It had been a long day in a long line of other long days dealing with disappointment.
The confusion of a myriad of topics was running through my brain.
Temperatures were not extreme but the constant beaming sun, dusty wind and dry air was making me thirsty, tired and possibly even irritable.
Dinner time was arriving… as it always does… and I was trying to come up with something different that we haven’t had in a while.
“Oh!” I thought. “I still have those frozen chicken nuggets that Jeremy found at the new grocery store.”
I know what you are thinking. “Chicken nuggets? That is your brilliant dinner idea?”
Yep. Chicken nuggets are still a favorite meal for the girls but with no Wendy’s, McDonald’s, or Chili’s crispy chicken fingers in sight, eating chicken nuggets for dinner is a rare treat for these American transplants on Senegalese soil. In fact, I can’t remember the last time our girls had chicken nuggets.
Then, I had the scramble to figure out what to put with the nuggets. Mashed potatoes and corn with sour cream and some bacon bits imported from America.
Simple. Easy. Happy Goodwins.
I got to work and while my youtube app played through the kitchen and the potatoes boiled on the stove, I had the amazing idea to add dessert.
A treat I’d been saving. A bag of real marshmallows… like real ones. Not the Haribo pink and whites I can get from the French grocery store but real, big puffy white fluffs from the store in Dakar.
The last time I was shopping, I’d found a box of Rice Krispies. And they were the real deal too. Snap, Crackle and Pop stared at me from the blue box on top of my cabinet.
What does a mom do with Rice Krispies and marshmallows?
She makes a fabulous, all-American favorite treat, that’s what.
The music continued to play, my mood lifted and I began the process of melting butter, mixing in the marshmallows and then quickly pulling it off the burner to slowly pour in the little pieces of puffed rice.
I sprayed my 9×13, slipped the sticky glob into the pan and pressed it down.
With another fun mom thought, I added sprinkles on top that were left over from Christmas cookies.
I know, again… you are thinking, “You are writing a post about chicken nuggets and Rice Krispy Treats?”
Well, you are looking at it through the eyes I would have looked at that meal with just a few years ago.
This quite normal, cheap, easy, go-to mom meal was, in my new context, a very expensive, wonderful mom win sure to make my family quite happy. Very expensive might even be an understatement.
$10 for 20 nuggets.
$8 for a box of Rice Krispies.
$5 for a bag of marshmallows.
$2 for sprinkles.
I could buy a Dairy Queen ice cream cake for the price of my sticky, gooey dessert. or 3 pieces of cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory.
Can you see why this meal is quite rare?
With a meal sure to please, I was excited for the girls to come home.
Jeremy walked in the kitchen and saw my dessert. “Awe, the girls are going to think that’s fun. Nice job with the sprinkles too.”
He saw the “specialness” of the moment.
I snapped a picture and said something silly in my instagram status about adding sparkle to our day.
I even hashtagged that picture #getjoy.
Doesn’t it look joyful and happy?
The girls got home with a honk at the gate. They rushed in, got a barking Zander even more worked up and then dropped their bags by the door.
“What’s for dinner?” they asked as I’m sure your kids ask each day.
Proudly, I told them about the chicken nuggets and the sprinkles on our sparkly dessert.
Abby helped mash the potatoes, Annalise put cups on the table and Elayna came to help me serve up plates.
We chatted about the girls’ day while we enjoyed some yummy chicken nuggets. The mashed potatoes were good and the corn, another treat because it was canned sweet corn, was pretty good too.
I thought, “Whew… good ending to the day.”
The girls helped clean up the table and I went in the kitchen to cut the Rice Krispy treats.
Oohs and ahhs and we were at the table ready to eat them.
*insert missionary mom tip: eat dessert right away and use the same tableware so you only have to do dishes ONCE
I bit into mine at the same moment Jeremy bit into his.
The Rice Krispies were STALE.
Bad stale. Like Styrofoamy stale.
The girls politely ate one and Jeremy finished his.
Abby took 2 bites and quietly set it back on the plate in front of her with a whispered, “I’m full.”
And my happy, #getjoy balloon slowly deflated. In my head, I could hear the faint whine of the air leaving the plastic bubble of my excitement.
And again, you might be thinking, “Really? It was just a box of cereal. Yeah, it was expensive, but it was just a box of breakfast food turned into dessert. That popped your balloon?”
Yeah, actually. Not just because of the stale krispies.
The whole moment is a GREAT representation of life here. of dealing with disappointment.
A very real example of how things that look good and seem good, generally end up disappointing… how often we get our hopes up only to have them dashed with something broken or unusable or not what it was supposed to be.
Just that morning a friend told me about trying to get a tooth fixed in Dakar. We are talking about multiple trips into the city, lots of driving, plenty of pain, canceled appointments, and a wrong sized crown. And her process is still not over.
We find cheddar at the store, get it home and realize that the chunk they sold us is already moldy.
We buy beef at the store, get home and open it to find that it turned green within hours of arriving in the fridge.
I buy a small shelf for our shower and get home and realize that it won’t fit where I want it and returning it isn’t an option.
Trying 5 ATM machines to get money… and still not getting any cash.
Going to pay a bill that arrived at your house, standing in line at the office, finally getting to the front and they won’t let you pay your bill because they don’t see it on their computer yet. But you are holding the bill that they gave you IN YOUR HAND.
Turning down a road and finding they built a huge fire of burning tires right in the sand before you.
Finding ants that are building a road to your kitchen.
Washing the sheets and by bedtime, there is gecko poop on them.
Have a door fixed and when they bring it back, they’ve fixed one issue but torn up your screen while transporting the door on a horse cart.
They install a brand new door you had made, but the cement didn’t dry at the correct size so they start hammering at your new door to make it fit.
Time after time, day after day, the balloon is deflated with little disappointments.
Dealing with Disappointment
Lots of tiny set backs that on their own, are fine… but piled up together is like making an expensive pan of Rice Krispy treats and then finding out that the cereal is stale.
We’ve been told that getting one thing accomplished in a day overseas is a good day.
And it is true.
Everyday we set out to do things that don’t or can’t happen.
But this day, as I stood in the kitchen after the girls had moved on to some iPad time before bed, I stared at that half eaten pan of stale treats. Treats we will eat anyway…
I thought about my silly instagram remark about adding sparkle to our day.
I laughed with tears in my eyes. I had to CHOOSE joy. I had to choose the sparkle.
The treats sure couldn’t provide it.
I had to choose to let the moment be joyful anyway.
You see, all of the little disappointments of our days are really divine appointments to choose joy.
I’m learning this in great measure these days.
Choosing joy when life disappoints us. When the day is 95% sure to let us down. When we wake up knowing that nearly all expectations will not be met.
Choosing joy when things fall apart, when expensive cereal is stale.
Choosing joy when all the needs we see around us will require an intense amount of powering through, super-human perseverance and a daily dose of the miraculous to take place. Choosing joy because God is at work even through our humble attempts at making an impact.
Choosing joy when it doesn’t happen in our timing, when we just don’t know and when nothing we see seems to work.
All of the little disappointments of our days are really divine appointments to choose joy.
Divine appointments to laugh, to be thankful, to bless, to sing, to feel it deeply in our heart.
Little disappointments happen to all of us no matter where we are or what season of life we are in. Little disappointments grow as they pile one on top of the other.
But we can choose joy.
Dealing with disappointment by choosing joy.
We can add sparkle to our day and #getjoy.
“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Are you taking those little disappointments and letting God give you a divine appointment to choose joy?