Friday, February 22, 2008

Unveiling My Inner Scarlett

Scarlett O'Hara once said, “ I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.”
Our pastor was doing a series of sermons on one single passage. I call it “The Anxiety Passage", Matthew 6:25-34. When I first became a Christian, this passage spoke to me loud and clear. I am a first child. I am a worry wart. I like carefully laid out plans. I have control issues. Don’t know about control issues? Lucky you.

Anyway, have you watched Gone With the Wind lately? I love classic literature, but I’ll be honest, I’ve never read the book. I love the movie, but not for the reasons you may think. I love, love, love those costumes. I can spend hours watching beautiful ladies float by in beautiful gowns in beautiful sets around beautiful props and beautiful scenery. Ashley Wilkes looks like a leprechaun (no offense to my Irish friends). Mustaches bug me so ogling over Clark Gable isn’t an option. Nope. It’s those amazing dresses and let’s face it, do you ever get tired of looking at Vivien Leigh as Scarlett? I don’t. She’s beautiful. I’d love to grow up and look like her, a young Liz Taylor or most recently, Catherine Zeta Jones... but I digress.

Scarlett is perhaps one of the most narcissistic of characters in all of movies and what’s interesting is that as villainous as she is, she is also the heroine. I can’t help but like her. How does that work? I have a theory.

Are you familiar with the serenity prayer? A lot of people take it as holy scripture but it is not. Even so, it’s marketed its way into the Christian jewelry scene just like WWJD did many years ago. It’s provoking.

Scarlett needed to get a grip.... through the whole dang movie! She lives in this “other world” of trying to control everyone and everything. She goes into denial of all kinds at different times and for different reasons. Her stubborness is as brutal as her beauty. She is the quintessential toddler in a woman’s body. She is ever ready to throw a tantrum and look cute doing it. However, when the rubber meets the road, she ultimately addresses what she can change and what she can’t. Letting go. Moving on. Taking control of what she can. Mastering the moment. That’s heroic.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I am learning that there is only so much I can do in an hour, a day, a week or a month. I am learning the stewardship of my time. If, in this moment, my child needs me to listen, then I must embrace every word. If, in this moment, I need to scrub the sink, then I must do it with all my heart. There are times to rest. There are times to engage. There are seasons of life (Ecclesiastes 3) It is up to me to determine what I am going to do, to decide to do it well and how I will respond to the unexpected and uncontrollable parts of my life. I am choosing to live each moment intentionally. I am choosing to do what I can when I can and not worry about what I can do nothing about. I may choose to enjoy some down time just to savor Hollywood’s Epic Costume Drama with Vivien Leigh. I know I won’t have time today, yet ... tomorrow is another day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Story of Apple Worship

Okay Okay - So my Valentine's Day hint wasn't really hidden. At least not very well. Did you check out Mrs. Prindables? I’m thinking they should be called Sinnerables, or Sinables, or Apples by Eve or something of that sort. Those apples (and they are not exactly fruit) are amazing. I know because this is the SECOND time, yes, the SECOND time my kids’ Auntie Jill has sent them to us. I say, “us” but I really mean my kids. Of course, since she sends them how can I not indulge myself? I mean... really. Doesn’t she know that caramel apples are like my favorite thing on earth? When we go to a carnival or fair Joe eats the cotton candy (which is just a puffy bunch of insubstantial, lightweight, sugary air and merely makes you sticky) and I eat the CARAMEL APPLES! Crunchy. Cool. Rich. I’m still researching the best way to get to the meat of the apple in just one bite. Oh my gosh! And Mrs. Prindables are the BEST. If you haven’t tried them, you must.

Each of my children, including the one who adds sugar to everything already sugary, can’t eat a whole one in one sitting. It is good they make them in mini sizes, but I think the minis are for wimps... I mean, my kids, because I can eat a WHOLE one. Yup. Sure can. And since apples are part of a food group, technically, I’m really adding to my fruit and veggie count for the day. (Just smile and nod your head.)

So here’s the truth. We visit Auntie Jill and Uncle Carl in Colorado for Sam’s, our godson, first birthday (an important shindig for Korean children). She says something cryptic about a present and I’m thinking.... what? But since I am not good at confrontation I let it pass. We arrive home. I finally get my lazy toosh up at 5 AM to make it back to the gym and back into my exercise routine since on vacation our friends gave us great food and plenty of desserts. I’m proud I got my body up to sweat so early in the morning. Back on the treadmill at the gym. How long will it take to lose the 3.5 pounds I gained in a week, I wonder? I don’t dwell on it, however. That would be depressing. Instead, that afternoon, the UPS guy comes (who is becoming my best friend because I love getting presents) and the BOX IS MARKED MRS. PRINDABLES! I start yelling, “Get the scissors!!!! Get the scissors!!!” We open the box. Zach starts popping all the packing bubbles which are the really big kind that every kid loves except Evan and me, so I yell some more, “Stop POPPING!” We take a few pictures to remember the moment and the happiness and the sweetness of it all. Then....we start eating.

Then it hits me. Can you imagine? They actually have the nerve to pack “nutritional information” in this box. I glance at the paper to determine if they have the gaul to add how many calories in each one of these things. I determine, YES! They did! Scoundrels! I throw the paper away. I don’t want to know.

Then it hits me again. What? I go to HER house, eat all her food, create mountains of dishes, use all her hot water and shed my hair all over her bathroom and SHE sends ME a gift. I’ve got it. She’s one of those people who likes to get (sneery voice) ‘Thank You Cards’. Aha! That’s what it is. I’ve been duped. I’ve been deceived. I’ve eaten the apples and now I am stuck forever. Like the Queen of Narnia who snared Edmund with Turkish Delight and the Enchantress who lured the mother of Rapunzel into selling her baby daughter for a bundle of rapunzel... I am indebted to Mrs. Prindable (and Auntie Jill) and her deliciously tricky tricks.

Oh well. You only live once. If you have to eat an apple, you may as well eat a Mrs. Prindable’s. If only Eve were so lucky.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

This Cup

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. The season of Lent begins. I just started reading through the New Testament with my kids and I hope, within 40 days, we’ll get to the time before Jesus’ crucifixion where, in the Garden of Gethsamane , he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” (Mt 26:39)

I have been thinking about cups a lot lately. A friend brought the imagery to mind as an analogy for her life. Her cup has doubt in it. Her cup has insecurity. Her cup has 2 boys with learning disabilities. My cup is different from hers in some ways. Similar in others. My cup has loneliness. My cup has a tendency toward despair. My cup has impatience and forgetfulness. My cup has a history with divorce. My cup contains vanity, pride and fear.

Some people have cups filled with disease, abuse, financial troubles, and repeated job loss. Others’ cups are loaded with hurt, worry, medical bills, dreams unrealized, and lost hope. Yet others are loaded with addiction, anxiety, bitterness, discontent, insomnia, adultery, unforgiveness, broken hearts and promises, sorrow and loss.

Some of the things in our cups are things we choose. Other things are part of the recipe of a fallen world. Yet other ingredients are allowed in our cup and often times, we don’t know why. When Peter tried to defend Jesus at His arrest Jesus commanded, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" (John 18:11) Jesus didn’t want His cup yet he was willing to drink it.

The truth of the matter is that our cup, regardless of its ingredients, is ours. It belongs to us alone. No one else has a cup quite like mine. No one else has a cup quite like yours. No one else had Jesus’ cup and like the rest of us, he didn’t want it. In fact the Gospel of Matthew reads that he fell on the ground, face first and asked for the cup to be taken 3 different times! Initially, he wanted that cup removed.

I think the Bible tells this story of Jesus and the cup to enrich our understanding of His humanity. To remind us that when we wish the cup to pass, it is okay to ask God, “Let this cup be taken from me.” Christ understands. He’s been there.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Mt 26:39)

The scripture notes that each time Jesus asks for the cup to be removed, he finishes his remark with “not as I will, but as you will.” Perhaps then the lesson for us is to be willing to want God’s will. No matter what. Are we embracing our cup? Are we willing to drink it? Even if we feel we don’t deserve or understand what’s in it?

I struggle with my cup more often than I would like to admit, but I refuse to see it as half empty. No, my cup is full, for like the Psalmist writes, “The Lord, has assigned me my portion and my cup; He has made my lot secure.” I may end up flat on my face at times, but when I do, I will be holding on tightly to my cup with both hands. I don’t want one drop of God’s will to spill out.