Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Posts tagged ‘Church’

Our Story

Do you remember when I told you that our Pastor asked our family to tell our story?  Well, I did tell you that.  And, we did tell our story.  Scott, Eddie and I met with our Pastor in  our living room in late summer.  He asked us about our struggles.  Our Pastor wants to know what happens when faith meets hardship.

When Pastor Bryan first asked us to do this thing, we were scared.  Being on camera is uncomfortable. But, we didn’t hesitate.  We said yes right away.

A long time ago, Scott and I  told God that He could use our lives as He sees fit.  We said, “God, if we have to endure this thing we don’t want to endure, could you please help us see the point?”

We’ve told God many times that we would be very grateful to have Eddie be healed.  We’ve also promised God that we would be willing participants in whatever He means for us to do, regardless of the outcome.

The thing about making promises to God is that He remembers.  You don’t want to back out on stuff like that.  I’m averse to hanging out in the belly of a whales, and stuff like that.  I would just as soon do as I’m told.   I seriously  doubt whales have wi-fi, and I just don’t even want to think about how bad that would be.

Others folks in our church will be asked to do this man-on-the-street type interview.  I love it.  Because, guess what?  God is relevant.  He isn’t an icon, or out of touch.  He’s real, and He’s in every day.

I’m excited to hear other people’s stories.  Here is ours:


Why I am Not That Into Religion

I want to say I’m sorry.  I’m about to go all Christian on you again.  I apologize  if you’re sick of that.  Christian stuff isn’t the only thing I write about, but I guess I do wander there a lot.  To be fair, I warned you I might.  It’s in my blog bio.  I said I’d be talking about a few things that were important to me; one of those things was faith.

This is a blog written by a Christian lady.  If you’re interested in learning more about Judaism or New Age, I’m going to seriously disappoint you.    If you’re just in it for the silly stuff I write,  and you’re just tolerating my Christian musings, thanks for sticking it out. You’re a good friend.  .

If there is one thing I like, it’s making people happy.  I’m not an agitator.  Even if I don’t agree with you, there’s very little chance I’ll challenge you. I haven’t seen people accomplish anything I like when they argue.  They walk away with their opinions unchanged,  AND they’re angry.  Who really wins? I guess people who like making people angry do.

I like finding common ground; I like to put my focus there.   I like diplomacy, but there is one thing I like MORE than getting along: common sense.  Common sense.  I am a fan. I can’t bring myself to ignore common sense for the sake of  staying with the herd.  I’ve never been able to do that.

In my formative years I went to  a Baptist church.  Not as strict as some, but stricter than others.  While I went to that church I was taught about Jesus.   When I was young I decided I believed that Jesus was my Savior and my friend.  It was an easy thing to do, because everyone around me was doing the same thing.  Christianity was certainly part of my culture, but, for me, it was also personal.

In my Baptist church I saw adults who showed me what it looks like to be a grown up who believes in Christ.  Those grown ups were decent,  humble and kind.    They cared about people, and served others.  They took time to teach me stories from the Bible, and they showed me  with their actions how their faith impacted their lives.  Those Christians helped shape me.  It was a positive experience.

My Baptist church was not perfect.  I believe they had the important things right, but from my current view point, I believe they also had  some things wrong.  My Baptist church thought it was important to be a Christian, and Baptist.  Well, not Baptist, really.  Just not Catholic, or Lutheran or Methodist, or any other denomination that wasn’t Baptist.  Baptists believed that Baptists had figured out exactly the right way to believe.

When I was younger, most of my school friends were Catholic.  Every now and then, I would be staying over at one of their homes, and we would have to go to church.  I was honest-to-goodness scared to go to a Catholic church.   And can we just be straight with each other?  Once I got there, the incense, chanting and long robes didn’t exactly scream, “relax, make yourself at home”.  It was intimidating.

I thought that Catholics did not believe the right way.    I’m pretty sure Catholics were taught the same thing, in reverse.  I also was under the impression that other protestant denominations  were  not ideal.

Us Baptists were not alone in our snobbery.  I had a Catholic friend tell me a story about growing up in a small Catholic community in Iowa.  She said a protestant family moved into her neighborhood; that protestant family was shunned by all the Catholic families.   At what point in life do intelligent people decide the shunning technique is their go to move?

I have another friend who went to a protestant church that she once loved.  The church leaders there started getting more and more dialed in to the exact way they interpreted God’s instructions for their lives.  My dynamic Christian friend and her family were eventually found to be lacking.  They were also shunned. By their own church family.

Do you think I mean that those church people just didn’t get along with each other after that?  Oh no, you would be wrong.   That’s what I thought my friend meant when she first told me this story.  Then my friend explained that she and her family were literally shunned.  My friend taught me that shunning is a real strategy that has rules and everything.

She explained that the church members had directions from their leaders to turn their physical bodies away from my friend, walk to the other side of street if they saw her, and avoid ANY and all contact with her and her family.

If I were my friend, here’s how I would have liked to  handle that situation.  When the church leaders came to me to announce that I was going to be shunned, I would say, “Too late. I already starting shunning you.  This morning.”

Then the leaders would have to go back to their manual and look up on page 18, Chapter 4, “How to Handle a Double Shun”.  Gotcha!  The ol’ double shun. You never saw it coming.

Read:  When a second shun is put forth after a preceding shun, the shun in place is dominant, or could equalize the previous shun.  Thereby making the shunning power of a second shun not withstanding of all shunning parties.  Are you with me?  No?  I thought that made perfect sense.  Just like shunning does.

My friend blew up my brain when she told me about shunning.  I thought, “THAT happens?  That happens in this day and age,   in my backyard?”  Is it really any wonder why so many people find religion distasteful?

I can only guess that the people running this shunning operation are middle schoolers.  Because that routine sounds like it’s right out of the middle school handbook on conflict resolution.  For sure these people are taking themselves too seriously.  For sure.

I find the whole shunning operation to be illogical and immature.   I’m pointing fingers, but I shouldn’t.  I’ve been guilty of both as well.

When I was in college one of my favorite classes was on Chinese history.  My professor was from China.  One time he was telling us a story about some Christian missionaries in China.  I raised my hand and asked him what religion they were.

He answered, “Christian.”

I said, “What kind of Christian though?  Baptist?  Lutheran?  Catholic?”

He laughed at me.  He said, “I don’t know.  They were Christian.  What difference does it make?’

I was embarrassed, but I wanted to say, “It makes a big difference.  I want to know if they’re the kind of Christians who believe the right way, or the wrong way.”

I don’t know at what point in my adult life I had an epiphany.   Actually,  it wasn’t really an epiphany.  I guess my view point has evolved slowly over time.  I now can see something that I was clearly missing before.  Religion is for humans.  It isn’t for God.   The collection of beliefs each denomination has compiled and noted as ideal, were put together by humans, for humans.  Humans love affiliation.  They like to be in clubs, and to be able to name things that set them apart.

I’ve told you before I’m never going to be a theologian.  But, from what I have read, Christians are people who believe Christ is their Savior. Christians see a need for a Savior.  They acknowledge that Christ is doing the saving; they know they can’t save themselves.   They also believe the Bible is actually put together by God, and contains the answers for their life.

If you’re a Christian, it doesn’t matter if you yammer on all day about what you believe. Your faith should show.  You know, in how you act.  The decisions you make.  What you say. What you don’t say. Where you go.  Who you shun.  Sorry. I thought I was over that.  I’m still bitter.  Christians are also not apathetic.  Christ calls out apathy big time.

So, that’s a Christian.  Right?  I mean, what am I missing?

I know.  I know.  You might be thinking, “what about Baptism?”  Everybody is positive they are right about Baptism.  I have nothing intelligent to say on the subject.   The only thing I feel like I know for sure, is that I’m certain God did not give us Baptism for the purpose of arguing about it.  Why can’t we just agree to disagree?  Because I can.  I really can.

Our family financially supports a Catholic missionary.  She is a former student of Scott’s.  She used to hold Bible studies in the morning before school.  Now she’s a part of a college campus ministry.  She is one of the most joyful people we’ve ever met.  She is a Jesus freak.

Our kids go to Lutheran church camp.  It’s solid.    They go to our “Evangelical Free” church’s youth group.  It’s awesome!  Our youth pastor is one of Eddie’s best friends.  They’ve been on missions trips together, and Eddie has learned a lot from being a part of our church’s youth program.

In the summer, Eddie  goes to a Catholic youth group.  This youth group is run by a husband and wife who are the closest examples to Christ-like behavior that I have ever seen.  This couple’s home is open to people who need shelter.  They have organized, “Feed my Starving Children” in our community.  They have had Eddie at the nursing home visiting the elderly, and working in the community garden.  It is so exciting.

Eddie said that at Catholic youth group they pray and read the Bible.   He said sometimes they  also recite prayers from a book together.  That’s usually a little more Catholicky than Eddie’s in the mood for, so instead he just opts out and has his own personal conversation with God.  That’s Eddie’s preference, and his leaders are totally cool with that.  Although,  his leaders  did say that  typically prayer skipping is worthy of a  4 hour shun.  They showed him mercy (guess I won’t be letting this shunning thing drop any time soon).

I think people should go to church where they’re comfortable.  I think people who are just going through the motions, should ask themselves why.  I think people should focus on what is in their own heart, and not presume to know what’s in another’s.  I think folks should acknowledge that various Christian denominations are rich in history and tradition, but not at all significant to saving  their  souls. I think people should be honest about what religion is, and what it isn’t.

I just said a lot.  I hope I didn’t make you mad.    It’s just that when I see something that doesn’t make sense, I can’t seem to stop myself from pointing it out.  It seriously feels impossible to sit on that stuff.  It can be annoying for both of us.

If you don’t agree with me, I’m totally fine with that.  Just let me know, so that I can add you to my list of those I’ve shunned.





Getting Older and Help From the Village

We’re going random again today.  That seems to work.  Just a few silly thoughts as they come to me.  Let’s start with this. If I have not thanked you already for reading my blog, I’d like to do that now.  I know you’re busy; I don’t take you for granted.

If we’re Facebook friends, you may have seen this picture I posted this week:

jeanne and miki


That is a picture of me singing with my oldest friend.  We met in the nursery at church when we were babies.   I think we were trying to look like “Charlie’s Angels” in this picture.  What I’m embarrassed about is how provocatively we dressed back then.   That’s just how we were; free love, and all that.  You can see my friend’s chin and forearms in that outfit, and that just doesn’t seem right.

I’m the one in the back.  I look like I’m wearing a shiny mushroom cap on my head.  That’s my hair.   Don’t try denying how good that looks.  It’s like a little mullet- mushroom, brought to you by Vidal Sassoon.

Do you remember when I told you I have some ADHD issues?  I told you that I’ve made it through life thanks to my sisters and girlfriends.  I definitely need to thank that little gal standing next to me in that picture for her assistance in my life. She is what you call a real friend. We went to college together, and she was always part best friend, part mom to me.  I love her.

In that picture we were a part of some performance at church.  They asked us to play our flutes.  I said yes, sounds good, except for I don’t know how to play the flute.  Yes. I carried a flute in a flute case to band with me every day at school.  I just didn’t ever use the flute, practice the flute, or know how to play the flute.  But, I did like the IDEA of playing the flute.  That should count for something.

Plus, I liked  the way my mushroom cap hair bounced  when I played.  It made me look professional.  I could really carry on; I would move forward and backward, like I was really feeling the music.   I wasn’t really playing, but I should get some credit for my acting.

I don’t really remember much of anything about the concert in this picture.  I only remember that I knew I could just move my fingers on the flute.  I knew that my friend would know our part for real.  She could play the real notes.  I know what you’re thinking.  Everyone should have a friend as good as me.

I’m sorry I volunteered for that flute duet.   I don’t know why I did.  You would think that someone like me would like being on a stage.  I don’t.  It’s a weird thing..  I will get up in front of people if I HAVE to, but only if you make me.  It’s not my favorite.

When I posted this picture on Facebook, my best friend’s little brother commented.  He’s a well respected Pastor now.  Unfortunately, he also has a well respected memory. The kid doesn’t forget a thing.

He reminded me of the time my family forced me to sing a duet at church.   My family was a version of the Von Trapps.  Everybody is musical, except me.  I like listening to music, but I’m not one bit interested in how it’s made.

My sister,  who is closest in age to me,  used to stand by the record player and listen to choir music.  She would pretend she was part of the choir.  Did you hear me?  She would pretend she was PART OF THE CHOIR?  I would cry just to see her doing that.   I wanted her to play with me instead.  I didn’t know how any kid could voluntarily do something so boring. Why don’t we just go pick the lint out of Grandpa’s belly button, if you’re looking for ways to torture me.

My parents REALLY wanted me to  sing this duet with my choir-singing-sister.   I kept telling them I didn’t want to do it.  I didn’t want to get up in front of people, and my singing wasn’t exactly special. Some people just have to learn the hard way.

We were up on stage at church, and the background music started to play. My sister had the harmony and I had the melody.  We may have sang one full sentence before I started to giggle.  You would think I could have pulled it together.  I didn’t.  I giggled for the entire song.   Nervous, uncontrollable giggling. It was kind of like giggling and crying all at once.  I was trapped in my giggling body, and I didn’t know how to turn it off.

Do you know how long a 3 minute song is when you’re giggling the entire time, the church is completely silent and an entire congregation is staring at you?  A life time, my friend.  A life time.

My sister might have decided to improvise, and make it a solo, but she had memorized the harmony.  So, she stood there staring at her sister.  She wanted to take one last look at me before they took me away to  that special home, or that special place of rest (after dad got a hold of me).

We all learned a lesson that day.  My folks learned that when your kid says they don’t want to get up in front of people, there’s a good chance she means it.  My sister learned that she should always choose to sing the melody.  And, the congregation was the biggest winner.  They learned two things: church really can be fun.  And,  for as long as that congregation lived, no one could ever do a worse job of singing than me.

I was young then.  Now I’m getting old.  Things are happening to me.  Scary things.  I’m losing  my mental edge.  I think many people have experienced walking into a room to get something, only to forget what that something is.  That happens to me all the time now.  What is different is that I don’t even bother taking the time to try to remember what it is that I forgot anymore.  I just walk away.   I know that thought is gone.  Permanently.

I was starting to worry about my memory issues.  Then I started thinking of it as an advantage.  One minute I’m like, “Oh my goodness, I have dementia!”  The next minute I forgot that I was worried that I had dementia.  If I forget to worry about all the things that I like to worry about, my problems are solved, right? Have you ever thought of that?

I also am experiencing some physical symptoms of getting older.  I haven’t always had what you would call cat like reflexes.  But, I played sports.  I like physical fitness.  Lately,  I’ve noticed that my body is a little slow to obey my brain.  It’s odd.

I was at the food court at the mall with Olivia this winter.  I had my legs crossed and I was very absorbed in this text I was trying to send.  Olivia was looking down and eating her food.  For some reason I lost my balance while I was sitting there.  I felt myself starting to fall.  I couldn’t get my legs uncrossed in time to regain my balance.  I started thinking, “I’m falling out of my chair.  Is this happening?  This is happening.”

Olivia suddenly looked up from her food and I was laying on my side on the mall floor.  She had an expression that was a little bit sympathetic, but a lot more mortification.  She said, “Mom! Get up! What are you doing on the floor?!”

“I don’t know, Olivia.  I really don’t know.”

That’s the kind of weird stuff that’s been happening to me.

What are you doing on May 18th?  If you live near by, I hope you will come to a special benefit for my friend and her family.  Let me back up.  You know that our family has had some struggles, right?  Eddie has been sick a really long time.  One day I wrote a blog post about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of other people’s generosity.   It’s incredible and terrifying.  I never posted that blog.

People are outstanding.  I mean, seriously outstanding.  I cannot believe how kind and generous people have been to our family over the years.   When we were going to take out a second mortgage to send Eddie to this special clinic in Wichita, our community paid for it.   We have received so many gifts and kind gestures over the years.  It brings tears to my eyes just to retell it.   But, there is no denying that it is often easier to give than to receive.  Especially for people like my husband.

I didn’t post that blog, because this subject is almost too personal.  Some people just set out in life to work hard and take care of their family.  They’ll be the first to lend a hand,  if you need it.  But, it is a very painful thing for them to take a lending hand.  I married someone like that.

One of our Doctors who I adore, adore, adore, told me a good story one time.  She was trying to help me understand that it was okay to receive help from people who cared.  She said that in primitive villages, where there is no health care, there is also no shame.  She said it is universally accepted in those villages that when a family is in distress, the people of the village rally around that family.  The villagers rally, knowing that today it is their neighbor’s turn to receive help, support and comfort.  Tomorrow it will be their turn.

The help and comfort the villagers receive from their neighbors and friends is not called charity, it’s called community.  My doctor told me that today it was my family’s turn, tomorrow we could help someone else.

One of my dearest friends and her family need the community.  My friend, Amy,  and her husband, Jeff, have a big, beautiful family.  They had their heads down.  They were working hard and taking care of their family.  Then Jeff was diagnosed with cancer.   This beautiful family is trying to keep their small business going, and manage their mounting medical bills.  They need our help, and I, for one, cannot think of anything else I would rather do than help them.

This family was always there to offer my family help when we needed it.  They need to know that this has nothing to do with charity.  This is just community.  So, I’d be honored if you’d help us rally.  Here’s a flyer, or check out the details on Facebook:


chrislerfitnesschallenge flyer (1)








What is Your Fantasy Church?

Our church needs a new name. I’m on our church naming committee. I think they made a mistake. I’m not creative or inspired. I’m practical.

Scott and my friend, Lisa, can spend hours poring over logos, color schemes and themes for the Wrestling Club. They love the details, and they’re so good at it. I’m thankful for Lisa. Before she joined the Wrestling Club, Scott would ask me about colors, logos and themes. I could hardly even pretend to care. He wasn’t impressed.

For a while there was a suggestion box in the back of our church. Anyone could suggest a good idea for a new church name. I think there were four suggestions in one year.

Half of the suggestions in that box were from my children: The first was, “Poop”; signed by Eddie, actually written by Olivia, pretending to be Eddie. The other was “Brothers Understand The Truth Society”, or “Butts”, which was written by Eddie for real. And that’s the story of how you get elected (forced) on a committee when no one else volunteers. Thanks for the shenanigans, kids.

Right now the name of our church is, “Sauk Prairie Evangelical Free Church”. Really rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it? That’s not a good name. It’s too long.

Our church isn’t the only one with a name problem. I’ve heard others. Some Catholic churches go out of their way to include every spiritual word they ever liked in their name.

Have you heard of, “St. Francis National Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith”? That’s a Catholic church in Canada.

When I hear these super long names I want to say, “Can we all just calm down? Please. Let’s just calm down.”

Some of the other members of our name-changing committee are marketing gurus in real life. That’s what they do for a career. They talk at length about the implications of finding the right name. They talk about things that have never, and would never, occur to me.

If I was the only person on the name changing committee, we’d need one meeting. We would be quick about it. We’d choose something like, “The Brown Church”, “The Cool Church”, “The Not so Churchy Church”. I like things straight forward.

On vacation our family had a lot of time to kill in the van together, Scott and I started having some fun with this name changing challenge. The game started with me admitting I had no real talent for coming up with something clever. He wanted to help.

When we ran out of legitimate ideas, we started offering up names for the church based on whatever caught our eye:

Culver’s (That franchise started in our town. So it makes sense.)

Tubby’s Tavern (I can see some problems with this one)


Kwik Trip

Ozark Autoparts

Traffic Cone

Wow. Those were a lot funnier after ten hours of riding in a van together.

All the talk of church names led me to ask my family another question. This is the kind of question you can only ask your kids when they’re trapped, and can’t get away from you. I asked my family to describe their ideal church; their fantasy church. I said that I wanted to know what kind of church they would be excited to get up in the morning to attend.

Olivia said something about a place that handed out perfume samples and hot fudge sundaes during the service. I told her that isn’t exactly what I meant. Should I expect more from someone who suggested “Poop” as a church name? See, she looks sweet, but you gotta watch out for her.

I said, “Church is a place you go to connect with God in a meaningful way. Church is also a place to encourage and be encouraged by other people who believe the same things you do. Most importantly, a Christian church is not JUST a place to learn about the Bible. Church is a place to feel what the Bible teaches. Church is a place for people who have faith, and people who have lost their faith. If Church is right, then people who’s souls hurt can find relief there.” That’s what I said to my family. And then I added, “But perfume samples are a good idea too.”

I started thinking about my own fantasy church. Here it is: My fantasy church meets outside. Yeah. That wouldn’t work in Wisconsin, but we’re talking fantasy here. So, don’t bring me down.

I have always felt God’s presence more keenly in nature. Never one to wax poetic, but have you seen a sunrise lately? Have you seen the sun reflected on the water and smelled the air after it rains? Whenever I am in nature, my reflex is to thank God. Gratitude is a great way to start church.


At my fantasy church people wear what they want. If they like to dress fancy, they can dress fancy. If they want to wear sweat pants and no shoes, that’s good too. Nobody’s paying attention.

We’re heavy on the music at my fantasy church. God gave us nature and music. For so many of us these gifts put us in God’s presence like nothing else can. What can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up like music? Music leads me to a genuine state of worship. God asks us to worship. So, we’re going with lots of music in my fantasy.

After the music someone brings the Bible to life for us. They teach us what it says, what it means and how it’s relevant in 2014. Then, one person will share a story with us. They’ll tell us about a challenge they’re facing right now, and how God has spoken to them and helped them grow. That’s the God I want to hear about. The God I believe is alive in real time. The God I can talk to; who is affecting our lives. Right now.

We’re not big on rules at my fantasy church. We do have a few. One of our most important rules is: NO pretending aloud. Nobody does anything for the purpose of impressing others, got it? Everybody is authentic, sincere and says what they mean.

If you’re addicted to pain pills, scream at your kids too much, hate your mom, pour vodka in your morning coffee or are stealing money from your boss, it’s safe to say so at my fantasy church. They’re not surprised by that; they expect it. They know people are messed up. They know that’s why people need God.

It will feel good to share our troubles with people who love us at my fantasy church; they will listen and they will care. They will care enough to tell us the truth. The truth won’t always tickle our ears. The truth might make us do things that seem hard or even impossible: saying we’re sorry, confessing our secrets, practicing self discipline we don’t think we have, forgiving, trusting, letting go. At my fantasy church only the truth will be spoken. The truth will set people free.

I think that’s it. Oh, one more thing. No. Two more things. Nope. I guess I’ve got three more things. Hey, this putting a church together stuff is more complicated than I thought.

In my fantasy church you can’t be offended. Well, you can, but not for long. You can’t sit in the pew and feel sorry for yourself because you don’t like the music or the preaching. And you DEFINITELY can’t go home and complain to your family about it.

In my church, if you have an idea that could improve anything: the service, the music, a relationship, you go right to the person who can make it happen. You tell them your idea in a positive way. You become a part of the solution.

If I hear you’re nursing your offense, I’m gonna have to do something dramatic. I’m gonna hit the eject button. That’s right. In my fantasy church, you can get ejected right out of your pew for behavior like that. We don’t mess around.

We’re quick to laugh in my fantasy church too. God filled life with things that are funny; we appreciate that. Super serious people won’t like my fantasy church.

The last thing is that we’re not going to carry on all day at my fantasy church, okay? I’m sorry. This is my fantasy. My rules. At my church we cater to folks with the attention span of gnats (me). We let all those smart, note-taking, teacher’s pets (Scott) carry on after church to discuss things in greater detail. We’ll let them get the extra credit, while we chase butterflies.

If the person in the front is taking too long, guess what we’re gonna do? That’s right. Hit the eject button. Don’t worry. They land on a trampoline. It’s not like I’m mean.

Would you like my church? Some people would HATE it. I have a friend who told me she loves the formality at her church. Most of the service is sung in another language, and she says it soothes her soul.

Another friend told me he just wants to go put his time in at church, and then just get the heck out of there. He doesn’t want to make friends. He said he doesn’t want any more out of his church than credit for being there. That’s his fantasy church.

I can think of name for his church. I’d call it, “The Church for the Super Duper Lame People Church”. Wow. Maybe I’m better at coming up with names than I thought. That was just very clever. Now I have to ask for forgiveness.

God gave us all unique preferences. I prefer things that feel real. I don’t want a church name that sounds rigid or intimidating. I don’t want a church that feels that way either. I got some real life going on here. I need a “Church” that is going to help me through it. What does your fantasy church look like?

Here’s a song we’re definitely singing at my fantasy church:

Being Nice

In some ways, things become simpler as you get older. At 22-years-old, I was pretty predictable. At 42, you can go ahead and set your watch by me. It’s okay. I don’t mind. If you need me I can be found in one of only five places: at work, at home, at the grocery store, at church, or at the gym (Not exercising, silly. Watching my kids.)

My social interactions have also simplified. I communicate face to face with with my work associates and clients, other bleacher parents, people at church, my family and all those folks at the grocery store. And THAT, my friends, is my exciting life. With daily adventures like this, it is really no wonder I blog. People who aren’t comfortable with risks themselves, can live through me.

Can we talk about the grocery store? Since one-fifth of my life is spent there, I’ve had time to learn some things. Here’s the most important thing I’ve learned: baby carrots taste kind of like bleach, and they’re overpriced; you’re risking your flippin’ lives when you buy them, people! Sometimes you just have to create your own excitement, you know? That’s not really what I’ve learned (although regular sized carrots really are the way to go.) Here’s the real thing I’ve learned at the grocery store: being nice matters.

Let’s be honest with each other and admit that most of us are not our best selves when we grocery shop. Most of us are usually racing against the clock. We’re shopping and simultaneously working through a mental check list of all the other things we need to get done. For most of us, grocery shopping is done in a state of automation.

I don’t love admitting this, but occasionally (let’s go with 1 out of 60 trips) I walk into the grocery store with a heart that hurts and holding tight to a bunch of unshed tears. Just once in a while, you know? Not a lot. Seriously. Just when I get weary of battling, and feel like a broken heart will always be my lot in life. I would guess on any given day there’s a handful (maybe more) of these kinda folks walking the aisles. People are tough. They can carry around some pretty heavy stuff: their marriage may be falling apart, they just lost someone they love, they’re being abused, they’ve recently been diagnosed with something terrifying or they have a child who has been sick for most of his life, and no matter what they do he just won’t get better.

THOSE are the days when I realize this: being nice matters. When the teenager behind the meat counter is super polite and says, “please, take your time.” I appreciate his patience.

When the arthritic cashier works hard to lift her hand high enough to give me my change, and then smiles and tells me to have a nice day, I feel it in my heart.

When I see the Asian woman who I’m pretty sure works seven days a week stocking the health food aisle. She speaks broken English. When she sees me she asks with a smile and gentle voice, “You have nice holiday? It good to see you again. Stay warm.” I want to do something nice for her in return.

And, when the neat and tidy elderly women bags my groceries. She smiles at me with her light blue, crinkly eyes. She pats my arm while looking me straight in the eye and says in the sweetest grandma voice, “I hope you have a good day, dear.” I may just go ahead and shed one or two of those tears on my way out; I feel like giving that little lady a hug.

Nice is not just an adjective. Being nice is a verb. Being nice is an action with consequence. Being nice can change things. Being nice can provide comfort and relief. Being nice can alter emotions and mood. Being nice can restore. And you just never know when being nice will deliver a little warmth in to the broken heart of a random grocery shopper. I really want to be nice.


Tag Cloud