Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Penguins and Deep Thoughts and God

I have attempted to write a new entry in this blog a few times since April 8.  I have thought about it quite a bit more than that.

I have often envied the consistent writers i observe.  But it seems, that this writer requires times of ... what do you call it ... sequester?  Something like that.

They say bloggers shouldn't blog about blogging, but.  Well, i guess i just don't care.  I'm not here for a popularity contest, but i do hope that sometimes God can use my words to give a laugh, a smile, a thought, a comfort, a peace, a wisdom, or a guffah to those who read it.  Looks like i spelled that wrong....let's see....that's supposed to be a guffaw?  Yes, the lack of squiggly red lines tells me google thinks that's correct.

I think part of my problem isn't really that i don't have anything to say.  It's that i have so many things going on in my mind and my heart and my life, that i can't settle on any one thing long enough to explore it.  Or at least that's how it feels.  And therein lies the paradox.  Since sitting down to write is often the one thing that can help me think about a thing long enough to explore it.  You see my problem?

It's hard to say whether this post will happen.  If it does, you'll know.  If it doesn't, you won't.

I have a few minutes this evening, and a thousand thoughts in my heart, so i thought i'd give this writing thing a shot.

Planet Earth is playing on BBC, so i get to look up now and then and see some of the wonders of God's creation.  In the other room, i can hear the cheep cheep cheep of tiny chickens struggling out of their shells in my incubator.  Since i was thoroughly rained on at 5 o'clock today, and the resulting chill hasn't quite left me, i am snuggled on my couch imagining that it is autumn outside, though this couldn't be further from truth.  It is August in Texas, and though we recently received the miracle of 75 degree weather in the middle of the day, it is certainly not autumn yet.  We will sweat through many more days before my favorite season arrives this year.

Outside my house, in reality, my chick brooder hold 7 little special needs chicks who hatched late and maybe a little lopsided and couldn't be sold, so they get to stay with me.  In the coop, are 22 mostly grown chickens, some old, some just learning to lay eggs, some who don't know they're being fattened up for my freezer.  A recently built smokehouse in my backyard has recently smoked some moderately successful homemade (not homegrown) sausage and will be put to use on more successful attempts in the near future.   A few posts have begun being sunk for expansion of the chicken operation, an electric pole is being installed for expansion of the people operation.  And no, that was definitely not a pregnancy announcement.

For years, my gun-slinging super hero and i have looked forward to the day we would be able to give a home to the children that God has picked out for us to parent, either temporarily or permanently, and we think that we are finally coming to the place in our lives when we will be able to begin the process of finding them.  Step one:  a house with bedrooms.  Very exciting.  And a little scary.  Besides the part about becoming parents, it has been a long time since i have needed to cope with more than one bedroom.  Sounds a little confusing.

No, really.

That wasn't meant to be an announcement of any sort.   These are just some of the things that are on my mind these days.  In addition, my gun-slingin super hero is working further from home these days and now i actually have to think about things like what to cook for dinner.  That takes up more brain space that i remember.  I've been spoiled.  For a while.

But i'm remembering my skills, slowly.  I made some really good chicken and dumplings the other day, and i'm beginning to develop a system for getting my crock pots - yes that's plural - to work for me while i'm sleeping or away.  I have set aside an entire piece of furniture for just crock pots.  They're my new friends.

Here's a deep thought for today.  Earlier, on Planet Earth, there was a scene from the lives of the wonderful Emperor Penguins, wherein bereaved mother penguins whose babies had been lost to the cold, competed in desperation to parent orphaned penguin babies whose parents had been lost the same way.  The urgency to parent was SO strong, the narrator explained in different words and an English accent...

When i saw three bereaved mothers chasing around one cute little penguin baby who wasn't sure what to do about all this attention, i thought about how the drive to parent is strong like this in humans too.  And, of course, i cried.  Because that's pretty tender stuff.  But then i thought about how we're made in God's likeness, and how different elements of our being can be traced back to Him.  And i thought about how much easier it would have been for God to just enjoy the beautiful earth and universe, how much less troublesome an eternity would be for the perfect God, without a lot of rebellious humans mucking up paradise and whatnot.  And how He created us anyway.  And how He loves us intensely.  How the desperate love of a mother for her child, is a reflection of the greater love of God, for us.

Yeah.

Hmm.  Guess this one's going to get posted.

Cool.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The proof...it's not in the coffee

Today i ran across an article on Facebook, that caught my attention.  The headline reading something to the effect of "FINALLY, WE HAVE PROOF THAT STARBUCKS IS SATAN!"

That's not what it said.  But that is what they were getting at. (I'll post a link to the real article later, so you can see for yourself.)

Now, i was certainly skeptical that Starbucks had been proven to be Satan, but attention-getting headlines, get attention, and this one got mine.  I followed the link to an article published in an online magazine aimed at Christian readers, written by an author whose column title is given to the idea that she is watching out for us and warning us of what's out there.

The writer of the article tells the story of a legitimately displeased Starbucks customer who had been sold two yummy coffee-based wonderments the tops of which were decorated in caramel, by an artsy barrista, one with a pentagram (it's the same star you've drawn since you were six, but it has a circle around it), and the other with the number "666," commonly recognized as symbols of witchcraft or satanism.

Now this nice lady who was served the offensively decorated treats, happened to be a public school teacher who adheres to the Catholic faith, and as you might imagine, she penned a reasoned and polite complaint to Starbucks headquarters, expressing her displeasure, in the most careful and kind words i can imagine for such a venue.

According to this author, Starbucks made a statement, indicating that the corporation does not support the behavior of the artistic coffee slinger in question, and that is where any semblance of reporting the facts ends.

The writer of this article goes on to suppose a series of hypothetical situations in which Starbucks would probably have been mean to Christians.  Hypothetical situations which are all nothing more than conjecture and products of the author's imagination.

Can i tell you something?  (Of course i can; this is my blog.)

This watchman's article (that was the link) hurts my feelings.  A lot.

To be more true, the fact a magazine that purports to represent Christian values and "spiritual perspective," published an article that concludes the absolute worst about an entire corporation, based on a truly stupid move, made by a misguided coffee slinger, and the public statement of a CEO, supporting what is considered by many to be simply moral values, (no matter how much we may disagree), hurts my feelings.

I don't know anything more about this author than the article i read today and the picture i saw next to it.  I don't know if she is generally less angry or generally more kind, so my comments are about this article only.

And...

I am personally not a big fan of Starbucks coffee.  Unless it's drenched in enormous amounts of sugared pancreas-melting yumminess that i am attempting diligently to avoid, i don't really appreciate the flavor as much i am told i should; i've never liked the weird symbol that represents their brand; and i DO disagree with the CEO's particular standard of moral values.

And...

In case there's any misunderstanding, i sincerely hope and encourage someone (in love, of course) to smack that fool-headed coffee slinger in the back of his fool-head and teach him a thing or two about how to act and what NOT to draw on other people's coffee.

But...

Demonization of a corporation (and by extension its leadership and associates), based on actions we imagine they might take if certain things happened a certain way, is ... well, it's kind of evil.  That sort of slandering doesn't come from a heart of love.  I'm sure of that.

Furthermore, articles like this give credence to what i wish were baseless stereotypes about Christians, stereotypes that rightfully turn non-Christians off to Christianity (they turn me off too), because when these stereotypes play out in real life, they do everything except show the love of Jesus to a broken world.

So here's what i came to say:  please, please, please, please, please, please, Christians, be so careful.  Be so thoughtful.  Be so discerning.  Measure everything from a heart of love.  Don't be caught up in political agendas that masquerade as the furtherance of the gospel.  The God whom we attempt to serve IS love.  What does that tell you?

And please, please, please, please, please, please, non-Christians, understand that Christ, Himself, is love, and He is not prone to being caught up in hype or unfair prejudice, a point at which those of us who seek to represent Him, shamefully, often fail.  We are so sorry.  Please forgive us.

Lastly, a reminder:

LOVE...is patient.

LOVE...is kind.

LOVE...is not jealous.

LOVE...does not brag.

LOVE...is not arrogant.

LOVE...does not act unbecomingly.

LOVE...does not seek its own.

LOVE...is not provoked.

LOVE...does not take into account a wrong suffered.

LOVE...does not rejoice in unrighteousness.

LOVE...rejoices with the truth.

LOVE...bears all things.

LOVE...believes all things.

LOVE...hopes all things.

LOVE...endures all things.

LOVE...never fails.

If i have not love, i am....a clanging cymbal.

If i have not love, i am...nothing.

If i have not love, every act of faith or sacrifice...profits me nothing.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Not a fancy post

I'm not sure if i know how to say the thing that i want to say.

Sometimes, i go for long spells without writing because i don't know how to share the things that i'm learning from the experiences in my life, in a beneficial lighting.  You know, in a way that doesn't come off sounding like a plea for pity.

I guess everyone probably wants a little pity sometimes, some acknowledgement that whatever they are going through really stinks, a LOT!  But generally, it isn't helpful.

I also don't want to sound like i'm complaining about my life in any way.  Complaining is ugly in general, and  besides that, complaining compromises the process of growth, of seeing past the circumstances, into the lessons that God can teach us through them, if we let Him.

But most of the so-called troubles we go through are merely interruptions of inconvenience in our fast-paced, luxurious lives of automation.

The legitimacy of our troubles can easily be brought into perspective by the right audience to our complaints.

The man with no shoes may complain, until he sees the man with no feet.

The woman who needs new clothes for work may complain, but not to the woman who has no job that might bring to light the desire for new clothes.

The wife who has only one child and wants another, will not dare to complain to the wife who desires a child and can have none.

The man with a small home may complain, but not to the man who has no home.

Perspective.  It makes a difference.

It has long been an observation of mine - something i remind myself of - that God wants the very best for us, but He is much more interested in the development of our character than He is in our physical circumstances.  And He will use the latter to improve the former, at way more opportunities than our ease-seeking selves would prefer.

Nine months ago, in the midst of our re-renovation post-housefire #4, the water pump on our well stopped working, leaving our home without the benefit of running water.  While we could have put our resources toward fixing repairing the well, a long time ago, we had a couple of other goals we had been saving up for and made the decision to put off the repair of our well pump until a later date.

A week ago, we got to start taking showers in our own home again.  And today, i got to wash dishes with running water, in my own kitchen, for the first time in more than a year.

I'm thankful for a lot of things about this experience.  I improved and practiced some limited survival skills, i learned that living without running water isn't nearly as bad as it sounds, and i learned how to wash dishes with stove heated hauled in water in plastic tubs, with fair to midlin efficiency.  I also developed a die-hard daily habit of going to the gym, which i had to keep in order to get a shower before work.

But the thing i'm really happy about today, is that i feel happy about doing the dishes.  My eyes of perspective are opened to realization of the privilege of hot running water and a drain that leads out of the house.  There is a rumor that i might even have a working dishwasher by the end of the day, and that just sounds like crazy talk.  I haven't used a dishwasher in at least half a decade.  It sounds very exciting.

But that's not really my point.  My point is that all of us, everyone, everywhere, is always going through something.  Through something in this world, something of our circumstances, we are given the opportunity to have our character, our perspective, improved.  The better we use them, the better for everyone.  The less time we spend in self-pity and comparison, the better, too.