Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: September 2013 (page 1 of 5)

A round of applause

My biggest victories during my day include things like: buying chicken on sale in large family packs, then repackaging and freezing to get twice as many meals out of them. Making a killer granola. Writing letters at the kitchen table [for the millionth time this week]. Enduring a no-nap-meltdown with grace and patience. Inexplicable celebrations regarding where the poop is supposed to go. 
And who celebrates these things with me? Mostly my sister, because she’s fighting the same battles. But otherwise, some of my biggest accomplishments go completely unnoticed. I don’t have a project team to celebrate. I can’t walk down to the water cooler or to Dan Who Knows Everything’s desk to tell about my incidents. There’s no LinkedIn group to join to ask about toddler napping strategies (though FB has served me well with this info). 
My phone log. Yes, I do talk to my sister that much. Notice also the calls to my realtor. Bless her. 
Motherhood from home is a lonely endeavor, especially in the young-and-numerous years. Not only because you’re limited to play dates and preschool pick up times, but often you find so much joy and purpose in the simple and small things (because, well, we’re dealing with a pretty simple and small audience all day). Those not completely immersed in the culture don’t always identify with your struggles or your victories. 
I’ve found that my good days contain an element of connecting with others on issues not related to the home – helping lead a women’s ministry at church, assisting with some simple tasks at the school, seeing an old friend, and my New Book Club. I don’t do these to “add a level of meaning to my life”, because my life is meaningful. They add relationships to my life.  
I don’t need a standing ovation when the garbage disposal smells like lemon. And a “thank you” is quite enough when all the laundry gets put away on the same day it’s washed (<- alone.="" attention="" celebration.="" div="" experience="" happens="" i="" it="" lacks="" largely="" life="" love="" moments="" my="" nbsp="" never="" not="" s="" that="" the="" when="" yes="">

When JJ asks what he can do, I don’t have advice. Nor for you, fellow reader. You can ask, I can respond, but until you live in these trenches and know the largeness of the victory for what seems like a tiny struggle, it will be hard to truly empathize or celebrate. These things seem so small in comparison to your world of co-worker drama, bosses and clients breathing down your neck, missed appointments and big sales. And it’s okay – I get that. Honestly, a multi-million dollar account probably is a bigger deal than mastering the letter J. 
These are the things that matter in my world for the moment. I love them. I’m trying to treasure them because they will disappear so quickly. So for a mom out there celebrating silently, I say hooray! You are not alone. (And if it has anything to do with convincing a 2 year old to poop in the potty, throw the advice my way. This one, she is a willful one.) 

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When is Good good enough?

Recently a friend posted a question regarding Toms shoes, which inadvertently kept her up at night. I’m barely hip enough to own a pair let alone know that controversy surrounds the company. So I followed the discussion string. 

Apparently a school of thought surfaced that criticized the buy-one-give-one model that Toms made famous. And, as the conversational thread continued, seemingly valid points: Tom himself (though not his real name) has been rumored to own a yacht and makes millions from the company. The drop sites sometimes erupt with violence as locals compete for limited resources. 
Not one to miss an opportunity for flag waving, I applaud these informed consumers. Way to look into the companies from which you purchase! Our society needs more, not less, work toward retail goods awareness. So while I seem to be criticizing the Anti-Toms folk specifically, I do not intend on persuading people to turn a blind eye toward the companies making their goods. It’s not really about pro- or anti-Toms. It’s about our posture. It’s too easy to be critical and excuse ourselves from being part of a proposed solution.  
While I desire non-profits, charity agencies and those who simply desire to give to uphold high standards for the way in which they run their organization, I do believe that we use such transparency as an excuse to make us cheap and avoid giving altogether. Am I looking with such a sharp eye at Old Navy when I purchase their $5 sandals, made by the hands of young children? Am I decrying ol’ Les for his international travel habits? 
Toms isn’t even a non-profit, yet we criticize the good it attempts. Is the model perfect? No. Did the founder make a whopping buck? Sure did. But can we applaud the brilliant entrepreneurial move to combine the general desire for social needs with a product? And in his efforts, he provided more shoes to African children than I have – isn’t that worth something? And not only did the impoverished children benefit, our society became aware of the problem. How many pairs of shoes did I help contribute via Toms? 1. How many would I have without Toms? Zero. The author of that awful Starfish poem would say “it mattered to that one.” 
Others mentioned that micro-finance or other means would be more effective at eradicating the problems that face developing countries. Bravo, I agree. And so, dear critic: DO THAT. Perhaps with your partnership, and with the Toms efforts, and with the small steps made by a local UMW and with everyone’s little bit, such problems can be solved. 
Until then, I’m fine with the teeny-tiny contribution. I didn’t forgo any planned charitable contributions “because I bought a pair of Toms”. It’s not charity, it’s footwear. And I’ll support any businessperson who uses possible profits for the good of someone else. (He could’ve charged $50 and kept the whole thing, yes?) Criticism in this arena only douses desires for business owners to do something good with what they have if they can’t do it perfectly. 
I don’t believe God calls us to perfect charity for it to be a blessing. Wesley said, “Do all the good you can…”I enjoy that I can feel good about a product I was going to purchase anyway (not to mention that they are the perfect fall transition shoe – like an autumn flip flop before the boots come out). If I waited until an entrepreneur came up with a perfect plan to eradicate a detriment to our world, I would never do anything. Until then, I’m glad a few have put money behind their intentions. If they make a bunch of money off of it, then so be it. Maybe Mr. Toms surprise us and give some of that away, too. 
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That’s it. I’m telling.

I’ve mentioned before – prayer is not my strong suit. It says somewhere (1 Corinthians, I would venture to guess) that prayer is one of the spiritual gifts. That makes me feel better about things and I totally justify my lackluster prayer life with the notion that I was instead given the gift of telling other people what to do. (And, humility. Lots of it. Clearly.) 

However, prayer still remains a vital way to connect with God, so I put my best foot forward. One day I began composing my prayer list for the morning – people and issues (which is usually about people) that came to mind that I felt I should lift up to God. Sometimes the sheer act of listing them out becomes my prayer. I know, it’s probably the cheaters way of prayer. This particular day, after I composed my list, I actually paused to move through it and pray it. 
Then, as nearly all non-prayer-gifted people do, my mind got stuck on other things. Namely, prayer. Why was I spending my time in this manner? Didn’t God already know? Why didn’t my listing of people count? Wasn’t God listening to my heart as I wrote these things down? So then, what is required for a prayer to “take”? Is there a requisite minute-count before a thought becomes a prayer? How does prayer fit into the quality/quantity struggle?
Though God is not human and exists beyond what our pretty little minds can understand, I posed the question to myself in light of the parent-chlid relationship in which I currently live. I have some familiarity, being both a) a child and b) a parent. I tried out a few situations to see which might be the best fit and how prayer would fall into the mix. (Note: looking at the subject this way will cast a bit of pettiness to your prayer list. I think this can be both a positive and a negative.)  
The Same Room
Kids are running around, playing “chase” while Parent sits presently in the same room, fully paying attention while only slightly passing time on Facebook. Someone runs the wrong way and BAM knocks into the youngest. Kids come crying. Parent saw the whole thing, but really couldn’t do anything to prevent the accident unless the Parent mandated everyone sit down and quietly read books, which no one thought was a good idea. 
In this case, prayer is not required for God to know what happened – He saw the whole thing. But prayer is a means to be heard. It’s an act that comforts and helps us to recognize God’s presence. I like this situation because I have difficulty with the notion that God isn’t fully present right here. But if God is fully present right here, why do I feel the need to pray? Prayer becomes about me rather than about God. 
The Other Room
Kids are downstairs, playing, mostly nicely with the occasional outbreak of discord. Parent is upstairs, trying to change out the summer clothes for the winter clothes while entertaining the baby. So when moments erupt that shake the equilibrium of peace in the other room, cries come forth requesting a judgement call. Now, the parent is fully aware that the peace will likely never remain constant, not until Daddy comes home. Intervention will likely be required. But, being in the other room, parent is not fully aware of the details of the situation (though the yells and stomping provide ample information). While knowing, s/he does not know. The parent listens to the requests of both parties and tries to rule for the general good of the home. 
In this case, prayer is required to bring full understanding to God. It’s not that God’s dumb, or even not present – He’s just turned is present attention to hunger in Africa and chemical warfare in Syria. And it’s not that He doesn’t care. He does care. He cares about how his children treat one another and when issues arise, He takes time to teach them how to interact and to love. But really, complete undivided attention shouldn’t be required in order to practice writing letters or play house. 
I kind of like this scenario. God is present, but perhaps we’re not in the spotlight 100% of the time. We have access to God’s attention without being the constant apple of His eye. Prayer serves as a way to keep God in the loop for even the small things, for which he wants to be involved. Pray-ers feel that God cares about the small stuff (because He does), but prayer is a way of turning things over when we’re not as practiced at being good Brothers & Sisters or when things simply don’t go the way we wanted them to.
Neither of these scenarios are perfect nor completely grasp the God-Human relationship. It’s simply the only way my mind can begin to comprehend. 
So, what say you, fellow pray-er? In which room is God? Or is there another way of looking through the parent-child window that sees it differently? (Perhaps for you God is out in the garage drinking a beer and doesn’t know anything until we come crying?) 
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