Life is a like Game of Rummy

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Around our house we love games and puzzles. Okay, so I’m really the only one that likes puzzles, but I haven’t given up the fight to get the kids to join the effort. A puzzle, in all its addictive nature, forces a life-pause. And good conversation can occur in the midst of searching for just the right piece.

So, puzzles – not so much. But the games, we love. And right now it’s cards. Rummy to be exact.

Rummy goes a step beyond the game of Gin Rummy, at least the way we play it. Rummy offers a bit more strategy and gamesmanship. One hand doesn’t make the game. And, you can play off each others hands. The discard pile stays alive. Points are gathered or lost based on cards laid and those remaining in a hand. We usually play to 500. It’s exciting … and fun. And I’m so glad at least one of my kids has caught the Rummy bug. Well, mostly glad. Sometimes he can get in a huff.

“Did you shuffle?” Fury asks, slightly perturbed, as he looks at what he thinks is a less than winning hand.

“Yes,” I reply. “You watched me.”

He eyed me suspiciously. I ignored him.

It was my turn to go first, so I do something that is sure to fire up ire. I begin the game by laying down points.

“What?!” he protests. “That’s not fair…. You had those in your hand?”

I did. What can I do but admit, “I was a dealt a great hand.”

“That’s not fair!” the he protests again. “My hand is terrible.” Then he goes down the road of poor-pitiful-me. “I’m going to lose. That’s all there is too it. I’m losing for sure.”

“You know that’s not true,” I try to offer perspective, trying to remind him it’s a game. His hand doesn’t define him. You know, all that mom-stuff that sounds like squirrel chatter to stubborn, I’ve-been-wronged, feeling-sorry-for-myself ears.

“There are a lot of cards to play,” I encourage him. But he wanted nothing to do with it. He was dying to know my hand. And to lament even further the unfairness of it all.

“What else do you have,” he asked. “I bet you have the aces, too.”

“Oh my word,” I shake my head. “I didn’t do anything to get this hand. It’s a game. You had a great hand last time. Can’t you be happy for me this time?”

“We need to start over… My hand is terrible. It’s the worst hand ever!” he huffed and dug in, determined to be miserable.

We didn’t start over. We played that hand and more. And he actually won the game. He ended with more points than me even though such a prospect looked dim at the beginning.

It’s a little like life, isn’t it.

We start something like a new school year, and we eye each other’s cards, thinking about all the I’m-so-glad-I-got’s – or wallowing in the I-wish-I-had’s. Someone got the teacher our child wanted. The “other” class has a better group than ours. My kid should have been on the other team, or sitting in another desk. OR maybe my kid got it all great. They have a terrific hand. Their cards are everything for which we/they hoped.

But like Rummy, the game is long. It isn’t over after one hand. It doesn’t end with the first play. Lots can change. Life is so much more than a single hand. It’s made up of multiple hands, that work together to make the whole. Still, we try to position ourselves to have the best, to be the best. And, it’s often hard to rest with the hand we’re dealt.

Then we can’t help but wander –what’s in her hand?… what if that card is an Ace? We worry about what everyone else has. And, the agony of not knowing magnetically pulls us to want to know… mostly so I can be sure mine’s okay.

But, unlike the game of cards that truly hinges on luck and timing, the Dealer in the game of life knows never relies on luck. He knows each and every hand that is dealt. Because He creates them. He distributes the cards purposefully. He tailor makes every hand for every player. And he is Lord over all of the timing.

Is it fair to compare life to a card game? Probably not. But I couldn’t help it. I’m tired of there being a right way; I’m tired of the pressure to strive; I’m tired of all the endless spin and positioning; I’m tired of defining based on dealt-hand. It really seems to sap a lot of the joy out of life. Do we lose sight of enjoying all that is around us as we take the be-better-than bait?

I’ve been reading about David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel. Two people dealt two different hands. The latter, by all logic and standards, should have had the former’s hand. He was the heir apparent. But the king card was never his to play. And he was happy. His joy wasn’t sapped. He even celebrated the one who would be king. How could he do that?

I think it had something to do with trusting the Dealer.

Such trust allowed Jonathan to care for and encourage those around him, rather than be consumed by fairIt wasn’t getting ahead or winning or being better, maybe even best, that offered peace. It was in serving, accepting, embracing, doing his best with his hand … that he found freedom to breathe.

I need to remember that. Please … remind me in the midst of college acceptances/rejections, sorority bids/cuts, making the A or C team, teacher/locker/room assignments, party invitations or lack thereof, carpool inclusion/exclusion … to look at the Dealer and to trust rather than have my boat rocked by my idea of a good hand.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God, “Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this. 1 Samuel 23:16-17

Missionary Dresser … not for the faint of heart

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For those who might not know, Jon grew up on the mission field. His parents lived on a tributary of the Amazon River with an indigenous tribe called the Ese Ejas. They became family to each other. So much so, Jon’s oldest sister and her family still live in Bolivia. Mission work is in the Wyma blood.

So, when Jon and I met and we realized we were falling in love, one of the first things Jon asked me was, “Do you think you could be a missionary?” I responded with an enthusiastic, whole-hearted affirmation, “Absolutely!” And I leaned into the dreamy adventure of it all.

Well, it didn’t take long for Jon to question my response. His doubt might have had something to do with my reaction to a roach in our first little rental home. In my defense, that bug was huge and quite possibly flew. But, Jon just shook his head and laughed as he he killed the dreaded intruder. “… And you think you could handle the mission field? It’s this – ” he said holding the dead creature, “times a thousand – and then some. Not to mention the tarantulas, the snakes, the… “ He didn’t need to go on. I’ll admit it. I’m a weenie. I’ll take 1000-thread sheet count over 1000 bugs any day.

But I realized today, that though I might not be a missionary in a jungle on the Amazon River or live a village far across the globe, I am a missionary in Dallas.

A missionary … in a slightly unconventional, but equally as loving, way.

My mission field is social gatherings and functions of any type. Yes, I’m a Missionary Dresser. In fact, I did it this morning – providing fertile ground on which those around me could walk and feel good about themselves. It’s my gift to the world.

At our school’s Parent Fellowship meeting to start the year, I showed up in a white t-shirt from Target and old tennis skirt that I might have worn yesterday (eek) – but only part of yesterday. Please… I’m not that gauche.

“Wow… you already played tennis this morning?” asked one of the new teachers who I was meeting for the first time.

“Ummm….” What?! It’s 8 AM. I’m still trying to remember to back out of the driveway with a full car – full of people and gas. “No … I um…” I wondered if I should admit that a lot of Dallas tennis-skirt wearers do so without always playing; instead I changed the subject. “So how are you liking it here in Big D?”

You might think my unbrushed hair, swept up in a make-shift bun is a last-minute, run-out-the-door routine. It isn’t. I carefully consider, as I get out of bed and forget to brush my teeth, that everyone with whom I come into contact will feel better about themselves because of me.

I’m a Missionary Dresser. I like to set the bar low. Any self-conscious guest can rest assured and feel good because, “at least I’m not wearing what she is!” And, for those concerned about forgetting to grab a piece of gum to combat morning breath? Stand next to me… I just had black coffee. You’re good to go.

And, yes, that’s me in the broom skirt from the 1990′s and sandals, revealing a pedicure gone bad. The invitation said casual chic? I mean really – who even knows what that means? No worries. In my capacity as missionary dresser, I’m there for you. I live to help you feel good about your styling decision – no matter the outfit.

And make-up? Yeah, I’ve got that covered, too – or not. I’ve no clue how to use it. Remedial at best. So stand by me and breathe. You’re beautiful.

Look for me at the next function, school meeting, or social gathering – I’m the one underdressed. I’ll postpone my shower and wait to put on deodorant – for you. Because, I’m there for you. I set the bar low so that others can stand confident in the fact that at least they don’t sit at the bottom of the stylish totem pole.

Missionary dressing. It might not be the Amazon River, but it’s still a worthy cause.

mission dressing

“Hmmmm…” I look down at a recent interview and question whether I should have reconsidered getting that pedicure ~~ Nahhh… setting the bar low so others feel good about themselves.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

Back to School Reminders

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In our house, today marks the last day of care-freedom. For two of my five, tomorrow the alarms will go off. Tomorrow snooze buttons will be pressed. Tomorrow catatonic bodies will no longer be sleeping late or hanging around the house with friends. They will be sitting at desks trying to coax their brains to consider Calculus, Chemistry, Dostoyevsky and the likes.

And Mom will be right behind doing what we do, encouraging and reminding – “You can do this,” “Don’t sell yourself short,” “You’re worth more than a bad decision,” “Take the high road,” “Look for someone to encourage today,” … and so much more. The kids may act like they don’t hear us, but they do. This is a mom’s seed-planting/fertilizing time of life. We plant, we water, we weed, we fertilize – even though any sight of sprouting might be years away. We keep on keepin’ on, because we know (though they doubt) that these kids are worth it.

I guess a new school year affords ample opportunity for us to care for the gardens the Lord has given us. And in the midst, He teaches the gardeners the same lessons. For inasmuch as we love and would do anything for our kids, the Lord exponentially does the same – not just for the kids, but for us.  He would say (and does through Scripture) the same things to us as we do to them.

So when you plead with that 13yo daughter, “You’re beautiful,” “That outfit looks great on you. It doesn’t matter what you have on,”  “People are a bit more preoccupied with themselves than with you,” … Say the same thing to yourself. And walk into that Mom’s coffee with confidence.

And when you’ve hit the boiling point with a stubborn 17yo, intent on arguing because he can’t hear you saying, “You don’t always have to have be right,” “There’s more to the story than you know,” “Get over yourself,” “You would be happier if you would put others interests ahead of your own,” “You are amazing,” “A moment doesn’t define you,” “I see you and know you – You have SO much to offer,” … Stop and hit pause and do a quick self-check.

Where am I bull-headed and stubborn to the point where I can’t see or hear. Where am I buying into the world’s ways over God’s? Where am I wallowing and buying into some message that I’m less-than or that I’m defined by a moment … or an outfit? Then I hope I know that, inasmuch as my admonitions for my children to do or to act a certain way stem from LOVE and an overwhelming hope for life go well for them, God feels the same way about me. (I think it applies to all of us, even in our roles as brother, sister, daughter, son, aunt, uncle, grandparents, friends… if I slow down to consider it for a moment.)

So, as the school-year begins and as the schedule starts to ruthlessly rule our thoughts, I hope I remember to take a moment, to pause and to get on-course. I hope I know that the way I love these kids is actually surpassed by the way God loves these kids … and me.

And I hope I laugh along the way – a lot.

Here’s a little something to spur laughter. It’s a compilation of a few things no mom would ever say. My poor friends are so nice to put up with me and my weirdness. Here’s our Back-to-School Edition of Said No Mom … EVER. (We might have few more up our sleeves – Prom Edition, Toddler Mom Edition, Social Media/Entertainment Edition … let me know :)


Hope you enjoy. Thanks to my friends July & Wylly for playing  – and thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

[Side-note: A fellow technologically-challenged friend wanted to share the video, but like me didn't know how. (I'm just glad she laughed!) So, for anyone in our boat - If you want to share it, you can connect to youtube by clicking on the icon and share from there OR you can click here and FB share or email or whatever the video by itself by clicking the buttons below. I say all this, because I can totally relate to the non-tech-savvy. See also: a botched on-line school registration that will land me in the Registrar's Office with all the other lame-O's. I should've let the kid register herself. It would have gone much more smoothly!]