Wednesday, March 08, 2006

O Be Thankful for the Wooden Peg That You're Given

Wooden Pegs and Suitcases

Yesterday Emily was having a rather bad day. Well, bad for Emily, which means she wasn’t as smiley and content but was instead “ah, ah, ah, ah”ing in an annoying loud voice and wanting to be carried around. We lost her little spoon with shoelace holder which she liked to play with when she was in her jolly jumper, and now she gets bored when she is bouncing around. I had just started dishes when she started whining/crying. I looked around for something new to occupy her and saw one of the old fashioned peg clothespins I use to hang clothes in the spare room. They were given to me from a lady on my Freecycle list (explained below), and while I thought they were nice and economical for hanging laundry, the lady tried to get me to take them by saying they were maybe antique and worth some money. I handed the “antique” peg to Emily, and she chewed on it for a second before ahhing again. So, I started to tell her stories about the peg and tried to distract her so I could finish dishes before putting her to bed. She laughed at the stories, but when I stopped talking, she’d get all sad again. So I told her that a peg was a very good toy for her and that she could do a million things with it if she put her mind to it. I rambled on for a while, and when she started fussing I sang, “Oh be happy for the wooden peg that you’re given. . .” to the tune of “Oh be careful little hands what you do.” Ben had been listening to my spiel, and burst out laughing at this point. He got up and laughing the whole way, came to the sink where I was occupied with dishes to give me a hug and nod while I told him I was trying to encourage Emily to be content with the things I had given her.
I belong to a Freecycle internet group which recycles things owners don’t want anymore by advertising them for free. On this list you can post wanted items, and I’ve found a variety of wonderful things we didn’t have to pay a penny for – a bbq, stroller, bicycle cart, chairs, etc. While at Wal-Mart one day, I saw the luggage section and was reminded that this summer we will be living out of suitcases for 2 months while traveling through various states for Ben’s preceptorships. Since last January, I have made it a point to restrain from buying anything I think I need, but to pray about it and the Lord always provides in other ways. So, I prayed for a set of luggage that had wheels for portability, and then put in a Wanted advertisement to Freecycle. Right away a lady replied and said she had a set of three suitcases in good shape to give away. Excited as always, I used her directions to navigate to her house to pick them up. On the way, Ben asked, “Do you like light brown luggage?” and I said, “I like free luggage.” (I sound more and more like my Dad every day!)
As we drove down South G 12th street, Ben said, “There it is.” I looked down the driveway where the lady said she would leave them, and my heart sank. Yes, they were in good condition, but they were a good 40 years old. The same suitcases every grandma and grandpa bring when they visit – huge, synthetic leather, heavy, large metal zippers, kind of warped from storage and large enough for me to pack the contents of the trailer in. Ben didn’t say anything (he kindly never does) and I said, “Oh. . . I was expecting something different.” I put them in the van, sat down in the passenger seat, and as he drove away, burst out laughing. He finally felt it was safe to join in when I said, “If there is a smaller one inside the large one that is the perfect size to store a million pill bottles, I’ll think we’ve inherited my Grandma’s luggage.”
The closer we got to home, the more annoyed I got at the luggage. For some odd reason, I had imagined they would be brand new, black and just like the set I liked in the store. Instead they were 40 years old and looked like they belonged to someone wearing a Paisley shirt and pair of bell bottom jeans.
When we got home I left them in the van for an hour while I cleaned up. I thought of what I had prayed for and was reminded of my answers to prayer in the past. I had prayed for a vehicle for us when our minivan started to die and while I had given a specific vehicle I’d like (don’t laugh); the Lord gave us what suited us best - a nice astrovan. I prayed for some luggage and the Lord knew what we needed and provided it in the form of this. Not quite what I’d prayed for, but most certainly an answer to prayer. I carried the suitcases into the house and opened them to get a closer look – hoping for a glaring defect in their utility. Nope, all zippers worked and they were even fairly clean.
After a while, as I normally do when I have something I didn’t quite want, I began to play the Glad game (Pollyanna. .)
“It is the kind of luggage people who travel on airplanes would really like – sturdy, can’t be smashed because of the strong plastic inserts, nobody would want to steal it, it has dandy little zipper locks, pockets for bottles and straps to hold your clothes in.” (sturdy enough to hide in for a bomb shelter, it’s so ugly nobody would steal it, the zipper lock is locked and I’ll have to saw it off. . .)
“The largest one is big enough for us to put the whole family’s clothes in, so we won’t have the bother of carrying 3 bags when we travel.” (yup, if I need another diaper I’ll have to rifle through one huge bag of stuff instead of just looking through Emily’s suitcase)
“If we ever do extensive traveling we’ll appreciate luggage like this because it will stand up to wear and tear the way new cheap luggage doesn’t.” (Couldn’t argue with this one :) )
“I like brown suitcases – I have a brown bag that I actually bought once because I liked it.” (I no longer use that brown bag, but I did at one point)
“This was probably very expensive in its day.”
Ben must have heard me grumbling internally because he said “Great, maybe you can sell it on EBay as antique.”
I laughed and said, “Yeah, like Emily’s wooden peg.”
I got really quiet and realized what I had just said. I can’t remember exactly what I got up to do. But I sat back down and said, “I am the world’s worst hypocrite. Last night I was talking to Emily about being content with what we are given, and look at the example I’m being to her.”
Maybe they won’t work for what we need, the zipper will fail, or we get given something else, but until then, I’ll use them as a replacement for the duffle bag the mice found and used as a toilet (phew, did those smell!) Then again :), possibly the Lord gave them to us in order for us to be able to pass them along to a needy recipient. So, just a warning to all readers – if you admire them you may end up with them!
Signing off
Happy Heather, studious but frustrated Ben (have you ever tried to understand and compare DHI 202 data from dairy herds??), noisy Emily, bored Tia, hungry Frank, and sound asleep Mochaccino.
P.S. Emily seems to have listened well as she carried her little wooden peg while we went on a walk. I did not carry a suitcase on our walk but listened well also.


ASourceOfJoy said...

What a neat testimony, Heather! :-) I was smiling all the way through, and was left with a good reminder of truth.

Would you consider letting me publish this in HW sometime? It's just the kind of everyday lesson that people are most blessed by, and which is requested all the time. It's so well written and would be perfect for publication with just a bit of modification to article format (something I can do, unless you'd rather).

No pressure...just let me know how the Lord leads. :-) Actually, if you gave consent in a day or two, I would probably fit it into this let me know. :-)

Thanks so much - and give Emily a hug from me! She's growing so quickly!


Benjamin said...

So sorry I didn't read this in time Abigail - we were in Saskatchewan and I didn't get the opportunity to write until now.
Feel free to publish it and you can do whatever changes you need as I don't have a clue what format it needs to be in for your magazine.
Say hi to the family for us!

ASourceOfJoy said...

Oh, that's no problem, Heather! We remembered that you guys were probably off on spring break, so I didn't really expect a quick reply. God worked everything out (as always) and the issue has filled up nicely. I will, however, certainly keep your article on file for a future issue as the Lord leads - thank you so much for your willingness to share it!

I'll pass on your greetings to the others here. Hope your break was a good one! Lydia is quite anxious to hear if her mandolin got finished in time to come back with you guys or not. :-)

Keep in touch,