Monday, July 9, 2012

Thoughts on 'Daydreams'

I've been reading Daniel Parkins' blog for over a year now, at first to follow his son Samuel's progress. Samuel lived nineteen days and in those nineteen  days impacted many; me included.  Though at first I read his blog simply for the updates on Samuel's health, afterwards I kept reading because Daniel Parkins is a truly gifted, insightful writer and I simply enjoyed his blog. Currently he's been doing a lot of writing.... writing a fiction book, updating his other books and writing on his blog, which lately often recounts the stories of some senior citizens he comes in contact with. Actually, more than "come in contact" with.... he considers himself blessed to get to know them, to share Jesus with them, and to simply love on this group of people that the world in many ways has forgotten. He shows compassion towards them, but he also shares his love for them in humorous, ways that oftentimes even make me cry.

When I first started following Mr. Parkins' story of Samuel, one of the ways he "asked" for help was for folks to purchase his book, Daydreams, so of course I did. I looked through it but it wound up on my shelf and I finally got around to really reading it a few days ago. There's a part of me that wishes I'd have read it earlier, because it is really good, but I think I almost "needed" to read it this week. Funny how things work out like that!

If you want to read my thoughts on Daydreams by Daniel Parkins, check out my review on Amazon. I also highly encourage you to visit his blog HERE. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

"When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade."
-Dale Carnegie 

How many times have you heard this or a variation of it? If you google it, it is attributed to several people, and the general consensus of its meaning is simply that even in the worst situation, we can make things better. Of course, it has other interpretations too and depending on the type of person you are, you can come up with all kinds of "wisdom" from this quote. Me? I like the theological aspects of it: so are we in control or is God? Ah, the whole "free will vs. sovereignty" debate! I'll leave that for another day.

A few weeks ago, a friend who is going to Haiti on a missions trip with my church, mentioned the possibility of doing a garage sale to raise funds for the trip. I am not sure why, but I volunteered my home, mostly because it is in garage sale "territory." There's always a garage sale happening in spring or summer, and we don't live far from a rather busy intersection.  The garage sales I've done in the past have fared pretty well, so I offered up my home. I'll let you know how it turns out later. 

Garage sale people always fascinate me, as the people that troll them are incredibly diverse. You have some that are newlyweds or young families. They're the ones that hold hands, peruse the items at a leisurely pace and don't say too much outside of the usual pleasantries and greetings, yet they are smiling the whole time and happy just being with their spouse or kids. I almost wonder if this is their version of "date night" only it isn't at night. To them, the garage sale is just for fun. 

The second group of folks I tend to see at these sales are grandparents. They're usually pretty cute, intent on finding toys for their grandkids at a really cheap price. The love and interaction between an elderly couple is heartwarming as they converse and ask each other questions like, if the grandkids have a Wii or an Xbox, or if Amy could use another doll, or if Emmy still collects stuffed animals. Then they painstakingly ask if you'll accept 3 dollars for the whole lot. (I usually say yes because they are so sweet). You get the impression that they don't have a lot of money, but what they have they're spending on those they love. 

The third group is the ones that have a need; they are out and about actually looking for things they or their extended families NEED. I've been there! That's how I found a crib for my firstborn. In fact, at a previous garage sale I hosted,  I sold the same crib to a family after my 3rd child no longer needed it. Actually, she was only 2 and still needed a crib, but the lady asked if I had a crib for sale (I had a crib mattress I was selling) and I brought her into the house and showed her my daughter's crib and she bought it. 

Of course, there are several other types of garage salers, some are looking for the next treasure to take to Antiques Roadshow (I am quite sure nothing of value is found among anything I've sold!), or a reseller simply looking for things to sell on Ebay. I am usually not too sympathetic to them, as they try to talk me down from the toy marked $1 to a mere quarter. and their minivan is already filled to the brim of toys and other items that you just KNOW are predestined to go up on ebay that night.  

I have found that the best way to entertain my 3 kids at these garage sales is to put them to work! And the most entertaining way I have found is to let them man their own Lemonade Stand. Like most moms, I try to teach my kids that life is not all about THEM but about helping others, so in the past all proceeds to the lemonade stand has gone to various charities;  last year going to Blood:Water Mission. They make it fun and really easy to put on your own Lemon:Aid stand, complete with posters, temporary tattoos, iron on graphics to make your own tee shirts, etc. 

This year, when I brought up the idea of the kids having a lemonade stand for charity, it was suggested that they raise money for my church's kids mission trip. It is a local missions outreach, and I mean LOCAL! To our own city, the city of San Jose. Our children's pastor calls it "Mission Possible: San Jose".  An entire day of kids, aged 6 to 10, serving their community through such acts as going to retirement homes and visiting the residents by putting on a little "talent show" for them, as well as creating cards and dropping them off at a local children's hospital. I'm sure they'll do plenty of other things too, and as a parent I love this about my church: that we want to be a church that exists outside the four walls of church or the "Sunday only" model, and I appreciate that my church is helping parents instill that love of service and loving others at such an early age. 

But it is more than just training up our kids to serve; it is the reason WHY I want my kids to learn to serve and love others. Not because "it's the christian thing to do", not because these people were dealt "lemons" and we can help them overcome that and "make lemonade", but because I want my kids to understand how much Jesus loves them, and what He did because of that love. This beautiful, all-encompassing unconditional, always-forgiving love. I know it is a lot to hope that my child understands at age 7, but it is my prayer that someday she will understand that out of God's enormous love for us, we simply want to love and help others in all we do. Even through a lemonade stand that will help them go on their Mission: Possible trip. 

Lemonade: 25 cents. Homemade cookie: 75 cents. Learning to love others the way Jesus loves us: Priceless.  (but if you come to our lemonade stand, you can still give generously; it's for a great cause!)