How to Wake Up Early (and Like It)

“I don’t know how you do it,” one person said.

“I’m soooo not a morning person,” said another.

“4:45…like, a.m.?” yet another groaned.

Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yeah, I wake up at 4:45 a.m. Monday through Friday. On Saturday, I usually let the kids wake me up. On Sundays I’m usually up at 5:40, getting a whopping 55 more minutes of sleep before heading to church for a busy day on campus. I would probably agree that I am a morning person, but I would emphatically agree that I am not a night person.

Growing up, I had a curfew of 10 p.m., but I was rarely out that late. Even in college where staying up until the wee hours is the norm, I was in bed at 9:30 or 10 each night. There were many times when parties at my own house would rage on to 3 or 4 in the morning, but I was long asleep. When the sun goes down, I stop functioning.

So, yes, I get up at 4:45 a.m. to get to the gym every weekday except Wednesday. On Wednesday, I head to Waffle House for a time of discipleship with two good friends. We share our prayer requests, read Scripture and enjoy peanut butter waffles, all in the name of Jesus. Pretty sure that’s what he’d want.

Getting up at 4:45 a.m. does take practice. For years, I woke up at that time to go play basketball. When we moved away, I fell out of that pattern and it was hard to get back in to it. Now, I’m at Gold’s Gym by 5:25 to get on an elliptical for 30 minutes followed by 35 minutes of weight lifting. I have a ton of energy and my workouts have gotten more intense as the weeks roll by.

How do I do it? How did I condition myself to wake up and actually get up? How do I overcome drowsiness, the comfort of my bed and sacrifice sleeping in just to go and wear myself out? It’s easier than you think.

You ready for this?

I move my foot.

Seriously.

After I turn off the alarm on my phone, I have a conversation with myself. I know I’m tired. I know I’m comfy. I know that if I continue to sleep, I might regret it later. So, I convince myself to simply move my foot.

Picture this: I usually sleep on my left side and on the right side of the bed (if you’re looking at it from the foot of the bed). All I do is talk myself in to moving my right foot forward. What happens next is pretty amazing. By the simple act of moving my foot, my body weight shifts. I start to roll over toward the side of the bed. My other foot follows. My hips turn. My feet fall out of bed. I touch the floor. I stand up. My clothes are laid out on a chair in the bathroom. I’m at the gym. I work hard. I leave the gym feeling fulfilled. I’m exhausted, but satisfied.

The best part is what happens in the two hours following the gym.

I get home and eat before the kids wake up. I get showered and dressed and by this time the kids are awake for me to talk to. I kiss them and my wife goodbye. I grab my Yeti mug and Keurig coffee and head to work. I’m usually among the first ones there. I close my door and hide out in a chair in the corner of my office where no one can see me. I don’t touch my computer at all. On my chair is my Bible. On my phone in my Evernote app is my reading plan and my strategic prayer list for the day. I have a 15-30 minute quiet time. Just me and God and it’s every bit as refreshing as my time at the gym.

Once I’m done, I go to my computer and avoid my email. I plug in a headset and start working on Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish. I do this until about 8:50. I glance at my email for a few minutes before getting ready for our daily staff meeting.

So, by 9 a.m., I’ve done something physical, spiritual and mental. I’ve grown in three different ways. I’ve improved myself, prayed for my family, friends, missionaries, ministry. I’ve confessed my sin and given thanks. I’ve learned new vocabulary words in another language and invested in my ability to communicate in other countries.

All because I moved my stupid foot.

Proverbs 6:9 says, “How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?” This verse is warning about the danger of resting in our laurels and not living the life God has made us to live. He does not want us to be lazy, non-committal or blind to Him. God wants us to be passionate in our lives. Passionate for Him, passionate about life, passionate about loving others. Otherwise known as anti-lazy, anti-sluggish and anti-lethargic.

Here are a few other tips I will recommend for getting out of bed earlier.

  1. Set an alarm. This sounds like a complete no-brainer, but I double check my alarm setting every night before I go to bed. In some cases, I even set a backup alarm. I never use the snooze button. Ever.
  2. Go to bed earlier. Some people thrive on a few hours of sleep. I cannot. I know that if I want to have a productive day, I have to get at least seven hours of sleep. Plan accordingly.
  3. Have a plan. The worst thing to do, especially when you first start your commitment to waking up earlier, is to get up without a plan. I know what parts of my body I’m going to work out. I know what I’m going to listen to on my phone while I’m doing it. (I listen to podcasts while I’m on the elliptical to pass the time and heavy metal or hard rock while I’m lifting weights). I know what Scripture verses I’m going to read and what my focus will be on when I pray. I always have room for the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit is leading me to pray about something else or read something else, I’m not at all bound by what I determined. I’m structured, but flexible.
  4. Put it on your calendar. This is perhaps the single most important recommendation I can make. Getting up early and going to the gym is no longer on my calendar because it has become a routine, like eating. But, when I started, I would put it on my calendar. Everything is on my calendar; dates with my wife, meetings, reminders to call people. Everything. If it’s not on my calendar, it’s probably not going to happen. When I talk to young guys or new believers or anyone wanting to grow closer to Christ, scheduling a quiet time is the first thing I stress.
  5. Look in the mirror. Now, I’m not talking about staring in the mirror flexing (I will not confirm nor deny that I’ve done this). What I am talking about is giving yourself a regular assessment. With regards to working out, I can look in the mirror and see that I’ve changed. I can see muscle tone and less fat. I can look at the amount of weight I lift and see that I’ve increased or that my stamina has improved. But, in regards to my quiet time with the Lord, that is less tangible. I have to work a little harder to assess myself. So, I might questions like: What have I learned through my Scripture reading this week? Has God answered my prayers? What is God teaching me about Himself? Have I been diligent in praying for my family? Have I been journaling my thoughts on Scripture and prayer? Hopefully, I can answer yes to these and see exactly what God has been teaching me and how he has pulled me closer to Him.

When I see results, it makes me want more. I hope you will, too. Remember, just move your foot.

Let me know how it works for you!

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I hate my car payment (part 3: lost & found)

One-third.

1/3.

.33333333333…(you get the point)

I recently paid down nearly one-third of our remaining car loan balance! In case you haven’t been following along and want the back story, check out Part I and Part 2. The short version of this story is that I spent a year traveling to visit missionary friends all over the world. I saw how they lived. I watched them pack their belongings into eight suitcases and sell everything else. I sat in their simple apartments. I visited people they served in villages and sat on the floors of huts. I saw the cramped dorms at a highly competitive university in an emerging country. I saw all these examples of living simply and not clinging to material possessions. And then I came home.

I was overwhelmed by the thought of having so many things in my garage that I couldn’t park my wife’s car inside the garage. In case you missed it, the purpose of a garage is typically to store cars. My family and I have been determined completely rid ourselves of a car payment we didn’t want, things we didn’t need and false ideals of having “stuff.”

So, we had a huge yard sale, sold items on Amazon, Craigslist, Facebook and eBay. We sold to friends, strangers and people we’d never meet. I sold coins, sports cards, clothes, decorations, graphing calculators (who would have thought that a TI-83 would keep its value so well?) and so much more.

Most recently I sold a pair of ankle weights on Craigslist. It took a couple weeks and, frankly, I forgot I even listed them until I received a text message from a buyer. A guy was looking for a set for his daughter who was a very good volleyball player, but who wanted to work out with them so she could jump higher and have stronger legs. I used them to rehab a broken ankle, but haven’t touched them in years. We met up at a gas station (where quality business transactions take place) and I exchanged the ankle weights for 10 one-dollar coins. Yep, he paid me in change. I know it all adds up just the same, but I found it odd that he had those lying around to pay me with.

I felt that it was time to cash in our savings to date and make a significant payment. I moved most of the money out of my PayPal account, grabbed the envelope filled with bills of various denominations and headed to the bank to make the deposit. When I got in my car, I remembered the 10 coins from the gas-station-ankle-weight-encounter and dropped those in the envelope as well. The envelope was tucked in the passenger seat of my car so nothing would fall out as I drove across town. Of course, as I turned into my parking space, the envelope became dislodged and I heard all the coins fall out. “Crap!” (or a similar term), I shouted.

I put the car in park and leaned over to collect all the coins. Two were still in the envelope, four were on the seat. I walked around the car to the passenger side and delicately opened the door, hoping that none would fall out in the parking lot. Nothing fell out, but I didn’t recover any either. So, I opened the door to the second row and found two more right away. Two left.

I moved an umbrella and a notebook out of the way and found one more. That makes nine. At this point, I was convinced that the coin was actually inside the seat. I had $1560.33. “What’s one more dollar?” I thought.

Everything!

That dollar was important. We had worked hard for that money and we had saved since August of last year. I had to find that coin. Suddenly, I remembered that this story sounded quite familiar.

Luke writes about Jesus telling the parable of the woman and the lost coin. “Or what woman, having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:8-10 ESV)” 

lost and found

Notice what that woman did. She didn’t just look around for it, she diligently sweeps the house. Houses in those days did not have tile, hardwood or carpeted floors. They were dirt and dust. This woman literally swept her whole house hoping to uncover the coin that might have been buried in the dirt. The NIV translation says that she searched carefullyfor the coin. It was extremely important to her. It didn’t matter that I had $1560.33, I wanted the one last coin.

Please understand that this parable and my experience are not about money. It’s not about stewardship of finances at all. It’s about seeking those who are lost. It’s about loving people enough to tell them about Christ. It’s about living your life in a way that is a light to others who need guidance. It’s about a growing, loving, organic, caring, nurturing, bold, daring, humble, trusting relationship with Christ. This last coin I had meant enough for me to start tearing apart my car and had me considering how I was going to get inside my seat. I need to have that same desire for the people around me – my friends, family and strangers – to be introduced to the majesty of Christ and to hear from his Word.

The story ends with me cramming my hand so far under my car seat that it was practically in the glovebox and finding that last coin. Have you ever seen a farmer artificially inseminate a cow? That’s kinda how I felt, but, you know, a lot less gross. When I finally found the coin, I let out a huge, “HA!” The woman in our parable example rejoiced as well and told her friends about it. I would much rather be writing you about how I had an opportunity to share the Gospel with someone and have them accept Christ as the Lord of their life. In fact, I pray that I will have many blog posts like that in the future. But, for now, I can celebrate that we successfully paid down $1561.33 and have just a few thousand dollars remaining.

chuck norris roundhouse kick

I checked the balance of the account prior to writing this blog. We roundhouse kicked our loan balance right in the teeth. It’s not a death blow yet, but that will be soon. Because we paid so much at one time, our next payment is significantly lower and I don’t have to pay again until June. But, we’re certainly not waiting that long. Our payments will continue as normal. We will also continue to sell the stuff we don’t need.

Up next: what to do with an original Space Invaders cocktail table arcade game?

I hate strangers.

I HATE STRANGERS

 

Stranger: [streyn-jer]

Noun:

1. A person with whom no formal acquaintance has been made and who is probably creepy, weird or will talk my ear off if I start a conversation with them.

2. An outsider or newcomer to a place or city who doesn’t belong because they “ain’t from ’round here.”

I hate strangers. They are everywhere; at the grocery store, at the restaurant, at the airport, on the basketball court, at the DMV, everywhere. It’s an epidemic and it has to stop.

Do I actually hate a person whom I do not know? Of course not. I am fully aware of the sensitivity in our culture regarding the word hate. It is a heavy word with heavy implications. I do not emotionally or physically hate any person or group of people.

But, do I hate the idea of a stranger? Well, yeah. Perhaps this is a more accurate statement. Here are a couple reasons why.

I hate the idea of a stranger because I love Christ.

The definitions above were humorous, but one serious definition of a stranger is someone who is unaccustomed to something or is not a part of something like a community or group. So, a stranger to God is someone who does not follow Christ. Or, more specifically, a stranger to God is someone who chooses sin and rejects Christ.

Scripture commands an active faith. Biblical authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit in their writings, are clear in how we should be active in sharing our faith. We are not to sit idle and watch. We are to participate. For each believer out there, there are likely many people behind them that prayed for their salvation, shared their faith with them or handed them a Bible with encouragement to read God’s Word. People have certainly made decisions to accept Christ after reading the Bible on their own (by the prompting of the Holy Spirit) or by flipping through a tract given to them, but far more people have become Christ followers because of a personal relationship with a believer.

In order to live life as a Christ-follower and Bible-believer, we must have an understanding of hell. No, this is not a blog post to scare people in to accepting Christ. This is a statement to remind us that hell is a real place. Scripture describes hell as a “second death” (Rev. 21:8), “eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46) and place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12 among other places). Since we believe hell is real, we have to hate that people will reject Christ and be in hell eternally. We have to physically hate this notion with a stomach-souring, emotionally-devastating, bodily-weakening response that first drops us to our knees in prayer and second results in action.

I hate the idea of a stranger because I love my brothers. 

I want to be a disciple-making disciple. In other words, I want to be the kind of Christian who invests his time and energy in helping other people grow closer to Christ. I cannot accomplish this if I am surrounded by strangers. I have to reject my own selfishness and risk being uncomfortable by talking to people I do not know.

I travel a lot. I’m on planes a lot. When I get on a plane my first instinct is to sit quietly, plug in my headphones and zone out for the duration of the flight. It is against my nature to want to sit and talk to a stranger for two, four or ten hours on a flight. If I am going to hate the idea of a stranger going to hell, I have to hate the idea that I could be missing an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus and how he changed my life. I cannot simply launch into a theological presentation of God’s plan of salvation from election to glorification. I cannot simply use my Jedi mind tricks to will them to want to talk to me about Jesus. I have to earn the privilege of entering that communication. That privilege only comes by trust established through relationships.

I cannot enter a relationship with a stranger by sitting in a bubble playing games on my iPad on a plane, checking Facebook on my phone in the checkout line or staring at the ground in a waiting room. I have to speak to strangers and engage them in conversation. I have to be willing to have other people overhear our discussion. I have to be willing to be turned down. I have to be willing to have the stranger reject me. I have to be willing for them to actually want to talk to me! And, most importantly, I have to be willing to openly share my faith with the stranger when the time arises.

Hating the idea of a stranger and developing the desire within to break down walls, make friends and engage with people we do not know does not happen over night. I am an extrovert. I am outgoing, opinionated and energetic. Despite my openness to new people and situations, I still struggle to initiate conversation with strangers. I have learned that it is a developed habit and spiritual discipline. Here are some ways to get started.

  1. Pray about it.
    • First, ask God to provide opportunities for you to interact with a stranger. (*Disclaimer: he will provide these for you…often more quickly than you might be ready for.) I challenged a small group of high schoolers to do this one Sunday morning. The next day I got a text message from one of the students who was presented with an opportunity to buy groceries for someone who ran out of money at the store. He was amazed at how quickly his prayer was answered.
    • Second, ask God to equip you with the sensitivity to recognize the opportunity. My friend could have easily shrugged off the event taking place in front of him at the cashier. He could have gotten antsy and impatient thinking, “Who comes to the store for food and runs out of money,” or “I’ve got somewhere to be! Don’t you know who I am!” But, instead he was sensitive to the reason for the event and with knots in his stomach, he stepped in, engaged and helped.
  2. Prepare for it. Now that you know an opportunity is lurking in the near future, what are you going to say when it happens? There are some questions you can ask yourself when searching for a way to start a conversation.
    • Do you and the person have anything in common? Is he wearing a shirt of your favorite sports team? Are you reading the same book?
    • Is there anything humorous going on? I’m the kind of person who can have fun anywhere and find humor in most situations. Usually, humor is a great icebreaker.
    • What are the basics to building any relationship? Ask them what they do for work, if they have kids or a spouse, ask them what they are listening to, where they are going or simply start by volunteering your name and asking for theirs.
  3. Practice it. Just like going to the gym for the first time in a long time, starting a conversation with a stranger is going to hurt a little at first. Your palms will be sweaty. Your heart will race. You’ll stumble over your words. In fact, it would be pretty rare if you don’t do things. After each conversation, assess what you did well and what you could improve on. Did you have an opportunity to start talking about Jesus or present the Gospel message to them?

Funny things happen when you make yourself available to talk to strangers. Frequently, they want to talk back. Often, you make an acquaintance. Occasionally, you make a friend. And, sometimes you even make a disciple.

I went to jail. This is what I learned.

I went to jail. My hands were sweating. My breathing got heavy. I wondered if anyone I know would see me. I wondered what people would think.

http://www.scramsystems.com/images/uploads/cs-gallery/spartanburg-cs-large.jpg

I started in booking. There was a guy near me in cuffs and he was getting patted down. He slipped off his shoes so the officer could search his socks.

“Turn this way,” I heard as he was instructed to have his mugshot taken. One to the front, one to the side.

Wow, this is real.

I looked to my left and saw a waiting room full of people who recently came out of a police car. They were waiting their turn for processing and meeting with the magistrate. Eyes were rolled. Heads were in hands. There were no smiles.

I saw the holding rooms where inmates would sit for hours or even days until they sobered up or decided they wanted to cooperate. I was told the windows were regularly replaced because people would smash their fists, or heads, into them.

Behind me was a padded room.

Clang clang clang. An officer walked by dragging shackles behind him.

I was so glad I could walk out at any time.

I receive a lot of mail at my office. Some are addressed to me, some to our senior pastor, some just to the church. Some are thank you letters from our ministry partners, some are newsletters, some are advertisements for mission trips. Last week, I received a letter that was unlike anything I had received before. This letter was from an inmate at the county detention center.

inmate_letter

The handwritten letter was photocopied and sent to many churches in the area pleading for Bibles for the inmates. Our church does not have a prison ministry of any kind. We have some members who participate with a local ministry by playing basketball or softball at prisons around the Southeast, but we don’t have any formal affiliation with the local prison.

This letter certainly piqued my interest and I wanted to know more about this inmate, the chaplain and the ministry in our detention center. After a quick search of the public database, I found that the inmate who wrote the letter was no longer there, but I contacted the chaplain who offered to take me on a tour of the facility.

I was excited for the opportunity, but as I drove to the detention center, I found myself growing more nervous. I’ve never been to jail before, so my presuppositions are strictly based on TV shows like Prison Break, reality shows like Locked Up and movies like The Longest Yard and The Rock (Say it with me in your best Sean Connery voice: “Welcome to The Rock.”)

The tour and discussion with the chaplain were very humbling and it was a privilege to be allowed access to the detention center. Here are a few of the more tangible things I learned.

  1. When you enter, you have no privacy. Each inmate is innocent until proven guilty. That’s a given and I was reminded of that very early on the tour. But, you have little to no privacy. As we stood in the processing area, the chaplain described the routine for incoming inmates. These people were feet away either being processed or waiting their turn. I wanted to interrupt and say, “Stop talking about them…they’re riiiiiight heeeere and can hear you.” As I already described, at the very moment we started talking about mugshots, there was a guy having his taken. Real life stuff.

    Each inmate’s records were there for the processors to see and review. Their past records were on display for those who had access. This is how God will judge one day. All our records will be on display. Nothing will be secret, nothing sacred, nothing hidden. My past is nothing to be proud of. My sin is wretched. But, through Christ, God sees me as clean.

  1. We saw the inmates the way God sees us. The chaplain mentioned this statement in passing, but it struck me as quite profound and it caused me to literally stop in my tracks to consider that statement. Looking out across the maximum security wing, I could see slivers of windows each filled with a set of eyes staring at us as we walked freely around the prison. I knew nothing of their crime other than they were guilty of breaking a law. But, hearing those words from the chaplain helped me see that in God’s eyes, my sin is no different than theirs. Romans 3:23 tells us that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” My sin is every bit of disgusting to God as those of the inmates. My sin may not break the laws of our country or state, but they break the commands of God.

    But, there is great hope. In the very next line Romans 3:24 says “and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” By faith in Christ, I am able to be presented as pure and holy before God at the time of judgment.

  2. The unknown is terrifying. We stood in one of the more moderate security pods and the inmates walked around us. Some played cards, some were mopping the floors, some were making phone calls and some were separated in an exercise area just pacing. I’m embarrassed to say that I felt like I was in the middle of a jungle and I didn’t know which plants or animals were friendly or threatening. For a while, I tried not to make any eye contact with the inmates. I didn’t want anyone to think that I might be staring or judging. Some of the guys seemed like they did not belong. Others, it was obvious that they had been there before.

    Over time, I started considering how I would feel if it were me wearing the orange jump suit and locked up 22 hours each day. I would want love. I would desire friendship and a kind word. So, I began to make eye contact and greet the guys who walked around me.

  3. The officers and guards are amazing people. I met several Christians who worked with the inmates each day. They were steadfast in their job of keeping order and making sure the inmates conformed to the structure and expectations of the prison. Simultaneously, they were prepared to share the Gospel if initiated. They treated the inmates as brothers who needed help, because that is exactly what they were. The inmates may have been broken spiritually and apart from God, but they were not to be written off.

    I heard stories of attacks, people high and in a rage and others with several mental disorders. The officers who operate the facility are brave. I certainly could not experience what they have and continue to come back to work each day. They do a wonderful job of protecting our community and keeping the safety of the inmates as a priority. Everyday they go to work and see people on their worst days, but they press on. They should be commended.

  4. The ministry needs are real. The chaplain told me they go through 100-150 Bibles every month. Legally, they are only allowed to hand out a Bible if an inmate requests one. How terrible would it be to not be able to respond to that request? This is no different than a believer or someone desiring God in a country where the Gospel is forbidden. It should break our hearts to have someone crying out to read the Word of God but to have no resource to obtain it.

    After challenging our missions committee with the letter from the inmate, they wasted no time in committing a portion of our budget to purchase the Bibles they need. In a few days, we will have 600 NIV Study Bibles ready for inmates to consume God’s Word and learn of its offer of redemption and hope.

  5. The Gospel is real. I was told of stories of murderers who committed terrible, violent acts and will be locked up the rest of their lives. But, through the Gospel, they have been saved, purified and redeemed. One day, when they are no longer held to the laws of man, they will be seated in heaven as forgiven children of God. What great hope that gives us!

    It is estimated that about 85% of the people at the detention center are good people who made a selfish and poor decision. The others fell in to a spiral of crime or drugs. No matter the purpose for their arrest or incarceration, the concept of prison ministry is 100% real. These men and women have hit rock bottom and have nowhere else to turn but to the hope of heaven through Christ. Lives behind bars are not lived that have ended. In our very nature, we desire a higher being. When we struggle and want to cry out, we want someone to hear us.Many of the inmates have an idea of who Jesus is, but they lack a committed relationship with him. How will they gain this if they don’t have access to the Gospel? How will they have access to the Gospel if we don’t respond?

If you are interested in providing funding or actual books for the detention center in my community, please let me know. If you want to provide Bibles for your own detention center, contact the local chaplain and ask about their requirements and needs. For my local center, they can only receive books that are still sealed in the box from the publisher so no tampering can be done. The preference is for the books to be delivered directly to the prison. As for the type of Bible, they like to have KJV or NIV versions and large print would be a great added bonus since many inmates have poor site and no glasses. There are many option and some great deals at http://www.biblica.com.

Some Bibles are published specifically for prison ministry and include testimonials such as this one: http://www.biblica.com/en-us/search/?filter=&q=free+on+the+inside

The ones my church is sponsoring include study material like this one: http://www.biblica.com/en-us/niv-outreach-bibles.aspx?product-variants=1223

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I sold shot glasses to a second grader.

5:44 a.m.

I’m awake. One minute before my alarm. My wife is not. Headed to the bathroom.

6:05 a.m.

My wife is up and somehow already downstairs. She has not had coffee.

6:15 a.m.

We’ll call this the “before” shot. Which one is not the morning person?

yardsale1

6:38 a.m.

The first shopper shows up for our 7:00 start time. “Don’t let me get in your way,” he says. Don’t worry dude, I’ll just carry this table around you. Buy our stuff.

The day of our yard-sale-slash-great-purge-of-2014 came last Saturday. We had five folding tables worth of stuff, boxes on the ground, stuff on the sides, stuff stuff stuff. People were shopping for over 20 minutes and we were still pulling more and more items out of the garage.

The combination of our witty, simple, yet effective Craigslist and newspaper ads (“Come buy our stuff!”) and my wife’s penchant for fine poster skills made our yard sale the most hoppin’ place to be in the greater Moore/Duncan area. Our cul-de-sac looked like a used car parking lot and I even threatened to start selling off the cars.

yardsale2

Yard sales are a great opportunity to people watch. At least, I think some of them were people. Here are a few of the characters we encountered.

Brass Knuckle Tattoo: Yeah, Brass Knuckle Tattoo was a chick. The tat was very strategically placed smack in the middle of her thigh. The baby in the stroller she was pushing is going to love having friends over to her house one day. BKT hung out for a while, but didn’t buy anything. I don’t think we had much that matched her look.

All-Change Woman: I have no problem getting change. It adds up just fine. But, this one woman pulled out all her dimes on purpose. I’m not sure if she didn’t like the price, but she passed up several larger bills en route to making our cash box jingle-jangle. Thanks for always giving me something to count All-Change Woman.

Buy it Anyway Guy: The conversation went a little something like this:

“How about $5?”

“Well, this is $20 brand new and it’s still in the package. How about $15?”

“I don’t really need it.”

“OK, thanks for coming.”

“Oh, what the heck. I’ll take it anyway.”

Urine Stank Lady: Elizabeth and I both started freaking out when we caught a whiff of something. We both asked, “did the cat pee on something out here?” We sniffed around our garage, the driveway, looked in boxes and came up with nothing. But, there was one common denominator. Urine Stank Lady. I don’t know what kind of Irish Spring she was washing in, but I want no part of it. Much like Pigpen or the Pied Piper of Pee, once she was gone, the smell followed.

La Abuela Española: She will do her best to talk you down from your starting price…in another language. We usually have phases at our yard sale. The early birds, the old folks, the people with kids, but mid-morning is usually the time we see the Hispanic families. They all come together and file in with multiple vehicles. The families are as kind as can be and buy a good bit from us each time, but I’m relatively certain that the grandmother of the bunch relies on her language deficiency as a bargaining tool. I speak Español un poquito. I used my Spanish on mission trips and managed to get by pretty well. I know I answered her pricing questions efficiently in her main language. It wasn’t that hard to tell her that each pair of women’s shoes cost “dos.” Still, she cocked her head to the side, looked at her daughter and asked her for the price instead. We did this with four pairs of shoes. She paid uno.

Buys Nice Things Lady: Buys Nice Things Lady is a recurring character at our yard sales. We know three things about her. She has three kids. She has a daughter in college. She buys nice things. Anytime we have a designer brand by the time she arrives late morning, we know she will buy it. Some people will ONLY buy our really used, really crappy stuff. Like a nasty bed pillow with my head grease all over it or one utensil out of set of four. These people avoid anything name brand, even though it is in great condition and priced no differently than the rest of our stuff. But not Buys Nice Things Lady. She knows what she wants. Sometimes she wrinkles her nose almost like she doesn’t really want to buy something or doesn’t really know what it is, but she knows. That’s just her way of bargaining. But, this year, Buys Nice Things Lady wasn’t there. We were pretty let down. We had a lot of nice stuff for her that went to the thrift store. We were counting on you, Buys Nice Things Lady. You heartbreaker.

Trophy Husband: I know this because that’s what it said on his shirt.

$1-the-Next-Day-Guy: Our yard sale was Saturday. On Sunday I was trying to take a nap and heard the doorbell. A guy drove all the way back here because he remembered seeing something that he should have bought for a friend. The item was a brand new swaddling blanket for $2. He asked if we had it and we managed to pull it out of the thrift store stuff so my wife could consign it. She retrieved it from the garage and handed it to him. He gave us $1. No negotiation, just $1. He was so charming we hardly noticed. Perhaps I was caught off guard because he was wearing the shirt I sold him yesterday. It looked way better on him. Dang. 

Bought-a-Free-T-shirt-Guy: $1-the-Next-Day-Guy has an alter ego as one who pays money for things that others got for free. I’d like to thank the chiropractor in Port Orange, Florida for giving me that shirt at that festival thing that one time. I got fifty cents for it. Boo-yah. I also gave a $50 shirt to the thrift store. Whatever, I sold a free shirt.

Second-Grader-Who-Bought-Shot-Glasses: Yep, I sold two shot glasses to a second grader. What? Don’t look at me like that. It’s not like I bundled in a bottle of Jack Daniels. We haven’t consumed any alcoholic beverage in many years, but we still had beer, wine and cocktail glasses that were given to us at our wedding or accumulated in wilder times. Our neighbor’s daughter came over to shop at our yard sale and wanted to get her mom something. So she left with a set of earrings and two shot glasses. I’m guessing she thought they were small, cute cups. Hey, a buck is a buck, right? (*Side note, I also gave her a beach ball and nearly passed out from blowing it up as a way to make myself feel better about selling shot glasses to a first grader.)

At the end of the day we made $561.45 $554.29 plus two Sonic milkshakes and significant progress toward paying off the car and minimizing the amount of stuff we owned. We took a Jeepload (standard unit of measure) to a local thrift store, so we have a decent write-off coming our way. We have sold a shelf and a chair on Craigslist and have more things posted on eBay, Amazon and Facebook. 

 

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