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This week’s $10 Challenge – Ninja Style

I’m amazed at how Billy Coffey is able to observe people — their actions and conversations — mostly without being noticed unless he chooses to be noticed. He’s like a ninja:

Conversely, when I attempt to observe people, I am also like a ninja, only more like this:

This was the case when I attempted another ten dollar challenge yesterday.

Plan A:
Go to the nearest Toys R Us, sit in the parking lot and look for an older car (perhaps in disrepair) then seek out the person of persons emerging from said car, purchase a gift card and slip the card in their shopping cart while they were still shopping.

Result:
Abort Plan. There were no older cars in the parking lot. It was a sea of late model SUVs and mini vans.

Plan B:
Drive across the street to Walmart, buy a gift card and slip the card in someone’s shopping cart.

Result:
Abort Plan. This is a pretty fancy Walmart…

Plan C:
Drive to the Walmart on the other side of I-10 which is located in an area that is not quite as affluent as my local Walmart.

Result:
Went to cashier and purchased a Walmart gift card. It was more than $10, but that’s not really the point, right? It’s about being blessed and passing the blessing on. But I digress…

After purchasing the gift card, I walked around the store, ninja like. After walking around with no real plan for about 20 minutes, I remembered this book (due to be released in the Fall of 2010) I read recently which, among other characters, had a secret Santa roaming around the toy aisles of a major box store. (Snow something…) Anyway, I figured that was as good a place to look for someone to bless as any, so I made my way over to the toy department. I spotted several candidates, all with groceries in their carts. It seemed that the toy aisle was their last stop. Hmmm…not really feeling the Holy Spirit leading me in any of these situations.

And then I spotted them. Hispanic couple, 30ish pushing an empty cart up one aisle and down another. Their first stop was at the scooters. They looked at them closely, looked at the yellow price sticker on the shelf and moved on. I then followed them (still ninja like) to the aisle that contained the boy toys. They stopped at the RC cars and trucks. They pulled out the biggest monster truck from the bottom shelf. Pulled out several, actually. A hushed conversation in Spanish ensued. I assume it was hushed because A) I was standing pretty close to them and B) Everyone assumes I’m hispanic and therefore able to understand Spanish. After about 5 minutes, they put the bigger trucks back on the shelf and settled for a smaller version which they placed in their cart. They moved down the aisle to the matchbox cars. The woman picked up a Lightning McQueen car, said something to her husband, then returned it to the shelf.

They moved on to the next aisle: Barbies, Bratz and all things girly. At this point I have already decided that they would be the recepients of my little plastic blessing. I had also decided that I’d better do something pretty soon, because as much as I was trying to be ninja like, I don’t exactly blend and I was wondering if I was creeping them out a bit. They had parked their cart in front of the princess costumes. That’s when I approached the woman.

“Excuse me”, I said. “Do you speak English?”

“A little”, she said.

Pulling the gift card from my purse and handing it to her I said, “Merry Christmas to you.”

After the briefest look of confusion, her eyes lit up and her lips curled into a big smile. “Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you.”

And then I got a great, big Christmas hug. Awesome.

Now, a seasoned writer may have ducked behind the next aisle and waited to see what else the couple put in their cart, thereby making a much better blog post. But me? I just hightailed it out of there straight to the front of the store and out to my car.

But my hope? My hope is they went back and got the big truck.

To read more Ten Dollar Challenge stories, visit What I Learned Today. Just click on the box below or on the sidebar of my blog. Merry Christmas!


Christmas Wishes (by Billy Coffey)


A few days ago, the local newspaper dedicated a few of their pages to children’s letters to Santa. It’s been a tradition with the News-Leader ever since I can remember, and I applaud them for it. Not only are the letters informative and at times very touching, they also bring back a little nostalgia. I was six when my letter to Santa appeared in the newspaper. I knew then I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

If you look at these letters every year, and I do, you realize some things. First, toys have changed over the years. Footballs and baseball gloves have been replaced by i-Pods and Playstations. Things are a lot more electronic now. Still, there are presents that defy time and reach across generations. I was happy to see that both doll babies and Legos were still in high demand.

But though the toys have changed, the children haven’t. Say what you want about test scores being lower than they were twenty years ago or kids being more lethargic than they once were. Kids are still kids, and always will be. This is a good thing.

And you realize this, too: these letters to Santa could well be prayers to God. They are full of longings and wishes, pleas and hope, all directed to someone they know can help them. And the sorts of things these kids ask for aren’t really all that different than mine.

Things like faith in the midst of doubt. Take Jackson, for instance:

“Are you real, Santa? Or are you a phony? People say you are, some say not. I don’t know if you are, but when I’m older I’m going to find out…I hope your real that’s my belief…But one thing I want to do, to make proof that Santa’s real. So I can keep my belief.”

I’m right there with you, Jackson. “I believe, help my unbelief,” said the man to Jesus. And so say we all.

There is also the nagging sense that I’m not measuring up. “I hope you think I have been good this year,” says Sarah. A sentiment echoed by a lot of other kids in a lot of other letters. Some are more honest: “Sometimes I’m good, but sometimes I’m bad,” wrote Kevin. Aren’t we all? Which is the point, I think. We’re not good enough to deserve all the things we ask, and yet there they are, under the tree every year. Why? Because Santa knows even though we’re not so good sometimes, we’re still worth much. To kids, this sort of thing is called love. To adults, it’s called grace.

Of course, prayers are not all about me. There are plenty of other people who need help, too. They range from the small (“I wish you can help my mom get the tree out of the attic,” writes Megan) to the big (“All I want is my six teeth and my papa to feel better. I want my Meme to get to Maryland fine, and my family together for the holidays”–Jasmine).

And then there are the prayers that are said out of pain (“My daddy back. My daddy leave and we lonely have mommy, me and my dog”–Brittney).

There are also the ones said out of pure love (“I know this is going to be a bad Christmas for some kids. so I want you to give my presents to the kids who won’t be getting anything this year. God bless everyone!”–ZayVon).

I’m not sure if all those letters were answered the way the kids wanted them. That’s okay. Not all of our prayers get answered that way, either. But even if they weren’t, I feel pretty confident that all those kids will be writing letters again next year. Santa always come through in the end.

God, too.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Seeing the Unseen

“How we view people is half of how we love them.” – Koffijah

If you live in a metropolitan area, chances are you have seen your share of panhandlers. For years I did what many people do when at a red light where a homeless person has staked their claim. I stared straight ahead and pretended not to see. But pretending not to see them doesn’t make them any less there. This post is not about the hows and whys of people living on the streets. It’s meant to be about loving people without judging them. That’s what I attempted to do this past Monday…

Last Wednesday I shared my first attempt at the Ten Dollar Challenge. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and the results were not exactly what I expected. This week wasn’t much different, although I will say it was more personally gratifying.

I had a couple of ideas, both involving the five pre-packaged, banana nut muffins that sat in my pantry. I will probably attempt the other idea next week, but for this week I decided I would put together care packages, drive down the access road of I-10, and hand them out the first five homeless people I spotted. Sadly, finding five homeless people within 20 miles of my upper middle class neighborhood is quite an easy task.


The package included a muffin, banana, chocolate milk, a small amount of money and a note that said the following:

I don’t know if it was choice or circumstance that brought you to this corner, but for the purposes of this note it matters not.

I just wanted you to know that on a day when perhaps 100 cars or more will pass you by and pretend you’re not there, there is at least one person who sees you, and there is a God who loves you.

I know this isn’t much, but if nothing else I hope it brightens your day a little bit.

God bless,

Anonymous

Yeah, I know…I’m not usually a fan of Anonymous, but in this case I thought it was appropriate.

Like I mentioned, finding homeless folks in this town is not a difficult task. They can be found under most overpasses that are heavily traveled. And while my task was not difficult, it wasn’t as easy as I had thought (hoped) it would be, because if I was traveling east, rest assured the person I wanted to bless was standing on the opposite side of the overpass facing west or vice-versa.

Every. Single. Time.

That’s okay. I think that was God’s way of letting me know He expected me to put forth a little effort in the endeavor.

The first man I gave a bag to gave me the standard smile and “God bless you”, then immediately walked behind a pillar to inspect the contents of the bag. What happened next was my blessing. I watched him read the note. He then waved at me with what seemed a genuine smile to replace the practiced one. I waved, returned the smile and drove away.

The next man was young (mid to late 20’s is my guess). I suspect he was just passing through town, escaping from colder climates north. His first reaction was the same as the first man’s — he walked behind a pillar to inspect the contents. His next reaction was quite different however. Instead of smiling and waving, he bent down and put both hands over his face. He remained like that for at least as long as I could see him in my rear view mirror. Whether in tears, in prayer or something else, I’ll never know…

My next attempt was a woman sitting under an underpass holding a plastic Target bag. She didn’t look like she lived on the streets. She looked as if she was waiting for a ride. (Which is incredibly dangerous, but I digress.) I tried to give her a bag, but she waved me off and said, “Merry Christmas, in case I don’t see you before then!” She could have taken the bag, she chose not to. Perhaps hoping that someone who was more in need would get it instead. That made me smile.

Next came a seasoned veteran of the streets. He took his bag, thanked me and returned to his stoop.

Two bags left.

What I thought would be a two for one stop turned out to be much more. The two men standing at the intersection accepted the bags happily with a “Praise Jesus!” and a “Hallelujah!” Turns out, they were not homeless men at all. They were passing out flyers and raising money for a non-profit organization that “helps recovering addicts and homeless men and women restore their lives through the Word of God.” According to their flyer, they provide free counseling, transitional housing, food and clothing. If this is a legitimate organization, I can think of no better way to express my gratitude than providing these two volunteers with a little snack and some pocket change.

It was a fairly painless process for me to provide a few folks with a snack and a note. To address the reasons why someone is on the streets in the first place can be an overwhelming, thankless, heartbreaking endeavor. May God bless their ministry.

To read more Ten Dollar Blessing stories, visit What I Learned Today. Just click on the gift box, peeps!

Looking for Jesus (by Billy Coffey)


The thing about living at the foot of a mountain is that it’s often windy. Sometimes it’s little more than a gentle breeze that will tousle your hair. Other times it’s enough to make you pull your ball cap down a little tighter. And then there are the winds that don’t simply blow but rage. Like the ones last Wednesday.

I was outside the next morning surveying the damage, which wasn’t all together bad. The only things out of place were a few of the Christmas decorations—two bows that had found their way into the rose bushes, a strand of lights that had been blown from the tree, and a toppled Nativity scene.

The bows and lights were simple enough, though I had to impale my thumb on a thorn and smack myself in the face with a tree branch in order to set aright what the wind had blown askew. Mary, Joseph, a wise man, and a shepherd had dog piled the holy child to shield him from harm.

I stood the shepherd up first, brushing away a few leaves and a clump of mud. Then the wise man, then Joseph, and finally Mary. Then I stooped down to brush off little Emmanuel.

Halfway into my crouch, I stopped. In a strange act of contortion I didn’t believe was possible, I both furrowed my brow and bulged my eyes at the sight before me. Because there, right there where the swaddled babe was supposed to be, was nothing.

The rusty gears in my head began to lurch and churn, the results of which seemed to be subtle variations of one question—And what’s that mean?

And what’s that mean? The dog pile didn’t work.

And what’s that mean? My Baby Jesus is gone.

And what’s that mean? Uh-oh.

I stood up and looked around. Nothing. Looked under the truck and around the corner of the house and in the neighbor’s yard and by the creek. Nothing.

A chill ran down my spine that could have either been panic or the last remnants of the cold December wind the night before. How could we have Christmas without the Baby Jesus? What now?

I entertained a brief thought that I should call in and take the day off (“Jesus is MISSING!” I would say). But I didn’t. I wasn’t worried. After all, I’d found the real one. Surely I could find a plastic one, too.

Surely. Maybe. Well, hopefully.

I didn’t get much done that day; I was paid more for eight hours of worry and dread than actual work. My children were ignorant of the situation for obvious reasons. A missing Baby Jesus would bring the sort of panic that children display in tears and snot. Which meant I would have to find him before they knew he was missing.

I went home that afternoon and searched the entire neighborhood. I knocked on doors (“Have you found Jesus?” I asked, and received many wonderful answers. And one that was not so wonderful). I made phone calls. I drove, and when that didn’t work I walked. I even resorted to calling out His name—“Jesus?” “JESUS??”

Still? Nothing.

I had given up and begun preparing my failed-father speech to the family when I spotted a hunk of plastic beneath an evergreen tree. I’d be lying if I said there was a golden ray of light shining down upon it, but it sure felt that way. I sprinted over to the tree, pulled back a dangling branch, and lo and behold, there he lay in peaceful plastic slumber.

My Baby Jesus is back where he belongs now, safely tucked just under the living room window with ma and pa watching over him. And also two carefully placed stakes holding him in place.

I just checked on him. Still there. But a thought came to my mind as I peered through the curtains—shouldn’t I be more mindful of where the real Jesus is than my plastic one? Shouldn’t I make sure that He, too, is right beside me? And in those times when I find He isn’t, shouldn’t I go looking for Him with the same sense of purpose and urgency that I did with a simple Christmas decoration?

Yes, I think. Very much so.

Because the winds rage not just outside my window, but inside my heart, too. They howl doubt and blow jealousy. They gust fear. And while those winds can never blow Jesus away from me, they’ve been known upon occasion to blow me away from Him.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Being good for goodness sake


Yesterday I shared my first attempt at Billy Coffey’s ten dollar challenge . It didn’t exactly work out the way I had planned, but I was still able to buy a couple cups of coffee for some unsuspecting people.

Last night while we were setting up for praise team practice, I was talking to Jeff (senior pastor/worship leader) about my attempt at an anonymous act of kindness and how it didn’t go as expected. I went on to remark how genuinely surprised the employee I spoke with was that I would do such a thing and how I was genuinely surprised that he was surprised.

“Surely people buy other folks coffee all the time, right”, I said. “No. They really don’t”, Jeff said. He went on to say that in all the time he did that type of work, he saw someone pay for a total stranger’s order maybe four times. “Really?”, I said. “Really. Friends will buy friends a cup of coffee without much thought. People just don’t pay for total strangers”, he said.

It truly surprised me that this is such a rare occurrence. Why do you suppose that is? It’s such an easy, painless thing to do. As Christians, we should be looking for opportunities to love people, not because we’re supposed to, but out of gratitude for the love He has lavished on us. It doesn’t have to cost money, just a small investment of time and effort.

The first time I saw the following commercial, I thought it was cool — right up until the very end when you figure out it’s an ad for an insurance company — that sort of bummed me out.

Are random acts of kindness so rare these days that we need to be reminded to do them by an insurance company? I dunno, just seems sort of sad to me.

So here’s my challenge (I know, I’m very demanding here lately): Do something today for which you expect absolutely no recognition for. Someone once said character is what you do when no one is looking. What type of character are you?

And speaking of characters, find out who Billy Coffey met during his own personal ten dollar challenge over at The Christmas Change.

Angels Unawares (by Billy Coffey)


Over the years the day after Thanksgiving has become a holiday of its own sort in our house—we call it Time To Haul The Christmas Stuff Out Of The Attic Day. It’s just as festive and exhausting as Thanksgiving. Just as messy, too. But this yearly ritual serves its own purpose, and that’s to unwrap a little magic to offset the drabness that can accompany November in Virginia. And sometimes, many times, I manage to unwrap some wisdom, too.

For instance.

By my count there are seventeen angels on my Christmas tree. Each are unique from the others in sort of a heavenly snowflake kind of way—tall and short, baby and adult, ceramic and paper. Some are new, products of last year’s Christmas-is-over-and-no-one-bought-this sale at the Hallmark store. Others, like the ragged piece of felt with one wing and half a halo, have been around since I was in elementary school.

Our angels don’t simply grace the tree, though. They also flutter above our nativity scene, adorn our dinner plates, and stand guard in our front yard. These, too, have their tiny differences. Some are playing harps or blowing horns. Some sing. And some simply stand there with a stately and calm demeanor as if they have something important to say if I just took the time to listen.

But regardless of what these decorations look like or what they’re doing, one thing is supremely obvious—they’re angels, and there’s no mistaking them.

Others aren’t so easy to spot.

I was putting the finishing touches on the tree Friday afternoon when I spotted something a bit odd. I pulled a Winnie-the-Pooh ornament out of the box and found it was not Pooh at all. One of the two miniature Coffeys in the house had evidently disrobed his trademark red shirt and dressed angel number eighteen with it. I left the shirt on and hung the angel on the back of the tree where no one would notice, and forgot about it.

I went upstairs to write a while after that, first taking the time to go through a few emails. One was a continuing conversation that originated the day before by one of my online friends, who had taken a small part of her Thanksgiving Day to send a note of appreciation to a dozen or so of our shared acquaintances.

The email bounced back and forth between all of us and seemed to settle on this one question—was what we all shared really considered friendship? It was a valid question. By and large we were all separated by hundreds and even thousands of miles. Few of us had ever met, never even heard each other’s voices. Our interaction was limited to blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and email. We were words and avatars more than flesh and blood.

The consensus was that yes, we did share a friendship. Location and means of communication didn’t seem to matter. What mattered was what was said and when.

That’s when I remembered the angel dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh. And when I realized what a real angel was.

If you read the Old Testament in the original Hebrew (and I don’t), you’d find that the word for angel is mal’ach—messenger. No surprise there. But look a little deeper and you’ll find that word also used for anyone delivering any message. The thought is an amazing one. You don’t have to be a supernatural being to be an angel. You can be anyone.

I looked back over all those emails and realized everyone had been wrong, at least when it came to me. Because I don’t see angels just at Christmastime, I see them on a daily basis. These men and women whom I’ve never met and never heard are more than friends, they’re my angels. They encourage me when I’m doubtful, make me laugh when I don’t want to, and lift me up in prayer. They’ve given me more help than I could possibly say. There are other angels, too. Ones who take the time not only to read the rambling words that pop out of my head, but leave a comment or two behind. Or who email me just to say thanks for making them laugh or think or even shed a tear.

It seems pretty appropriate, then, that in this tiny window of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas I give thanks for my angels. We’re blessed every day, not so much with big things that matter much, but with small things that matter more. Which just might be why we’re called in the coming weeks to worship a child, the smallest among us.

And which is also why I went back downstairs soon thereafter, took the disguised angel from the back of the tree, and hung it on the front.

Where everyone would notice.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Without Us Guys (by Billy Coffey)

As a teacher, my wife has corralled fourth-graders, mentored high schoolers, and endured the rants of countless bemused parents. As a mother, she has changed dirty diapers, cleaned vomit off the couch, and has no reservations about sticking her hands into the goop that collects in the sink strainer after the dishes are washed. She is a courageous soul, yes. There are none braver. I honestly believe this.

But she has not ventured near the mailbox for about a week now. She’s scared, she says. Because lurking there far in the back corner is a spider has taken shelter from the cold November air.

My wife does not like spiders. Not just the tarantulas or the black widows, either. She’s afraid of the teeny ones, the daddy longlegs, and those little furry black ones that like to hop, too. They are evil, she says, though she lacks the evidence to back that up. On those infrequent occasions when my wife has nightmares, spiders are often the primary antagonist. They’re in her hair or her food, and once they were even in our bed (it’s never a good thing to be awakened at three in the morning by a temporarily insane spouse exclaiming, “They’re going to eat us!!”).

Taking care of the spider was my job, which was done easily enough with the rolled up edge of the day’s Wal-Mart advertisement. It didn’t seem like a victory, not even a small one, but as I flicked spider guts onto the grass my imagination kicked in and I began to ponder.

What if I wouldn’t have been there?

Various scenarios were played out in my head. My wife would have never again checked the mailbox. Days upon days of junk mail and catalogs and bills would have piled up. Especially bills. Bills that would go unpaid, which would eventually lead to the electricity being turned off and then the gas, and then the water. Foreclosure would soon come. My wife and children would have lost everything, abandoned to a life of homelessness and destitution. All because I wasn’t around to kill the spider in the mailbox.

Okay, so maybe not. Maybe my wife would have ended up asking a neighbor to kill the spider or she would have just paid the bills online. But still, my responsibilities around the house to ensure domestic tranquility seemed at that moment pretty amazing.

I keep the yard and the vehicles up. I do the painting and hammering and sawing. I fix what is broken (and occasionally break what is fixed). I unstop the toilet. I kill the snakes and scare off the bears. I shovel the driveway and seed the grass and take the trash out.

When my kids go to bed at night, it’s me they wanted to make sure is in the next room. Not their mother, as important as she is. Their father. Because in the eyes of children, every father is a freaky combination of Old West gunslinger and Jedi knight—big and strong, wise and unflappable. At least, that’s the way it should be.

Men have a tough go at it nowadays. We’re not really allowed to be the people our father’s were, strong and stoic and tough. People in these modern times expect men to be in touch with their feelings, to be softer and not harder. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe. I don’t know.

But I do know this: in the corner of the dining room, right by the backdoor, another spider has taken up residence. I saw it this evening. And I’m pretty sure it saw me, too. I doubt that spiders hold men in high regard. After all, we’re the only people keeping them from overtaking the world.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

This too shall pass (by Billy Coffey)

A few minutes ago a bit of the last forkful of my son’s green beans failed to be broken down into acids and molecules and slipped undigested into his large intestine. There the billions of hungry bacteria sat down to a dinner of their own, finishing the job and sending them off into his bloodstream.

The process resulted in a mixture of methane, hydrogen, and sulfide that was forced downward as pressure and expelled. Right onto the couch cushion beside me. With a rapid and not-so-elegant

squeak!

I didn’t move my eyes from the book I was reading, didn’t even acknowledge it had happened. And to my son’s credit, he didn’t either. Not at first. He kept right on attacking the buttons on his Nintendo DS, and I let him.

Squeak!

I turned the page and without looking said, “Whatcha say, Bud?”

“Scuse me,” he answered.

I nodded and kept reading, thinking the moment had passed. Which it had, technically speaking. But the aftereffects had not, because then another sound escaped from his other end in the form of a muffled snort.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Nothin.”

“Okay.”

Squeak!

I waited an appropriate amount of time—about three paragraphs of my novel—for the required Scuse me, but none came. There was, however, another snort.

And then, Squeak/Snort!

“…Bud…”

“Scuse me (snort!).”

I sighed and resumed reading. In a span of a few short minutes both noises from both places quieted. I offered myself a satisfied nod. It was a victory. Not a decisive one maybe, but complete enough.

I’m unsure at what point this certain bodily function became the holy grail of hilarity to him, but it did. Nothing in the world makes my son laugh as hard as either hearing it, smelling it, or—most of all—doing it.

He knows all the synonyms—gas, vapors, stinker, breaking wind, cutting the cheese, and the ever popular toot. He peppers them into his speech and has entire conversations about them with his friends. I suspect he even eats certain amounts of certain foods just to perform his own unique standup routine later on. Smellivision, I call it. The finale always seems reserved for the bathtub.

Raising a son is hard. Trying to explain why these antics aren’t what a young man should aspire to is harder.

So I sat him down. Said it’s a normal thing that everyone does, but not the sort of thing people should really be talking about a lot. And really not the sort of thing people should devote elaborate performances to. He nodded and yessir’d me and promised to be better.

And he was. Until bath time. His performance that night was somehow even more spectacular than usual.

Another talk. More parental wisdom. He said at the end, “But everybody does it.”

“But everybody should try not to make a big deal out of it,” I answered.

“I bet Jesus tooted.”

“I bet He did, too. I also bet he said ‘Excuse me’ after and then kept right on healing people and stuff instead of laughing and telling everyone how bad it smelled.”

“Yeah,” he said. “He was really good at that.”

Training a child is not unlike training a dog. It’s a long process that requires a lot of patience and a lot of effort. It’s reward and punishment, a firm hand and a loving one. And it’s also a practice best done knowing that while our children will slip from time to time, we do the very same thing.

Thankfully, he’s gotten better with this. Much better. The normal bodily functions are still functioning, but they’re being done so under the polite cover of modesty and discretion. Even in those times when nature plays its cruel hand and delivers multiple ones right after another—as just happened—he’s bent but not buckled. I’m proud of him. I really am.

Just now he handed me a sheet of paper between games on his DS, courtesy of his teacher. The class would be going on their first ever excursion in a week. To the fire department, no less. I scribbled my name at the bottom, giving my permission for him to attend.

“You’ll have fun,” I told him. “Did your teacher tell you what it’s called when you leave school and go somewhere?”

“Yep,” he said. “It’s a fart trip.”

Pray for me.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

A bowl of God’s Will (by Billy Coffey)


“I would really like some ice cream.”

My son. Though five, he has already perfected those puppy-dog eyes that he thinks will get him most anything he wants. And it does, mostly. I steal a peek at the peas on his plate. In order to get dessert, the peas must be gone.

“I ate a lot of them,” he says.

“Okay,” I say. (I can’t say anything. I still have peas on my plate, too.)

I grab a bowl from the cupboard, his favorite ice cream from the freezer, measure out a scoop and a half, and place it in front of him.

He eyes it suspiciously.

“I don’t want this,” he says.

“I thought you wanted ice cream.”

“I do.”

“It’s your favorite,” I say.

“I know.”

“So what’s your problem?”

“You gave me the wrong bowl.”

Ah. Huh?

“But it doesn’t matter what bowl it’s in,” I answer, “It’s still ice cream.”

“But I want the blue bowl. This one’s white. I really don’t like the white one, Daddy.”

“Are you going to eat the bowl?” I ask.

“No.”

“Then I don’t see a problem.”

“I do. I have the white bowl.”

“Well,” I answer, “you either eat it out of the white bowl, or you skip your dessert.”

I have him. No way will he pass up a bowl of ice cream. Not even if it’s in the wrong bowl.

“I’ll skip it then,” he says. He gets up to play, leaving me alone with my thoughts.

How many times have I asked God for something and then questioned Him when it was given in the wrong package? I’ve asked Him for love, and it came in a broken heart. I’ve asked him for happiness, and it came in want. I’ve asked Him for peace, and it came in hardship.

I got what I asked God to give me. It just came in the wrong bowl.

What about you? What’s your bowl?

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his new website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Blogger/Writer or Writer/Blogger?

“Talent is a wonderful thing, but it won’t carry a quitter. And there always comes a time–if the work is sincere, if it comes from that magic place where thought, memory, and emotion all merge–when you will want to quit, when you will think that if you put your pencil down your eye will dull, your memory will lapse, and the pain will end.” – Stephen King, Duma Key

Question: Are you a writer who blogs or a blogger who writes?

I invite you to follow me over to What I Learned Today and join in the conversation.

What? Why would Billy Coffey ask me to write a post on his blog? Who says he did?

Having admin rights has its privileges! Mwh, ha ha!

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