Wednesday, August 21, 2013

God Raises The Dead Even On Your Off Days.

Chauncey Crandall wasn't having a great day. Not horrible. Not great. Work was piling up, people were demanding, and then a guy died on him.

You know. That kind of a day.

Less than an hour later, however, the dead guy would come back to life. So, in retrospect, maybe it wasn't that bad of a day after all.

When Jeff Markin walked into the Palm Beach Gardens Hospital on September 20, 2006, he had no idea he'd be playing the role of Lazarus. Right there on the emergency room floor his life took a very sharp turn, or, better stated, made a blunt stop.

And after 43 minutes of working to bring him back, Dr. Chauncey Crandall, the supervising cardiologist, (who still wasn't having all that great of a day) declared Jeff dead.

Although Jeff and Chauncey were both having days not going according to plan, God wasn't having the same frustration. He had His agenda right in front of Him, spread out on his larger-than-life mahogany desk. And right in the slot that said "raise Jeff Markin from the dead," God was right on time.

(God, unlike Jeff and Chauncey, was having a great day.)

Here's the part of the story that interested me when I heard about it yesterday. Not that men coming back to life isn't a real headline maker, but here's where I started to relate to Chauncey Crandall and his bad day.

Chauncey had a God-appointed task to perform. He may not have started his day thinking he would participate in one of God's God-appointed tasks, but, just like God is wont to do, God decided he'd keep it to Himself until the time of His choosing.


As Chauncey left the room, a voice told him to go back and pray for that man. The one back there getting prepped by a nurse for the morgue. The one with the appointment with a toe tag. Yeah. That guy. The dead one. Pray for him.

He argued, of course. But God, isn't that just like God, was persistent.

So Chauncey returned. He put his hands on Jeff's chest, the one with no heartbeat, and prayed. And he did so with very little faith. He prayed not really believing it would make any difference. He prayed - not because he felt compelled by a fiery burning of spiritual awakeness in the pit of his stomach that was only completed with a sudden glory light of holiness ringing his head like a halo while the Hallelujah Chorus sang in four-part harmony in his ears - because God asked him to pray. He prayed out of obedience.

"This day that I prayed for Jeff," said Chauncey, "was a day of very little faith. It wasn't one of my big God days."

Think typical daily grind. That's what Chauncey was experiencing.

"And when I walked into that emergency room, to tell you the truth, I didn't want to stay and pray because I was so much in a rush with my work. But I prayed. And I didn't have a lot of faith backing that prayer up that day, but the Lord asked me to do it so I honored the Lord and prayed."

The rest of the story is: Dr. Chauncey Crandall asked the indulgence of one of the attending doctors to shock Jeff Markin one more time. Remember, he had been dead for 43 minutes. His time of death had been called. He was what Miracle Max would call "all dead" not "mostly dead."

Yet he came back to life, anyway.

Jeff came back from a place he described as completely dark. Isolated. And hopeless. A place he knew would be his to live, for all eternity, alone.

What's amazing to me is that, in that moment, Jeff Markin needed an Abraham. Or an Elijah. A Moses. Or a Paul, first name Apostle. He needed men who had big God days everyday.

Instead he got a Chauncey on an off day. And God still raised him from the dead.

I'm not sure what that says about your day. Or your tomorrow. I'm not even sure how to completely equate that to the grind of clocking in every day, not to a job, but to a life that, before we even live it, we've diagnosed as ripe with little God days.

Maybe, like me, most of your days feel like little God days. These are the days that hold no overpowering zeal, no walk-on-water actions, no surprises, not of the good variety anyway. Outside of traffic flow and slight temperature adjustments, these days are so much alike you need a calendar and a muscular alarm to differentiate the passing of one and the beginning of another.

God never shows up on these kinds of days. We know this because we've lived thousands before today and we'll live thousands after. Maybe. And what we discover is that everyday, except for brief stints of vacation periods and times of extreme trauma, are little God days.

Or so we think. 

Here's the problem with little God days: it takes a little god to live inside them. And God, last time I looked at a sunrise, a mountain, or the complexity of my fingernail, is what you would call the antonym of "little." 

So here's my challenge. For you and for me.

I want to wake up tomorrow and have a BIG God day. I want to look for Him. Even more than that, I want to expect Him. I want to stumble out of bed, stub my toe, drop the shampoo bottle at least three times in the shower, have my hairdryer short circuit, melt my XCVI pants with a too hot iron, break the yoke on my morning eggs, run my car until it sputters out of gas, have my first appointment of the day waiting impatiently for me when I get to work, and still have a big God Day.

Or, if I could skip the part about ruining my XCVI pants, that'd be okay, too.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Happy Anniversary Jon and Kristin!

Late but oh so sincere, Happy 1st Anniversary Jon and Kristin! My friends; my family. May you enjoy 75 more. Or, heck, go for 80. Much love to you both! In honor, I present my maid of honor speech from that infamous weekend.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Wednesday Everything Changed. Even You.

Photo Courtesy of National Park Service
I'm going to tell you a story, one you'll recognize. Because you were there.

You'll know it without my prompting. You'll feel it like a second skin. You'll recognize its sharpness like you recognize Wasabi when you get a mouthful of it.

That's the power of this story. Because it's your story, too.

Here goes.

The day was a Wednesday. The heat was high; the humidity bulbous. Sweat was your faithful companion, whether you wanted loyal sweat or not. Everyone on the surface of the sun was nearing their boiling point. Give them two more minutes and you could add pasta.

On this Wednesday, nothing was more celebrated than cups of ice covered in flavored sugar of various rainbow shades and even the air-conditioning units drooped under the burden of the temperature war.

It was hot. You get it. 

This Wednesday was in August. August 1, 2012, in fact, and today I'm one year old.

This Wednesday was nothing like any other Wednesday. It was the last Wednesday of the last week before my best friend's last moments of singleness. She was getting married on Saturday. It was arriving posthaste. The wedding was a train, time the engine, and us the rails. So we did what everyone does pre-wedding, we pulled out all our nerves and frayed them.

Wednesday was the last day to finish errands. The next day was the bachelorette party, the day after the rehearsal dinner, and the day after that the wedding. 

Our dance card was full. So life struck up another band and opened a second dance floor.

After nearly six months of fighting a pain in my left hip and leg that would not relent, I had self-medicated with a continuous mixture of chiropractic appointments, massages, and using a friend's private pool for my personal therapy.

I have great friends. Some have beautiful pools.

Wednesday would be my last hour to myself for days, my last chance for a solitary swim and a little therapy - physically and mentally - before my best friend moved out of the house we had shared for five years and into the home of her husband. By Monday, she'd be a Mrs. and I'd be heading to my first day on a new job in a new city.

Yes, I was moving, too.

Change, it seems, likes to happen in clumps, just like gum likes to happen in your hair. Sometimes you can salvage the surroundings. Sometimes you get a new 'do.

So I went for my morning swim. And that was the last moments of my last life.

When I arrived, I gathered my towel, stepped out of my vehicle, and felt a pain shoot up my left leg into my hip or down my left leg into my hip, it didn't really matter the direction to me. The point here is: I felt pain.

Initially, I thought it was a charlie horse. The mother of all charlie horses. A charlie horse that had invited all his other charlie horse friends over for a hoedown on my sciatic. 

Baffled, confused, I'll admit slightly panicked, I stood in my friend's front yard and said some of the most enlightened words of my existence, "Oh no. Oh, God, no. Please, no." I may have repeated that, in a different order, a few times over the last year.

I tried to walk it off, but I couldn't really walk. I tried to swim it out and nearly drown. I tried to stretch it out and, instead, started losing consciousness. No matter what I tried, nothing could reverse what had happened. Nothing could back this event up.

X marked the spot.

I'll spare you the details of the days after. Truthfully, it's a long story and unless I can add voices, a few accents, and a joke I've used often about my butt, it just comes out sounding whiny. So, sorry. I don't do podcasts.

Here's the shorter version, minus the butt joke.

After weeks without sleep, and days of fun tasks like an emergency room visit, doctors appointments, pain management specialists, acupuncture, more massages, an MRI, and pain medication that did absolutely nothing but lower my IQ, I would be diagnosed with a herniated disk, one my neurosurgeon would call "severe" and then ask me if I was one of those weird people with such high pain tolerances they can hold their hand over an open flame and not flinch.

I assured him I definitely was not that person. Thankfully, he didn't flick a bic and ask for proof. He just asked lots of questions, shook his head a lot, and stared at me in a manner I imagine Bearded Ladies have experienced staring.

Instead of surgery, I went to physical therapy. And the hope I didn't even hope for slowly came back. Those stories I'll save for another day. Or a podcast because that butt joke is really pretty funny. 

What I learned on that Wednesday wasn't much. Wednesdays aren't the days for spiritual growth. These are the moments you simply survive. You struggle. You fight. You bounce around from confusion to sadness, from defeat to faith. You trudge along until you're exhausted, spent, wrung out, beaten down, thinned out to the very fiber of who you are and who you are not, and then built back brick by brick.

Maybe you remember that day now because you've had one of your own. As I retold my story, you didn't have to ask yourself whether you could relate, did you? You knew the answer automatically. You arrived back at your day instantly. Transported. Dematerialized and rematerialized back into that moment in time, as if Scotty himself were at the controls.

Survivors of Wednesdays never forget. 

When your day came, you didn't think you'd survive. But you did. You didn't think life would ever be the same. And it wasn't. You couldn't imagine God could ever redeem the pain. But, and here is the question I ask daily, hasn't He?

God carried me. And continues a year later to bear the load.

When it happened, for months after I honestly thought He didn't care that much for me. Not really. He loved my soul. Sure. I could believe that. But as for my life? Nah. Expendable. A throw away. You can't love a child and allow that kind of anguish. Right?

I find I'm wrong a lot about God.

None of this has been easy. I would never trivialize my day, or yours, with a "God has a plan" pat answer. He does, of course, but there are moments in our lives, days like Wednesdays, when that answer just won't cut it. We need more. And, sometimes, we won't get it. We just won't. Not instantly. Maybe not ever.

I asked myself a lot this year what I believed. Who do I believe God is? No, really. Down deep in the gut. Deeper still. Who?

Once, years ago, I was on a flight to Boston and fighting against a fear of flying with everything I had. Right then, louder than the rush of blood in my ears, God told me to make a decision. "Tara Lynn, I'm either with you or I'm not. I'm either good or I'm not."

He asked me that question a lot over this last year because he needed my answer. I needed my answer, too.

My Wednesday lasted forever. Since the effects of the last year will never go away, I can honestly say that Wednesday will never end, but not in the way you might imagine. I'm no longer haunted by it. I'm enriched. I'm spurred on. I'm anxious and hyper and excited to take that Wednesday with me into the future, whatever that is, because that day is now part of my landscape.

Because of Wednesday, I'm stronger now. Terribly so. I punch myself in the stomach a lot because my physical therapist is a little crazy and encourages self-flagellation. Also, it engages your core muscles, which are keeping the pain at bay and my sanity at present.

Mostly, however, I'm just a girl. Who broke. That God put back together again.

And His strength is the only strength I know. Mine, whatever I had of it, left on a Wednesday and I haven't seen hide nor hair of it since. 

As for your Wednesday, first off, let me say I'm sorry. I cannot imagine. I cannot relate. Your pain is yours, not mine. It is/was a place only you and God know. But I'm in hope with you. I'm praying with you. I'm excited for the end result with you. I'm punching my stomach with you. (Feel free to not participate in that last one.)

These Wednesdays are the great chasms we have in life. They give us a beauty that is quite severe, frighteningly stark, but beautiful nonetheless. Why? Because that's what chasms do. They divide. They separate. They split. They dissect one thing into two, like your past from your future, your fear from your courage, your puny strength from God's magnificent brawn.

They are our Grand Canyon and, even at a glance, the beauty of the Grand Canyon will take your breath away.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Itching Should Irritate & other lessons of a relevant life

Years ago, sitting in the back of a darkly lit church, one of those services that you rock out in the beginning and file out in the end, I heard a pastor talk about irritations. He said if something irritates you, then you are the person who needs to do something about it.

That idea irritated me.

He called it my "burden" and this thought has successfully burdened me ever since.

It isn't easy to narrow down that one or one thousand irritations that are yours to address. But in your life, as well as your business, this is one of those small, unassuming, yet distinctive road signs God places at the corner of Do You and Don't You Avenue.

If you want to know what you were created to uniquely do, make a list of your irritations.

If it ends up being nothing but a list of your family's names, try a second sheet of paper.

In Rework, a brilliant book of heretical business advice, authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson advise you to "scratch your own itch." Whatever you need, whether it's better accounting software, softer couch cushions, heartier chicken soup, a lipstick that doesn't taste like petroleum jelly, whatever need you have, fill it, whatever burden you carry, fix it.

Scratch your own itch.

I'm working on my list of irritations. Currently, I'm stuck on trying to understand the phenomenon behind uncomfortable shoes for women. Why do we strap pieces of cardboard with cheap rhinestones on our feet? It's painful to walk on so what sense does that make?

This I'm tabling for another day, but at least it's a start.

I've got a few other items, things like:
- government regulation
- the loss of individuality
- broken business models
- the stifling of creative problem-solving
- unqualified people in power
- skinny jeans
- insincere social interaction
- artificiality in any form
- the phrase "you can't do that"
- egos over prudence
- eggs with busted yokes

Outside of a lot of talk and far too many omelets, I've done little about any of it. But I can't forget it. I can't wiggle out from under this "burden" that I'm irritated for a reason. And I really do believe that one day I'm going to walk through a shoe store and become so disgusted with the comfort level available in women's footwear that I'll walk out the door and do something about it.

At least I hope that one day something irritates me that much.

On a side note, any thoughts on pillow-top sandals with cheap rhinestones?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hidden in Visible Sight

Books are my friends, except those written by H.G. Wells. The Shape of Things to Come and I have parted ways. Otherwise, when asked to catalog my valuables, I usually start with my hair, end with my life, and throw in a personally autographed copy of By The Light of the Moon by Dean Koontz somewhere in the middle.

This is why, when I'm at a particular loss of direction from God, I go to the bookstore. Books talk to me. They amuse me. They reach me. They are also aerodynamic enough to be flung at walls when I don't like what they say.

People are much harder to fling.

This is how I found myself at Mardel's last week. When I'm simply floundering with confusion and even scriptures aren't permeating my thick skull, I'll throw myself on the mercy of the bargain bins and beg God to send me some direction for under $7. What I'm seeking is scripture with commentary. I need someone not completely loony to share their interpretation or inspiration on scripture, since I no longer trust my own. Then I can either read it or fling it at will.

That's where I discovered The God Who Sees You by Tammy Maltby.

The title is what got me. Over the last few years, and increasingly more this year, I've wondered if God has a cataract right where I'm standing. I thought about writing a book about being The Unseen, but T.L. Hines already did. And I don't like the word "inconspicuous" enough to write a book about it.

In the first chapter, this section caught my attention enough that, first, I caught my breath. Then I grabbed my iPhone to snap a picture of it because it's a new phone and I'm currently obsessed with the camera function. Whatever position you find yourself in today, either too much in the spotlight or fighting out of the shadows, I hope this reaches you right where you are:

That's the message I want to pass along to you from the start - my personal witness as someone who at times has felt forgotten, uncared for, unloved, invisible. I truly believe I have a word from God for those lonely, aching times in your life. 
The message is this: Regardless of how you may feel, God does see you.
He knows your name, and He loves you - passionately and tenderly. 
He sees your needs, and He yearns to fill them. 
At any given moment, even when you feel most alone, He is working out a plan for your future. 
All you have to do is turn around. Trust him. Wait for Him. Keep your eyes open. 
One way or another, one day soon, you will realize that you, too, have encountered El Roi. 
And you, too, will be able to say, thankfully, "I have seen the God who sees me."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

When you're in the desert, don't drink the Kool-Aid.

The 4:55 pm flight to Anchorage didn't have me on it. And I wanted on it.

I wanted an aisle or window or middle seat. I wanted to be cramped and stuck sitting between two severely big-boned women. Or men. I wanted a little turbulence, a harrowing trip to the bathroom, a magazine selling gadgets to flip through, a child crying somewhere in the vicinity, a stewardess who smiled despite her furrowed brow, and a tiny plastic cup with exactly two ice cubes and slightly chilled water to keep me pacified for six to eight hours.

Around 10 am that morning, I had made the decision. Forget this life. Let's try another. So I checked that day's available flights, did a mental inventory of clean clothes, and started making plans. 

By sundown - Alaska. There, I'd start fresh with several hundred dollars less than when I woke up.

Freedom! Spontaneity! I'd chuck this writing gig and learn deep-sea fishing. Or pipelining. Or shopkeeping. Or lounge singing. Or selling souvenirs to people in the Lower 48 who came to God's country seeking an escape.

Stupid tourists.

I wanted on that flight. I wanted that life. I was even willing to pay a ridiculous price tag if it meant leaving before sunset. But, obviously, I didn't go. A friend talked me off the tarmac with a blunt observation, "You're in the desert," he said. "And, yes, it's hard."

Heck yeah it is. There's nothing in the desert but dried dirt. And a few cacti. Maybe a snake.

It's the place of lowlands and low expectations, when trials stop having an end and take up permanent residence. It's where you give up anything will ever change. You accept that life is simply a disappointment. This is how it turned out and there's nothing to be done about it.

A few days earlier, a friend and I had been talking about my circumstances, all of which I'll spare you. After a discussion on fried apples and leadership principles, the two have connections you know not of, he said something that must be truth because it resonated with me as if my mind had been replaced with a tuning fork and struck against a wall:

Your family, your friends, me...we all wish we could short-circuit this in some way.  To rescue you and to hand you a satchel with all of the answers.  But then, you would not become the person you are supposed to be, the writer who moves multitudes, a woman of destiny.

You mean, all of this pain has a purpose? You sure? I just thought everything kind of sucked right now and that's just life. I figured my path had simply bottomed out in some kind of sinkhole. I'd made a mistake somewhere, chose the wrong toothpaste brand, veered left when I should have pivoted right, signed a two-year contract with Sprint when I should have gone with prepaid Boost.

Whatever I'd done, it was irreversible.

And I bought it. The desert's whole elevator pitch. God, for whatever reason, had chosen to blot me out like a drop of water on Teflon-treated pants. And I don't even own a pair of Teflon-treated pants. Mostly, those are for men.

But God, as God so often does, told me to snap out of it. Lovingly. It went something like, "I'm lovingly telling you to snap out of it."

A few days later, while thinking about how much sun destiny requires, my friend threw the "desert" idea at me. Then he hammered it home. "When God uses someone for His purpose, He'll often take them to the desert first." Like Jesus. Or Moses. John got to know the nightlife on the Island of Patmos pretty well. Abraham became a card-carrying member of the God Relocation Program, too.

Being in a place of life, or even a physical place, where you are completely out of your element, isolated and overwhelmed, over your head and under pressure, is how God gets our attention. Here is where we hear Him best, even when we can’t hear Him at all. This is the moment we trust, when all around us is blistering sand. Now is when we stand still and believe, the most demanding physical strain we may ever endure.

I don’t have this desert living figured out. That Alaska idea was only a week ago. The fact I’ve made it nearly a full seven days without running for the border is progress. Tomorrow I may gaze into the north and sway in that direction. But, for now, today, I’m taking it one moment first. Then another after that. I’m ignoring the hopelessness shimmering on the horizon because hopelessness is a mirage. I’m waiting and trusting and hoping and taking lots of deep breaths.

If you’re there, wondering around the desert, too, let’s meet up when we get out of this place because we will get out. We’ll have a couple of those frozen fruity drinks with umbrellas and compare tan lines.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Oh, Marco, you tall drink of authentic water you

He's real. That's why this only made me like him more. And, considering the hype and chatter this has caused by headlining nationally, talking socially, and trending Twitterally to overshadow Obama's SOTU speech, I think providence must like a thirsty boy.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lock your keys in your car. Call a Navy Seal.

James broke into my vehicle in under ten minutes. In a pinch, I firmly believe he could do it in two.

He showed up in my final desperate moment. That's when you've tried every mental trick you own to tell yourself that you're not stuck in a parking lot for the night in an unfamiliar city with your cell phone battery nearly dead and your closest emergency contact two hours away.

Then. Right then. That's when James appeared.

He pulled in with his wife riding shotgun and climbed out to address me as if he dealt with women on the brink everyday. As a locksmith, he probably does.

Right from the get go, he launched into a story about how he had locked his keys in his vehicle before, too. And all his locksmith tools had also been locked inside.

It's stories like these that take the sting out of your own stupidity...for about a minute.

"Did you call a coworker?" I asked. He answered with an emphatic 'no'. Call for help? Au contraire. He simply took wire from his barbed wire fence and did the job himself.

"Improvise, adapt, and overcome any obstacle. That's what the Seals taught me,"  he said.

Seals as in Navy. He served for 23 years, a fact that had to be connected to the gold metal loop in his left ear. You don't see gold loop earrings on a white-haired man often, especially not one with an immaculate beard no thinner than a line of ants marching emphatically along his jawline. A man with the precision to keep that trimmed every morning would have no trouble breaking into my vehicle.

And he didn't.

Before he had arrived, I'd stood in the cold for nearly two hours, stopping my periodic pacing to try each door handle on the off chance my vehicle would graciously decide to let me in. But it was Monday. Magic doesn't happen on Mondays. If you're into fairy tales, try Thursday.

James' advice hit me hard...for whatever reason. Maybe because I was freezing and hungry and hurting and had already gone through all five stages of stupidity grieving - denial, anger, sadness, acceptance, defeat.

"Improvise, adapt, overcome." Being a Seal sounded like a lot of work. Also, just like baseball, I knew there was no crying in the Navy. So I was out.

While I had been waiting for James, I'd taken myself for a little walk. Heck, why not. A girl can only stare through her car window at her purse sitting inside for so long before insanity sinks in. Besides, walking gave me an action.

I needed an action.

Instead, I found myself hanging out in front of a closed art gallery because the alcove blocked the wind. Also, there was a buffalo painting there I didn't like at all, but I kept staring at it nonetheless.

Mostly, though, I was just too tired to go any further, too world weary, if you get my meaning. There are days the weight of life settles down heavier than in others. It sags on you, pushes from some unseen force, and permeates the air until even walking is no longer a glide but a boxy, stomping trudge.

Everyone has these days. Everyone. Even James, he assured me. Then he gave me his business card because, hey, I'm not above doing this again, and pointed to the quote printed under his name, "The only easy day was Yesterday." Another military quote, he informed me, and one that he assured me will always be true.

Life has obstacles. Why I'm always surprised by them, I'll never know. When they come, whether the brief ones, like locking yourself out of your transportation, or the interminable ones, like being locked in a life that rarely makes sense, I still find myself taking a moment to ask God, "Really? This?", as if I'm completely surprised life could ever be unfair or hard. And yet it's a truth Jesus made sure we knew from the get go.

"In this world you will have trouble."

Don't doubt, he was saying. Expect it. It's coming. But then He gave us hope.

"But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Don't doubt, he was saying. Expect it. I'm here.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thanks B.J. for Introducing Me to Cary

Happy 25th OETA Movie Club

It's possible Cary Grant is the love of my life. He died when I was nine, but I don't think death should have any bearing on true love.

 Cary and I met when I was a teenager. It was a Saturday night. I was home; he walked in. After a few moments with his flirtatious dimples and sarcastic mumblings, I was smitten. And he didn't even buy me dinner.

That's how all great love affairs begin, with a lonely girl, a bag of popcorn, and a classic. Or at least in my world they do.

B.J. Wexler did that for me. He introduced me to Cary and Jimmy, William and John. Saturday nights were OETA Move Club night. This was in the age of VCRs and that crumpled, creased, crazed ribbon era of the VHS tape. It was simply too risky to set the VCR and go out. So, unless a boy could entertain me with something more witty than fart jokes, I spent my Saturday nights laying on my parent's living room floor, chin in hand, popcorn reachable, Cary for company.

It couldn't have been easy to bring the classics to public television. At least not in that age. It was 1988 when the OETA Movie Club premiered, a time when men teased their hair more than women. Then the 90s hit and the highest mark a woman could get was that she was "tough" and could act like a man.

We've been confused ever since.

What the classics taught me was the delicacy between the sexes. The charm of a feminine female. The attraction of a strong male lead. Men like Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart weren't the clueless male characters of today. You would never have caught William Powell in a role where he was the punch line.

Instead, they were like gales of strength, overcoming obstacles with boldness, tenacity, bravery, and, yes, a healthy dose of sexy confidence. When they failed, they apologized. Then they went back to work and got it right in the end.

Recently, I was talking to a young girl in her early 20s about movies. She mentioned to me how black and white movies seem boring. I think I died a little inside.

"Have you ever seen a movie with Cary Grant?"
She shook her head no.
"I would recommend it," I told her. "You need to watch a classic so you know what the word 'entertainer' really means."

Sadly, she probably thinks George Clooney is debonair and Matt Damon is manly. I'd cross myself right now if I was Catholic.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

7 things you should NOT do after being a jerk to God

1. Hide in a closet.
 If all it takes for a 2 x 4 to barge into your hidey-hole is a wind speed of 200 mph or less, then God isn't going to have any problems finding you in there. Try the basement. Good luck.

2. Challenge Him to smite you.
He hasn't done much spontaneous smiting in the last few thousand years, but do you really want to play the law of averages?

3. List all the ways you are right.
Arguing with a well-versed and practiced attorney is tough. Take that and times it by...oh...gazillion.  

Now, the intermission.

I jumped right into my list because, let's be honest, who wants to read about how we're all jerks at times, especially to God, and we should quit. I don't want to read that. Heck, I don't want to write that. But it probably should be said, so...we're all jerks at times, especially to God, and we should quit.

Recently, while talking to a fellow writer, I met my jerkiness head on. We were talking about recent transitions in life and I mentioned mine, i.e. moving away from everyone I know, living in an unfamiliar city, taking an unfamiliar job, not being able to touch my familiar toes. And that's only for starters. In the middle of my long laundry list, he says, "I bet you keep looking around at your life and asking God, 'Why am I here? Why are you doing this?'"

Umm......yeah. A few times a day. Last hour, in fact. Okay, right now, actually.

No answers come, of course. It's not as if God is feeling a great amount of pressure to hop right to it and clear the air. He's God. He can do what He wants and He's justified in doing it. Because, ahem, He's God. 

What it reminded me of was Job, a truly God-fearing man who had a few bones to pick with God. And so, after much suffering, he picked. So God answered. And, ps, woe to those, okay me, who stomp our foot and demand God speak. Grab a tree root and hold on.

38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans
    with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?"

And...back to the list.

4. Go on the offense.
Just no. What can I say? Never a good idea to go up against your Creator. Although it might give Him a good laugh or you a head of white hair. Talk to Moses about that.

5. Give the silent treatment.
Since God listens to the heart, not the mind or mouth, deciding you don't want to converse with Him anymore is like wishing your heart to stop beating. Don't wish your heart to stop beating.

6. Punishing Him by punishing yourself.
This can be done with food, liquids, synthetics, behavior, or layers and layers of knitted guilt. Nice and heavy. Twisted and knotted. Lasts forever. That kind of guilt. You aren't perfect and God knew that before you did.

Coffee Break.

When my prayers go unanswered, when trials go on without end, when I feel as if God has forgotten me or I'm just not important enough to Him to get any attention, then I lash out like a spoiled child. What I really want to do is treat Him like a jerk because it feels as if He's treated me that way.
I'm wrong, of course. But stop a spoiled child in the middle of a tantrum and tell them they're wrong. Works every time, right?

Instead, God lets me wrestle it out. To rant until I'm hoarse. To scream until I'm spent. To cry until I'm exhausted. And He waits for the moment when I'm finally ready to listen. But then I'm usually too ashamed to want to hear it.

Hello face. I shall cut off my nose to spite you.

Once, many years ago, a minister friend of mine called me at work just to check in. He asked me how I was doing and, since he's a minister, I gave him brutal honesty.

"Well, I yelled at God last night and I don't know how to feel about that." He gave me a great piece of advice, "Go ahead. Give it to Him. He can take it. David did. An angry prayer is still a prayer."

So if you are experiencing this, or ever have, or ever will again, I hope you take this last "not" tip to heart.

7. Go it alone.
You don't have to, though many of us think we do. God never leaves us, even when we think He should. It's just not in His nature. He stays. He sticks. He gives us the freedom to act like a jerk and the forgiveness to do better next time. And then He walks us through the silence until understanding comes, no matter how long that takes.
Maybe, after all my questions, that's the answer He's been giving me all along.

The Super Bowl Commercial zone

You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of commercial imagination. You are about to enter...the Super Bowl Commercial zone.

It's a world where creativity is currency, imagination is the obnoxious federal government, brands are celebrities, and commercials entertain more than the fourth-quarter of the actual game. Or, they completely bomb. The description of this commercial (which will not be revealed until game day, of course) struck me as particularly entertaining.

It's Wheat Thins. And you'll fight off Himalayan Yeti's to protect them.

It is nighttime, and as (a man) puts a contraption on his head, his wife, also in pajamas, enters the kitchen and asks what he is doing.
“Using night-vision goggles to keep an eye on my Spicy Buffalo Wheat Thins and make sure nobody touches them,” he says.
“Who’s going to take your Wheat Thins?” she says.
“Um, I don’t know,” he says, “an intruder, the dog, Bigfoot, Ted from next door.”
She turns off the light and the screen goes dark. There is the sound of a struggle in the kitchen and she turns on the light to reveal her husband clinging to the shoulders of an abominable snowman.
“Honey, I was close, it’s a yeti!” he shouts, as their neighbor runs into the kitchen and steals the Wheat Thins.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A real life, surefire, all gussied up speaker's bio

Last night, I asked for a clean font. This morning, my designer extraordinaire Kortney Korthanke of Kortney K Design sent me this. It was everything I never knew I always wanted in a bio. She even hunted down, killed and skinned a photo in the forests of Facebook, since I didn't provide one. This is what I shall now refer to as my heavenly body bio, the bio I'll be reunited with after the resurrection.

Kortney K, you put the "K" in "Kool" and there's not even a "K" in there.