July 31, 2008

On the Road Again

The road from Texas to Kansas is a trying one. Yesterday as I was traveling I-35 there were several things I noticed. So many things in fact, that they were racing through my head faster and more recklessly than the Taurus that passed me doing 90 mph. I needed to spit them out just to try and possibly make sense of some of them.

First off, I have come to the realization that most people in this world (at least this one here in the middle of the blessed country) don't know how to drive. There is no understanding of the concept of the "Fast Lane" - a concept or idea which leads those who follow it to use that appropriately named left lane for passing, not for a relaxing Sunday drive. If cars are passing you on your right, wake up!

I also noticed that WARNING and CAUTION signs are going up now miles before you ever actually approach construction. I was told to MERGE LEFT in Ardmore for work that was going on in Norman. Is this over-communication or just someone on a power trip? And at one point yesterday I drove for 5 miles in 1 lane traffic (cones to the left of us) for construction that was never there. If you take the day off, maybe take the cones with you!

I have most certainly determined that attempting to figure out the Oklahoma Highway Dept. is time ridiculously (and most assuredly) wasted. The roads will always be torn up and yet, ironically, they have been doing construction on them since Jimmy Carter was in office. I'm sure actually longer than this, but I'm working with my own memory.

On another note, during this time of recession here in America, where things are tight, our wallets are a little thinner, our gas tanks are breaking us, and people are feeling the crunch, there is one thing that remains certain: casinos keep going up!
It amazes me that even in times like this that not only are the casinos not hurting, they're building. I saw at least 3 yesterday along the highway that were expanding and becoming more monstrous than they already were. Isn't there something wrong with this?

Back in Kansas now. Roads? Paved. Traffic? Non-existent. Temperature? Not nearly as hot as Texas! Casinos? Not many...but I expect to see slot machines in WalMart any day now.

July 22, 2008

The Essence of Irritation

This morning I'm in the shower and I hear my son yelling my name. I open the shower door and he's standing there telling me, "There's a fly downstairs. It's irritating sissy." Apparently our 3 1/2 year old errand boy had been (once again) sent by his sister upstairs to deliver the message to me that she was being repeatedly bothered by an insect. I had no response to this other than to tell Nathan to go back down and watch cartoons.

A few minutes later my daughter arrives in the bathroom. She lets me know at high volume that she needs my assistance, immediately. 
"Dad, this fly is irritating me. I need you to come get rid of it." 
I felt like a mob thug, being summoned to knock somebody off. 
"Honey, if the fly was trying to suck your brain out of your head through your ear, I would consider this urgent. I'm in the shower. Just tell the fly your Dad said to leave you alone."
"But Dad...it's irritating me!"
"Don't let it irritate you. Just shoo it away."
"It won't stop irritating me!"

This is where I closed the shower door, and just stood there. Realizing that this is one of those conversations that's not actually a conversation - it's 2 people saying what they're saying, not really listening to the other person. 

I also wondered, "Since when did we start saying 'irritating' so much?" Why not bothering, or frustrating, or bugging...yeah, bugging is totally appropriate here. Irritating? Irritating is someone yelling at you repeatedly while you're trying to enjoy the 5 minutes of your cool shower. Irritating is being sent like a pizza delivery boy up and down the stairs with messages that you're too lazy to deliver. That's irritating!

So right now Morgan has taken the kids to the grocery store. Item #13 on the list? Flyswatter!

July 10, 2008

Shooting Yourself in the Foot

This is not a political statement or endorsement.

I know most of us have had enough of politics this last year or so. We had probably had enough before it ever began! Things are starting to come into the clear though; either John McCain or Barak Obama will be the next President of the United States.

As I look at Barak Obama I see several things: some that concern me and some that truly excite me. Much of what I see that lands on the positive side is my attempting to see it from other people's perspectives. I think about the possibility of having the first African American President and what a huge thing that would be. I also know that Obama (in the eyes of most of the world outside the US) would be a bridge builder. Again, I see some exciting possibilities.

That's why it plain flat astounds me (and at the same time doesn't surprise me one ounce) that the first cataclysmic, hurtful, damaging, and reprobate verbal miscue would have to come from no one else but Jesse Jackson. Thanks again to the "Reverend" for showing his true colors and for exposing his true character. Kudos to you, Reverend Jackson, for once again taking the positive strides and movement of progress and in effect, crapping on them. (Excuse the verb, but I was toning it down!)

I am not making these observations in judgement - but this is a man who has chosen to be a "God-ordained" leader. When you take that banner and place it above your head and in front of your wagon you have asked for my criticism and the accountability of others. So stop opening your mouth, start inserting your foot, starting trying to see things from everyone's perspective, listen a LOT more, and remember that every single word that comes out of your mouth can and will have consequences and ramifications for ALL African Americans and for ALL of us who call ourselves Christians. Please realize that you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot every time you make this mistake. You would think the public humiliation and apology would be enough of a bullet through the big toe to make you aware of this. Once again, only time will tell.

Thank you.

July 8, 2008

Let That Be Enough

When you spend 14 days at the beach, lounging on the doorstep of the ocean, playing golf, eating fresh fish, sleeping in and tasting the "good life"...you really can't complain. So make sure and understand this is not complaining in the slightest. But when you spend time living with one foot in that world for a few days you can (and should) make some observations and gain some insight.

I realize more all the time that the longer I go without being productive - the more time I spend without making a contribution to the world around me - the more restless and weary I grow. I believe with all my heart that we all need time away from the everyday and the routine to re-focus and get some perspective on life. We also need time to spend with our families, showering reckless amounts of attention and love on them that can become too scarce at times. I don't think it's so much about that - I think it's more about tasting a life that I know I am not called to live. I am not called to "privilege".

God hasn't put me on this earth to judge anyone - I don't have the right or the ability. But I do have the responsibility to judge my own heart and motives and I can see clearly that privilege is not something I can grow used to. Just having possession of this laptop I type on may be the far reaching extent of any privilege I ever know or experience. Let that be enough.

I often think about John Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life". I remember coming out of Juarez for the first time and feeling as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest. Then hopping on a plane, tearing open the pages of this book and having it reinforce everything I felt. Our life is about enormous things. And none of them have anything to do with privilege. Let that be satisfying.

Sure, I love the beach, the sun, the fresh shrimp and the sleeping in...but most of all I love remembering why I'm put on this earth. God is so good. Every good and perfect gift in my life comes from Him. I have all that I need. 

Let that be enough.

July 7, 2008

Tide Pool Theology

Looking at everything through a spiritual lens can be considered a gift or a curse. I consider it the former. After all, we are created by the One who is infinite, holy, perfect, all-knowing, and who details His handiwork with precision and love. How can we not look at the world and everything in it and marvel? How can we not see that everything is spiritual?

That being said, I was sitting on the beach the other day as my kids were playing in the tide pools. A few of us started talking about how the currents create a new beach every time the tides come in and out. In essence, I can go to the same beach every day of my life and be coming to a "different" beach. It's constant - always there - and yet always changing.

I began to sense that God desires me and my walk with Him to parallel the sand on the shore. While my relationship with Him is constant - He never leaves me, forsakes me, walks away from me, or takes away His love or salvation - my life, my habits, my character, my discipline, my faithfulness, and everything about me should be ever-changing. I am NOT called to stay the same.

What if the beach rebelled? What if the tides come in tomorrow and the shore refuses to give way or to shift and move? What happens then? I'm not sure...mainly because it's not going to happen. But how often does God desire to change and re-shape us, only to find us refusing to move or be broken? I see this constantly in my elders and I see myself wrestling with it more often now than before. As we see many things in our life around us changing, it's as if we desperately start grasping for something to stay the same. We long for something to remain unchanged. All the while forgetting...that's where God comes in.

If you're looking or longing for anything else in this life to remain constant and true other than Him, you're going to be the victim of endless frustration and agony. He never changes, yet He desires to constantly be changing you and me.

Take a lesson from the tides pools and wake up tomorrow ready to be different than you were today.