Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Street Corner and My Heart......

(Warning: I am going to be expressing my personal view here. If you are wanting to read something light, today is not that day.)

Last Tuesday was April 21st. Amongst all of the daily things and special things, it happened to be the day that Ben and Jerry's was celebrating 31 years of business and consequently they were giving away free single scoop ice cream cones to all customers. It had been a warm day so when hubby got home, we all loaded up in my car to go and receive our fair share of sweet yummi-ness.

The closest Ben and Jerry's to us happened to be in a colorful and diverse part of Portland. It is the unique urban type of culture that inner Portland is known for. One can find a diversity of second hand shops, ethnic cuisine, and a variety of peoples that harmonize together. To use their given slang names that refers to their style; suits walk the same sidewalks as goths, homeless and fit cyclists wave to one another while granolas eye the artistic handiwork of struggling corner vendors.

As I sat on the (broken) bumper of my car with the petals of cherry blossoms dancing in the breeze, I enjoyed my chocolate fudge brownie cone and took in the scenes playing out in front of me. Like I tend to do a lot, my mind observed in blog post form, making a rough draft of my observations. But then I stopped myself and sighed. I was after all hot and tired from a day of errands and phone calls on the insurance claim to get things rolling on fixing my car. I just wanted to suck down my frozen treat and go home.

But now, days later, my mind keeps playing back in slow motion a scene I saw as I waited for my family to finish their treats.
On the corner in front of me, there was an young artist displaying her drawings. I walked over to take a look and found her talent to be quite good. Much of it was nude anime and same sex images so I didn't really personally care for it. But like I said, she had talent for sure. She had a huge welcoming smile, bottled black hair and matching black attire to complete the look. Her long hair was pulled back into two pig tails on top of her head, giving a fun an innocent air about her. She seemed confident in herself, brave in her singular attire, and ready to take on the world.

Directly in front of her was an entirely different type of person. A young man in jeans and a t-shirt stood in a way that blocked much of her display from passers-by. With a somber look on his face, he held up a sign in both hands for all to see. Truthfully, I did not read the sign. But I can imagine it said something to do with Christianity, sin, the coming of Christ, and /or the ending of the world as we know it. I imagine that because of the reactions he was getting. One pedestrian read the sign and held up a 2 thumbs up and then nodded his head in whole hearted agreement as he walked away. A couple of car loads of people then hung out their windows yelling, "Right on! Good for you! We are Christians too so we understand!"

It was about that time that Young Miss Artist peeked around his arms to see what he was proclaiming. She then walked back to her display area, looked at her companion and then broke into covered giggles with one hand on her mouth and the other wrapped around her waist.

I absently thought it was great that they could be so comfortable as to let each other stand in their own thing and not get into an argument of issues.

But now, I keep thinking about them, imagining their individual lifestyles, and feeling broken in my heart for them. I feel for her because she doesn't know the God of truth and love that I know. I feel for him because of the same thing. Let me explain........ For me it all pivots around Christianity and how a large percentage of the world views it today. I don't know if I can even adequately explain what I am thinking but I would like to try.

For that man, he was brave to stand there and give his opinion of conviction despite knowing that there would be fingers pointed and differences thrown back at him. And yet, I find that I could never do that myself. It is not because of the strength which I posses or do not posses. For me it is a question of what truly displays my active relationship with God and how I can make that a desire for others to want as well. I am not saying that He was entirely wrong to do what he was doing or even that I am so good as to know what is always right. I certainly have had and will continue to have my fair share of mistakes. But to wave around a concept of God that is entirely based on judgement......I just don't see how that could make anyone want to be a christian. Does anyone ever look a 'soap box preacher' in the eye and say, "Wow you are right and I have been so wrong. Please show me what to do to make things different."

The attitudes of the people that cheered him on and then went about their personal business.....what did they convey to the other people watching? Did they demonstrate any amount of unconditional love?

For the young female many times had she seen that kind of religion displayed? How many times had she had a finger of condemnation shaken in her face? While having an individual flare for fashion is fun, did she dress that way and draw that way so as to push away the fake people that don't want to do more than condemn? Is all of that unique style really just many layers of armor that say, "I dare you to take the time to find the real me. I dare you to stop 5 minutes of your busy self life and see what is in my heart. How could you possibly know what I feel or have lived through?"

How in the world do I put into words what I am feeling?

I think I want you to know that there is so much more to God than what was displayed on that street corner. I want you to know that if you have walked away from church and God because of attitudes thrown at you of judgement and condemnation......please don't give up. Those people were sincere in thinking they were doing right. The problem is that they were looking through the eyes of their own hurt instead of the eyes of God's love.

There is a difference between religion and relationship.
Religion is what happens when people go to church on the weekend and then live a life during the week that doesn't show love to anyone around them. Religion is what happens when people are more concerned about what they are wearing instead of the meaning of the song being sung from the church choir. Religion is what happens when a person proudly displays their bible where people can see it but the pages have never been touched. Religion is what happens when it is important to only pray blessings for meals but not seek direction in life, love, and family.

Relationship on the other hand is knowing without a doubt that God loves each of us despite what we have and have not done. Relationship is taking the time to put aside my own inner self to see what people are really seeing, saying, and thinking through their hurts and perceptions no matter what day of the week it is. Relationship is knowing that if there was only one person on earth to be rescued and loved, God would give His all for that one person and it is knowing that that one person would be each of matter what.

I have written and re-written this post so many times because I am trying to figure out how to put into correct words just how much God is all about relationship. He is ALL about relationship. A relationship happens and grows in and through things. We all have our cherished friends because of what we have weathered through together. God is the same way.

How does that get displayed on a street corner?
I personally don't think that it can. I believe that way because it is when people see God's love through me in relationship, in my ups and downs, despite my failings and mistakes......that is when the real gift is seen.

Again, I stress that I do not ever try to act like I have all my ducks in a row, or learned all my lessons, or for a lack of better words....think myself holier than the next person. I know I mess up, I know I have wrongly judged and hurt people, and because I am human and fail-able...I know I will have many more times of humble apologies ahead of me as long as God has me breathe air. I am simply here learning each day that God dares to love each of us fresh each day with an unquenchable and everlasting love with no strings attached and I want you to know that same joy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Week In The Life of Me......

I normally try to look at the positive side of things, I try to see the blessings of the day and be ever so thankful to God for His provisions. I think I succeeded in doing that this past week but I am just feeling a bit tired....laughing about the crazy week.......and grateful that today has been a bit more on the mellow side.

Last week started out, and centered around, the drama of guy and girl liking one another. A dear friend came to Pippin and said, "hey I have to be honest here and let you know I think I like you a bit more that just a friend." Now up to this point, at 17 years of age, Pippin has kept herself unscathed by the dilemmas of teen crushes. It wasn't anything I pushed on her......aside from saying that emotions are complicated enough with having to figure out who God is calling you to be as a young adult. If she would have liked someone sooner than now, I would have been fine with it.

So, he says "I like you."
She says, "I think I might like you too but I don't want to change our friendship."
He says, "What do we do now?"
She says, "Let's ask my mom what to do." Yes I see that blessing.
So I begin 'the counsel'.
But as the week progresses and other things come out in conversations..........well it would be so pointless to go into details and dredge up all the icky. The final consensus between all involved was that they would rather spend more time growing up in God and not getting side tracked with the emotions of being 'twitter-patted'.

The final comment of my daughter, "Sigh....this stinks! I should have known better. I am through with this stuff. I finally let myself like a guy and all it gets me is a bunch of drama.......oh and now I have to buy "Rixxi" a pizza because we had a bet going on who would get a crush first."

Oh how I love my girls. I love looking at things through their eyes. When I was a teen and going through all of the drama of could probably find me throwing darts at drawings of the current person that hurt my heart. But no, not my Pippin. She raises her hands in the air in a back and forth pattern and proclaims, "Do Over!" with a smile on her face.


I also spent a few days this week with my mother-in-law who is currently in town and doing the winding traveling of being a snowbird (a northern senior aged person who travels south for the winter, usually in an RV) as she and her hubby head back home to North Dakota. We have played on her computer tweaking things a bit, had a couple of lunches together, gone shopping, and made more plans to come. I so enjoy being with her. I wish they didn't live so far away, but I am grateful that they spend a few weeks here each spring.


And yesterday morning I got my car rear-ended. It was a pointless thing really and I feel so bad about it. I was driving in a residential area looking for an address and happened to be in this gal's blind spot I guess when she was pulling out of her driveway. Can you picture it....neither one of us speeding or even barely going 5 miles an hour and yet the damage to our bumpers is crazy. She suggested that we just let it go because it didn't look bad to either one of us. But Hubby showed me where the rear quarter panel is almost on the muffler and that is not good. So I spent the morning getting estimates for her. She hopes to just pay for my damage and not involve her insurance but I can't imagine she will want to when she hears the conservative $1800 that was quoted to me.

So, let's round out the blessings......
Pippin has a great attitude.
Awful things could have happened in that relationship but they didn't.
She chose to keep me involved all the way and seek my advice.
The joyful memories of being with my in-laws.
The fact that my in-laws are joyful.
The car accident was a piddly thing and no one got hurt.

I'd say that despite having lemons, I succeeded in making lemonade.
Thank you Father God for your love and provision.
I hope your week was well too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

It All Adds Up....

"The joys of paying our taxes..."
Can you imagine anyone saying that? Well we did this year. Check out my story....

As I have mentioned before, we are working hard at becoming debt free. We are doing this by working hand in hand with a non-profit management company. We send them a lump sum of money each month and they divide it up and send it to the places it need to go to. Because of that, most of the time we never open the bills that arrive in our mailbox. They simply end up in a pile on the desk.

So, the other night we were working on our taxes. (Yes, we waited until the last minute.) Hubby was very frustrated at the red number that TurboTax was showing that we owed. I was trying to fix things, because I am a fixer, and we both ended up getting pretty snippy with each other.

Finally my hubby said, "Fine. I will dig through this pile of mail and maybe I can find the information you are needing." About 5 minutes into the digging and envelope opening he said, "Oh my!"

Wanna know what he found?
He found a check for $100 that was issued to us 4 months ago. There was also a statement saying that our account had been paid in full and we over paid so this was our reimbursement.

Wanna know what we owed this year for federal?
The red numbers said $93.
How perfect is that? We had waited till the last minute because we just knew we wouldn't have the money to pay whatever it was that we were going to owe. Little did we know that God had even taken care of that. Knowing us, if we would have seen that check when it first came in the mail 4 months ago, we would have spent it on something else and been in trouble now.

But wait because this is perfect too.
When I figured out our state taxes, it said we were in the green by $46.
We just laughed because I had paid $45 for the TurboTax program.

It all adds up.
I love it when I get to recognize the things that God has laid out in front of us before we even think about it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Fun....

Okay, Kekoa is sleeping at my feet right now, so I wanted to use this time to play a little bit of catch up. Yes puppy training, playing, and loving is keeping me on my toes right now. But so is all of this Internet stuff. When I canceled our land line and moved the Internet over to the cable, I had to change servers. That meant that I had to also change browsers; sigh...... which means I am in process of building up my bookmarked web pages again. I am working on getting to each blog friend, re-save the site, and then of course reading thru fun lives and say my hellos. I do hope I will be caught up with everyone by the end of the week.

In the mean time, I promised to share a bit of our Easter fun.

The kids certainly are not little anymore so the usual egg hunt is a bit on the boring side. But that has never stopped my mom from creating a whole afternoon of smiles and giggles.

Here is part of our group playing a game called "Pretzels". There were two teams involved. Each team had to have one team member sit in a chair and cover their head with whipped cream. Then the rest of the team mates would throw pretzels at them with hopes of getting as many as possible to stick to their heads.

There was a game called "Password". In that game a team mate had to get the other members of the team to guess a word by using only 1 word clues. For each time there was a wrong guess, there was a consequence to be delivered. They had to do things like mime being locked in a box and figure out a strategy to get out or sing the ABC's backwards.

There was a game called "Crackhead". Each player had to choose one of the twelve eggs located in the special basket. Then they had to choose a friend to crack that egg over their head. 3 of the eggs were secretly hard boiled and the other 9 were raw.

That is Puddin' (a.k.a Rosie-girl for my long time blog readers) sitting there with the funny expression on her face. Even with the protective cap and plastic bag, that raw egg still feels awfully cold and slimy.

Those little blue hats that you have seen in the pictures served as protection from eggs and whipped cream but they were also labeled as their "thinking caps". So they had to have them on before they could give a correct answer to anything.

Doesn't this look interesting? The goal: two teams raced to get their team mate (victim) firmly placed on the garage door. That is my Pippin with the tape over her mouth. She was loudly protesting in shock at being picked as the smallest person on the team and therefore the most logical for wall sticking. Her team mates decided they could work faster if they didn't have to listen to her.

Here is the other team's wall sticker. They won.

It was such an amazing day. All the fun and all the food and all the relationships made it a memorable time for everyone.

Of course, the games and food were not the point of this glorious Easter celebration. They were just an additional perk. Being together in honor of the sacrifice that God and Jesus was the whole point of the day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Passing By .......

I miss writing and visiting! But I assure you I have not been sitting around eating bon-bons.
Let me share with you a bit of the happenings around here before I set off to finish the weekend.

Last weekend was my little brother's birthday. He made 34 years old. We had a great celebration with lots of friends around. When it was time to do the cake, I transposed the candle numbers to say 43. He is still young enough that it didn't fool him for an instant.
He decided to make a huge fun ordeal with his cake and.........
well you can see the results for yourself.

I am just about finished with the messy business of canceling our land line and moving our Internet over to the cable company. The 4 of us have cell phones and the only people that call our land line are the bill collectors. (Praise and glory! 9 more months and we will be finished with them!) Canceling the land line saved a small amount of money with the bills and it will add up over time. I hear more and more people are doing their phones that way. So maybe the day will come in a few short years that land line telephones will be on the obsolete list.

Little Kekoa keeps me very busy. He has transitioned now into being secure with his environment. The imaginary tether cord between us is slowly getting longer. He can sleep without me now if he absolutely has to. House training is going well. There are accidents every now and again but I think we are making great progress.
I can't believe how much he has grown in such a short amount of time. Look at his ears standing up now!

He likes to help me around the house. He grabs the colored socks from the laundry basket when I am loading the washer so that I don't accidentally mix up the colored with the whites. He takes the spoons out of the dish washer when I am loading it because he knows I don't like food to dry on them.

Yes he does keep me on my toes. But I love every second of it. Next week I am going to start some simple training with him while he is still young enough to soak it up like a sponge. All I have read says that before they are 20 weeks old they learn like crazy because their hormones haven't kicked in yet.

This weekend is super busy. My step-daughter and her beau are in town so I did her favorite dinner last night...teri-yaki chicken. My mother-in-law also just arrived and will be here for the next three weeks. Tomorrow we are doing it up big at my folks house with lots of food and games for the kids. Wait till you see THOSE pictures.

For now I must go. the girls and I need to do some food shopping as well as clothing for tomorrow. Here is a small quick video of Kekoa for you to enjoy (if you want) with his latest toy.