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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tyler Thankful

Homelessness by matkaminski: http://matkaminski.deviantart.com/
  He sat crumpled up against the wall of Walmart, with the cardboard sign propped up against his legs.  Head down, he didn't look up at the shoppers who passed by him, most only glancing at him (like myself) out of the edges of their eyes.  A dog lay curled up near him and his hand stroked its head.   

  Daniel and I hurried by, but just inside the entrance, my husband stopped me.  He pulled out his wallet and looked through the cash we had wistfully, finally pulling out a few dollar bills. 

  "Do you mind if I go give this to that guy?" he asked.

   I nodded, adding, "And you can take a few moments to talk to him too, if you want.  Me and the kids will hang out and wait for you."

  Daniel does this every once in a while.  He never gives without trying to start a conversation with the person he is giving to.  To introduce himself and hear the other's story.  He hasn't yet run in to someone who is unwilling to talk.  Most of the folks he has chatted with seem to crave, for just a moment, the chance to converse like a normal human being with someone else who will look them square in the face and ask...and listen. 

"Most of those people want that life.  They don't have to be there--they've chosen it.  If they really wanted to, they could find real work."

  I know, I've heard the arguments.  Even recently.  But after the events that have transpired in my own life, I don't believe them any more.  Sometimes, even with a heart full of faith and an incredibly loving God at the helm, life can be tough.  Just ask King David.  And sometimes, getting a job isn't all that easy. 

  Does it make me doubt God's love?  Well, when I'm in the middle of a really crappy day, maybe it does.  (I've said before, "I'm not perfect."  Heh.  Here's more proof.) 

  The truth is (and this is what I go back to, after all those niggling doubts) that God is loving.  But here's the clencher:  His ways are not our ways.  So when things go vastly different than I wish them to, it doesn't mean He's withholding something.  It means He is actually giving me something I didn't expect (haha, or want?).  Like...maybe a fresh perspective. 

Let me finish my story.

Homeless by Cursed-Beauty47:  http://www.deviantart.com/art/Homeless-56285819
  Turns out, this young homeless guy is named Tyler.  Growing up, his parents were never that much in the picture, and even as a youngster, it was his older siblings who raised him.  Apparently, that wasn't a healthy home life (big surprise).  His older siblings were abusive so when he turned fifteen, he left.  He's nineteen, now and he only keeps in touch with his younger brother.  Where does he stay?  He doesn't have a place to stay anymore because his camp (wherever and whatever that was) just got "cleaned up" by the cops the other night.  But don't worry, he told Daniel.  Things are looking up for him.  He's got a dog, now:  A homeless stray, much like himself.  He calls the dog, "Benji".  It took him awhile to teach Benji to trust him.  But now, it's Tyler and Benji, and things are looking up.  Was it cold last night?  Yeah, it was pretty cold.  But things are going to get better.  Don't worry. 

  What the heck was I doing suggesting Walmart to Daniel that morning?  I never go to that Walmart.  It's one of the dirtier ones, in a not so great area of town.  I don't even think the prices compare to where I usually go, and prices matter these days because we are in challenging circumstances ourselves.  I have been frustrated in my prayer life, griping to God about why He has us staying on the good graces of family for so long.  It's a humbling and uncomfortable place to be for an extended time period.  I have been desperately trying to find His answers to me, somewhere.  So, this morning, God gave me an incredible gift:  the chance to go to Walmart and meet Tyler. 

  An opportunity to realize anew how rich and how blessed I am.  Right now.  In discomfort and humility, I am blessed.  The cops haven't "cleared out my camp".  I get to take a shower each morning.  I have food to eat.  It's cold at night, but I'm warm.  Wow.  I've been given so much.  And I'm not to worry, either.  Because things are going to get better. 

  Thank you, Tyler.  We'll keep praying for you, Daniel and I.  We're so glad we got to meet you and Benji, and we really thank you for giving so much to us this morning from your own meager store.  We really appreciate it.  Thanks. 
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thanksgiving Advent and Thankful Tree

Okay, here's what my son and I did for our first Thanksgiving craft this year.


It's actually a combination of two different ideas I got from Pinterest.
The first were these nifty little edible acorns, pictured here:
This photo and how to make these can be found at the link to Michelle Clausen's blog: Sugar Swings.
http://sugarswings.blogspot.com/2012/10/chocolate-and-pumpkin-spice-acorns.html

I admit, I didn't catch the first time through that they used mini vanilla wafers.
Ooops.  Ah well, it's still cute, even with original sized cookies.
Super neat idea, right?
 And Caedyn already knows about acorns since we have found them on our nature walks.  But how to incorporate?

Well, here was someone else's great idea for a classy Thanksgiving lesson about thankfulness...

This photo and how to make the tree can be found at Simply Vintagegirl Blog at:  http://www.simplyvintagegirl.com/blog/index.php/2010/11/27/the-thankful-tree/

Putting the two ideas together was a blast (and will be more than a one day project with your toddler!)

1.  Make the tree.  Doesn't have to be super fancy.  A container from the thrift store would work or in our case, we used a tin can and covered it with fabric.  We found a single branch that worked great.

2.  Caedyn and I tried to think of his favorite things.  These included trains, God, Daddy and Mommy, his cousin A.J., books, and numbers.  We wrote one down for each leaf (or tag).  A simple hole punch through each was all that was needed, and then he got to put it wherever he wanted on his tree.

3.  Then we talked about the holiday coming up (Thanksgiving!) and that it is ten days away.  As Mommy put the frosting on the cookies for glue, Caedyn unwrapped the Hershey's kisses and stuck them on.  Then we wrapped them up with saran wrap to keep them fresh and added a hanging ribbon.

4.  Ten days til Thanksgiving and ten acorn kisses hanging on his tree!  Now all we have to do is make sure we remember to eat one a day!  This is also great counting practice for his numbers, and it's great timing for us since we just finished learning 1 through 10. 

That's it--super easy to do together, and really great for getting little minds thinking about what he really has to thank God for.  Turns out, there's a lot!

Happy Thanksgiving!