Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ripping Up Paper

I absolutely love this video. I saw it posted on Facebook a couple of times this past week, and I thought, "What a perfect example of pure, unadulterated joy." And from something as simple as ripping up paper! How is it that we, as adults, don't seem to have that kind of joy?

Is it the "big" things that drag us down...the debts, the divorces, the diseases, the deaths? Certainly, those things can steal our joy. Sometimes, I wonder, though, if it isn't the multiple accumulation of all those "little" things...aggravations, irritations, frustrations...that tend to really bring us down.

Today is Monday...My opportunity to get all my necessary errands done before focusing my attention on preparing for our next speaking engagement and the While We're Waiting Weekend. I will have Tuesday to work on those things before going back to my real job on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Each week, my Monday morning is filled with hour on the treadmill, a quick shower, and then all my running around, post office, drug store, Wal-Mart, etc. (Can you tell I'm a "task-oriented" person?) This morning I was feeling particularly pressed for time, as my "to-do" list was even more lengthy than usual. So I had my work out, my shower, my Bible study/prayer time, and then hopped in the car with my day's agenda running through my head.

As I drive into town, I pass by Wal-Mart on the way to my other stops, and the sign by the Murphy gas station catches my eye. $3.45 a gallon for regular unleaded?! Yikes!! Good thing I still have half a tank. Then I pass the next gas station...$3.32 a gallon for regular unleaded. I flip on my turn signal and quickly wheel in, thinking to myself that I better grab this bargain while I can. I top off my tank, and pull out, heading for the bank and the post office. I get those errands completed quickly, and I'm feeling pretty good about how the morning is going so far. I turn back toward Wal-Mart, and as I'm driving along I pass the station where I just got gas less than ten minutes earlier. The sign now says $3.49 a gallon for regular unleaded! So, I'm feeling pretty smart and rather proud of myself for my savvy purchase...ahhhh, something to add to my joy list!

I pull into Wal-Mart parking lot, still basking in the glow of my 17 cents a gallon savings, and head into the store. Now Wal-Mart is not generally a place that inspires joy in me, but like I said, I'm feeling pretty good about how the morning has gone so far. I buzz up and down the aisles, quickly picking up all of our weekly necessities, and approach the check-out area, carefully surveying the lines to see which one is the shortest. After all, I've got things to do when I get out of there! I choose the shortest line and stand there for a couple of minutes, perusing the candy, gum, breath mints, etc., while I wait. It begins to dawn on me that there doesn't seem to be a lot going on down there by the register and I take a look. Well, I was right, there isn't anything going on down at the register...everybody's just standing there, kind of looking at each other, and the cashier is holding a twenty dollar bill. I could not, for the life of me, figure out what was going on, and cast several questioning looks in that direction. The cashier finally noticed me and said, "The guy had to run out to his truck to get some change." Huh? Isn't giving change the cashier's job? But I nodded politely as if I understood, and continued to wait. And wait. And wait. I don't know where this guy's truck was parked, but apparently it wasn't in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Finally the guy comes in (walking very slowly, I might add), and hands the cashier a handful of change. Ahhhhh...Now I see. His total bill was apparently $20.00 and some change, and he had to go out to his truck to get the additional cash. I would have gladly given him the 72 cents or whatever it was he needed!

Anyway, he takes his stuff and goes, and now I'm just one customer away from checking out. The cashier rings up all his items, and the young man runs his debit card through the little card swiping machine...and it is denied. He insists he has enough money in his account, and so he runs it through again, and again, and again. He and the cashier decide that it must be the little card swiping machine's problem, and decide that the best thing to do would be to go to the ATM machine in the customer service area and use his card to get cash to pay for his stuff. At this point, I would have just changed lanes, but I had already placed all my purchases on the conveyer belt, and I really didn't want to have to move everything back into my cart, and look for another short line. So, I waited "patiently" for the guy to come back from the ATM. Well, there must have been a line of people waiting to use that ATM, because several more minutes ticked by. By this time, I was beginning to feel the wisps of smoke curling out of my ears. There were so many other things I needed to be doing besides standing in that blogging about joy!

He finally returned with a rather sheepish look on his face. Turns out he didn't have enough money in his account to cover all he wanted to purchase, but he had withdrawn enough cash to pay for some of it. He and the cashier painstakingly went through his items, and the cashier scanned them back in one by one until his total bill was a little less than the amount of cash in his hand. Needless to say, the afterglow from my gas purchase was long gone by this time. All I wanted to do was get out of there!

Finally, it was my turn. Zip, zip, zip and my items were scanned. The little card swiping machine worked just fine for me, thankfully, and before I knew it, I was loading my purchases into my trunk. But my feelings of well-being and joy were gone! I had allowed them to be stolen away by a moment (okay, more than a moment) of inconvenience. And I thought I had learned how "not to sweat the small stuff" when Hannah had cancer! Apparently it didn't take. How could I allow such a minor thing to have such a major impact on my day?

In my last post, I talked about my decision to make a list of 1,000 things that bring me joy. One reason I have made the commitment to write out this list is because of my tendency to be so task-focused all the time that I fail to notice what's really going on around me. I am always in a hurry...always thinking about the next thing I need to do, and the next thing, and the next. My prayer is that making this list will force me to slow actually see the blessings around me, to take time to physically write them down, and to consciously thank God for each and every one of them. Even if it's something as simple as ripping up paper.

As I re-read the article from the Huffington Post for my last blog post, I noticed at the bottom of the article that Ann Voskamp has actually written a book on this subject, titled "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are." I immediately downloaded it on my Kindle app, and read it in about three days. I'm re-reading it now, more slowly (see, I'm slowing down!), and over my next few posts, I'd like to share some of what really spoke to me in this book. It's an excellent book, and I highly recommend it.

My list? In my last post, I shared items 1-3...Here's what I've written down since then.

1,000 Things That Bring Me Joy

#4 The bird building a nest in the birdhouse on my porch
#5 The feeling I have when I first get into bed after a long day
#6 Clean sheets
#7 Spring thunderstorms
#8 The crispness of the air in the morning after a stormy night
#9 The way my dog follows me from room to room when it's just she and I alone in the house
#10 Turning a new page on the calendar
#11 Daffodils on a hillside
#12 Opening the blinds first thing in the morning
#13 Having the house to myself
#14 My iPod on shuffle -- I love not knowing what song is going to play next
#15 Cadbury eggs
#16 Old family recipes
#17 The magic of email
#18 Picking Bethany up from school and hearing about her day
#19 The pink orange purple of the sunrise
#20 The bright green of new spring grass
#21 That He is the Good Shepherd
#22 Blooming Bradford pear trees
#23 That "sore muscles" feeling after a good work out (but not too sore)
#24 Shopping with Bethany
#25 Buying little girl clothes again...for my nieces in Indonesia
#26 The sounds of high school baseball practice outside my classroom window
#27 A whole evening at home with my family
#28 Trying a new recipe that turns out good
#29 Ghirardelli chocolate squares
#30 Annette (my hair stylist) washing my hair for me
#31 Annette blow drying my hair for me
#32 New socks
#33 The sound of a mandolin
#34 Walking my first 5K in honor of an American hero
#35 Filling up my gas tank right before the price jumps 17 cents :-)

Thank You, Lord, for the joy in my life. Forgive me for letting it be stolen away so easily.


Kelley's4Kids said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing your day...the good and yucky. I think you have inspired me to do my own list, what a great idea!!!
Thanks & thinking of you - Kelley

Amanda said...

I'm in the process of reading Ann's book right now. So far, it's very highlighted!!

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on the book.

carl.and.joan said...

Thanks for sharing your BUSYNESS and the fact that you are ALWAYS in a hurry as that description fits me. I try so hard not to be that way; I have to remember to ask the Lord to "slow me down" some and let me smell the roses/make a list of 1000 things that are delightful to me as I enjoy reading your list. God bless you and thank you for sharing your heart with all of us.

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