Confession: I am a fan of Marvel superheroes. It’s because I grew up reading comic books, thousands of comic books. I’m especially fond of Spiderman, but I was disappointed with the latest animated movie. I liked the story. The animation was amazing. The movie got good reviews, but it was hard to watch—too much flash, bang and confusion even for me. (The animated cameo appearance of Stan Lee was great.) But, after I left the theater, second thoughts: This movie introduces an ordinary black kid as a new Spiderman. He has parents who are concerned about his education and his safety. (Little do they know what dangers he really faces.) He is clueless at first and has to find his way, but he overcomes his fear to become a hero, portraying courage in the face of evil. What a great role model for black kids (and white) who have had, with few exceptions, only white superheroes to look up to. I have a new appreciation for the movie. That doesn’t mean I’m encouraging everyone to see a movie with an upfront warning for those who might suffer episodes caused by flashing bright lights!
Oh come on! I hate doing stuff like this. The matchstick for this week, “Make a list of things you like about yourself.” If you are new to what I’m talking about, one of my daughters gave me a matchbox with “50 ways to celebrate the everyday” on it. So I’m pulling out one fake match a week and sharing the suggestion with you. You may join me—or not. It’s up to you. But why make a why-you-like-yourself list? I’m more used to focusing on what I need to change about myself. But here goes: What quickly comes to mind is that I’m blessed to have a close relationship with our Savior. And, I like that I have various talents to use in service to him and others. I’m happy I’m motivated to be health conscious enough to exercise and watch my diet. I’m a somewhat organized person, which is good. Though I like people, I enjoy time by myself too, reading, writing, painting, whatever. I’m optimistic about others, not quick to judge. What have I learned? Looking over this list, I’m realizing this is not a brag list. What I like about myself are either outright gifts from God or from what I have learned through No. 1 on my list—my relationship with him.
Three little words. No, not I love you, but close, ”I forgive you.” Those words are wonderful to hear if you have slighted or hurt someone. But, to say I forgive you to one who has hurt you is not always so easy. We know we should forgive, but depending on the circumstances, may not feel we can. I remember one time thinking there’s not a person I couldn’t forgive, especially another Christian. (Be careful when you think you know yourself.) That’s when an acquaintance, out of careless disregard, deeply hurt one of my daughters. Though they asked for forgiveness, the damage was irreparable. I was angry, and I stayed angry for quite some time. I learned it’s easier to forgive a hurt to yourself than to someone you love. I admire those parents who can even forgive someone who has savagely assaulted and murdered their child. The book “The Shack” comes to mind. But then a thought comes, didn’t God forgive you for causing his Child to be savagely assaulted and murdered? Yes, he did! Lord, give me a forgiving heart.
My matchbox suggestion this week: “Brighten someone else’s day—or your own—with fresh flowers.” I did that Saturday for one of my daughter’s. It was a special day for her. God must have thought so too because the first daffodil bloomed in her garden today, on this below freezing morning. Now, that’s a fresh flower! What is it about fresh flowers that brings so much joy? If you closely examine even the tiniest flower struggling to show itself among the grass in your lawn, the various shades of color, the delicate petals, the perfect design, it inspires thoughts of the great Designer. Our God has created so much around us to bring us joy, if we will just notice. It seems a little self-serving to buy flowers for myself this week, but I think I will anyway. I do love fresh flowers. And, while I’m at it, I’m wondering who else’s day might need brightening.
Even I’ve called her Aunt Patsy on occasion, though she’s not my aunt. She’s the aunt of the sisters with a hair salon in a small town near me. She’s in her mid-to-upper 80s so she’s really their great aunt. When she comes in, she’s all bright and cheerful and chatting away in her old timey Texas accent. Last Friday when I came, she was already there. The girls were now all caught up on the family. After her hair was finished, she stayed and visited with another customer. That’s how Patsy and I both left at the same time. But when she got to her SUV, she accidentally dropped her keys in between the front seats. I waited to see if I could help. As she struggled to retrieve her keys, I noticed a stick about a foot and a half long on the ground. I handed that to her. She pushed the keys as far as she could toward the back seats and opened her back door. What a mess, she said as she began to describe everything in her back seat. Then, she said, let me show you what’s in the trunk. She opened the trunk and showed me the Christmas items she had gotten at half price at Walmart after Christmas. She showed me the bag of egg cartons she was returning to some person I didn’t know. She showed me the bag of plastic bags she was saving. Then there was her husband’s walker. She also had an old Styrofoam ice chest that reminded her of another story. After that, as we both were shivering from the cold by now, she retrieved her keys and we parted ways. I love living in Texas!
Last Sunday our church had a First Responders’ lunch for the local fire and police departments. The main entrée is chili (this is Texas) but along with the five crockpots of chili were chicken enchiladas, various soups, cornbread, salads and veggies and enough desserts to give everyone a sugar high. As a policeman started by our table with his bowl of chili plus Fritos and cheese, I said we have questions. He was obviously looking to sit with his buddies but instead he sat down at our table. Brian is easily more than six feet tall and probably weighs 250 pounds at least. He’s a big guy. But he sat down with a couple of us women and answered our questions, whether insignificant or more serious. Had he ever been shot! No, he hadn’t. He’s married with a couple of kids and has been on the force for 11 years. He’s a policeman because he wants to make a difference in his community. He was wearing 30 pounds of gear around his waist and he had a bullet-proof vest under his shirt. He showed us his Taser. He explained training procedures for new recruits. He told us about an experience when he shot at a lock on a door to get to a man reported to have hostages. Meeting Brian gives me a renewed appreciation for those men and women who face danger every day for our protection. I have a new name on my prayer list. His name is Brian.
The matchbook inspiration for this week (for those who care) is, “Take note of something in your home that you love and why.” Love is such a strong word. What do I love so much that I would feel a great loss without it? That’s got me scratching my head. I have no pets, not even a gold fish, so it would have to be an inanimate object. Many items in my home have good memories attached to them—my children’s projects I’ve kept forever, my last saddle (yes, it’s on a rack in my bedroom), family photos. All are irreplaceable, except maybe some of the photos. I’ve often thought if I had to leave my home in a hurry, I would grab the external hard drive attached to my computer and my cell phone. These have copies of many of my important documents and photos on them. But I can’t say I love the hard drive or my mobile. It’s what’s on them that’s important to me. Come to think of it, I’m going to be leaving it all behind one day anyway. And, maybe that’s what this week’s matchbook message is all about.