Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Game changer

Knowing how these extended holiday weekends shake out (very busy, lots of running and distractions), I thought I'd better jump on here now. Better early than absent, eh?

Everybody thinks Christmas is the big Christian holy day. But Christmas means nothing without the climax of the resurrection.

Don't let Easter Sunday slip by without watching this.

(I haven't a clue who's behind it—just stumbled upon it, and consequently was lifted and encouraged.)

Happy Easter to you!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Aw, for cryin' out loud...

Snow? Really? On tax day??? We've all had quite enough, thank you very much. Everywhere I went, people wore sour expressions with narrowed eyes. The neighbors even went so far as to stage an impromptu protest. Of course, they quickly became distracted by some new, chilled grass niblets... (See photo.)

There's something so wrong about admiring a blooming magnolia tree through a veil of icy flakes. SO wrong.

Alas. It is what it is. I guess I'll give up, put on some socks, and hold my kvetchin' tongue.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Not everything is awesome

This'll come much later than the what-was-big-and-now-is-past release of The Lego Movie. I haven't yet seen said movie, because when my boys went on opening day, it was a Daddy/Son event and I was not invited. Wahh. (It's all right, really—I'll see it on vid.) After they returned, though, our home was filled for the next few days with a catchy yet increasingly annoying little ditty called "Everything Is Awesome."

I don't know if Tegan and Sara wrote the lyrics; I was never a huge fan of theirs to begin with. I guess it really doesn't matter; some adult wrote them, likely. The words are sung very quickly, especially the "rapping" (talking) sections of the song, where men's voices are heard speaking the lyrics at lightning speed. Even sung quickly, however, most of the words are easily understood.

After a few [tens of] times hearing the song, I couldn't help feeling disgruntled by the lyrics. They're brainless. I clearly grok that this song is not intended to be a lasting contribution to the world's collection of meaningful compositions. Yet. A lot of the words are inane, and some of them? Downright lies.

Example:
Have you heard the news? Everyone's talking
Life is good 'cause everything's awesome
Lost my job, there's a new opportunity
More free time for my awesome community
I feel more awesome than an awesome possum
Dip my body in chocolate frosting
Three years later wash off the frosting
Smelling like a blossom, everything is awesome
Stepped in mud, got new brown shoes
It's awesome to win and it's awesome to lose

*****

Blue skies, bouncy springs
We just named two awesome things
A Nobel prize, a piece of string
You know what's awesome? Everything!
Trees, frogs, clogs they're awesome
Rocks, clocks and socks they're awesome
Figs and jigs and twigs that's awesome
Everything you see or think or say is awesome

Okay, I took out all the touchy-feely parts of the song, where the girls shriek about how it's awesome to be part of a team, and we should all party forever... It's basically harmless, I suppose. This song is not a terrible song, and it's certainly not the first popular song to feature pointless, random lyrics (although it might be the only song I've ever heard that talks about frosting—no, wait, there's that awful MacArthur Park song from the 70s...)

But the line that broke my straw was that last line. The one I marked in bold. It's crap. It flies absolutely in the face of every Biblical tenant about mankind. So, I had to go and get all serious and address this with my kid. We've seen poverty, and illness, and people abusing other people, I said to him. We've seen car accidents, and arguments. Are those awesome? No, answered my son. And God tells us that thinking a sin is as bad as doing it, right (Matthew 5:27-28)? That's right. And the tongue? God calls is a fire, full of deadly poison (James 3:5-8). Not such a ringing endorsement for what we say, eh? And my boy agreed.

Obviously, this Lego song is not meant to deliver serious, meaningful messages to kids. Still, they're all walking around singing it. Not as much, now that it's not so new... but the lyrics are being written on kids' hearts. Those lyrics are being learned, internalized. Do the kids who hear and sing them also believe them? I have to think that some of them do. And that disturbs me.

Here is something that I'd rather hide in my heart, and my kiddo's heart. This is what I'd rather remember and refer to in times of confusion:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sunnier scenes

I thought I'd better lighten things up a bit, since my last post was so darned dark.

I bring you "After the Baling," an original painting by Mel. If I could step right into it, I would. I sort of did step in, in my mind at least, while I was working on it. I created this from a photo my husband took while visiting a nearby farm last summer. Can't you just smell that wonderful hay? (Allergy sufferers, can't you just feel your sinuses contracting and rebelling?)

This one's for sale in my Etsy shop. Thankfully, there is real sunshine today, as well as imagined. Enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Signs of these awful times

You know it's been a long winter when the temperature peaks at 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and you see people golfing.

I'm not kidding. I witnessed just that scene last weekend.

This is the time in our cruel winter season when I ponder the purchase of stock in some heavy-duty skin cream—a time when suddenly, I begin to find greater merit in anti-depressants and sun lamps. Moving somewhere far, far south becomes an increasingly attractive option.

I read recently about a new condition described as "snow rage," or explosive behavior swings caused by a relentlessly cold, wintry season that drags on longer than some people can bear. Except what can I call it when I'm still experiencing the symptoms but there's no snow? My son suggested "salt rage." I'm thinking that plain old rage would cover it some days...

Adding to my rage-cum-depression is the fact that I've been to the mall more in the past 7 days than in the last year. The weather's made me do it. I loathe the mall on principle, yet it provides ample, warm, un-slippery walking space. So I've headed there a couple of times recently, and I plan to do so again before the week is up. It's a safe, free way to raise my heart rate without risking my neck on ice or causing our small, wobbly living room to quake violently while I jiggle and gasp to an exercise beat.

What's so depressing about a mall, you ask? Well, it functions as a cultural outsider alarm for me. Nowhere else do I feel so removed from our twisted vision of modern suburban America. All of my denials about how sick we are as a nation come crashing down on me when I'm walking through a shopping mall. It's sort of like standing near young, lovely, slender girls. I don't enjoy doing that, because it heightens my awareness of just how little I share with those pretties these days. And the mall? Man, do I feel like an interloper there. I'm surprised they let me in.

I stride along those wide, polished floors, past window after window of mostly naked women, young smooth-chinned lads embracing other handsome and hairless boys, flat-chested young females pouting at me with hooded, come-hither glances... We certainly do groom these innocents for tawdry and sultry, don't we? It's not just the over-saturation of sex that appalls me, though. Nearly every store is selling a lie: our furniture will help you relax more completely; this hand soap will transport you to an island getaway. And these pretzels will make you think of an elderly relative who cooked with far too much butter yet so much love. But wait, here's a new gadget with a flashing screen, and it's newer than yours... Do you have high-heeled, open-toed ankle booties like these? Never mind how hideous they are, you need them to complete your designer duds.

The whole place is designed to entice, to beguile, to mislead, and ultimately to separate you from your money. It's all crap, and it deflates the heck out of me.

I really hope the stupid weather improves; I'm about ready to pull a serious groundhog, people.

Friday, February 21, 2014

On sacrifice

I've been thinking a lot about it, sacrifice. It's a heavy topic. It has so many layers... and almost none of them appeal to base human nature.

The ultimate sacrifice is Jesus Christ: Died for us, thus allowing us eternal life if we accept the gift of His life. Salvation is a gift, so I think I am safe in saying that His offering it is a gift, too—and sacrifice was the form in which it was offered. So, could I say that sacrifice is a gift, no matter the giver? Is that a safe blanket statement?

Sometimes sacrifices are made out of a sense of duty, but is it any less a gift when it takes the dutiful form? Sacrifice is difficult at best. Even Christ Himself asked if there was another way (Luke 22:42).

The part I keep revisiting is this: that the gift was given to the unknowing. The penultimate sacrifice was done for all, not just those who knew and were grateful. In fact, probably no one knew and understood, at the time before His crucifixion, what was being done for them. Disciples tried to talk Jesus out of it; they attempted violent intervention (Matthew 26:51). We like-minded recipients, grateful though we are down the road, often don't even recognize the gift when it is first offered, let alone referenced.

We, too, are to be sacrificial in our actions; we are to love others, and to offer up ourselves on their behalf. I grasp that sacrifice is to be performed even for all, including the unknowing. Jesus was sacrificed for our sins, and the gain for us is salvation and eternal life with our Creator.

But what of the earthly, man-offered sacrifice where not even the recipient benefits? When, if ever, does sacrifice become foolish and misguided? In the same way that tough love must sometimes be enacted for the greater good of the recipient, might not sacrifice be suspended for the greater good of all involved when no one is the better for that sacrifice? When is the right time to withdraw sacrifice? When must an honest man or woman examine the situation and change directions completely? Must death be the deciding factor, or are their lesser factors that bring about the same need for re-examination of purpose and result? Do the defining actions of sacrifice change when eternal life is not at stake?

These are the ponderous, burdensome thoughts in my troubled mind these days. I pray for clear direction, for myself and those around me. I pray and I pray, and still I do not pray enough. I know there is so much more to say about this topic, yet I've fought a migraine all day, and to research the topic further would require deep reading... which would, in turn, heighten the migraine. Thus, I am deterred.

Therefore, I leave you in a swirling fog. But you are not alone there.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Happy, non-controversial distraction

I share my latest painting with you—to prove that I do, indeed, spend time in pursuits other than profiling my fellow grocery shoppers. (If you're confused, then you might want to refer to my previous post.)

Stay warm. Unless you're reading this from a balmy, sunny place. If that's the case, then please send my plane ticket—pronto.