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Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Was Almost Attacked By Giant Slugs!

I'm going Fun Sunday this week and adding some humor to my usually serious blog posts. I hope you enjoy the mood change -- just for today.

A couple of years ago I saw some slugs in my strawberry patch. They were small, about the size of my pinky. I started putting slug stuff (don't know the official name) around my strawberries to keep them from getting in -- that is until I found out the little white pellets weren't just a deterrent, but a slug execution device. I think they eat the pellets which expand in their bellies and ... well, I don't know... maybe they explode or something. At first I thought it just filled them up so they wouldn't be hungry for my strawberries, but no, it's a poison.

If you follow my blog, you know my aversion to killing anything. So as soon as I found out the little white pellets weren't just a yummy slug snack, I stopped putting it out.

If you know me well, you know that there isn't much that grosses me out. I've always been a tomboy. I love creepy, crawly, slimy things: all bugs, spiders, snakes, lizards, mice, snails, frogs, worms.

But, SLUGS...

I've never had the desire to pick up a slug and explore it, and the thought of one touching my skin makes my stomach do that weird roller coaster climb and drop thing. I have a slight stomachache just writing about them right now, and there's a little gag-inducing lump in the back of my throat. I truly think my biggest fear is being attacked by giant slugs. Something I thought impossible until this past Thursday night.

WARNING: If slugs make you a bit nauseous, you may want to pop a Dramamine before you read further. :)

This past Thursday night we "lost" a fish. Our sweet little fantail guppy named Clock passed away, and since he was a cherished pet, we'd had him since Tuesday afterall, Hayden insisted we wrap him gently in some newspaper and take him out back to bury him -- right then, at 8:30 at night. So, my hysterical six-year-old son, my really-could-have-cared-less four-year-old son, my husband, and I wandered out into the yard to bury Clock below the lilac bushes.

I had a small hand shovel, and I used it and my hands to scrape away the layer of mulch to get to the dirt below. It was very dark, and as I was scraping I noticed a couple of extra-large chunks of mulch and thought it was odd, but didn't give it a second thought. I dug the hole, we dropped Clock in, Hayden cried out a few special memories of the fish and said a prayer, and then he went back inside with his dad. Brandon suddenly became emotional and decided he needed some quiet time to mourn Clock's passing, so he and I sat graveside for a few minutes.

It was during this quiet time that I took the time to glance around us and noticed a HUGE HUGE HUGE slug. I mean HUGE. Did I say HUGE? This is no joke - I am almost certain it was about the size of an empty toilet paper roll. Then I realized the big chunks of mulch weren't mulch at all, but more HUGE slugs. So, I looked around in the areas of the grass where the deck light happened to be shining and they were everywhere -- HUMONGOUS toilet-paper-roll sized slugs. There may have been hundreds, or it could be that the eight I did see were just so HUGE that it seemed like hundreds. Either way, my fear of being attacked by giant slugs was unfolding right before my eyes.

Brandon and I were barefooted and had to go through dark stretches of grass to get back to the deck steps. Did I mention we were SITTING there and had been sitting there, in the slug infested grass, for at least five minutes at that point. I knew they couldn't have crawled up our shorts without us noticing - considering they weren't much smaller than our rear ends, but could we have possibly sat on one? -- doubtful, but I wasted no time jumping up and throwing Brandon as high up onto my body as I could get him - you know... in case they started flying through the air and splattered on to us.

We were going to have to take our chances and make a blind run for it through those dark stretches of grass. It was either that or stand there and be slug slimed.

I would have never thought it would have been possible for a human to go from 0 to 60mph in 3 seconds running on the tips of their two big toes, but I'm here to tell you, IT IS POSSIBLE. I'm pretty sure I did it last Thursday night while carrying a four-year-old on the top of my head and chanting eeeyew, eeeyew, eeeyew (and I'm not an eeeyew kinda girl).

We made it to the deck without a squish, and I now realize why I'm harvesting about 1 quart of strawberries and tossing 1 gallon each time. Those slugs are eating good in my back yard. I'm wondering if those little white pellets a couple of years ago were enhanced slug vitamins instead of poison.

Have you ever seen a slug that big? Look at this big slug video. There's got to be an old movie about attacking slugs. Let me know if you know of it. Not so I can watch it but so I can be sure to steer clear of it.

I find it hard to believe our world would be worse off without the slimy slug, but God made them for a reason, so I did some research. Read slugs to find out the good, the bad, and the ugly about the slugs purpose on earth. They really do have one.

My husband had another great suggestion for our special quarter pounder backyard slugs. Survivor and Fear Factor are always looking for juicy appetizers.

Seriously, if anyone knows of a humane way to get the slugs out of my strawberries, let me know. Please don't tell me to get rid of my strawberries. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What Do You Do When God "Reep Reep Reeps" At You?

If you've read my welcome note in my side bar, you may be wondering who it is you are supposed to be scratching behind the ears. So, here she is showing off her big, pink belly rolls. She's the furry, orange one. She's actually waving at the camera with her left, front paw. The other two are my beautiful human children.

My Writing Loft is kind of my "me time" blog (the one place I can go and not talk about mommy stuff), so you don't see much about my kids or family on here. I have an entirely different blog for my mommy stories, My Chronicles of Parenthood, but today I have a story to share on this blog that involves mommy stuff - kind of.

As you can tell by Hobbit's size, she is a 100% indoor cat. She will occasionally walk out onto the deck with us and wander to the foot of the steps and roll in the landscape mulch beneath the bushes. But, beyond that she does not stray -- ever. Ten minutes tops her outdoor excursions, and she quickly waddles back into the house. I usually leave the deck door open, and we just kind of come and go. Later I chase all the flies out of the house because I refuse to kill them -- it's not their faults afterall that they wandered in through my inviting wide-open door.

This morning, the boys and I slept in. Around 9:30 Hayden, and I wandered into the living room still shaking the extended sleep off of our bones. The first thing I usually do is open the curtains to the deck door and walk outside. This morning when I walked out and leaned over the deck rail, Hobbit came running up the stairs, and from the sound of her voice she was extremely irritated that she had to camp out last night.

Hobbit's not really a camping out kind of girl. She gets a little repulsed over bugs, and flying and chirping things send her scurrying for cover. I guess she's a valley girl at heart.

My boys were very upset with me when they realized Hobbit got stuck outside for the night. I tried to explain to them that she probably enjoyed her camping adventure, but they weren't buying it. They quickly put her bowl of fresh seafood platter canned food in front of her, which she gobbled right up, and then followed her into the bedroom and helped her curl up on the bed. I guess she intended to sleep off the trauma I had put her through. I suppose we will be battling PTSD for a while.

I have no doubt my boys were having secret conversations about what a bad mommy I had been by not noticing Hobbit had been outside all night. They may have even discussed among themselves if it were possible that I could do such a thing to them as well.

Before you think too terribly of me, it's not like Hobbit could have gone anywhere. The yard is surrounded with a six-foot privacy fence, and it meets the ground all the way around, so she can't fit under. And she doesn't like to work up a sweat, so she'd never even attempt a jump.

Just as the Hobbit fiasco was coming to a close we heard a hysterical Red Breasted Robin outside. It was screaming in a high-pitched, continuous "reep reep reep reep reep reep." There are baby robins in our tree, and they've been out there for a while now. The mommy and daddy have stayed busy feeding these little babies, and we have enjoyed sitting on the deck watching them. So I knew the instant the "reep reep reep" started up that it was Daddy Robin. I just didn't know what was wrong with him because he'd never done this before (this is him sitting on the fence next to the tree).

On closer inspection, I noticed the problem. One of the babies had fallen from the tree. He was laying in the mulch below. I ran down to check on him, and he was okay. Nothing appeared to be broken. I ran up and grabbed a rag so I could pick him up and look at him a little closer and also to give him a soft spot on the mulch. He was happy and eagerly hopped onto the soft rag. I thanked God that he was not injured, but I wasn't sure what to do with him -- leave him there or put him back.

I ran back in and checked on the internet. Thank God for the internet in times like this. I saw comments saying "definitely leave him on the ground." The problem was that I saw an equal number of comments saying "definitely put him back." Ugh!

So much for the internet.

Daddy Robin was still having a fit over his baby being down there on the mulch, so I followed my initial instinct and made the decision to put him back. I set up the ladder as Daddy Robin "reep reep reeped" and watched intently from the fence a few feet away.

Baby Robin had settled in the middle of the rag which was the perfect spot for him. I slowly lifted him in his tiny little rag sling, and Daddy Robin instantly became silent. As I climbed the ladder Daddy Robin watched from his fence perch, a tiny little worm hanging from his mouth. Mommy Robin quietly watched from the neighbor's roof. My boys begged me to be careful as I neared the top of the ladder (not for my own safety mind you, but for the sake of the tiny baby robin), and I'm sure Mommy and Daddy Robin were thinking the same thing.

As I gently tilted his sling above his nest, Baby Robin realized where he was and hopped up and into his nest on his own. He snuggled in close to his sibling and the two gently "reep reep reeped" at me as I descended the ladder. I gathered up the ladder and headed toward the deck. Quietly Daddy Robin sounded off a few "reep reep reeps." As I looked back he was flying his little worm piece into the tree. His hysterical reeping was silenced now that his baby was safe.

A few hours later, I snuck back up the ladder to snap a picture of the babies. Only one was in the nest, and Daddy Robin caught me, so I snapped one picture fast and hurried back down. Both babies were hanging out on the branches yesterday so the other one was probably in the tree somewhere.

Later this afternoon I asked God what I should blog about today. I've been asking Him this for the past few days, and I guess I haven't been listening well because my mind has been blank. A few minutes later He reminded me of that "reep reep reeping" daddy robin.

God wants to know: "How many times do I 'reep reep reep' a warning signal over one of my troubled children? How many times do you heed My call and come to My lost child's aid?" God does not physically reach out and pick them up and sit them into a nest of safety. Instead He calls out to us -- those of us who can be His hands and jump to attention when He "reep reep reeps" at us to let us know He has a child in trouble.

What do you do when God "reep reep reeps" at you? Do you look around to see what it is He wants you to do?

Do you see a bigger picture? Do you hear God "reep reep reeping" at Christians in this world -- how are we responding collectively?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crispy Pages Versus Dusty Covers: What's Your Pleasure?

I have had a big dream for years, and every time I get on a dream kick, the dream gets bigger and bigger. I know what you're thinking:

  • World peace (not really -- I'm actually looking forward to the rapture -- the only reason I ever watch the news is so I can pick out prophetic signs, seriously)

  • A cure for poverty (actually yes, I would trade any of my dreams to achieve this one for all of the hungry children in this world)

  • A mansion (nope, I have enough trouble cleaning the house I have -- I like to look at them, but I wouldn't want to live in one)

  • A convertible Mustang for each of the major production years starting with 1964 and ending with a metallic midnight blue with silver racing stripes 2010 Shelby GT500, which can go from 0-60 in 4 seconds, and a garage to hold all my 'tangs in (okay, a Mustang or ten would be AWESOME, but that's not it -- although when I was 10 I did want to be a female race car driver -- maybe I haven't quite moved past it. Check them out 2010 Mustang Shelby GT500, but be warned, looking at these pictures may make your mouth water)

  • Summers in Hawaii (okay, maybe I have a few dreams, but most of them will have to wait until I become a multimillion-dollar best-selling author -- yeah, right)

No, this is a dream that is within reach which is why it makes it all the more dangerous to dream. I want to own a used book store. I know... I know..., but hear me out.

I love books. I don't need to make any money (who needs money when you're a writer -- okay, I admit I glossed over the part in my writer's manual that said writer's don't make any money). I just need to sell enough books to pay the rent or the lease on the store.

What? You don't think I'll even get that... hmph, some friend you are. Good friends are honest, you say? Well, what if I told you I planned to sell rare books and 1st edition, signed books and that I plan to have an online used book store as well? Sounds a little better, don't you think? You're right, there are about a bagillion (yes, I know that's not a word) people selling used books online.

Why do I even need a store front if I plan to sell them online, you ask? Well, the store would be a great and quiet place for me to write. And, it would be nice to get out of the house to write. Yes, I have heard of a library, and yes, I know it's free to go there.

Did you ever see Ellen (the first Ellen sitcom in the 90s - I think it was also called These Friends of Mine) before it went off the deep end -- when it was just one of the funniest shows ever? Ellen managed a small book store, and it was the coolest book store. I've seen other shows and movies with book stores just like that one, and they all feed my dream when I see them.

Uh yes, I have seen You've Got Mail. Yes, I know what happened to Meg Ryan's little book store. :( What's that? Is there a big name book store in my town? Well... there's that little store called... uh uhm... Books-A-Million (she quickly says through a sneeze into her hand), but it's just so big and sterile with all of it's constant newness. Where's the character? Where's the love? Where's the history?

Wow, you can be harsh. Do you really think people would rather have crisp, clean pages that smell like fresh ink and a cover that has almost never been touched than pages stained with who-knows-what and a cover that you have to blow the dust from who-knows-where off of?

I was in a used book store, Landmark Booksellers, this weekend and 1st edition, hardback Stephen King books were listed at $55-$65, and that wasn't even the good stuff, like Carrie or The Shining. This was more recent stuff. The older classics would go for a lot more and a signed copy... wow, could you imagine. Still think I'm crazy?

You do? Seriously?

Okay, maybe you're right, but it's not going to keep me from dreaming. Thanks for the dose of reality. I need it sometimes.

So, what's your pleasure? Do you prefer shiny, crispy, new books, or do you enjoy popping open a dusty book that has more of a story to tell than just the one that is printed inside?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Confessions of a Reformed Bible Speed Reader

My son pulled out a toy today that he has almost never played with. He got Batman a couple of months ago and the toy has been in his closet ever since. Today, however, he has played with him all day long. A few minutes ago, he brought pieces and parts of Batman to me and asked me to put him back together. Unfortunately Batman was broke. I couldn't fix him. The tiny, interior, plastic pieces that connected at his waste and pelvis and held his legs on just split apart.

I just happen to be laying back in my son's bed as I write this, and as I look around the room I see a variety of toys in disrepair. Most of them are toys that just never connected appropriately to begin with. I'm looking at his Pokemon Center right now -- the top has fallen off -- again. This one toy challenges my sanity because I spend more time fixing it than he spends playing with it. Air seems to be too heavy for its fragile makeup.

I still have toys from my childhood that are in better condition than most of my kid's toys. Sure, my Barbies' may have teased hair or no hair at all, and I may have drawn makeup on their faces in permanent marker, and one or two may have a tattoo they didn't start with, but that was all my doing. It had nothing to do with how they were made.

Toy companies, like many other industries, just don't make good products anymore. They've fallen under the curse of the production-driven society. They use cheaper materials, cheaper manufacturing methods, and cheaper labor, and they charge us way too much for the junk they make. But they sure are making a lot of it -- why? -- because we keep buying it.

Production over quality has become such a habit in our lives that it has bled into our Christian thinking as well. What is the trendy Bible reading method I'm sure we all hear about, and maybe even participate in each year? It becomes a HOT topic in churches around December.

--Read the Bible in a year--

Does your church do this one? Mine does. All through the month of December we hear about reading through the Bible in a year. Even testimonies make their way into an occasional service. And for the rare few of us that actually make it through, there is no victory because other church members immediately begin to encourage us to read a different version this year and the whole process just keeps cycling.

I've been driven by the masses the past couple of years. The first year, I think I made it to 1 Samuel and still experiencing Leviticus aftershocks just couldn't dig in and move forward. Last year was much more impressive, I finished the New Testament and made it through Isaiah in the Old Testament. It was August and I could have easily finished, but I chose to stop.

I had finished my reading that night in August and sat my Bible to the side.

God said to me, "What did you just read."

I said, "I don't know, but I read all that I was supposed to."

God said, "Says who?"

I said, "my Read Through the Bible in a Year schedule."

God said, "What did you read last night?"

"I don't know."

"What about the night before that."

"I don't know, but I don't have to remember it, I just have to read it."

"What's the point in reading My Word if you can't remember it?"

"Uh... well... um... maybe, no... I... well... I guess I'm not sure." I sputtered out.

Suddenly I was convicted. Reading the Bible wasn't taking the place of studying the Bible, but I wasn't studying it every day. I was reading it for 20 minutes a day and was comprehending nothing. But, doggone it, I was going to get through it in a year -- I was on a schedule after all and I was nearing completion.

God made me realize it would be better to study small passages for those 20 minutes each day than to read through multiple chapters each day. No, I wouldn't read the Bible in a year, but I would have 365 fully understood pieces of the Bible under my belt.

God's Word is too amazing and too important to be production driven. If we read for speed, His Word will be about as useful as my son's legless Batman. If we read thoroughly and deliberately, His Word, like my Barbies will last forever.

Have you ever read the Bible in a year? Did you maintain undestanding or was your main goal completion? Tell us about your experience.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Troughs and Peaks

How many of us have spent an entire day cleaning our house only to wonder why we even bothered by 2:00 the next day – then swore off cleaning our house till the kids go off to college – then got tired of the mess and started the whole process over again two weeks later?

How many of us have started that great diet and exercise program and followed it for those “21 days until it becomes a habit” only to abandon it on day 22 – then picked it back up again on day 83 only to abandon it again on day 91…?

How many of us have been on cloud nine over some great project we aced at work one day, only to be brought back down to earth the next day when our boss gave us a “3” during a job review for an item which we felt sure we’d get a “5” on?

How many of us have loved… and lost… and loved… and lost… and loved… and given up on love… and kind of loved… and lost… and looked for ourselves… and wished we had found ourselves before we lost that last time… and loved… ?

It’s human nature to go through ups and downs. Some of us do it on a roller coaster and some of us on a long, slow hike, but the fact is we all fall into the undulating trap of our nature. We can thank mother Eve for passing down that gene. It is permanently ingrained in all that we do.

In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis uses the character, Screwtape, to share a message about human nature, “Humans are amphibians – half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy therefore is undulation -- the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.”

Our Christian life is no exception. Being a Christian does not make us any less human or any more spirit. Some of us have a human nature that allows us to express our spirit side more boldly than others, but it doesn't make the rest of us less spirit than them. Even an atheist is a spirit being, although they may not face this side of themselves until judgment day.

In what area of your Christian life do you repeatedly fall into a trough only to turn around and climb right back up to that mountain peak again? Is it church or Sunday school attendance? Is it reading your Bible? Is it praying? Is it tithing? Is it serving? Is it maintaining a relationship with God? Is it persistent, intentional sin that you sometimes run from and sometimes run to? Is it all of these things at different times -- It is for me.

I’m in a trough right now, in fact, in my relationship with God. Something is tight in my spirit, and I’m not letting God in like I normally would. Instead of asking Him to come sit with me on the front porch and chat, I’m making Him stand outside the fence, in the street, while I occasionally holler out a “help me.” He’s responding with, “I’d love to, but you’ve got to let me in.” Why do we do that? Why don’t we just open up the gate and let Him in? Darn this human nature.

Eventually I’ll climb back up to that peak and let Him in, but for some, digging out of the trough is more challenging than it is for others. For some, the trough’s lowest spot isn’t the worst place to be. For some, their undulation is a roller coaster with multiple loops and double drops, and they just want to get off, and we are left praying that they don’t get off at the bottom. Sometimes in the pit of the trough, the rain comes and floods the trough leaving them struggling to stay above water and gasping for air. And sometimes the peak washes clean away and they don’t know what to do.

I haven’t been there, but I’ve seen it. My best friend, Traci, lost her 15-year-old son, her only child, in a horrible car accident last year. I listened and prayed when her 2am hysterical phone call informed me, “I don’t think he’s going to make it.” I listened to her and prayed for her as shock buried her in a false sense of calm the following morning when he didn’t make it. I cried as we embraced, when all I could say was, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” I watched her and prayed for her as she strongly carried his pictures, his history, 15 short years worth, into his visitation. I stood behind her and held my hands on her as we gathered around the casket and prayed before the casket was closed – her last human look at her young son. Another friend and I strongly stood close beside her – at just the right time – when suddenly reality sunk in and her legs stopped working and we had to carry her as we walked out of the visitation. Just before his funeral, I pretended to be strong, and I prayed as I fixed Traci's hair and put on her make up because she could barely move. I listened and prayed when she asked, “why would God let this happen?” and all I could say was, “I have no idea why these things happen.” In reality, I was scared, I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry, and I was mad (how could God allow this – she had just lost her father to suicide a few years before – how much can one person be expected to take). I listened and prayed in the months following when all she could do was sleep because when she was sleeping it didn’t hurt . And most of all, I prayed, even when I just didn’t understand. I just kept praying.

Now, 14 months later, Traci has opened a youth center in her small town in New Mexico named, Thomas House, in honor of her son and his love of Jesus and children. Even in our flooded troughs, the peaks can reappear. And even though her climb may not be as easy or fulfilling as it may have once been, eternal lives are being saved through Thomas’s death, and a time is coming when God will bring it all to perfect completion.

No matter how simple or desperate our situation is, God will always give us the ability to climb out of our trough. Our peaks may not always look quite the same, but they will be there.

All we have to do is open up the gate and let God back on the porch.

Friday, May 08, 2009

"Faith Like Potatoes" - Get It!

I have been so encouraged recently to see so many Christian movies hitting the big screen. Movies like Amazing Grace, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof have done well and given Christians a reason to go to the movie theatre occasionally.

But even these movies, despite their inspiring messages and beautiful stories, leave me wanting a bit more. And usually the "more" I'm looking for is acting that doesn't look and sound like... well, acting. Don't get me wrong, in all of the movies I mentioned above, within 20 minutes I was so enthralled with the story that I didn't dwell on the acting. However, I usually feel like I am just watching a great story, rather than being pulled into the world the filmakers have created for me.

So when I came across Faith Like Potatoes I wondered how in the world this award-winning, international, Christian movie had bypassed the big screens of America -- and why. The Christian message is strong and clear -- was that a deterrent to our American film companies? The acting did not appear to be an act at all: it was sharp and rich and I felt like I was eavesdropping on the real lives of real people.

Based on the true story of the Buchan family, Faith Like Potatoes focuses on Angus Buchan and the extreme anger, stress, and fear he battles while he struggles as a white farmer in South Africa -- in a time when white farmers and their families are being murdered in massive numbers and extreme drought makes it impossible to grow anything, much less water guzzling potatoes.

About 40 minutes into the movie, Angus, at the prompting of his wife, goes to church. He is so moved by what he hears there he prays for salvation and immediately begins telling everyone, including the Zulus that help him run his farm, about Jesus. Everyone around Angus thinks he and his faith are crazy when he tells them God wants him to plant potatoes. South Africa is suffering a severe drought and nothing can grow in the resultant dust, especially potatoes. Angus's faith does not waver and he obeys God and plants his potatoes. His new faith leads to some beautiful spiritual moments in the movie and an emotional struggle when he realizes some things God does are beyond his understanding no matter how strong his faith is.

As I sat, alone, in my living room watching this movie, I was sitting on the Buchan family farm in South Africa; or maybe I subconsciously wanted to be, so I pretended throughout the duration of the movie that I was. At one point, during a particularly emotional scene, I actually jumped off the couch and screamed, "NO! NO!" at my television screen and caught myself whispering a prayer. Knowing this was a true story based on the book written by the real Angus Buchan made it all the more powerful as I was treated to a viewing of his life.

Despite the fact that the ending is given away in the title and a flash-forward scene at the beginning of the movie, knowing makes it no less dramatic when it happens, and I found myself rejoicing right along with Angus, his family, and the entire community when plump brown potatoes are pulled out of the scorched, brown, dusty earth. The movie is about a journey of faith and how God works when we trust in Him.

If there were any cons to the movie, it would have to be the relatively slow start. However, stick with it for 15 minutes or so, you WILL NOT be dissapointed. And it took a few minutes for my ears to adjust to the accents, but once I got used to it, I had no problems understanding what they were saying.

I highly recommend this movie and an occasional tissue. You can order it through Netflix or Blockbuster (I'm not sure if it's in the store).

Click here to view the video trailer: Faith Like Potatoes

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Salami "GOD"

Did you see this story today? A woman in Miami said she was frying three slices of salami, and when she flipped the first piece, a "G" was seared into the meat. When she flipped the second piece, an "O" was seared there, and then she thought, wouldn't it be weird if the last piece had a "D" on it. Then she flipped it and, sure enough, a "D" was there.

Okay, here's my question: at what point did she decide this was newsworthy enough to alert the media? And why? The funny thing is, she's much wiser than I am because I would have simply thought isn't that cool as I gobbled up the salami (okay, I don't eat salami, but you get the point). Alerting the media never would have crossed my mind. But, sure enough, the media jumped on it. Who would have thought... seriously.

What exactly are we supposed to do with this "newsworthy" story?

  • Are there atheists out there making phone calls saying, "yeah, did you see this salami "GOD" thing. It seems we've been wrong all along - there really IS a God?"
  • Are there masses of disobedient Christians watching this story and praying, "oh, God, thank you so much for that message. Had it not been for the salami, I would have continued in my intentional sin having never devoted myself fully to You?"
  • Are there agnostics out there having instant revelations and praying for salvation in record numbers while saying to each other, "oh my gosh, the proof is in the salami, and had I not seen it, I would have gone on living a wretched life and been condemned to hell for all eternity?"
  • Are there pilgrimages being planned to Miami so we can all see the "holy salami?" Oh please, I hope not but would it surprise me...?

I just don't believe any of these things are happening. If you are reading this and you do fall into one of those categories above, drop me a comment. I'd love to know if you actually exist, and if you do, I will publically declare on my blog, "yes, God does speak through fried salami." Otherwise, could someone please explain why this is on the news.

And, of course, here I am blogging about something that really shouldn't be newsworthy. Why do I do that?

By the way, the woman said she's looking into having the meat and it's message preserved. What do you think? Does God speak through deli meat?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Dove of Love

I was wandering around Lifeway today, doing a little mother's day shopping, when I came upon a charming votive candle holder in the shape of a dove. The dove appeared to be carved from a resin material and had intricate designs and textures detailed in rich shades atop a bronzed ivory colored body. Painted on one side was the word "FAITH." On the other, "LOVE."

I was strangely drawn to this little bird. I don't collect birds, and I detest shopping, so I wouldn't normally form an attachment to a trinket such as this. When I noticed it was the only one left, I became quite possessive of it and picked it up and carried it around with me while I shopped. I wasn't necessarily planning to buy it, but I knew I needed to spend some more time with it. As I tried to shop my attention stayed focused on the little bird, and suddenly a buried memory resurfaced.

When I was a child, my stepmother had a little, roughly carved Indian in the same resin type of material as the bird. He was painted in bright, primary colors and if you turned the Indian one way he wore red clothing, had a big smile, and had the words "great spirit happy," on him. If you turned him around, he was an entirely different Indian, wearing blue clothing with a big frown and had the words "great spirit sad," on him. My stepmother loved the happy Indian, and I loved the sad Indian, so we would spend all summer turning that Indian around and around to respectively display our favorite side. I suspect at the end of each summer, when I traveled back home to my mom, that Indian was probably pretty happy to be able to have a few months' reprieve to regain his equilibrium.

"FAITH" or "LOVE" Which side of the bird will I display, I thought and just like that I knew he was no longer just along for the shopping excursion - he was coming home with me. I decided "FAITH" would be the most important for me to display. Love is great, but faith says, "I'M A CHRISTIAN." I grabbed a Christian Research Journal, paid, and drove across the street to Schlotzsky's for some lunch.

I go to Scholtzsky's occasionally for lunch and I always take a book or magazine. Engrossed in my reading of choice, I absolutely never pay attention to what is going on around me. I read while I eat, and then I leave. But today was different. It was a little later than usual so it wasn't overly crowded and it was quieter. I had maintained intense focus on an article in my magazine until I had finished it, and as I was turning to the next article, I recognized something -- a song -- a (Christian???) song -- an obvious Christian song. Chris Tomlin's "Holy is the Lord" was actually playing on Schlotzky's radio at lunch hour. Wow!

Allow me to digress for a moment. I had a similar "Wow!" moment last Wednesday at Kohls department store when I heard Addison Road's "Hope Now" playing on their radio. Not as obvious of a Christian song, but a Christian song nonetheless. These kind of moments always excite me.

Back to Schlotzsky's. I closed my magazine and took some time to look around. Did anyone else notice the song? The four guys in business suits at the table next to me? Nope, they were talking shop. The two guys and the girl sitting on the other side of me? No, the couple was telling the guy how they met. The single guy across the way gnawing into his humongous sandwich? Don't think so -- it didn't seem to phase him. All around me, life was going on and an honest-to-goodness Christian song, a full-on worship song at that, was playing all around us. Were there Christians in this crowd? I wondered. Wouldn't they notice this song? Wouldn't they be looking up in excitement over a public place playing a Christian song so boldly, just like I was?

Then I realized, maybe not. Maybe they don't hear it. Or maybe they are so used to not having their senses filled with anything Christian in places like this that they just don't notice it. Who, in here, needs to hear about Jesus, and who already knows Him? Who has faith that I just can't see, and what exactly would I need them to do to show it to me?

How do people know that we are faithful followers of Jesus Christ? Do we put our faith on display like I wanted to do through my special little dove? Throw our hands up in the air and start praising God when a worship song surprises us at Scholtzsky's? Run to the most non-Christian looking patron in the restaurant and boldy demand, "If you died today, Sir, do you know where you would spend eternity?" Proudly display our Jesus fish and John 3:16 bumper sticker but walk right past the begging homeless guy in the parking lot?

The answer is no. We don't do any of these things. People know we are Christians by the love we share, not by the faith we say we have or the trinkets we display. We build relationships with others, we share our experiences of Jesus with others, and we help those in need. The loving actions we perform are the outward representations of our faith. People don't see our faith, they see our love which evidences our faith.

Thanks to Schlotzsky's, my adorable little dove will show "LOVE."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Don't We Already "Coexist"

Have you seen this bumper sticker? I am a very observant person, but for some reason I have completely missed this bumper sticker. I may be the only one because apparently it is quite popular. So popular in fact, it has birthed many varieties, to see a couple click (here) and (here), and a couple of different versions (see right).

What are the symbols?:

C (moon and star) - Islam
O (peace sign) - peace, or (pentagram) - Wicca
E - male and female equality or in some cases e=mc squared in that case it stands for evolution and scientists theories
X - (star of david) - Judaism
i - Wicca/Pagan/also the Bab/Bah'ai or the Buddhist dharma wheel
S (Ying Yang) - Taoism/ Confucianism
T - (Cross) – Christianity

I'm not really sure what this sticker means or what the purpose of it is. Seriously, I know "coexist" should be obvious, but is it? Let's look at the definition of "coexist" first.
1. to exist together or at the same time - Simple enough.
2. to live together in peace with each other especially as a matter of policy - Is there really peace if you are forced by policy to be peaceful?
3. to exist separately or independently but peaceably, often while remaining rivals (competitors) or adversaries (a person, group, or force that opposes or attacks) - Uh oh, not so simple anymore is it?

In fact, those last two definitions really contradict themselves - don't you think? If we are attacking each other or forcing others to be peaceful, we can strive for peace, but it certainly wouldn't actually exist. In fact, if either of these definitions are valid, aren't we already coexisting (existing at the same time, living separately, attacking, competing)? In which case, this sticker is making no statement at all. It is simply stating what all of the religions or other groups represented here are already doing - COEXISTING but not peaceably or harmoniously.

As I was researching, the overwhelming majority of people commenting felt that this sticker was representing a beautiful message of peace. An internet forum writer, Kyle Lacy said, “I think the bumper sticker is saying that we can all live in peace and harmony despite the way we choose (in a religious sense). I am tired of hearing about whether someone is right or wrong in terms of religious belief. I have chosen just to love people whether or not they believe the way I do.” Even Facebook offers this as a badge flair and gives it the description, "Coexist is a way to demonstrate your support of religious freedom, tolerance and understanding by showing the 'COEXIST' profile badge. " I'm just not buying the majority view here. I don't think these opinions represent the true meaning of the word "coexist."

Even those who disagreed with the possibility of the supposed message of peace seemed to agree that peace was the message it was sharing. Internet forum writer, Joe Shoemaker said, "Someone who believes that evolution and creationism can 'coexist' knows very little about either.” Mark Winebrenner said, "It is not possible. The irony is that some of the groups represented on the bumper sticker feel the only way to achieve world peace is to eliminate one or more of the other groups represented on that bumper sticker.” And finally, a strong opinion by Tom McMahon, "If some of the followers of the religion represented by the crescent moon 'c' on your cute little bumper sticker would stop hijacking planes and blowing up buildings, coexisting would be a little easier."

Somehow, none of this feels right. The message of peace is simply not represented by the terminology of "coexist." This is one of those tricky words in the english language. Like the word, "hope," it is misunderstood. I don't think the message was sent to share with us that we already "coexist," which we do. I do not see a literal meaning in a variey of religious or other group symbols spelling out the word "coexist," but what I do see is something much deeper. So, my thinking has shifted to the symbolic. Consider this person's view of this sticker: "On a personal level, this image represents the concept of "many paths" that I learned in an excellent philosophy class in high school...” – Nila Neeley (internet forum)

When I first saw this sticker, despite the surface-simple peace message some may see, I was instantly disturbed by it and immediately thought, "many paths." This is that politically correct, buzz term that seems to have saturated our world. If coexisting, as it is represented on this sticker, means I as a Christian pacifistically sit back and not share the ONE and ONLY true way ("I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me." - John 14:6), I want nothing to do with that definition of coexisting.

I'm paying closer attention to bumper stickers now and as I am watching this sticker grow and birth others, I fully expect to see the one that says, "Many paths - One destination."

What do you think? Am I digging too deep? When you first saw this sticker what came to your mind?