have everything I could ever need and WAY more.  (Before I continue, this isn't some big brag-fest.  It's true, and I'd venture to say it's probably true for most of you reading this, whether you realize it or not.)  But you know what, if I lost every bit of that stuff...I would still be rich.

I would be rich because of the other infinitely-renewable resources in my life.  These include, but are not limited to: 

~The love of a husband who will stay the course, no matter how windy/bumpy the road may get
~One set of blue eyes and one set of brown eyes that look at me with complete love and trust in a way that only an innocent child can
~The love of a Heavenly Father who never leaves my side and lets me fall asleep in His arms
~The comfort of being able to confide in a close friend, no matter how far apart we might be geographically
~The support of two parents who reared me in a God-loving home with way too many rules (and OH how I appreciate that now, as a parent)
~The memories of my childhood that will never go away...from our annual beach trip to Rehoboth, to catching lightning bugs in the backyard in Joppatowne, to I-don't-even-know-+how-many-hours spent at church retreats/functions, to that amazing summer tour of New England
~The friends I made throughout my life that will forever mean the world to me, even now that we hardly (if ever) talk to each other...and who helped me become the person that I am now

While I still can't figure out what socio-economic status has anything to do with how right or left brained a person is (I'm 93% left brained in case you were wondering...even worse than I thought), I do know that socio-economic status has absolutely nothing to do with a person's wealth.  And I am thankful for that.  And I am thankful for that ridiculous quiz…for helping me to realize how incredibly rich I truly am.

[And I'm thankful for you, if you're reading this...because you probably fall into the category of "friends who helped me become the person I am today".  And I'm grateful that you're a part of my life!]
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