Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a winter painting

Here is a little winter painting I wanted to share with you. I happen to be a huge fan of the art work of Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw's. They (father & son) have a long history with Disney Art and animation and in my opinion, their pieces possess a rare and simple magic. They have a way of painting what feel like hidden moments, moments that make you think you've caught Winnie and Tigger on an ordinary afternoon romping in the snow. This "ordinary" moment is made extraordinary by the gift it offers to my imagination. Here, my beloveds of old are slowly & happily wandering through the woods, it looks so natural, so dear, so probable to my imagination, as if they have always done this. I love the power of this image, it's as if my imagination is opened up and the little molly inside me is waving at my old friends in the woods, wondering just what they will do next.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I work at Barnes & Noble. It's three days until Christmas. Today, a customer asked me, "You guys busy today?" . . . the fact that I didn't completely offend him with the look on my face is a Christmas miracle. Could he not look around? Could he not visibly see all the misplaced piles of books, calendars and cards? The crowded store filled with wet and frantic customers? The HUGE stack of book lights I was holding and trying to get around him to put away? The frazzled look on every employees face? - I don't know why he said it, I tend to dismiss a lot of the customers I encounter as just not quite having it all together, like the lady who did not realize that we have an "up-stairs" despite the fact that she was standing beside the escalator. Yet I am called to love these people, to serve them and be kind to them by not only my boss, but by my own personal convictions and by my darling Lord. It bothers me that at Christmas time we celebrate Jesus coming to the earth out of His love for us and that I struggle so much to love others in relatively simple ways. 
 While no one yelled at me today, should I use that as my measurement of the days success? No, it's true that people are crazy, well, a lot of them are crazy and if the crazy ones yell at me they were probably planning on doing so when they walked in and not in actual response to something I did. However, I forget to look back on my day and reflect on how well I helped people, if I even did well at all. Shouldn't that be my focus? The fact is that I have two days of madness left at the bookstore frightens me. It is constant chaos as seeming busloads of people shove themselves through our doors and crowd the aisles. However, these two days give  me 16 more hours of opportunity to relax in the chaos, to look people in the eye, assist them, go above and beyond, and put the book they need in their hand. 
I work in a great place where we sell information, experiences of all kinds, wisdom and help. How many places sell things like that? Yes, we also sell things like the "Fart Book" (which is actually our No. 1 employee recommended seller - how's that for a heart-breaker?),  but I like to overlook that aspect of the store and just laugh at the fact that silly people like my mom would get a kick out of a farting book. It's just more proof that there really is a book for everyone.
But to get on with it, I am pledging here with you as my witness, that I will share the themes of Christmas to the very best of my ability with my customers over these next two days. The themes: Joy, family, cheer and the Good News that Linus is so good to remind us of.
So if you come into  Barnes & Noble on these last two shopping days before Christmas and find me, I will do my best to help you and leave you happy that you came in. I want others to feel Christmas in my attitude, see it in my eyes, and hear it in my tone and carefully thought out words. I will report back on how it all goes and relax tonight in the glow of my Christmas tree and the knowledge that no grinchy customer can snatch away the True Meaning of Christmas - and you know how I love meaning.

And in order to ensure a great experience for us both, here are just a few tips I wish I could give to every shopper (you don't have to read this, it just helps me vent really):*It helps when you know the title or even just the author of the book you are looking for. Clues or hints like, "the book was blue," or "there was a girl on the cover" are not helpful. *As you shop be kind to the employees just in case they really are trying to help you. *If you are treated badly by an employee, try and understand that it may be because they were just treated badly - there are grinches in this world and while they won't ruin Christmas, they may ruin an hour or two of work time. *Don't ask us to shop for you. *Finally, and for heaven's sake, please do not stop us in the midst of the chaos to ask if we are busy! 


Sunday, December 19, 2010

thank goodness for "however"s

I woke up this morning and did NOT want to go to church. While I was lying in bed contemplating my options I received a text message from a dear friend inviting Bryce and I to lunch after church. I also did NOT want to go to lunch. My lack of desire to do anything was most likely the result of a full & busy retail work week combined with the after-effects of a fabulous work party I attended the night before. I love people but they exhaust me and I had quite simply filled my need to socialize and was left wallowing in my introvertedness. Thus, I politely declined the invite saying I wasn't feeling well and continued laying in bed trying justify my desires to remain there.
However, - and thank goodness for "however"s! - my dear husband was up early, ready to go to church and sweetly asking me to go with him. So I got up, put my darling new boots on and husband in hand we headed out into the rain. To make a "short story long" as my boss likes to say, a friend of Bryce's met us at church to check it out and see if it would be a good fit for her. Appropriately, her name is Precious. The service was great (made better by some chocolate chip cookies I snuck in - I love being an "adult") and it was wonderful to see some dearly missed faces and all the regular but beloved ones as well. During the service I received a texted response to my earlier declination saying that some spicy curry and pomegranate martinis were just the thing to make me feel better and we should still do lunch - she was right and I happily gave in.
Thai food is not something I go out of my way to eat but Precious was excited and she gave me the courage to go and taste. Our dear friends, a married couple we had done junior high ministry with some years back were our benevolent hosts . Making sure that we had enough food and pomegranate martinis, we were entertained with countless stories ranging from hilarious to heartbreaking - that kind of thing happens when one of your hosts is a hospice worker and a crazy New Zealander (I think the "zeal" part really carried over). We ended up staying at the restaurant until 3 o'clock thoroughly enjoying the company. It was truly a God-given and God-orchestrated series of events that, pathetically, I was completely willing to go without when I woke up this morning.
Today was just another instance where I came so close to missing out on huge blessings. It reminds me that life is a string of constant opportunity and that I am too often afraid to reach my hand into the bag of blessings and experiences that God holds open to me. In going to church and lunch I learned about people, I built relationships, I enjoyed fellowship and I loved them.  Once again God spared me from waste and gave me far more than I ever could have thought I wanted.