Gumball Dynasty

Move over, ducks.  The Gumball Dynasty is a-comin’.

Gumballs
Gumballs (Photo credit: grandmasandy+chuck)

It all started with the World Vision Christmas catalog.  At the table one night, we poured over it:  “Look!  A goat for only $75!  A water buffalo will set you back $1100.”  You might be surprised to hear that we are contemplating buying livestock, but on the other hand, maybe that is the kind of kooky thing you’ve come to expect from the Morgans.  Who wouldn’t want to share space with a llama, after all?

Of course, it wouldn’t actually be for us.  World Vision, as you probably already know, helps needy people around the world, and this is their annual gift-a-thon.  For $548, for instance, you can send a live nativity scene to a modern-day Bethlehem somewhere around the world: a donkey, a sheep, a goat, and a pair of chickens.  Manger not included.

imageI love, love, love the World Vision Christmas catalog.  I am right there along with my 8-year-old, who wants to give not a single sheep, but the whole darn farm:  28 farm animals for under $2500.  What?!  So the kids and I were brainstorming.  Could a kid raise that kind of money?  How?

So we got online to research kids and fundraising, and we started planning the bread we could sell, the crafts we could make, the bubblegum… huh?  Did you know that kids can have their very own bubblegum machine?  You know, the kind you put a quarter in and get a handful of M&Ms or a giant ball of cement with a bright candy coating?  My kids, doing some math, were all astonishment.  Gumball machine:  $100.  One bag of gumballs yields:  $200.

Little Man might just be the next Philip Anschutz, because since making this discovery, he has changed all of his previous Christmas wish list plans.  Now the only thing he wants for Christmas is a paid-in-full gumball machine , half of the proceeds of which he intends to use to buy a farm for World Vision.  (He wants to reinvest the other half into more gumballs until he has his own little vending route and enough money to fund college and a lifetime supply of Nerf guns.)

Can I just say, I wish I were so creative, caution-to-the-wind, and passionately generous as my 8-year-old?  Here’s to the gumball dynasty.  Here’s to 28 farm animals and a village lifted from hunger to abundance, and the knowledge that they are deeply loved.

Can’t I just learn the hard way?

English: Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract
English: Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Little man really wanted to try some of that vanilla I was putting in the banana bread.  “It’s yucky, buddy,” I said.  “Yummy in the bread, not so good by itself.”

“Pleeease?”

“You won’t like it.”

“But Mom, can’t I just learn the hard way?”

Oh my gosh, he is just like me!  How many times have I struggled and strained to have my way against all warnings and my own better judgment?  Course, I am not usually so honest about my stubborn streak; it takes an eight-year-old to be that forthright.  Me, I justify.  I give my arsenal of good reasons and my own persuasive puppy-dog eyes.  “Pleeease?”

When I know I should just say no instead of adding one more thing to my plate, I have to learn the hard way.  Why not rest when I need to?

When I know I am going to regret that second doughnut in about 5 minutes, I have to learn the hard way.  Why don’t I stop when I’m full?

When I’m smack up against a closed door I don’t like, do I listen to that still, small voice saying turn around?  Nope, not me.  I have to learn the hard way.  Just… gotta… force… it… open — there!

And unlike little man and his vanilla craving, my learning-the-hard-way tends to hurt.  Bad.  I burn out, dry up, lose faith, lose heart.  I trade freedom and joy for shame and a dark pit.  Why do we make it so hard on ourselves?  The funny thing is, God’s way — that narrow way we tend to associate with deprivation — is always the best way.  I never regret obeying him in the first place.

You ever have to learn the hard way?

Heart

Sixth grade class play.  Sitting on the dusty stage, gazing across at the little red-headed boy.  Who knew a heart could swell so big?  Little kids and country singers know the secret of grand dreams, great loves, and gargantuan disappointments.  You have to live with your whole heart.

I have been learning again lately about living by heart.  About rejecting duty and dogma in favor of deep-rooted, upwelling joy.  About the heart-need for heart-nourishment, rest, and protection.  About guarding my heart, remembering my first love (not the little red-headed boy), and putting a picket fence around what’s important.

At our house, we’ve been using the term “sabbatical heart.”  Having just come home from a five-month sabbatical, we gave our hearts a much-needed vacation, the chance to breathe.  So a “sabbatical heart” is thankful, not grasping, trusting, not fearful, rested, not rushed.  It’s a rocking chair on the front porch, a walk in the woods, pineapple upside-down cake and a game of Catan.  It’s a long soak in Psalms, prayer that’s conversation, and a good laugh.  In my new favorite phrase, it’s unhooked and unhindered,image free.  And it really doesn’t give a hoot what anyone else thinks.

What if you lived from the heart?  Made decisions on a heart-level?  Would it transform your marriage?  Your family?  Your vocation?  Grab a concordance, see what the Bible has to say on the subject.  God isn’t shy about wanting your whole heart.

  • Love me with all your heart
  • Serve me with all your heart
  • Trust me with all your heart
  • Seek me with all your heart
  • Praise me with all your heart
  • Follow me with all your heart
  • Obey me with all your heart
  • Have a soft heart
  • Have a heart that yearns for God, pounds for God, is fully devoted, stirred, steadfast, secure and undivided
  • Above all else guard your heart
  • Keep your heart pure
  • Rend your heart
  • Rejoice with all your heart

I heard the folk singer, Dave Wilcox, talking not long ago about a conversation his head had with his heart.  “I don’t understand,” his head said.  “It’s not in your language,” answered his heart.

How much do I need those conversations?  The ones where my heart gives my head a talking-to.  Not logic, not cut-and-dried or should-and-shouldn’t.  Love.  Joy.  Heart.