Monday, July 25, 2011

Comedy is the Best Revenge

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.--Rom. 12:19

In our little town, which is on the cusp of suburbia and farmland, there is an annual event. For anonymity's sake I'll call it the "Hayseed Gala." It is three days long, usually late in July, consists of carnival rides, food vendors, craft sales, and two nights of really loud cover or tribute bands. Oh yeah, and a beer tent, quite necessary in provoking enthusiasm for said entertainment.

While I many times question why more culturally relevant themes are not explored at the "Hayseed Gala," say, square-dancing, or some local bluegrass... Nope. Just 70's bands. Ugh. I once tried to get a fine art show started, but sadly, after sitting in one of those planning committee meetings, I don't think I could ever do it again. So, it is what it is. Interestingly, this whole thing is set up right in the middle of a neighborhood. There is a field, which many houses (including mine) back up to, and this is the venue for the annual "Hayseed Gala."

I really didn't have a problem with it, until one morning two summers ago, I walked out my back door to find the back of the stage set up not 50 feet from my house!!! This was not the normal positioning of the stage, which had always been in the middle of the field, AWAY from peoples' homes, as one would only find reasonable. I went, um, kind of ballistic. In fact the "Hayseed Gala" committee happened to be out there at that moment and I guess I kind of let 'em have it. Big mistake. I learned that you don't mess with the "Hayseed Gala" planning committee.

The show went on, and trust me, it was louder and more horrible than anyone can explain. I was infuriated, as a tax-paying citizen, that I would be imposed upon in such a ridiculous manner--especially because the stage DID NOT HAVE TO BE THERE. I purposed not to let that ever happen again. Indeed I was told that it would not.

May I just say that with the ensuing events of the next year, complaining and pleading and letter-writing and phone-calling and even *grimace* "Hayseed Gala" planning committee meeting attending (my husband went) we got nowhere. They plunked that stage down right in my back yard again last year. Even though it could have been moved back to its original spot. They gave me some lame story about fire lanes, but they just put something else right where the stage used to be. It was not an issue of safety. It was an issue of small town politics.

Ironically, last year they had this whole big thing about how they wanted to honor military personnel, and my son was coming home for a family reunion after serving for a year in Afghanistan. The only time we could schedule this reunion was during the "Hayseed Gala." It would have been okay to do it then, except for the unbearable noise level caused by the stage being within spitting distance of my deck. You can close your windows, turn on your A/C, cover your ears with pillows, but you still will not even be able to hear your own thoughts in this house once the bands start up.

I appealed to the committee's "patriotism," asking them to please move the stage (back to where it belonged) so we could have a welcome-home party for my son in our home. They would not. So we had to actually have his reunion at my parents' home. Again, I say, all of this could have been avoided because the stage does not have to be in my backyard!!! It never was before. So you can see how angry this has made me. It is a frustration I feel not just for the 3 days, annually, of the "Hayseed Gala" but pretty much every day. That's stupid, I know. Trust me, I have tried to "turn this over" like a million times. I don't like kind of hating this town.

So, I don't have a hilarious wrap-up for this post. There is no comedic solution, really. I just liked calling it the "Hayseed Gala." The real truth is that I have prayed about this a lot. I have had many ideas about what I can learn from this whole ordeal. It is getting kind of scary having government not really care about its law-abiding citizens as individuals, small-scale and large. But we are guaranteed problems in this life. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble...”--John 16:33b. But He was telling this to His disciples who were about to face severe persecution.

And there are other kinds of troubles: sickness, violence, death, destruction. These things make my "Hayseed Gala" dilemma seem awfully insignificant. Today as I mulled this over, I was very thankful to God that He lets me have this problem instead of a sick child, or something really devastating like that. And here is the second part of what Jesus said, "...But take heart! I have overcome the world."--John 16:33b

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Computation Equation

Not terribly long ago my husband and I got into a fight. Not a fistfight, a marital spat. I knew we had come to a new place in our relationship when, as we were too angry to speak to each other and went our separate ways for a time, (and we didn't know what each other was doing) he chose to go outside and sharpen my lawn mower blades for me. I chose, in his absence, to practice a song on piano I was learning to surprise him with on Father's Day. I know, kind of like "Gift of the Magi"--somewhat.

I remember back in the day we had made a meager attempt at marriage counseling. We were taught about "fighting fair" and not to use "always and never" statements. I am not a fair fighter. I have a lethal tongue. That is to my shame. It is only the Lord Jesus who could have arranged the circumstances to bring blossoming goodness where there used to be such venomous spite.

Back in the marriage counseling period I was in therapy myself. I did get one really good insight in that psychologist's office. I don't think I even told her about it. It was a mental image I had of what the problem really was. The vision was a vast darkness with unending spiraling tunnels of black and grey. The tunnels, I knew, were what was wrong with me. There was no end to it.

At the time it was kind of a freak out but also in a way depressing. There was no amount of counseling that could get to the root of my brokenness. I didn't know at the time that God was giving me a picture of my sin.

A couple days ago I punched a link in a junk email I knew I shouldn't have. I do not know why I did this. Temporary utter stupidity. Anyway, I immediately ran a scan on my computer and then my computer just shut itself down. Oh no. After all these years of being so careful, I had finally done it. I turned it back on and tried to run the scan again, and it shut down. Argh. This was only 10 in the morning and I knew I would have to wait until my husband got home to deal with it, leaving me in a heightened state of anxiety for several hours.

During this interval I had some time to think. I have recently been lamenting to my friends the fact that I am on the internet far too much. In truth, it has become a sinful habit. Not that I'm doing anything inappropriate--if you don't consider ignoring your kids, your work, your marriage, your relationship with God inappropriate. I had prayed about it several times. I had tried to devise time limits for myself, but that never worked. It was just like a diet. But now, here this thing had happened--I had contracted a computer virus, and I figured that perhaps it was something God had allowed to happen for my good.

I don't like to make huge mistakes without learning something from them. I thought, I prayed, "Okay, what can I take from this? LORD, Please help me because I don't want to make some lame promise like, 'If my computer doesn't actually have a virus I'll only use it for 20 minutes a day,' which is not actually addressing the issue." That morning I knew I should have been spending time with God first, but I was farting around on the internet, with my Bible pushed aside. Now hear this: I was not viewing the situation as God folding His arms looking down at me with disdain. I was rather seeing it as an opportunity He was giving me to flee from the self-created prison of addiction to going online.

And here is the original thought that came to me, I'm pretty sure, not from myself: What if I only used the computer in a manner consistent with honoring and glorifying God? That was it! Perfect! That made it all so very clear. It's okay to shop, but to a proper point. It's okay to email, or even facebook, to some extent. The line does not seem hard to see. I know when I'm wasting time, or money, or my brain. I know when I'm not tending to who or what I should be. THANKS LORD!!!!

So, it turns out I did not have a virus after all. I had just switched tablecloths and I think the laptop was sucking this one up causing it to overheat--that is my theory. But I am absolutely convinced that it was all happening in God's providence. Here's the proof: Last night, after all this, a friend told me my son had something hilarious posted on his wall. So I checked it out. He had not written anything wrong, but his several friends' comments took it to a place that was, let's just say, not really honoring and glorifying God. As I found myself beginning to snicker, I showed it to my husband, who was like, "gross." Then suddenly, I got this bizarre black error message screen I had never seen before...and I realized that God was helping me again.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Cake and Your Cake Too

Yesterday I made my kids a batch of homemade chocolate pudding. Today it is gone, and my four-year-old asked me if I could make some more. No sooner had I said yes and he was waving me away telling me to "get to it." (He is so soft and cute that he gets away with this--sometimes, temporarily.) I tried to linger with him on the couch a bit longer (he was watching old-timey cartoons) when he said, giving me a push, "I don't want you."

As I headed toward the kitchen, to get some tea--not to make his pudding, I thought about God, and how I sometimes act the same way toward Him. I want the material comforts to keep on coming, while I put my relationship with Him on hold--as if I were some little despot calling the shots.

I don't know why the Supreme Ruler of the Universe gives me good gifts, why we have flowers and birds and music and good things to eat and health and friendship and love. Beyond this is so much more...but it is all from the Creator's hand. It makes no sense to think things are accidentally wonderful. It takes a lot of work just to get a batch of chocolate pudding right. Really think about that.

The most beautiful story in the whole world is the one of God's redemption for us through Jesus Christ. We want a hero who loves us that much, with a perfect, undying devotion up to--and beyond the point of death; and we have that. You can live a really great life--I do, overflowing with blessings and beauty and love; and it doesn't mean a thing without Christ.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sewwww Long...Part 2

Well, I finally decided that I really did need a sewing machine, and decided to buy another one. I didn't want to spend a lot, but did want something that would work for my basic needs. So I researched, found one that rated pretty well, and bought it. Even paid up for a case, so the foot pedal wouldn't be flopping around this time.

Do you ever wonder who these people are that rate things inaccurately? And why? I have just about had it with Consumer Reports--they have steered me wrong several times now. As you can guess, my shiny new sewing machine was a piece of junk. I had nothing but trouble with it. Of course I didn't discover this right away, as I often take long hiatuses from sewing. The problems did not become obvious until it was way too late to return the thing to the store.

Aggravation. As if sewing, in itself, was not frustrating enough for me. I began to get angry again. And I got upset with my dad. I love my dad a ton, and it was gnawing away somewhere inside me, to the degree that I really had to take it to God several times. I knew it was dumb; that my problems are so minuscule in the grand scheme of things. I also knew that it was really wrong of me to be mad at my dad, because he is so much more important than a $100 sewing machine--or even two. And it really wasn't all his fault. I did pray.

Anyway, time went by and I began to accept my lot in life as a non-sewer. One would think this should not be difficult as I have already explained my retardedness at the whole sewing thing. But--I love fabrics. I can hardly pass up digging for treasure through those marked-down-to-$2-to$3/yard bolts. And I had actually found something I could do with all these wonderful colorful patterns...make baby blankies. I can't really call them quilts, because they're not, exactly. They are more primitive than that, or at least more incorrectly done. Nevertheless, they are sewn from many different beautiful materials and I had a really great time making them, a couple of times. Before the sewing machine fiasco.

So my piles of lovely pinks and blues, florals and calicos sat and sat. I finally gave away most of them to a friend who actually has a working machine. So I had pretty much thrown in the towel...and then....out of the blue, my cousin Wendy emailed me. She said she had heard that I could use a sewing machine and that she had an old one of her mom's in her garage if I wanted it!! Now, I must clarify here. My cousin Wendy is a sewer, furthermore she is the daughter of Serious Sewer Aunt Sue, who can sew anything from a (real) teddy bear to a tailored suit!! Any old machine of Sue's was NOT going to be a $100 heap of barely functional plastic parts from Target! I trembled with joy. And then I wrote Wendy back....Stay tuned for part three of this cliffhanger.