Friday, June 17, 2011

A Heavenly Walk

This morning Tinkerbell discovered a cat and kittens hiding out under one of Scott's trucks.  Tinkerbell loves small animals, but not in the same way I love dark chocolate.  Actually, very much the way I love dark chocolate, now that I think about it -- because I would eat as much dark chocolate as I could before physically becoming ill.  Get the picture? -- these cats were not in a very good place.  And Belle, by nature, is relentless.  Scott was handling the situation when I got home from work -- "handling" as in one cat in a tree, one cat who-knows-where, Tinkerbell pacing and whining like her tail was on fire, and Scott doing everything he could to get her to stop stalking cats, including some pacing and mumbling himself.

I stuck my head out the door and called out, "Tinkerbell, you goin' for a walk?"

Like a flash, Tinkerbell was in the house and headed for her leash.  She's relentless -- that is, until something she desires more comes along.

I've heard pastors say that there would be no tears in heaven (Revelation 7:16-17).  Scripture also points to the fact that those in heaven are aware of activity here on earth (the martyrs, rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents just to name a few).  I wonder how a mother in heaven could not mourn a son who rejects Jesus and condemns himself, and maybe her grandchildren as well to eternal damnation.  How does a young father, taken so unexpectedly, not cry for the grief and fear of the family he has left behind?

Just a couple of thoughts:

1)  I don't believe going to heaven makes you heartless -- or forgetful.  How else would those in heaven celebrate the repentance of those on earth?  I believe you have to look at the big picture.  Heaven is a marvelous, glorious place, not a place of sorrow and worry like this earth.  Mourning for those lost is not the standard, not is it a full-time occupation.

2)  I also don't think those in heaven "mourn" or cry the same way we do on earth.  We lose sight of Jesus.  We are pressed by Satan; we succomb to temptation, hopelessness and self-pity.  We are human -- imperfect.  Those in heaven know perfection; they are surrounded by it.  There is a time to cry, a time to kill, a time to be silent.  Heaven and those in it operate within that time table.  It is a "righteous" mourning, if you will.

3)  Here, our love for God is not what it should be.  We are sidetracked.  We are busy.  We are angry.  Heaven is pure love, all the time; we will have all of eternity to worship Jesus!  We can sing and dance and act completely ridiculous without exhaustion.  And when that time comes, just like Tinkerbell, pre-occupied by that cat in her yard, we will forsake even the noblest of pursuits, even the most cherished of past-times, even those we love, to walk with God who calls us.  Our love for Him will overwhelm us -- moreso than our love for our own children and spouses (who are God's to do with as He chooses anyway) -- that grief will give way to complete trust and adoration of the Almighty, concern for those we love today will give way to falling into the arms of Jesus and embracing His will.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Vacation... Day Two

So, last night went to a relaxing, romantic dinner with my husband at one of our favorite restaurants.  It's cozy, casual, and the food is always delicious -- from their regular fare to their fabulous chef's specials.  We've never made the mistake of taking our children there -- even for lunch -- and thereby "breaking the code of silence."  To make things even more wonderful, last night's dinner was discounted by about 50%!  (We'd won the gift card as part of a silent auction.)  Perfect, right?  Now on to this morning.

So the dogs get me up at about half past insane.  Yesterday they'd been kind enough to let me sleep until reasonable o' clock, so I guess I owed them this one.  After we did our backyard bathroom break, with me standing there half-dressed in the darkness, trying to keep my voice down as I beg Belle to come back from the nether regions, I tried to go back to bed.  Oh, the dogs were fine; they settled down snugly against one another.  I started thinking about our DVD collection, and how we really should start thinning it out. 

Really?

Yep, these are the sorts of things that keep me up nights -- or mornings.  Very early mornings.

So, after tossing and turning for twenty minutes or so (Alleged experts say you should never toss and turn in your bed longer than 15-20 minutes if you ever want to be able to sleep again, or something.) I decided to get up and make the coffee, and while it was brewing, to maybe check out the DVDs.  Now I'm not saying I was forsaking sleep on my vacation for the sole purpose of reducing our DVD collection (that would be sick) but I figured, as long as I was up...

So after selecting two DVDs, setting aside about six others for the girls to review, and vowing to watch about eight more -- "just to see if they were as good as I remember" -- I moved on to CDs.  (This is truly riveting journalism; is it not?)  I fared much better on the CDs -- at least ten!  maybe eleven!  Although, somebody's bound to snag one or two before they actually make it to Goodwill, and on my next impulsive culling?  There it will be.

Feeling almost no sense of accomplishment left me to wonder how I will spend the rest of my day.  I should be working on my book, but I seem to be no better at doing what should than I am doing what I'm told.  So I came up with some ideas:

- Planking in one of  the fountains at the mall.  Until I remebered they no longer have fountains at our mall.  (What do children now do with their parents loose change?)

- Investigate the loose change thing.

- Text all my friends about the flash mob I have planned in thirty minutes.  Better not.  I have that "other carrier" that leaves you looking completely ridiculous...alone...in your skivvies...at the zoo.

- Crash a graduation party in my neighborhood.  This probably won't work either -- I live in the worst performing school district in Pennsylvania; I'm really not sure if they had any graduates this year.  Maybe the school police are having something.  You know, draping the metal detectors with crepe paper, playing Jail-Jail (with a real jail!), popping popcorn with confiscated cell phones.

- Check out all the viral videos I have missed while having a life.  You really can't get enough of laughing babies or pat-a-cake cats.

- Wake Christine and tell her I want oatmeal and toast.  Turn about is fair play, after all.

Or maybe, in one last great demonstration of avoidance, I'll check out the headlines; they're always fun.  Like this one:

"Natalie Portman has a baby boy to go along with her Oscar."  Oh, it's gonna be a good day... 

Monday, June 13, 2011

100% Guaranteed

Malach 3:6-12

6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.

“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

Just look at the back end of verse 10 again.  Are you getting this?  "Test me in this..."  God wants us to test Him.  Call Him on it.

At work we have a policy:  "Work now; grieve later."  In other words, if there is some sort of issue (barring an immediate safety issue) employees are to take it up after the shift; meantime, they are to get done what they are supposed to do.  I am the boss; that's just the way it is.  I try to be fair, understanding, pleasant, reasonable, charitable, appreciative, gracious -- but there is a bottom line, and if you insist I will show you where that is.  I would like for all of my employees to work the way they know they should -- to work up to their potential.  It is then I can show my employees how good of a boss I can be; it is then I can lavish them with praise, gifts, favors.  I love that!

God is faithful.  God is just.  God is love.  God never changes; He gets it right every time.  God is the King; that's just the way it is.  BUT, when we do not serve Him according to the potential He has bestowed upon us, He cannot bless us with more!  God wants to bless us.  God doesn't want separation, tension, strife in our relationship.  He wants those who have turned from Him to come back home, those who have never loved or served Him to submit to Him and live a life of joy and fulfillment.  (If there's one thing I've discovered, it's that rebellious people are not happy people.  Rebellious people usually wind up hurting themselves more than anyone else they try to hurt.) 

Test Him; try Him.  If you serve Him and He doesn't bless you, pick up that chip, put it back on your shoulder and keep walking -- don't look back.  If you surrender to His plan for you and He doesn't heal your life, grab that monkey, stick him in your backpack and ride -- no regrets.

But if you're anything like millions of others who have tried Jesus, I think you'll be completely satisfied!

Survey Says...

On the first day of my summer vacation...  Well, not really.  Today would still be my weekend if it were a regular work week; tomorrow will truly be the fist day of vaca.  Nevertheless, on the first day of my summer vacation, I decided to get some of my ugly responsibilities out of the way.  You know, paying bills, replying to emails.  Well, one of my ugly responsibilities was a survey from a service we use regularly. 

Now I'm no different than 80% of the public, I usually don't take the time to fill out those sort of things as long as I am relatively satisfied.  In this case, I can't say I'm satisfied, but I'm not looking to take my business elsewhere.  I hoped enough people might speak out against the current trend, and perhaps changes will be made.  Isn't that what we're taught all through school?  Democratic process?  Freedom of Speech and all that?

Anyway, the survey started innocently enough, but they didn't have one of those little gauges on there telling you just how close you were to completing the survey.  OK, how long can this take, right?  Despite the fact I wasn't feeling well today, and I'm pre-menopausal, I bit.  Big mistake.

So, I get to the twenty-fifth question or so -- which as far as I'm concerned if you can't get to the point in twenty questions or less, you're not asking the right questions.  The ADD is fully engaged, I'm bored but trying desperately to stay focused, when suddenly...

"Q26 Have you ever heard of ____?" (the name of the company for which I am taking the survey)  What?  What do you mean have I ever heard of them?  I use them; they sent me this survey.  I'm a customer?

But it gets better.  I look at the answers.  They are:

A. Radio Advertising
B.  Hair Artistry
C.  Hotel and Restaurant Management

Huh?!  I looked around the room for Sally Struthers, thinking perhaps, I'd entered one of her college-on-line infomercials.  Nope.  So I just selected one.  Then came the next question.  It was actually the same question they'd asked me about six questions ago.  Fortunately this one had a little box in which I could add my own comments.  So I told them to fix their stupid survey.  And then when I got to the next question -- the same as the one about eight questions ago?  I added more comments!  It was after doing this about four more times that I began to understand the mania that overtakes those serial whatevers, that cut pages out of magazines and hang them on the wall, or cut letters from the text of newspapers and glue them to notebook paper before mailing it off to intended victims. 

By Question 40 or so the frustration turned to lunacy, and I wound up answering the remaining questions with any ridiculous response I could fabricate.  Unfortunately, not until I was heading to the kitchen to take out my aggressions on an unsuspecting brownie, did it occur to me my responses might be tracked.  Maybe I've seen too many movies, but aren't there certain "code" words you cannot use online or over the airways?  Don't you wind up on some FBI watch list?  Aren't you flagged as "suspect" or something?  The NSA begins to follow you? maybe Lojack your car?  Should I think about removing the SIM card from my cell?  Head back to the kitchen to fashion an aluminum foil hat?

I'll let you know how the rest of my vaca goes. 


Then again, maybe not.