The world of microbiology was opened up to me in college. Bacteria! They were everywhere, especially in the mouth!
Through the years, I have worked in a few different disciplines, but have always gravitated back to the dental field. Needless to say, I developed a penchant for cleanliness!
I was one of those mothers who made sure my children’s hands and faces were always clean. While five little noses were judiciously wiped, and coughs or sneezes covered, it was unthinkable that other mothers could be so totally oblivious to the snot-bubbles sliming their children’s faces.
Others had no problem whatsoever picking up their baby’s pacifier from the ground, putting it in their own mouths and sucking it clean, before delivering it to a screaming baby! Didn’t they see what was on that thing? Ugh! My germ-alert immediately roared and my stomach rebelled! Of course, spit-washing a kid’s face was totally out of the question for me!
Not that I turned my children in to clean-freaks or anything, but a healthy appreciation for a more hygienic environment was developed. I must say, we suffered fewer incidents of illness than many of my friends’ children.
Even with our favorite game of bowling, we were careful to wipe down the borrowed balls and shoes handled or worn by anyone who had to rent equipment.
One evening, after a hard day at home-schooling, I rewarded my children with a surprise trip to the bowling alley! Excitement ensued when they found out that we’d be eating there as well. Busy as it was, we all crowded around one little table in the restaurant area. It was a mess! We cleared it the best we could and waited for one of the high-school girls to come over. Nuts! It appeared that they were all getting off at the same time. Finally, when no one came, we went to the counter and requested a wipe-down.
Minutes later, a scruffy, frizzy-haired lady with rounded shoulders, sporting the overall look of an unkempt backwoods mama, sauntered up to our table.
“S-matter”, she croaked as the putrid smell of stale smoke offended our nostrils.
We showed her the table. Struck with horror at what happened next, my kids’ faces froze in disgusted revolt. You know, I could have sold those looks to a sci-fi show!
Our scroungy waitress whipped out an old, well-used red kerchief from her backside, spit on the table and began to wipe! She really worked at it. She spit again!
Gasping, the kids instinctively drew back, eyebrows raised! The woman studied the table, turned on her heel headed for the kitchen doors as if everything was okay now!
“Maaawwmmmm —- Ewwww….”, was all the kids could say. I was dumbfounded. Was that lady for real?
Poor thing. I think she was! I also think that it was probably the only job she could get. It distressed greatly me to think that she might also be handling food.
Appetites gone, the kids and I lost no time. We gathered our stuff and bolted down to our reserved alley! A few minutes into the game, they forgot all about the incident. Not me! I kept rolling it over in my mind. Cootie-lady could certainly use some prayer. I wondered if God asked me to hug her right then, if I could do it. I concluded that I could, but I would have to run right home and shower. It’s funny now, but those were serious thoughts for me then!
For years, it was a joke at our house whenever someone was asked to wipe down the table before a meal.
“Sure”, they’d say! “I’ll just spit on it!”
Jesus healed a blind man’s eyes. He spat in the dirt, made mud, put it on the man’s eyes and then told him to go wash. You know, I’ll admit, I have really had to consider whether or not I would have allowed Him to do that to me.
Spit? Dirty mud? On me? That would have taken some concerted effort on my part!
We all have filters through which we view things. God has brought this simple
incident to my mind many times when I faced a challenge that abused my senses …..or even my sense of civility.
Once, while I was handing out food and clothing, a very smelly woman staggered in front of me and woman purged herself on my shoes. Later, some people mentioned to me that the way I handled myself, and her, showed God’s Grace to everyone else waiting in line. Honestly, it was all I could to keep my own lunch down.
Years ago, a pastor declared, “Nancy you will hug the leper.”
Shuddering at the thought, I recoiled from his words. I never did well with putrefying smells! Have I learned? Yes. That doesn’t mean that it ever gets easier, but obeying God does, and He provides His Grace for the situation.
So you may wonder……Have I relaxed a little since then?
Not on your life!
I like things clean and sterile! BUT…God has energized both my husband and I to enter the lives of the not-so-lovely now and again, so that they can see Jesus.
I just keep the baby wipes handy!!
This post has been shared at: “Tell Me a True Story”
Money to Burn ??
Oftentimes, when a person finds themselves without as much income as they once had, they discover that there really ARE things that can be cutback.
We have to earnestly ask God for help and then start the thinning process. Where can cuts be made? Good question. Practically speaking, it is a life style change that may stick long afterward.
While the list is not exhaustive, the following is offered as a good start.
Basic Cell phone service is hard to come by but can be found. Cut all the extras and while you’re at it, cut the kid’s service too. Rationalizing will get you in trouble. Cut it and don’t look back.
Cable TV? – Basic service for TV and computer is still available. Net-Flix can go too.
Food? Well, Cook it at home (what a concept)….no more Starbucks for a while either! Eliminate pre-packaged food items and snacks. That will save a bundle AND you will be healthier in the long run from doing without the preservatives, additives and sugars. Your joints and liver will thank you.
Launder your own things. Purchase wash and wear instead of depending on the Dry Cleaners. Hemming a pair of pants, a skirt, or sewing on a button shouldn’t be too challenging for anyone who can text ninety-miles and hour, now should it?
Do you really need to pay to get your nails done?
Goodwill and consignment stores aren’t like they used to be. They are clean and modern. Many of these stores actually purchase new items from retail stores for 10-cents-on-the dollar, and then re-sell them at much lower prices than the retailer…and that’s why you’ll see Lots of NEW items! Humility might need a tune-up first.
Consolidate errands. Got 3 cars? Sell one! Let the kids pay their own auto insurance with money they earn. Hey, it’s a privilege not a right! They will appreciate getting to drive even more.
So many people pay for a storage facility. Now that’s sad!
When the garage is full of items not used in years, the kids’ rooms are bursting at the seams, it’s time for action. Yard sales, consignment shops, Craigslist or E-Bay – take your pick! Keep up the momentum or you will sink back into the oblivion of myopia.
Charge cards, cut them up, or only charge if you can pay all at the end of the month.
May I repeat myself here? We have to earnestly ask God for help and then start the thinning process. The key words are Ask God for Help and then START.
The raggedy young mommy and her two babies still haunt me. We had been headed to the store near our home but abruptly decided to go to a different Target.
Sure enough, a “situation” immediately presented itself. I should be used to that by now! It never fails, when I have a sudden change of direction, I should know to be prepared!
It seems that a number of people are hit with all types of desperation these days. Things ARE intense. Desperation just to survive is hard to see – especially when it involves a 1 and 2-year-old.
This little mom’s name was Isabella. She spoke Italian but we were able to piece together some of what was going on. Our hearts broke, even after we made certain they were fed and warm.
Considering her torn stroller with a flat tire, sent us into the store again for a double stroller. There in the parking lot, my husband assembled that Cadillac-of-a-thing. At least THEY would be protected from the elements. While he worked, the baby girl kept reaching out for me to hold her. She snuggled into my arms as I prayed. Her weary head drooped as she tried to stay alert. Fuzzy, matted tendrils of hair stuck to her face. I longed to give her a warm bath and a secure place to sleep.
At one point the little Mama took off to find someone to help her inside the store. When she didn’t return right away, Randy and I thought we might have been left with two little ones. Even for us, all that was a bit unthinkable. That she would have trusted complete strangers with her children boggled my mind. Randy commented on the things people do when they are totally desperate.
It was late Saturday evening – there were no shelters or open churches nearby to welcome such a one in need. We provided clothing and coats, socks and shoes along with many other things to help.
The baby’s cold and dirty little feet were etched on my mind as I covered them with a blanket from my truck.
Mama refused to go to a hotel when I pointed to the one across the street. she was afraid. They would camp around the corner behind the store.
There are times you do what you can, then pray because that is all you can do.
Yes….. Prayer is always exactly what you should do!
Belly-laughing, Pants-dropping Moments
You know how some days you just need some form of comedic relief? Well, yesterday was one of those days for me!
My husband, home sick with a cough and scratchy voice, needed my attention now and again. He is never really very demanding, but I wanted to make sure he had plenty of fluids and soup, and was comfortable. Up and down those stairs I dashed – probably a good 30 times.
Now, the next session of the dental assisting school is about to begin in Mid April. My ads are online and in the papers; the phone WAS busy.
Repeating answers to the same questions over and over, I talked to a lot of people.
A sense of intensity seemed to pre-occupy many of the callers. Some were tenuous about the things going on in the world. Awareness of a need for a significant change in their lives occupied the conversations of others. For a few, their world was in a tizzy. Past opportunities had slipped away because of unforeseen circumstances they could never have anticipated. Some of the stories I heard were almost mind-boggling.
I found myself in a familiar role once again – one of Life’s cheerleaders! After a time, I just needed a break!
Brochures and outgoing mail in hand, I raced across the driveway in the rain. Throwing everything in the car, I headed for the post office. A couple of overnight packages from students were waiting. Okay. That was uneventful.
A sudden urge to swing by Starbucks engulfed me. I resisted, telling myself I really didn’t need Mocha. Besides, it was out of my way the urge seemed to take on a different tone – more than just picking up coffee. I finally capitulated!
A white mocha for my honey; that would be a surprise! Approaching the pick-up window, the son of a friend greeted me. His hair was bright red today, but his usual bright personality and smile seemed strained. He was pleasant enough but out of sorts.
I thanked him for such good service and then asked him, directly,
“How are you Matt? What’s going on?”
His eyes filled with tears.
“It’s been a bad weekend” he said in a quiet, halting voice.
In short, his girlfriend had gone in for some simple surgery. She was ready to be sent home and she complained that she didn’t feel well. The complaint was ignored as they readied her for transport. Staff shrugged it off as “normal”.
Prior to being released she protested strongly. He relayed that an MRI revealed profuse abdominal bleeding and she was whisked away to emergency.
At one point, the doctor came to the family to let them know he didn’t know if she would make it! Matt’s face scrunched as he spoke,
“I didn’t know what to do!” he mumbled. “She’s still there, and it doesn’t look good”
My heart skipped and I could see this boy was is much need of encouragement, so I spent the time it took to lift his spirits. . There were no cars behind me and they were not busy.
I asked her name. Funny, it was one of my old nick-names, so that would be easy to remember. I pulled out of the drive-thru slowly, pondering my decision to stop for coffee. No, I don’t believe in accidents. I am glad I responded to that earlier inner gut-level feeling.
My mood was somber as I turned down one of the more “country” roads in town!
From a distance I spotted a guy on the side of the road struggling with the back of his vehicle in the rain. His old van was parked on a slight slope, placing the vehicle’s tail a little father from the ground than normal.
What a dufus! The rain pelted his shirtless body as he tried to slam down the hatch. Part of his long scruffy hair blew in the rain while the rest just stuck to his back. Obviously he was trying to hurry. The heavy van door sprung right back up! With a knee-jerk reaction, this fellow immediately lunged upward to catch it.
At the same moment, his loosely slung pants dropped to his knees revealing bright red, patterned boxers! That van hatch popped up, and the look on his face was absolutely incredible! On hand clutching pants, one hand clutching at the leather strap of the hatch, he froze while the rain suddenly increased in its intensity! Such Slap-shtick!
I burst out laughing so hard that I cried. I couldn’t help myself! He saw me laughing. I saw him see me. I laughed harder and he started laughing too. Oh my stomach!
Yes, I needed a mental break. I got one.
Life is unpredictable. It can be a grind. At times, it comes with a tsunami.
I never want to forget to be thankful. I never want to ignore those inner-promptings. I do want to continue to be there for those who need a little support now and then – even when it is inconvenient or out of my way. Who knows, I may be on the receiving end one day, myself. Then it will be there for me!
In the meantime, I will look for those belly-laugh, pants-dropping kind of moments to keep me refreshed. God looked down and sent that one…just for me!