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

my gift giving philosophy

bike and flowers

Who doesn’t love to receive gifts?

I might love giving gifts more.

Only a few  people know I would love

to be a personal gift shopper.

I even know what I would call myself.

At this very moment in my life, it seems outlandish

so for now I’ll keep the name close to my heart,

because you never know 😉

 

 

I want to share a little about my mindset when

it comes to gift giving.

Before you assume every gift I’ve given has been

stellar and met with rave reviews,

I have most assuredly given my fair share of clunkers.

In fact some of you reading are nodding your heads

in hearty agreement. (Sorry.)

My tips and thoughts are intended to help you learn from

my feeble attempts.

I would guess 90% of those less than favorable

gifts  have been for two reasons:

  1. Lack of time
  2. Trying to hard

My first word of advice is to allow plenty

of lead time before you approach a gift deadline.

Set a phone reminder to alert you to start the decision

process or to put a card in the mail

(words can be a precious timely gift).

Hurry is the enemy of creativity and gift giving.

“It’s the thought that counts”  is a saying which has often

strayed from its original intent to being a verbal way

to let ourselves off the hook when we doubt

our gift efforts.

With some forethought, you can make your gifts count.

There are a multitude of reasons to give a gift.

To me, whether the occasion is celebratory or

otherwise,

I give gifts to show love,

care, concern

and to make people feel known.

The times when I have tried too hard have been occasions

when I have misspent my time trying to impress rather

than remembering the true aim of giving a gift.

Ask yourself this question:

Will this gift make the recipient

feel loved,

cared for,

show my concern

or

feel known?

Now that you have secured time to think about

your gift,

what’s next?

 

Listen

If you don’t follow any of my tips, obey this one.

I firmly believe most people in our lives will

tell us unknowingly the gifts they would like.

If you take the time to listen to what someone is saying

or the words they seem to repeat, you are miles ahead

in choosing the right gift.

A meaningful gift is all about discovering what

a person needs more than what you think they want.

Hear them loud and clear when they talk about their

passions, dreams and goals.

Lean closer and listen to their hobby chatter.

Do they crave time to recharge or to be pampered?

Have they repeatedly borrowed something of yours?

Now is the perfect time to buy them one

of their own.

Oh and those cookies always getting raves

from a certain someone,

pile them high on a plate and attach the recipe.

When people mention any of their favorite things,

remember by jotting down a note.

Listening helps you become an expert on

a person’s life.

Who doesn’t want to hear those wonderful words,

“How did you know?”

when a present

is unwrapped?

Smile,

knowing it

is all because of the art of listening well.


Get your Sherlock Holmes on

What happens when you haven’t been

listening and you need a gift pronto?

This is the time to look for clues.

Reread a few newsy emails.

Take a look at their Facebook or Instagram

pages.

Reflect on what season in life they are currently

residing.

Are they nearing retirement or juggling toddlers?

Approaching an empty nest or returning to the work force?

What area of struggle is present in their lives?

Gifts don’t always have to fit in a box or bag.

Bring a meal to an overwhelmed friend.

Soft athletic socks tied with a ribbon to

someone trying to get back on the fitness trail.

Or a night of free babysitting for a single mom or

a sleep deprived couple.

Ponder what would be meaningful to this person in

this particular time in their life.

If you are still drawing a blank or if

all your sleuthing efforts have failed, you can simply


Ask

A gift doesn’t have to be a surprise.

You can always ask the people in your life,

what ways or things would

add value to their lives.

Hopefully they won’t ask for a Maserati but if

they do, this is an opportunity to share a laugh together.

Asking signals to a person you care and are thinking about

them.

This is a great gift by itself.

I believe most people will surprise us by what they really need.

You may discover a wonderful way to give a gift

without panicking or requiring hours walking store aisles.

Often people want our time,

our attention,

our companionship

or even our skills which they lack.

Maybe an elderly relative would love a

weekly phone call or chat over tea.

You might have a flair for decorating and

a friend who could use your expertise.

Let the people in your life surprise you by

being bold enough to ask.

 

Pray

Before I begin the process of thinking,

during the procuring and

after the giving of a gift,

I pray.

I pray I have listened well.

I pray I have looked over the

details of their life and discerned them

accurately.

I pray I would choose a gift

resembling them and not me.

I pray for God’s creativity and mind

to flow into me so I can truly bless

the receiver.

Then I open my hands and extend

the gift to be claimed.

**********

Happy gift giving during 

this season and beyond.

 

***p.s. if you are beyond stumped in the
gift department. You will find
my email address is on the right side
of this blog. I would love to brainstorm
with you. Truly.

enjoying the view

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photo credit: Ryan McGinty

I grew up nestled among wheat fields and the rolling hills of the Palouse.

When visiting family I would gaze longing at Mt. Ranier

and considered this view supreme.

Upon moving to Oregon, with a simple

twist of my neck there were mountains

dotted along the horizon plus

we were a mere 70 miles from the ocean.

Mountains blanket me with awe

but the ocean is my soul’s sweetest spot.

The force of the waves captivate and woo me.

I didn’t find beauty in wheat fields

until I parted ways with this scenery.

I was always looking over the stalks to get

to a more preferable terrain.

I overlooked the surroundings in which I was planted.

There are days I don’t even notice Mt. Hood peeking out from

the blue and white sky because I am so saturated by my own thoughts.

Last week we were beach dwellers.

The summer has been a toasty one and I was anxious to

feel cool breezes and don a sweatshirt if it was deemed necessary.

If it was chilly or rainy, fine by me.

I simply wanted to be cool and I wanted my pupils to be

enlarged by the sight of the ocean.

On one particular day, we had the quintessential beach day.

The kind of day that could have been used by the chamber of

commerce to promote tourism.

I am talking the kind of day full of kite flying, sand castles

followed by jaunts of wave jumping and football throwing.

The sun was a mile high and the breeze was just enough

that it only occasionally created book pages to flutter.

Boys buried themselves in the sand while others

lifted their face heavenward and dozed in sunny bliss.

I decided to abandon the family and stroll

in the opposite direction from where our family was

staked out.

A runaway dog was chased by hollering kids,

dozens of brave souls sent out delighted

squeals in the shiver-worthy water and then suddenly

I came upon this vision…
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I spotted this empty chair from quite a distance.

I expected it to be filled by the time I drew close enough to capture

the image on my phone.

I wondered where was the owner.

Using the restroom?

Unable to the resist the pull of the tide?

When I reversed my path, the chair was still unoccupied.

I have looked at this photo from time to time since we have

returned to normal life back among the mountains.

I have asked myself…

Am I sitting in the chair designed for me?

Am I longing for someone else’s chair?

With no one in sight, how easy it would have been for me

to sit right down in that aqua colored chair and enjoy the

breathtaking view.

In fact, only the true owner would have noticed my

seat sitting where it didn’t belong.

Back at my beach base camp, I sat in

a drab forest green portable chair.

Boring I say.

Sometimes I view bits and pieces of my

personality and temperament as not preferable compared

to someone else’s.

Much of my life, I have lived in one terrain

dreaming of another land or seascape.

Slowly God is showing me how to live

where I reside and according to

how he has fashioned me.

I am learning how powerful it can be

to bask in the gifts I have been given

and allow them to freely mingle with those

another person possesses.

I am determined to embrace mine instead

of looking over at someone else’s field of gifts.

What does your chair look like?

Does it have a sagging cushion or

is it high-backed and seemingly uncomfortable?

Is it lacking arm supports and rocks back and forth

leaving you feeling unsure of its ability to hold you?

No matter the condition of your chair,

it is held together by the strength of a Creator who

has designed it perfectly for you.

You and I don’t have to wander around like Goldilocks

trying on other chairs hoping to find the one that is just the right size.

Imagine this,

your chair is directly in front of your eyes.

The chair God has crafted is just right for your frame.

Sit in your chair.

Allow your eyes to scan the scenery.

Your vision may see the ripple of wheat,

the lapping of water at your feet or you might blink

the sun out of your eyes and behold

the people standing before  you.

The ones you were meant to claim

by loving and caring for them as only you can.

Curb your wandering eyes

and simply sit in your chair

and enjoy the view.

It’s a supreme view.