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Seize the Day! And the Napkins!



by Susanne Dietze

“Be careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” Ephesians 6:15-16a

The school bell may be summoning kids back to the classroom in my neck of the woods, but it wasn't that long ago that my family was in the midst of our summer vacation, visiting family in the Pacific Northwest. We collected our fair share of souvenirs along the way, but my favorite memento came from our visit to the Farmer’s Market at the Marina in Everett, Washington.

Farmer's market, Jul 2009 - 11Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr
What a farmer’s market! We browsed through stands of vegetables and fruits, sampled flavored honey sticks and dabbed lavender-scented body butter on our knuckles. My sister-in-law bought a large carton of the ripest, sweetest raspberries I’d ever tasted, and we all ate half the box before we left the market. Eventually, we added three bunches of fresh carrots to our bag, looking forward to grilling them alongside fresh-caught salmon at supper.

Our bags full, we wove through the crowd to the exit. The very last stall, however, drew me like a moth to a porch light. One look at the wares and I was hooked. I marched right up to the display table and knew that I could’ve spent a hundred bucks right then and there. On napkins.

Yep, napkins. I know, I know, but I just couldn’t help myself. It was my thing. Yards of vintage-inspired prints had been sewn into 1940’s-style aprons, tea towels, and yes, napkins, and they enticed me like the Forty Thieves’ Treasure Trove sparkling up at Aladdin. My husband looked at my face, sighed, and found a comfy post to lean against. And I got lost in the wonder of the napkins, an affordable choice in a sea of sweet options.

Several adorable bundles tempted me, but one particular set of four called me by name. A grass green background showcased an assortment of summery garden statuary: plastic deer, kissing Dutch children, lawn chairs like my husband’s grandma had in her yard, and red-capped gnomes (for which I have a weakness). Now, these napkins may not do anything for you, but I thought they were very, very cute.


But should I buy them? That was the question. If I were at home, I wouldn’t have bought them. I’d have sighed, calculated, and decided that I really didn’t need them. And if I changed my mind, well, I could come back next week and buy the napkins then. Or ask for them for Christmas. I had time.

When I’m on vacation, however, I seem to have a different policy toward making purchases. After all, those gnome napkins will be long gone before I return to Everett, Washington. I could pass on them, go home, and look for the fabric online so I could make my own napkins, but even if I found it, my sewing skills haven’t improved since I was a Brownie Scout. So I seized the opportunity, whipped out my credit card, and made the napkins my own.

In the car on the way home, I realized while I may know how to “seize the day” when it comes to little souvenirs, I don’t make the most of other occasions. I’m not talking about spending money here, but the chances I’m given to talk about my faith. I let those opportunities slide because I assume there will always be another chance. God may give me a person to share with, but in fear, anxiety, or just plain laziness, I convince myself that I’ll find a better time or a more convenient place to share what Jesus has done for me. I tell myself that if I wait for just the right moment, then – oh, I don’t know. The heavens will part and the Holy Spirit will flood me with peace and eloquence.

Maybe He will. But sometimes I think God prompts me to move – to speak, to give, to throw caution to the wind and love somebody – and He doesn’t give me peace or eloquence. I think He’d be pleased if I’d speak, give, or love, even when I’m timid as a dormouse and just about as articulate.

I’m praying that I will start to look at people and my time with them in the same light that I lovingly viewed those gnome napkins: irreplaceable, unique, and precious. That I’ll be more aware of the opportunities in front of me. Not, as Paul writes in Ephesians, “as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity.” In Galatians 6:10, Paul also writes, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” and in Colossians 4:5, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

Tonight when I use my napkins, I’ll be reminded of more than my trip to Washington. I’ll be reminded to be on the lookout for opportunities to love, share and bless. Because those chances might not come around again.


What's your favorite vacation souvenir? When did you get it?



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Comments

  1. I've collected artistic trinkets from our trips around the world. I have a small oil painting of Paris that might be my "favorite."

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  2. Hi Susanne!
    My favorite vacation souvenir would have to be a summer dress I bought in the outside market in Charleston, SC.

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  3. Loved the post, Susie. It reminded me of a market we explored in British Columbia back in the early 80's. I can't remember if it was in the Okanagan Valley or on Vancouver Island, but it was a large building that was wide open on one side. Bins of fruit and veggies flooded out along with shelves of jams and jellies. Two things made it a special place:

    1) The ceiling was covered with handcrafted willow baskets of every size. I bought a two handled one - about the size of a picnic basket but not enclosed and with slightly tapered sides. When I used to knit, this basket always sat beside my chair and held my current knitting project. I still have the basket. :)

    2) It was an old log building with green grass on the roof and a tethered goat! It was the goat that caught my eye as we drove past since it was reminiscent of the Heidi movie. It's the only time I've ever seen a goat on a roof in Canada.

    Thanks for bringing back that special memory.

    Anita Mae.

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  4. Good morning! Because this is a Sunday and I'm feeling like calories don't count, I've got donuts. Let's take one to eat on the patio -- pull up a lawn chair and count the gnomes on the patio.

    Hey Dina! Thanks for popping by. Your oil painting sounds lovely. I'd bet it's a happy reminder of one of your favorite places on earth. How did you come across it? What does it look like?

    I don't think I have a favorite all-time souvenir. I have a few teacups, and of course I love them. On the tea note, I bought some great loose leaf tea at Disneyland of all places. When it's gone, I'm keeping the tin b/c of the Alice in Wonderland stuff on it. I think it's cute but it also reminds me of how wonderful that trip was. Funny how I can remember a lot about the moment I bought it: it was raining and my kids were deciding what sort of fudge to split. When I pull it out of the cupboard, it's like a 5-second trip back to that day.

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  5. Hi Jillian! Thanks so much for coming by this morning. Ooh, your comment made me think of a sundress I bought a zillion years ago. When did you get yours? Sounds like fun.

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  6. Anita, I have to put that market on my list of things to do. I won't call it a "bucket list." But if I'm ever back that way, I've got to try to find it. That place sounds awesome! I'm sure the goat's long gone...but I'd feel like Heidi too, seeing him.

    Your basket sounds cool! I love a good basket. When you find a good, well-made, cool-looking basket, it's like a gem.

    Have a great Sunday!

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  7. Hey Susie,
    I think I bought that dress about 3years ago. I think I'll wear it to work tomorrow. As hot as it's been this summer I can't believe I didn't dig it out. That might give you some idea of my closet organizational skills.:)

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  8. So very true, Susie! We seize opportunities like purchases and then seize up when it comes to sharing our faith. Good reminder.
    My favorite vacation purchase? Probably the handcrafted leather satchel I bought on my first trip to Chile. THere's a craftsman/artist market in Santiago in an old monastery. The setting is as incredible as the handmade goods.
    I have a feeling one of our Inkie sisters is gonna LOVE your napkins!
    : )
    N-

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  9. Love the devotional this morning. What a wonderful reminder. Like the napkins too!! I brought back a small wooden statue of St. Francis from Ruidoso - it might be my favorite trip momento! Susan

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  10. I heartily agree. I rarely buy anything that is a 'want' but only stick to 'need'--unless I'm away from home. I can't tell you the last time I bought jewelry that I wasn't on vacation!

    Susie, you must know I would have grabbed those Gnome napkins in a heartbeat. They look so much like Gnorman!

    A few of my treasures: I have a Mexican pottery duck that I bought many years ago in Nogales, a carved lobster trap bouy (miniature) from Nova Scotia, and a magnet on my fridge from the night the Inkies ate dinner together in downtown Denver.

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  11. Jill, your comment reminded me that my closet is a frightening place. I've put off cleaning it out until I got my MS finished...and it's still scary.

    Have fun wearing your dress tomorrow! I bet it's cute!

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  12. Niki, I love that: "we seize opportunities like purchases and then seize up when it comes to sharing our faith." Wow, that was good. Thank you!

    I'm intrigued by your satchel from Santiago! What a gem! And I bet using it takes you right back to your trips there.

    Thanks, Niki.

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  13. Susan! I'm so glad you stopped by. Your statue of St. Francis sounds lovely. I hope it proves to always be a reminder of your vacation as well as God's love! (I think St. Francis was a pretty interesting guy.)

    Have a great week!

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  14. Deb! You and Gnorman have been on my mind! I'm going to track down the napkins' seamstress and see if she's got a website. She also sews aprons...while I don't ever wear aprons, I would start to wear them if I she made a gnome one.

    I like the sound of your mementos, especially the magnet. What a great idea! I should look into that. It's a reminder of the trip as well as the relationships you cemented there. Wonderful!

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  15. Susie, I really enjoyed this devotion today. Why is it that I'm more casual about a person's soul than about buying a trinket I want. I wish it weren't the truth, but it is.

    I have favorites from every trip I've taken. A hockey jersey from Moscow, Russia. Coconut tea from Mauritius, a scarf from London. But my most treasured souvenirs are usually pictures from the trip and when it's been a longer sojourn, local recipes.

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  16. Lisa, I hear you. This experience, silly though it may be, truly taught me that I'm quick to grab things that might pass me by, but slow to take hold of those opportunities to love and serve people.

    Photos are the best, you're right. I love your idea of local recipes, too. Wow, I've got ideas for next year's vacation!

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