Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Advertising my flying cheerleader days

I tried out for the cheerleading squad when I was in the fifth grade.

By that time in my life, my oldest sister was away at college. The middle sister was taking the school bus to the junior high school in the next community. Both Mom and Dad left early every morning to get to their jobs. I was pretty much left with getting myself to and from the elementary school I attended. It was about a one mile walk through the neighborhood from our house to the school.

(Really, this is NOT my I-had-to-walk-5-miles-in-the-snow-uphill-both-ways-to-get-to-school story. It was a different time then. There are different threats these days. Taking it slowly on long walks to and from school was one thing us latchkey kids did to pass the time so we wouldn’t be at home alone so much.)

I remember watching the bedroom clock every morning waiting for exactly the right minute before setting out on my hike to school. I had the walking distance perfectly timed so I wouldn’t get there too early. The mornings weren’t so bad because of the anticipation of the walk and of the school day. It was the afternoons when I got home that were hard. Boring. Lonely. A little scary sometimes.

I think that’s why I tried out for cheerleading even though I wasn’t the cheerleader type. I needed some afternoon entertainment; something to fill up the empty hours. (We didn’t have all the homework kids have now).

I didn’t make the squad first time I tried out, but I did the second time. That was about the time things started changing in the cheerleading world. Things were moving from saddle oxfords, Keds, and sweaters to jumpsuits, mini shorts, and boots. Our squad was the first to wear the blue mini shorts jumpsuits that zipped up the front and black knee high boots. I was 10. (There are no pictures, thank goodness).

I told my parents about staying after school for the practices the week or so before the try-outs, but I don’t think they took me seriously. Like I said, I just wasn’t the cheerleader type. The day the actual try-outs came and my name was called, I was so excited that I think I ran that entire mile home because I couldn’t wait to call my mom at work and tell her. She didn’t believe me. I can still hear the skepticism in her voice as she asked, “Are you SURE?”

That cheerleading squad turned out to be a little pathetic. We weren’t very good. At all. And the newness of the knee high boots and mini shorts style was not as widely accepted as appropriate as the trend-setting sponsors had hoped. It was a second rate kind of group. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every single minute of every single practice and every single game. But we were pitiful. I just didn’t know it at the time.

I thought I was a good cheerleader. What I didn’t admit was that there were so many others that were better than me. Since I wasn’t really the cheerleader type, I realize now that maybe part of the reason we weren’t very S-U-C-C-E-S-S-ful (do they still do that cheer?) was partly because of me.

That scenario follows me.

After college, I worked as a flight attendant. It was exciting and fun and I put my heart and soul into it. I thought I was a pretty good flight attendant. People who knew me back when I got hired for that job most likely thought to themselves, “She’s just not the flight attendant type, is she?”. The airline I worked for was one that none of my friends had ever heard of. One reason I no longer am a flight attendant is because that airline is no longer in business. Again, maybe since I wasn’t really the flight attendant type in the first place, perhaps I’m a tiny bit responsible for their downfall.

Fast forward a few years. I got a job in advertising for a department store. The store isn’t on the level of Macy’s or Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s a department store that a lot of people wrinkle their noses at. My job was copywriting and graphic design. I learned a lot at that job as I put my heart and soul into it. Still, I wasn’t quite the best at it because though the stores are still around, all the advertising has moved to the corporate conglomerate instead of continuing to do it regionally. Maybe my contributions were partly the reason for that transition.

I have gotten sucked into a lot of things that were exciting and fun and even a little educational. For whatever reason, I have thrown myself into them and tried very hard to make it work for me. I try so hard. I try to do everything right. I try follow are the rules correctly. I try to meet all the expectations and exceed. I bet I get on other people’s nerves trying to be the little miss perfect.

Those things that have drawn me in never seem to last very long.

That often leads to the conclusion that there’s not much I am good at (maybe not rightly so, but still, my mind goes there for a bit…).

This is often, thankfully, followed by another opportunity to do something else.

Which is followed by my cry to God, “But I’m just not good at that.”

To which He responds, “Well, I’m glad we finally agree on something. Now let it go and let Me handle it for you and show you just how good it CAN be! Go ahead, let go. Try it. It will be exciting. And you might learn something.”

"If you want to give it all you've got," Jesus replied, "go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me." That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go. As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God's kingdom? Let me tell you, it's easier to gallop a camel through a needle's eye than for the rich to enter God's kingdom." Matthew 19:21-23

Monday, August 10, 2009

Have you ever seen an alien with arthritis?

A few days ago my friend Steve’s facebook status was something about how being at Lowe’s was somewhat of a religious experience for him. Several people, including me, posted comments to his status. Some of the comments were analogically clever (not mine) about tools and possibilities. Some comments were just snarky (yes, mine). Steve responded with his own comment saying something like Lowe’s is the only place Noah could get enough gopher wood to build that ark.

That got me to thinking about old Noah.

Genesis 9 says that after the flood Noah lived 350 years and that he was 950 when he died. According to my math, that means he was 600 years old when he finished building the ark. Without any help, mind you.

Can you imagine building an ark all by yourself right now in your life? At your age and in your current physical condition?

Me either. And I’m not even 100 yet.

How did a 600 year old man do it?

That got me to thinking about all the other people in the Bible that lived multiple centuries. Adam lived 930 years. Adam’s son Seth lived 912 years. Enoch lived 365 years. Moses was 120 when he died. Methuselah lived 969 years, for heaven’s sake.

Why don’t people live that long anymore? Google has all kinds of different answers for that question. Scientific climatic changes caused by the flood. Measuring years by fruitfulness rather than by the actual number of sunsets and sunrises. God time vs. human time. Inaccuracies in oral histories from the tendency to over exaggerate for emphasis. On and on.

The truth is, I don’t think anyone really knows for sure.

Here’s my unsubstantiated analysis for why we don’t live hundreds of years any more: It’s just too hard now.

I think God’s original plan for man did not include death. I think the original plan was that we would all live longer than Methuselah and in God’s company, forever and ever, amen. I think every day we lived that way would have gotten better and better. Sweeter than the day before, if you will. It’s not hard to imagine living hundreds or even thousands of years like that.

But we messed that up with that original sin issue and all.

Praise God for the sacrifice of Jesus to bring us back to the living forever in God’s company plan. In the meantime until I can see Jesus face to face, I’m here living on this earth.

Living on this earth is not like riding a bicycle. It does not get easier every day that you do it. No wonder He told us to become like little children. It was a lot easier then. He knew it would get harder with every birthday.

Yeah, I can learn to tolerate some things easier with a little practice. I can do a little preparation to make some things more manageable. I can find some laughter and some joy along the way and some funny people to share it with.

Overall, though, it’s tough. I face more and more challenges with every single day that I live. I get especially bothered by the challenges that I face that are beyond my ability to do anything about. Throw a few other people and relationships in there with all their separate issues, and voila, you’ve got a recipe for shortening anyone’s years.

A few of the people that are blessed with being a part of my situations and circumstances really add to my personal challenge. It happens often. Someone will say or do something that makes me think they have absolutely lost their mind. I think to myself, “What in the world were they thinking!?” That thought progression always leads me to go a little further towards another conclusion: perhaps they are not the looney tune; maybe it’s me. Every single time that brings me back to the fact that I am truly a stranger and an alien on this earth. This world is not my home.

I am reminded of that almost every single day.

Which makes me oh so thankful I don’t have to live to be 969.

Which makes my 40’s not look quite so bad.

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3-4