Monday, April 28, 2014

Things Some Christians Want To Do, But Don't

Ever have just one nerve left, and everyone seems to be jumping on it- with cleats?

I have days like that- in fact, I've had weeks like that!

As Christians we are no better than anyone else- the reason we are Christians is because we know we're not better than anyone else! And though we hold back from doing what we want to do, the sin of wanting to do something about the situation remains. At least with me.

Here are some of the things I'd love to do if I didn't restrain my sweet little Christian self:

Swat Someone With My Bible.  Oh yeah! I'd just love to run around with my Bible clutched in both hands giving certain individuals a good whack upside the head. Even better? Yelling "REPENT!" at the top of my lungs. This is usually reserved for people who are Christians doing really stupid unChristian actions. It's a "Stop-pointing-out-everyone's-faults-and-notice-the-plank-in-your-own-eye-you-Doofus" kind of thing.

The Ultimate Biblical Tongue Lashing. I know they need one. I know they probably deserve it. But I'm either not the one to give it to them (because I'm not a parent, a relative or a pastor), or I can't remember the exact Scripture to back my rant. So I hold my tongue and pray that someone else does it, before I lose my Schmidt.

Binding and Gagging. We've all had one of these in church- the whiny, whimpering, wiggling child that distracts everyone in service, but the parents are completely oblivious or just as distracting trying to calm the child down instead of taking the kid out of the room. No one can hear the sermon, and the worst I can give them is a glare- if I can turn my head around like an owl. 
The parents usually have a "Keep the kid quiet" fail-safe involving candy- which just sets the child off five minutes later when the sugar rush hits- and they never carry any quiet toys like soft books or stuffed animals- the toys consist of rattles, keys or even those cell phone games that go boop bip boop throughout the rest of the service. At this point I'm not sure if the kid needs binding and gagging, or the parents do.

Confiscate Any Gadget That Isn't Used For Church. Oh, I really would love to do this! There's that guy texting his friends. That lady trying to muffle her cell phone ring. The messaging beeps. The kids trying to hide the video games they're playing by sitting with friends who serve as cover as they watch her play. The bings, bongs, boops and bips of kids (and some adults!) playing Candy Crush on their phones during service. 
Part of me wants to have a collection plate just for these devices before church begins so there's some peace and quiet- at least until Whiny the Human Jumping Bean shows up with her parents and the Noisy Toy Brigade. If people don't have Bible verses on those darn devices, I have a great desire to snatch it out of their hands and yank out the battery- and their ear plugs. Instead I just sing the hymns a little louder. Maybe a lot louder.

Snarkiness. Tact has never been my strongest ability, but when around others I really have to keep the snarkiness levels down to the absolute minimum. If I'm snarky to people who aren't Christians, people look down their noses at me and say things like "I thought you were a Christian." or "Is that how Christians are supposed to act?" These are the same people that berate Christians for being "holier than thou" secret sinners, yet if we actually sin, then we've fallen off of our own pedestals and should be reprimanded. You can't have it both ways, non-Christian person! Christians are sinners, but not all sinners are Christians. So there. Nyah. 
As for being snarky with other Christians, I've faced many trials after letting out my snark monster. "That wasn't very Christian," I'd hear, or I'd receive and lecture about being more gentle with people. I don't remember Paul being a subtle guy, and God didn't make me into a big ball of sweetness and tact- though I have to admit I've let the snark monster out more than I should on occasion. I've gotten better, but only through a great deal of prayer and chocolate have I managed not to be as snarky as I want to be.

It isn't easy being Christian. But God isn't done with me yet. And I'm not afraid to say He's got a big job ahead of Him. I'm just glad He can handle it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Eating Without Being Fed

We had a fantastically busy Easter weekend.

My husband and I had a lot planned for the weekend. He was off from work on Friday, so we spent the day prepping things we'd need for the weekend- a birthday cake for my daughter (who was having a party Saturday), cakes for the Easter luncheon at church on Sunday and for dinner at his mother's house Sunday evening, and many gallons of homemade iced tea and lemonade for all three events. Oh, and we invited friends over for a cookout that night too.

Friday we set up, served, and cleaned up. Saturday we set up, served, and cleaned up. Sunday we set up, served, and cleaned up. All three days were spent having fun, spending time with family and friends, and eating. Especially the eating part. Everything we did seemed to focus on food.

Sunday evening my husband and I, wearied, settled in for the night. I realized something was missing the entire weekend. I looked at my husband. "Did you have any chance to think about God this entire weekend?"
He looked at me, surprised. "No, I didn't." 
Since he was a church deacon, I was running the bread ministry, and both of us were on the hospitality team, we had just become too busy serving to consider what the "holiday" was all about.
"I think we missed the point of this whole weekend." I lamented. He couldn't have agreed more.

In making all of these plans to feed others, we forgot to feed ourselves the Bread of Life- we forgot all about God and His Son. The sacrifice was forgotten, the miracle of His resurrection unacknowledged. We ate like kings, yet we forgot to include the King of Kings in the feasting.


The only prayers that were made were over the food before we ate. There was no time to listen to the sermon, because we had to have things ready when services ended. We put Jesus in a box and stuck him on the shelf until the busywork was done. Then we forgot to open the box and let Him out again.

And not only on special occasions either.

Fasting is to be spiritually fed while not eating. To eat while not being spiritually fed? Well, it's just eating. I can do that anytime.

I'm sure God will forgive me (He's good like that), but it made me realize that I spend too many special occasions (and even the not-so-special ones) not focusing my energy where I should. I lose sight of the purpose- the reason I'm here in the first place- which is to glorify God.

It's a good thing God allows do-overs. Every day is a fresh, new start. Today I'll make breakfast, but also have a good talk with the Lord- I need to be fed both ways this morning!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stepping Out of the Box

I like my little box.

I can play by myself. I can do what I like to do. And I don't have to answer to anybody.

Well, almost anybody. I still have to answer to God. But God doesn't like me staying in my little box, so He decided to give me talents to get me moving.

He gave me the gift of Creativity. He gave me the gift of Song. He also gave me Humor, a Big Mouth, and a Thirst For Being a Ham. All of these in combination can be a pretty heady cocktail, despite the fact that I really, really love my nice little box.

So God made me go to a writer's conference last year and "Inspirated" me to write a song.

No, I didn't spell that wrong either. "Inspired" means breathed by God; to get ideas that are high falutin' lofty and inspirational. "Inspirated" however, means breathed by God- while He's laughing

Yes, it's a made-up word (at least in English)- but it's a really good word for what happened during that conference.

It started with a joke the speaker made. "That would make a good song, wouldn't it?" he joked, when I raised my hand and yelled "I'll write it!" Of course he had no idea who I was (or even where I was in the audience, since he had a spotlight in his eyes), but every time he made a point, he was sure to call out into the darkened audience, "Whoever is writing that song, write this next point down!" 

And I did.

By the time he was finished his talk, I had the tune in my head, and the chorus written.

After the talk, I went up to introduce myself, and he began laughing. He laughed even more when I sung him the chorus! I told him I'd have the entire song written a few days after the conference ended, and I'd send him the lyrics for approval.

And I did. He loved them. I was then asked if I was going to Colorado in the spring, because he wanted me to sing it at the writer's conference there. Sing it. At the conference. In front of hundreds of people.

That made the walls of my little box shake a little. More than a little.

Since I was on the opposite side of the country, going there was impossible unless I became a thousandaire overnight. So we agreed on the next best option- I would send him a video.

The problem was, I've never done a video before- or written music. Oh. I make up tunes all the time- I've just never put all those little music notes in order on bars before. So I looked for someone else to help me, but to be honest, I didn't look too hard. No one likes to work for free, either.

I went back to my little box and shut the lid for a while. At least until the deadline for sending him the video came looming up to haunt me.

I had to step out of my box and compose this sucker myself. I knew the tune, so I found some free software online and hammered out what I wanted, humming the tune as I painstakingly added each note to those endless lines. I got a little help from my husband (who knows how to read music) and within a few days, I had my song.

I wish I had stepped out of my box earlier instead of being too afraid to try something new!

Now I had to video me singing it. Egad. 

Luckily I have a friend that was willing to help me and has some experience in videography. After two sessions of taping we have a pretty good version (with me flubbing slightly one time). He's putting it together for me as I speak, and when it's done, I'm sending it off to the conference speaker. I can't wait!

I haven't mentioned his name because I want his approval first. I'll post the video on my website after he uses it for the conference- which is soon!

It wasn't easy, but I'm so glad I stepped out of my little box!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Time Warped

It hardly ever seems to be the right time.

I wrote a book, and I thought I'd have it ready for the agent by now. But God has other plans and is making me wait- and that's a good thing. I've already thought of a few more extras to add to the manuscript since I sent it out to be critiqued. When I get it back I'll be excited all over again; I can make the changes, additions and improvements needed to make my book a spectacular read.

However, I planted seeds for my garden a little over a week ago, thinking they might be ready for planting by next month, and some of them grew so fast I have to re-pot them now.

I'm rarely in sync with God's timing- though it's awesome when it happens!

Sometimes it's funny when it happens. Like the time I was stopped at a light under a tree after a cold rain a few summers back, and God sent a little freezing cold raindrop through the infinitesimal crack in my window, right into the volcanic heart of my armpit. I sucked all the oxygen out of the car, my gasp was so huge- but it made me stop complaining about the heat!

Sometimes it's a blessing to others. We knew a family in need, and as I made my way down the second floor steps to leave, I noticed the kids forgot to put away the toilet paper left in the hall. I snagged a few rolls and put them in the bag with the food and other items we were donating to the family. 
The woman of the house made a beeline for me before I made it up to her steps. "You're a lifesaver!" she said, hugging me hard and ignoring the food entirely. "How did you know we were out of toilet paper?"
I had to confess to her that wasn't me- it was God's timing. He knew, and made my kids lazy just so I could snag a few rolls for her. I was very glad to be a part of her blessing.

Other times it's just me and God, simpatico. There are times when I have to catch a series of buses and manage to make all of them, one right after another, or just as I'm leaving the house to go shopping, someone comes along and gives me a financial blessing (one time it was the tax refund in the mail, another time someone owed my husband something for work he did in their house). I love, love, love when that happens!

It's always good to look back on these situations when I'm not-so-in-sync with the Big Guy. I'm either being impatient (which is often the case), or I'm being exceptionally pig-headed (which unfortunately, is also often the case.) I have to remember that His timing is not mine, and cherish the times when our clocks are moving at the same speed.

I just have to learn to stop playing with the pendulums!