Don’t laugh.

I blogged about this once before, I’m sure I did. Unfortunately, me, being me, gave it some obscure title, didn’t put it in any kind of category, and now can’t remember when it was. Oh well.

You get to hear this story again. I don’t mind. It’s a good one.

About three years ago I was pegging the washing on the line when God spoke to me quite clearly. I’d been praying (complaining to Heaven?) about our financial situation, and telling God how I felt about it honestly. I can’t honestly remember if I asked for anything or not. It was a washing prayer, a conversation like you’d have with your dad sitting on the patio chair, it wasn’t anything big or super-spiritual. But God spoke to me.

Now that in itself is possibly a bit contentious to some of you. God spoke to you Megan? At the clothesline? While you were pegging washing??!! Was the shrubbery on fire over in the corner? Did the bedsheet suddenly show the face of an angel? Did the Heavens open and a dove descend (and poop on your newly-washed trousers)?

No. Now shut up and let me finish. What do you think the virgin Mary was doing when the angel Gabriel appeared to her? Sitting around waiting for a miracle? I doubt it. She was probably pegging washing as well.

Clothes line (Wikimedia commons)

So God spoke to me. Well, at least, this thought popped into my head. (Aha! See, I can hear you scoffing again! Stop it! Sometimes that’s how God speaks to me. Seriously. And I’ve been listening for enough years to figure out pretty well by now what’s God, what’s me-having-random-thoughts, and what’s something else. Do I get it wrong sometimes? Yes, but that’s another story).

The thought was this, and this is also how I knew it was God: it wasn’t anything I’d ever think by myself. It was far too out-there for me to even imagine; if it were MY mind I’d make up something much more sensible, like “you’ll be provided for always”, or “don’t worry”. No. This is the thought that entered my head:

“I’m going to pay your mortgage off in three years.”

Oh.

Now the first thing I thought of was the bible story of Abraham and Sarah, when God spoke to Abraham and said “I’m going to give you a son, even though you’re like, flippin’ ANCIENT and would be pretty much considered dead if you lived in the 21st century” (yes that is the Megan Sayer paraphrase), and how his wife cacked herself over it. And I thought: Don’t laugh.

I didn’t. I swallowed hard and said out loud, to the washing in general, “thank you.” And then I went inside and told my husband. (To his credit, he didn’t laugh either.)

Now, here’s some stuff that I believe: I believe that God is completely in love with us, his people, whether we know him or not, and whether we believe in Him or not (no, I’m not here to get into a theological argument of “if God loves us so much then why…” because I love MY children too, and that can’t fact alone doesn’t stop them from whacking each other with sticks) I believe He likes to talk to us. The day my nominally Catholic neighbour told me that she woke up one morning and thought “my ex-husband is going to call me today” and he did – I believe that was God telling her that. There are heaps of those experiences going round, for believers and non-believers alike. I believe it’s God, just like I believe that sometimes the way God speaks to us isn’t with words at all.

All that happened way back in 2010. My husband was working a part-time job and ran a small business. My youngest was two, and I was a stay-at-home mum with no income. Our mortgage payments were certainly not huge by mortgage standards, but they took up a lot of our small income, and we were about seven years in to a 30-year mortgage.

We made the last payment a week ago. I won’t bore you with technicalities, but in about six weeks we get to go into the bank and do all the paperwork we need to close it forever.

Three years.

It’s okay. You can laugh now. Those words were true.

I’m going to go peg some more washing this morning (like I do every morning), and I’m going to look up to the Heavens again and say a big and heartfelt THANK YOU. And let me encourage you, my friend. Go peg some washing yourself. Go get honest with an empty patio chair. Pretend there’s someone sitting in it that loves you with a wild abandon. And, if unbidden thoughts of goodness and hope enter your brain don’t discount them. Don’t laugh. They may well be true.

5 Things My Friends Have Taught Me

If you stopped reading before the picture on Monday’s post you’ll have missed the most excellent and imagination-provoking tidbit of information that my friend Vacuums Her Dog. Yes, that IS what I thought when she first told me. She has a golden retriever, and it makes sense, after a fashion: you either wait for the dog to shed and you vacuum the carpet, or…you vacuum the dog. I found this so amazing I wrote about it on Facebook too, and she sent me a most valuable reply, offering the suggestion that it also works on children.

I like my friend. She is a wise woman, and not generally prone to random silliness (unlike me, and unlike certain soon-to-be pizza-shop owners I could mention), so…

I tried it.

Yes. I vacuumed my kid.

He’s three, not quite four. He’d crawled under the bed to rescue some long-lost thing, and returned with a large family of dust-bunnies adhered to his otherwise-clean jumper. It was in my hand, I was doing the rugs. I vacuumed him. He loved it.

It made me think, though. If it wasn’t for this birthday party on Sunday where we were talking about (oh heavens, I don’t even remember!) I wouldn’t have learned this valuable new form of child-maintenance. In fact, it made me remember that there are a lot of valuable life-lessons I missed out on growing up that my friends have helped with. You learn a lot from your friends.

  1. Vacuum your kid. I just explained that one.
  2. Give money away, heaps of it, until you don’t even think about it any more. I grew up stingy, and it took me a lot of years to change this. When people talked about giving I’d give what I could spare (and yes there’s wisdom in that don’t get me started on the importance of budgeting and financial responsibility, I am very much into these things!) – but I was poor in spirit. It wasn’t just the “spare” after the mortgage and the bills were paid, it was the “spare” after my extra cappuccino and perhaps a Danish as well. Until this one day in church when the offering bag came around, and the preacher was preaching on “give and it will be given unto you” stingy-me put in my cappuccino and Danish money, with the stingy prayer of “all right God, I want to see a ten-time return on this one please, because it’s going to be hard to get through work tomorrow” (this was a while ago, okay? I didn’t say I was proud of it). But tomorrow came. I lived without my cappuccino and Danish, and I felt okay, freed up by not having-to-have, and lighter (shut up, no pun intended). And that night someone we didn’t know very well gave us an envelope with $100 in it. For no reason other than “because”. We’ve been trying to pay it forward ever since. It’s changed our lives.
  3. Fold your washing while you’re taking it off the clothesline. I love this! My friend Tanya taught me this one. She folded hers while it was wet too, just to keep the wrinkles out, but I don’t go that far. But it works. By the time you get to putting the washing away (three days later…shut up) not only is it neatly folded, but there are no wrinkles and it doesn’t need ironing.
  4. Tell stories. Talk in random anecdotes at the bus stop. Share fun stuff. Share the sad stuff. Not only do people find themselves in your stories, it’s the best way to reach out and take someone’s hand, to say “I hear you. I know you.”
  5. Love extravagantly, it’s not free, but the cost is well worth it. Do I need to explain that one? I think not. But in the same way that that envelope with $100 all those years ago changed my financial life, so has the generous gift of time and words and love and coffees and crazy times from friends. I’m still working hard to pay it all forward.

How about you? What lessons in life did you learn first from friends? Do you think it’s worth vacuuming friends as well?