I sing little songs to myself while I’m waiting.
This fact was made known to me quite recently, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
I teach classes for a non-profit organization. As part of my job, I demonstrate procedures before I have the class follow along with me.
Several months ago, while I was waiting for the computer to process the steps I had just entered, I sang to myself. The class proceeded to sing the little tune with me before they erupted with laughter. Shocked, dismayed, and wholly confused, I asked what had struck the class with amusement. They reported with glee:
“You always sing that song while you wait.”
I hate buying cell phones.
Well, I hate buying any tech, really, but cell phones especially. I hate spending money on something that will become essentially useless in two years. If I spend over $100 on anything I want to bequeath it to my ancestors. I want the family to gather around the Christmas table and pull out great-great-grandma Erin’s antique Galaxy S7 they usually display in their curio cabinet and reminisce about a simpler time.
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, why don’t they make things like they used to? It bothers me that we have built into our lives this rhythm of tossing costly things aside. I notice it most in fashion and tech. There’s an understanding that in a year or two, or as soon as next season, what you have now will be out of style and out of date. We are expected to throw our money at it and then throw it away. This is partly why I have hoarder-like tendencies. I’ll go to toss something out and there’s this tug, “But this cost me something…I gave something up to bring this into my life and now I’m stuffing it into a giant black bag…” It feels wrong, like I should never have bought those things in the first place.
I think this rhythm of cheapening the objects that surround us has led to us cheapening much more important things. Things like grace.
I’ll be the first to admit that last Sunday, I almost rolled my eyes at Pastor Jon’s first point in his message. “Get in the pouch,” seriously? But the reality is that it speaks to a heart need in every one of us that in turn has tremendous impact on our sense of identity.
Using a kangaroo pouch as the idea, Jon described our need to get into God’s “pouch.” It’s a place of closeness surrounded by the love and care of God. We all desire to be loved and accepted. And truthfully, we’ll do and be almost anything to gain a sense of being loved and accepted. The crazy, beautiful, and scary reality is that God made us this way. We were made by God to be in relationship with Himself. In that pure relationship there would be no need to strive for acceptance, to prove one’s worthiness of love.
Sadly, due to sin, that purity is not what we experience. So we strive and we struggle, all in the pursuit of unconditional love and acceptance. Some of us adopt personas hoping it will make us more likable. Some focus on appearances and are driven to constantly improve our own image. Some become self-deprecating because we believe it will be easier to handle the disappointments and hurts if we beat others to the punch.
I walked out to the car with my son on the way to his swim practice. It was raining a little. Pattering drops fell around us as we exit the garage to get into my 2006 Honda Accord.
I asked him, “Buddy, did you check the mail today?”
He replied loudly, “Yes.”
“You did?” I asked again.
I opened the door for him and as he got in I asked with a tone of displeasure, “Where’s your jacket?” He never wears a jacket voluntarily. I sometimes think he would go out in the Pacific Northwest rain with just a t-shirt and flip-flops if we didn’t make him wear more.
He answered, “I didn’t bring one,” while he crawled into the car.
I closed the door on his leg before he had completely gotten into the car.
He yelled, “OWWWWW!”
He found me curled and weeping, my husband did, as he had found me the night before… and the night before… and the night before… through all that endless winter. House around me, a maelstrom of the unguided activity of two 10-month-olds and two 2½ yr olds — my precious children, yes… but my captors, […]
Four months ago it became clear to me that I will never become famous. This may sound odd to you, but I have been holding out hope for decades that I would end up a household name.
In third grade, my reach for the spotlight began as Alice in our third grade play of Alice in Wonderland. In middle school, I aspired to singing stardom as my two friends joined me in the talent show with our harmonious rendition of a Point of Grace song. You nineties church kids know what’s up. This was in addition to our frequent performances in front of our church body, which broadcast its Sunday morning services on the radio, so we had to be halfway there, right?
In junior high it began to morph into options. My singing dream began to dwindle as another girl from our school nailed a Whitney Houston song and moved to Nashville for a record deal. I knew having pretty good pitch and being able to hear and sing harmony was not going to be enough after hearing her wail on that song over and over. So I thought wider: could I model? I was pretty thin but didn’t really have the face or skin for that. My cheerleader legs would always rule that option out for me. Thanks, gymnastics. I was good at school, so maybe I could be a scientist. Some type of researcher for something that would win me a Nobel Prize. That was still in reach, right?
Once upon a time, I used to write Christmas plays. I write plays for Sports Camp, which is easier by comparison. Demonstrating the big ideas of Sports Camp is simpler than explaining the wonder of Christmas. Despite that, I am proud of those Christmas plays. One of my favorite vignettes from those plays was the […]
Each year there is that moment when the Christmas season becomes real to me. It may be when I see that the Christmas decorations have been hung on the street lights, or I happen across a children’s choir singing in the mall, or when I hear a special Christmas carol.
I have always loved Christmas – this celebration of Emmanuel, God with us. However, the past few years have been different. It seems as if the cares of life have dimmed the brightness of the lights and the joy.
This year, especially I was not ready for this season. It has been a difficult year.
It’s impossible for me to make it through October without thinking about change. The trees lining my street are absolutely breathtaking in their fiery reds, their striking yellows, and the whole spectrum between. Everything points to transition, and it’s beautiful to behold. Weird as it sounds, I find myself wondering how the tree feels. The process they’re in leads to death as the leaves brown and/or eventually fall to the ground, leaving the bare branches to fend for themselves through the winter. Do they know they’re beautiful in their life cycle of death and renewal? Of change and loss? Their foliage is in high demand as home decor and the backdrop of yearly family pictures. Their change brings beauty.
Does ours? The tree isn’t offered a choice in its change. It is created to glorify the Creator and point to His “unseen” qualities (Romans 1:20). We, too, are not always offered a choice in change. Death, disease, disaster… all bring change and with it, grief, pain, and sorrow. It is not my intent to offer a trite analogy that disrespects the depth of these experiences. Instead, I mean to say that even pain brings change that has purpose and, as gently as I can say it, can accomplish good.
Eyes blink open to a shroud of darkness. He squirms in the tight space–there is no room to move, let alone settle into a comfortable position. Defeated, he bows his head and sees a faint outline of what he imagines is his hand; crumpled and wrinkled from years of construction work. He straightens his back, but his head meets a large wooden plank, unyielding in its slightly curved form.
He built it to be sturdy, after all.
To his left, he feels the rough hide of an animal. He forgot its name, but he easily recognizes its smell. The air is thick with the collective odor of the unwashed – ripe and rank. To his right, is his faithful companion, a dog with soft fur. Its slightly damp nose nuzzles against him, prodding him to see, to climb out into the open air. With a whimper, his dog asks the question that echoes in his own mind in these days of silence that follow the devastation of the world:
Is it time yet?