Things That Work and Things that Don’t

Thank you so much for rejoicing with me! Your words are sweet.

Confession: Some days my life flows with a serendipity that astonishes me.

Other days, not so much.


My son Regan made a giant Jenga block set with his friend-and-mentor Isaiah. It’s lovely. And heavy. Each piece is about four inches long by a generous inch square. For two days, the new game sat on my floor while I tried to think what to put it in. A shoe box? I tried, but even after the most careful packing, there were five or ten pieces that didn’t fit. A bag was so untidy and unpackable. Maybe an Amazon delivery box would soon appear on our doorstep, in the right size?

In the middle of the night, the semiwakeful state when my brain solves all kinds of problems, I thought, “Popcorn tin.” It came abruptly, with no testing and no preamble. My family has always used large Christmasy snack tins for the storing of popcorn, and I thought I had an empty one or two in my pantry. In the morning, I went down and checked.

Not only was it perfect, as in two blocks could stack to the perfect height of the tin, but also every piece fit, with just enough wiggle room. All sixty. And I’m not sure I could have fit in another block.

How does that happen?


Other days, I have a simple problem to solve, like buying four $5 gift cards for my children’s Christmas stockings. It’s not hard. I think I will get the cards from our favorite sandwich shop, so we can have a special lunch one vacation day. I can run that errand while I am in town on Monday, during my middle kids’ piano lessons.

Except that when I drive to the shop, I find that it is closed on Mondays. This is not good.

I have a solution, though, and I am not picky. I can drive to the ATM and pull out four $5 bills instead, and add a gift note to my children about what they are for. That will work. I know that my ATM has a “bill selector” choice for withdrawals.

Except that when I get to the ATM, I find that the bill selector includes only ones, tens, and twenties. Why? Surely five dollar bills are God’s gift to man. While I am fidgeting with the ATM, trying to persuade it to resolve its issues to my satisfaction (Back – Cancel – Try again), I find I am getting splashed with water dripping from a ledge above my vehicle. Large, messy SPLATS again and again, hitting bullseye on the inside of my van windowsill. I try rolling the window up slightly, but it doesn’t help, and now I can’t reach the touchscreen. SPLAT. SPLAT. SPLAT.

I laugh out loud and grab a wad of tissue and put it there on the sill, to be SPLATTed on, and I check and recheck the ATM options but – no go.

(At least four days later, it occurs to me that I could have pulled out ones. But I do not think of that at the time.)

I roll up my window and drive away emptyhanded, and my right rear tire catches the curb, just the way it always does.

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2 years ago

I get those midnight revelations occasionally as well. They are gems. But this post comes on a day when brilliant inspiration evades me completely and I bumble and fumble my way through.

Maybe it was that my day started with two major messes (think puke and cereal) before 8 am, and ends (it’s 7 pm so guess it’s not over yet) with a call telling me my wall stickers in the church nursery are falling off. My disbelieving laugh came at around 1030 am when a half quart of red paint spilled on the entrance floor.

I’m hoping for some semiwakeful problem solving tonight.

2 years ago
Reply to  Bethany

Oh Bethany! SORRY! May tomorrow be brighter. ❤️

2 years ago

I can’t even explain how happy I am on your behalf about those blocks fitting perfectly into the tin. It gives me hope.

Ruth Heatwole
2 years ago

and my right rear tire catches the curb, just the way it always does. Yep!

Shaunda Stoltzfus
2 years ago

I feel most familiar with the “things that don’t work”. But there is nothing quite like the pleasure of when something works out perfectly well beyond my wildest imagination. I typically talk about those wins for days on end. 🙂 🙂
I also think my mind is the sharpest at about 1 or 2 am. I am generally sleeping through those hours so I don’t get many chances to actually utilize my mind when it’s at its best.

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