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Red Alert

What message are you giving off?

Your daughter's a little firecracker, isn't she?" a fellow mom commented after watching my three–year–old, Charli, dart about a birthday party exuding her usual "don't mess with this diva" attitude. The term "firecracker" certainly is apropos, as it seems Charli's signature color is red.

Perhaps we should rename her "Scarlet," given her current affinity for crimson tones. Just last week she introduced herself to my tube of "Ladybug" lipstick, a vibrant shade I reserve for the occasional big evening out when the more subtle pink and brown shades just won't do. Charli thought it such a fanciful hue that she liberally applied it not only to her lips, but also to her face and torso as well as to the adjacent bathroom mirror, floor, and wall. Now I know where the phrase "seeing red" came from.

This weekend Charli laid claim to the bottle of fruit punch her brother left on the kitchen counter. Charli absconded to the living room to savor her spoils, and somehow in the process managed to spill the entire bottle. Had the previous homeowners chosen a carpet in the dark brown, burgundy, or green family, this would have proven an inconsequential mishap. However, since they preferred white, the first sight that catches the eye upon entering our home is now a foot–wide red patch impervious to any industrial–strength cleaning product in the civilized world.

Today Charli wanted to paint. I seized the opportunity to do some writing while she gleefully occupied herself in the kitchen with her art supplies. Suddenly it became deceptively silent. Soon Charli appeared where I was working to show me her handiwork. In addition to the conventional artwork she'd created, there before me stood a living masterpiece I call "Lady in Red." As the last of the rose–colored water swirled down the drain, I discovered my work was not yet complete. Kitchen door, tabletop, and chair were adorned with thick swirls of red. Not to worry. All was returned to perfect condition in two minutes, thanks to my truly miraculous miracle cloths (you gotta get these things!). One more mess efficiently abated. Time to get back to my writing.

As I walked back to the office, there they lay, mocking my smugness. Waving at me from right there beside the foot–wide fruit–punch patch were four siren–red handprints. Perhaps the wisest move at this point would be to throw in a little blue and redecorate with a sort of patriotic theme. You just can't ignore red.

Red surely makes a statement, doesn't it? Every day that we live, each of us makes a statement, too. Our actions speak volumes to those who witness our daily comings and goings. Sometimes our actions say, My family is precious to me. Other times they communicate, I care deeply for people. Yet other days we may send out the message, I don't have time for me, or you, or anyone else!

We all have "off" days when things don't go well. But what is the message people typically receive from you? I hope that in my everyday connections with the grocery clerk, my neighbors, the childcare workers at the gym, or my kids, they receive a clear message of encouragement. That's the statement I want to make, my signature "color." What's yours?

Oh, by the way, red follows Charli wherever she goes. A couple weeks ago, I bumped into an acquaintance at the store, and as we were conversing, Charli requested, "Mom, raise your arm." As I continued chatting with my friend, Charli persisted. "Mom, raise your arm. Raise it. I want to see those little hairs." There I stood, my face all aglow in Charli's signature color. Red definitely makes a statement!

Lisa Johnson is a writer, speaker, and recording artist from Southern California. She is the author of Days of Whine & Noses (Jossey-Bass).

Elisa Morgan is president of MOPS International. Call (800) 929-1287 or go to www.mops.org for information about a MOPS group in your area.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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