I was informed yesterday, and sadly not for the first time, that I am no longer considered young. Actually, it is an extra special tidbit that seems to be coming up a lot these days and can I just say, it would be downright jovial of y’all to let me hit 40 before beginning all these discussions of my retirement from the human race? As much as I would like to figure out how to suck in the sag that is my throat and brag about having a single joint that doesn’t crack and snap when I attempt to use it, I increasingly find I don’t have much of a leg to stand on in the defense of my youthful bloom. Today is yet another nail in my impending coffin, because I have a nagging fear that I am about to repeat myself.

Since the youth of today seem inclined to have goofy abbreviations for absolutely everything, I shall heave one more medicine ball sized attempt at relevance and coin my own: F.O.R. That’s right, I am flattened by an overwhelming Fear Of Redundancy.

Thankfully, if my mind continues to decay at a comparable rate to what my peers indicate that my body is declining at, I should forget all about it in about 3 minutes. What were we talking about?

Oh yeah. Writing on dollar bills.

So Starbucks is a creepy place (I know for a fact I have mentioned that before) and at least in my part of the world, it is where you can go to if you really are curious how men pull off the tucking and padding involved in faking womanhood, but feel funny showing up at drag queen story hour at the library. In my neck of the woods, it is also where the drug addicted, homeless, homeless and drug addicted, and a staggering lot of individuals who find themselves to be brilliant conversationalists and thus carry on impassioned dialogues with themselves on the sidewalk like to congregate. It is where the unshowered man-bun taking my payment at the drive-through window can describe all the reasons why my minivan is cultural appropriation and toxic whiteness (ok, fine, he might not be wrong there…) but has trouble understanding what I mean by “hot tea.”

But unfortunately, Starbucks is my current best option for bringing coffee to a friend who is in a difficult situation and bringing coffee is a solid excuse for making contact, for laying eyes on her and making sure she is ok, and therefore I find myself frequenting the creepy Starbucks a couple of times a week, trying to figure out if there are smaller words for describing tea bags (input welcome. I am seriously coming up short on this one and have taken to clumsy hand signals and gestures at the order screen. I may not be getting tea, but I like to think a bored security officer somewhere is having his day made by my interpretive tea dancing).

And because I have something of a sick mind, it amuses me to pay cash whenever possible, at this Starbucks in particular, because I enjoy the flabbergasted responses I get. It happens in stages: First, the moment of tension as I hold out paper and they hold out a card reader, like that scene in Footloose where Kevin Bacon plays chicken along the ditch with tractors and wins because he accidentally gets his shoelace stuck on the clutch (yes. I am Kevin Bacon in this scenario).

Second, they do a quick but frantic rearranging of their universe in order to put the reader down, take my offering of filthy lucre, and figure out what to do with it, which sometimes involves calling over other people to help, and sometimes just involves a lot of muttering and counting on fingers. Hey, I’m not judging. I count on my fingers. This only strikes me as funny because I am pretty sure their computers tell them exactly what change to give me, so I am not entirely sure what they are counting on their fingers. Maybe it is an anger management technique?

The last stage involves a huge sigh of relief as they hand back my change (do not ask for a receipt at this point. There is entertainment and then there is just cruelty and this crosses the line), hand over whatever they ended up putting in the cups, and then do a highly awkward procedure where they try to hand me drink stoppers in a covid-approved manner. Someday I might point out that they have already handled my money, my coffee, and have full on palmed the drink lid where I am about to put my mouth and maybe handing over a stopper doesn’t really need its own protocol, but at this point, my coffee is starting to cool down. Play time is over.

So there I was, in the drive-through at the world’s creepiest Starbucks yesterday, scavenging around in my purse to see if I had enough ready cash to really deeply delight my barista, when I stumbled upon a dollar bill with “CONGRATULATIONS! 01/24/05” scrawled across it in magenta magic marker. Now, at the moment, I was faced with a choice: continue paying as if nothing had happened, or send my barista’s mind straight to the spin cycle (do not pass go, do not collect $200…) by philosophizing out loud on the whys and wherefores of fiscal graffiti.

You never know what might bless a person, right?

Obviously, if you have ever watched the John Cusack chick flick “Serendipity” then you know there are legitimate reasons for scribbling on money. Personally, I’d need someone a lot better looking than John Cusack to convince me to do it, but we’ll let the argument stand. But even then, a name and a phone number? Sure. A random congratulations for having apparently achieved January of 2005? Thank you. It was a good month for me. Kind of you to notice.

You’re waiting for the punchline, I can feel it…

Here’s the thing. Sometimes the point is simply to draw the question.

God’s Word instructs us to live in such a way that the unbelieving world has to stare at the signature of the Almighty emblazoned across your face and wonder why He did that, what does it mean, who is it that makes you live this way? In Christ, what we desire is for men to see our good works, our abundant joy, our selfless love that spills out onto anyone who will hold still, and glorify our Father in heaven.

So… is that what my husband is reading today? Or have my attitudes left a brightly colored stain on the visage of my home, the sort that reminds him rather distinctly that he is married to a sinner? Do my kids see the name of Jesus sprawled across the dinner table, across the math book, across the laundry? Or have I tagged the image of God in me with reflections of the old man, the one that died and needs to keep dying over and over again?

Create in me a clean heart, O God… then write Your name everywhere.

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