O Lord, Thank You that You made me a writer and, I hope, a conduit of good stuff to my readers. But sometimes, on tough writing days like this, I wonder: OMG, maybe I should have been a plumber?
Are you a good sport?
I’m not. Never have been.
As a preschooler, I pitched horrendous hissy fits when I pinned the tail on the donkey’s nose.
Worse, I adopted questionable ways of winning. I recall playing jacks at age four with Meddy, a “big kid” of five. When Meddy dropped a jack or misbounced the ball, I loudly denounced her “misses.” My similar miscues, however, were “mistakes.” People who made mistakes deserved another chance. Several, in fact.
Meddy suggested a new game: Throw Rachael Off the Top of the Swing Set. She was good at that game. I wasn’t the best sport.
I graduated to towering rages while playing Monopoly — not my fault. My brother manufactured counterfeit five-hundred-dollar bills under his bunk bed. He spent every penny building vast empires around Park Place and Boardwalk. When his cash flow disappeared, I bought his lousy railroads and utilities with carefully hoarded cash. In turn, I believed he’d ignore my landing on his hotels.
Wrong. He nailed me. I, the prudent, generous developer, always lost.
Since his counterfeiting skills didn’t figure into playing Clue, I fared better. Still, I rejected the candlestick as a weapon. What respectable murderer knocked off people with candlesticks?
After ten losses in an afternoon, I smacked both my brother and my cousin with the playing board. Hey, it made more sense than using a candlestick.
I even extended my winning obsession to church. Boy vs. girl penny contests at Bible school inspired me. I emptied my piggy bank, dug under sofa cushions, and shook down neighbor kids so we angelic girls could beat those devilish boys to send money to missionaries. Somehow, I confused the bring-a-visitor-to-church competitions with TV cowboy westerns. We kids even sang songs urging us to “bring them in.” How was I to know “dead or alive” didn’t apply?
Eventually, I grew up. Fair play, teeth-gritting congratulations to those who bested me, and missionary giving sans mugging all became the norm.
Recently, I played Scrabble with our grown children. As I was an English major, this self-designed scenario should have resulted in another victory notch in my diploma.
But all the vowels had been called to jury duty. During game two, all consonants were outsourced overseas. I proposed new rules: If other players used an X, they lost five tiles. If I drew a Z, though, I received five bonus tiles.
My narrow-minded offspring nixed my innovations. Their proposal: If I drew a Q, all U’s found among my tiles were to be held in custody until 3012 or until peace prevails in the Middle East, whichever comes first.
Maybe we both just made mistakes?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you a good sport?
O Lord, I’m so thankful. Yesterday, for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak, our church choir, including Hubby and I, could join the angels in singing Your praises. We had to wear masks, and the angels didn’t. But OMG, what a joy to worship You together!
My mother taught me the “God-is-great-God-is-good-and-we-thank-Him-for-our-food” prayer early, so saying grace comes naturally. But as a child, I wondered about blessing food containing onions. Onions were poison. Yet, Mom persisted. Fearing death, I changed my prayer accordingly: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. …”
I picked out the onions, hid them in a napkin and sat on them, plotting secret disposal.
A prominent U.S. Senate chaplain dealt with similar issues. Reverend Peter Marshall’s wife Catherine, who later would write Christy, a best seller, tried to disguise leftover holiday turkey as hash. Reverend Marshall declared that God knew he hated turkey hash; therefore, he would not give thanks.
Lucky Reverend Marshall. He didn’t sit on a napkin full of hash.
Unblessable vegetables have cropped up in my poll. My husband offers theological treatises on why God never meant humans to ingest lima beans.
He also dislikes fried chicken, a lifelong passion of mine — and my mother’s. When I was dating age, she warned me about men like him. Mom never stopped frying chicken, but for 65 years, she cooked alternative pork chops for chicken-hating Dad.
Other poll participants have experienced similar disagreements, describing black-eyed peas, liver, mincemeat pie, marshmallows, sushi and tapioca pudding in vivid, unmentionable terms.
Some struggle to bless food in restaurants, especially at today’s prices. Others, like me, rate lukewarm soup as an abomination before the Lord.
However, I’m not always sensitive to others’ dietary abominations. When I went to college, my mom, who had German background, sent me a special treat: pickled pigs’ feet. Upon seeing the bones in our trash can, my Jewish roommate concluded I was a closet cannibal.
Missionaries struggle with related scenarios. A prominent Ecuadorian town official offered missionary friends roasted guinea pig. My sister-in-law in Honduras informed me that armadillo does not taste like chicken. Once a guest in a South American jungle home, I forced myself to munch mooshy strips of spoiled bacon. Later, I discovered they were baked bananas.
I have learned to eat onions — though they remember my early rejection and exact revenge.
Before leaving the subject of unblessable foods, we should address the elephant in the room. Not eat it, though some Asians and Africans consider elephant meat a delicacy.
I refer to elephant-sized appetites, including mine. Should we bless thousand-calorie-a-bite cheesecake?
God is great and God is good. He blesses us with cheesecake — also with bathroom scales, fitting room mirrors, high school reunions, and mean doctors/dieticians/trainers.
With tons of green salad, too … topped with a slice of onion.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What foods do you consider unblessable?
O Lord, my grandchildren believe I’ve been around since forever. One asked if I knew Betsy Ross. But You truly have been around since forever. OMG, thank You for offering Your expert help to all of us navigating our senior years. Not to mention, our forever!
Have you noticed lately that businesses are teaming up to lower costs?
If you’ve driven interstates, you’ve probably taken breaks at truck stops that combine gas stations, convenience stores, and fast-food restaurants. Highly visible, their diversity serves tired travelers who want to find only one exit — and parking spot.
Other restaurants also have joined forces. For a while, I could sky my cholesterol at either a building’s fried chicken half or taco section.
Recently, though, that trend has waned. Perhaps, employees were exchanging secret recipes. Or maybe, desiring job security, they started to mug customers, dragging them to their side.
Businesses offering contrasting services seem to post success rates. Scorning the logic of bookstore-coffee shop and doctor’s office-pharmacy combinations, they often appear in small towns. I’ve patronized a computer-tractor sales store, which New Yorkers might find … unusual. Also, a car repair garage that sold used furniture. I’ve drunk lattes brewed at a hardware store.
Occasionally, even we small-town types blink at business combos. Hubby, wanting his coat cleaned, found himself staring at a store window’s sandy beach scene. The tanning salon also served as a dry cleaner’s drop-off.
When my mother visited our small town, I had to explain why I’d driven her to the laundromat to buy a Greyhound ticket.
Having pastored in an isolated Oregon town (population 37), Mom shouldn’t have found that strange. The solitary business there served as combination restaurant, bar, gas station, post office and bank. My parents probably were the only missionaries their supporters knew who cashed checks at the Dry Gulch Saloon.
Our son and his family have followed a similar unique path, attending Sunday morning services where a boxing club, GED classes, pickleball courts and a girls’ Roller Derby team are housed. I never before had praised God in sight of a boxing ring, but Jesus, with His grassroots approach, might not have found that odd.
I wonder why certain combination stores haven’t yet appeared. Take, for example, a car repair garage-nail salon. Supplied with massage chairs and earphones to soften clanky garage noises, female customers would never ask, “Is my car ready yet?”
Instead, they’d pay for an engine rebuild. (Anything to avoid fixing supper.)
A combination electronics store-spa would please both genders. With men free to stare at screens and evaluate gadgets and women free to relax without doing either, store owners would make big profits.
Some parents suggest a combination birthday palace-psychological clinic, with discount therapy coupons for moms and dads.
However, we don’t want to see some business combinations, such as a tax accountant-bond service outfit. A fast-food-bait store. An airport with its own funeral home.
Saving money on overhead is great. I’m all about cooperation and mutual support.
Sometimes, though, wouldn’t going it alone be better?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What odd business combinations have you seen?
O Lord, thank You for zinnias, which I plant every year because they add flower fireworks to my yard; rarely have to be fed or watered; and finally, OMG, thank You for making them tall enough to hide my almost-September garden from the neighbors.
As a spanking-new first grader, I heard (on big-kid authority) the principal functioned as Lord High Executioner. Mrs. Taylor, a large, pigeon-shaped lady, laughed loud and deep, displaying a mouthful of white, predatory teeth.
Whenever she appeared, I glued my eyes to my Dick and Jane book. I never wanted to deliver Teacher’s attendance sheet to Mrs. Taylor’s office because I couldn’t bear the hopeless looks of the condemned waiting outside. Would they emerge alive?
I’d survived first grade, when I heard rumors of a new principal. A man. I feared my life expectancy would drop considerably, which my first encounter with Mr. O’Connor confirmed. Adults called him “short,” but he seemed big and powerful, a redheaded Irishman whose cat-green eyes shot sparks when we crossed him.
My children, on the other hand, brought home tales of friendship and fun with their principal. He read storybooks aloud, led students in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and told the lamest knock-knock jokes in western civilization. If you forgot your bus number, he materialized like Jesus to help you.
During our children’s school careers, we encountered several principals who went the extra mile. Lately, though, many go the extra galaxy. Mrs. Taylor and Mr. O’Connor, whom I eventually recognized as caring professionals, wanted students to achieve. Never, however, did they kiss a potbellied pig. Running a school these days poses enough challenges without eating fried worms (even with mustard and ketchup), as a Texas principal did to motivate her students.
Brave? Ye-e-es. Even more heroic (and less yucky): working behind the scenes to make a difference in kids’ lives.
Years ago, I encountered our principal in an alley doing exactly that. Unintentionally, I almost wiped him out. Still dressed in robe and nightgown, I was moving trash cans in pouring rain when subhuman screams rent the air. I grabbed my garden hoe, positive a child had been attacked. Thankfully, I recognized our principal before I dismembered him.
I ducked inside our garage and watched the drenched educator haul a screeching, kicking blur toward school a block away. Later, I asked him about the incident.
“Billy had locked himself in his mom’s car. I went and brought him to school.”
“Coat hanger?” I asked.
“Yeah, learned it in college. Great methods course.”
“Has Billy learned his lesson?”
“He tries stuff to see if I mean it.” A Mr. O’Connor look stole over his features. “I mean it.”
Did Billy thank him? Probably not. The principal had to use more Fear Factor than he liked. Hopefully, three decades later, Billy realizes the value of his Friend Factor, who literally walked the extra mile — in the rain — to help him succeed.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What special educator do you recall?
O Lord, in the past, when nearby school playground noise resembled Bastille Day, I prayed for teachers — and slammed the window shut. But this morning, after months of ghostly silence on our block, OMG, I feel like throwing it open. And throwing confetti!
Throughout human history, we have observed one inevitable truth: men and women are different.
Even our newborn who mistook Daddy’s shirt-pocketed beeper for breakfast recognized that fact.
So why does our culture try to convince us otherwise?
Take, for example, the five senses: sight, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.
Everyone possesses a pair of eyes. Yet women can spot cute shoes on sale from the interstate. Men see such shoes only if their spouses add this 207th pair to their closets.
Women mostly see dirt and germs in a negative light. Perhaps because God made Adam from mud pies, guys see dirt in a positive light, whether in a slide into home plate or a monster truck’s foray into mud bogs. They acknowledge germs only if their work requires they eradicate them in patients or grow them in petri dishes.
Gender differences also pervade our hearing. A husband may wonder, “Why bother with baby monitors?”
When Mommy and Daddy are on a second honeymoon, two hundred miles away, she still hears their infant. Monitor or no monitor, he only hears their baby at night when accompanied by his wife’s elbow, kick, and/or water pistol.
This female hyper-hearing also applies to nighttime burglars and moments when children are too quiet. In either case, men experience a strictly limited audible range. How can she have expected him to do something, when he never heard it?
However, males hear “funny noises” in vehicles. My husband can detect an imperfect cup holder — even if it rattles in the third car behind him.
Women and men even smell smoke in contrasting ways. Women call 911 or, if company’s coming, clean ovens. Men smell bonfires, barbecues and fireworks. The smell of smoke equals a party!
The sense of taste also highlights gender differences. For men, taste generally involves sufficient quantity — unless you’re talking broccoli. Women are all about haute cuisine, artistic presentation and half servings — unless you’re talking chocolate. Then, bring it on by the semi load.
Finally, the sexes experience touch in unique ways. Women hug to celebrate engagements, new babies, expanded closet space. We hug to console each other when evil extra pounds refuse to be evicted.
Men, on the other hand, hug at key life events: weddings, funerals, or ball games. If their team wins.
Why did the Creator design us so differently? We may not understand that mystery until Heaven. Still, acknowledging He knew what He was doing seems reasonable.
Actually, it’s the only scenario that makes sense.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you sense your world differently from men/women?