The Day I Had My Picture Taken

I was about 36 years of age when I received the dreaded notice in the mail that it was time for me to make a physical appearance at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to renew my driver license. I’d been able to skate on just sending in the greenbacks (in check form) over the past several years, but that year, they caught me.

Going to the DMV is no picnic in our town, I don’t know what it is like in yours. Regardless of the appointment system they have set up for you, there are still gazillions of people waiting in any number of lines for what seems like forever. To get the appointment in the first place seems to take an act of Congress, and we all know what that is like. My birthday happens to be in the middle of the summer. I’m a July baby. Couldn’t be any happier to be out in the blistering heat of Merced, CA than a hippo in a dry watering hole. Summer in Central California is hot, folks. You can put a milkshake from McDonalds on the sidewalk and the sun will bake it right into the concrete, after it’s spread it thin as peanut butter.

Hot? Oh yes, that’s what July is. So is June. And I imagine that’s when I was down there at the DMV. In June. My birth date is the 12th, so to give the good government people sufficient time to do their due diligence, I would seem to remember going the latter part of June, with my appointment to meet my DMV person to get my picture taken for my driver license.

So I have been standing in one of the dozen or so lines of men and women who don’t want to be there any more than I do, doing what I love to do in cases like this – people watch. There are elderly folks there hoping for one last chance at the eye chart so they can drive their elderly folks-type vehicles for a few more years (oh dear!). Lots and lots of immigrants of all persuasions are in line for identification cards. Even a few young people eager to get that driver permit or first driver license (heaven help us!). What? Oh, my name has been called.

As I approach the end of the very lengthy counter, actually, it reminds me of a racetrack somewhat, half the length of a football field and curved on either end, I happen to notice a young man approaching the very opposite end of the counter from me. He looked to be about 16 years old. I surmised that it was his father with him and the teenager was getting his first license. We both went through the paperwork process at about the same rate and I was asked to go to the opposite end of the racetrack, er counter, to have my picture taken for the license.

I’m now standing behind the teenage boy, waiting my turn for the photo shoot. He seems appropriately nervous for the occasion. He is several inches taller than myself, has sandy brown hair, is rather thin and wiry. His pictures are taken and he makes his way out of the area and the building. I go through the process and am told it would be about four weeks before receiving my new license, that the temporary one I had been given would suffice. Happy day, thank you very much, wonderful weather and all that. I depart.

Several weeks later, my license comes in the mail. As I rip open the envelope and take a look at my mug shot, I couldn’t help but bust out laughing at what I saw. For you see, it wasn’t me smiling back at me from the driver license but that of the petrified looking face of the young man who had taken his photograph right before me! All the data about me was correct. Everything was peachy except for the photo. What kept running through my mind was what must he be thinking as he proudly tore open his DMV envelope only to find my face smiling back at him on his first driver license! What a hoot!

I made another appointment with the specialist at the DMV. As I began to explain to her my plight, I put it to her this way, “I remember getting a little older, putting on a few pounds, getting a different hair do. I just don’t remember the sex change!” I wonder what his story was?

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500 Words a Day Challenge

I started my blog a few short months ago, and I’m fairly new to the blogging scene. I used to write regularly, but it’s clear I need a little help getting into the discipline of it again. I was all fired up when I started the blog, but then life happened, and well, you know. Here’s where you come in. I’ve joined a 500 words a day challenge with a group of writers that is going to get me in the habit of writing on a daily basis. You can help hold me accountable. While my blog site theme is Food for Thought and what I’m passionate about, my next 31 days, (and possibly a bit beyond), will be about writing from the senses, which intrigues the heck out of me. I hope it will interest you, as well.

Where you can help me is…I’d love it if you would comment on the posts you like, and even the ones you don’t so much…and what you do/don’t about them. Your comments will help me know what to fix or not to. At the end of the challenge, not only will I have honed my daily discipline in writing, I will have a collection of writing I will be able to know what to work with down the road. Because of you, Dear Reader! Gotta you up front though – these are free writes – they will not be edited, so hold on to your seats, folks. You are gonna get what you get! Are you ready? Then, let’s get started! This will be a little like Julia/Julia but not as messy. Ha ha ha!

 

Be Jesus

I heard him before I saw him. He was asking for handouts. Even several yards away, where I was getting out of my car in the bookstore parking lot, his gentle voice carried. Silently I groaned to myself. It was the confrontation more than the people I had trouble with.

I looked in his direction as I came around my car. He was standing at the border of the lot, near the edge of the street passing through. With our distance maintained, I could still see bright blue eyes meeting mine. The stranger appeared to be old, quite disheveled, long dirty-gray beard, well worn clothes, shopping basket piled high with his life.

He repeated his plea, “Do you have any spare change I might have for something to eat?” He was well spoken.  My heart tightened. My mind started racing – what was his story? No, stop this, I told myself.

Just at that moment I heard a soft voice whisper in my ear, “Be Jesus.” My soul quickened.  “Lord, I’m here to finish this project, I really don’t have time for this.” What the heck was the matter with me? Was I really telling the Lord, “NO?”

My shoulders were saddled with tote bags and my purse. The cafe in the bookstore was beckoning me even now. I smiled apologetically at the man, shaking my head and said, “I’m so sorry, I can’t.” Expecting a rude retort, I was surprised to hear his sweet, smiling reply, “Oh, no, Ma’am, it’s quite all right, you have a good day.” And off he shuffled, dragging his cart.

I stood frozen in place for a moment. Two words kept repeating themselves in my head, “Be Jesus. Be Jesus.” I willed myself  forward, each guilty step growing heavier than the next as I walked to the bookstore. Conflicted. Convicted.

Oh yes, I finished my project, that all important project. But what I thought about the whole time was how I wished I had put the project back in the car. I should have bought two sandwiches and drinks and gone out to where that old man was and shared a meal and spent some time with him. That’s what I should have done. The project could have waited. My opportunity to be Jesus for him had passed.

I confessed my sin to the Lord – that I had: a. Said “No” to HIM of all things, and b. That I had denied myself and the old man some good Jesus time together. I know I’ve been forgiven, but I have to tell you, that afternoon has been embedded in my mind. No longer am I going to wait for those occurrences where the “Be Jesus” moments come to me when the Lord has to tell me to act (and risk going off my rocker again and telling Him “No!”). I’m going to be a lot more observant and intentional about who and where I can minister. And less selfish.

Don’t be me. Be Jesus.

How Hard Can This Be?

A big, dry California welcome to my blog! Here you’ll get a nibble, a good sized bite, and sometimes even a whole serving of the things that keep me up at night – my passions. Some are whimsical, some are laugh out loud funny, some are edible, and some are downright brain-pinchers (those keep me up ALL night). But a few of them are more on the heartfelt side and mean a lot to me. Maybe they will mean something to you, too. That would be really cool. Being able to have a blog to share them with you is going to be fun, even though I know it’ll be hard work. But I’m up for it. I hope you’ll keep me company. Grab a cup of your favorite and come sit a spell. You are in for a ride, because you see, I’m on a mission from God.

The Lord has gifted me with the ability to write and I’ve been writing for years, but mainly for myself because I thought I knew better than He did about what kind of writing I should be doing. Pffft! And in my young and ignorant ways, I don’t remember ever asking him. Hmmm. Problem? I think probably so. Sending out the occasional submission and receiving the decisive rejection letter has never been easy to swallow, or to see it as encouragement to continue. So I would take a correspondence writing course or a creative writing class to soothe my ego and get fired up about where I was headed next. But, of course, it was without the Lord’s direction and would end in epic fail. On a positive note, I was the editor and a reporter of a magazine for a tri-state church district, I wrote copy for a couple of church newsletters, and also wrote content while managing some websites for a few clients, so I wasn’t always walking in shame. Just sayin.

As this pattern continued, I kept wondering whenever I was moved to write that book proposal or submit that magazine query, “How hard can this be?” with the blinded naivete of the hopeful lottery participant. (I wonder Who was “moving” me to do that writing, hm?) But then, “What could I possibly be doing wrong,” I would wonder when I would get those danged rejection letters or emails back. Who likes rejection, right? So what did I do? What most thin-skinned, wet behind the ears beginner usually did. I quit. Submitting my work, that is. But I couldn’t stop writing. If you are a writer, you know what I’m talkin about. I kept writing, filling up those journals and files on the hard drive, but I virtually gave up all hope of writing anything of significance.

Fast forward several years. God enters in a big way. My husband and I recently started to attend a vibrant community church where I am getting pretty involved. Not too long ago, I was asked to write a grant to acquire hiking gear for low-income kids. I think that was God’s way of stirring up the juices again because once I got started on that grant, an awakening in me occurred. We got the grant, and right after that a dear friend of mine hit the nail on the head during a conversation when she inadvertently admonished me to get my priorities straight. BAM!

Then, the Lord told me he wanted me to write a blog. This time it was a direct command. I messed around with the blog for a bit, but other responsibilities I was involved in got me sidetracked and I dropped the ball. Not long after that, He brought me squarely about and told me that I had given up on His command. You know, the one to write for Him. I was soundly convicted. I felt sick to my stomach with shame and spent much time in prayer asking for forgiveness and asked what exactly He wanted me to write. I realized that unfinished business with God is flat out disobedience.

But our God is good! As a result of my confession and desire to do it HIS way, the Lord very clearly told me to get back to that blog again, and to become a part of the writing community of COMPEL, directed by Lisa TerKeurst. I was so excited to be truly doing the Lord’s will and it was having a direct reaction to my writing life! Well, I’ve done both and couldn’t be more thrilled! The mistake I’d made before was that I had not asked Him the area where He specifically wanted me to write. I had just trotted along on my own, thinking I had known best. I had only needed to ask! And THEN be obedient to Him, of course.

Being thwacked upside the head a few times by God is probably not the most desirable way to start writing for the right reasons, but if I ask “How hard can it be?” and know that He is with me every step of the way because I am allowing Him to do the leading this time, I’m all in. The answer to the question is, “It’s hard as heck!” but it will be a whole lot less bumpy doin it HIS way than MY way, let me tell ya! So, Friend, once again, I welcome you to my blog! I do hope you enjoy. And I hope you haven’t over-indulged this first time out! I want you to come back for seconds and thirds and more!