Friday, July 01, 2011

Extreme Challenges

My teens are into anything that requires an extreme challenge. One day before school let out I said, "We are going to take an extreme challenge! For the first two weeks of summer we are going to only eat what is in our cupboards no matter how weird the combination might be and we will not go shopping!" To my surprise, they loved it! They decided to do the cooking and to mine and Greg's delight they were coming up with palatable food. The first meal consisted of falafel tacos (fried hummus)and a dessert they called "ryckle" consisting of chopped apples, wild rice, honey, and melted chocolate chips. What began as an off-th- cuff remark became a great family adventure with candlelight dinners displaying bizarre food combinations.

After four days our house was clean, but the reality of no toilet paper, litter, and dog food sent us to the store. We didn't think it wise to make our dog fast and my nose could not take the litter box smell, so an exception was made.
As we drove up to Wal-Mart, I kept saying aloud, "No! No! No!"
After the third "no!" Mikayla asked, "Mom, why do you keep saying no?"
"I keep thinking of all the things I want to buy when we get to the store. I am saying "no" so I stick to our extreme challenge." Somehow a deal was made so that Grant would say, "No!" to me ten times if I tried to buy something that was not on our emergency list. Let's just say that by the time we reached the check out, I was ready to show him what "no" really meant.

After getting in a short line, I noticed that Bernadette, one of my favorite checkers was in the next aisle, so I moved. Even though the lady in front of me had way more items than the other aisle, I didn't mind. It was then that I noticed how every item that Bernadette scanned, the lady either had a coupon or a flyer showing the price at another store in order to get the best value. In my heart, I knew this was not an extreme coupon fanatic. This was a mom desperate for every penny. My lighthearted manner sobered as Bernadette reached for the switch to flick on the light and called for a manager. Somehow, I knew her credit card was denied. I leaned over and whispered in Grant's ear, "Please act like you are getting a drink and go find out how much her bill is and come back and whisper it to me without anyone knowing."

Grant did as I asked. I heard a quiet whisper in my heart, "Pay her bill. This is why you did the extreme challenge. I wanted you to have the extra money for her." The manager walked up and started his routine of denial.

"Sir, Um... was her card denied?"


"Um... I will pay her bill." The lady turned to me and said, "NO!" I looked her in the eyes and said to her, "Ma'am, Jesus wants you to know He sees you and He knows. I have to pay this bill because He wants me to!"

As my children and I crawled into our van meditating on what God just did, I said, "For us our extreme challenge this week has been fun and carefree. For this lady, her extreme challenges have not been. We really need to work more at cutting back so we can give more freely."

Writing this story makes me cry because the lady grabbed me and held tight as she wept. How often have I missed the LORD's extreme challenge to give simply because I was so bent on buying or getting what I wanted instead? What about you? Will you take the extreme challenge this summer? How might the LORD ask you to give?

Simply, Tara