Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blast From The Past

When my folks moved from the country home I grew up in to the city, I thought we had gone through all our accumulated junk and gotten rid of all nonessential keepsakes, memorabilia, and the like. I had found old journals and letters which, as I read over them, made me run to the old oil barrel my folks used to burn trash!

What I thought was completely purged a couple of years ago wasn't. I recently found more journals and old letters! It was a hoot to go back and read some of the entries. My mom told me once our mind never ages (even as our bodies seem to be falling apart!). She was right. As I read these things, I was right back there in that moment remembering it as if it happened yesterday. Mom says she still thinks in a lot of ways like she did when she was in her 20s and now she's, well, older than that. The good part is that while you may remember the feelings/thoughts you had at that time, you now have a wonderful advantage of perspective and, hopefully, wisdom by which to evaluate things.

As I read some of the entries, I became frustrated with my younger self. "Don't you see how foolish this is," I wanted to yell at the me of 20 years ago. "Why can't you see the truth?' I asked at one time as I read of warnings parents had given about false friends and later read as those warnings proved to be true. I did have moments of satisfaction, however, as flashes of maturity were contained in the angst-ridden pages.

I still keep a journal, but not on a regular basis. These days it's used to help me sort things out as I'm going through a trial. I can't help but wonder if at 64 I'll once again read over entries and shake my head at the me of 20 years before.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Requiem for a Shady Lady

This week we got a new car! This means, since there are only two of us and our automobiles now number three, we will be getting rid of a car. The one to go is our little Escort.

My relationship with the "Shady Lady" (as I call the Escort) had a rocky beginning. She replaced the "Grand Dame" - my Grand Am, the first brand new car I ever purchased. I loved the Grand Dame. She was sporty. She had pick up. She was a symbol of my carefree single life. She had also taken on the characteristics of flattery - getting me nowhere. So, our first automobile purchase as a married couple was the burgundy Escort, a responsible, affordable car which got good gas mileage. Ugh. I was determined not to like this car. After all, she replaced my true vehicular love.

Then it happened. We bonded. It might have been while driving narrow roads winding around the hills of Eastern Kentucky while doing home visits required by my job at the time. It might have been the time one of the parents' directions to their home didn't include the warning that you couldn't see their house in the summer when the leaves and corn were growing and that the dirt road you were driving on would end abruptly in a creek!

There I am - front end of the car in the creek, which is looking more and more like a river to me! I prayed. I pleaded with my little four cylinder car to have Hummer strength and back out of the water. It did! In the midst of the water and mud, somehow the Shady Lady found traction and out it backed and I was on my merry way! The Shady Lady now had not only my gratitude, but my affection as well.

She has over 225,000 miles on her. She leaks about a quart of oil every six weeks. Her stereo still works, but the A/C doesn't (which, after recently driving in 90 degree weather with no A/C, has lessened my grief over her imminent departure somewhat.)

Even still, I'll miss the Shady Lady. In the end, she was a high-class Escort.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Punk'd By Chopsticks

"There is a true and sincere friendship between you both."

My hubby recently received the above sentiment in a fortune cookie. What's interesting about that is he hates Chinese food. Just ask him, he'll tell you. In fact, you probably won't have to ask. He hates it! So how did he come to have a fortune cookie? It was given to him by these three wanna-be hoodlums:

Why the camouflage? This picture was taken the Friday night before the Saturday morning we awoke to discover our front yard covered with chopsticks!

In addition to being a pastor, Bobby teaches 9-12 Bible at a local Christian school. He loves the kids, even the ones who make him long for the days of paddles! Each year at graduation, his eyes are glistening when it's over.

As we went around the yard picking up chopsticks, he wasn't sure if he should feel persecuted or really loved! (It's the latter).

I don't put much stock into fortune cookies, but this particular one got it just right.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Family Ties

My hubby preached at a sister church this past weekend. We drove up the night before to stay with one of the families in the church.

There's always a bit of trepidation when staying with strangers. There are the awkward first few moments of breaking the ice and finding each other's rhythms and styles. Then, conversation begins and Christians start being drawn to each other. The Spirit in them and the Spirit in us knits our hearts together. In short order, strangers become friends.

This happens so often, the immediate sense of connection, the "I just had a feeling about you" when learning someone you've just met shares your faith. This is a fun aspect of the Christian life!

I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God. . . I always thought that song was a little hokey. Corny or not, I agree with its sentiment. I'm grateful for the Christian family I have and the extended family members I meet from day to day.

Blest be the ties that bind
Our hearts in Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Friday, August 18, 2006

My Feathered Friend

"Hi Lulu!"

We hear that a lot around our house. Lulu is a six-year-old Goffin cockatoo that rules the roost in our home. "Hi Lulu" is kind of her version of "Aloha" - it means everything from "hello" to "I know you are awake, get me out of this cage".

We're not sure Lulu is a girl. It takes a DNA test to determine gender. I figure any animal that requires lab work to determine its sex doesn't really care, so to me Lulu is female. She is a huge flirt. She coos and jabbers and does all sorts of adorable things when she wants something (or when squawking at the top of her little bird lungs hasn't done the trick).

Cockatoos are in the parrot family, but aren't great talkers like some of their kin. However what Lulu lacks in clarity, she makes up for in expression. There are times when she is jabbering away in her cage that you can hear intonations and know she is repeating a conversation she has heard. (Making her owners very glad she's not a great talker!)

My hubby calls Lulu his $2,500 bonus. She and her massive cage were given to us. One of his former students worked in a pet shop and Lulu was an abandoned bird. The student thought of us as adoptive parents. We now have the blessing of raising Lu. And it is a blessing, despite what some friends and family members may say.

We had always wanted a bird, but the more exotic ones were too expensive. Maybe a parakeet or the like, we thought. We look on Lulu as our little gift from God. He does that. He provides our needs abundantly and then He tosses in a few of our wants for good measure!

Praise to the Lord,
who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth.
Shelters thee under His wings,
Yea so gently sustaineth.
Hast thou not seen
How thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Love Me Tender

I grew up loving Elvis Presley. In 1972, my Mom took a day off work to stand in line and purchase her Elvis-devoted 10-year-old daughter tickets to see The King in concert. (I have a great Mom!)

34 years ago and still I remember the lights flashing and the tympanies pounding as 2001: A Space Odyssey signaled he was about to come on stage. When I saw that white jumpsuit, I thought my pubescent heart would beat right through my chest! I actually cried.

I watched all the movies, knew the words to every song - including "Wooden Heart" which was a hit only in Germany. I was a fanatic. Five years later when word came he died, it was surreal. It was a Challenger-moment for many - remembering where they were and what they were doing. I did what I always do at times like that - I wrote. This time it was a poem, of which I only remember the first two lines: "With God-given talent and astonishing good looks, a song called That's Alright Momma was all that it took . . ." [Gimme a break! I was 15.]

There will never be another Elvis. That oft-spoken sentiment is more than a fan's adoration. I think it's an objective fact. That mystique can't be created in an age of 24/7 news/entertainment, Internet and paparazzi. We can't be shocked anymore by hips swiveling (puh-leeze! would that was all we had to deal with from music stars). He came, as one writer put it, "in a crack in time" - everything fell in place to create his myth.

His stepbrother, who found him that fateful morning, is now a Baptist minister. He once spoke at my home church. He said people often ask him, "Is Elvis in heaven?" He said he couldn't tell them for sure. There was a Bible by his bed and also other New Age/ Eastern religious material.

Love hopes all things. Elvis loved gospel music. When he jammed with friends, that was his song genre of choice. Once in concert, a fan called out that Elvis was king. He reportedly said, "I only know of one King. . ." I hope that's a true story. I hope the king of rock-n-roll did bow the knee to The King. I'd love to hear him sing again in heaven.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Groovy Jane Austen?

With few exceptions, my hubby and I have a nightly routine. Once our work for the day is complete, we settle down with chips and salsa at the ready and watch a movie. Some movies are just for fun, while others are thought provoking. One of our recent movies just made me want to sing and dance. Who knew Jane Austen could be so hip?

Bollywood's Bride & Prejudice takes Ms. Austen's Pride & Prejudice and sets it in the 21st century. The hero is an American businessman, the heroine a proud daughter of India. The movie tells the classic story while utilizing the conventions of Indian movie-making, one of which is lively musical numbers. Mumbai, formerly Bombay (hence B-ollywood), has a thriving movie industry. Bride & Prejudice is directed by Gurinda Chadha of Bend It Like Beckham fame.

The movie might not be a favorite with Austen purists. The book's class conflict becomes a cultural conflict in this retelling and the "meeting in the middle" of Austen's book is missing. Then there is the obligatory accusation leveled at the American businessman of being an imperialist. What may really set the purist's head to spinning, however, is seeing Lalita, the film's Elizabeth Bennett, doing the twist while singing a do-wop number with her sisters! [My hubby said of that song, “This reminds me of Grease” and on the special features we learned the number was indeed inspired by that movie!] After watching this song, I dare you not to sing, “No life, without wife!”

The movie has a feel of musical theatre. In the intro, you’ll hear snippets of all the songs featured in the movie. The love theme, Take Me To Love, weaves through the entire soundtrack. The choreography is playful, almost whimsical. Whether you're an Austen fan or not, give this movie a chance! This is a clean movie. Bollywood films are traditional and this movie is almost straitlaced. I can’t remember a kiss in the movie, much less anything more. I bet even Ms. Austen would approve.

[For the purists among us, check out Miniatures and Morals: The Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter Leithart. Read about it here.]

Monday, August 14, 2006

Far Out

"You live so far out!"

I can't tell you how often my husband and I have heard this from our friends since we moved to south central Kentucky. They're right - we do live about 30-40 minutes out of the city. Moving here from Louisville, I don't think anything about the drive. (It can take 30-40 minutes to go just a few miles in the Derby City at rush hour!) However, our friends are used to a 10-20 minute commute and marvel at our willingness to drive that far.

I don't mind the drive to and from town (Nicholasville) or the city (Lexington). It's a pretty drive. By the time we ge home, we've "unwound" and we're ready to relax. Our neighborhood is peaceful and quiet. In the spring, there are redbuds and dogwoods everywhere! The trees by the lake have more shades of green in them than I knew existed. In the summer, it's not unusual for a blue heron to fly over our property going from one finger of the lake to another.

The little two-lane road to our neighborhood winds around farms. There's a particular fencepost that is the perch of choice for a Harrier hawk. I often slow my car to a crawl so I can just stare at the magnificent bird. Driving home at night in the summer and fall, it's not unusual to see a red fox dash across the road in from of you. Its auburn hair looks like it has been brushed by a groomer and even at night, it shines. Early morning trips are sometimes delayed by stopping to watch deer (and occasionally fawns) grazing in an undeveloped lot.

We have purple martins in gourds in our back yard. They take care of mosquitos and other bugs from their arrival in late March to their too-soon departure in early August. They also provide daily air shows swooping and gliding in ways that would put any fighter pilot to shame!

And at night, I go outside and look up and see stars. Lots of stars. I hear crickets. I hear the occasional frog croak. A mockingbird chatters protesting the light from my porch. I smile and remember why we live this far out.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Preaching Pirates

[Warning: Spoilers]

I love Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I cheered when Johnny Depp was nominated for an Oscar. His creation, Capt. Jack Sparrow, was the most original and entertaining movie character I had seen in a long, long time. The movie was just pure, escapist fun. I eagerly awaited the second installment in the trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

It was worth the wait. It had comedy. It had poignant moments. It had adventure. It had Capt. Jack Sparrow! But what it also had that the first one lacked was shadows. There was a shadow over Capt. Sparrow - is he really a pirate "and a good man" after sending Will to Davy Jones? Was Will Elizabeth's true love, or did the shadow of a certain Captain put that in doubt?

The second movie was much darker than the first, but then, maybe we should come to expect that with the second movie of a trilogy. Look at the original Star Wars trilogy: The Empire Strikes Back was the dark episode. How about Raiders? Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was icky and dark. Even the second movie of the current Bourne series kept the pattern alive as Jason lost Marie.

All storytellers, whether Christian or not, cannot help but repeat elements of The Story. We are made in God's image and so, even in our fallen state, we image our Creator. Scripture tells the story of Creation, Fall and Redemption. This is the pattern we see in so many movie trilogies. The second installment, the Fall, is dark while the concluding chapter is the redemptive one when the happy ending arrives.

For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Rom 1:20

Even as Hollyweird so often brazenly rebels against God, they can't help but borrow from His book.

[For a great read on the movies from a Christian perspective, try Brian Godawa's Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment. Read about it here.]

Grey Matters

They say confession is good for the soul. Well, here goes: I love Grey's Anatomy. I shouldn't love Grey's Anatomy. I shouldn't even like Grey's Anatomy. We probably shouldn't even be on a first name basis, but we are. I care about Izzie. I have a love/hate relationship with Alex. I want to tell George to get a grip and be a man, but I care about the twit. (And I believe Callie washed her hands.) I put up with Christina because I believe behind her brash, cold exterior is a woman full of fear. I like Dr. Burke. I love Bailey! The only character I don't care much about is the show's namesake, Meredith Grey. I'm trying to be understanding of her poor choices, but I just haven't become invested in the character. Actually, I've come to like Addison better than Meredith. (Maybe it's jealousy - she gets to choose between Derek and Finn, McDreamy or McVet, talk about a win/win situation.)

This show is my guilty pleasure. It's full of immorality. It's full of moral relativism. But, it's often also full of insightful commentary on human nature. I like that there are no black hats and white hats. The heroes and heroines on this show come with flaws. I relate to that. I see myself in the Apostle Paul's grieving that what he doesn't want to do, he does and what he does want to do, he doesn't.

I've been a Christian for decades, but sometimes I feel I'm still in the internship phase. I'm still making silly mistakes. I have those rare flashes of spiritual brilliance followed by extended periods of sinful stupidity. Like Grey's interns, I press on. I learn and, hopefully, I grow.

And I spend moments of my summer wondering what's in store for Izzie.