Things are good. Things are, in fact, REALLY GOOD. And do you know what I do? Sometimes (or even most of the time), when things seem so right and perfect and beautiful, I begin thinking to myself, “When is the bomb going to drop?” It isn’t anything for me to inject a little bit of Debbie Downer’s thoughts into a holy occasion; I’ve learned that I’m pretty much a professional at that. And THAT is really what I’m working on right now — enjoying the precious days for exactly what they are, and disciplining myself to not think, “When is someone going to get a bad health diagnosis? When is our hot water heater going to blow up? When will the Suburban finally breathe her last breath and leave us on foot and completely RUIN how perfect things are right now, right today?”
I think it all stems from the fact that I don’t think I actually deserve all the blessings that have been heaped upon me. It’s hard for me to remember that God is big, and He wants big things for us. I simply can’t get past the time when a friend of mine (who will remain nameless, but she knows who she is!) and I took a little road trip to a neighboring state. We were walking along this quaint street filled with touristy shops. In one of these shops was a big, twirly display rack, and it was filled with keychains cut out of wood, and they spelled names. My friend found one that spelled her boyfriend’s name out, but it was seven American dollars. And listen. Back then, when Laura Ingalls was still in Walnut Grove and my friend and I were in college, $7 could buy a week’s worth of groceries at Taco Bell. (That isn’t even an exaggeration, because don’t y’all remember the 59, 79, 99 center menu that was sang out in a little jingle on the TV commercial? A 59-cent bean burrito was dinner back then.) Somehow, my darling friend ended up walking out of that store with a keychain in her pocket, and the owner didn’t get any money in exchange for it. And this is where I throw my girlfriend under the bus (Love you, Baby!) and say, “I had no idea.” Because I didn’t. Not until we were on the sidewalk outside, and she showed me her “freebie,” and then I was an ACCESSORY TO THE CRIME. I was convinced that the FBI was following us all day long, and goodness! I couldn’t quit looking over my shoulder for fear that we were going to end up in a Mexican prison somewhere, even though we were nowhere even remotely close to Mexico. Sometimes I keep thinking that God remembers the keychain, and He still has a score to settle with us, and that He’s going to knock the wind out of me one of these days because of it.
But God isn’t like that. He isn’t like US, where we find a need to keep old scores and settle old debts and hold grudges and REMEMBER THE SINS OF OTHERS FOR YEARS. He really does want what’s best for us, and this morning I woke up and repeated that to myself, as I took in my family, and how it’s grown, and how RIGHT and WONDERFUL everything feels at the moment.
God is big. He wants big things for us. And my friend and I confessed the sin of the keychain a hundred years ago, and I think God has pretty much forgotten about it, because our sins are remembered no more. (But when we get to Heaven, suffice it to say that she’ll be interrogated for UM, YEAH; YOU ACTUALLY STOLE THIS, while I’ll be able to plea bargain with the lesser sentence for YOU DIDN’T TURN YOUR THIEVING FRIEND IN TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES SO SHE COULD BE SHIPPED OFF TO A MEXICAN PRISON AND LEARN THAT TAKING THINGS WITHOUT PAYING FOR THINGS IS DEAD WRONG.)
Hubs tells me all the time that I need to appreciate the moment… and appreciate the blessings… and quit convincing myself that there’s a kick in the face with an iron boot coming, which is going to blindside me from around the corner at any moment. Hubs has some good advice sometimes. It’s because he says he’s a PROBLEM SOLVER, while I am a PROBLEM DISCUSSER who likes to TALK ABOUT PROBLEMS and EXPRESS MY FEELINGS, and then, in the end, I’m still loaded with the problem because I never spent any time ACTUALLY SOLVING IT.
I’m glad I got that confession out of the way, because we can all move on with our evening now. That was a little heavy reading right there, so I’ll have to lighten things up by showing you SNAPSHOTS.
Over Labor Day Weekend, which was almost as long ago as the keychain incident now, we got together with Brother and Brother’s Wife, and three of their four children, because one of them had decided to camp with Brother’s Wife’s parents. We all met at Hubs’ parents’ house in Small Mountain Town, USA, and after the kids had greased their fingers and faces up with RIBS! RIBS! RIBS WITH WICKED AWFUL BONES IN THEM!, they decided to play in Papa and Grammy’s little yard pond.
The pond is just big enough for a kid to get wet in. It’s been the focus of these kids’ stays at their grandparents’ house since they were babies. Kids are just naturally drawn to the water… boys, especially.
Things were going JUST FINE and VERY DANDY with the kids floating on tubes and twirling themselves around with old boat paddles, when the boy (bless his heart) got a gleam in his eye and decided to use his paddle to slap the water.
More specifically, he decided to use his paddle to slap the water AND SPLASH COUSIN B. (See the boy’s tongue? When he bites down on it in concentration, HE STINKING MEANS BUSINESS!)
He grabbed THE CAN. The can is an old soup can that Hubs’ grandfather screwed onto a long metal pole. This way, he could dip the can into the little pond in 1967, and he could use it to water hanging flower baskets that were hung up high, completely out of the deer’s line of vision.
Cousin B filled the can with water, and he was able to pour it on the boy FROM A GREAT DISTANCE, thanks to the pole.
And then Cousin W saw what was going on, and there was no way HE was missing the water fight. The problem is, he couldn’t decide which team to fight on. On the one hand, he desperately wanted to soak his brother; on the other hand, he desperately wanted to defend his little brother from the boy. So he got the bucket…
…and he was all prepared to dump it on the boy…
…and that’s when B turned traitor and betrayed his own teammate and older brother with a soup can of pond water to the head…
And that is the precise minute that the war went crazy and saw more entries. Brother grabbed the bucket and decided that YES! IT WAS ABSOLUTELY OKAY FOR A GROWN MAN TO POUR A FULL BUCKET OF WATER OVER HIS TWELVE-YEAR-OLD SON’S HEAD!
But do you know what? The fight over the bucket took place in SWITZERLAND, which was the neutral territory of the patio. The United Nations (the grandparents) kept insisting that the war could not enter Switzerland, but Brother was his own country and decided that he’d stage a battle right there on Switzerland’s soil; he ignored the United Nations’ recommendations completely.
The bucket broke, as will happen when a grown man refuses to let go of it while a 7th grade boy is clamoring for it, and the innocent victim was Thing 2, who was enjoying some time on Papa’s lap, drinking his bottle.
Thing 2 took the hit, and it shocked the snot out of him.
When the boy and W, B and Miss A saw that the fallout of Brother’s fight had landed on the baby, they all joined forces. The four of them teamed up against Brother, determined to soak him good for his part in getting Thing 2 all wet.
Sadly, we’re pretty certain they never had a chance. It was like New Zealand fighting China.
SCOOP. THROW. SCOOP. THROW. SCOOP. THROW. All at the speed of light. New Zealand couldn’t even get close to China, with all the firepower that was happening.
Scoop. Throw. Scoop. Throw. Scoop. Throw.
Hubs told the boys that eventually the Windmill of Death’s arms would just give out. China saw this as a direct challenge. I’m pretty sure Brother would have flat-out DIED before he let his arms give out in this war.
Survival of the fittest has made this family strong.
Because Brother is… you know… taller, and because his biceps are… you know… just a tiny bit bigger than those of the kids, he simply started scooping kids up and dumping them, one by one, into the pond.
Or rather, the small country was just picked up and dumped in the fight.
I suspect that it’s because
the boy and Cousin B two of the team members don’t even weight 75 pounds yet.
The kids were grinning from all the fun. New Zealand took its loss fairly well.
And yes. That was a perfect afternoon with the cousins (except for the BONEY RIBS!). On the way home, the boy, who was dressed in nothing but a towel and a borrowed T-shirt, because of I’M SO WET, AND NOW IT’S DARK, AND HOLY SMOKES! I AM FREEZING!, sighed and said, “I really got lucky with good cousins, didn’t I, Mom?”
Yes. Our boys got lucky. They were blessed with Cousin Goodness. They have nine cousins altogether. Those nine cousins are all fantastic kids… Amazing kids… Terrific kids. All nine of those kids live right here in Small Town with us.
It’s a blessing to be enjoyed. It’s really pretty perfect.
Even if they can’t beat Brother in a water war yet.
Dear Brother, eventually boys grow up, and they grow biceps, and they’ll need to start shaving, and they’ll be able to eat whole pizzas in a single sitting, and they will weigh something more than seventy-five pounds. And, like I still remember the keychain incident from a hundred years ago, they are going to remember that you once dumped them all into the pond. I’ll buy you a wet suit and a tube of Ben Gay in preparation for the retaliation in a few years!