The winner was picked at random by the two ladies sitting next to me in Panera this morning (I scrolled through comments and one lady told me when to stop scrolling. The other closed her eyes and pointed to a name on the screen... doing it high tech over here!). Drum roll please, the winner picked at random is... Lisa C. from Oklahoma!
If you want to know the other winner... the one I picked... you will have to keep reading.
Last week I found myself casually watching Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's fantastical remake of the classic movie Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
I was trying to get seven loads of laundry done while Annie took a one hour nap. I dream big like that. :)
I rarely have a chance to watch movies so when they are playing in the same room as me- I get hooked fast. I'm folding clothes and watching as Charlie comes home- to a quasi shack in the shanty town- and he and his parents go to the grandparents' bedroom for his birthday celebration. That's right: grandparents plural. There, in a bed that looked like it was handed down from the Romanov dynasty, sat perched both sets of Charlie's grandparents. All four of them, criss-crossed, with nighty caps and nighty gowns on, sharing a pile of sheets, looking like they were about to take off on a Bedknobs and Broomsticks adventure.
I'm not sure what it was about this moment that made me laugh out loud- but it happened without thinking. I laughed out loud thinking about what their feet must smell like all tangled up in that old-people-bed together. But then, just as quickly as I started giggling, I found myself wiping tears off my cheeks as his mom and dad and grandparents, all four of them, gathered in the room and pulled out the single candy bar which was to be Charlie's birthday present. The candy bar that might have the golden ticket.
The grandparents started talking:
Grandpa George: The kids who are going to find the golden tickets are the ones who can afford to buy candy bars every day. Our Charlie gets only one a year. He doesn't have a chance. Grandma Josephine: Everyone has a chance, Charlie. Grandpa George: Mark my words. The kid who finds the first ticket will be fat, fat, fat.
Charlie seems to be contemplating his next move. He says, "Maybe I should wait till morning."
Grandpa George: Like heck! Grandpa Joe: All together we're 381 years old. We don't wait.
Charlie opens the candy bar. There is nothing. No golden ticket. Just a bar of chocolate that any other year would've been a treat-but this year it just reminds them that they are always in last place. Their is a silence in the room that makes me cry as I think about it. Sometimes so many good people wonder, "Why?" "Why couldn't we just catch a break?" "Why can't I be lucky? Just once?" "When will the wicked cease to prosper and when will the normal people- the everyday people- just get a break in this world?"
In these moments- which I find myself wallowing in from time to time- I find great comfort in the fact that I am not the first person to utter these words. In fact, they have been spoken by people for thousands of years. And as long as their are people inhabiting the earth, the laments of broken souls longing for justice, longing for fairness, longing for the simple chance to take their family out for a special dinner or give their kids a Christmas gift will pierce the realms of heaven.
"How long, oh Lord, will I suffer?"
I count myself in good company as I utter the words that the greatest characters of the Bible uttered. The most influential characters in our history books have uttered. Jesus himself uttered.
"Why have you forsaken me?"
Sometimes it feels that way doesn't it? When- gosh- all you want is for your kid, your friend, your mom, your husband- that one person in your life you love so much that it hurts- when you just ache for them to catch a break. When you ache for yourself and the only prayer that leaves your lips is, "why have you forsaken me?"
In those moments of our brokenness, we are not alone. I am not the first and I am certainly not the last person who will walk through a valley. Others have gone before me, and others will follow. On top of that - when you have experienced Jesus- you have come face to face with a savior who speaks directly to you- I will never leave you, nor will I forsake you. You are not alone. I give you my peace.
We are never alone. Though our souls may ache and long and plead for a night (a loooong night. a fortnight. an eternally long night)...
joy comes in the morning.
The narrator begins the story like this:
"This is a story of an ordinary little boy named Charlie Bucket. He was not faster, or stronger, or more clever than other children. His family was not rich or powerful or well-connected; in fact, they barely had enough to eat. Charlie Bucket was the luckiest boy in the entire world. He just didn't know it yet."
On this beautiful week where we stop to remember and give thanks for blessings big and small...
the perfect dining room table. the voices that fill our home. the pictures that remind us of a lost sister-n-law. the porches built for sunsets and the couches dented in that prove we spend our nights cuddled up with the person we love by our side. the cutest green roof ever. the non-popcorn ceiling. the cracks in the shower. the window in the bathroom that overlooks the mountains. the neighbors cat who very much prefers you... the twin sister that shares your tears. the glitter forever stuck in the table. the butterflies watching over you as you sleep. the sound of crickets and the smell of horses. the kids. roommates. mission partners-in-crime. sisters. new born baby girls. husbands. wives. parents. grandparents. dogs. cats. horses. i think someone said rabbits??? rental homes. borrowed homes. dorm rooms. first homes. shared homes. or just 325 square feet of your own space.
Blessings big and small fill up every second of every day. We just have to open our eyes to it. Joy abounds. Peace prevails. (it truly does. don't listen to the news. don't base it on politics. don't even place it in the hands of the church. these will all fail.) Step back and look for God's fingerprints. His fingerprints alone bear peace. Good prevails. It ultimately, eventually, has to. And it does.
We are the luckiest people in the entire world... sometimes, we just don't know it yet.
Charlie, by the way, got a second bar of chocolate from his grandpa Joe who had been saving up for a special surprise.
And this bar was special.
Charlie got a golden ticket.
My personal pick for the winner of the first ever Cupcakes, Sprinkles, and Other Happy Things contest stuck with me from the very beginning. Call it lucky timing for Becca- but I read her entry about seven people living in an 1100 square foot apartment- and I started to giggle. It reminded me of the grandparents on Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. And though I fell in love with all of your answers- I kept thinking about those seven people tucked away- I was sorta hoping they all slept in the same bed together like the grandparents :) Becca has her own blog. "Keeping it Real... Even when Reality Bites." I love this.
It seems perfect for today's anthem. Keep living life- for better or worse- looking for beautiful blessings and being grateful for every joy we experience along the way.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week my dear friends...