Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Filling In The Blanks...

As I wrote in my last post, I am playing a bit of catch up with what's been happening in Bridgett's World the last few weeks. Here's a continuation and conclusion...

November 9th - Simple Fun

We took the kids rollerskating at a rink. It wasn't something on our To Do list, an experience we thought the kids must have. We just happened to see a poster advertising the rink and decided that it would be a fun Sunday afternoon activity.

It was only when we strapped on our skates and entered the rink, that my husband and I realized that this could be a dangerous endeavor. Neither one of us had been on roller skates in at least 15 years, and we were going to be our children's protectors and guides who'd never had wheels strapped to their feet in their short five years on this earth?

As it turns out, we all did pretty well. I even remembered how to skate backwards!

The amazing part was to see the wide eyes and the ear-to-ear grins on our kids' faces as they circled the rink. Beaming. That's what they were. So excited, so joyful, so enthusiastic.

November 10th - "I Was Built For This Economic Tough Time"

Jim Flanagan and my husband have a mutual respect for one another as human beings as well as businessmen. Though we weren't yet officially his clients (we're kind of on the younger side of the spectrum for his clientele) Jim invited us to attend one of his hourlong presentations for his clients in these uncertain, tumultuous economic times.

One piece of information that Jim passed on floored me. He said that rather than bite the bullet when the stock market bubble morphed into the tech bubble, we artificially propped up the economy by lowering the interest rate. The interest rate, Jim said, was at 1.5% for 33 months. The last time this happened was right after World War II, and that was only for 7 weeks, not almost 3 years.

So lending became cheap. There was a political movement to increase homeownership, so people were approved for mortgages who never ever should have become "homeowners."

Sidenote: Homeownership is, for the majority, a fallacy. You're renting with an option to buy. Unless you don't have a mortgage, you do not own your home--the bank does.

Those factors are partly why our economy is in shambles. Another key element is the reality that Baby Boomers are about to exit their peak spending years, with a markedly smaller generation coming up behind them to fill that spending gap (read about the Generation Wave.)

The only other time I saw Jim before his presentation was a month earlier, at his home, where I also had the privilege of meeting his wife and three children. Jim showed us a fine piece of machinery he was using to build a new garage and lay a new driveway. He even guided my husband and the kids in having the unexpected thrill of operating it.

As Jim closed his presentation, he emphasized, "I was built for this economic tough time." In that moment, I reflected on our visit just a month earlier, when I met Jim in his grubby jeans, his work gloves, and his paper-thin T-shirt, willing to get dirty and work hard.

Intelligence is an importance asset, but it is meaningless without character. In a world seemingly lacking people of character and integrity, it's refreshing to know a man like Jim.

November 16th - The Power of A Shoe Box

As a church small group we had decided to put our efforts this holiday season towards Samaritan's Purse--Operation Christmas Child. I'd never heard of the organization, so I went to their website to find out about the program. I watched their video (the longer version) explaining how these shoe boxes of gifts are distributed. All of a sudden, tears welled up in my eyes as I'm watching this young girl moved by the gifts that a stranger, halfway across the world, had sent her and told her that she was loved.

I was surprised at my response. I was like, "Oh come on Bridgett. Get a grip." But after that video, I went from being dutiful in helping the needy, to being passionate about it.

I told my family that we were going to go shopping for some children, and to watch the video beforehand so that we were all on the same page with what we were doing. All three of them watched the video the next day before we headed out to the stores, and my husband told me, without knowing my response to the video, that he started tearing up watching it!

We went shopping, with our daughter's shopping list in hand (she doesn't know how to write just yet, so she drew pictures of the items we were to get), our boy picking out presents for boys his age, and our girl picking out presents for girls her age.

I spent the next few days going to local shoe stores collecting a shoe box here and a shoe box there. Other people in the area were apparently doing the same thing, and I started to explain to these confused shoe store workers about the gift of a shoe box. Some wrote down the web address eager to find out more.

We wrote a note to each child with a picture of us, and included it in their box.

We then all got together as a church small group, assembled our boxes, and prayed over them. I dropped them all off a couple days later, at a big truck parked in town, in frigid weather.

This shoe box experience all happened in a blink of an eye, in less than a week.

But the effect is long-lasting. It showed me that there is a difference between giving money to a cause and being involved in a cause. Not that I'm gonna fly off to the mission field any time soon, but I see how powerful it is when your heart is involved.

I see how, when you believe in something, when it's meaningful to you, when you feel it's worthy of your time and effort, you then make the time and you gain stamina, amidst your already packed life, to do what's needed.

I also learned, once again, how awesome God is, how blessed I am, and how effortless it is to have a grateful heart when I am others-centered and have a big-picture perspective.

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


visioneer said...

Hey Bridgett,

Awesome post, I wanted on comment on the shoe box idea. At our church we had something similar, only it was for single men and women in the service who were overseas and may not have had any family to send them Christmas goodies. We boxed up hundreds of boxes that contained cookies, beef jerky, candy, and even baby wipes and other things that they needed.

It was very gratifying to send these off to Servicemen and women who sacrifice so much to serve our Country.

rdknyvr said...

Nov. 10 on Jim Flanagan -- great post!