The Mallet Finger and Progress.

It wasn’t even the first thing he told me about his day.  It was an ‘oh by the way Mum’ and he lifted his hand to show me his flopsy finger.  ‘Oh by the way’ indeed.

We were doing the drive home after school de-brief, my middle boy and his older and younger brothers.  Talking about their highs and their lows as we navigated traffic.  ‘Oh by the way, yeah’,  I saw that he did indeed have a munted finger.  He laughed it off….and then I got the giggles….this kid…..only six months ago had the first fracture in our family – a finger – a different finger to this munted one.  I giggled because sometimes life is just so ridiculous…here he is…telling me about his finger….as we drive home and then I only had to turn around to drop him off to soccer practice and then I had to be at work for the rest of the afternoon/evening, and this was all happening in the next 30 minutes. That finger was gonna be a job for Dad to sort out. (Single parents, once again I salute you, seriously).

Turns out the munted finger is an injury called a ‘mallet finger’.  In Luka’s instance the tendon has come away from the finger and he can’t straighten it by sheer willpower.  He’s got a splint on it now, to keep it straight as it heals.  That should take about six weeks, ideally.

Ideally.

But here’s the kicker;

If, for any reason that finger joint does not remain straight before that six weeks of healing is up, then it’s back to square one, back to day one of week one of healing again.  And another six weeks begins again. (Go directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $100, that kinda deal)  All that hard work of healing can be easily undone, if it is not fully healed.  Talk about pressure when we’re pretending to be nurses and clean the finger without bending it.  No pressure at all. No, that’s not a nervous twitch at all.  Nope.  All this with the twelve year old’s eyes pleading up at you….be careful…be very careful…..

Now – it’s ok, remember I’m a big picture girl.  As far as injuries go this one is small in the big scheme of things.  Luka can still play soccer – so his world is not crumbling down around him.  There are no major (or minor) surgeries needed.  As far as things go, this is do-able.  This is manageable.  I know there are people all around me who are dealing with much more major things.  But aren’t you glad that when it comes to you and your life, whatever you’re working on in your character, whatever obstacles you’re persevering with, whatever you’re pushing through, whatever is in you that needs careful attention and healing, you are actually making progress.  You’re not going to be back at day one, week one of healing again – because of a harder than usual day, or because life can sometimes be like that whackamole game when something new and hard and challenging is always popping up at you again.

Quite simply – Progress is progress is progress.  Change is change is change.

We just can’t always see it in ourselves.

A number of weeks ago, one late afternoon, I was driving to work, minding my own business, driving to the speed limit, and all of a sudden someone didn’t stop at a give way sign, and distracted by the kids in her car, turned right into my lane and right into me. The old smasherooni trick.  I wasn’t hurt, and the other driver and her passengers weren’t hurt, but both cars were….you guessed it….munted….

I did what any normal female does after a wee ding like that and I cried, and I cried some more, and in between some more crying I called my husband to come and help me.  A neighbour friend of ours brought Michael to me, meanwhile, some other friends of ours just happened to be driving by and saw me stuck at the side of the road, saw that the smasherooni had happened and saw my tears.  So they came to help too.  Then a lady who just happened to be driving by, drove by but then felt to turn around and come back and see if she could do anything to help.  She helped massively by administering a loving hug and now that stranger is now a friend.  So all that happened in a short space of time, but what struck me most was that all of my friends took the time not only to check on me, but they also went to the other driver and made sure she was ok.  Every single one of us offered kind words, smiles and reassurance to her.  But.  Not one of the other driver’s friends who came to help her, took the time to come to me and see if I was ok.

Which was interesting to me.

Because not one of my friends – Nicky, Kate, Andrew, Elizabeth or Michael thought twice about their kind gestures.  They didn’t hesitate to offer a helping hand.

You see when the rubber meets the road and when you’re in a ‘not your usual circumstance’, what’s in you, definitely comes out. And when it’s something that is good and kind and positive, it comes out because –  Change is change is change.  Progress is progress is progress.  A life that looks outward and seeks to offer hope and love and affirmation to others, doesn’t always look that different to a life that is stationary and inward looking, but it is.  Hugely different.

Whatever obstacles you’re overcoming – they are being won over.  Bit by bit.  Little by little.

Whatever you’re working to develop in your character, while it may not always be apparent to you that change is happening – it’s more than possible that it is more obvious to others, than it is to you.  There’s always someone listening to you, watching you, imitating you.

Whatever is in you that needs careful attention and healing, is being healed.  Bit by bit.  Little by little.  We can’t always see it, or feel it, but I believe change is happening.

At the time of my smasherooni, my friends were just being their amazing selves, they probably wouldn’t know how different they actually were to others present, if I didn’t tell them. So I’m telling them now.  They were amazing.  They are amazing. You can’t always see change and progress in you – but others sometimes have a better view of that. (And that change and progress – well it’s a natural byproduct of developing Jesus’ eyes, imitating His heart and that happens by getting to know Him and growing in our faith).

I’m so grateful that in my life only mallet fingers have such a ‘one strike and you’re back to square one policy’, pretty much everything else can go by the ‘all is grace’ policy.  I like that one much better.

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More than a can. 

I spied with my little eye, some cans of Libby’s Canned Pumpkin, and my heart fluttered. I smiled at the stranger pushing her shopping cart down the same aisle as me.

At my local supermarket, here in little ole New Zealand that’s a bit of a find you see. We use pumpkin more in savoury dishes..like soup, and as a side with roast meat. And if we want it puréed in any way, shape or form, we’re more likely to do that ourselves…none of this canned business….

But when I saw the can of Libby’s, I didn’t just see a can filled with an orange vegetable, and I saw more than an ingredient for a very important  component, of a very important meal.

Two years ago when we left the land of the brave and the home of the free,we flew downunder via a brief stop in Fiji. It was tough having to be there for a family wedding, but if needs must. We’ll always remember the questioning looks the Fijian Immigration Officers gave us as our suitcases went through the X-ray machines. For part of our precious luggage were some cans of Libby’s Canned Pumpkin….The Fijians were familiar with canned corned beef, pumpkin; not so much.

Why was precious luggage space and weight occupied by such items? Why did I rejoice so much upon discovering the cans in my local supermarket recently?

Well you see, we learnt and saw many things in our four and a half year stint of living Stateside.
My family and I discovered the delights of peanut butter m& ms. Of root beer floats, the convenience of gluten free bisquick mix and the joys of Sonic Hot Fudge Sundaes.
We used to say  that our favourite ‘American’ food was ‘Mexican’.
And we would also say that our favourite American holiday was without a doubt Thanksgiving. We loved learning about the first Thanksgiving  as our children learnt about it at school. We were thrilled to be invited into other families celebrations, to feast with them at their extended tables. We beg/ borrowed and stole special Thanksgiving recipes that had been passed down from generation to generation. But most of all we embraced what’s at the core of Thanksgiving; of taking time to take stock of God’s faithfulness, of remembering His goodness and blessings in our lives and actively recalibrating our hearts, to be thankful.

We moved from America with five suitcases in hand, five carry-on pieces and six cubic metres of belongings were shipped by sea. We left America with a whole bunch of beautiful memories, amazing experiences behind us and wonderful friendships established. But the most important American ‘thing’ we left with, is our very own little American.
And so he will grow up knowing about the town he was born in, being familiar with our friends and adopted family there, and we’ll delight in celebrating with him , the wonderful holiday that is Thanksgiving.

And while I’m perfectly capable of puréeing my own pumpkins, why would I, when I now know where to buy a can of Libby’s which is exactly the right consistency and texture for pie?

I’m a pretty simplistic kinda gal, but I sincerely believe the world would be a better place, if we could all sit down together over pie, with hearts centred on thankfulness. It does something to your innerds, when you take time to take stock of all we have, of the richness we’re surrounded with, and when you actively decide to live a life of thanksliving.

Canned pumpkin may be something you can easily get your hands on, or it may be more of a treasure search depending on where you live. I’ll always look at it, and fondly anticipate a certain meal in November, and with that, center my heart on God’s goodness and graciousness, no matter what else is happening in my life.

This year, I’m gonna eat my pie, and my soul is gonna soar, singing these words to this song;
Your goodness knows no bounds

Unfailing Love in you is found

Your faithfulness and truth remain

Through every age

(Lyrics to ‘Your Love Remains’, Grace Vineyard Church, Christchurch, NZ, 2014).

Who would have thought that canned vegetables have so much to offer? But they do, friends, they do.

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