An Even Better Story


Credit: Pixabay

I had envisioned telling a very different story this morning but this is the one that unfolded. Today was a particularly windy California morning and I raced home down Balboa Boulevard in my gleaming, silver car anticipating some hot French roast coffee, when from my peripheral vision I caught the sight of what looked like a hunched man, battling the elements. He clutched a threadbare cloak around his thin shoulders. His eyes were squeezed tight and all he had between him and the whirling sandstorm was a weather-beaten red donation receptacle.

Suddenly I couldn’t relax in my warm, toasty home with a clear conscience and pretend I didn’t see a brother out there. While I was so terrified of walking up to the homeless man (Let’s call him Bob), I stilled my nerves and rounded the corner with a cup of coffee, a bag containing a toasted turkey sandwich, a delicious red apple and some loose change, but Bob was gone. Gone! I walked further up the street and scanned every shaded area, it was like the wind had whisked him away.  As I walked back home dejected, my story flipped.

If Bob was gone, was there anyone else who could use a hot breakfast? I scanned the alleys, then behind the liquor store at the crossroad and found no-one. None. How many mornings have I driven down this road and not spared a thought for anyone but myself (The drum major instinct). I wondered, is this how God feels holding out gifts, looking out for us, wanting to bless our socks off but we are too selfish, distracted or too busy wandering aimlessly, that we miss His outstretched hands.

We are all servants of humanity, blessed to turn around and be a blessing.  When we actively and purposefully receive all God has for us, we can truly help each other. Every act of kindness becomes part of our history and our family stories.They remind us that miracles are still possible, that there is still so much love to share because God first loved us. Those are stories I want to tell.

It’s crazy faith to expect good from unexpected places, to hope that the next moment could hold the very answers we seek, to look for the good in everything, even the mundane and imperfect.(This reminds me of Brené Brown’s, Gift of Imperfections.) I wish I had met Bob, that would have been a great story, maybe the start of something extraordinary or… not.

Still Bob would have known that he opened my eyes today and made me a better person. They say, you don’t have a story to tell, till you’ve been through something. Here’s to all the downtrodden and lost – no matter what life hurls at you, remember that you are infinitely worthy and your stories anchor our souls.



Define Normal with Arms Open Wide

Define NormalI stood at the cashier’s counter waiting to pay for a steel-gray and orange patterned Under-Armor sneakers for my son.
Sean stood fidgeting  beside me, playing Super Mario cart on his red Nintendo DS-XL. He struggles with the racing games and does better with the logical games, where he uncannily unlocks secret tunnels, levels and special powers.

I was expecting his usual eighth place in this race (Ok, that would be the last place) when he suddenly chuckled unreservedly loud, and announced to the universe, “I won!”
At first it didn’t register, because I was waiting for my card status on the panel to announce that my further descent into debt had been approved by the goddess of wants – Visa.

“I won…I won, Mom!” He announced  again, excited and waving the large red screen in the air, startling the cashier and her colleague who just ducked behind the check-out counter, presumably returning from his break.

“…the war came to me in my dreams and showed me its sole purpose: to go on, only to go on.” Kevin Powers.

“He is really excited,” the young woman in skinny brown jeans remarked quietly, puzzled.
Well, You have no idea, I thought, as I turned to acknowledge my son’s victory over Mario, Toad, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser and the members of the Mushroom Kingdom. In my peripheral vision, I caught the same looks from the other customers on the line behind me.

I felt sorry for everyone else trying to wrap their heads around the fact that his speech sounded like he held two ounces of water in his mouth which meant the words sounded like they rolled over waves and that he was still dangerously waving that extra-large red screen over his head. I knew he wasn’t acting out, he was just too excited to contain himself and wanted to share his joy.

When people first see Sean, they always tells me, “He seems normal.” And my response usually is, “What do you mean normal?” How does one fully and without bias define normal?

“All pain is the same. Only the details are different.”  Kevin Powers.

For me normal is having a boy who has never told a lie, who is a maths genius and can calculate complex equations off the top of his head. A big boy who waits, beaming with arms always open wide – even in middle school – for a hug from his mom!

Does he have struggles? Yes, but he is a fighter and his heart is so pure and remains loving regardless. Somehow I think he already knows he’ll win. His progress in school has given so much hope to his teachers, that they have opened their arms and minds to accept that no matter the diagnosis, learning is not impossible.

He is my life’s guru, teaching me to be patient with whatever life presents. His light doesn’t need much help, it just shines!

Arms open wide - Define Normal

My Sean..always loving and ready with arms open wide.

We are all distinctly defined by circumstances and experiences. The cumulative or acquired set of values make up our life and that’s where we draw from and how we project our judgements and definitions of normalcy on others.

All around us, when we see all kinds of expressions and different flavors of the divine – we are often tempted to judge or super-impose the elements from our own cultural buckets. Instead we can choose to be open to experience new things, share someone’s pain or joy and strengthen each other with kindness and gratitude, knowing that we are all witnesses to grace.

Let’s keep our eyes and hearts open to fully embrace life’s rich experiences.

With arms open wide,