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You Know You Live in a Small Town When... (A Story of a Missing Purse)

While running errands with my middle daughter, I asked her if she wanted to get ice cream. (Of course, this is an unnecessary question to pose aloud. What nine-year-old will say no to ice cream?)  We drove to our local dairy, an establishment that's known for its half gallons of milk in glass bottles, historic dairy wagon, and five different prints of wallpaper spanning different walls.  We ordered our favorites: whitehouse cherry vanilla for her, and mint chocolate chip for me.

We chatted as we ate, tossed our napkins and place mats after we finished, drove home, and pulled into our garage where I habitually reached toward the passenger seat to grab my purse, only to realize that the seat was empty.  No purse.

I quickly replayed the most recent events: paying the cashier at the dairy in cash (no credit cards are accepted), returning my wallet to my purse, hanging the purse on the back of my chair, draping my jacket over my purse, eating our ice cream, throwing away our trash, grabbing my jacket, and exiting -- without my purse, which must still be hanging on the back of the chair.

Doh.

I tried to make the 10-minute drive back to the dairy faster than 10 minutes.  For once, there was was cash in my purse; I had gone to the bank that day!  I thought about everything I didn't want to lose: my credit card, my driver's license, a few gift cards from Christmas, my sunglasses, my cell phone.


I raced into the dairy -- my obvious haste in stark contrast with the slow-as-molasses tempo of the workers who scooped and served and the customers who chatted as they waited in line or sat in the dining area.

And there sat my purse, twenty-some minutes after I had abandoned it -- right in the middle of everyone, right at my table, right on the back of my chair.  Untouched, unharmed, very much unbothered, like it was patiently waiting for my return under the watchful eye of a dozen or so ice-cream eaters.

Yes, It's good to live in a small town where lost dogs become conversation pieces and lost purses are found by their owners.

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Overwhelming, Never-Ending, Reckless Love

Yesterday morning, after listening to lengthy, soul-draining bickering between my children, I lost my temper in an extravagant fashion.  This is always a good way to start a Sunday morning as you're getting ready for church.  Hey kids, let's all yell at each other, then go to church and love God!

But it happens. We humans are wildly fallible.

Then two things redeemed my day.  One, as we left the house, sullen and prickly, I passed the refrigerator and saw a note that my youngest daughter (and yesterday morning's chief perpetrator) recently had written for me.


She loves me.  In fact, according to this note, she doesn't just kind of love me; she loves loves loves me a lot.  All of my daughters love me, even the tween, who has been known to freak out with an exasperated "Mooooooom!" when I do anything she deems embarrassing, like daring to sing along to one singular line of a good song in the grocery store when we're in an otherwise empty aisle, or on her more pubescently-tinged days, attempting to greet her in public.

And I love all of them in my wildly imperfect way, even with the soul-draining bickering.  I have to believe this love sticks to them.  After all, the foundation of love and support that's made up the bulk of our lives together under this roof -- this mostly stable and civil background we've established over the years -- isn't undone by one bad moment, or morning, or week.

I mean, I'm mostly a sane mom, except for the moments when I'm clearly not, and I imagine that those moments will eventually lead to great stories when girls are adults.  Hoooo boy!  Remember that one time when we were fighting and trashed the kitchen, and then Mom slammed the microwave door so hard that it broke on its hinges?

Or the moments will lead to therapy, but I'm feeling optimistic. I think that by the time my kids are parents themselves, they'll get it.   For example, I certainly understood when my father admitted that, during his pre-sobriety days, he used to go to the basement, set his plate on the washing machine, crack open a few beers, and eat dinner in solitude just to get away from my brother and me when we were behaving like feral creatures.  (Dad, I get it.  I really do.  Dave and I are sorry for driving you and mom to the brink from roughly 1983 to 1988.)

The second redeeming moment, after seeing the refrigerator note and making things right during the car ride to church, happened as we sang one song during worship.  It's called "Reckless Love," and it's so gorgeous that tears stung my eyes before we got through the chorus.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.
It chases me down, fights till I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine.
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, 
but still You give Yourself away.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God!

Yes, twenty minutes prior I had been yelling at my children, and now I was immersed in the reminder that God's love toward me is extravagant.  I certainly hadn't earned it, but there it was: freely given, lavishly extended, unconditional.

Sometimes love is overwhelming and reckless.  A daughter who draws a picture where we're depicted as two hearts, one large and one small, and announces that she loves loves loves me a lot.  A God who never grows weary with my screw-ups, and welcomes me back, time after time after time.

Thank God for reckless love.

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I'd be remiss if I ended the post without sharing the song (Reckless Love by Cory Asbury) for those of you who might not have heard it.  I encourage you to listen and let it soak in.  It's wonderful.



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A Parent's Guide to Volume

 
A Parent's Guide to Volume

  1. Creepy silence
  2. Peaceful silence, like a cotton ball landing on felt 
  3. Light background chatter 
  4. Normal conversation 
  5. Normal conversation with pleasant ambient background noise
  6. Attempted conversation with semi-distracting background noise 
  7. Attempted conversation with raucous background noise 
  8. Two simultaneous attempted, yet unsuccessful, conversations, plus raucous background noise 
  9. Multiple unsuccessful and fragmented conversations, plus familiar background noise, plus disconcerting unknown thudding or screeching 
  10. Keep all components of #9, but add an air horn, a Kidz Bop concert, an intermittent fire alarm, continual whining, and a child who cannot spell anything requesting you to "help" as she painstakingly writes a lengthy story while sitting in an adjacent room.  Bonus points if you're taking a work phone call.

Disclaimer:  Items 2, 3, 4, and 5 are purely fictional categories for parents.

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Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

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