Wednesday, November 26, 2008
These little guys are salt & pepper shakers. Several years ago my mom gave me and my sisters each a set of these. (we also each have a set of the Mr. & Mrs. Claus ones, and the Snowman ones too).
They came from Publix. There used to be the cutest TV commercial featuring this pair coming alive but trying not to be noticed by any human being sitting at the table. There was winking involved and something about mashed potatoes. I can't really remember it all. (note to self: Google it later to see if you can find it).
Given my love of all things Publix, I love these little people. They're cute, and, well, they came from Publix. That love of Publix started years ago as a young teenager when a shopping trip there was deemed a family entertainment outing. We all love the Publix.
That's why these little Pilgrims make me think of my family.
Because of where we live and because it' s just the two of us, Scott and I spend many holidays traveling long distances to the houses of other family members. Sometimes our circumstances won't allow us the opportunity to get away and go. When that happens, it's OK because I can always count on the Pilgrims to be at my table every Thanksgiving. If I can't have my family at my table, I can at least have these little shakers there that remind me of them.
On this Thanksgiving, thank you, God, for pilgrims and for families, the likes of which I am a both.
God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me— my whole life one long, obedient response. Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway! Give me a bent for your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot. Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way. Affirm your promises to me— promises made to all who fear you. Deflect the harsh words of my critics— but what you say is always so good. See how hungry I am for your counsel; preserve my life through your righteous ways! Psalm 119:32-34 The Message
Monday, November 24, 2008
In other words, our town is not large enough to warrant its own phone book. The one book that I use the most often has less than 100 yellow pages. Of those yellow pages, less than one column on one page is dedicated to restaurants.
Not of lot of places to eat out around here.
There used to be a Checkers drive-in (actually, it was just a drive-thru). It went out of business not long before the Sonic opened. The little Checkers building has been empty now for a year or so.
About a month ago we watched them paint the black and white color blocks green on the unoccupied Checkers building. We thought maybe, wishfully thinking, it would become the Krispy Kreme home for hot doughnuts now.
Turns out the new drive-thru restaurant is not a chain, but a locally owned business. We haven't actually eaten any food from there, but from what we can see of the menu, it looks like they serve pizza, and gyros, and other international type food.
And, based on the new signage, I'm fairly certain of their international heritage, so it must be authentic. And perhaps they are from one of those countries where the steering wheels are on the right side of the car and they drive on the left side of the road. Because what used to be the drive-IN is now the Way-Out. Only.
Or, maybe I'm misreading it and Way-Out Only is not a new direction, but a classification of people. You know, those crazy kind of people that are just way out there. When we speak to them we say, "You're not from 'round here, are you?" Yeah, so maybe it is a "This lane now catering to the Way Out crowd" kind of thing. That would be nice.
Scott said that there was indeed a Way Out people group. He cited a Flintstones reference (Ahhh, leave it to him to come up with a handy application for all the useless trivia in his head!). Anyway, it seems that the Way Outs were a musical group whose lineage was not from Bedrock. They were from somewhere else (i.e., another planet) and apparently a bit misunderstood.
Does anyone else remember the Way Outs from the Flintstones?
If you all do remember them, and I don't, then maybe I am the one that's way out there.
Just for fun, here they are:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. Hebrews 11:13-14
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Sometime later that week I got an email from Jimmy, a fellow I went to college with. I haven’t actually seen him in years. We keep up with each other infrequently, only trading emails every few months or so. He knows the general gist of our lives but not a lot of details. Same goes for what I know about his family. Being kindred spirits from way back, it doesn’t always take a lot of words to catch up.
When I emailed Jimmy back, I wrote, “Scott and I pray every day, several times a day, for God to move or move us. We've been praying that for years now. We're old and tired, and it shows. But we keep praying.”
I didn’t really explain to him why that was our prayer. I just knew he would know.
Jimmy read my Election Day blog post and replied, “You’ve got a lot of days left to pray, Abraham.”
Smarty pants. He’s right.
I felt like the message God was trying to get across to me was, “Sit back and enjoy the ride. This may take a while.”
Which is funny, because there was something else in the Wild Goose Chase book that I can’t get out of my head. I finished the book several days ago, but I’ve been back to reread one page over and over.
The whole book, in general, is about following the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The page (actually it’s just one paragraph) I keep rereading says that when the Holy Spirit leads, he does not take shortcuts. He always takes the scenic route because that is where we learn the most valuable lessons.
Ooo, I need to hear that again. The Holy Spirit does not take shortcuts. He always takes the scenic route.
You know, I have heard more people lately be more vocal about their belief that the end of days is near. They read the news and the see the current events and they say it’s getting closer.
Yes, I believe that were closer today than we ever have been to Jesus’ return. And we’ll be even closer tomorrow. I also think that Jesus’ return is the only way our earthy social, political, and moral problems will ever be resolved. I am not afraid. I will be relieved. Relieved that I will no longer have to pray, “How long, Oh Lord, how long?”
But as of today, as of this minute, I’m still here on this earth. As long as that is true, then I’m still on the scenic tour. There are still lessons to be learned. There are still prayers to be prayed. There are still lives to be changed. There are still people who need to be saved. He sees all of that and all the burdens that go with it more than I do.
So I wake up again and press on. Learning to enjoy the ride.
In His time. In His time.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3: 21-23
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
More often than not, it is the opposite. I have so many things swimming around in my head that I have trouble narrowing them down enough to post about (which is also why my posts are usually not short and sweet. Sorry).
Then, occasionally there are the times when I have something specific to write about, but I’m just too embarrassed or ashamed to admit whatever it is.
Alas, that is where I’ve been for the past couple of days.
My hang up that I don’t want to say out loud?
Oh, and I’m cheap.
I got solid confirmation of that this weekend when I tried to get a new pair of glasses.
Scott and I both had eye exams last March. Scott got his new glasses shortly after that. At that time, I got new contacts so I put off getting the new glasses for a while. One, buying two (his and hers) new pair of glasses at the same time was more money than I wanted to spend at one time. The contacts I can pay for monthly. Two, I don’t wear my glasses that much. I usually only wear my glasses at home in the evenings after I take my contacts out. Three, my new prescription was for bifocals. My first pair. I was not eager to have them.
I’ve been seeing a TV commercial for a store advertising a 50% off sale on glasses. I’ve been putting it off for nine months. Plus, after I take my contacts out at night and I sit down to read, I have found that my regular, old glasses just don’t cut it anymore and I have to wear a pair of drug store reading glasses on top of my other glasses so I can see the words in my books. Yes, that’s two pair of glasses on my face at one time. It was time. I had put it off long enough.
We went to the store with the 50% off sale and I picked out some frames that were reasonably priced. The 50% off sale had obviously brought lots of other customers in to the store too, so we had to wait a while. The technician finally called my name, asked me several questions, made a few computer clicks, explained all about how to make the adjustment to bifocals, then she told me what that total price of my glasses would be.
Turns out the price of glasses has gone up since March. I guess it was all that up and down stuff in the economy or something. Even with 50% off, the cost of my glasses was way more than Scott’s were back in March. WAY more. And his weren’t even on sale.
I couldn’t do it. I could make a mortgage payment with that money. Or two car payments. I just couldn’t spend that much money on glasses. I walked out of the store without them.
So, have you ever seen the little old lady who’s wearing glasses styled like she’s had them for 20 years and she’s still squinting because she can’t see to count out the sixty-eight pennies at McDonald’s for a cup of coffee, or in my case a Diet Coke?
That’s me. Old and cheap.
Huh? What did you say? Speak up, I can’t hear you….
“What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."
"Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you."
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I've been pretty good this year. Good at what, I'm not exactly sure. And if I haven't been good, I've at least thought about being good. Does that count?
I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really want some of these:
Isn't that just the most festive fiesta you have ever seen??!!
You can get them here. (OK, so they've already taken the picture and link off the website. Let's hope they haven't sold out already! You can use the search function at the bottom of that page for "Christmas tree")
I want the luncheon plates, but I'll take any of the other pieces too.
And if it's not asking too much, how about an early delivery? They won't be quite as much fun after Dec. 25. Plus, I'll need something to put cookies on Christmas Eve (wink, wink).
Love and hugs to the misses, all those little elves, and the reindeer too.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Really, I wish I could be more like that.
What most people don’t know about him is that he can also be quite the chatty cathy. That’s typically his role when we have lunch together. The things he says and the topics he talks about often make me laugh, so he is usually my entertainment too. I always tell him that going back to work after having such a lunch with him is the hardest part of the day.
Yesterday I sat across the lunch table from him and he didn’t say much. I thought he seemed a little blue about something.
Finally, I said to him, “So, do you feel like you are standing right on the edge of something drastic and horrible happening and that the next step will be into the abyss and there will be disaster and pain and suffering and the end of the and life as we know it?”
He looked at me funny and said, “No, not really, Why?”
Well because that’s the way I have felt for the last couple of days.
I think it started with the mortgage crisis all that stock dropping. Then there was that business of family members in crisis staying at my house. And a cold, rainy, grey trip to the beach. Oh, and all that change that came with the presidential election. And all the other personal change that I’ve been praying for for years that hasn’t come yet. Not to mention the budget debate at church, where Scott’s paycheck comes from. It is actually the low attendance that’s causing part of that problem, but the lack of people is even more disheartening than the lack of money. My 401K statement that came in the mail yesterday seemed to mock me by saying the last 10 years have been somewhat of a waste, revealing the total investment figure to be currently reduced to what is was back in 1997. Plus, hormones. Enough said.
And those are just the highlights. Or I guess I should say, the lowlights.
Like I said, I had been living under that black cloud for a couple of days. Finally saying it out loud gave me a headache. By the time 5 o’clock came I could hardly wait to get home and put on some comfortable shoes, because everyone knows that is the surefire cure for a tension headache.
My life is not really all that bad. I have much, much, much to be thankful for and very little to truly complain about. Except maybe those pinching heels I wore yesterday.
Ahh, which was my own bad choice, wasn’t it?
Hmmm, maybe that would apply to my attitude about some of those other things too.
No worries today. I’m wearing low heels, it’s time for lunch, and I’ve got a date with a good listener.
I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. Psalm 142: 2-3
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Each week focused on a different aspect of God: greatness, holiness, awesomeness, sovereignty, works, and worship. I learned something new in every week of this study. It’s that good.
The last week was about our, my, identity in God. The scripture reference for the week was Isaiah 43:1-21, which starts with:
Thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”That one verse alone certainly says a lot about my identity God. Because of God I’ve been redeemed, I don’t need to fear anything, He claims me as His own and He does it by using my name.
"Hey, Nancy, pay attention! You are Mine!"I believe all of those things. Really, I do. I just forget sometimes that God really gets that personal and intimate with me. Sometimes I treat God just like I treat the rest of my family. I love them and I know they love me, but I don’t talk to them every day because they live in other states and time zones.
The awesomeness and holiness of God calls for something better than that from me.
God spoke and there was light. He raised His voice again and there was sky and land. He said, “let there be plants and animals,” and there were plants and animals. He did all that without lifting a finger.
But when it came to me, he didn’t just speak, He formed me. The picture that puts in my head is a physical one. God used His hands. It involved His touch. And if He used the dust of the ground, His hands were dirty afterwards.
I don't now about you, but I spend a lot of time every day trying to avoid getting my hands dirty and keeping them germ free. I'm a little selective about what I touch, and if I'm going to to so far as to actually get my hands dirty, it has to be because I'm really committed to what I'm about to stick my hands in.
I am here because of His touch. I am who I am because of His touch. Now that’s personal.
I can’t quote exactly, but James MacDonald said something like…Everything the Bible reveals about God is to show us how to have a right understanding of who we are in relationship to Him. God doesn’t tell us things about Himself just for the fun of it, just so we will be informed and knowledgeable. He tells us things about Himself so we can realize who we are.
I am well aware that the Enemy, Satan, works hard every day to convince me otherwise. Satan likes to talk about some of the sorry circumstances of my life to get me to think differently about that personal touch from God.
But when my identity is based solely on my relationship to God, nothing can change it. Especially not Satan. That’s one lesson from this study I pray I never forget.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts. The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes. Psalm 119: 93-95
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Since I didn’t have a schedule to keep today, Scott and I planned to go out for a nice, leisurely breakfast. Breakfast is Scott’s favorite meal to eat out, but we don’t get to do it much because Scott is NOT a morning person. Offering to go out to eat breakfast is usually my enticement to get him up earlier than normal. It doesn’t always work.
This morning we got to the locally owned restaurant about 9:30 am. The morning rush had already come and gone. Only three or four tables had people seated, the rest of the tables were empty. There is a red, octagonal shaped sign at the entrance that tells you to ‘Please wait to be seated.’ Which we did and for way longer than I thought we should have given the slim crowd. I could have already been through the drive-thru and had a biscuit in my mouth in that amount of time, but we’re still waiting to be seated. Waiting is not really what I had in mind when I thought ‘leisurely.’ Weren’t they paying attention to me?!
Finally, we were seated and gave the server our orders. Mine, as always, was very specific: Scrambled egg sandwich on wheat toast with lettuce, tomato, and mustard. No, it is not listed that way on the menu. Yes, I am often accused of being like Sally in When Harry Met Sally when I order food.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take that long for the food to arrive at our table. The server placed the plates in front of us and we never saw her again. No unsweetened iced tea refills. No coffee warm-ups. No one to report to that my scrambled egg sandwich on wheat toast with lettuce, tomato, and mustard had no tomato on it. Why weren’t they paying attention to me?!
As disappointing as it was, I ate the tomatoless sandwich anyway. After we finished eating, with an empty glass and an empty coffee cup, we sat and waited for the server to bring the check. And we waited. And we waited. With empty cups. If you’re going to make me wait, the least you can do is offer me a refill. Water would be nice.
We finally went up to the register, still with no check. Instead of trying to find a server and retrieve the check, the young woman at the register asked what we had ordered. I told her that I had an egg sandwich. I didn’t say anything about lettuce or tomato. The extra twenty cents charge is for lettuce AND tomato. I was entitled to free lettuce if I didn’t get the tomato with it, right?
We left the restaurant and went to the McDonald’s drive-thru to get Scott his second cup of coffee.
No, I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not. This kind of thing happens to us all the time. I should be used to it by now.
The crazy part is, why do I keep believing that I’m entitled to more or better? Why?!
All I know is, every time something like this happens it doesn’t take long for God to remind me that I’m the one who should be paying attention to others. I’m the one that should be serving others. I’m the one who owes. I’m the one who deserves less than what I’ve been given. I am not the one that other people need to pay attention to. When they look my way, they need to see Jesus. He will fill their cups.
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. Mark 14:23
Friday, November 7, 2008
Confused? Well, just know that the rest of my family lives in Florida and Georgia; I live in South Carolina.
For the first 10 years of my life, we all lived in Jacksonville, Florida.
Jacksonville is the neutral location for the annual Florida vs. Georgia college football game. It was, and still is, a big deal the weekend all those crazy fans came to town. We always tried to avoid the stadium area. Except for the one year that I actually went to the game, but that's another story.
I did not attend the Unveristy of Florida or the University Georgia. Neither did anyone in my family. As a matter of fact, one sister even went to rival FSU.
I married a man who is an alumnus of Furman University (thus, my South Carolina connection. Plus, you know the former UF coach Spurrier is now at Uunivesity of SC. Small world, huh?). We were both living in Florida when we met and married and, at the time, I had no idea what a UF fan my husband would turn out to be. And he IS a fan.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18
Thursday, November 6, 2008
When we’re in the midst of a change, we get to experience things like new choices we’ve never had before. New perspectives. New friends. New responsibilities. New knowledge. Lots of newness.
A bit of the newness that I gained through the campaign process for a new commander in chief included a couple of new words.
Maybe they are old words with new meanings. Or maybe I’m behind in learning the contemporary terms for 2008.
And if you didn’t know already, I get much of the humor in my life from words people use. Or misuse, if you will.
I heard these words numerous times from broadcasters on national news channels. I read them in articles in prominent news publications. My ears perked up each time I heard these words because they just sounded so odd given the serious campaign context.
The first word that made me listen up was ‘slimed.’ Apparently, that’s what it is called now when someone talks trash about someone else, like a political candidate. Apparently, it doesn’t have to be factual or based on truth.
I don’t think I had ever used the word ‘slimed’ before except maybe when I was watching Nickelodeon.
Is ‘slimed’ on the list of top 100 words you use every day?
Now that I’ve heard serious news reporters use it, I think I’m going to enjoy increasing my word power with ‘slimed.’ I know I will have an opportunity to use it soon because people talk bad about other people all the time. I must be careful, however, or I will be the one slimed.
The second word that perked my ears up like a good guard dog’s is ‘vetted.’ Yes, the dog analogy was intentional. ‘Vetted’ sounds like the past tense of the tasks a veterinarian performs. Doesn’t it? I think the origin of the word ‘vetted’ has something to do with checking out a horse before the big race to see if it was fit. Anyway, it was in the animal section of my vocabulary.
When is the last time you used the word ‘vetted?’
The popular definition of ‘vetted’ now relates to extensive fact-checking. That is, scrutinizing someone’s financial records, associations, conduct, arrest record, medical history, legal status, elementary school permanent records, etc. It goes beyond your basic background check.
I’m not really sure if vetting involves a search for something good or something bad.
But watch out. If you find yourself in a position to be vetted, you will most likely end up being slimed.
Whatever exists has already been named; and what man is has been known; no man can contend with one who is stronger than he. The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? Ecclesiastes 6:10-1
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
It took Scott and me about an hour and a half to make it through the line. It wasn’t too bad. People-watching is quite an entertaining pastime, especially at the polls.
It was a single file line up until the last few yards, then it divided into two precincts, and then further separated alphabetically into four lines. The poll manager was attempting to monitor the crucial point where the line went from single file to two precinct lines and four alphabetic lines.
Attempted is the key word here.
Some people didn’t bring the voter registration cards and had no clue what precinct they were in.
And some people forgot their ABC’s and the first letter of their last name.
All those people got to go around us and up to the front of the line.
We waited our turn.
Good thing I brought a book to read. Every now and then I would come to an interesting part in the book and would read a couple of sentences out loud to Scott. Or, he would read something out loud to me, as he was looking over my shoulder reading my book too.
After about an hour into our wait, I came to this quote in the book and read it out loud to Scott:
“God called Abraham out of Ur when he was 75, but Isaac wasn’t born until Abraham turned 100. God delivered on His promise, but it took 25 years. That is 300 months, 1,300 weeks, or 9,125 days!”
Hmmmm. What a sentence to read while I’m waiting in line getting older by the minute.
It must have also intrigued the women in front of us. She turned around and asked what book I was reading.
I tried to speak, but then realized the best thing was to just show her the front cover:
Standing in line, waiting, reading quotes about waiting even longer from a book titled “Wild Goose Chase.”
That pretty much sums up this whole political campaign season, doesn’t it?
So glad it only happens every four years.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33: 20
Monday, November 3, 2008
The first presidential election after I was finally old enough to vote came during my junior year in college. I was 20. I was in school two hours away from home but I didn’t want anything to do with an absentee ballot. I wanted my first vote for an American president to be cast is person. I wanted the experience of being at the polls on Election Day. I wanted to step behind the curtain and put my hands on the lever (that’s the way it was done way back then).
I had only early classes that day, so I figured I could leave after the last one, make the two hour trip and be there in time to cast my vote. I could get up early the next morning and make it back to school before my next class. That was pushing it, but I thought it was worth all the effort.
Too bad that on the way there my car broke down on I-95 about an hour from home. Thankfully, it was near an open weigh station. A state trooper there was very kind and let me wait inside for my mom and dad to come and get me. It was, of course, before the days of cell phones but, again, thankfully there was a pay phone in the weigh station. It took a couple of hours for my parents to coordinate their vehicles and work schedules and make it down to where I was waiting. Then it took some time for my dad to make a few mechanical adjustments to my car to get it at least cranked again. And then another hour to get home.
Needless to say, I did not get to vote that year.
As disappointing as that year was, it was not nearly as traumatic as the presidential election campaign that took place when I was in the third grade. It was a school-wide event. All six grade levels at the elementary school I attended were involved. On a set day, everyone had the same assignment. Use your white kraft paper and the red and blue crayons to make paper hats, buttons, signs, and whatever else you could think of to campaign for the presidential candidate of your choice. Then, when it was time to go to the cafeteria for lunch, we were to wear our hats and buttons and carry our signs. Everyone one in the entire school came to the cafeteria donning self-made campaign gear.
It all sounds like fun and even educational. I think they still do stuff like that in elementary schools today. But I was traumatized. The problem was that before I could make any kind of campaign hat, I had to choose a candidate. I had no idea which candidate to select. Even though I was only 8 years old (and two and half months), I knew my choice would only be a guess because I didn’t really know anything about either of the candidates. It bothered me that I felt forced into making a personal commitment but was clueless about exactly what it was that I was committing too. I felt like I was taking a pop quiz and didn’t know any of the answers. I felt like I, personally, was about to fail. Did I mention that I was only 8 years old?
At the encouragement of my teacher, I walked around our classroom as the campaign collaterals were being created and studied what others were doing and which candidate they had selected. I finally just picked the candidate that already had his name on the most hats in my classroom. I made my own hat, hurriedly by that point because I spent too much time deliberating my choice, and I wore it to the cafeteria that day but I was never comfortable in it. I followed the crowd instead of my own convictions. I did that because I didn’t have any personal convictions yet.
Turns out my guy lost the real election. Big time.
Every four years when we get ready to elect a president I think about that day in the cafeteria. It’s one of those memories that just won’t go away. I still don’t want to ever be in that position again. The position of not being well-informed enough to make a firm commitment and a wise choice.
This year, thanks to life and times in this media driven age, I have way more information than I need to make a qualified choice. Thank goodness. I live within walking distance of my voting precinct polling place. I’m going early so I won’t miss work. And I’m not going to the cafeteria to eat until AFTER I vote.
See you at the polls.
"Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:14-15