There is a woman in my Bible study (well, it's not mine, but I attend) by the name of Ronda Roush. She wears the coolest, most unique clothes. She has a style all her own I can only describe as "elegantly funky." I always threaten to make her take me shopping with her but she swears she orders most of it on-line. I don't believe her because everything fits perfectly and looks great, but I'm sure the look she pulls off would not look the same on my puffy self so I have politely refused to press the issue.
The point is, she's an artist and you can tell by the way she dresses. If I had a sense of style, it would be close to hers. She plays the piano beautifully but what she's known for, what she does better than most of us can imagine doing anything, is paint Limoges boxes.
If you are like I was a few short pitiful years ago and have no idea what a Limoges (Silent "s") box is, let me try and explain. They are these delicate, detailed, delightful, fun, porcelain boxes that come in all shapes, sizes and configurations from roosters to the Eiffel tower to you name it. They each have detailed clasps that reflect the shape of the box. For example, the banana Limoges has a teeny tiny monkey for a clasp; the flower basket, a bug, etc.. Take it from there, but let me assure you, this brief and inadequate description does not do justice.
They are made from the clay found in Limoges, France and are thus marked on the bottom. Anything else is a knock-off. Remember this, because it is important to our story.
The first time I saw one at a friend's house, it was love at first sight. There is something about them that makes my heart smile. I love collections and I love beautiful things. I always have. It's the way God hard wired me so I can't apologize for it.
But these little buggers are expensive. At least when measured by the, "Free is right in the middle of our price range," standard of the Zoller household. So it had all the markings of a love affair that would never be consummated.
The year Jordan died, Ronda's daughter Hayley was in my Bible study small group and one day she brought me this beautifully wrapped package and waited expectantly while I opened it. Inside, gently nestled in white tissue, was an exquisite Limoges box Ronda had painted and inside the lid, was a delicate inscription that read, "In loving memory of Jordan." I can't tell you what this incredible gesture meant to me. I felt like Jesus must have felt when Mary poured out the jar of costly spikenard and anointed His feet. It is one of my most precious possessions. It also gave birth to a pitifully small collection.
Okay, wipe your tears. A month ago, when Jacob and Jessie were in town, we all four went to the flea market at the fair grounds. I saw a Limoges box that was shaped like a straw hat and had a ring of bows and flowers painted around it. It wasn't like my others, that actually have some sort of significance behind them, but I liked it, the price was right, so I bought it. Then I performed CPR on Jay.
I noticed that the bottom said, "Limoges China" and I asked the woman about it even though it has a fleur de lys and the "L" word. She told me she had bought it from an estate sale woman who specializes in antiques, assured me it was an antique AND genuine and explained they often had different markings.
I breathlessly told Ronda about it and she asked me to describe it. When I did, she told me she thought it was a fake, but to let her see it the next week at Bible study. I had not even gotten it fully unwrapped when she declared it to be a genuine fake. I was sick. She told me the "China" on the bottom marked it as a Chinese knock-off of the real thing and it was worth about four dollars. She took such pity on me she even offered to paint me a real one. Let me just say right now that I'm holding her to it!
Meanwhile, there was only one thing to do. I had to try and get my money back. The first Saturday I was free, I prayed for favor and armed with the counterfeit and my check carbon, I tentatively approached her booth. She asked if she could help me and as I unwrapped it I told her what the problem was.
Well, she was highly offended and assured me it was genuine and said she didn't give refunds. I have learned a secret from Jay that if you just keep telling people the same thing over and over again, eventually they will get it or at least they will quit trying to convince you. So I just kept telling her my information was that it wasn't genuine and I would like to have my money back and she could sell it to someone who didn't care if it was the real deal or not.
She grabbed it out of my hand and stormed off to ask another dealer about it (who had real ones) with Jay and I scrambling to keep up.
The second dealer took one look at it and declared it wasn't genuine. The woman who had sold it to me started arguing with her, telling her where she'd bought it, how much she'd paid for it, etc. As if that would change the facts! The second woman was unruffled. She kept trying to explain how she knew it was a fake (the very same explanations Ronda had given me). For some reason the first dealer asked the second dealer what she should do and she said, "Give her her money back." (Thank You Lord!)
She stomped off again with Jay and I once again following behind and said she'd write me a check if I promised NEVER to buy anything from her again! Uh, okay. I thought that was a commitment I was sure I could keep. "No problem," I said. I might even have been mildly sarcastic, (Hard to believe, I know.) but she was so upset she didn't notice.
The entire time she was rummaging through her purse for her check book and writing it out, she kept pausing to tell everyone within ear shot that I had accused her of ripping me off, that she had sold me a real Limoges but I didn't believe it, that she was giving me a refund and I owed her an apology. I was looking for the hidden camera. I was sure Ashton Kutcher was somewhere on the premises. It was not the scenario I had envisioned, but....
I took the check, thanked her, tucked it in my purse and left. I told Jay we needed to go straight to the credit union and deposit it in case she tried to cancel payment.
When we got to the drive through window, I pulled it out to fill in my name and endorse it and there, faintly printed across the face of the check in happy colorful script were the words, "Rejoice in the Lord Always!" I just shook my head and "rejoiced" that I had gotten my money back.
But the entire scene kept nagging at me. It was quite stressful, to tell you the truth. I was trying to be assertive without being rude but there was no convincing her the thing wasn't real and she accused me of things that never happened.
Of course, after I saw what was written on the check, I was thinking about what a poor witness she had been; how there was no way Jesus was honored by her attitude or actions and about how embarrassed I would be if I had proclaimed Him on my check and then behaved as she had.
I was feeling pretty good about MY brand of Christianity while I was driving up to our church to further enhance my thriving spiritual life with Beth Moore's study of the book of Daniel. I even prayed for the woman on the way there. But I must confess that at first my heart was silently screaming, "I thank You Lord that I am not like that Publican."
And do you know what God did? I still can't believe it. He started reminding me of every time I had been a terrible witness for Him. Can you believe that?
There are too many instances and they are too awful to list, but I will share one. I am always in grave danger of losing my Christianity altogether when I have to go through airport security. There is nothing about the process that doesn't infuriate me. It always makes me feel like a lemming headed for the cliff. And there was a time where I promise you I was ALWAYS the one they pulled aside to accost.
Show me your toiletries. Show me your underwear. Take off your shoes. Take off your shirt that is over your other shirt. Take off your right to privacy. Take off you dignity. Take off the assumption that you might not be a terrorist you white, middle-aged housewife, you.
Stand here. Stand there. Wait here. Move there. Raise your arms. Spread your legs. Don't touch, don't protest, don't be angry and uncooperative while I rifle through your belongings and take your toothpaste, your hairspray and your very dangerous curling iron that you might use to strangle the flight attendant.
Let me just clear up any lingering confusion. I am never in the mood for this. But one day, after the 947th time in a row, I was particularly surly and sarcastic. ( I know...I know...it's hard to picture, but take my word for it.)
After I had been thoroughly and completely molested I gathered all my stuff and there, right on the top of the hard plastic gray bin coming through the x-ray machine, was Chuck Colson's fabulous book titled, "Loving God." Lest I thought I was escaping any one's notice but that very God, the girl wielding the metal detecting wand, who had gleefully rifled through all my stuff, glanced at the title, then looked me square in the eyes, and in her own brand of brilliantly understated sarcasm said, "Nice book."
At that very second, I wanted to die. Or sob. Or explain. Or apologize. I felt like Peter must have felt after he denied his Lord.
With just two words that girl exposed my heart. It was a bitter lesson. And one I need to keep learning. "There is none righteous, no, not one..." Especially where airport security is involved...
But thanks be to God! He keeps teaching us, doesn't He? And He never gives up. He never abandons us. He never says we have crossed past the line where He can forgive and redeem us. But He holds us accountable and He keeps urging us to deeper walks of righteousness "for His name's sake."
Christ likeness can often seem like a long and hard journey we just aren't getting a grasp on. But we are. Because He keeps nudging us along. I'm eternally grateful for that.
Whose voice are you listening to?
2 days ago