Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's in a name?

The other morning I sat down to breakfast. I opened a box of Raisin Bran and poured it into my bowl. Hmm. No raisins, how disappointing. Ah well, they'll be in the next bowl, right? Next morning, same thing. No raisins. I expressed my disappointment on Facebook, because clearly all of my friends should care whether I have raisins in my cereal or not.

That afternoon I cut open my seedless watermelon. Seeds. Definitely enough to disqualify it for the 'seedless' label.
What's going on here? 'Raisin' and 'seedless' are words that describe the inherent qualities of my food and they are NOT delivering on their promise!
Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord..."Deut. 28:10 (NIV)
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
I have a label too. Whether you call me a Christian, a Christ-follower, a Messianic, follower of YAHWEH or some other form to express whose name I bear it is a label. A label that tells the world what they should see in my life.

Anne Rice made news in July when she declared that she was walking away from the Christian church. No longer was she going to bear the label of Christian. Why? Because like so many others, I think she opened the box and found that what was inside didn’t really match the label it bore. Instead of a people who are seeking to be transformed into the image of Christ we have become a people seeking to transform the world into the image of us. Like raisinless raisin bran we have the ‘good for you’ stuff but not the sweetness. Like seedless watermelon filled with seeds we’ve added things that shouldn’t be there.

Anne is not the first, nor will she be the last to open the box and find it lacking. Thankfully she has not stepped away from following Christ, only from being associated with a bland and seedy Christianity.

So what IS in a name? At its core, what should people expect to see in my life if I bear the label of Christian? What would I like them to think of when they hear that I follow Christ?

Let's start with some of the basics.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self‑control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23 (NIV)
If I bear the name of Christ I will be loving. Not just to those who are like me, not just to those I agree with, not just to those who are lovable...I will be loving to all.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”


“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)
How often do we get a reputation for being unloving? People walk into our churches, expecting to find something in that box and walk out again having been ignored, criticized, talked down to or judged. Love is conspicuously absent.

Did you get what Jesus said? The most important commandment is to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and with all our strength. I can't help but think that if I am putting all of that energy into loving God that leaves me precious little time for running around telling other people what to do with their lives. My sole devotion is to LOVING GOD! And out of that love comes pouring love for my neighbor. Love for the one who is untouchable. Love for the one from whom established religion shies away.

I think for today I'll leave it at that; it's more than enough for me to wrap my brain around. When people look at me, I want there to be truth in labeling. I want them to see Christ's love pouring out of me. Not all the extra stuff we stick in there and try to make important, just Christ. Christ who has every right to judge, to declare me not worthy of his love. Christ who loved me enough to give his life as a ransom for mine. Christ who rose again so that I can live with him eternally.

That is a name worth bearing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (8/13/10)

1

I am in the rotation to occasionally play the pre-service music for our church's traditional service. I usually try to run straight through my selected music several times to make sure I'm close to the ten necessary minutes. Of course we all know what happens when we try to time ourselves doing anything with our children around. You'd think that if I can practice with the distraction of two small boys and keep my focus then I should be ready for anything. Last Saturday night practice sounded something like this:

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling...
"MOM!!! INDY WON'T LET ME SIT ON THE CHAIR WITH HIM!"
Calling for you and for me...
"Well, go find another chair to sit on then."
"UGH! BUT IT'S NOT FAIR, I WANT TO SIT THERE!"

Did you feel the mountains tremble?
Screaming...
Did you hear the oceans roar?
"You STUPID HEAD!"
When the people rose to sing of Jesus Christ the risen one...
"AAAGGGGH! MOM! HE'S BEING MEAN!"

If with all your hearts ye truly seek me
"Mommy, do you know where my Snowmanny is?"
ye shall ever surely find me..
"Did you look in your little wooden box?"
Thus saith our God.
"Where IS it??? I can't FIND it!!!"

Sigh. I just wish all of that concentration would result in fewer mistakes on Sunday mornings.

2

I am married to MacGyver. On Sunday the passenger side window mechanism on Mike's car broke with no warning and no apparent cause. There was just a 'ping' and the window dropped out of sight. We've had to fix this problem before on a different window, it isn't cheap. And we've pretty much cleared out our savings on car repairs the past few months. So while I was inside stressing and stuffing my face with ice cream and peanut butter cookies (oh, so THAT'S where the extra pounds came from) he went out, took apart the door, raised the window and then screwed a block of wood into the door panel to hold it in place. Sure, we can't use it, but who needs it anyway? I ask you, could the Mac have done any better?

3

This summer is becoming known as the summer of the bugs. Apparently both mosquitos and crickets like abundant rain. What I didn't expect was dragonflies. Hosts of them. They zip around my garden like little blue pins, sparkling in the sun. We've found a few specimens on the sidewalk, and despite Indy's insistence that I rescue them, they are typically beyond my help. But the most glorious sight by far happened the other week as I went out for an evening walk. I looked up in the sky and saw hundreds, probably thousands of dragonflies dancing in the air. Apparently the moist summer brings them out, particularly since it provides an abundant supply of their food source, mosquitoes. Bring on the dragonflies!


photo by Glass_House

4

I really don't care what celebrities do, but sometimes I find that the whole celebrity culture has tipped over into the absurd. Like this recent article. "Paris Hilton sued for wearing wrong hair extensions". Really? Do people actually pay so much attention to that that it would be worth millions to a company if she wore the wrong ones? And how do they KNOW she wore the wrong ones? It's hair, it doesn't come with a little tag proclaiming its origin. They are also claiming her party-filled lifestyle doesn't fit their marketing campaign. Umm, hello? This is Paris Hilton we're talking about? I don't think they can claim ignorance on that count.

5

On the subject of hair (mine is real, thankyouverymuch), I was reading recently that women over a certain age should forgo hair accessories and settle for simple tortoiseshell clasps and grosgrain ribbon headbands. Although I'm not exactly shopping in the kiddie section of the hair aisle, I do like some sparkle, and you will pry my hippie headbands from my cold, dead hands. I prefer to think of it as an expression of the inner me, and the inner me does not scream for tortoiseshell. What's your favorite hair gadget, and what does it say about your personality?

6

The boys start school on Monday, which is creating a lot of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I may actually be able to clean and have it stay so for a span of several hours at a time. I won't be interrupted by bloodcurdling screams of "MOOOOOOMMMMM"! I will be reasonably sure that while out of my sight they are behaving like civilized little human beings instead of devising new ways to aggravate each other.

On the other hand, it will be quiet. Very, very quiet. My husband said to just turn on the tv as background noise. He's missing the point. There is noise for the sake of noise, and then there is noise that is alive and breathing that wraps itself around me and reminds me that I exist for someone other than myself, that I have a purpose and a job to do. Without that noise I fear a loss of purpose, I fear being adrift for seven hours a day.

School starts on Monday. And I start learning how to navigate a new stage of my life.

7

Last, but certainly not least, a recognition of the one who helped to bring the noise, the chaos, the laughter into my life. Without him I do not think I would have ever learned how to fly. I would have never had the joy of rolling over to gaze into eyes that hold nothing but love for me. I would never have a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on, someone to rub my feet at the end of a long day. (Oh, wait, scratch that last part...he doesn't do feet.) There is a picture in my wedding book; I have no idea what I'm doing, but the joy shining in my face is unmistakable. It is the most joyous picture I have of myself and captures perfectly what he brings into my life.

Happy Anniversary, Mike. I love you now, always and forever.

7 Quick Takes Friday is hosted this week by Hallie at Betty Beguiles, go check it out!

Friday, August 6, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday



1

Move over Panera, I have a new favorite restaurant in my town. Last night I ate at Mixed and can I just say, YUM! If you like the idea of freshly prepared salads with crisp greens and fresh veggies, this is the place for you. If you like supporting businesses that are committed to being eco-friendly, this is the place for you. If you live outside of Sioux Falls....you're out of luck. I suppose other places have comparable establishments, but the idea of a made to order salad to go is a fairly new concept here.

Of course, I'll be eating there alone because Mike and the boys are allergic to the idea of eating anything containing salad ingredients. Especially lettuce.

2

So, why did I get to eat there? Because my wonderful husband saw me gazing longingly at it as we headed into Chuck E Cheese's and said "Go take a break and eat what you want. The boys and I will be fine." I so love this man.

3

How did I justify buying my own meal instead of eating pizza at Chuck E Cheese's? Because we have a wonderful neighbor who just happens to be the manager there and who occasionally gives us gift cards for a free pizza, drinks and tokens.

And when another neighbor was left with $2 in his bank account she gave him enough food to get him through until payday.

It kind of makes me wonder why someone who doesn't claim to be a Christian is out-giving me. It challenges me to do better.

4

Speaking of food (because I was, sort of), why is it always up to us moms to finish off everything that the rest of the family has decided they don't like? I've got two boxes of cereal in the pantry that I am slowly working my way through. Cereal that the boys USED to like, cereal that Indy insisted he wanted. And now he has declared he doesn't want it so I'm stuck eating it because I can't just toss perfectly good cereal.

The same thing happens with leftovers. I will cook a perfectly delicious dinner and then be stuck eating leftovers for the next four days. Even the most delicious dinner gets a little tiring after the second day in a row. Multiply that times the number of meals a week and its no wonder I am as big as a house...it's from eating all the leftovers. Because my German ancestry forbids that I ever waste food by throwing it away.

5

Moving off the topic of food, school starts in only a little over a week. I am still trying to figure out where the summer went, and if I am ready for this or not. This year I send Indy off to Kindergarten and I am NOT ready. Although there are moments (when he is testing his voice to see how many decibels he can reach) that I am MORE than ready. Unlike Gates, he's not too thrilled with the idea. Gates loves school (or maybe he just doesn't like being at home?). When I asked Gates what his favorite part of summer had been he said "Waiting for school to start." As one friend commented, "I think he's missing the point of summer."

Indy, on the other hand, would be more than content to stay home with me forever. Or at least for another year. But he'll turn six in November, so I can't really hold him out for another year and Mike is adamantly against homeschooling. So, off to school my baby goes.

6

Remember how much fun it was to go school shopping when we were kids? Picking folders and notebooks with cool pictures on them, expressing our personality through the accessories. Yeah, they've pretty much taken the fun out of that. Or at least, our district has. "Four two-pocket folders in solid colors, preferably green, yellow, red and blue. Four spiral bound wide-ruled notebooks to match." Try marching your kids past displays of folders with cars, robots, cartoon characters, etc. and telling them they can only pick the plain ones. Not so fun. Gates has adjusted, Indy not so much. And I'll admit to casting a longing eye at the display of gorgeous folders, binders and other coordinating accessories and remembering the days when all I wanted was a cool Trapper Keeper.




7

Still on the topic of back-to-school shopping, we finally went shoe shopping for the boys last night. Yes, 'we'. Because I refused to attempt it by myself, quite certain that it would result in chaos, mayhem, and possible bodily injury. It is amazing how excited they were about new shoes. You'd think we'd never ever bought them new shoes before. In fact, Gates just asked me if he could look at his new shoes. Um, yes? He picked them up and went and lay on our bed and just looked at them for awhile. Some people appreciate art, my child appreciates shoes. Go figure.


For more 7 Quick Takes Friday posts visit Jen at Conversion Diary.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Water

photo by darkpatator
Water. We take it so much for granted. Turn a handle, squeeze a nozzle, push a button and out it pours, ready to do our bidding. Washing hands, doing dishes, loads of laundry, cleaning, water gun battles, filling pools, watering lawns; it is ours to command. Stop and think. Can you tell me how many times you have used water so far today? From brushing your teeth this morning (hopefully) to the drink you just got from the refrigerator how many times has water been there for you?

I've been thinking about it today. Not because it isn't there, but because I'm not supposed to use it. A crisis in the sewage system due to a recent spate of heavy rains has called for severe restrictions on water usage since last evening for our side of the city, lest an over-taxed system start backing up sewage into people's homes.

Sure, I rejoiced in a reason not to do laundry. I may have even looked at the dirty dishes and smirked a little...until they threatened to start taking over my kitchen. I figured I'm home all day so no one cares if I don't shower.

Yep, I may have been a little self-congratulatory over my willingness to 'suffer' for the sake of residents who would have been affected by a sewage back-up.

And then I came across these statistics (from the website of the Mennonite Central Committee):
  • In our world, one billion people do not have access to safe and affordable drinking water. 2.4 billion live in conditions that lack basic sanitation.
  • 2.2 million people in developing countries die every year from diseases associated with lack of clean drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
  • The average U.S. citizen uses more than 79 gallons of water per day. The average person in the developing world? Barely a quarter of a gallon.
What if I had to spend a four hour round trip on foot just to get water for my family? What if I couldn't just turn the handle and have access to water that I knew was safe?

It makes my temporary water restrictions look like a cake walk. It makes me feel a little less self-congratulatory, a little less proud of my 'sacrifices'. It makes me want to cry for how good I have it, and how different that is from how so many live and die.

It makes me look at water in a new light.

It makes me want to make a difference.


Photo by magnus franklin