blackeberries overgrown.jpg

I’ve been walking Ruby to and sometimes from school lately. The weather has been gorgeous for us, temps in the 70s and low 80s, sunshine, a nice breeze. I guess it’s what southern California has most of the time. Lucky stiffs. We Washingtonians know how all-too-brief nice weather can be, so we get out in it as much as possible.

Our journey usually goes something like this:

Ruby: (stops walking) “Wait, are we walking?” (facial expression of pure torture)

Me: (stops walking to keep pace) “Yes,” followed by a big smile. “We can use the exercise. Besides, this way I get to spend more time with you.”

Ruby: (head down) “Okay,” shuffling her feet.

I should mention it’s about .7 miles each way, all paved. Mean Mommy!

The other day I dropped her off in front of the school and headed back home. As I trudged up the hill, I happened to peek over the left side. The hill rises and you can look down on to backyards of houses below. A woman, clad in a t-shirt and leggings, stood in her fenced yard. She wore her dark hair pulled back in a pony tail. Nothing distinctive there, except she was striking out at some blackberry feelers. I say “striking out”, because she had a carving knife in her right hand. She used the knife to beat back the brambles. She brought it down like a machete, slicing at the thorny intruder poking through the fence slats.

Not wanting to pry, I kept moving. But I haven’t been able to get the image out of my head. This woman had poor success due to her tool choice. I remember thinking, why doesn’t she at least grab a pair of scissors and cut the offending growth? Even safety scissors would do. It seemed half-hearted and futile. The hunch of her shoulders said, “I’ll never win. They’re going to keep pressing through. I’ll be doing this for the entire summer.” Which is probably true.

It made me think of the tools we use. For example, I’m looking for a new job. How am I making this mission a success? I could just sit at home and wait for someone to refer me to someone else. One might say that’s rather passive and could prove futile. But I have online searches, word of mouth and daily emails to follow up on. I’m listed on a couple of websites with a full profile. I’ve got references and an updated resume. I’m utilizing the best tools in my kit. I may even add more.

I’ve never believed in the adage “God helps those who help themselves”, yet it’s in our best interests to work with the best we have every day. We’re not helping God at all; we’re simply making ourselves available for an answer. I wouldn’t use a spoon to spread butter on toast. Okay, maybe if all the knives were dirty. I wouldn’t wear flip flops in the mud, though they technically pass as shoes. What’s the best solution(s) for the problem in front of us? Let’s seek it and do that.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-12





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