Friday, April 30, 2010

Some underwear and an ipod

Matthew 19:21 has always left me feeling a little guilty.

Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Well, I want to be perfect, but how does this look today? I mean, I need a car to get to work every day. And Jesus isn’t literally standing outside my front door waiting for me to shut my windows, lock the door, and follow Him, as He was for his disciples 2,000 years ago. I have these images of me standing forlornly at the end of my driveway holding a big stick with one of my beach towels tied at the end holding a few pairs of underwear and perhaps my ipod? Maybe? I’ve gotten rid of all my possessions, am looking up at the sky and wondering...ok, now what?

In his book, Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer—my fake boyfriend who my real boyfriend is getting jealous of—has some insight.

“My faith, however, is not tied to poverty or wealth or some such thing...The main concern is not whether or not I have any worldly goods, but that I should possess goods as if I don’t possess them, and inwardly I should be free of them. I should not set my heart on my possessions. Thus, Jesus says, 'sell your possessions!' But what he intends is that it is not important if you actually do this literally, outwardly. You are free to keep possessions, but have them as if you did not have them. Do not set your heart on your possessions.”

I was recently talking to my grandmother. My grandpa was in the military as they were raising a family. So she had to move with him and their three boys more times than she can count. I told her I couldn’t imagine having to pack up and leave so many times. Having to say goodbye to houses you loved, or neighborhoods, or schools. She said that she learned quickly that it was not anything external that was important—the house, the furniture, boxes of stuff, etc. Rather, it was what was inside the house that mattered: as long as her boys were happy. As long as there was love.

I think the same is true with God. Carry that ipod in your beach towel—it matters not, if loving Him is most important, if obedience in following Him is priority.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Enter the exit

What do you do when you’re walking out of Target, about to go through the second automatic exit door (not the double, sliding kind, but the single open/shut kind) and there’s someone on the other side of that door, waiting to come in. You know if you keep going, that person is going to get hit by the automatic door as it opens, and yet the person is not moving to make way? But you need to get out.

Well, I don’t really know what you’re supposed to do, but I’ll tell you what the other person does. They stare at you like you’re a moron. Like…hello?! Hit me!

As if it’s perfectly normal and even expected that one would not only try to enter through the door clearly labeled exit, but actually stand in front of that door which will hit them smack in the face. Like if you don’t hurry up and walk out the door, they’re going to get really mad.

Ok. Fine. She wants to get hit? Fine. I’ll exit. Thankfully the door was slow enough that she was able to take a few steps back before getting hit.

As I walked through the exit and passed her entering, she stared me down, disgusted.

I looked over my shoulder as I got in my car, worried that maybe she had followed me out. Silly me though. That would have required her to go OUT the exit door.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Last Saturday night…

Did you know that last Saturday was Record Store Day? It was. And did you know that BJ plays in a bluegrass band called Fort Road 5? He does.

To celebrate the day, Fort Road 5 was invited to play at Hymie’s Vintage Records in Minneapolis.

BJ sang, the late-afternoon sun shone through the basement windows, good friends and family laughed, the smell of vinyl records lingered, a dog named Irene padded around...and I smiled, grateful.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Take me outside to the ballgame

Here in Minnesota, we are obsessed with our new Twins baseball stadium. And for good reason. We get to watch baseball outside...the way you're supposed to. The one-million-square-foot stadium is big, new, and pretty. I imagine it having that new-car smell. It seats 40,000 fans in chairs that are supposedly wider and have more legroom than your average stadium seats.

Right now, we cannot get enough of the "firsts" associated with our new stadium.

First exhibition game in new outdoor stadium!

First real game in new stadium!

First win in new stadium!

First strike out!

First homerun!

First Tuesday game!

First Wednesday game!

First weekend game!

Come May, I’m guessing we’ll be hyping the first game played in the month of May. Woohoo!

We’re even proud of the first bad things.

First rain in the new stadium!

First loss!

First loss on a Tuesday!

First loss on Wednesday!

First loss of the second game in a series in the new stadium!

First loss of the third game in a series!

First injury!

I think we secretly like our new stadium because it makes us feel like we have good weather and we can try to convince non-Minnesotans of this (that we are not cuh-razy for living here). Winter? Oh, it’s not that bad. Need proof? Well, we have an OUTDOOR baseball field! Actually what this means is that we live in the tundra and are subsequently very tough--we will still be outdoor baseball fans in April even if it is snowing because, for us, as long as it’s above freezing at that point...we’re good!

Well, tonight I’m going to the first night game in the new outdoor stadium. And I'm happy to report that it's not snowing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Smirking silence

The thing that will ultimately push me over the edge for getting a new car is not the fact that I’m going through a quart of oil every week and a half or so. Nor is it that the muffler falls off. It’s not that there is a horrible chugging, which, in addition to giving me and passengers whiplash, scares the drivers around me. It’s also not that sometimes I can’t open my front door. And it’s not that I just spent the past five days driving dad’s car because he was out of town and preferred I drive a reliable vehicle while he’s far away.

Oh no.

It’s actually that now I can’t listen to music. My car has lost control of its volume. Try as it might to hold it in, it simply can’t help itself. It must decrease the volume to ZERO as quickly as possible all the time. And I swear it laughs as it does this.

I turn the volume up to 21 and then watch it decrease to 0 within seconds. Silence.

Try again. Turn the volume up. 21 20 19 18 17 16 15...All the way back down to 0.

Oh, you like that song? Sorry.

Oh, you actually wanted to hear the weather for the day? Well, look online.

Oh, you don’t need to know about traffic.

No matter what I do--press really hard, use two fingers, say nice things to the button--I watch the volume numbers quickly decrease. 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10... in a matter of seconds, it’s silence.

Try again. Back up to 21. Nope. All the way back down it goes with a smirk.

So, I drove to work this morning in silence and decided that was it. The final straw. My car has gone too far. I don’t care that it’s addicted to very expensive oil. And the chugging? It’s ok. I get cramps too. I understand. But making me drive in silence? I think not. Not gonna happen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Religion or grace

For one of my classes, I’m studying theologians Karl Barth and Deitrich Bonhoeffer. Both challenge human assumptions made about God.

Last night I read an address that Bonhoeffer gave in 1928 in Barcelona. I underlined and starred the following passage. I don’t have time to dissect it at the moment, but it’s certainly food for thought on this pretty spring Tuesday in Minneapolis:

“What are we to think of other religions? Are they as nothing compared to Christianity? We answer that the Christian religion as religion is not of God. It is rather another example of a human way to God, like the Buddhist and others, too, though of course, these are of a different nature. Christ is not the bringer of a new religion, but rather the one who brings God. Therefore, as an impossible way from the human to God, the Christian religion stands with other religions. Christians can never pride themselves on their Christianity, for it remains human, all too human. They live, however, by the grace of God, which comes to people and comes to every person who opens his or her heart to it and learns to understand it in a the cross of Christ. And, therefore, the gift of Christ is not the Christian religion, but the grace and love of God which culminate in the cross.” -DB

Hm. Do we live by our religion or by God’s grace and love? What do others say we live by?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Egregious expectations

I am sick of hearing about Tiger Woods. I’m tired of seeing his name and face. And when your mom knows about the latest info regarding Tiger’s sexual’s gone too far! In a recent conversation with my parents, they shocked me by knowing the most up-to-date news about Sandra Bullock's marital woes as well as all the gossip surrounding Tiger Woods.

Duh, Heather! This stuff is all over the news! They said.

Oh, sorry. Some of us have our noses in theology books. (that nose is very high in the air as I say this!)

Anyways. The Masters. Tiger Woods. The other day Billy Payne, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club where the Masters are, had a few choice words about Tiger: "It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here; it is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children."

Seriously? Our hero? Live up to our expectations?

The thing is, Tiger never raised his hand and said, yes, I will be Billy Payne’s grandchild’s role model. Had he I think I would take Payne’s point a little more seriously. The fact is Payne made him that. We’ve made Tiger that. And, I would argue that maybe that’s the problem!

Now, Tiger did raise his hand and tell his wife that he would be her husband. So, she has some serious leeway on her expectations. But me? Not so much.

I don’t agree with or condone any of Tiger’s recent "egregious" actions. But he’s human and always has been. We’re the ones who have chosen to view Tiger and a bajillion other celebrities/athletes as not-normal, above average. We've put them on pedestals, and then we’re shocked when they fail like the normal human beings that they are.

We may do well to check the placement of our expectations?

ps. I promise to make my next post happy, less ranting. :)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Oh sweet givens

I’m so sick of this tiny little two-letter word, that I could use a four-letter word right now. I mean, for how weighty “if” is, you’d think it’d be 22 letters.

On the condition that
In case of...
Supposing that...
If this, then that...
If that, then this...

Everything hinges upon something else. Using the word "if" means you don’t know something. You’re lacking confirmation on something. And let me tell you, for a girl who plans and confirms, plans and confirms, plans and confirms, IF is nervewracking. Please, someone, "roger that" for me!

Chances are you have "ifs" in your life: health, job, finances, relationships. But those "ifs," wherever they may be, I think, can be good and healthy because they cause you to contemplate or hold on to those things that are not iffy. The things that you know for sure. The givens—oh sweet givens. And I think maybe those are the things we should be focusing on all along! Like those people who place no conditions on their love for you. Those friends who are your best friends no matter time or distance. Like God’s forgiveness, which doesn’t suppose anything. And His grace, which hinges on nothing but our acceptance. Not our plans or paychecks or report cards.

You know how wonderful the givens are. How great it is when someone says "I'll be there no matter what." or "I love you no matter what." Do we return the favor? Where do I place "ifs"--the very things I hate!? Do I give friends "ifs" sometimes? Do I give God "ifs"? If he does this for me, then I'll be happy? Or if he doesn't answer this prayer...I'm not going to believe...

I love givens, and I want to be a better given.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

If momma ain't happy...

Yesterday I sat at the hair salon, eavesdropping on the conversations around me. The woman cutting hair at the station next to me was talking to her client about her two young children. “And my husband knows that being a mother is not my top priority in life,” she explained. “I need to be happy first, and if I’m happy, then my kids will be happy.” She then went on to talk about a trip she had taken to L.A. without her kids or husband.

What?! That is precisely what’s wrong in our society, I thought to myself. We only care about ourselves. Me Me Me.

Shouldn't it be the around way around? Serve others. Take care of others. Put others before yourself. And chances are you will be happy because the relationships you build—and your children—will be healthy and strong and meaningful.

I wanted to asked her if she really believed that later in life her adult children would say, "Yeah, mom was great. She always put herself before us. We really appreciated that."

Tomorrow's Easter, and I look forward to celebrating the fact that our heavenly father put us first, giving up his son to die for us.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Good night, traffic

When I was little, I sometimes got to sleep on a cot in my grandma and grandpa’s bedroom. Their bedroom windows were always cracked (even when it was COLD!), and you could hear the constant whir of speeding cars and semis from the freeway just beyond the hill.

My grandpa would tuck me in by making a fort around my face. He’d take the blanket and smoosh it and fold it in just such a way that it covered my head but still left a little hole or opening somewhere for me to breathe. Then he’d shut the light off, and I’d feel safe and sound—face covered—listening to the traffic, knowing grandma and grandpa would be right next to me throughout the night.

Depending on which direction the wind blows, I can sometimes hear traffic from my own bedroom window now. Last night I could. As I crawled into bed and made my own fort around my head, I smiled—thankful for the warmer weather allowing for open windows and the sound of whirring traffic...and for a grandpa who made forts.