Monthly Archives: January 2012

Clutter- Don’t give me any Crap!

Standard

Do you ever watch the show “Hoarders”? I’m not sure I’ve ever made it through an entire episode without standing up to organize my living room and go wash my hands a dozen times. That show gives me the heebee-jeebies. I hate clutter.

But in my personality I have conflicting “likes”. I like things to be within reach and I don’t want to have to dig for anything. And yet I hate clutter. Baskets and plastic organizers are my solution to this dilemma. Just BUYING organizers makes me feel good. I can lift a drooping attitude quicker than anything with a gander down a RubberMaid aisle. Organization makes me happy.

In my life long battle against clutter I have also discovered the value of moving often. I now believe that everyone should change houses at least every 5 years because moving forces you to physically confront the back of your closets. You must put your hand on each and every item that you own.

When we went into missions 8 years ago we sold our house and most of our belongings. That meant having the garage sale of the century! I felt certain that we didn’t actually have so much stuff, but when I had to drag it all out and put it on tables in my garage I was embarrassed at how much JUNK I had accumulated in 10 years of marriage. For example, I thought I had maybe 3 or 4 baskets around the house. But when I collected them all and put them together I counted 20. I was shocked and horrified! That day I faced my basket-habit. They say the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.

In the ensuing years I have made 5 international moves and countless smaller moves from house to house. Those people who say, “A move across town is harder than anything” are ignorant. Try reducing your entire household to 15 suitcases under 40 lbs. each and then tell me which kind of move is harder.

Because of this global nomad lifestyle, I can make two observations related to clutter. First, I give careful thought before buying anything. When I stand in the store and debate on whether or not I should buy something, I ask myself, “Do I want to move or sell this in 4 years?” If not, I don’t buy it. Second, I have left a trail of abandoned clutter that flows from Minnesota to Mexico to Costa Rica. At some point you just give up and beg people to just come take whatever they want. Making that many “cut or keep” decisions just burns out your brain cells after a while. But I don’t know how many times I have said, “I used to have a [fill in the item] once upon a time. What did I do with that?” It was abandoned along the side of the road a long time ago.

For Christmas this year Josh’s family did a $3 secret Santa exchange. We protested. Josh told everyone, “I don’t want CRAP!” They thought he was being funny. We were serious. Don’t give me any crap because I hate clutter. Most of the gifts did not make it from Minnesota to Costa Rica. Global Nomads must by necessity live a clutter free, crap free, life. And it’s a good thing.

Advertisements

Worship Service or Christian Rock Concert?

Standard

So yesterday was Sunday.  Normally my family and I head to church together, but this Sunday my husband was out of town with the only car that would fit all the kids.  So we stayed home and I searched on line for a church with live streaming of their service.  I found one that I have watched a couple of times, though I had never caught their worship time… their song service.  I won’t tell you which church I watched, but it was a very trendy, young Evangelical congregation.  Every woman on the stage wore thigh high boots and too much make-up.  Every man wore a shirt at least one size too small for his belly… one guy was wearing skinny jeans.  *shiver*  But I guess that’s cool now?  I don’t know.

Anyhow, I found it extremely hard… no impossible… to actually participate in this worship experience because I was totally distracted by the “Concert Effect” of what I saw on the screen.  The colored spot lights swirled, the audience bounced together with hands raised, the pretty people on stage hammed it up with very dramatic “worship” movements.  The cameras zoomed in for close-ups of the singers and musicians.  The quality was as good as a music video!  It felt inauthentic.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a Pentecostal Christian (I guess in America the lines between Pentecostal and Evangelical are sufficiently blurred so as to confuse even those of us that GO to church regularly).  I love an emotional worship experience.  When I worship, often I do it with my whole body.  I participate in the moving of the Holy Spirit.  So don’t mistake me, I enjoyed this musical experience, but I just couldn’t worship with it.  It felt more like a Christian Rock Concert- like a show.

So I just want to throw this question into the void:  What is the difference between a modern day Worship Service and a Christian Rock Concert?  I am interested in your input here, Dear Reader.  I would like to hear from both Christian and Secular readers.  What is your opinion of the image of the modern church, as you see it?  Are you comfortable here, or like me, do you feel like an outsider watching from a computer screen at home?

In the Kitchen with God

Standard

Ever since they were little, each of my children has enjoyed working in the kitchen with me. It’s something that I have encouraged. I pull up a chair to the counter, tie on their little aprons that I made for them, and give each one an assignment appropriate to their age. We especially like to bake together. But when you bake with children they are bound to make a mess. They stick their fingers in the sugar, they spill flour on the floor, and they take forever doing what would take me seconds to accomplish by myself.

So why do I let my children work in the kitchen with me? Because I love them. I have things I want to teach them. And I love spending time with them. True, if I did the baking by myself I could do it much faster and with far less mess, but then I would lose the enjoyment of working in the kitchen with my kids. I do it because it’s what a good mother does.

It’s kind of the same with us and Father God. He makes space for us to work with him in the stuff he’s doing in his kitchen here on earth. Sure, we stick our fingers in things sometimes. Often we make messes in the process. And most definitely we take much longer to do things that would only take God the blink of an eye to accomplish. So why does he want to work with us humans? For the same reason that I work with my kids. He lets us participate in his projects because he has things he wants to teach us, and he enjoys spending time with us. He’s a good Father, plain and simple.

Lulu in the Kitchen

I will waste my life

Standard

I Will Waste My Life

By Misty Edwards

I will waste my life

I’ll be tested and tried

With no regrets inside of me

Just to find I’m at your feet.

I’ll leave my father’s house

And I’ll leave my mother

I’ll leave all I have know

And I’ll have no other.

I am in love with you

And there is no cost.

I am in love with you

And there is no loss.

I am in love with you

I wanna cling to you, Jesus

Just let me cling to you Jesus.

I’ll say goodbye to my father, my mother

I’ll turn my back on every other love and

I’ll press on, yes, I’ll press on

‘Cause I am in love with you, Jesus!

Hindsight… does this dream make my butt look big?

Standard

Leap of Faith

“Staring in the water like Aesop’s foolish dog

Can’t help but reflect on what is was I almost lost

What I thought I wanted, what I got instead

Leaves me broken and grateful.”

~Sara Groves, What I thought I wanted

I had a dream of living in Europe.  I studied 4 years of French.  I seriously thought God was going to call me to Europe as a missionary.  Europe suits me, and I have the wardrobe for it already!  I love the history, the architecture, the art, the cool youth culture.  I just love Europe.  I kept waiting for the Call from the Lord.  It never came.

When I was 17 I was supposed to be attending my high school graduation.  Instead I was spending a month in Europe with my family on a sort of family missions trip.  We spent 3 weeks in Brussels, Belgium working with missionary friends and then tacked on a week in Paris just for family vacation.  I never considered missing my graduation ceremony to be a hardship in the light of Paris!  I was born for that city!

While we were in Belgium we toured Continental Bible College, where I considered studying for at least a year.  As I walked through the buildings with the tour guide, I prayed in my heart.  I asked God, “Well, what do you think?” and clear as the voice of the tour guide I heard God say to me, “He’s not here.”  I knew immediately that he meant my future husband.  I said, “I didn’t ask you about that,” and we didn’t talk about it again.  I went home and applied to North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, my hometown.  I met Josh a few months later and two years later we got married.  What I thought I wanted pales in comparison with what I got instead.

Fast forward to 2003.  We were on a missions trip with our youth group kids.  We knew this would be our last trip.  We had already felt God starting to stir our hearts, change was on the horizon.  But we didn’t know what it was going to look like.  Sitting on a bench on the campus of the University of Mexico UNAM we felt God speaking to our hearts.  “This door is open.  Will you come here and work for me?” he asked.

I thought about my Europe.  I said, “Mexico??  But God, I took FRENCH!  Remember?   Is this one of those times when I say yes to what you want and then you give me what I really want instead?”

No.  Then he took me to the altar of my heart.  He reminded me of all the times I had knelt before him and said, “Lord, send me!!  I’ll go ANYWHERE!  Just send me SOMEWHERE!”

And he asked me again, “Did you really mean anywhere?”

“Yes, Lord.  I will go anywhere you send me.”  I humbly replied.  Europe slipped from my fingers.  And I had the sensation of falling backwards off a cliff and landing safely in God’s hands.  That free fall, stomach in the throat, adrenalin rush that you get just as you jump was me putting my trust in God, knowing that he was going to catch me.  Faith.  A leap of Faith.

Last year I had a very vivid dream.  The Lord was speaking to me.  In my dream the Lord and I were hovering over a globe of the world.  He showed me Europe.  I saw and felt and experienced in one moment everything I love about Europe.  Then the globe spun and I was over Latin America.  The same thing happened, in one moment I saw and felt and experienced everything I love about Latin America.  Then the globe was pulled back a little.  Looking at the whole world, God gave me a choice.  “Knowing what you now know, do you want Europe or Latin America?”  I was being given a choice, a permanent, real choice.

I hovered over the globe for longer than I thought it would take to make this decision. In my dream I cried over the agony of this choice.  Finally I said, “I can’t bear the thought of leaving Latin America.  I love it more than I ever thought I would.  I choose Latin America.”  As soon as I made my choice, the globe was removed from me and I felt that my decision was made final.  I would not be given this choice again.  But oh the peace that flooded my heart!  I knew I would be happy with this decision.

Something deep inside of me resonated like a bell.  There is a part of me that was made to respond to Latin America, and it thrills me to hear it ring like a bell in my heart.  What I thought I wanted was completely different from what I got instead.  And I am happy.  So happy.

Firewalking

Standard

Bear with me if you’ve heard this one before (or just skip to the very end and read the last 2 paragraphs).

A long time ago in Ancient Babylon there were 3 Hebrew teenagers.  Now because we aren’t in Ancient Babylon I’m going to take some artistic liberties and give these boys modern names. Let’s just call them Chad, Mike, and Ben.  They were captives serving the King of Babylon.  They were chosen to be servants instead of being killed because they were smart, good looking, and came from noble families back in Israel.  They should have show gratitude to the King for sparing their lives.  Instead, they refused to eat the food he sent from his own table because it had been sacrificed to idols and that was morally repulsive to a Hebrew.  For their moral courage, God gave them knowledge and understanding of all kinds in addition to favor with the King.  They were given important government jobs in Babylon.

Time passed, and one day the King of Babylon got a wild idea.  He constructed a huge golden statue of himself, set it out on a plain, and required everyone to come and worship his statue.  He ordered everyone, “When you hear the band start to play music, bow down and worship my statue.”  Chad, Mike and Ben knew that this was wrong.  So when the music started and everyone dropped to their knees there were 3 boys left standing.  The King called Chad, Mike and Ben in for a talk.  “Now because I like you boys, I’m going to give you a second chance.  When you hear the music, bow down to the statue.  Come on guys, be team players, you’re making me look bad.  Just bend your knees, that’s all I ask.  Otherwise I’m going to have to throw you in a fiery furnace in front of everyone just to show who’s boss.  Then what god will rescue you from my anger?”

The boys replied, “We don’t need a second chance.  It will be the same as before.  We only bow to the God we serve.  And he is able to save us from your hand and the fiery furnace.  But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or bow to your statue, O King.”

That pissed the King off in a big way!  He ordered the furnace turned up seven times hotter than usual.  It was so hot that the soldiers ordered to throw the boys in the fire dropped dead from the heat.  These three boys fell into the flames, bound hand and foot.

Suddenly, the King jumped to his feet in amazement.  He shouted, “Hey!  Weren’t there three guys that we tied up and threw in the fire?  Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods!”  So he called them out of the fire.  When they walked out alive everyone crowded around them to examine them.  There was not a hair singed on their heads and they didn’t even smell like smoke!  The King burst out in praise to God, the God who rescued Chad, Mike and Ben.  And he ordered that everyone worship the one true God too.  The End.

Here’s my point in telling this story.  Very often we pray that God would rescue us from the flames of whatever trial we are facing.  But sometimes he doesn’t.  Sometimes God wants us to go into the fire.  Sometimes God wants to rescue us IN the fire instead of rescuing us FROM the fire.  But there is another option too.  Sometimes it is God’s will that we die in the fire.  The history of the world is full of people who have died for their faith, martyrs.  And Chad, Mike and Ben were OK with any of those 3 final scenarios.  Any of them.  They said, “Even if God doesn’t rescue us, we will still worship him.”

So yes, God can rescue you FROM the fire.  He can meet you IN the fire.  Or he can ask you to DIE by fire either physically or metaphorically.  It’s his choice.  Are you all right with all of those choices?  Would you stand firm in your commitment to God even if it looks like it’s not going to have a pretty ending?  Is God still worthy of your worship even if he doesn’t answer your prayers like you wanted him to?  Walking through the fire could be your finest moment with God, because he won’t let you go there alone.  If he calls you to the fire, he will be with you.  He promised.


I don’t like the game “Smell This”

Standard

Just a sampling of parenting maxims from the owner of a 4 year old “monkey”.

1.  If a 4 year old ever tells you, “Hey Mom, smell this!”  Do not inhale.  I repeat DO NOT INHALE.  Just pretend you’re Bill Clinton in a college dorm.

2.  Never argue with a 4 year old.  You can’t beat non-logic.  That’s what the “Because I said so” and “Because I’m the boss” cards are for.  Play them instead.  If all else fails, remember that you’re bigger than this little tyrant and just pick her up and make her obey.  (Don’t try to tell me this doesn’t work… I’ve had 3 of these things and it works while they’re small.  Don’t try it on the big ones, you’ll throw your back out trying to pick them up.)

3.  Don’t wish too hard for quiet.  Quiet is a dangerous thing when a 4 year old is in the house.

4.  Don’t ask, “Why did you just lick that?!!?”  There is no answer that will satisfy you on this score.

5.  Choose your battles.  Some days your child may discover the hill they are ready to die on just happens to be the hill you’re ready to kill him on.  It’s on days like this that your child’s cuteness will be their only means of survival.  That’s a God given preservation method.  Go with it.

6.  I often threaten to give my children away to the first gypsies I find.  But if you ever DO come across any gypsies the chances that they will want your children will be slim to none.  You might be stuck with them.  Sorry.

7.  Whoever coined the phrases “As easy as taking candy from a baby” and “Sleeping like a baby” clearly never had children of their own.  Anything else they say should be ignored too.  That person is a liar.

8.  Don’t argue about fashion with a 4 year old.  As long as they aren’t going to die of frost-bite just let them wear what they want.  No one is going to think you are a bad parent if your kid has one yellow sock and one red sock.  No one is going to call Child Protection if it’s obvious that your kid dressed herself.  If you start fighting this battle now you are going to run out of ammo by the time you hit the teen years.

9.  If your 4 year old is still peeing in the compost pile in the back yard, you should break him of this habit before he goes to Kindergarten.  This is just from a teacher’s perspective.  Peeing on the playground is usually looked down upon.

10.  Finally, some nights it’s OK to make popcorn for dinner and sit in front of the TV watching a movie together.  Actually, that’s what we did tonight and I’m pretty sure my 4 year old loved it as much as I did.  The world did not end.

Lulu, my favorite 4 year old.

STUPID Naked Guy: The Epilogue

Standard

So last night I was talking with my parents on ichat.  They had been reading my blogs and laughing along with me (and everyone else).  Then they filled me in on the rest of the story about the Naked Guy on our Lawn.  Apparently when the cops found his pile of clothes behind the house they looked through the pockets.  He left his wallet in his pants.  So the cops just went to his house and waited for him to come home naked.  AND HE ACTUALLY TRIED TO LIE TO THEM!  “No officer, I wasn’t doing anything.”  I really would have been tempted to yell, “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire!” if I were that officer.

So kids, stay in school…

What We Found in the Basement

Standard

I attended 9 different schools between Kindergarten and my senior year of High School. I have lived in more than 7 different houses in 3 different states before leaving for college. Most of them were old houses. St. Paul, Minnesota is made of 1920s and 30s era houses full of history and interesting nooks and crannies.
In one house we lived in I found two old skeleton keys. I pinned them on my jeans jacket. (That was very cool in the 80s.) One house had a furnace where trash used to be burned. When I lived there it was illegal to burn trash. We regularly discovered birds trapped in the chimney pipe of the stove. Several houses had basements reminiscent of “The Silence of the Lambs”, creepy dark holes full of centipedes and mold where  Christmas ornaments and laundry facilities could be kept. In one house my sister and I set up our Barbie houses in the basement. We had to fling mouse poop out of the dollhouses each time we wanted to play. (I could never figure out how the mice could get onto the third floor of Barbie’s Townhouse!!) I have roller-skated around countless basements with my sister tethered to a jump rope taking turns pulling each other around. These old houses are cool, in my opinion.
In one house we discovered a door hidden in the basement paneling. I have no idea how many years that room had been closed off. What we found in there was equally horrifying and fascinating. We pried the door open and discovered a small room literally half filled with old newspapers and Life Magazines. There was an old mattress on the top of the trash heap. I didn’t want to think about why that was there. My Dad was afraid that there would be porno in the piles of papers, so he just started shoveling it into garbage bags. I managed to salvage a big stack of Life Magazines from pre-WWII up to the Kennedy Space Launch. Some have pictures of Hitler or his cronies on the cover, one has the entire interview with the astronauts who landed on the moon.
My family has moved around a lot, and as missionaries we still move around a lot. Because of this, I don’t feel like we have a lot of roots or memories in one place. I have very few keepsakes or treasures to tie me to the past. But in those magazines, I have an authentic piece of history that I can put my hands on any time I am feeling that floaty, rootless feeling. They aren’t MY memories, but they are a part of history and they are connected to ONE of the places that I have lived, so for that reason, I hang on to these odds and ends from the past.

Starting Something New

Standard

I’m a starter. I’m one of those people who starts strong and then sputters out before I’m done. My interest is in launching, not finishing. I get great satisfaction in planning to do something and then starting it. I just don’t feel rewarded by completing a project.  I’m more of a dreamer and less of a doer. I set fantastic goals but when the path to my goals gets hard, or mundane, I lose interest. Sometimes I think it would be easier to be the kind of person who doesn’t have goals. I mean, I get it. It’s a lot of work to push towards a goal. Sometimes I think I wouldn’t mind being a coaster, or a follower, or an underachiever, or a quitter. I get it. Why work so hard?  What’s the big deal about actually finishing something?  (Please hear my sarcasm, this is humor… don’t take this for theology or even advice.)

Entering a new field of interest is difficult too. There’s usually a high learning curve. Lots of time spent researching and practicing and, well, learning. And a lot of money spent on acquiring the tools needed to DO a new hobby or job. Actually, this is the part that I love about starting something new. I love accumulating new knowledge. I love buying new gadgets and supplies. It’s all the set up that I enjoy. When I was a little girl I loved dressing my Barbies and getting the dollhouse all set up… and then I was done! I drove my sister nuts. Just when she was ready to start playing I was losing interest in the game.

I like crafting, but I have about a 3-month attention span. For about 3 months I eat-sleep-breathe- and live whatever I’m interested in. Once I drill that thing into the ground, I’m bored. Once I get good at it, or at least as good as I WANT to be, I’m ready for another challenge. I am a “binge crafter.”  I have done charcoal drawing, colored pencil drawing, pastels, stamping, embossing, sewing clothes, quilting (that lasted a long time), jewelry making, watercolor painting (didn’t have the patience to let the layers dry), oil painting (too difficult to clean up), and acrylic painting. I never got into scrap booking because it was too commercialized for my tastes. I did the old fashioned scrap booking in High School when it was cool. But my point is, I have dabbled in a lot of art to find what I like and what I’m good at. I still have a long list of things I’d like to try.

And because I’m a starter, I probably won’t…