an embarrassment of riches

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I meant to write this post several weeks ago.

Usually putting off writing a post is due to an inadequate amount of

time to tap my thought upon a keyboard or the words shouldn’t be shared.

Here’s hoping it’s the former reason.

In my last post, I wrote about our late August trip to the beach.

I mentioned our time on the sand, what I didn’t mention was our time

on land, more specifically the boardwalk area of Seaside, Oregon.

Allow me to back track for a moment.

Carl, Caleb and I had visited the beach earlier in the summer and during one of

the days, we spent a little time in an arcade.

We had accumulated quite a few tickets but it never seems like the number

of tickets compared to the “price” of the prizes lines up the way you hope.

Been there?

We huddled and decided  we would return before summer’s end

and Caleb could add to his ticket bounty and surely acquire the most

amazing prize 😉

So one Saturday, the three of us headed to the beach, for cooler weather

but this time we grabbed  one of Caleb’s friends Archie.

We were in a celebratory mood as only days earlier

Archie had finally traversed his way off the waiting list and would

be attending middle school with Caleb.

We spent a chatty 90 minutes in the car, drove into the beach town,

picked up some bagel sandwiches to round out our cooler full of

snacks, and headed to the arcade.

Not gonna lie, I was a bit put out that the weather was very warm (again) on

the coast. I will completely own being a Pacific Northwest hot weather baby.

I also didn’t feel like spending money for me to play games, just for the boys

and that included Carl.

Tickets were starting to leak out of the boys’ pockets

and Carl and I watched the boys play a game

throwing balls at rows of stuffed clowns.

Fabulous idea to me.

Two of these games stood side-by-side and once one

became available, Carl asked me to join him.

Despite my resolve, hitting clowns is right up my alley,

I grabbed a ball and we made a great

team and added to the ticket booty.

Carl slid his game card  to play a second game. This time Carl told me

to aim for the lower row (I took no offense at his direct hit at

my lack of height) and I consented to his strategy.

As the game started, I quickly dispatched of the bottom row and Carl

demonstrated his superb crushing skills.

I was able to assist as each row was resurrected to be clobbered once again.

I could feel a small crowd gather behind us, but we kept throwing and chuckling.

The game was over and we discovered we narrowly missed

the score to earn 500 tickets.

Carl suggested playing once more while I worried about the people waiting in line.

But he slid his card as the tickets continued to spit out from the machine.

And they kept coming out of the machine.

And they kept coming out of the machine without end.

Carl and I looked at each other puzzled and wondered how could this be happening.

We looked behind us and shrugged our shoulders and widened our eyes as the people

behind us began to peer over our shoulders.

We kept repeating that we didn’t win the bonus.

But the tickets wouldn’t stop.

Carl jogged over to the ticket counter and explained our plight.

The ticket guy calmly said,

“You must have gotten the high score and won the bonus which is 500 tickets”

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Carl came back and explained to me and the growing crowd.

We were surprised and I have to say a bit embarrassed.

Once the tickets f i n a l l y stopped, we told the anxiously waiting people

they could have the game we had already paid for because we were done.

My mood now matched Carl’s good one and I ran off to play one of my favorite games.

After my game fun, I found my husband laughing with a few fellow arcade dweller

and the boys alternately giving each other high-fives and giggling.

They had just played Spin-N-Win.

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One boy pulled the lever to spin the wheel and the other boy hit the middle button

hoping to hit the smallest of slivers marked 250.

Archie had just hit the 250 mark thus the cheering and the hand celebration.

This photo is their second attempt switching places and you can see the tickets from the

previous attempt.

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Caleb hit the 250 mark as well and there was more rejoicing and so many tickets.

They played the game a few more times and  never yielded the same results.

We turned in the tickets from both arcade outings, split the loot down the middle

and the boys each came home with a Oregon root beer mug and some candy.

I wanted to share this story not because we won 1000 tickets playing 3 games.

I wanted to share this story because of the two different responses.

Carl and I were shocked and searched for an explanation for this unexpected windfall.

Caleb and Archie were full of delight and joy.

Caleb and Archie didn’t ask any questions, they simply received with open hands.

Carl and I looked around, felt the pressure of the crowd and  were

a few shades of embarrassed.

Caleb and Archie had unabashed glee and everyone within earshot craned

their necks to gain a better view.

They didn’t care who happened to witness their victory dance.

They kept trying to recapture the wonder whereas Carl and I scurried away.

They never stopped smiling or saying it had been the best arcade day ever.

I’m not sure if Carl and I thought an arcade ticket cop would come and take

us far, faraway but we should have done a happy dance instead of a private

high-five off to the side of the arcade.

Where has my wonder gone?

When did I become so concerned with what others think?

Who taught me to question unanticipated gifts?

Perhaps I have taught myself this tragic opinion.

So today, I want to ask you:

Are you allowing wonder to be a part of your life?

Do you believe wonder is simply child’s play?

What has replaced your sense of wonder?

Are you able to embrace unanticipated riches without embarrassment?

Are you willing to open wide your hands and receive each and

every gifts you been given?

I don’t mean tickets made of paper but the totality of your life gifts.

Some gifts you can be held or hugged and others are simply a blink away

Seek, pursue and hunt for wonder in the corners of your days.

Spin the wheel.

Throw down your hand and allow yourself to

stop and gaze up at wonder.

Break into a merry dance even if you are circled by spectators.

Better yet spread the high-fives around the crowd.

Wonder deserves to be uncovered and shared.

When we left the arcade, we passed a couple who stood behind

us and then played the game vacated by Caleb and Archie.

They had witnessed the avalanche of tickets and shook their

heads in tandem with ours.

None of us could resist exchanging knowing grins and repeating

our shared sentiments of disbelief.

When you stumble upon wonder, it’s nearly impossible for it to remain contained,

it leaks onto others creating heart space only it can inhabit.

What ball do you need to throw?

What wheel do you need to spin?

What button do you need to press?

What mood do you need to release?

Allow wonder to be dispensed in a steady

stream pooling around your feet.

**photos by permission

turning fifty

Birthdays are an interesting phenomenon aren’t they?

There is the prerequisite build-up until the day arrives

complete with marching band excitement and yet

once the confetti is swept up and freed from your hair,

you realize you don’t feel much differently than the day before

or even last month.

This is how turning fifty has felt.

The months leading up to this big birthday have included

celebrating friends turning 50

and they have celebrated me.

I feel incredibly

rich from the experience.

Honestly I feel like I still reside in my 40’s.

Perhaps not 40, as I had an 11 month old tyke

at the time

and sleep was elusive.

Within that expanse, I felt ancient and

my dependence was more on coffee than

eternal things.

But that is another story.

So this exchange of decade zip codes

hasn’t shifted the core of me only added

two new digits.

I want to share what I am hoping to bring

into this landscape.

There will be no mention of hills

especially going over them.

Celebration

Perhaps it is the introvert in me or that

I am a bit reserved and don’t often like

center of attention moments.

I tend to push away personal celebrations.

I have done quite a bit

of celebrating and it’s been good.

Really good.

Celebration has reached down deep into my

soul and mended some broken places I

wasn’t even aware existed.

Often I downplay the “big deals”

in my life.

I have been wrong.

Isn’t it humble to brush aside offers to celebrate?

When I have proclaimed celebrating unnecessary,

I waved a flag with stitching

revealing I wasn’t important enough to laud.

Now to some of you, this might sound

preposterous because you are always

ready to form a conga line.

For others, you recognize the depths

I describe.

You might even recall the silent ache when those big days or

occasions pass and you stumble upon

the fact that crickets are not festive

or a worthy companion.

Life in all its big and small ways

provides reason enough to raise a ruckus.

We are meant to be celebrated.

We point back to the Creator when

we raise a glass of cheer.

Let there be celebrating.

Enough

Most days begin with me at our table before

a large window with a strategically placed

bird feeder in one of the trees.

The other morning, between sips of tea and writing,

a squirrel was attacking the bird feeder.

I would pound on the glass

and the gravitational pull would hasten his return.

The feeder had been half full of suet but by the time he left to make

way for the birds, there was only a small chunk in the corner of

the cage.

Okay this ticked me off.

Do you remember this photo?

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This image was floating through my mind when birds landed

for their morning meal.

I was grousing about the shameless greed of that squirrel taking what

belonged to the birds.

Yet as I survey the birds,

I didn’t see a single one with their wings on their hips

in dismay.

They were getting their fill of food.

By the way they were sailing between feeder

and limbs, they seemed quite delighted.

There was enough.

Social media can be like a picture window

to lives we weren’t originally supposed to see.

Years ago, I wouldn’t know who got a book deal

or whose blog post was being widely circulated.

I wouldn’t have known how many exotic vacations

someone took or even what you did while I was

on the couch streaming a movie.

It wouldn’t be so easy to succumb to feeling

I don’t have enough or that I am enough.

The truth is people aren’t greedy squirrels

and none of us are going to stop posting

the beautiful moments of our days but

I want to live like a bird who considers

crumbs a feast.

We have a family saying from way back…

Be content with what God sent.

I am grabbing hold to the truth of being and

having enough until it is firmly planted solidly

in my soul.

Sometimes the best way to move forward is

to look backward.

There are two areas that continue to make my

heart beat, one faster and the other slower.

Welcome

This word has played ping-pong in my spirit

for years.

I desire to be a person of welcome.

Many times those introverted tendencies take

over but at my core, I know I was created to

be welcoming.

For my birthday,

I asked “the powers that be” namely my family for

a bench.

It is designed to accompany something special which I will share

with you soon.

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So this is me moments after Carl put the bench together.

If I am honest, I almost didn’t post this picture.

It’s not my most flattering picture,

I am not standing behind someone to show

only a partial view of me.

Our backyard grass resembles straw.

Heavens  it has been a hot summer and

I do believe any make up I was wearing has

melted.

I am learning that welcome has nothing

in common with perfection

and looking put together.

Welcome is being open to  showing your good and your

not so great sides.

Welcome is a bench made for people who are

dry in spirit,

sad, happy,

chubby, skinny,

desperate

and  weary.

I hope to sit on that bench

and I pray my neighbors will as well.

You are my neighbor.

Rest

More than any topic I wrote about on this blog,

the most read posts are the ones about rest.

I have talked about it for years because I was desperate

for rest of any kind.

A friend recently wrote me and said when she thinks of me,

she thinks of rest.

Now before you consider this clever wording as code for

meaning she finds me boring and promptly needs a nap,

it referred to conversations we’ve had about the supreme

importance of rest.

I plan to be greedy about resting and

consider yourselves warned,

I will continue to remind you as well.

Dearest 50,

You have come wrapped in packages filled

with celebration,

contentment,

welcome and rest.

Thank you for the marching orders.

May the only arthritis I bear be in my knees

and not in my heart or soul.

Deal?

Gratefully yours,

 

Helen