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Leftovers (Again!?!)

In an attempt at fancy word for telling the truth transparency, I wanted to let you know I have come to the realization that the laundry is piling up again I have been devoting a bit too much time to my computer lately. My husband is busy with work and the kids are really bugging him. My family requires and deserves more of my time. Because of this, I have decided to abstain from my computer completely on Sundays and Wednesday, and only check my gmail before the kids wake up or they’re over at a friend’s house spend brief amounts of time here on Saturdays.

Having said that, I realize I have some new apparent gluttons for punishment readers who have yet to read some of my earlier posts, and because I think they might enjoy some of my earlier various and sundry neuroses musings, I wanted to share this post I originally wrote several months ago. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present for your perusal: “Ann and Nancy, I don’t think I heart you anymore”:

When I was in junior high, I was Ann Wilson and my friend Laurie was Nancy of the superbly awesome band Heart. We chose each sister because we had long brown hair and long blond hair, respectively. Naturally, we both got perms to completely pull off the look, and Laurie played a mean air guitar. To me, these 2 sisters were the definition of cool. Ann with her amazing vocal range and Nancy with her daft guitar playing skills. Nancy wasn’t just a chick who could play guitar, she was actually a great guitar player. Little Queen, Dreamboat Annie and Dog & Butterfly were, to me, three incredibly amazing albums. Granted, they put out a sizable amount of really crappy music after that, but much can be forgiven when you have that kind of legacy. (Call we all say “Aerosmith” together?) I also got the sense that Ann and Nancy were true and faithful to their art. It was the work that mattered, not the fame or the money. What was “Barracuda” all about anyway? It’s been many years since Heart’s heyday, but great music remains great. From time to time, I still dress up in my saucy wench outfit, put on my “Little Queen” CD and get my angry diva on. That is, until I saw this:

Not only did they sell out to THE MAN, but they allowed my beloved “Barracuda” to be used in an effort to convince soccer moms that driving a minivan was cool. Bono himself could drive one — cool, they are not!

In closing, I would like to add a personal message to Ann and Nancy Wilson (because I’m pretty sure they read my blog):

“Sell me, sell you the porpoise said,
Dive down deep to save my own head
You…I think you got the blues too.”

INDEED! (This is me, slowly shaking my head in disappointment.)

Remix: Philemon – Biblical Goodness for the Short Attention Span

Okay, yeah. This is a repost of an earlier post. I originally wrote this way back in May of last year. But it’s kind of cool for me to reflect on it now at a distance. Specifically the part where I say “Distracted by all the things going on in my life right now…” because part of “all of the things” was that we were knee deep in the early stages of planting a church and had been thrown a few curve balls in the process. What a difference a few months can make. I know I said this yesterday, but it bears repeating: God is very, very good! BTW – I never did write a post about Hebrews, but if you haven’t read it in awhile, it is an awesomely good book.

Truth be told, this entry was going to be about Hebrews. I even have a rough draft floating around in my head somewhere and a title, “Why I’m loving’ me some Hebrews”. But every time I sit down to write about it, I end up going down several rabbit trails and have difficulty staying on topic. (Yes, shocking, I know.) I promise I’ll write about it soon, because I AM loving me some Hebrews!

Distracted by all the things going on in my life right now, and knowing I couldn’t wrap my head around all the ways that Hebrews is helping me look at said life with some biblical clarity, I resigned myself to blog a couple of quotes or a quick Top Ten List. Just as I was closing my bible, I noticed the book right before Hebrews — Philemon.

If you’ve never read Philemon, you should. Go get your bible and read it. I’ll wait right here………………Pretty good stuff, huh? Wedged between bible heavyweights Titus and Hebrews, Philemon is a short letter from the Apostle Paul that packs a punch. Now, Philemon is a friend of Paul’s, a model Christian, an active worker for Christ, and a slave owner. While imprisoned, Paul meets Philemon’s runaway slave, Onesimus. Onesimus has apparently stolen something from his master and has fled to Rome. Under Roman law, Philemon had every right to put Onesimus to death.

Paul writes this letter to his friend to convince him not only to forgive this runaway slave, but to welcome him home as a brother in Christ. There are a whole lotta lessons in this short letter, but to keep me on task, I’m going to focus on one train of thought.

“Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul — an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus — I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and me.” (2:8-11) Because Paul was an elder and an apostle, he could have commanded that Philemon welcome Onesimus home with open arms. But instead, he chooses to appeal to his friend’s Christian commitment. He wanted him to want to take Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as an equal in the Body of Christ. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me I have to do something, my mind goes into overdrive coming up with all the reasons why I don’t have to. When you counsel a friend about overcoming sinful behavior, do you blast them with bible verses, or do you appeal to what you see as their strengths? Do you give them some wiggle room and trust that the Holy Spirit will have a say in the matter? I hope we all do that.

“I am sending him — who is my very heart — back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good — no longer a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.” (2:12-16) Paul is saying, “This is a great guy, I’d love for him to stay with me, but because I love you both, I’m sending him back so that you can be blessed by what he has become. You haven’t lost a slave, you’ve gained a loyal friend and a brother in Christ. But again, the ball’s in your court.” Again — ample wiggle room.

“So, if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back — not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.” (2:17-21) When you know someone that’s new to the faith, do you personally invest in their lives? Do you “cover their bets”, so to speak? Or do you give them a big hug, welcome to the family and say, “Good luck with all of THAT!”? You wouldn’t teach your child to swim one day and then let them go to the pool by themselves the next. You hang out in the shallow end, cheer them on as they tread water, and make sure you’re there in case they get into trouble. Which, by the way, the usually do. Trust that people will do the right thing, but don’t be offended or surprised when they don’t. Forgive them as Christ forgives you, help them up and get them back on track.

There’s a whole bunch of good stuff in this little letter; many rabbit trails I could go down, but for now, It’s enough for me to reflect on just a few of them. We never learn how the homecoming turns out, but I imagine a really cool reunion, where we see Onesimus walking toward Philemon (whose hoping that Onesimus will find his way back, but doesn’t know for sure). Philemon looks up from what he’s doing, recognizes Onesimus from a distance, stands up, starts walking toward his old slave and new friend. The camera zooms out for a wide shot, then fades to black….think last scene in The Shawshank Redemption.

Remix – Yet another top ten list (kinda)

Everybody’s blogging about their reflections on 2008, their new year’s resolutions, or how they’re not going to make any new year’s resolutions. Me? I gave up quitting. I’m going to a party in a few hours, I need to finish my laundry that I somehow managed to get sidetracked from (shocking, I know), and I need to touch up my roots so I don’t show up at the party looking like I’m wearing a festive skunk hat on my head. (I’ll give you a minute to get that joke…….)

The point is, I don’t have TIME to write a new post. So I’m gonna punt. The following is a post that I wrote way back in June. Since I had a loyal following of approximately 5 readers back then (including my husband and myself), I figured it would be new to most of you. It’s my pseudo-new year’s resolution post. Happy New Year, Don’t drink and drive, and Gee, your hair smells terrific! See you on the other side!

Have you read Boomama’s blog? If you’re female (especially if you’re a southern female), I think it’s worth a visit. I don’t read it as often as I would like to, but she always makes me laugh. Last month, one of her posts was Twenty things that I will never do. It’s really funny, and many things on her list would be on mine if I were to write one — both of us share a strong aversion to clowns. No offense my clown readers, but you guys just freak me out.

But here’s the thing. I strongly believe that when we say “I’ll never do that”, we often condemn ourselves to do exactly what we say we’ll never do. I think the Apostle Paul has a pretty good angle on this one in Romans 7:15-20:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Paul’s pointing out a few things here:

  1. Knowledge is not the answer. Before he understood what the law demanded, he was okay. Once he understood this concept, he knew he was doomed.
  2. Self-determination or willpower doesn’t succeed. He was doing things that even he found unattractive.
  3. Becoming a Christian doesn’t alleviate our struggles with sin and temptation.
  4. Being born again requires a moment of faith, but abiding in Christ while allowing Him to abide in us is a lifelong process.
  5. We should never underestimate the power of sin, or use or sinful nature as an excuse. We are responsible for our actions and we need to remember that the enemy has already been defeated. Jesus conquered sin once and for all.
  6. God’s provision for victory over sin is the Holy Spirit that lives in us and gives us power. When we fall, He lovingly reaches out to help us up.

I learned a long time ago to never say never because you just don’t know what plans God has for you. If you had said to me five years ago that I would leave the church family that I love to start another church, I would have been very tempted to say “I’d never do that.” Again, God has the game plan, I don’t. Here’s a little list of things I said I’d never do before I completely grasped this concept:

  1. I’ll never date anyone I work with. (Dated and later married someone who, while wasn’t on the same payroll, was hired to work with my company.)
  2. I’ll never date an engineer. (See Number 1.)
  3. I’ll never use the television as a babysitter. (Yeah, right. We’re all child experts BEFORE we have kids.)
  4. I’ll never spank my kids when I’m angry. (If you wait until you calm down, sometimes you confuse your kids because they forget why they’re being punished. Okay, maybe I’m justifying my bad behavior just a bit.)
  5. I’ll never clean my kid’s face with a napkin that I’ve spit on to get wet. (This grossed me out when my mom did it, but sometimes that’s all you have.)
  6. I’ll never be a stay at home mom. (Before I had kids, I couldn’t separate my self worth from what I did for a living. Kids give you a whole new perspective on value.)
  7. I’ll never lose touch with my childhood buddies. (Sadly, our lives went in completely different directions. I still cherish those memories, but I don’t keep in touch.)
  8. I’ll never forgive (insert name here) for (insert injustice here). (The true gift of forgiveness is that it releases your burden, not theirs. Jesus knows what He’s talking about.)
  9. I’ll never drink tequila again.
  10. I’ll never, EVER drink tequila again. (No really, this time I mean it.)

So with a new understanding of this concept, I’ve updated my top ten list:

  1. I’ll never have rock hard abs and buns of steel.
  2. I’ll never have the perfect “wash and go” haircut.
  3. I’ll never have a pool and spa with a great covered patio in the back yard. (Ron, honey — do you still read my blog?)
  4. I’ll never work a healthy diet and exercise routine into my busy life.
  5. I’ll never get my house spotlessly clean, professionally organized and immaculately decorated.
  6. I’ll never go to Australia and/or New Zealand.
  7. I’ll never hear “Wow, I would have guessed you were closer to 30 than 40!”
  8. I’ll never let my 6-year old eat Sun chips out of a bowl for breakfast while sitting on the leather sofa watching “Wow! Wow! Wubzy!” (Okay, nix that –it just happened. SEE WHAT I MEAN?! It’s almost scary when you think about it!)
  9. I’ll never truly die to my selfish desires and live a life completely sold out to Jesus.
  10. I’ll never be able to use this blog as an avenue to reach out to those who have never accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I’ll never be able to communicate that God wants them back, that nothing is too dark, too shameful, too horrible that it cannot be wiped clean by the blood spilled at Calvary. I’ll never be able to convey the insanely beautiful, gut wrenching, life shattering peace that is the Gospel of Christ.

So. There’s my top ten list. Do you have one?