Acquiescing to Hannah’s daily request to eat dinner in front of the television, our family sat down on the couch, plates heavy with overstuffed tacos dripping with Joe T. Garcia’s salsa (look it up). Hannah had already brought up and paused a show on Hulu Plus, and the Fox Broadcasting Company logo stared at us with arms crossed, impatiently tapping its foot while we held hands to say grace. “We walk up to the table and see our tacos there,” Hannah prayed, giggling. “We praise our Heavenly Father before we take our share.”
“Amen!” we declared.
“Before we turn on the tube,” Mary said to Hannah, “why don’t you tell me one thing you’re thankful for today.”
Hannah beamed. “Ooh, I know! Why don’t we play the ‘Red, Yellow, Green’ game?”
‘“Red, Yellow, Green?’” I asked. I set my taco down. “What’s that?” Mary pointed to Hannah without a word as our seven-year-old squirmed to go first and show me exactly how to play.
“Let’s see,” Hannah began. She climbed off the couch and stood between us, in front of the coffee table. “What was red today?” She swayed back and forth, looking at the ceiling for revelation. I bit off the end of my taco while she reflected on her day. “Oh, I know!” Her face beamed. “The worst thing that happened today was when Selena used my bathroom and stopped up the toilet. It stunk up the bathroom. Bad. I can’t even go in there.”
I dropped my taco.
“Yeah, that was pretty bad,” Mary agreed.
I agreed, too, since I was the one tagged to unstop the commode after dinner. Mental note: make sure that all of Hannah’s friends who spend the evening playing at our house have evacuated their bowels prior to ringing our doorbell.
“So, what was yellow?” asked Mary.
Hannah fidgeted with the TV remotes. “I didn’t get all my math homework done today,” she said. “I’ll do the rest tomorrow.”
I nodded. As homeschoolers, flexibility is the number one curriculum we embrace. We’ve practically asphyxiated it.
“And what about green?” Mary cocked her head. “What’s the best thing that happened today?”
Hannah grew quiet. “Hmm. What was green today . . . ? Hmm.” She turned a circle. Her writhing reminded me, oddly, of Uriah Heep in David Copperfield. Mary plucked the remotes out of her hands and set them on the table. That seemed to have disarmed her distractedness. “Let’s see, what was green was . . . I went to the dentist today!”
OMG, I thought. She loves going to the dentist! And they love my money, too! “That’s awesome!” I said. I’d already finished my first taco and the TV still sat idle. Praise Jesus. I’m a sit-down-at-the-table-and-talk-about-our-day kind of guy. I liked this “Red, Yellow, Green” game. It scorns screen time. “What about you, Mom?”
“What’s red,” Mary began, “is I wasn’t able to resolve the recycling problem.” She’d been trying to find a home for our stack of recyclables ever since the place we normally take them went out of business. “What’s yellow is I didn’t get as far on the cakes as I’d wanted to.” Mary bakes and decorates cakes on the side, and the due date for the wedding cake she was working on was slowly inching up the calendar. “But what’s green is I’m blessed to have such a wonderful family!” Amen, sister, preach it!
“Good job, Mom,” I declared. She stole my answer for green. And for red. “Okay,” I said, “What’s red is getting upset over that recycling problem. What’s yellow is my software doesn’t work well with Internet Explorer. It works great with Chrome, but sucks with IE11.” I thought for a moment after trashing Microsoft. Rightly so. “And what’s green today is I’m also truly blessed to have such a wonderful family!”
“You can’t use my answers,” Mary scolded. She’d let me slide with the recycling business, but demanded I come up with something original for my “green” response.
“Okay, let’s see.” I tapped my chin. “What’s green is that, at work, we’ve made tremendous progress on our product development over the past couple of days.” And we truly had—ever since God told me to pray every morning with my boss before starting our day, the Lord’s been pouring supernatural knowledge, wisdom, and creativity into our heads and into our hands. It’s been nothing less than miraculous. What warms my heart is my boss asking me to extend our prayer time because he enjoys it. He says it gives him goosebumps. We say “holy goosebumps,” ‘cuz that’s the Lord touching our moment and firing us up for the day. Ain’t no denyin’ it!
After we finished playing “Red, Yellow, Green,” we allowed Hannah to resume her show, but by then I’d already cleaned off my plate and was licking the last remnants of sour cream and ground beef off my fingers. It was truly “quality time.”
While cleaning the kitchen I reflected on the “Red, Yellow, Green” game. The amazing thing about it? I had a difficult time thinking of anything in my life that could be considered red, let alone yellow. My life? It’s mostly green! And to think that Kermit the Frog lamented his color. Sheesh! And the yellow and red parts? When placed in the proper perspective, they add a little flair to that green!
I’ve got a great job, I thought while scrubbing a frying pan. I pondered how truly blessed I am to be employed by a fellow believer who is as concerned about the success of my writing career as he is about my ability to get my web server software working properly with Internet Explorer (okay, that in itself is going to take a miracle straight from heaven!). Our family has been overwhelmed by blessings of excellent health and abundant provision. We’re blessed with a beautiful house in the country, positioned perfectly to serve our community as a lamp set on a hill. We live in the United States of America, still the greatest country on the planet despite our recent bent toward bickering, pettiness, and judgmentalism. At least we still have the right to express our opinion and talk about it, no matter how unpopular the subject. At least we still have religious freedom. So far.
God has lavished plenty over us, and out of that plenty flows gratitude, something we’re trying to instill in Hannah as all the “stuff” clamors for our attention and adoration. We own two vehicles that take care of our needs—our “little car” is over eleven years old and, knock on faux wood, it has never left us stranded on the side of the road. And above and beyond all these blessings is the most important, most enduring, most beneficial blessing of all, the only one really: our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He’s real, He exists, and He’s in control. I absolutely, positively have no doubt whatsoever. Because, without this blessing, we would have no others. With this blessing, we have all. It’s true to the very core of our existence. It is our existence.
I realized the “Red, Yellow, Green” game perfectly reflects the Apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians, a church materially poor but rich in what really matters: the love of Jesus Christ. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV®). Playing the “Red, Yellow, Green” game stirred in me a renewed reflection, pondering, thinking about “such things.” When Hannah asked to play this game instead of simply answering Mary’s question, she unknowingly resurrected my believe and embrace of a deliberate focus of thoughts on only those that produce life and expelling those that produce negativity, apathy, and, eventually, death. As Kermit the Frog lamented, “It’s not easy being green.” No, it’s certainly not easy, especially in this society. But if you’re going to live life to the fullest, what else is there?
Copyright © 2015 by David C Hughes