Game Playing

“This is exactly what we need!”

I had heard this sentence so many times since living on the same street for a very long time. The advantage to having a lot of traffic is that I can put any item on the curb, and it will disappear quickly. Sometimes it will happen at midnight, while I’m not aware, and at other times, I will barely be back up the driveway, and the recipients will see me.

“Are you sure this is for free?” They will say.

If it’s garbage, it goes in the trash, but if it’s something I am told to give away, it will be displayed.

I had named the original tree that used to be there. If my girls had anything they no longer wanted and it was in good shape, they knew I would say,

“Go put it under the giving tree.”

I could have easily sold some of these things, but it was more fun to give it and less hassle for me. I had done my garage sales, and I gave away items when someone couldn’t pay for something, so why go through all that work? It took up less of my time to drag stuff down and walk away.

One day, my youngest daughter was being a bit more independent than I liked, and she was engaged in a back and forth with me. I started to run out of things to say, so I said,

“You know the giving tree out there? Things always disappear quickly. I might just sit you under that tree.”

She laughed, knowing she won whatever we were not in agreement over.

The tree got hit by someone under the influence, but the city replaced it with a new one.

The most memorable donation was my dining room table and chairs. I had just happened to go out just as a lady was loading them into the back of a truck.

I walked over to see that she was crying.

“This will be the first year for the holidays that my kids and I won’t have to use lawn chairs and an old table that is falling apart. I have five kids, so six chairs are just perfect. And it’s free? I could never have afforded this.” She was a single mom like me, raising her children, and didn’t have a lot of funds to spare.

While the world says we should hang on to what we have to survive, God says,


In Luke, it says,

Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. (Message)

When you are guided to do something that makes absolutely no sense, that generally means you aren’t in charge, but it can turn out to be the best for you.

“Where am I at for a total?” He asked.

The cashier looked at her screen and read off the amount.

“I will be done in a minute. I’m sorry,” he said to me.

In his cart, he had piled in every game off the shelves.

“That’s okay,” I said. “Do you sell these online?”

“Yes. This is how I make my living, and there aren’t board games like this where I live.”

I explained that I had spent time in line with my daughter, a YouTuber, as she has rescued and restored dolls for her channel. I knew what a haul was.

“I sell on Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. This is all I do day and night. We just moved to South Carolina from Illinois, but I make the drive back to get to all these places to pick up more. People who live in warmer areas don’t seem to sit around a table inside when the weather is so nice, but in colder climates, people do. What else are you going to do during a snowstorm?”

Against the standard way of working, he walked away from a job as a manager at a fast-food restaurant. He had been at this for seven years, and his knowledge had led him to a prosperous career. He tried college, but that didn’t go over so well.

“I was required to buy a $300 calculator for Calculus. I couldn’t afford it, but I worked the problem without it. I got the right answer, and the instructor accused me of mocking him. I walked away for good that day.”

Everything happens for a reason.

“So you gave up your health insurance and benefits to be your own boss?”

“Yes. I have a daughter and a son. My wife doesn’t have to work because I profit from this. I do it all by myself, and since the pandemic, people want board games to be at home with family.”

I saw a short, glowing person on his left side as he spoke.

I heard grandparent.

“With all these new ways of earning money, this probably wouldn’t have made sense to your grandparents. They would have probably told you to get a real job.”

That has been said to my daughter by the ignorant.

“Well, my grandma did trade shows. I always went with her to set up and help. So she understood.”

“How long has she been gone?”

“A couple of years.”

Now I knew who it was.

“We used to go to her house for Christmas and play one game after another. They had Clue, Monopoly, and Life. All the old stuff.”

He had multiples of those in his cart.

“Every crappy job I had until now, I have gotten something that I can apply to this business. I had to learn and then get brave and launch it. I am the happiest I have ever been. I own a house and a car that I would never have had without doing this. I have money set aside for my retirement and for my kids’ education.”

“How old are you?” I asked.

“Thirty-nine. I just know this is going to work out for a long time. My thirteen-year-old asked me why we don’t play games. After all the hours I put in, I can’t stand to look at them sometimes.”

“What if she helped you? So she doesn’t feel left out. You don’t want her to grow up and feel resentful.”

“I have always wanted to start a YouTube channel where I explain how to play some of these. People lose the instructions all the time.”

“What if she did that? What if your son and wife played the games and she had a channel?”

“That’s a great idea. She could make money eventually and do something besides playing a video game.”

“You are teaching your kids not to follow what everyone else is doing. They will see they can do anything.”

“I want that. For me, a regular job was not what I wanted, so I’m so glad I have this.”

It’s not easy as he leaves his home on a Thursday, does his shopping trips, gets back home on Sunday, and then has to work on packaging and marketing online.

I pointed him in the direction of two other stores nearby he wasn’t aware of.

“Those are both close. My goal is to fill the UHaul and get home quick.”

Bernie is living the dream. Why? Because he followed a lead that led to more information, he now has a full-blown way to live free and do something he enjoys. For most people, they wouldn’t have even tried, and for others, they would have spent their time complaining about how difficult it was. Not him. He couldn’t tell me enough about the job from Amazon rules, fees, and red tape. But he never was negative for one second. It’s just what he has to do to have his freedom. At one point, he said,

“America is great. You can do anything and be successful here.”

In Proverbs 18:21 it says,

The tongue has the power of life and death.

By his positive outlook, he is blessing the work of his hands. He is giving God something to work with. And he has taken a bold stand. He isn’t settling for what everyone else has been taught to be the only way to happiness. With that combination going for him, whether he is aware of it or not, he has gained the favor of heaven to bring in provision.

In James 1:17, this is explained,

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (NIV)

This man’s demeanor has all the earmarks of a person who has let God direct his steps. And, when that happens, it isn’t the usual jumping through hoops to make self-driven miracles happen or striving to be at the top. With God, it’s like breathing, simple, easy and no game playing.


“I think you should apply at the library as a shelver,” she said.

I had barely been out of my first temporary job, and she was already talking about the next one. (See Going Through A Rough Patch blog as to why my excitement was at an all time low about another job)

At least her suggestion was something I had an interest in versus a large department store. My mom would not be satisfied until I worked part-time and earned straight A’s in school. It would build my character, she said. And kill me, I thought.

“Do I need to call and set up an interview?” I asked.

“I already did.”

Of course.

After school one day, I was whisked away as her excitement ran high. She loved the thrill of reliving her teen years through mine. Meanwhile, I had bags under my eyes from writing research papers and taking final exams.

“I think this will be so great for you. You like to read, and books will surround you.”

I already had a stack of them on my bed with homework assignments due in less than twenty-four hours.

She gleefully walked in with me trailing behind.

“My daughter has an interview,” she said to the lady at the circulation desk, like she was my handler.

I was told to sit in a specific place and wait where two other girls were seated. One of them I recognized from school. She always wore her hair in two low braids with ribbons. This was 1984, where perms and high hair ruled the day. She complimented her appearance with patent leather shoes with frilly ankle socks. She was locked into a first-grade dress code.

I could feel her snooty attitude rippling out in waves. The whole package screamed perfectionism. Back then, we didn’t have handheld electronic devices to look at. We had to endure uncomfortable situations, fully engaged with people we would rather not be.

The girl next to her was called in while I took up a catatonic stare at the floor.

“I’m going to get this position,” she said. I looked up.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“My aunt works here, so the job is already mine. They always hire relatives before outsiders.”

I don’t know what bugged me more. What she said or the way she said it.

“You might as well go home. You are wasting your time.”

She was a vision of superiority and self-righteousness wrapped up in a floral print that was hard on the eyes.

Her name was called, and she flounced away.

When it was my turn, I was sequestered into a small room, asked why I was applying and what long-term goals I wished to achieve. My short-term goal was to get this over.

Getting past the firing squad of questions, I was expected to show how well I could put a book cart in order while timed. I did my best, but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking how pointless this was if the girl with the shining personality had already gotten it. I was a formality.

In between classes at school, she saw me and said,

“I told you that I would get it.”

I walked past her as if she were invisible.

At the news of my unsuccessful attempt, it was on to another idea.

“I think you should work at the nursing home.”

“Isn’t that for old people?”

“Yes, Chris. They have a housekeeping and laundry position open, and they need someone for evenings, weekends, and holidays.”

I would be giving up the glamour of the library for washing clothes, sweeping, and taking out the trash, amongst other Cinderella-type chores. It sounded much more labor intensive than the other, but what choice did I have? She wanted to let all the neighbors know that her youngest daughter wasn’t lying around on the couch eating cereal straight out of the box and drinking right out of the milk carton. We had to keep up a good image.

That interview was set up, and once again, my mom was elated at the prospect of me launching into minimum wage slavery that would shape my outlook on life.

I breezed through the meeting and then went home to wait while they picked the most talented of all of us.

“I hope you get this one,” she said. “It would be good for you to work around the elderly.”

She had given birth to me at age 36, but I chose not to mention that I already felt plenty exposed to that daily.

“I want you to have a solid lead before school ends. Everyone will be out looking, so if this comes through, it would be great.”

I went back to my real job. I was trying to pass tenth grade.

A few weeks later, I was greeted at the door with her smiling from ear to ear.

“You need to call Joyce back.”

She was the one I had met with for the housekeeping position. She went across the room, took the phone off the wall receiver, and stretched it over to me—no time like the present.

The job was mine if I wanted it. I was shocked because I thought I would be back out looking again.

It was explained that I had not been their pick, but the rightful candidate had fallen through. I was the only one they had not reached to let know that had been bypassed for the job.

“We thought it would be easier just to give you the position rather than going back to someone we already said no to.”

With my mother standing there watching me like a hawk, how could I turn it down?

They hired the right person because I not only did housekeeping and laundry, but I worked in the kitchen, was a social worker after college, and was an assistant in therapeutic recreation on the Alzheimer’s unit. My accidental landing of the initial role benefited them for over ten years.

It wasn’t until I was looking for employment after my divorce I revisited the library idea. I had felt robbed of that for years. So when I saw that a shelver was needed, I applied. By then, I was nearing 40, and this time I was way beyond the age of my competitors. I flew through the interview with ease and did the timed test basically with my eyes closed. What a difference twenty-four years made.

A few days later, I was told I had not gotten the job as the woman who vacated the position returned from the military, and they had to give it back to her by law.

I could not believe I was ripped off again!

My daughter saw my disappointment and said,

“God will give you something better.”

A month passed before I thought of it again. Then I got a call.

“I would like to offer you a part-time shelving position. We kept all of your information from the application you filled out before this, and we think you would be a good addition here.”

The job was not at the branch I had just applied to a month prior, but the original library that I had been turned away from at sixteen.

“If you want it, orientation starts next week.”

I took it, and I can say I still have a hard time not straightening books at stores and random libraries.

God had given me exactly what I had wanted after a lot of years of waiting. If you trust, He will never leave you sitting on the shelf.