I had something special happen to me today. I guess special little things happen every single day and sometimes it takes a tap on the shoulder to recognize a sign. I’ve been worried about making ends meet for my little family quite a bit lately. I’ve been in a holding pattern of sorts trying to decide whether or not to make a career move in the hopes that any financial gain would be enough to supplement what I now need to support us. It’s HARD! I’m also pretty unconventional and frequently act on impulse so I may have even made it harder on myself by proclaiming that I may have to leave…. To. My. BOSS. I actually asked him to help me. Let me repeat that… I ACTUALLY asked my boss for advice on whether or not to leave.

I knew what I was in for when I took the job. Nobody accepts a position without knowing the financial compensation. I also knew the intrinsic benefits that were being offered to me and the kids. I’m close to them every day. They walk over after school and finish their homework while I finish working. They’ve also both laid down on the couch by the fireplace in the prayer room when they are sick and I can’t leave to take them home. It’s not a bad deal because what kid wouldn’t rather shoot hoops in the gym when they have to tag along with mom because school is cancelled for the day due to an ice storm? That’s all happened. I haven’t taken full advantage of the blessings I’ve received though – at least not to the best of my ability. I should be running on the track and swimming laps. Kicking back in the steam room would relieve some anxiety too. I haven’t given up all of that anxiety yet. In some ways I’m still clinging to old habits and hoping for things to change when they aren’t just going to change without a focused effort.

I took over my boss’s office today. I mean, I didn’t exactly usurp all of his power, but I did physically take it over with about 10 large boxes and my snack bag of pretzels. While I was sorting through things, both literally and mentally, we had a chat. I’m pretty much an open book, so ask me a question like, “Can I ask you something personal?” and I’m likely to give you anything you ask for plus an awkward 5 minutes of things you didn’t as an extended bonus edition. He KNOWS this so I’m fairly sure the question was calculated though he probably cringed shortly after. He asked me about what I give and do I designate a certain amount of my monthly income to be given. My answer was that I give WHAT I can WHEN I can monetarily meaning that when I’m comfortable giving I do, and when I’m not I save for a rainy day. He suggested that I rethink that idea, and give ESPECIALLY when it’s uncomfortable, and that we take a leap of faith in doing so despite being afraid. He’s been reading up on the subject because he has a speech to prepare on stewardship and tithing, and I’ve seen his actions far surpass what he preaches in this area. He gave his opinion, and then he TOOK my last pretzel.

Boss: “Are these mine?”
Me: “No. Did you buy them?? They’re mine.”
Boss: “Well, you only have 1 left anyway.”
Me: “OK. You can have it.”
End of conversation.

I continued about my sorting, folding, labeling & shooting the bull to alleviate the kind of awkward silences that can only happen when you’ve shoved your way into your boss’s protected little corner of the world & made a colossal mess. I even asked him if he wanted me to scoot on over to my own office so I wouldn’t be a distraction while he worked on his speech, but he said nah.

And THAT’S when it happened! My friend who works with the youth group and their concession stand was cleaning out a closet and sashayed in with her own box.… NO, it was a CASE… of pretzels. She wanted me to give what was left to my kids and keep them for snacks at the office. Boss stared at me and looked at me with disbelief.

Boss: “Are you kidding me??! Do you see this??! WHAT were we just talking about?”
Me: “Um, about my mess here??”
Boss: “No! We were talking about giving. You gave me your last pretzel!! Don’t you see??! You gave me your last one and you were repaid tenfold! I can’t believe she just happened to walk in here to give you a case of pretzels!!!”

But she did! She had no idea about our conversation or what we’d been discussing. She just happened to think of me and how my kids are always digging through my wallet for money for the vending machines. In a twisted & roundabout way, she was the catalyst that got me going and thinking of my friend Videssa who’s been going through a hard time lately. She and her family have been struggling with husband’s medical issues and he’s been unable to work while she supports that family on a teacher’s salary. She & I went to high school together and it was a very close-knit class. Every now and then, a request is sent out to alumni via a facebook group to help someone in need. Videssa didn’t ask for it, but her friends did, and I know she’s been grateful. I had not yet donated to my friend in need when my other friend came stumbling into the office today with her case of pretzels. We’re all intertwined.

I don’t have a lot to give so I frequently hesitate. I worry and wonder over the daily stresses that keep my stomach tied in knots when I probably shouldn’t. So far, everything has been ok. I’m not starving, and neither are my kids. My mom won’t let me starve and neither will my grandmother. They are both getting ready for Thanksgiving and sent me home tonight with Ziplocs full of their “practice turkeys” until the real thing comes along this Thursday so I think I’m doing just fine. Sometimes it’s scary to give when you’ve gone through periods in your life where you’ve been conditioned only to save. I think lots of people out there have been in the same boat and are just struggling to stay afloat sometimes. If you haven’t, then some day you may be.

If you feel so inclined, please consider a donation for the Owens family here: http://lsmsafriends.wordpress.com/

Food for thought:
Pretzels have been around for almost 1,400 years. History has their origin about A.D. 610 when a baker in a monastery in southern France or northern Italy twisted leftover strips of bread dough into the shape of a person’s arms crossed in prayer, traditional posture for prayer in those days. Pretzels were also a convenient way to give food to the poor and became typical alms for the hungry. Those who gave pretzels away were considered particularly blessed. 🙂 Give, and you shall receive tenfold!