Mistakes in life are too often downplayed. They have a place of value. I can tell you firsthand, my best lessons have been learned through the uh-ohs of life.
Generally speaking, people don’t like to confess their failures. The need to be always right is part of the human nature.
My former neighbor Selina, once told me she had never given her mother a moments concern. Looking back at that conversation, I wonder if I raised my eyebrows?
She became pregnant out of wedlock when she was fifteen years old. Current society doesn’t think that is any big deal, but back in the early sixties, yes, it was frowned upon. Selina also openly admits that she has a favorite child. Imagine how the ‘unfavorite’ kids feel.
Have you ever heard a person say they have no regrets? Thoughts come to mind that perhaps they have never challenged themselves. Nothing ventured, nothing gained is true. Or maybe there is no inquisitive nature.
My husband for instance, as a child was always wondering what makes things work. More than once he took a perfectly workable object apart to learn the mechanics of it, but when put back together, it no longer worked. I don’t believe his parents ever chastised him. If they had, it would have thwarted his curiosity. Today the man can build or repair anything-and this wife is thankful!
Like anything, the pendulum could also swing the other way. I recall a co-worker learning of a position open that she was interested in. She applied, and was interviewed. She gave herself a glowing report, claiming she could easily transition into this new role. For her sake, I hoped she didn’t get the job, because no way she could perform to the degree she implied. It would do nothing for her reputation.
Another downfall to not being honest with yourself is the false sense of security. To be ‘your own person,’ to the extent of not acknowledging a need for Jesus is risky. So much of life is beyond control and to think events can be manipulated in a pleasing manner is a recipe for disappointment.
In my own experience, I have found a friendship with Jesus has given me a healthy view of myself. I see all kinds of faults, but Jesus shows me he can take those flaws and turn them into a productive work that encourages others and makes both he and I look good at the same time. He can do stuff in and through me that I could never do on my own.
Our doorbell rang. Midnight barked her announcement that we had a visitor. My husband headed for the door telling her to settle down. Midnight barked quieter.
“Shush girl, I’m right here.”
“Woof.” Quieter yet.
Midnight stalked away with disgust written on her snout, mumbling “mwmwm.” After all she was only doing her job!
Pets do have personalities. As far as Midnight was concerned, the door belonged to her, likewise the sidewalk. Naturally she would sound the alarm when someone who didn’t belong used them. Midnight included in her fold Grandma, and her dog Puddin. Grandma adored Midnight and Puddin adored coming to our house to watch the fish swim in the fish tank. It appeared to be canine MTV.
Midnight considered us family, but not everyone was thrilled by that. My husband and I both grew up with pets, but my husband was done with them. Our son had other ideas though. I vividly recall the day my husband called me upstairs where he was working.
“I’m getting weak,” he said. “I’m thinking of getting Jamie a dog. Can you think of any reason we shouldn’t? Please, any reason at all?”
His petition took me by surprise because nothing had been said recently. At the moment I could not come up with a reason why our boy should not have his dog. Later I was able to pinpoint an issue with pet ownership. Hair. Everywhere. Which should not have come as a surprise because we already had a cat. Adding another pet to the mix just meant twice the hair.
After we brought our pup home, the family gathered around the table for the serious discussion of a name for this new family member. Because she was all black, I leaned towards Licorice. But that was quickly squashed due to my tendency to go by nicknames. Standing at the door calling for Licker didn’t seem appropriate. We settled on Midnight but called her by many names, Pup, Poochkie, Mid, Mutney. She responded to all, lapping up the love and attention most of us gave her.
At about the same time Midnight joined our family, some friends of ours added a pup to their family as well. Their experience with a new puppy wasn’t altogether good.
“Are you folks having problems at night with your puppy whining and crying after being put to bed?”
“No, not at all,” I said, perplexed as to why they were experiencing this. All the kids welcomed her with open arms, our son especially. Because the puppy was too small to jump onto his bed, our boy lined the floor with newspapers and slept on it with Mid. Our friend, on the other hand, put their pup in a kennel far from any family members. Clearly, he didn’t grasp that dogs shouldn’t be treated like animals.
Midnight was happiest when she was included in family activities. She especially enjoyed going camping with us. Most of the time we were outdoors with her, so she had ample attention. One vacation in particular she tried to befriend another black critter that had a really neat white streak running down its back. Thankfully I managed to squelch that doomed friendship before any bad memory took place.
It amazes me the how and what lessons God will bring into my life to learn. Living with our new family member, I became a student of valuable lessons that Midnight had for me. Take for instance the aforementioned visitor at the door. Immediately Midnight determined whether our visitor was friend or foe. Her policy was to like everyone. Then had a friend for life
Other lessons I learned from Midnight:
When a person is hurting, stay close by, with a listening ear available to them. Midnight lived that out making herself available to any one of the kids during those tough adolescent years.
Even the few times we reprimanded her, Mutney always forgave us.
Little people were some of Mid’s favorite humans. I guess because they knew how to have fun. If they tended to be a little clumsy she exercised patience.
Mid could read people and take joy in another person’s happiness. Understanding wasn’t a prerequisite for her to join in the celebration.
Our girl loved car rides. She made it a practice to never pass up an opportunity for a road trip, however small it might be. Ditto for red wagons. Don’t postpone joy.
When outdoors, she always took the opportunity to go to the bathroom. Who knows when the next opportunity would be?
You don’t have to finish all the food in your bowl. If her snout was dry and she felt a little under the weather, it was ok.
In theory, Mid was not to be on furniture. It was my way of controlling some of the shed hair. When we were gone, it was another story. The furniture was at her disposal. When taking a nap, she would find the softest pillow in the house.
Be a kitchen-helper. There just isn’t an easy way to conduct floor patrol without getting underfoot. At least the cook shouldn’t feel lonely in there by herself.
Adapt to the changes in your world. As long as you have family, you have all the support and protection you need.
Lastly, always have the last word.
While my husband might not completely agree, our lives would not have been complete without this four-legged family member. As long as Midnight gave her master the lead dog position, all was well with the world. We miss you girl and always remain your faithful family.
I don’t mean the bird. I’m talking about swearing you would never do something, then at some point, find yourself doing it.
As I pulled into the parking spot I saw this sticker on the minivan next to me. Immediately my daughter Cindy came to mind. The sticker stated, “I will never drive a minivan.”
That was Cindy’s sentiment.
To date, she has kept her word, and I smile thinking of that. Someday she will have to educate me on why that is so bad. She is a suburban mom with two children and has carted many others around on any given day.
Another thought came of Cindy and her sister, Naomi. They absolutely refused to wear bell-bottom pants. I did in my day, which could be why they are adamantly against them. Recently I was shopping for some new pants, and was aghast to find the fuller legs are what’s trending now. Behind my back styles changed. How dare they! Just because I wore them in my youth doesn’t mean I wish to go back to that.
Thoughts kept flowing. When I was in second grade, my teacher did an admirable thing. Each week she would bring a new food for us students to try. Most of it wasn’t new to me, so it presented no problem on my part.
Until the day she brought cottage cheese. Each time she brought a normal size spoon for tasting. That day she brought a huge serving spoon, or so it seemed to me. The stuff didn’t look appetizing and had no desire to put it in my mouth. But I must; not one spoonful, but two. I thought I was going to die.
Today, I don’t touch the stuff and venture to say, she would be in a heap of trouble forcing children to eat something against their will. That was before kids became snowflakes that melted over whatever they didn’t like.
Where I am living now, figuratively I eat crow every day. I have never seen the advantage of living in a neighborhood that sits next to the main street, but you have to pass your home to the nearest side street and meander through the neighborhood to get to your home. I swore I would never live in a place like that.
It doesn’t stop there. I’m also anti-cookie cutter homes that all look alike. Never would I put myself in a community where the only difference in homes was the address. You guessed it on both counts, this is exactly how I’m living now. And I love it!
All this to say one thing. Jesus must have quite a sense of humor. Why do we people make statements only to look stupid later and have to eat our words? My guess is it’s the best way for us to realize some things are not as bad as we think.
It’s quite clever of him to let us learn stuff on our own. Kind of like letting your children find out the hard way, through experience. Oh yeah, I keep forgetting, we are Jesus’ kids. Parents know what is best for their kids, but letting them come to the same conclusion reinforces the lesson. Touché.
My life was to be forever changed and I was not pleased.
I had come to the end of my rope, all I could do is hang on for a very rough ride. My daughter Cindy, was pregnant. She had become a statistic, joining the ranks of teen moms.
Let me say right up front, too many others didn’t understand my turmoil. The era was rampant with young people making adult decisions that the rest of the family had to deal with. So I admit, it wasn’t a new concept, but one of those ‘everyone is doing it’ mindset.
But not us, not our family! We loved Jesus and my husband Dave and I did all we could to spread the love of God to our children. On second thought, why not? We’re not perfect parents.
Unfortunately, several families in our church were dealing with much the same situation. At the time it felt as though an epidemic had hit. We mothers rallied around each other, offering support and encouragement to the best of our ability.
I dubbed our group Altered Moms. Each of our lives were to be forever altered. The situations varied among us, but the concerns were the shared. One had a teenage son that fathered a child, another had a son so rebellious that his mom claimed he would get pregnant if he could! That named a few, but…what now?
We talked out circumstances that we couldn’t change. Mostly we prayed. Prayer is a funny thing. A person of strong faith may very well ask for God’s will, but that is a potent prayer. God hears our heart, but it also puts a spotlight on future words and actions.
Can I accept his will?
Think about it, this all powerful God could have prevented these crises, right? Is it possible that this unasked for dilemma be part of his plan? Not just for me, but for our kids too? I have come to believe the answer is ‘Yes, yes it can!”
I continued going to church and gosh darn if every message preached hit home. Even though our minister was clueless to our crisis, mentioning our names from the pulpit was the only thing missing. Every Sunday put me in tears because I knew it was me that needed the changing. Broadening my mind and heart was required.
A side effect is the relationship with my future son-in-law. We all have a part to play in what life hands us. These things take time. I am pleased to tell you it is well between us all now. Each of us in our own way had some growing up to do.
The beautiful little granddaughter put into our lives continues to bless us in ways we could never have imagined. A couple years later a little sister joined the fam. Our lives have become enriched over what initially seemed so hard to deal with. God knew what he was doing after all.
That is history.
I would be foolish not to mention the altered lives we are living under now in 2020. Too many have lost loved ones through this insidious COVID 19 virus.
While there may be finger pointing blame, what does that accomplish? We are where we are and at best we must move forward to what lies ahead.
Here is a mind-boggler for you:
It’s the same Guy that allowed my personal crisis and this current time we are living in. Again prayer comes into play.
Can we accept the pandemic we are in as God’s will?
What choice do we have? This isn’t over.
Experience teaches us things. We have learned staying home isn’t horrible. ‘Someday’ projects turned into accomplishments. Discerning what is important and what isn’t took center stage. Others have learned to cook. We have found creative ways to entertain ourselves. Better yet, how to relate with each other.
Bottom line: My mom was right, life is what we make it.
But I will say this with it, good things can come from bad situations. I’ve come to believe it’s one of Gods specialties.