Friday, October 10, 2008

Obedience

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Madame Cleo. Does anyone remember Madame Cleo. She used to be on TV offering to tell your future in a Jamaican accent with a deck of Tarot Cards. Then a funny thing happened; everyone found out that Madame Cleo wasn't even real, she was some actress in New Jersey named Judy or something and she definitely was not from Jamaica. She was from the Bronx. I just wonder though how many people were receptive to what Madame Cleo told them on the phone. How many naive young women dumped their boyfriends? How many men went out and bought lottery tickets after they were told financial security was on its way? How many paying people were, how else do I say it, obedient. You see I have been thinking a lot about what it is we listen to when we make decisions. Do we listen to our hearts? Wise council? How about an actress with a Jamaican accent? As a follower of Christ I would like to say that I always listen to my heavenly father, but the simple fact of the matter is I don't. I know that there have been too many times when I know what God is telling me to do in a certain area, I just don't like WHAT He's telling me. So what do I do? What all good Christians do-I pray or ask other people what to do until I get the answer I like. I might as well be calling Madame Cleo. I have to confess that I have not been obedient in the recent past. I have felt the Lord putting a burden on my heart to read the scripture and share my understanding through writing. I however have avoided it, not out of fear, but out of a lack of obedience. I know that the Lord has made me promises, and I know that non-believers look at what I do and wonder why. I just want to let people know that I am going to be obedient, and I encourage you to do the same. Not because God will bless you with financial prosperity or a new boyfriend, but because obedience to the Lord will garnish you a much better return than a phone call to Madame Cleo.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Body You've Always Wanted

My friend Dana and I started a club together, and while right now we have only two members, I know that the Body Watchers Club is meant for great things. Ok, I confess, we really just modified Weight Watchers so that we could skip out on the meetings and still lose weight. You see, I really want to lose the rest of this baggage that my little Elisabeth left when she came into this wonderful world of ours. Dana and I have been chugging along now for about three weeks, drinking a lot of water, kickboxing, and calorie counting. You can imagine how, after weeks of deprevation and work I was relieved to hear that I can have the body I've always wanted. I was listening to the radio while driving and heard this commercial about liposuction and cellulite removal. It sounded very promising. The best part? They would put on a payment plan for my new body! That's right! I might qualify for financing and can pay my body off with no interest for a year! Whoo hoo. I started laughing quietly to myself and mumbling about liposuction. I am sure that at the time I probably made some wisecrack about how the world was pretty pathetic, and probably wondered aloud about what they would do to you if you didn't pay for you're body. I wonder if they put your fat back? Anyway... I forgot about the lipo place until this Thursday. Jeff and I had come to Louisville with my fellow body watcher, Dana, and her husband, Earl, to celebrate his birthday. We were walking down Bardstown (something I miss desprately now that I am in E-town) and we saw a homeless man on a bench. Dana and Earl are fellow believers in Christ, but as all four of us walked past the man no one said a thing. Now he was sleeping, but I know that each of us in our own way was ignoring his plight, hoping that if we pretended he wasn't there, maybe he wouldn't be. I wondered aloud to Dana if the body of Christ was doing enough to help the homeless; the down trodden; the lost. She nodded her head in agreement, but we didn't really talk about the matter anymore. I thought about the man once again on the way home last night, and I thought of the body I've always wanted. For the first time it occurred to me that the body I've always wanted is not a physical body, it's the body of Christ and I am part of it. I want to do something that will matter long after my last lipo payment would be made. As Jim Elliot said, we are not fools to give up what we cannot keep to gain what we could never lose. As Christians we are all part of the body watchers club, and sometimes we need to encourage fellow believers to quit focusing on things we cannot keep, like mega church buildings, fountains, and gyms, and start looking at what we can never lose. I think if I did that a little more often I could have the body I've always dreamed of, and so could you.

In The Puddles

There were once three ducks that were getting quite tired of where they were. "Hey, you know, I have been around this pond like 40 times guys," one duck said to the others. "I hear ya," said the second duck, "I would really like to get out and see the world! There have to be other ponds!" "What is wrong with our pond!?!" said the third duck. "I like it here! Why would we want to leave?" After much discussion, duck 1 and duck 2 talked duck 3 into leaving. They started to fly off to see what they could see when duck 3 said, "Hey, my wings are tired, and I would much rather walk than try to fly on this incredibly hot day." "I'm kind of tired too, " duck 1 confessed, and so the ducks landed. The ducks waddled for what seemed like forever when they came upon a large puddle at the side of a very large hill. "Hey! A new pond!" screamed duck 3, and he quickly waddled off in the direction of the puddle, splashing in, swimming and quacking. Duck 2 looked at duck 1, "Doesn't that look smaller than our old pond?" asked duck 2. "Humph," shrugged duck 1, "it looks quite nice to me." said duck 1, and he flew over to the puddle and began to splash. Duck 2 hung his head. He didn't want to leave his friends, but surely this wasn't what they had flown all this way for. This? Duck 2 hung his beak and sadly waddled over to the puddle at the base of the hill. "This is great!" said duck 3, "Who knew we would find this great pond." "You know, it is kind of nice. It is better than our old pond even!" said duck 1. " I don't really think this is all there is out there you guys. I have this feeling, this feeling that something big is out there. Do you really think we should just stop?" Ducks 1 and 3 thought for a moment and said together, "YES!" Duck 2 sadly swam in little circles around the puddle, knowing there was something more, but afraid to leave his friends behind. So the three little ducks swam and swam in their puddle. Little did they know that just over the big hill was a huge pond with many other ducks. It had a cool cove where the ducks could swim under the shade of giant weeping willow. Friendly people would come by every day to feed the ducks bread crumbs. It was a duck paradise. The three little ducks never found the big pond though. They stayed in their little puddle, missing out on something greater, just over the big hill. Don't be the ducks in the puddle. Sometimes we know we were meant for greater things then we have. We know there is more than what we have settled for. We might just be tired of looking, or maybe we settle for something that looks good at first. Maybe we let ourselves be talked into something less than we deserve because we are just too afraid to strike out on our own. We are meant to find big ponds; God never intended for us to swim in the puddles.

Pedastals

I read a story once in a book about a guy who met Santa Claus. He was a six year old kid and he had gone to the mall with his mom to get his picture taken with the big guy. He stood patiently among the many waiting youngsters. He probably looked around at the mall: hurried shoppers, screaming kids with runny noses, little girls gazing through toy store windows. While waiting in line he observed the teenage kids working their Christmas breaks posing as elves, escorting children through a snowy maze of cotton and glitter to the lap the one, the only SANTA. The line inched closer to the "North Pole" until finally it was his turn. The boy got to Santa, who smiled and asked "What do you want for Christmas?" This is where the boy got tongue tied, not because he was intimidated by Santa, but because Santa smelled like cologne and beef jerky. Surely Mrs. Claus had not gotten a whiff before he left home this morning. "How about a basketball?" Santa interjected after a painful silence. The little boy nodded, and hopped off of Santa's lap. "How was Santa?", his mother asked. "Good. Mom, I have to go to the bathroom," the little boy replied. So the mother and boy go to yet another line at the mall and wait to go to the restroom. The boy begs his mother to let him go by himself to the boys bathroom, and reluctantly, she concedes. In the bathroom the boy spots someone familiar at the urinal. He is tall, clad in red velor, and has a long white beard....hanging around his neck. The little boy looks up, realizing that the man smells oddly of beef jerky and cheap cologne. "Santa?" he squeaks. Looking down at the boy he responds, "Ho, ho, ho." He zips up and walks off. The boy rushes out to his mother, falling in his arms sobbing. "Lets go home." she says, understanding. Somehow she makes it feel a little better. I thought of this story yesterday. Someone that I greatly look up to and admire believes in something I don't. It was a painful thing to realize that the people we admire are human, and that like Santa, eventually will fall from grace. I ran to Jeff, cried a little, and he somehow made it feel a little better. We all face pedestals in our lives. Some of us are even on them. The one thing that we must remember is that we are fallen. We shouldn't be on, nor should we put people on, a pedestal. We WILL FALL. It is impossible not to. The only way to live in peace is to walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. He is the only one who deserves to be on a pedestal, and the only one who won't fall. You won't find him blogging about politics on myspace, or peeing in a mall. You will however find him at your lowest low, at your highest high, and everywhere in between. If your on a pedestal or have someone on one, kick it over now, and when you fall, fall in the arms of the one who died for you. He'll make it all better.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lessons Learned

I can only imagine how Mrs. Richards must have felt that Wednesday in class. She probably had about 30 fifth graders at the brink of puberty grating on every one of her last nerves. She probably had parents asking why their children weren't getting A's. Perhaps there was some hyper suck-up of a student begging her to let them erase the chalkboard. And then there was Bobby. He wasn't the brightest crayon in the box. He got distracted a lot, and here lately he was falling asleep in class. To top it off he had missed school since last Friday. She had given him homework, but of course, he hadn't done it. She was at her breaking point. She walked up to Bobby, who was staring out the window blankly. "Bobby" she stabs, "what in the world was more important this weekend than doing your homework?" Bobby looks down, "My mom died." Lucky, lucky Mrs Richards. Bobby is my now a grown man with three kids, and I just happen to be his oldest. My dad lost his mother when he was only 12 years old. Years later, when he was 24, he looked down at his newborn daughter and passed on one of the only things he had left of his mom; her name. My middle name is Camilla, and I am named after a grandmother I never knew...in person. Sometimes people leave us far too soon. We are left to question why they leave so quickly, or why, if you're a Christian, God would call them home. My father I am sure grappled with these questions. To many it may seem that my father was robbed of his mother, but God works in mysterious ways. Years after my grandmothers death my father was contacted by a woman from Wisconsin. Her name was Kathy, and her mother, Kitty, was a friend of my grandmothers. Turns out that Kitty saved everything, including about 60 letters my grandmother had mailed her. Kathy was wondering if my father would want them back and he leaped at the opportunity. Not only did he get to read these letters and get to know a woman he lost too soon, but now her grandchildren would know her too. The even more awesome thing? My children, and their children, and my great grand children will get to know her too. Lucky, lucky them. When Jesus left the disciples, he had been with them for three short years. I am sure that they also felt he was taken too soon. Believers today know the rest of the story, but they didn't. I am sure they might have felt a lot like my dad in fifth grade, and when he rose three days later, they probably felt elation that far outweighs what my father felt when he received those letters. That being said, for those of us who weren't there that day, we still get to read the letters that were left behind. We still get to learn about and get to know a man that we have yet to meet. And the awesome thing?? We get to pass these things down, and we know that we aren't alone. We have the word of God, the Spirit of the Father, and the fellowship of believers. Lucky, lucky us.

All Things New

I do not take very good care of my contacts. Really, there are some things that I am just not that good at; contact care is one of them. I wear "disposable" contacts. I am like my father though and I really don't think the things are meant to be thrown away...ever. I tested this theory and wore the SAME PAIR OF DISPOSABLES FOR A YEAR. In truth I was lazy and poor and just didn't want to spend the money on contact lenses. There was also a bond with this particular pair of contacts. I read the pregnancy test that confirmed I was pregnant with them. I cried becuase I found out I was pregnant in them. I moved to E-town in them. I looked down at my little girl in them for the first time, and cried again. And there was the fact that left contact was my JESUS contact...yes for they had been brought back from the dead not once...but twice! I once dropped my left contact in the bathroom. Jeff and I combed the floor for twenty minutes...and then we found it....ON JEFF'S KNEE. It was rolled up in a little ball and I had to be at work in thirty minutes. I grabbed the solution, rubbed a little on, and popped the bad boy in. LIKE NEW, no lie. All was well. Then came the day I thought that I had lost left contact for good. Apparently the contact didn't make it into the case one evening, and I found it in the morning dried and crunchy by the nightstand. I knew this was not good, but I refused to give up hope, or more importantly give into wearing my glasses. So I took my faithful bottle of solution and massaged left contact back to life. What next??? I popped that bad boy in. LIKE NEW, no lie. I finally gave in and got new contacts after a trip to the bowling alley. Apparently not changing my contacts in a year caused my eyes to glow under black light. Who knew? Anyway, today I was reading 2 Colossians 5:17-21 and I thought yet again of left contact. It seemed that everytime all hope seemed to be lost I loved on left contact a little and he came back to life. I like to think that God sometimes sees me as left contact. I get caught up on the wrong things and end up curled up in a little ball, or I don't get enough spirtual water and end up a little crunchy. The cool thing is that Jesus doesn't give up on me, kind of the way I didn't give up on left contact. Even better, he doesn't trade me in if I glow under a black light. Nope, He just loves me back to wear I should be, pulls me in the right direction. And you know what? I end up LIKE NEW, no lie.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Forgiveness and Toilet Seats

Jeff left the toilet seat up…again. When I was pregnant I begged him not to leave the seat up. I just had these horrible visions of getting up to go to the bathroom at 4 in the morning and feeling the cool splash of toilet water against my bum. Not only that, but if I did fall in the toilet I would probably have to yell for about 15 minutes to wake him so he could free from my porcelain prison. Well as luck would have it, one night when I was about eight months pregnant, I waddled into the bathroom. Lo and behold I looked at the seat before I sat and what did my wondering eyes behold? The seat….in the up position. I was fuming. I did my business and hobbled back to bed but stayed up half the night thinking about what would have happened if I had sat down. I was so angry. How could Jeff be so insensitive?? I was carrying his child! I could have been stuck…in the toilet!! That just isn't sanitary. I did the only thing a pregnant wife could do…. "Dear Lord, I know that this might sound spiteful…but please let Jeff fall in the toilet. If he knows what it feels like he won't do it again. Amen." Before I could even finish my vindictive little prayer this wave of conviction came over me. Having Jeff fall in the toilet wouldn't fix the issue in my heart…I had to forgive Jeff for his shortcomings and move on. Forgiveness, especially in relationships is a hard thing sometimes. The Bible studies I have been doing this week have talked a lot about forgiveness, and how much we have been forgiven of. Sometimes its hard to forgive others, especially when you've asked them not to do something, or told them how it hurts you. Sometimes what others do to us hurts us physically. Sometimes they leave emotional scars. Sometimes they get our butts wet. Either way, we can't control what others do to us, only how we react to it. In the end I know Jesus understood this concept. He forgave the very people who crucified him and put him to death. Even if you don't believe in his resurrection you have to acknowledge how phenomenal an act that is and admire it. If he can do that I can forgive people who might hurt me…or who leave the toilet seat up.