16 October 2011

Sunday, Sunday...

I did something today that I've never done before.

I wore shorts and a t-shirt in mid-October.

And went to the beach.*

This is about as far out as I'll go.

Things-in-the-ocean-that-will-eat-my-legs-phobia and all that.

"A message in a bottle!" I said.

"Nope," said M. "Just somebody's fo'ty."

So sorry, Missouri...I just didn't miss you that much today.

*I've actually been to the beach before, just not in mid-October. And just to clarify, we went after church. And lunch. And walking the apartment dogs who, we discovered, shredded a newspaper and some of M's student's homework while we were at church. Fabulous.

12 October 2011

Forget about the Blessings


You all know that I’m forever a student. I love to learn. Love love love books and taking notes and feeding into my OCD/list-taking/notebook/file folders/organization obsession.

I’m a nerdy-nerd, and I embrace that fact.

But do you know what’s hard for this little bookworm?

Re-learning and reprogramming my brain around a concept that I thought I had nailed down at one time.

From first grade.


Remember the song we all used to sing in Sunday School when we were six?

Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And all His righteousness
And all these things will be added unto you
Hallelu, Hallelujah!

Those lyrics are taken directly from Matthew 6:33. It’s based on the premise of trust…trust God to provide for your needs, don’t worry and try to relax. God will provide for you through his blessings.

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?...So don’t worry about these things, saying ‘what will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:27, 31-33 NLT

As a believer, this verse excites me. Sweet! Live a Christian life, do good things, seek God’s will for my life, and PRESTO! Blessings galore will be showered over me!! With sparkles and rainbows and unicorns!!!

Yes. I live in my own little (sparkly) world. Just ask my husband.

However, my little confetti-party got put on hold this past Sunday, when I heard a sermon – on this exact verse- that jumped up and slapped me upside the head.

My glitter headband was knocked askew, to say the least.

Pastor Parke: Forget about the blessings.

Me, thinking to myself, more than a little whiny: What?? Are you serious?? But God said…

Pastor Parke: Would you still be willing to give your life to Jesus if there was no such thing as blessings? Would you still be willing to follow him at all cost if there was no return on investment in it for you?

Oh. That’s hard. That’s really, really hard.

Pastor Parke: Don’t confuse the promises with the purpose. Don’t get greedy, doing things just for the promise of the blessings. Forget about the blessings.

How many times have I thought to myself, “Sure, I’ll donate this much money. God will bless me for it.” Or, “If I read my Bible every morning, God will bless me for it.” Or, “If I go to choir practice tonight instead of staying home to watch Game 3 of the NLCS, God will bless me for it.”

I’m not saying that God won’t bless you if you donate money or read your Bible or get your little self into church when the doors are open. God promises his blessings to us. He enjoys showering us with blessings – just one of the little perks of following him.

“See if I don't open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.” Malachi 3:8, The Message

“My cup overflows with blessings.” Psalm 23:5, NLT

“Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings.” Psalm 85:12, NLT

“Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 3:6, NLT

Furthermore, God's idea of a blessing and my idea of a blessing can be two completely different things. In my mind, a blessing might come in the form of a dead president on a green and tan piece of paper. God's idea of a blessing might be just letting me take another breath or letting me get out of bed in the morning.

I’m just saying – why am I really reading my Bible? Is it because I expect God to shower his praises over me, or is it because I truly desire to know his heart and strengthen my relationship with him?

Forget about the blessings.

Why am I in choir? Is it because I want God to see me in front of the church every Sunday morning raising my hands to the sky and say, “Wow! She’s a Super-Christian!! I need to get her a cape!!” or is it because I want to return praise to my Jesus who extends his grace and forgiveness to me…even though he really didn’t have to?

How often do God’s blessings become a distraction – so much so that we forget who God really is and what he’s actually doing? Are the blessings becoming more important than the Giver of those blessings?

Forget about the blessings.

Don’t confuse the promises with the purpose.

Blessings are nice.

But focusing on God’s greater purpose is better.

09 October 2011

Knuke the Blue Fairy

First, let me say I have never, ever dressed our dogs up for Halloween.

It's not without lack of trying. It's because my husband thinks people clothes belong on people, and dogs are just fine and dandy with the fur God gave them.

But what fun is that?

What's fun is having ginormous dogs who don't fit into any dog costumes - even the XXL ones at PetsMart - and there is a Halloween pet costume contest three days away. Plus it's a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen foundation, so this is a must...I mean, am I an advocate of oncology or what?

I chose Knuke as Contestant #1. He's the most laid-back of our dogs, and besides...M refused to let me dress up Suka. I was only allowed to send one dog to therapy after this.

So how to find an outfit that would fit?

Wal-mart toddler costume section to the rescue.

Only one problem.

All of the boy options are lame. I mean, what dog wants to show up as a spider or pirate? How original is that?

In a moment of creative glory, I decided to piece together the most wondrous of all costumes.

A blue fairy.

Knuke's official title on his entry form: Blue Fairy, Because it's Manly.

Wings, a tulle skirt, some birthday streamers and some creative stapling of elastic band and turquoise ribbon from Hobby Lobby, and you have yourself a manly dog Halloween costume.

M immediately started apologizing to Knuke.

What was a little frightening is that Knuke didn't seem to mind.

Saturday was the big day. Like I expected, it was mostly little teeny dogs prancing around as pumpkins and cheerleaders and banana splits.

I have absolutely nothing against little dogs dressed as pumpkins and cheerleaders and banana splits. I thought it was adorable.


Enter Knuke.

Gigantic, lumbering mass of a dog.

In a skirt.

Guess who won Best in Show? I was thrilled.

And if eye-rolling and groaning is any indication, M was thrilled as well.