Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Security of Eternity

I heard the end of a sermon on the radio about eternity last week.

It talked about looking at an old epitaph from a headstone in a graveyard that read something to the effect of "Finally realizing his eternal promise."

The pastor pointed out that the epitaph had it wrong.

Once you accept Christ,

that very moment, 

you get the eternal promise. 
Eternity is realized.

I hope that poor guy didn't walk around not knowing that.

Thinking he was always just moments away from a backslide or lost salvation.

God isn't fickle.

What He says is done is done.

Once you truly accept that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, YOU. ARE. SEALED. 

There is nothing you can do about it 
so stop letting some false teacher 
bully you into a guilt trip 
that will cost you every ounce of joy 
and confidence 
and security 
you get once you accept the 
God gift of eternal salvation.

Eternal means without beginning or end; existing through all time; everlasting.

If some churches would just preach that, there would be far less sour faced people 
sitting in their congregations.

Sour faced because they are so caught up 
in their own keeping of their salvation 
(or someone else's) 
that they don't have the energy for joy 
or confidence.

God knew we'd make lousy sin managers so he sent Jesus to earth to take care of it once and for all-- on the cross.

So the department of Sin Management was eliminated.

Much to the Pharisee's chagrin.

You still see a few pop up every now and then.
Pointing fingers.
Shaming.
Bullying.
Trying to keep score.
But those of us that cling tight to our eternity,
could care less.

That's why the angels said to the shepherds,

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11

The time of fear was over.

It was a time of good tidings and great joy.

A few years ago, I read a great blog post about The Charlie Brown Christmas episode.


When a frustrated Charlie Brown, trying to direct the Christmas Pageant, asks if anyone knows what the real meaning of Christmas is, Linus walks to the middle of the stage and quotes Luke 2.

When he gets to the part when the angels say, "Fear not," Linus drops his security blanket.


He quotes the rest of  Luke 2 without it.

If you remember, Linus is ALWAYS with his security blanket.

But God is awesome like that, sending his son to a people clinging to fabric for false comfort.

And the ones who truly "get it" drop their blankets 
for a security that has no end.

Here's the video of Linus if you've never seen it.


And here's a link to the entire blog post.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Greedy

We watched Scrooged the other night.



It's a movie with Bill Murray that came out in 1988.

I had never seen it until I married Monte.

It's a modern (1980s) adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with the three ghosts and everything.

The Tiny Tim character won't speak 
after witnessing his father's murder years before.

Bill Murray is Frank Cross, the Scrooge character who is a successful TV exec bent on ratings and success rather than good quality programming.

The transformation of Frank Cross is pretty phenomenal.

He goes on live TV to explain to everyone listening exactly what he's learned.

The speech gets me every time, every year.

Here it is:






If you believe in this pure thing,

the miracle will happen and you will want it again tomorrow!

You'll get greedy for it.

I love how the writers used the word greedy for something good.

It makes me think of what I can be greedy for.

God's word

Prayer

Encouragement

Hospitality

Not what I can do for others in my own power but what God can do for others through me.

Now that's a reason I wouldn't mind being called greedy.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Sing in Exultation

As I was eating breakfast this morning, this sky happened.


Of course my phone couldn't capture just how pink and orange and bright the sky really was.

Little tiny snowflakes were falling as well.

I'm not sure why but the phrase from an old familiar Christmas song popped into my head,

"Sing choirs of angels, 
sing in exultation."

If color could be a song, this is what it would look like.


And choirs of angels would definitely be singing it.

I looked up what exultation meant and it is

"lively or triumphant joy, as over success or victory."

Not a bad way to start a morning.

  1. O, Come, All Ye Faithful

    1. Oh, come, all ye faithful,
    Joyful and triumphant!
    Oh, come ye, oh come ye to Bethlehem.
    Come and behold him,
    Born the King of angels;
  2. Oh, come, let us adore him;
    Oh, come, let us adore him;
    Oh, come, let us adore him,
    Christ, the Lord.
  3. 2. — Sing, choirs of angels,
    Sing in exultation;
    — Sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above!
    Glory to God,
    Glory in the highest;
  4. Oh, come, let us adore him;
    Oh, come, let us adore him;
    Oh, come, let us adore him,
    Christ, the Lord.
  5. 3. — Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
    Born this happy morning;
    — Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n.
    Son of the Father,
    Now in flesh appearing;
  6. Oh, come, let us adore him;
    Oh, come, let us adore him;
    Oh, come, let us adore him,
    Christ, the Lord.
  7. Text: Attr. to John F. Wade, ca. 1711–1786; trans. by Frederick Oakeley, 1802–1880
    Music: Attr. to John F. Wade

Monday, December 04, 2017

Ginger and Spice and Everything…Lice?!

They're baaack!



Click here and here if you want to know how this isn't our first rodeo when it comes to lice.

A week after Thanksgiving, Ellie kept complaining about an itching scalp. 

I looked through her hair and saw nothing.

But to be fair, 
I wasn't using a magnifying glass.

Or even my reading glasses.

I told her it was just dry scalp and to use some Head and Shoulders.

The next week I found her crying in her room before school.

She said her head was still itching and she feared she had lice.

I looked again and saw nothing 
and sent her to school.

She texted me from school and asked for an appointment at the lice center.

I made an appointment after school but it was only for an assessment.

They were booked solid that day 
and couldn't fit in anymore treatments.

Lice is a demanding business.

Within minutes it was determined I did not have lice and that Ellie did.

They booked Ellie at a different lice center across town for the following morning.

Ellie did not like the idea that she would be sitting around 
the entire night KNOWING she had lice.

We stopped at a drug store to get shower caps and large garbage bags for all the pillows I planned to bag up that I couldn't wash.

Ellie was convinced the cashier would find our purchases revealing to her lice diagnosis 
so she threw in some sour gummy worms to "throw him off."

It's a pharmacy.

I have to believe they've seen far more personal 
and outright revealing purchases than 
a 3-pack of shower caps, 
a box of large garbage bags 
and a bag of sour gummy worms.



I called to update Monte.

Within the hour, he called back to say that he'd called around and found a lice place that could get Ellie in that night around 7:00 and that he'd drive her since it was near his office and he was familiar with the area.

Ellie felt better about not missing school and being "lice free" when her head hit the freshly washed pillow that night.

I told her to start contacting close friends that might want to get checked as well.

She'd just been on a Young Life weekend retreat the weekend before Thanksgiving.

And we had hosted family for Thanksgiving.

The list of lice possibilities was growing.

An hour later, one of Ellie's friends, Molly, suspected she had lice and we texted numbers and offered to take her to the lice place so they could go together.

Ellie was so relieved to be going through this with someone else. 

Her mood changed drastically.

Isn't that the cutest houndstooth shower cap?

She found the funny in it.



Molly cried.

Ellie told her she'd go through four distinct stages of lice acceptance:

1. Denial

2. Sadness

3. Anger

4. Humor


Molly was just beginning.

I made dinner and had frantically began the washing of sheets, pillowcases, comforters, blankets and towels.

My friend Beth stopped by while I was distracting myself in between loads by watching Facebook videos of large alligators and people falling down trying to walk on icy sidewalks.

It had clearly been a long afternoon
and I wasn't the best version of myself.


We were busy catching up when I received a few texts and pictures of the girls from Monte.

Ginger and spice and everything lice--that's what TRUE friends are made of.
Or something much less creepy and itchy than that.
You know what I mean.
It wasn't until later that I realized they were standing by a picture of Santa Claus with lice.

Not looking so jolly.
Beth and I were still catching up when in walked Monte, Ellie and Molly with oily slicked back hair.

They were all laughing and talking at the same time.

Molly had advanced nicely 
through those stages of lice acceptance.

Apparently this "lice place" Monte had booked was in a woman's house.

No sign.

No parking lot.

Just instructions 
not to use 
the front door.

Monte knew ALL OF THIS ahead of time.

Which is why he volunteered to take the girls because HE KNEW I'd say 
NO, NO, 
NEVER, NEVER, 
AIN'T NO WAY!

Greasy, sneaky Monte.
Monte asked lots of questions and learned the woman is a single mom and has a full time job. She and her pharmacist brother came up with a proprietary oil mix to smother the lice. 

She does the "lice thing" on the side for extra money.

She was leaving the next week for Disney World paid for by her lice business.

As it turns out, lice is a demanding AND lucrative business.

She was in the beginning stages of franchising her operation.

I saw where this was going and informed Monte that I would NEVER start checking heads for lice in our garage.

With Beth still here, the girls convinced me that I should let them put the proprietary oil mix in my hair "to be sure" I didn't have lice.

It wasn't going to be the dumbest thing I'd ever done, so I agreed.









Beth's husband texted to see where the heck she was and she said she couldn't leave.

Something to the general effect about this episode of "The Hartranfts" was getting good.

Ellie was right.

Going through something with someone else 
certainly does help change the mood drastically.

Beth became our photographer.

I sent this picture to McDaniel and my mom and they both asked,

"Who took this picture?"

I told them Beth was here.

We have lice.

Let's entertain!

Monte must be closing his eyes and dreaming of all that
franchise lice money he wants me to make.

McDaniel came home from college with friends for a concert this weekend. We tried to get her to let us oil her up.

She refused.

She's in the first stage of lice acceptance:

1. Denial

She'll be home in two weeks for Christmas.

The oil and Lice Santa will be waiting for her.

Monte sent this.
I realize that I posted it but
feel the need to point out
he found it.
And it's gross.

Monday, November 20, 2017

That Time I Got My Stitches Out

I didn't handle it well.


Bold color choice.
*SEE NOTE

I never have had stitches that needed to be removed.

They usually just painlessly dissolved on their own.

I'm not sure what constitutes using 
disolvable/removable stitches 
but PLEASE always sign me up 
for the disolvable.

The doctor told me I didn't have to make an appointment and could just pop in to have the stitches removed.

That set a "no biggie/this isn't going to hurt" 
tone for the entire visit for me.

I planned to pop in, 
take care of the stitches 
and then head to a bible study brunch.

They asked me once I went back to the examining room if I'd like to take off my pants.

I told them that I did not.

I rolled up my pant leg and sat on the exam table.

I noticed a beautiful black and white picture on the wall of a tree when an intense pain shot through my leg.

I felt a strong instinct to slap the woman in the neck.

So strong that I wondered if I did for a second.

She told me there was only one stitch left, the others had come out on their own.

Then she said a bunch of stuff about tape 
and it popping back open 
but I couldn't hear 
because I was busy deciding if I was going 
to cry 
or throw up.

But I was fairly sure I hadn't slapped her in the neck 
because she was pretty chipper.

I left and called Monte from the car.

I told him my quandary:

1. to cry

or

2. to throw up.

He said to go to the brunch and eat.

That's the go-to advice in our family:

protein.


And it worked.

The End.

*Don't Google "images of stitches being removed" unless you want to be forced back into a familiar quandary and you end up standing at the fridge eating a piece of turkey midmorning because:  protein.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Sunday School, Red Solo Cups and the Prophet/Inventor

I taught Sunday School this past week and had Ellie help me since I knew we were going to be making a messy craft/snack.

But it was more of a visual aid to the lesson.

I'll explain more in a minute.


There was a large group of kids and it was Communion Sunday.

Before we broke up by age groups, the youth pastor explained communion and what the bread and juice represented.

When the juice was being passed out, one of the little boys joked with the boy next to him that he was going to get drunk on wine.

Ok…

Then the youth pastor handed Ellie and I two large red Solo cups saying he'd run out of communion cups due to the large group.

I may or may not have said something to Ellie like it really did appear 
as if someone was going to get drunk on wine.

And it wasn't going to be the boy
with the little communion cup.

Ellie said she wanted to take a selfie because some of her friends from more conservative, formal churches thinks this is what it's like at our church anyway.

Drums, 
electric guitars 
and communion from red Solo cups.

To be clear, we drink JUICE during communion.

Juice that I am allergic to by the way.

If I'd downed that Solo cup, 
my throat would've closed as fast as those kids could veer off topic.

The craft was built around the importance of prayer in Daniel's life.

It was so important he didn't stop when he was threatened with being thrown into the lion's den.

In fact, he continued to pray INSIDE the lion's den.

Wouldn't you?

To drive home that priority of prayer,

we handed out small mason jars to each kid.

I told them the jars represented our life.

The same little boy with the wine comment said,

"Empty?"

God Bless you, teachers of America!

We then passed out a few handfuls of M&Ms to each of them saying they represented the important people in their life:

parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, coaches.

Then we poured in each of their jars, crushed graham crackers representing the things they have to do:

school, homework, music lessons, sports, chores.

Finally, we passed out marshmallows for the kids to put in their jars.

These represented their prayers.

They could not all fit.

After brainstorming a bit about how we could make it all fit, we poured out our jars onto paper towels and started filling our jars again.

This time, we started with our prayers (marshmallows), 
then added the chores (graham cracker dust),
a few more prayers (marshmallows), 
and the important people we love (M&Ms)
and a few more prayers (marshmallows).

It all fit!



Minus a few important people that found their way into mouths 
and the chores that found its way all over the table 
and floor 
and one girl's entire shirt sleeve.

We then explained ways to pray and how it's good to pray the attributes of God.

It was FLYING all over the kindergarten-2nd graders' heads.

I tried to simplify it as best as I could.

I said that God knows everything all the time and we can thank Him for that in our prayers.

One little boy who had not spoken at all said,

with grand hand motions,

"It's like God's mouth is as big as the entire earth…"

I silently prayed that this wouldn't be another 
"drunk on wine" rabbit trail comment.

"And he's saying, for ALL to hear, 
'TRUST ME!'"

He whispered the last part.

Ellie and I were struck silent.
I may have gotten goosebumps.

This kid was a little prophet!

And none of the other kids seemed to appreciate that fact one bit.

I told the kids they could write out something they'd like prayer for on a card and trade with someone.

The prophet boy came up to me and said he couldn't read or write.

He showed me a little robot that he drew on his card, 

one eye WAY bigger than the other, 

and he asked for me to pray for him because he was an inventor 
and he needed prayer for his inventions.

An inventor AND a prophet!

I've thought of this little boy a lot this week.

I talked about him at bible study and then small group and I'm sure I'll bring him up again whenever the opportunity arises.

We make it so complicated.

We try to organize and prioritize our time, our prayers our home, our peace,

stuffing it all into our jars.

But we miss the part when God says,

"TRUST ME!"

With His mouth all wide open and big, apparently,
so all of us will listen up.

We try so hard to do life all on our own, 

not needing anybody,

that we don't ask anyone to pray for us.

Not just for our concerns and worries,

but our gifting and talents.

The dreams deep inside of us,
of robots with or without one bulbous eye.

We miss out on so much when we don't share.

I know I would've if this little boy hadn't.

It has been my privilege to pray for him this week and all the inventions that will come from him one day.

I can only imagine what God has planned for him once he learns to read and write.


The person who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed.
Jeremiah 17:7 CSB

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
James 5:16 NLT

Monday, November 06, 2017

Grease is the Word. So is Halloween.

This was our first Halloween without McDaniel.

We knew this was coming and started talking about it last year.

While we were home in Indiana last Easter, I ran into a dear high school friend at my parents' church.

He brought up our Halloween costumes and I shared our concerns of how to do pictures so we can use them for our Christmas card with one away at college.

He suggested taking them in the summer while McDaniel was still home.

Of course!

We always get our costumes early during sales so that wouldn't be a problem.

It was so simple yet it had never occurred to us!

So, we contacted a talented photographer, Meghan, who we know through Young Life and had her come over in August.

We borrowed our neighbor's vintage Cadillac convertible and went to the local middle school that our girls attended.

It's almost 100 years old and seriously looks Rydel Highesque from Grease.

On the way to the school, I quickly filled Meghan in on our Halloween tradition and how she was sworn to secrecy on what we were dressing up as until Halloween.

She did a great job.

With the pictures AND keeping the secret.



We live in an area where people are always out and about.

Walking, running, walking dogs, biking, etc.

For whatever reason, 
it was super quiet the day of this photo shoot.

Just one car of teenagers pulled up and got out our their car and stared at us for a moment.

One of them came over and said they were doing a scavenger hunt for their youth group and needed a picture with a hot rod. They couldn't believe we were there in the Cadillac.

We stepped away from the car and allowed them to snap a shot.

They never asked why were dressed the way we were 
or why we were taking pictures in a convertible 
by the middle school.

They got there shot and sped off.

Go Grease Lightning!

We ordered the Pink Ladies jackets online and they came with the scarves.
They rest of their outfits they pieced together from their closets and thrift stores.


Sandy and Danny…at their 30th high school reunion.


Pink Ladies



It was 96 degrees on the day of our photo shoot.

Just two months later, it was in the 40s for Halloween and we FROZE!

I bought cheap canvas shoes on Amazon and used a Sharpie to make them look like
saddle shoes. Ellie has already borrowed them. 


My skirt and sweater came from Amazon which was WAY cheaper than buying the costume.

I printed out the R and megaphone onto iron-on paper and ironed it onto the sweater.



We missed McDaniel but we felt good that we hadn't missed our tradition.

Of course the T-Rex had to make an appearance too.

I feel a new tradition coming…


My baby came by for a visit again.





I had fun chasing this super hero to the candy bowl.


I have wanted to take these pictures for a long time.

There's a Port-a-Pot in the front yard of the house under construction two doors down.

When you gotta go, you gotta go!


Hope everyone had a good Halloween!