As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Thursday, January 1, 2015
iPray eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
Approx. reading time: 8 minutes
For Christmas my daughter received a crochet kit from her aunt. One glance at the kit took me back to when I was around her age when my great grandmother taught me to crochet.
One summer I spent some time at my great grandmother's house. My sister and I became interested in the doilies she made from thread.
Soon we were engaged in a lesson, learning how to make a simple chain. Before we went home my great grandmother actually gifted my sister and I some thread and our very own crochet hooks. We were so excited and made some fun doilies of our own. After a handful of doilies and no instruction on how to grow in this craft, my excitement faded and it became a craft of the past.
Do you know those gifts that you sort of wish gets pushed to the side and never really used? I hate to admit it but my daughter's crochet kit was one of them. Crocheting was a hard craft to keep up with for me. I mastered the chain and that was about it, but this kit had instructions to make all kinds of animals.
The day after Christmas I heard my daughter talking to her brother. "Look at all the animals I'm going to make!" My son was now excited about her gift. "Can you make me a pig? I'd love a pig!"
My daughter agreed and soon she was running to me and asking me to help her get started. Get started? You don't just sit down and start making a bunny rabbit, which was her first choice. First you have to learn the basics, how to hold the hook, maneuver the string and make a simple chain.
I looked at my daughter and realized that I was to help her in using her gift.
USING THE GIFT
The Christmas gift was not going to disappear, it was staying. A second chance at the craft of crocheting was inevitable. I could see my daughter's excitement matched the way I felt that summer at my great grandmother's house. I figured that this time around I would help my daughter succeed in making more than just a chain and a doily. We would create animals starting with a bunny!
We sat down and opened the kit. One thing in our favor was that it was a yarn kit with a larger hook. Yarn was easier to handle than thread. The instructional book said it was for beginners. It started with a five sentence paragraph on how to make a chain. I laughed, knowing that my daughter could have never figured out how to make a simple chain on her own, using only the description the book provided. I knew it would take some hands-on guiding. As I helped my daughter arrange her hands and start a chain she talked about making things for her grandparents and cousins we were going to see in a few short days for the new years.
I gave a half promising response, "Yea, maybe. We'll see how this goes."
As she practiced her first chain she said, "Ok, what's the next step? When will it start looking like the bunny?" I glanced at the first picture of what our bunny project was to look like.
I explained that she was just practicing for a bit and then we will start. I looked through the instructions and realized that I too needed more than what was in the book to help her along. Out came the computer and the internet for the hands-on training that went beyond my simple know-how. Step by step youtube videos came in handy and soon we were crocheting what we thought was going to be the top of the bunny's head. Only it wasn't looking like the picture.
Then we looked at a second video that gave us a little more instruction. Our stitch was looking better but still, it was not looking like the perfect half ball pictured in the book.
Hours had passed and my daughter was off doing something else while I tried to figure out what was going wrong. I didn't want to see the excitement fade so quickly so I searched the internet for better videos. After watching tons of instructions I found one that seemed to fit the bill. That day was done, but if my daughter still wanted to try this out we would start again the next day.
The next day she seemed to be even more motivated to create. The failed attempts did not deter her. So I showed her the video I found on how to make Smileys.
She almost jumped out of her skin. "Yes! That's it. We'll start more simple and make Smileys! We are not ready to make the animals, yet." After a quick scavenger hunt around the house for different colors of yarn we were at it again. My daughter also discovered that her Rainbow Loom hook was a close duplicate of the crochet hook. This time we sat side by side crocheting together.
We learned how to keep the yarn loose enough to stitch into but tight enough to keep it together. We learned the terms and what they meant. Mistakes gave each creation character. After another full day of crocheting we managed to make two Smileys to give away. We even used our failed bunny attempt as a Smiley hat!
The day before New Years Eve we were in the car for almost 6 hours. It was our goal to make at least two more so that my daughter could give two cousins, an aunt and her grandparents a Smiley. The two of us crocheted for the entire ride up. I helped her correct stitches, loosen up the yarn, tighten up miss stitches and add details. At times I had to finish up a few rounds to help get her back on track. When she felt sick from looking down I continued the project for her until she was able to start again. Our hands kept busy for the entire ride and as we pulled into my in-laws community we finished.
She put each one into a small gift bag. Before running into the house she stopped. "Mom, can I tell them I did it all on my own?" I had done most of the work and the proud look on her face was worth every bit of it. I certainly didn't need any praise since this was a labor of love. I didn't want to see my daughter's excitement die like mine had.
Silently I felt God's spirit show me the lesson.
"Honey, you can tell them that we did this project together." I said, "Tell them that your mom helped you learn to crochet and make Smilies for them. They will give you the congratulations but also know that you had guidance."
As much as I wanted to let her take all the credit I realized that she needed to learn to give credit to the one who taught her the skill, patiently helped her when her fingers didn't seem to do the right thing, encouraged her to stay calm when an entire row unraveled, took over when she couldn't go on and added the details that was beyond her beginner abilities. Throughout the process she came to me often, "Mom. can you sew the eyes? Can you make the mouth? Can you help me with the stuffing? Can you fix this yarn?" As I helped I watched her interest and excitement grow. When I fixed an accidental knot she ran to find buttons for eyes. As I sewed the eyes she found the right color yarn for the mouth. We were a team.
My daughter knew that it was true. She smiled and said, "Okay. That sounds good, thanks for all of your help," and ran into my in-laws home with the Smilies in hand.
My daughter had received a gift. Not knowing a thing about crocheting and how difficult it could be, she took it on. She did not push it aside. My daughter took instruction and advice along the way. She desired to use the new talent to give back to others. She let her imperfections give her project character. Along the way she realized what she did wrong and fixed it for the next round of stitching. I am so thankful that God did not let selfishness get weaved into the project. At a pivotal moment she was taught to give credit to her instructor and helper.
That moment also gave me an opportunity to give credit in two ways.
First, I can see that I was given an opportunity to lift her up, to let her stand as the creative drive and artist of each Smiley. I knew something about crochet that helped her get started, took over making the project work and did most of the stitches for her. It would make sense to stamp my name on the whole thing and demote her credit to match her involvement. I didn't think of that in the moment because I knew this was her Christmas gift and I was joining her desire to create something to give away. I could have easily told her to say I did most of it. Instead I instructed her to say she had help.
What a great way to let selfishness fail, and selflessness win! It gave me an opportunity to lift up and honor another. To credit my daughter for what God was doing in and through her. Demanding credit I might have deserved would have killed her gift. I certainly didn't want to see the love for creating through crocheting die off like it did for me when I was her age.
Second,in helping my daughter give proper credit, I was speaking a spiritual truth into her life about giving God proper credit.
God is the giver of our talents, gifts and interests. What can start as pure excitement and interest can easily take a selfish turn when we step away from a project and choose to take God's glory and honor as our own. Taking the credit away from Him or anyone else feeds selfishness. It also eliminates our God-testimony from our lives. When we walk away from a project, we should be pointing people to Christ.
FOR JUST A MOMENT
For just a moment I saw my daughter's gift as a burden. I let my own memories of crocheting get in the way. For just a moment I did not want this gift to take flight and instead wanted it to disappear, or be placed to the side or to be forgotten about. What a shame that would have been, and a missed opportunity to connect with my daughter that ultimately brought us closer to each other and closer to God's design. A missed opportunity to aid my daughter in using her gift to bless others.
For just a moment my daughter felt complete ownership and forgot how much help she had received. If I had let her take all the credit, the help she received would have faded from her mind and been forgotten. The finished product would have been falsely advertised. If my help was left out, what would have happened if someone handed her yarn and a hook and asked to see the beginning steps to "crochet in the round" which she has yet to master? She would have come face to face with the hard reality that she set herself up as the go-to instead of giving credit to her go-to.
Stealing credit from God does not point others to Him, it weaves selfishness into our projects and it does not produce the God-honoring testimony we were meant to share with the world.
For just a moment we are given opportunities. How will you respond?
Since God is the giver of our gifts and talents, the helper in the process, our go-to when our yarns get knotted and the perfecter of our faith...
iPray that He will receive all Glory and Honor.
iPray that before we run off to share our projects with the world, we will stop and ask God for guidance. That we will listen and trust His words.
iPray that our hearts will be excited to give back to the world without selfishness getting in the way.
iPray that when God gives us an opportunity to help another person in their gifts we will not hide away and miss the opportunity to bless another.
iPray we will choose to promote others in their God-honoring works whenever given a chance, handing over credit without any "yarn" attached. iPray that we will be full of gratitude and become constant Christ Creditors in every project and in every way.