Thursday, December 13, 2007

Come on! Ring that bell!

I rang that bell yesterday! You know the one. The Salvation Army bell! Here where I live, the Salvation Army was looking for volunteers to ring the bell outside of stores during the Christmas season. Since I don't have much money to give, I thought I could certainly donate my time. Yesterday was the second time I've rung the bell. I rang it two weeks ago in front of Dillard's department store and yesterday I rang in front of Fry's grocery store. Let me tell you a few things I learned while ringing in front of Fry's yesterday.

People are very generous. Despite the doom and gloom reports by the media about the economy and the lack of change in people's pockets, people are still willing to give what they have. I don't know the exact ratio of people who gave to people who walked by yesterday, but I do know that my kettle was pretty full by the end of my three hour shift. I was pleasantly surprised at people's generosity.

People are also quite receptive to a "Merry Christmas!" Being at the Salvation Army kettle gives you the built-in privilege of saying a hearty "Merry Christmas!" with no apologies needed. The SA has already acquired permission to be in front of the store, so the ringer has the right to wish passersby a merry Christmas and even say, "God bless you!" I did both. And no one looked the least bit offended. And this is in Arizona, mind you. Not the Bible belt. In fact, many people looked me right in the eye and said something like, "Merry Christmas to you. None of that 'Happy Holidays' for me!" Some even wished me a blessed Christmas. Good for them!

One last rather sad observation. There are a lot of people out there who have a really hard time getting around. Hear my heart on this one. I have often wondered why in the world we need so many handicapped parking spaces. Like many of you, I have often scoffed at the number of people riding around stores in little carts with baskets. Couldn't most of these people just get up and walk around the store like most of us? Aren't many of them just plain lazy? You know what? They're not lazy. They're hurting and struggling.

As I stood at the entrance of Fry's for three hours yesterday I saw so many people come through the doors who were struggling just to stand up and put one foot in front of another. Every time I turned around there was someone either using a cane and barely making it, using crutches and obviously struggling, or moving so painfully slow that it made me hurt just watching them. There are a lot of people out there who obviously have a hard time just getting up and getting around each day. I was amazed and grieved. I could tell that the circumstances were different for each person. Some had obvious injuries, some had physical defects or handicaps, some were very old and time had robbed them of strength and flexibility, some were very overweight (but which came first, the handicap or the weight gain I do not presume to know), and some were a mystery, but obviously struggling all the same. I kid you not, for every 5-8 people who came in with good mobility there was another person who struggled to walk or move about.

And here's one more thing you need to know. The clear majority of those people walked into Fry's. They did not opt for a motorized cart. They moved slowly and laboriously, but they walked. They used canes or crutches or leaned heavily on a grocery cart, but they walked. Bless their hearts and their aching bones, joints, or muscles. A few did use carts, but after seeing so much struggling going on, I was thankful for those carts and thankful those people could use them to go in the store and do their shopping. I have to tell you, I've had a complete heart change on this issue. My eyes were open to a struggle that I had no idea was shared by so many. After standing at Fry's for three hours my legs ached and I was ready to sit down. But I was so glad I could stand and I could walk. By the looks of things, mobility is something none of us should take for granted. It's a huge blessing. Take it from me, you need to thank God for those legs of yours. There are a lot of people who would if they could!

Monday, December 3, 2007


Today I woke up to my alarm clock at 6:30. I bounded out of bed, scurried to awaken my teenage son who can't seem to wake up to his own alarm clock, and rushed to the shower. I had stuff to do!

Most days I do not, I admit, wake up with such vigor. Often I lie in bed for several minutes before slowly shifting my body to a somewhat standing position. I then lumber to the bathroom, look in the mirror and groan, and head off to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. While I actually consider myself a morning person, I still have a hard time jump starting my engine most days. Not so today.

Not only did I get an early and energetic start this morning, I've bound through the rest of my day on high octane as well. I spoke at a MOPS meeting this morning, straightened my house and did some dishes, did some research on line for upcoming articles and prepared for a mentoring session this afternoon, all with energy to spare. And as I type this blog entry now, I can barely keep from jumping from my chair and scurrying off to another chore. Man! I've got energy today!

Don't worry. I'm not on drugs and, while I have had several cups of coffee this morning (that's what we do at MOPS meetings, don't you know!) I don't even think it's the caffeine that's keeping me super charged. I just have energy. Maybe it can be attributed to the fact that I slept until 12:00 noon Saturday - something I haven't done since I was a teenager. You see, we had a terrible wind storm all night Friday and I could not sleep. The winds were raging at more than 50 miles per hour and things were flying! So I finally went to sleep about 6:00 am. Consequently I slept in until 12:00. What a luxury. I knew I had really slept in late when I finally got up and found my 17-year-old son was already out of bed. Oh my!

But that was days ago. No, I don't think my energy today is attributed to sleeping until noon on Saturday. Too much has gone on since then. Here's what I think. I think I have simply been blessed with a clear since of purpose and drive today. So many times I let distractions, emergencies, and "little things" cause me to lose focus. Losing focus causes me to bog down on the insignificant and trivial. Bogging down causes me to get sluggish and lazy. What a mess. But today, I have managed, by the grace of God and a good and blessed quiet time with the same, to stay focused. Thus, I have energy to do just what He has called me to do.

Energy. What a blessing! Especially the older I get!