the day I met Marilyn Manson’s family (from last year)

While we lived in New Zealand, I ran my writing business at Christmas to aid our income when the dollar weakened against the Kiwi.  Holidays in New Zealand are so different. Being it’s summertime, Kiwis have a barbie at the beach so we usually went to the beach in the afternoon to fish and swim, but I refused to grill hamburgers on Christmas Day! Buying a turkey was possible but, $75 wasn’t feasible for missionaries, so I substituted with chicken and dressing and added a new tradition,  leg of lamb.  Funny now-we have turkey for Thanksgiving but, splurge on for leg of lamb for Christmas since we came back to the states. 🙂

Our kiosk was across from the main escalator and I had mirrors placed in each corner to see who needed help or was copying poems without my permission. One morning, I caught a glimpse of a couple coming down the escalator and they had to get right up on me in order for me to determine that they were male and female. In between the two, was a girl who looked to be five or six and if I’m honest,  I was surprised to see this carefree, happy acting child-given the appearance of the pair she was accompanying. I assumed that they were her parents but, I couldn’t tell who she resembled, with their faces veiled in pale white, lips dyed black and both had their eyes encircled heavily in black eyeliner. Oh and each had a teardrop tattooed on the cheek.  They were garbed in nothing BUT black, dog collars, chains, the whole nine yards. The girl’s hair was light and curly, but theirs was straight and you got it, BLACK. I was about to tell Jen to have a peek at the Marilyn Manson impersonators but didn’t have a chance to when they stepped off of the escalator and directly towards our kiosk!

I instructed my 16 year old daughter to stay inside of the kiosk and walked out to greet them, but before I could say a word, the girl extended her hand to me! With a big smile and lighthearted tone she offered up a typical, Kia Ora! ( hello) I’m Fiona. What’s your name, Miss? I couldn’t help but note that this was quite possibly the most polite child I had ever met!  Kia Ora. My name is Lis.

You’ve got really beautiful hair, Lis. Okay clearly this angelic child has been abducted by these two demons. Maybe it’s time to call security, my mind instructed. We came to buy Christmas prezzies for my Nana and Papa at The Warehouse, but they aren’t open yet. (The Warehouse is NZ’s Walmart a merge of Dollar General & Big Lots) .  I responded-I’m glad you came to visit me instead! I lied- what I really thought was-the dude has a pentagram tattooed on his hand and dudette has a matching one on her neck. My shelves are full of GOD POEMS so anytime THE WAREHOUSE wants to open their doors, I’m cool with that!

Would you like a lolly? I don’t think you’d fancy anything else I have. (I doubted Mummy & Dad would be thrilled at much of what I had to offer either.) If you’ve not read my blogs, lolly is the New Zealand word for candy- that’s how I got my  nickname Lolly. When we moved to NZ, I kept my purse full of lollies to bribe the kids and one of the toddlers in our church who was learning to talk thought the other kids were calling me Lolly. One Sunday she came running to me calling Lolly, Lolly! Several people heard her, thought it was cute, so the name stuck.

Mummy, it’s American lollies! May I have one please? Mummy came around the corner sporting fanged teeth! I’ve never tried it, but I suppose if you wear black lipstick, your teeth would appear super duper white. Can you believe that MUMMY had the gall to size ME up, took the candy from the basket and inspected it before allowing Fiona to take it? I was all about taking care of Fiona. The way I SIZED up this situation, I would not be above using their kid as a human shield if it came down to it! As every store opened, it became painfully apparent to me that they were in no hurry. What’s more, they allowed me to entertain Fiona while they read all four sides of my kiosk.  Uh huh. ALL FOUR sides.

After what felt like an eternity, Mr. Marilyn handed me two frames. You wanna buy these? Jena teased me about my BILL ENGVALL moment. Naw, we just wanted to hold them for a few minutes! HEEre‘s your sign!

They’d picked out something for Fiona’s Nana and Papa. Now don’t laugh! I’ve got a guy and gal in front of me whose eyes made Tammy Faye’s look like VIRGIN EYES.  I wanted to be a responsible sales person & point out the line in BOLD letters that read, I thank GOD for you, but I’d seen them read EVERYTHING; so there was NO way they had overlooked the spiritual nature of my work. I opted to ring up the sale and gave Fiona a parting lolly and goodbye hug. She took them by the hand. I’m glad I got that American friend. She talks really REALLY weeeirrd..but her lollies are yummy!

The next morning I looked up to see Mr. MARILYN traveling ALONE down the escalator. Jensi, I muttered between my teeth, Marilyn’s back and he’s coming over here. Stay in the kiosk & grab your mobile–we may need security. 

Without FIONA between us, I felt vulnerable and wondered why he was there to pay a second visit so early the very next day. Kia Ora, mate. How’d you manage leaving both your girls at home? The dude was genuinely surprised. You remember me? Sweeet.

HEEre’s YOUR sign, bro. I’m used to seeing a grown man in the mall dressed like Lucifer at Christmas. 🙂 I held in my chuckle and responded with a grin. Give Fiona this lolly and make sure to tell her it’s from me. The look in his eyes- I will never forget. It was obvious he wasn’t used to having ordinary chats with a middle aged, American woman, not openly disgusted or threatened by his appearance.

He picked up a frame within a minute or two and brought it to the cash wrap. I saw my partner reading it yesterday. I acted like I didn’t so I’d have her a surprise to open for Christmas. Just got off graveyard (dude was killing my life! He worked graveyard. Seriously?) I’m knackered!  Glad I didn’t have to look around for it again. You got a lot of stuff to read.  He handed Jena the oval frame that read…TO MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE.

This young man was as normal acting and talking as most of our customers. He just looked like a freak! We chatted about his wife, daughter, job and a bit about life while Jena rang up the sale. When she handed him the bag, he looked me directly in the eye and with a genuineness that grabbed my soul, he said; Thanks for being nice to my family yesterday. We don’t get that kind of reaction very often and it means a lot. Fiona says you’re her best American friend.

If my story ended would be among my MOST TREASURED memories, but it was to be another YEAR before it ended happily ever after.

The next CHRISTMAS, I opened my business in the same mall and got my same space across from the escalator. I hadn’t been opened long when I spotted a young family coming down the escalator. They had to get VERY close before I recognized them.

Mummy said you might be in this same place. Where’s your girl? A familiar voice peeked inside the kiosk while reaching into my lolly basket. She only looked at Mum for an okay nod this time.  FIONA! You’re almost as tall as me! My girl is away at church camp this week but, she’ll be gutted that she didn’t get to see you!

Although she’d grown taller as kids do, it wasn’t FIONA who was barely recognizable. Had she not been with her parents, I would not have known them.  Well, Mummy and Dad sure look different from last year. They blushed. We decided it was time for us to grow up and let her be the kid for a change and besides, we couldn’t afford to keep buying our own makeup with the way she’s growing!   I whelped up in the middle of the mall as we hugged one other. It’s good to see you guys! I’ve thought about you often and prayed that you were doing well.

They told me how much the frames had meant to her parents, so they wanted to pick out verses to give their siblings. This year, they didn’t pay, but it wasn’t because I felt a need to be charitable. I WANTED to repay them for the joy they’d given me. When they protested, I insisted.  I want to-because you cared enough to bring Fiona by to say hello and I don’t get that too much being American over here and it means a lot.  When our eyes met, he let me know- he knew that I was repeating the words he’d said to me the year before.  After a few moments of chatter, I tucked a frame in the bag with a note that it was a gift from me. It read-PEOPLE come. PEOPLE go, a fact of LIFE it’s true. But every now and then some STAY to become special FRIENDS like you.

GOD used that family to teach me some valuable lessons and all these years later, I think of them often.

Don’t judge a book by its COVER, I don’t know what’s on the inside of anyone.

Don’t assume GOD can’t use me to witness even when a person is my opposite.

CHILDREN are the most likely key to unlock parents’ hearts. If I can REACH the child with kindness, chances are that I’ll reach the parent. When I connect with the parent, I can share Jesus.

BE KIND to people who look different than me. They get an ample amount of self righteous, JUDGMENTAL stares…a friendly hello…not so much.

I try (though I confess it’s hard for a people pleaser) not to worry about what other CHRISTIANS think about me when they witness me interacting with those who don’t have a HALO. I haven’t always been as comfortable with it as I am at this point in life. You know-I missed sharing the LOVE of GOD with so many because of a warped, ignorant view about what being unspotted by the world & unequally yoked with unbelievers means. I’ve wrestled with what GOD meant by abstaining from the appearance of evil and I’m still seeking to understand how to be in the world and not of it. But, I do know one thing. You can’t REACH what you’re not willing to touch!

Those verses that we love to serve up are an arrogant, pious excuse not to associate with people who look, talk or live differently than we do and I am telling you without reservation. GOD will hold us accountable for that when we stand before HIS throne.  And if it helps some of you to relax a little about this controversial topic, I’ll let you in on a little secret. You don’t have to go to a bar, alley, ghetto or crack house to find those who are DIFFERENT than you are. They live on our streets, shop in  same malls we do, have kids who go to school with our kids’ and sometimes they visit our church when we LEAST expect them. SO when that happens….

I want to BE the one who SPEAKS to them..NOT..WHISPERS about them.

I want to BE the one who sits beside them..NOT..gets up and moves as far away as possible.

I want to BE the one who ACCEPTS them where they are..NOT..the one who says- you’re not WELCOME until you clean up your act. Lose the ponytail, erase those tattoos, filter your language, no ripped jeans in the sanctuary, no drinking, no smoking, no foul language! NO, NO, NO!!

I want to BE the one who LOVES those people, regardless of where they are! Contrary to what many may say, that is not condoning a sinful lifestyle. It’s just doing what JESUS told us to do. LOVE one ANOTHER.  I’ve been doing ministry a long, long time now and I hope you’ll trust me on this. We can’t win the lost to CHRIST if we eek out bigotry, self righteousness, prejudice, hatred or CONDEMNATION .

I don’t have to make them presentable to enter GOD’S PRESENCE. I’m called to LOVE them as HE LOVED me and let HIM take it from there! I’m to help them grow in their walk but THAT part happens AFTER HE SAVES!

Do yourself a favor and actually listen to the SONG…you won’t be sorry!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nett
    Dec 02, 2010 @ 20:56:49

    Good stuff!! Kindred spirits we are…. 🙂


  2. jena
    Dec 03, 2010 @ 09:53:02

    this one made me smile…big time 🙂 special special memory 🙂


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