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Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Foregoing innocence


With very few exceptions, reality television is a cesspool of everything that’s wrong with the moral compass of society.

Feeling guilty about how messy your house is? Just watch Clean House or Hoarders. Comparatively speaking, your home is a showplace.

Wondering if your consumption of Diet Coke borders on addiction? At least you don’t secretly eat the stuffing out of sofa cushions or find yourself unable to communicate with people without the use of a puppet like the folks on My Strange Addiction.

Think your daughter’s wedding day expectations are unreasonable? Just watch an episode or two of Say Yes to the Dress, Whose Wedding is it Anyway?, Bridezillas, or the mother of all bad bridal shows, Bridalplasty:

The show follows 12 engaged women who are competing for the wedding of their dreams and their dream plastic surgery procedure. Each woman must complete a plastic surgery wish list and complete wedding-themed challenges in order to win the surgery of her choice. The winner of the week’s challenge gets one plastic surgery procedure from her wish list.

The winner of the competition will get a wedding of her dreams and multiple plastic surgeries from her wish list. The husband will not see his fiancee until the wedding day, when the bride reveals her new look. (Source: Wikipedia)

Regardless of how base and degrading your behavior may be, thanks to reality television, you can always find someone whose actions are more base and degrading than your own. Hurray for you!

And while I can largely ignore or make light of most of this nonsense, there’s something especially disturbing when the subjects of these shows are children.

Enter the world of baby beauty pageants seen through the lenses of the creators of Toddlers and Tiaras. My personal opinions aside about pageants in general and children’s pageants in particular, I know there are some contests for kids where glamourous make-up and costumes are not only not discouraged, but not allowed. I suppose these contests are the lesser of two evils, but I still think it sends the wrong message to the children involved.

Recently, a four-year old contestant made the national news when she appeared in a Dolly Parton costume complete with big hair, fake boobs and a padded butt. I considered posting her picture here, but then I suppose I would just be adding to the circus. When she appeared on Fox News with her mother,  her mother said she was surprised at all the outrage over this costume. “It was a theatrical costume (she wore) for 90 seconds.” When asked about charges of sexualizing young children, the mother replied: “There are people who are going to take everything to an extreme, but at the same time, people have Facebook posts that are 10 to 15 (years old) and all of their friends in bathing suits running around taking sexualized pictures, but because this has been brought into the national news spotlight people feel like they have to jump on it and correct me, when there’s other things going on on a daily basis that are so much more concerning.”

Oh…okay.

Thank you for restating my original argument. People can justify their own actions because there’s always someone taking things further than you are. Those are the people that really need to be stopped.

People like the subject of the latest outrage stemming from Toddlers and Tiaras–a three-year old whose mother recreated Julia Robert’s prostitute character in Pretty Woman. Yeah, this one:

I’m not terribly concerned about how shows like this will effect my 10 year old daughter, because the only time we ever watched it together she was as disturbed by it as I was. My concern is for the little girls and boys involved in these shows.

Many of their parents will argue that most of the time their kids are just that–kids. What they may not be considering is the fact that their kids get the lion’s share of attention when they’re strutting around looking like adult beauty queens. I suppose I’ll buy the argument that many of these tiny beauty queens think the pageants are fun, even though the frequency and voracity of the tiny temper tantrums on that show leave me less than convinced. I’m less inclined to believe they enjoy being spray tanned, wearing painful hairpieces and false teeth over their own called flappers.

The message? You are a beautiful child, just not beautiful enough without all the extras. This is the wrong kind of attention. And it’s not okay.

As much as all the primping and yes, sexualization of children on this show bothers me, what bothers the most is that these little girls and boys most likely think people watch them with admiration, when in reality most view the show for what it is: a freak show.

A big, money-making freak show.

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This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Innocence, hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more on this topic, please visit him at PeterPollock.com.

The perfect swing

I come from a family of golfers. Me? I’ve never played nor have I ever been inclined to do so. I’ve always shared Rosie O’Donnell’s opinion of golf: “Golf is not a sport. Golf is people in ugly pants walking.” (It should be noted that I don’t share the vast majority of Rosie’s opinions, just that one.)

My son took to golfing at an early age. He has what family members and more than one seasoned golf professional have called a perfect, natural swing. I’ll have to take their word for it. I wouldn’t know one if I saw it, although I will say his golf swing is a thing of beauty. He can drive the ball 280-300 yards on a fairly consistent basis. Which is pretty impressive for a 13 year old. Or so I’ve been told.

But natural ability is not enough.

Excellence requires persistence and dedication.

Persistence and dedication comes from a passion to pursue a goal.

My son isn’t interested in playing golf right now, and because of cutbacks in school programs next year, there will be no golf team to try out for. No short term goal to strive for.

I hope my son takes up golf again someday soon, not because I want him to, or his dad or his grand dad or his aunts and uncles want him to.

But because he wants him to.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

~ Calvin Coolidge

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This post has been part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Swings, hosted by the lovely and talented Peter Pollock. Please visit his site to read more posts on the topic or link up one of your own at

The truth about cats and dogs

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Do you remember the movie The Truth about Cats and Dogs? In case you missed it, here’s the plot summary courtesy of Wikipedia followed by a trailer from the movie courtesy of YouTube:

Abby Barnes (Janeane Garofalo) is a veterinarian, who hosts a Los Angeles radio show called “The Truth About Cats and Dogs.” The use of this as the title of the film also suggests the combative nature of male-female romantic relationships. Abby strikes up an unexpected friendship with her neighbor Noelle Sluslarsky (Uma Thurman), a traditionally attractive model who is sweet, but not very sharp. When Abby makes a blind date with a caller to her show (Ben Chaplin), her insecurity with her own appearance leads her to convince Noelle to pretend to be Abby when meeting the date. Unfortunately, both women develop feelings for the man, leading to a comedic series of misunderstandings, as the unintended consequences of their deception grow deeper.

When I saw that the topic for this week’s blog carnival was pets, I did what most people would probably do. I thought about my pets, past and present and attempted to write a story about what they meant to me. And while heartfelt stories about a favorite pet are almost always moving and/or inspirational, I wasn’t really feeling a personal pet story. I’ve got them, but I suppose just about anyone who has ever had a pet has at least one. Probably better than mine. (Although I will go on record here stating that my cat Rudy is 17 years old–119 in human years supposedly, and I also owned male and female litter mates that lived to be 20 and 21 respectively. Cats love my company so much they refuse to die. Which is sort of strange because the feeling is not necessarily mutual.) But I digress…

I agree with what the character Abby says at the beginning of that clip: “You can love your pets, just don’t love your pets.” And no, I’m not talking about a 3 hour tongue bath from your cat, even though I’m pretty sure that would be considered inappropriate under any circumstances.

What I mean is that most pets, and dogs in particular, are easy to love because for the most part they love us unconditionally and without judgement. They lavish us with affection and loyalty and ask very little in return. My dog Buddy Love is a great companion. I don’t recall a single blog post typed from my computer when he wasn’t either sitting in my lap or snuggled up next to me. I do love that dog, but that kind of love and companionship is not the same as loving people.

People are hard to love.

And there’s no such thing as unconditional love when it comes to human beings. We may come close on rare occasions, but our selfish natures prevent us from that kind of love.

Someone once said, “The more people I meet the more I like my dog.”

And while there are days I might wholeheartedly agree with that statement, I simply can’t give up on loving people.

Because the One who really does love me unconditionally commands me to love Him and love people.

And He never mentioned the dog.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Pets, hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more about pets, please visit him at PeterPollock.com

Memories from the road


When I saw that the topic for the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival was “Road”, it reminded me of the last family road trip I took in November. And since many of us are planning some sort of road trip this summer, I thought it might be fun to revisit a post I wrote back in November. Sorry/you’re welcome.

Overheard on the way to Alabama

Happy day after Thanksgiving everyone! I’m enjoying a very relaxing extended weekend at one of my favorite places in the world: the beach. It matters not which beach, as long as I can sink my feet in where earth meets water, I’m happy. On this particular occassion, I find myself in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It is beautiful and relaxing and wonderful. It’s also a 9 hour drive from my house.

Despite the DVD player, gameboys, iPods and books, nine hours is a long time for four people and a dog to spend in a car together without some interesting bits of conversations arising. The following are just a few snippets from said conversation on Wednesday:

“I have to go to the bathroom.” (Baytown, TX)

“I have to go to the bathroom.” (Beaumont, TX)

“I have to go to the bathroom.” (Orange, TX)

“You just went to the bathroom.”

“I couldn’t go last time.”

“I hope he’s not getting a bladder infection.”

“OH MY GOSH! I’m fine. How embarrassing…”

“Are we in Louisiana yet?”

“We’ll be in Louisiana in about 10 miles.”

“Are we in Louisiana yet?”

“In about 8 miles.”

“We’re in Louisiana.”

“How long until we get to Mississippi?”

“Sigh…”

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

“You’ll have to wait awhile. There’s no place to stop.”

“Were you able to pee the last time we stopped?”

“OH MY GOSH! Yes, Mom! How embarrassing.”

“Okay. Just checking. I wish you and your sister would coordinate your bathroom breaks a little better.”

“We’re in Mississippi.”

“Why is it called Mississippi?”

“I’m not sure. You should Google that on the computer.”

“What’s the state bird of Mississippi?”

“Don’t know.”

“What’s the state tree of Mississippi?”

“Don’t know.”

“What’s the…”

“Don’t know anything about Mississippi. Google it.”

“How long until we get to Alabama?”

“When we get there. And we’re playing the quiet game until we do.”

“What are we doing for dinner?”

“We’re going to Bea’s condo. She’s making dinner, but we’re going to drop off our stuff at the cottage we’re staying at first.”

“How long until we get to Bea’s condom?”

“Snort!”

“MOM!”

“Sorry…”

“SNORT!”

So, what did y’all do for Thanksgiving?

This repost is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Road, hosted by the lovely and talented Peter Pollock. For more posts on this topic, please visit his website, PeterPollock.com

Mushrooms, anyone?

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I live a very comfortable life. Truth be told, many people live in want of things that I take for granted. I think most of us take things for granted until we lose them or there is a threat of losing them. I don’t pretend to understand why I have so much when others have so little. But the verse “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48b) doesn’t escape my attention, either. I know I have a responsibility to help others.

I suppose I should be content to live a life many people would envy, and for the most part, I am content. But there a certain restlessness in me that has always been there. Probably always will. I think a big part of this restlessness is an adventurous spirit. No, I don’t want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane or bungie jump off the side of a bridge. I’m not that kind of adventurer. What I desire is to do something in a way not done before. Whether that be writing, or painting or heeding God’s call. I want to be different. I want to ask Why not? where others ask Why? Even if it is from the confines of suburbia. Erwin McManus summed up this desire in the following passage:

For years, I have made it my mission to destroy the influence of the Christian cliche “The safest place to be is in the center of the will of God,” but just this week my wife Kim introduced me to one of the earlier uses of this adage. It’s found in the diary of Corrie tn Boom (concentration camp prisoner)…And although Corrie lived to tell the story, (her sister, who quoted the adage) Betsy died in the midst of it…Actually, God’s will for us is less about our comfort than it is our contribution. God would never choose for us safety at the cost of significance. God created you so your life would count, not so that you could count the days of your life..

The Church Communication Network sent me an invitation to do a session on leadership at one of their national conferences..I would follow one of the most credible experts…I was honored..both excited and nervous as I prepared to follow the main speaker . Somewhere in his lecture he started to say something that totally threw me.. Point blank, he instructed, “Don’t be an innovator, be an early adopter.”

Hearing that created a crisis for me since I place an extremely high value on innovation. At Mosaic, the community where I serve as lead pastor in Los Angeles, we don’t describe ourselves as a modern church or postmodern church, a contemporary church or emerging church. The only description I use is that we are an experimental church. We volunteered to be God’s R&D Department. Anything He wants us to do that other churches do not want to do or are unwilling to do, we’d like to take on…

The speaker went on to explain that the innovator is the guy who eats the poisonous mushroom and dies. The early adopter is the guy right next to him, who doesn’t have to eat it. He can learn from the innovator’s misfortune. Made perfect sense to me. That’s why he’s the man. Curious to me was my perception that he had pretty much been an innovator, the kind of guy who had eaten some pretty bad mushrooms and just happend to live to tell about it.

Before I knew it, it was my turn. Whatever I had planned to talk about was irrelevant to what was banging around in my head: Should I stop being an innovator?….But my mind wouldn’t stop there: What happened if everyone became an early adopter…Without innovators, who could we depend on to die?

With all this running through my brain, I let my talk go where the lecture and perhaps God’s Spirit guided me. After thanking him for his amazing contribution to the Body of Christ and for mentoring me through his books and ministry, I went on to thank him for a new metaphor for my life.

I am a mushroom eater.

Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an early adopter, but as McManus says, without innovators there would be no early adopters.

Someone has to be willing to die.

So, what about you? Are you a fan of mushrooms?

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Adventure, hosted by the lovely and talented Peter Pollock. For more posts about adventure, please visit him at PeterPollock.com.

What we treasure

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I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about “collectibles”. It was his observation that anything marketed as collectible rarely ever increases substantially in value if at all. Commemorative coins, beanie babies, Cabbage Patch dolls, Swatch watches. Should I continue? I’ve said here before that I’m anti-crap. Which is not to say I don’t have way too much of it. I think most of us do. I suppose there’s an up side to people collecting things they don’t need and only think they want. Thanks to sites like E-bay and Craig’s List, we can sell all that crap in order to have money to buy someone else’s crap because theirs looks pretty good in the pictures. Which is awesome, especially if you can get something for less than it’s worth.

Ah, but that leads me to a question: Who or what determines something’s worth?

My mom has several Madame Alexander dolls from the early 70’s. She has a Scarlett O’Hara doll in mint condition which she said several years ago was valued at over $800. But that doll is only worth $800 if you find someone willing to pay $800 for it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I suppose she could commit insurance fraud and report the doll stolen, but that’s very unlikely to happen.

I used to collect a few things. I still have a case full of ceramic Disney characters from years ago. Some I bought and some were gifts. By the way, if you find yourself becoming too obsessed with collecting any sort of themed item, just tell your friends and family how much you like said theme. I had a friend that liked hippos. She received so much hippo paraphernalia that she had to plead with people to stop buying her anything hippo related. I used to like to remind her what incredibly vicious, violent animals hippos were, and that a real hippo would just as soon kill her as look at her, but I digress…

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Who or what determines something’s worth and what makes some things more valuable to us than other things? For me, certain things I consider treasures because they evoke special memories. Many of the objects I cherish are of very small monetary value.

I have a jar of shells sitting in a prominent place in the family room. The jar itself is special because it was given to me by a dear friend as a housewarming gift. I’ve kept different things in it over the years, but I think the plain, white shells will stay in there. Nothing fancy, but these are the shells my daughter and I collected on her first visit to the beach. It was just the two of us and we had a wonderful day.

I also have a Wedgewood covered dish given to me by my in-laws. They have given us many wonderful gifts over the years, but this dish is special because of the story behind it.

My husband is the youngest of four kids. His dad was a science teacher then later a school principal. His mother was also a teacher. They worked hard, raised 4 kids on modest salaries and still managed to save and invest money. I don’t think either would mind me saying that they are frugal. They buy things on sale when they can, rarely if ever spend extravagantly on themselves and they both love a great bargain.

After they retired, they traveled extensively in the United States and abroad. In 1996, one of their vacations brought them to Copenhagen, Denmark. They were shopping for mementos and souvenirs when they saw some items in the window of an antique shop. They picked out a few gifts and brought them to the sales clerk. My father-in-law had been converting Kroner to U.S. dollars in his head, figured they had approximately $90-$100 worth of items and felt like they had found some good deals. My mother-in-law sensed that the sales lady was very pleased by their purchases as she filled out their tax free shopping cheque.

They went to another shop where my father-in-law tried to purchase two items. When he handed the clerk a $10 bill expecting change, the man asked him if he wanted to put the rest of the balance on a credit card. At this point they discovered that the conversion rate was about 10 times higher than what they had been figuring. He declined to purchase the items and proceeded to the Tax Free Shopping Office, both with a sinking feeling.

The items they had figured to be between $90-$100 came to a grand total of $900.

That box is special to me because they probably could have explained their miscalculation to the antique shop and selected less expensive items. Instead, they choose to keep them. Which, knowing them, probably went against every fiber of their being.

So my covered Wedgewood dish is a treasure because the story behind it is a testimony to my wonderful in-laws, who are living proof that you can be both very frugal and very generous all at once. And if my husband is reading this, I’d just like to point out that I’ve got the generous part down, just not so much the frugal part…

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This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Treasure hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more posts on the topic of Treasure, please visit him at PeterPollock.com

Doing stuff

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Monday marked the first day of FREEEEEEDOOOOOOOM!!!! the kids going back to school after their week long spring break. It was nice to have everyone home last week, but I must confess that towards the end of the week all that togetherness was starting to harsh my mellow. Me likes my alone time.

Since it’s now officially springtime and whatnot, I decided it was high time to spruce up the front porch. I’ve been wanting to get some rocking chairs to put out there since we moved into this house. And since we’ve lived here for 8 or 9 years, I thought I would find some over the weekend, thereby missing the official 10 year procrastination mark. Besides, I figured I could enjoy my morning coffee out there for the next couple of weeks before temperatures and humidity rise to levels capable of melting my face off.

After two unsuccessful shopping ventures Friday and Saturday, I finally found two black arirondack rockers at Garden Ridge Pottery on Sunday afternoon. If y’all don’t have a Garden Ridge Pottery in your neighborhood, I suppose the best way to describe it would be Hobby Lobby meets Pier One meet Oriental Trading Company. Sort of. They sell furniture, plants, silk flowers, housewares and “miscellaneous”.

"miscellaneous"

Once we got the chairs home, assembled and out on the porch, it became evident that the new addition didn’t really complete the look I was after. The term “putting lipstick on a pig” comes to mind.

The front door needed refinishing, the windows were dirty, the large pot of dirt out there needed filling and the impulse buy of two ferns from the grocery store needed to be hung. An ambitious project, but I was ready, willing and able to accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish on Monday. I went to bed Sunday night with every intention of getting to work on my project bright and early Monday (mid) morning.

Yeah…

That was before I woke up in-explicitly at midnight and couldn’t get back to sleep. I tried reading. That seemed to work until I turned off my book light, set down my kindle and shut my eyes. Wide awake again. I eventually got up and went to the couch, figuring I would fall asleep watching the television. Three and a half hours later, I was exhausted and a little perplexed why Animal Planet would devote a 30 minute time slot to Mike Tyson and his dream of pigeon racing. But I digress…

from nypost.com

My point is (and I do have one), what I wanted to do was get the kids off to school and go back to bed. I was tired, grumpy and completely out of sorts. I didn’t feel like going to Walmart, buying hooks, potting soil and something to put in the pot of dirt. I didn’t feel like doing all that stuff I told myself I was going to do. And honestly, my world wasn’t going to come crashing down if I chose to go back to bed and leave all that stuff for another day.

But you know what?

I went to Walmart.

I refinished the door.

I potted a fern in the pot of dirt.

I hung the ferns.

I even dragged the spring wreath out of the garage.

I did all the things I set out to do. And yes, I was even more exhausted when all was said and done. But sometimes you have to suck it up and do the things you set out to do. You keep your promises and follow through with what you said you were going to do. Even if those promises are made to no one else but you.

Now, to get some flowers planted!

Sometimes especially then.

My first new visitor.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Goals, hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more posts on the topic, please visit him at PeterPollock.com

Dear Future Mark:

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I’ve thought of you often over the past 20 plus years. I’ve even tried to track you down a couple of times without success. I’d hoped to see you at one of the two high school reunions I’ve attended, but I don’t suppose you had much interest in seeing most of those people. I’ll let you in on a little secret–me neither.

Even though we attended the same high school, I’ll always remember you as Junior High Mark. The guy with the horn-rimmed glasses and the army green backpack. While the rest of us stuffed our backpack into our lockers, you carried that thing with you everywhere. I’ll admit it came in handy, like the time you hit me with it.

What I’ve wanted to tell you all of these years since junior high school is this:

You’re a big part of who I am today. I know you’re probably scoffing at that, based on the way I treated you. Of all the many regrets in my life, not being able to tell you “I’m sorry” and “thank you” still make the list.

We were both picked on. Me because I suppose some half-breed Asian girl isn’t supposed to have a big mouth and is expected to keep her head down and not have an opinion about anything.

You? You were called that most hurtful and horrible of names: Retard

I suppose we both would have been better off in the short term by doing what they all expected us to do: cower down and not fight back. I fought back because, as I mentioned before, I had a big mouth and an attitude. You fought back because they were just flat out wrong about you. You were not, as they so cruelly labeled you, a retard.

You were the smartest kid in school. I don’t know the reason for your speech impediment, but I knew you enough never to consider you mentally challenged. I also knew a thing or two about false labels and assumptions based upon personal experience.

But back to the apology:

I’m sorry I joined in with the others when I should have stood up to them, for looking down on you because you were different. That day in the cafeteria line when I pulled on your backpack? You did the right thing by smacking me with it.

That was the day you smacked some sense into me.

That was the day you gave me permission to be different and to stand up to those who are threatened by anything other than the status quo.

You may think I left you alone after that day because you stood up to me, but you always stood up to everyone. Probably still do.

No, the real reason I left you alone was, to be honest, I was sort of in awe of you. You taught me something crucial that day. Something life changing:

True strength and depth of character is found when we face adversity and refuse to lose a part of who we are in order to be part of the crowd, that if you walk to the beat of a different drummer, you should do so unapologetically, and most importantly that oftentimes the most memorable heroes in this life are the unlikely ones. Thanks for being my unlikely hero.

Gratefully yours,

Kathy Dishman-Richards

“What you really have to do, if you want to be creative, is to unlearn all the teasing and censoring that you’ve experienced throughout your life. If you are truly a creative person, you know that feeling insecure and lonely is par for the course. You can’t have it both ways: You can’t be creative and conform, too. You have to recognize that what makes you different also makes you creative.”

– Arno Penzias, 1978 Nobel Prize winner for physics

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This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Future hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To check out more posts on this topic, please visit his website, PeterPollock.com

Sacrifice or something else?

Before I begin this post, I feel the need the qualify something. I do believe most of us know the true meaning of the word. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice for noble reasons. And for that I am grateful.

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Sacrifice

Sometimes I think how I view personal sacrifice is akin to my view of humility–the moment I begin to think of myself as sacrificial, I sort of miss the point.

  • My daughter pleads for the latest “must have” and hard to find toy or trinket. I drive all over town to find what she wants, then surprise her with it when she gets home. Later I find this most wanted item tossed carelessly on the floor of her room.
  • My son has a big school project due. He comes home to find that I’ve pulled the garbage cans in from the curb, brought his dirty clothes from his closet to the laundry room and emptied the dishwasher–all his chores–thereby giving him ample time to finish his assignment. Later I find him playing video games in his room. His school project, which is due the next day, lies unfinished on his bed.
  • I discover a great new blog. I put the writer on my blog roll and retweet all new posts on Twitter. I visit and comment on his or her blog at least two or three times per week, but the blogger never replies to my comments nor does he or she ever visit my blog and leave a comment.
  • After making a withdrawl from the bank, I see a man with a sign at a busy intersection–“Trying to get home. Need bus fare. Anything will help. God bless you.” I roll down my window and ask him how much he needs for bus fare. I give him the amount needed plus a few extra dollars. A week later I see the same man with the same sign in another part of town.

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Any of the above scenarios might be considered sacrificial on my part if I perform these acts expecting nothing in return. When I expect in return obedience, gratitude, respect, loyalty or love, the act ceases to be sacrificial and become some sort of unhealthy, passive-aggressive prid pro quo. Frankly, that’s just not the kind of person I want to be.

I’m examining my heart more and more these days, trying to be more like Jesus and less like my wretched self. And if I want to be more like him, I’ve got to love more like him. How about you?

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.” ~ Hosea 6:6

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Sacrifice, hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more on the topic, please visit him at PeterPollock.com.

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Editor’s Note: For the record, I’m not in the habit of surprising my kids with toys or doing chores for them. I’m just not that nice of a mom. And if you’re on my blog roll, it’s not because I expect you to read my blog in return, it’s because I enjoy reading your blog and think others would, too. So there you go.

My favorite renewal

Those of you who have been following my little journey through the blogosphere for a long time already know that I’m a painter. I’ll paint just about anything, really. I even have an old, sadly ignored little painting blog called Stuff I Painted which chronicles some of the work I’ve done for clients and for myself.

Of all the projects I’ve done, I think restoring and painting furniture is the most rewarding. It’s also the most time consuming and labor intensive. But perhaps that’s part of the reason why it’s so rewarding.

Some projects start with new, unfinished furniture right out of the box:

A kids table and chairs set is a great blank canvas.

and I've been blessed with clients who give me a concept and let my imagination take over. From flowers and bugs...

to a nursery rhyme table all about Jack.

from Jack & Jill to Little Jack Horner to Jack and the Beanstalk.

As much as I love painting new furniture–especially children’s furniture–there’s something really great about reviving an old piece of furniture.

I love seeing beyond what most would consider ugly and useless...

with the knowledge that with a little care and imagination, an old table can be given a new life.

My favorite furniture renewal project is the one which currently sits in my dining room.

It started with a dresser which had seen better days.

My neighbor’s elderly, live-in mother had recently passed away. They had a garage sale and had managed to sell most of her furniture, but at the end of the day, the dresser remained.

I didn’t need a dresser, but my neighbors thought it a shame that such a good piece of furniture should go to waste. I agreed, so I bought it for $30. It sat in my garage for at least a month.

Then I happened to be looking around at a local charity resale shop and stumbled across a hutch. A very nice, cherry hutch. The only drawback to this hutch was that whatever it once sat atop of was nowhere to be found, which is no doubt why it was only marked $30. I suppose I took the $30 price tag as a sign that an old dresser made to hold clothes in a bedroom would be a good match for a hutch who had somehow lost its mate. They were not a perfect match. One was cherry. One was maple. But I was determined to make it work. I knew both could be useful, I just had to figure out how.

The result was a rather unconventional place to store linens and display a few treasures.

The hutch is hardly a perfect fit, but I like it just the same.

I don’t think you can tell from the photos, or maybe you can, but there are spots on that dresser where I sanded through the paint to let the original wood surface show through. I like that it shows its age. I wanted a bit of its history to peek through. Besides, perfection is sort of boring, don’t you think?

As to the items displayed in my Frankenstein furniture renewal? The pewter and silver pieces are mostly gifts. Watership Down is one of my favorite books, which is why I have a fondness for bunnies.

Nothing really matches. I like it that way. The reds and the greens (opposites on the color wheel) cause the other to stand out.

The plates were all rescued from the clearance aisle at Marshall's.

What I love most about my collection of mismatched things is that while each hold value for me individually, I appreciate their beauty more when I see them all together.

To be renewed is rarely easy. It’s often dirty, back breaking work. It requires patience and a willingness to see beyond what most others see. To be renewed, someone must be willing to invest and sacrifice in that renewal. But I can tell you from experience, it’s worth the effort.

And if you don’t believe me, just ask Jesus.

He’s all about renewal.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Renewal hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more posts on this topic, please visit him at PeterPollock.com

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