November 28, 2008

Wal-Mart: the dirty, low-down... wait a minute

I stayed with my grandparents in small-town Arkansas this weekend, and this morning grandma and I went down to Wal-Mart for the much anticipated Black Friday madness.

We were inside the store when grandma said,

"Last year I came in here on Christmas Eve and they were playing Silent Night," she pointed up, "'Christ our savior is born!' and they were only doing it for money!"

My first reaction was, Wow, can Wal-Mart do anything right?

But then I realized how right she was. She claimed that Wal-Mart was wrong doing good because of its motive, and that idea carries over to all of mankind.

Our motives transform any redeeming qualities we have into something despicable. We are hypocritical and decieve ourselves when we do what is right without the right reason. What is the right reason?

Hebrews 11:6
Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

November 27, 2008

Thankful for Crayons

This week
1 rebuke from a close friend
+ 1 emergency room visit
+ 2 Work days that lasted well into the dark
+ 2 Miscommunications over Thanksgiving plans
= 1 downright surly Thanksgiving morning

A non-almondine green bean casserole loomed in the oven. A two-toothed 10 month old snarfed green beans from his cheerio encrusted high chair. I tried green beans for breakfast. They didn't agree with me. Husband opted out of the green bean trend and boycotted breakfast. Neither he nor I became more amiable.

Until we sat, each of us on the floor.
Sat around butcher's paper, each armed with 2 crayons.
10 month old enjoyed the non-toxicity of Crayola while husband and I paused...
to scribble,
To name the things that make our hearts cry to God in Thankfulness.
"Almost 4 years with the wife of my youth"
"Mount Rainier"
"A job, a place to live, and a church in 1 month"
"My parents' 25 years of marriage"
"Our son"...
and we agreed on the highlight of our list:
"Jesus gives our lives meaning"

The cheerio encrusted high chair has yet to be cleaned and we lost a crayon in the process, but it is well with my soul.

November 23, 2008

Worship Redefined

This is what I did to worship God in my quiet time today.
Took pictures of his critters.

~ Guy 2

Pictures © 2008
All Rights Reserved

Today I Swore

Today I made one of the biggest commitments of my life.

Barring my decision to accept Christ or my upcoming baptism... it was the most sincere thing I've ever done.

I swore with my right hand raised, repeating these words after a retired Lt. Colonel of the Army, and I joined the United States Air Force Reserve.

"I, ~~~ , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." 

Ever since I was in Junior High I'd imagined myself in the Air Force, even when I didn't really want to do it in college.
Out of college and working various jobs, it looked like the Air Force Reserve could help me get back on track with my life and help me meet my goals of becoming an E.R. Nurse.
And it would be an opportunity for me to serve my country for six years.

Six years.
I've never committed to anything for that long before.

But more than anything else, today as I sat and signed papers stating that my life insurance policy was five hundred thousand dollars, and it would all go to my Dad; as I decided that my emergency contact was my Dad, and that in the event of any kind of death, accidental or in the line of duty, my Dad would get all my possessions and my last paycheck... five words choked me up.
Five words that I never signed below, five words that never appeared on paper.

But it was these five words that caused my hand to be steady, my words to remain clear, and my heart to beat against my chest as I spoke the pledge.

"I'm proud of you son."

© JE, 2008

Guy 1 penned this two months ago, now he's one month into boot camp.

November 17, 2008

1 four-legged creature, 1 startled counselor

Two construction workers lumbered through the glass doors of the pregnancy resource center today. One looked fifty-five, with long hair. The other looked sixty, with long hair and a beard.

"Here to deliver the door, ma'am."

As they walked through the accounting room carrying their 40 lb. burden, another visitor walked through. The center's counselor-on-call hovered between the front desk and the door "Is this... someone's dog?"

"Oh. Yep, that's her all right. Sorry about that. She's friendly enough, but she sheds a bushel."

"I see." [awkward pause] "Maybe she's here for a pregnancy test?"

"No ma'am. This dog will never be pregnant."

November 16, 2008

November 14, 2008

Breaking News Update

Breaking News Update:

The 10 month old may be a genius. He says two words. Sometimes.
The first word is "tickle."
The other word is "Daddy."

When tickled, he sometimes spontaneously begins chanting, "Ti-ko, ti-ko, ti-ko..."

1 day later:

The 10 month old may no longer be a genius. He seems confused about sentient and non-sentient beings. There is evidence that 10 month old thinks his stuffed seal puppet, "Furry", is alive. There is also evidence that he thinks he himself is a stuffed seal.
On the Amtrak train to Portland, 10 month old chanted "Ti-ko" while tickling the train window. The train window didn't laugh. 10 month old was surprised.

3 days later:

Socks are designed to keep both feet warm in 40 degree rain. 10 month old appears not to understand this concept. He keeps one sock on his left foot at all times, and the other sock in his mouth. This picture snapped in the 10 second interval between socks on both feet and sock on only left foot.

4 days later:
Have come to this conclusion: Am indeed grateful that 10 month old's value doesn't come from his potential ability or intelligence. Glad his value comes from being made in the image of God. Also glad for the invention of footy pajamas.

November 11, 2008

Bring on the Rain

Autumn awed me. To my inexperienced tropical mind, it was a sunset that lasted 29 days.
Now the sunset has fallen; Let the northwesterly rain commence!

"Well, you're gonna hate the winters here." My neighbor confidently confides.
"Come about February, we all just get to wanting to kill ourselves." Husband's co-workers claim.
"Not me. I just want to kill other people." Husband's ex-marine co-worker says.

Husband got off work early today! It was already dark.
This is strange indeed.

Strategy #1: Christmas lights.
No obnoxious hollow Santa... just twinkling, cheery, a bit too early Christmas lights.

Strategy #2: Candle.

Strategy #3: Hot tea.

Strategy #4: Bright pictures of the whole wide world tacked above the kitchen sink.
Of sunny places where people need Jesus.
And I will pray for Bobbie Jo in India, Marie in the middle east, James and Vangie
in Kenya, and children in East Timor (know a missionary there? tell me!)

Strategy #5: Hike (walk, explore, spelunk) in spite of the drizzle.
Almost 1-year-old is taking this advice to heart and trying to walk.

Strategy #6: Build amazing gutter system.
Water runs down gutter, flows down staircase, runs along smooth ledge,
ripples over copper, covers river rocks, then drains into small garden bed.
Husband thinks this project should wait until next year.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, husband plans to camp in the rain. This will give he and a friend the opportunity they've been waiting for to hone their "starting fires in the frigid rain" skills. They will be prepared with waterproof matches in a waterproof case, a lighter, Swedish fire starter (the preferred term for flint), Odwalla bars, and backpacks full of survival gear.
Fires will start and fish will die.

Any girls want to come hide from the rain with me? (tea, Christmas lights, and board games provided)

November 6, 2008

Bounty of the Destitute

Girl 1 skips around in books... you know the type: the ones who can't get through the first chapter, jump to the middle and scan through the long paragraphs, -and the greatest atrocity of all- read the last few pages before they've earned the right.

When, at the ripe old age of 7, I began naming my future children, meanings mattered.
Amy means "loved".
Amanda means "she who must be loved".
Sarah means "Princess".
Kathryn means "Pure".
Nicole means "Victory of the People".
The most common meaning of my name is ridiculous. Moving right along.
The other meaning of my name is "house of poverty". My seven year old heart gave a sigh.

My Utmost for His Highest
invited me to jump inside and read for these few quiet minutes as my 3/4 year old sleeps like a stink bug with his bottom in the air and his arm twisted upside-down. I couldn't read today's entry (I read that yesterday). On to the obvious choice... my birthday!
God spoke to my soul of the "Bounty of the Destitute".

The Gospel of the grace of God awakens an intense longing in human souls and an equally intense resentment, because the revelation which it brings is not palatable. There is a certain pride in man that will give and give, but to come an accept is another thing. I will give myself in consecration, I will do anything, but do not humiliate me to the level of the most hell-deserving sinner and tell me that all I have to do is accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest blessing spiritually is the knowledge that we are destitute; until we get there Our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us if we think we are sufficient of ourselves; we have to enter into His Kingdom through the door of destitution. As long as we are rich, possessed of anything in the way of pride or independence, God cannot do anything for us. It is only when we get hungry spiritually that we receive the Holy Spirit. The gift of the essential nature of God is made effectual in us by the Holy Spirit; He imparts to us the quickening life of Jesus, which puts "the beyond" within, it rises up to "the above", and we are lifted into the domain where Jesus lives (John 3:5).
by Oswald Chambers

I have felt the resentment of pride. I have stood on the false, rotten floorboards of independence. But today I only want to feel destitute. To open the windows of my house of poverty and let the Son stream in and warm my toes and fill my hunger for Him.

November 5, 2008

Furry with Salt

As you exercised your American freedoms yesterday at the ballot box, Guy 1 strenuously exercised with little freedom. He's surviving boot camp.
Here's a post he wrote last year.

Returning a large french fries to the manager behind the McDonald's counter, I politely explained "I'm so sorry, but these french fries were really, really salty."
"How salty were they?" she responded. (I like to think she was trying to gauge the damage her product might have wreaked on my poor hungry tummy.)

"Furry with salt" I carefully responded, so she would know just how salty they were.
"I'll bring you out new fries in a sec'."

Approximately ten minutes later, she walked over to my table.
"Here are your fries, sir. I made them, then stirred them with only the salt that was left over from our last batch, so I hope they're not too furry this time."
She placed the overflowing triangular box on my tray, then stepped back and waited expectantly.
Then, my greatest performance.
I took a fry, placed it delicately in my mouth, bit, chew, and swallowed. Careful to keep my expression pleasantly suprised, I said happily "tastes great! Thanks again!"
She smiled and walked back behind the food service door to continue making fries.
After she had left, I did the only thing I could.

I added more salt.

© JPE 2007