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I decided, rather spontaneously, to spice up bath time tonight. An hour after the idea hit, I ran to the store and bought 3 bars of Ivory soap. After dinner, I told the girls to come sit down. I passed the bar of soap around, and had them examine it. I asked them what they thought was inside the bar of soap. Then I told them to put it on a microwave safe plate and we put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. I told them to stand there and watch. Soon, exclamations of “ooh!” and “cool!” and “It’s blowing up!” rang loud.

The bar of soap did indeed “blow up.” It expanded into this huge, flaky….soap cloud. As the excitement died down, I explained that the bar of Ivory soap has something in it that other soaps don’t have: whipped air. That whipped air makes the soap expand when it is heated. It also makes the Ivory bar of soap float, whereas the other brands do not. We then added a little water, food coloring and cookie cutters to transform our flaky soap clouds into gingerbread soap bars.

As we did, I talked about how there are things inside us that no one knows about, except God. We have the potential to do more than we think we do. We have gifts that we don’t know we have. Only, I said, when we allow God to work through us do we see the full potential we have. He is kind of like the air inside the bar of soap that makes the awesome cloud… If we let him, he can turn our normal selves into pure awesomeness. That sparked a whole conversation on talent and what we hope is part of our potential. We talked about how cool it would be too be day do something that made others say “Wow!” like we did when we saw the soap clouds.

And then they went to bed.

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But my mind was still stuck on the experiment we did earlier. It made me feel rather reflective and pensive. You see, sometimes I get really focused in on challenges. I do this so that I can get over them; if I stay zeroed in on a problem, it can’t get the best of me. I will find my way out. That’s just the way I look at crisis. I sometimes forget to acknowledge, or really enjoy, the good things. Our experiment today reminded me that there have new some major blessings in my life.

I was able to spend time, and then to actually talk to privately a Holocaust survivor. In my life, that is monumental; pivotal. People I don’t know have brought books I write–and they email me, telling me their thoughts and feelings. I cannot even convey with words how touching or sweet or healing that is to me. I am able to see and teach and play with my daughters, and hug them. That is the greatest blessing I could have. I am safe, as are they. I am able to speak to others and, when I do, I am not rejected or humiliated but rather embraced and welcomed. As a nineteen and twenty year old, I wrote a program about the Holocaust and actually taught it to high school students: I never would have been able to do that without God’s hand guiding mine. I’m not afraid of red tape or of reaching for what I want… That’s a blessing, a gift, I often overlook. I have a mother and a sister that are my greatest champions and supporters. I used to think that no one knew I even existed or thought me worthy enough of friendship. But, maybe, that’s not quite true; it seems of late that others think I am decent and worthy of their friendship. My point is that for each of the major challenges of my life there has been an equally beautiful, redeeming gift. Gifts that are of such value, that are so precious and personal, that I don’t even know how to repay.

Compassion is a verb. Compassion is actively treating others with tenderness and kindness. And I think of those who have blessed my life with kind words, kind actions, hugs and warm conversations. I think of the blessings God has guided me to: mentoring children, teaching, parenting, speaking, writing… I am amazed. The challenges are out there…but inside the people I am surrounded by, inside me, there is a light bright enough to outshine anything thrown this way. Inside, there is a moment, a word, an idea so big that it overshadows the pain and terror, so big it is set to burst free to shower the world in sunshine, warmth and joy.

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