if i shop at forever 21 will i be forever 21...

and do i want to be forever 21? anyway that has very little to do with the saga of the green shirt...

but it all begins at the new forever 21 in our mall...

listen dear reader, shopping is light. light is precious in a world so dark.

sorry, that isn’t how our saga begins... but it is a really good beginning to some other story.

anyway, our story begins in a forever 21 and millie purchasing a green top exactly like the one she is sporting in this photo BUT not the one she is sporting in this photo (foreshadowing to saga events). she bought it with her babysitting money. 

we then went on through the mall (last monday) and bought more items. and so we had a couple of bags to keep up with now... and i was becoming cranky because the mall makes me cranky. all those items to try not to buy, all the things i did buy and then regretted. all that yummy food to try not to eat, all the yummy food i did eat and then regretted.  all those teenagers in abercrombie tshirts to try not to read, all the abercrombie shirts i did read and wanted to go and lecture the girls which i would have regretted...

note to readers... funny how my last post was all about wall-e showing how our excessive consumption was bad and here in the next post, i am writing about our own personal excessive consumption as we venture through the mall with too many bags. I AM SO VERSATILE. is that what keeps you all reading? 

back to the saga... once we arrived home, we found that we were sans one bag. the bag from forever 21 was missing. GASP.

millie handled it well and had a good attitude about maybe some other girl who really needed a new shirt would find it and be so thrilled. i used the experience to talk to her about how sometimes we lose precious things because of our neglect or the things of the world (or the mall) are so enticing that we lose focus. 

she thought she remembered asking maxx to hold the bag (not a smart move) and i explained how sometimes we lose things because of other people’s neglect or their being enticed by the things of the world.

sometimes sin happens because we lose our focus. now, a lot of my sin happens because of deliberate loss of focus or willfulness. but sometimes it is just the fallen world that we live in today that causes something to be lost. we talked about things we might lose because of neglect or worldly desires seducing us... a marriage, relationships, money, friends, truth, our kids, and new shirts. i even brought in the idea of losing one’s purity through that same way, being unaware of what was going on around us, neglecting to consult God and set boundaries for relationships or letting the world distract us from God’s best.

and you know how i love a spiritual lesson in the everyday things to preach to my kids.

but today i was out and i was close to the mall and i swear that God put the idea in my head to go to the mall and rebuy that shirt for millie. really, i wasn’t even thinking about the mall, or the shirt, or about EVER going back into the craziness that is forever 21 again. in fact when i left the mall last week, i said to myself, “self, don’t EVER go back to the mall.”

and so today i said to God, “hey, God don’t you think her losing that shirt was a great object lesson for sin? come on God, you have to admit that my analysis was brilliant. did you catch that whole purity part of the lesson. how did Jesus ever come up with those parables without my consultation?”

God didn’t say anything, so i kept talking...

“besides God, if i go and rebuy that shirt, then all i am teaching her is that i am going to bail her out every time. and then she is going to think you can just lose things and get them back even if it was her fault or her brothers and don’t we want her to learn these lessons now that she is young and impressionable. and just think where this will all end up! one day she will lose her virginity to some hot studmuffin and think that she is going to just get it back all nice and tidy and no consequences. you can’t rebuy things for people all the time GOD!” 

don’t you wish you were me and thought about every decision in such philosophical and spiritual terms... NO YOU DON’T, IT IS EXHAUSTING... and you look really silly talking to God all by yourself in the car.

and then God gently reminded me that He could buy things back for people...

that He did that for me once. and again, and some more times after that. he has given me back many things that i lost and neglected under my own pitiful power. 

my life is a gift i didn’t deserve.

i could choose to teach millie a lesson on how the world works and how sin works (a lesson we all do need to learn) or...

i could teach her a lesson on how God works, how grace works, and how it happens when we least deserve it. 

this world never teaches us about grace. only God does that for us. and i had a chance to be graceful in this moment, to show a love that goes over and beyond the law of lost items in the mall. 

so i went to the mall, went to the hell that is forever 21 (have you ever been in there? go in there and i dare you not to compare it to hell) and rebought the shirt. and i brought it home and i told her that God had told me to rebuy it for her to show her what grace means. she didn’t even flinch when i said that God spoke to me. she has heard that before. 

she said i was just like Jesus, except i wasn’t perfect.

seems she is wise beyond her years sometimes.

and she looks really cute in that shirt...

of course we all look better dressed in grace.

Joel 2:25 New International Version 

     I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— 
       the great locust and the young locust, 
       the other locusts and the locust swarm 
       my great army that I sent among you.

of course, in the GET THE MESSAGE version, i believe it goes like this...

i will repay you for the items you lost in the mall, 

or that your brother lost in the mall,

while your mom was looking at hallmark cards

and your sister was whining about being hungry and needing a pretzel.