Tuesday, July 31, 2007
But mostly weariness.
Life's just got you beaten down, doesn't it? A girlfriend, a child, a back surgery, a lost job, and suddenly you're scraping by trying to make ends meet working at close to minimum wage for a day labor firm. The kind of place that pays you daily.
They pay you in cash, don't they? They're probably doing it to get around employer taxes. But that's not my concern. Nor is it yours.
Your concern is keeping food on the table and a roof over your head.
I recognized that look on your face today, Derek. I heard the echoes of my own voice in yours--saw my own younger visage in you. When the noontime sun hit your face just right, I saw myself, ten years ago, looking back at me.
I heard your apologies. You weren't following that closely behind the car. Who would have thought everyone would come to a stop so quickly? You've been beside yourself all morning thinking of the trouble you put my wife through when you rear-ended her Grand Prix on the way to work. You're so thankful she's okay and that our car isn't too damaged (though thanks to the marvels of modern automaking, an entirely new rear bumper and paint job is probably in order, just to fix a few bumps and dents and a little piece torn underneath).
And you wish to God that you had paid your insurance premium last month.
Yes, you paid it at 11:15 this morning. But the accident was a little before 8. And you're scared. You're scared of the ramifications of all of this. You assure me time and time again that you want to do the right thing. That you want to make sure my wife and I are taken care of. And that you're willing to do whatever it takes--sell off your car even--to do right by us.
I watch my own weary face from ten years ago in yours as you float an idea to me. You've thought about this, you tell me. And maybe the best thing to do is to tell the insurance companies tonight, when we file our claims, that the accident happened over lunch. Like, say, 11:16 or later. That way I can get my car fixed right away and have it paid for without having to wait for you to pay me back in small installments over time, because there's no way you can afford the thousand dollar or so lump-sum a new bumper and paint are going to cost. It would help me, you say, and help you too at the same time.
I watch your weary face go ashen as I tell you that's an idea I can't go along with. One doesn't go about "doing the right thing" by committing insurance fraud. I tell you that straight out, and I say it a little bit hard. Intentionally. I can tell you're a good kid. I can tell you're a fundamentally good person who has fallen on hard times--whether your fault or not, I don't know and it doesn't really matter--and I don't want to see you in a worse position by making a big mistake that seems like such a little white lie.
You know what they say about the road to hell, don't you, Derek? Paved with good intentions.
Ten years ago, I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a roach-infested apartment in a part of town folks don't generally go after dark, unless they're looking for drugs or prostitutes. I was a college graduate who was thousands of dollars in debt and working for $6 an hour driving a van for a day care facility. Part of my predicament was my own fault--a large part of it was. Part of it was just the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Like your situation, how I got there wasn't nearly as important as the fact that I was there at all.
After paying rent and my share of the utilities, I had very little left over. And I had collection agents calling. One day I had to borrow money from my girlfriend so that my car wouldn't be reposessed by a company that was charging me 30% interest on a loan. I had been given literally hours to come up with the money or lose my car.
Turns out I lost the car anyway. Not long after that episode, it was parked on the street overnight (my apartment had only one off-street parking spot, and my roommate and I took turns using that precious spot) and I was awakened at 3 in the morning by a huge crash. A 17 year old kid, high on meth, had plowed through my car...and had taken out two other cars...and a street sign...while driving a pickup truck he had stolen from his grandfather.
This was at 3 AM. I was supposed to be at work at 5. There were kids to be picked up. There were parents counting on me to be able to get themselves to work.
Oh, and a small detail--like you, Derek, I wished to God that I had paid my insurance premium the previous month. Or the month before. In fact, just the previous day, I had received that dreaded yet inevitable letter from my insurance company telling me that my policy had expired due to nonpayment. And do you think the kid's, or the grandpa's, insurance company was about to cover an accident in a stolen vehicle operated by someone under the influence of an illegal drug? Not so much.
I know your weariness, Derek. I know the feeling of defeat. I know what it's like to work and work and work, only to fall further and further behind.
That's one of the reasons I pushed you so hard today. There's no doubt in my mind that you'll make things right for my wife and I. If it takes years, I know you'll do it. But Derek, I want you to do it right. No shortcuts. No trying to pull others into the possibility of getting in trouble themselves by lying about the time of an accident. I know the temptation. Don't think I wasn't tempted myself today. In a lot of ways, it would have been a lot easier if we had "agreed" that the accident had actually happened in the afternoon.
But Derek, doing the right thing isn't always easy. And doing the easy thing doesn't always lead to a happy ending.
My story has a happy ending. I called my insurance company and explained my situation. I paid my policy current, and they decided to cover my claim. I had to pay a deductible, but when one is dealing with a totaled car, a $100 deductible is a piece of cake.
And about 6 months later, I received a $100 refund. My company's lawyers had convinced the other company's lawyers to cover the claim. No deductible necessary.
And over time, with a hell of a lot of hard work and a little bit of help, I slowly pulled myself out of debt. It wasn't easy. I ate a lot of mac and cheese and peanut butter sandwiches in the process. But I'll be damned if I didn't get back on my feet.
You'll get there too, Derek. I can tell. I can tell because you've got heart. You're weary, you're beaten down, but there's a heart beating in there that's strong and defiant and proud. It's a heart that didn't run away from responsibility this morning. It's a heart that wants to do good for the benefit of others. I see my ten-years-ago-23-year-old-heart beating in you.
You offered on the phone tonight to cover my deductible payment if I end up having to file through my own company. If that's the way it happens, I do intend to take you up on that offer. I wish I could afford to write it off--if this was a movie, that's how it would happen--but with a child of my own and another one on the way (by the way, I'm glad you don't know that little tidbit, that my wife is 9 weeks pregnant...I don't think you could handle that much more guilt), I don't have that luxury. I'm praying that your insurance company gives you the same gift mine gave me ten years ago...
...the gift of grace.
Derek, keep on keepin' on. You're in my prayers, buddy. May God somehow use your despair over the events of today for good.
Monday, July 30, 2007
For those who haven't read the book, I won't say who uttered those words or to whom it was directed...however, if you have read the book, I'd venture that you know exactly the scene to which I'm referring.
Powerful, moving, heart-rending. For me, perhaps the climax of the entire seven books.
So much to be said--can it only have been 9 days ago that the book was released? Seems like an eternity.
And whilst we are on the subject of Harry Potter...it took a tie-breaker question, but according to this quiz, the character I'd hope to be the most like is the character I'm the most like (if that makes sense...lol):
|You scored as Albus Dumbledore, Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.|
Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com
Sunday, July 29, 2007
After a few minutes of this, he sat down beside me, sighed, and asked, "Daddy, where's God?"
I answered him, "God is in heaven."
He looked at me. "Where's heaven? In the sky?"
(Oh boy.) "Um, well, heaven is a place we can't really see or point to. But we know it's there."
He seemed satisfied with that. Then I saw another question in his face. "Where's Jesus?"
"Uh, Jesus is in heaven too. But you know what? When we talk to Jesus, he's right there with us. We may not be able to see him, but he's promised to be there. Isn't that cool?"
Kiddo thought it over for a couple of seconds. Then he stood up, looked straight in front of him, smiled, and waved. "Hi, Jesus!" he said.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yesterday. And it rocked. I laughed, I cried, I died a thousand deaths, it was better than Cats, I want to read it again and again.
Seriously. Good. Stuff.
Lemme know if you want to discuss it--for the time being, I won't post any spoilers here, but I'm always up for a good email discussion!
And, the major news:
Sweetie is pregnant! Woo hoo!!! Kiddo #2 is due sometime around the beginning of March. Sweetie's about 8 weeks into the pregnancy, and hasn't been feeling the best--prayers for her would be appreciated--BUT, so far (knock on wood) she hasn't felt nearly as bad as she did at this point with Kiddo. Not a whole lot of other details since we're relatively early on right now, but I'll be sure to keep y'all updated on how everything is. Basically, as long as Sweetie and the baby are healthy, that's all we're asking for.
One HUGE development that's happened since Kiddo was born: as we discovered during the pregnancy with Kiddo, Zofran is a Godsend when one is nauseated. It's amazing--almost magical.
It's also frickin' expensive. Even with insurance.
BUT...there's now a generic equivelent!!! Which means that our co-pay for 20 pills is only $10 now, instead of $45!
Without insurance, the name brand stuff is $799. For 20 pills. Eek.
SO...prayers for Sweetie to be healthy, happy and comfortable, for the baby to be healthy, for Kiddo (who currently thinks this whole baby thing is pretty cool) to be a wonderful big brother, and for me to be as supportive as I can be. That's not asking too much, is it?
Monday, July 23, 2007
Plus, every minute I spend blogging on here is a minute I could have been spending reading the book. Which reminds me--why am I typing this long post right now???
Friday, July 20, 2007
When I began work here at Downham Market a wise friend told me that after one year I would see a few changes and sense God at work- years two and three would cause me to question and to wonder why I had chosen to accept the post here and in year four I might see the beginnings of something new.And so with that in mind alongside yesterdays celebrations I bring you Friday 5 Looking back, looking forward...
1. Share a moment/ time of real encouragement in your journey of faith.
For me, working at Camp Carol Joy Holling was a series of seminal moments in my faith walk. It was a place where I lived out my faith in very real and concrete ways, making my faith for the first time more than an interesting intellectual exercise...it was where it was first suggested that maybe I ought to think of ministry as a vocation (by a female pastor...you go, RevGals!)...it was a place where I experienced God through creative and meaningful worship (thanks Roger Sasse!)...it was where God spoke to me time and again through the voices of friends, campers, supervisors, pastors, and the world around me. I came out of my time at camp a much more mature Christian than when I came in.
2. Do you have a current vision / dream for your work/ family/ministry?
Yes. When I started at the new church last month, the pastor told me his vision for the youth program was in five years to have the best church youth program in the city. I think that's a pretty good goal. Concretely, what that's going to look like is going to take some time to develop. But I'm blessed to be in a place with the desire to see God working in and through their kids and the determination to do what it takes to see that happen. They want to do it right. Next year sometime (spring maybe), after I've spent enough time to get a good handle on things, we're going to begin a visioning campaign. We may bring in a consultant to help guide us through the process. We're going to define where we are, why we exist, where we want to be, and how we want to get there. This congregation is really big on serving others--I have a feeling that the shape of the youth ministry will end up being a model of finding your vocation through service. I'm excited to see what God's going to be doing here!
3.Money is no object and so you will.....
Build enough schools around the world so that everyone has the opportunity to have an education. So many of the world's problems and suffering--hunger, homelessness, poverty, war, hatred, bigotry, etc.--in the end boil down to a lack of educational opportunity. Tackle the very foundational issue of education, and you're equipping others to tackle so many of those secondary issues. As long as there are humans, there will always be sin...and therefore there will always be suffering. But there's so much out there that could be ended, if only people were equipped with the right skills and given an opportunity.
4. How do you see your way through the disappointments? What keeps you going?
In my youth Bible study this past week we talked about when bad things happen to good people (using the example of Ned Flanders' failure when he tried to open The Leftorium, a store for left-handed people). One of the scripture texts we looked at was Romans 5:1-5. You know, the whole "suffering produces endurance produces character produces hope which does not disappoint" passage. What keeps me going is knowing that through the disappointments, God is with me. When I cry, God is with me. When I'm angry at God, God is still with me. God suffers with me, walks alongside me, carries me when I need it. I have hope--not that things will be okay, but that no matter what, God will not leave me.
5. How important are your roots?
Very. Both my personal roots and my faith roots are of utmost importance to me. My parents both grew up in Massachusetts, and though I've never actually lived there, I consider myself a New Englander at heart (only without the accent and rude driving habits). As a military brat, we actually didn't move as often as one might expect--however, every base we were stationed at until I was in 4th grade has now been closed (I like to joke that the government has closed down my childhood). So there's a part of me whose roots don't really start until I was 10 years old, and another part of me who considers himself rooted in a place and people he has visited but has never really been a part of. It's almost a mythological thing, but those roots are actually very real and very sustaining. As a Lutheran who embraces paradox, it just makes sense.
Faith roots...I am a liturgically-minded, confessionally grounded Lutheran Christian who sees himself as part of a continuing reform movement. Old, yet new. Reaching forward but looking back. Looking forward but reaching back. Liturgically contemporary and contemporarily liturgical. Looking for both the law and the gospel, the old death and the new life, in everything I do. Again, as a Lutheran who embraces paradox, it just makes sense.
6. Bonus= what would you like to add ?
I would like to add two plus two. Okay, that's four. =)
I remember laughing. Seven times? Who does that????
Um...not laughing so hard anymore.
I was thinking earlier today, trying to remember all the jobs I've had so far in my 33-plus years of existence. Which, of course, called for a blog post. =)
So here's LutheranHusker's Job List. As a point of reference, I'm beginning with my first "official" job in high school, and am including only jobs where I would have received a W-2 for my services--nothing like babysitting, piano lessons, etc.
ice cream scooper guy--Baskin Robbins Ice Cream
college dorm resident advisor--Northeast Missouri State Univ.
camp counselor/site manager--Camp Carol Joy Holling
quote phone operator--AccuTrade, Inc.
securities processor(?)--Ameritrade, Inc.
church youth director--First St. Paul's, Hastings
daycare assistant teacher/van driver--Building Blocks Learning Center
outbound telemarketer--ITI Telemarketing
Regional Service Coordinator--Cliffs Notes Inc.
Customer/Client Service Rep--Ameritas Insurance
Customer Service Rep--class.com, Inc.
Music Director--American Lutheran Church
Customer Service Rep--Lincoln Benefit Life Incurance Co.
Campus Minister--Lutheran Student Center
Regional Service Coordinator (temp)--Farm Credit Services of America
Director of Christian Ed. and Music--American Lutheran Church
Director of Youth Discipleship--Our Saviour's Lutheran Church
So...unless I'm missing something, that's eighteen jobs.
Hey, why stop at seven, right? But seriously, I'm glad I've had the vocational experiences I've had so far. Being a "church guy" now, maybe it helps give me a little street cred when I'm talking to folks about the non-church world. I think there's a perception out there that church workers aren't "real people," that they live kind of cloistered away in their own little corner of the world. Sometimes, some of the things we do and say I'm afraid don't do much to help dispel that myth--and for some folks, it's not so much a myth as it is the honest truth.
But I know what it's like to get up at 4:30 every morning to drive a 5-9 AM van route filled with screaming kids, go home for a couple hours of rest then work the 1-5 shift in a room filled with more screaming kids. I've worked in the cubicle hell world of Dilbert and Office Space, the world of TPS reports and "PC Load Letter" printer error messages. I've been called every name in the book by customers and insurance agents. I've driven to work in the morning with that pit in my stomach that says "if I have to do this ONE MORE DAY...I'm gonna either explode or cry."
Eighteen? Can that really be right?
I know I haven't experienced it all. But I've experienced a lot. And so much of that has helped shape the person I am today, and has really colored my passion for helping folks discover their true calling in life.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
And 0% Charles Finney. Who's not to be confused with Albert Finney, who played Daddy Warbucks in the movie version of Annie in the early 80's.
|You scored as Martin Luther, The daddy of the Reformation. You are opposed to any Catholic ideas of works-salvation and see the scriptures as being primarily authoritative.|
Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
Monday, July 16, 2007
Well, it appears that at least for the time being, Nebraska has the honor of having the highest gas prices in the country:
Average price for a gallon of gas in Nebraska: $3.34
Average price in the rest of the country: $3.05
And when you factor in the cost of living, we're really taking it in the nose.
According to the US Census, Nebraska's median household income was $42,166 in 2004 (most recent year figures were available).
The U.S. average was $44,344.
Now mind you, I was an English major in college (for a very good reason), but best I can figure, compared to the rest of the country we're paying a bit over 109% of what the average American is paying for gas, and doing so with 95% of the income of said American.
Oh well, according to this site we still ranked 5th in the country for lowest cost of living for the first quarter of 2007.
And don't even get me started on the price of milk. (Over $4 a gallon? You gotta be freakin' kidding me...)
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Update #1: I wrote last week about our experience with "Spike," one of the Omaha Royals mascots. I ended up writing an email to let the powers-that-be know what happened, and received an almost immediate phone call back from a senior vice president. We had a nice conversation which ended with him offering to give us free tickets to any remaining home game this season. That's not why I said something in the first place, but it was a nice gesture on his part. The Royals are at home for most of August--I think we're gonna take him up on his offer.
Update #2: On a whim, I emailed Marty Haugen a link to the video of Kiddo singing Now The Feast and Celebration. I didn't expect anything back...maybe, at the very most a quick reply email saying "thanks." But kudos to the man--what did he do but create a BlogSpot ID for the sole purpose of leaving a comment on my blog! Marty, thanks for making a Lutheran dad's day! Someday, Kiddo will understand how cool this is...
Update #3: I have never had a job where I've had as much fun as I'm having with this one! I almost feel guilty getting paid to do what I do (not that I'm complaining, mind you...please keep the paychecks coming!). I'm blessed to be in a congregation with cool kids, amazing parents, a wonderful staff, and a congregation as a whole that's forward-thinking and out-reaching. We've begun a 7 week Bible study series--The Gospel According to the Simpsons, we've been to a baseball game and dinner and a movie, we've got our first high school lock-in coming up in a month, and I've started making appointments to visit families of middle-and-high school aged kids in their homes. I've got about 75 families that fit that description, and my goal is to see them all. It's such a blessing to wake up every morning and to be excited about going to work. And the congregation has been so welcoming to both me and my family. The more time that goes by, the more solidified I am in my conviction that God has led us to the right place for us.
The "unveiling" of sorts: Lastly, I've decided that it's time for me to formally introduce myself to the blogosphere. I wasn't sure at first what sort of form this blog would take, so I made the decision early on to remain at least semi-anonymous. My family and many of my friends have known for quite some time that I'm the author, and there's really no reason for anyone else not to know as well. So blogging world, hi! My name is Matt Schur, and I'm the Director of Youth Discipleship at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Lincoln, NE.
So there you have it. Anonymous no longer. I don't know why, but I almost feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.
I think I'll still generally sign off with my pseudonym (I have grown rather attached to it), but not necessarily always. There may be some posts that will ring more genuine coming from Matt rather than LutheranHusker. We'll see.
But for now, take care and God bless,
(for the first time) Matt
Thursday, July 12, 2007
As you may have seen in this Wednesday's Festival, Pottermania has hit the RevGals---though not all of them. Yes, I am all over Harry like a Seeker on the Snitch, but I know there are others who will be ecstatic to see the July madness end.So today's F5 is a Choose Your Own Adventure: do the magical version or the Muggle one, or both:
Option One: Accio Friday Five!
1. Which Harry Potter book is your favorite and why?
So far, it's definitely been Book 6. I've enjoyed each succeeding book even more than the one before. It seems with each go-round, Rowling has either become a better writer, or has allowed her writing to become more "adult" as the characters grow up and find themselves in more "adult" situations, or a combination of both.
I love the darkness of Book 6. I love the heartwrench and betrayal at the end. And I love the hints for hope and redemption that may be coming in Book 7.
2. Which character do you most resemble? Which character would you most like to get to know?
Hmmm...I'd say I most resemble Harry, only without the temper. People look up to him and he doesn't have the foggiest idea why--he's constantly thinking "if they only knew how unsure I am of myself, they'd never think so highly of me." He knows he has gifts, he knows a calling has been thrust on him, and he's just muddling through trying to figure it all out.
I'd like to get to know Dumbledore. He seems like the perfect mentor. And he likes candy. That's a plus.
3. How careful are you about spoilers?
a) bring 'em on--even if I know the destination, the journey's still good
b) eh, I'd rather not know what happens, but I'm not going to commit Avada Kedavra if someone makes a slip
c) I will sequester myself in a geodesic dome to avoid finding anything out
Wth the other 6 books, I would have been somewhere between a and b. For book 7, I'm leaning toward c...I have a feeling this is going to be a special reading experience, and one that doesn't come along but few times in one's life.
4. Make one prediction/share one hope about book 7.
I predict/hope that Snape redeems himself or shows that he's been on the "good" side all along--that Dumbledore's death was necessary, either as part of a larger plan or as proof of his following through on his vow to protect Draco. I also think that Draco's going to realize he's in waaaaaaaay over his head, and will try to turn on Voldemort--but will lose his life in the process. Rowling said at least two major characters will die...I think Snape redeems himself by dying to protect Harry...and somehow is able to find some peace in regards to his relationship with Harry's parents by giving his life.
5. Rowling has said she's not planning any prequels or sequels, but are there characters or storylines (past or future) that you would like to see pursued?
I would love to see a prequel (or series of them) dramatizing the events of Snape's and Harry's parents' generation at Hogwarts. I think there's some good stuff to be mined there.
The dad in me thought, "I've gotta get this on video."
The blogger in me thought, "I've really gotta get this on video!"
The church nerd in me thought, "I wonder if the celebratory feast in Revelation involved Papa John's pizza..."
So I grabbed the digital camera and he agreed to sing it again on the condition that I let him watch the video when he was done (nothing quite like appealing to a 3 year-old's sense of vanity).
Here ya go--Daddy paparazzi at the dinner table capturing a command performance of the chorus of Marty Haugen's Now The Feast and Celebration!!!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
It is, indeed, a small world.
Especially in the blogosphere.
And especially especially in the Lutheran blogosphere.
This is another one of those things that I've been meaning to write about for a while, but just haven't gotten around to. One of the first blogs I ever started reading on a regular basis was Stumbling Toward Divinity. I still read it regularly. It's well-written, it has a good mix of "everyday stuff" and "churchy stuff", the blogger is around my age, used to be a camp counselor (like me), and is now a pastor somewhere in the Midwest.
Sometime around the middle of May, I came to the realization that I actually know this person.
It's a surreal feeling, that gradual realization that the nameless, faceless author whose site you've been reading for months is an acquaintance of yours. Even if it's been a decade since you last crossed paths.
We worked at camp together ten years ago...he was a counselor, I was a day camp site manager. He was on my day camp team twice--and one of those weeks was by far the best week I had the entire summer. Those of you who have worked at camp can relate--you know those weeks where everything just clicks...the staff, the kids, the location, the weather, in this case the host homes...
It. Was. Awesome.
So old friend, it's good to "see" you again! And blessings to you in your ministry!
And listen with me one last time to the creepy animatronic robots:
"It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small, small world..."
Friday, July 06, 2007
Today, what are you:
Right now, old shorts and an old Lutheran Student Center t-shirt classic design on the back: "Where you are known as (insert name here) and not as (insert social security number here)". Later today when I play for a wedding rehearsal, khaki pants and a collared button-down patterned shirt.
No books right now...I'm saving up my "reading time" for a Harry Potter marathon in a couple of weeks when Deathly Hallows comes out. Woo hoo!!!!!!
Mmmmmm....leftover pineapple bratwurst with honey mustard, leftover 7-layer Jello salad, Cheetos (gotta be the crunchy ones, not the puffs), and a Coke. That's gonna be my lunch in about an hour and a half.
Staying home watching Kiddo, who currently has a touch of the stomach flu. Though he HAS held down the waffle he had for breakfast for almost three hours now...that's a good sign.
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? And why don't more lollipop manufacturers have chocolate flavored lollipops? Chocolate Tootsie Pops so rock my world!
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Me: What's your favorite song to sing?
Kiddo: Hmmm...I have two favorite songs. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Now The Feast and Celebration!
Watch out Raffi, here comes Marty Haugen!!!!!
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Here are the rules:
Those tagged will share 5 Things They Dig About Jesus.
Those tagged will tag 5 people.
Those tagged will leave a link to their meme in the comments section of this post so everyone can keep track of what's being posted.
Five Things I Dig About Jesus
1. Jesus had a sense of humor. And a good one at that. I'd be willing to bet that he loved a good laugh. My favorite part of this famous artist's rendering of a laughing Jesus isn't the perfect teeth or the groomed hair. It's the prominent laugh lines around his eyes:
2. Jesus met people where they were, and transformed them. You name it...a bunch of fishermen who became disciples and apostles...a tax collector who paid back all he had stolen...a prostitute saved from a stoning who was challenged to go and sin no more...lepers healed...the list goes on and on. And he continues to do the same today.
3. Jesus was about wholeness, community, restoration. When there was a line drawn between us vs. them, righteous vs. unrighteous, any kind of division that served to separate, Jesus was always found on the other side of the line. He broke down human-made walls, allowing the Kingdom of Heaven to break through into everyday lives.
4. Jesus was God, yet still one of us. He became human, yet remained God. He was all-powerful, yet powerless. He was mighty, yet emptied himself. He was king of the universe, yet died a criminal's death on a piece of wood. He got hungry, thirsty, tired...he probably got cranky...he laughed, experienced joy...the whole human experience. Yet he was the same being who was there at the creation of the universe at the beginning of time.
5. Jesus had no patience for human-made rules that got in the way of God's work. He healed on the Sabbath. He touched unclean lepers. He ate and drank with tax collectors and prostitutes. He was about doing God's work, and anything that got in the way of that was useless to him, no matter how well-intentioned the rule may have originally been. Imagine the kind of work the church could do today if we followed Jesus' example instead of getting hung up on extraneous details that just get in the way of what we're called to do: love God and love our neighbor.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Or staying away from Spike.
The Royals have two mascots that roam the stands during the game--Casey and Spike. I think they're both supposed to be lions, though Kiddo insisted that Spike was a bear. Peanut thought the mascots were cool. Kiddo? Not so much. Terrified of them, in fact. Whenever they were around, he'd get out of his chair and crouch behind the seatback in front of him, whimpering and asking if they had left yet.
Early in the game, Spike was just a few rows in front of us, next to the visitor's dugout. I asked the kids if they wanted to go give Spike a high-five. Kiddo, predictably, wasn't all that interested in approaching the terrible beast. Peanut was, though, so I took him down near the front. Here's a picture of what happened for the next five minutes:
You'll notice a young child in a striped shirt with his hand held out toward a mascot who is taking much more interest in whispering sweet nothings into a young lady's ear than paying attention to a four year-old kid who just wants to give him a high-five.
Five minutes we waited. Five.
Finally, just as the young woman told the hormonally-charged mascot that there were kids who wanted to see him (a small crowd had gathered behind us), an usher came and said we all had to go back to our seats.
No high-five for you, young man.
A little later, I took both of the boys to the restroom between innings. There was a minor rush of fans to get to the concessions, and for a few seconds we were caught in a small traffic jam at the mouth of the tunnel leading to the concourse area.
It was then that Kiddo turned around and saw his nemesis--Spike. He. Was. Standing. Right. Behind. Us.
"Daddy, daddy, come on daddy! Come on!!!" He screamed, wide-eyed with terror. I think he was just as concerned for my life as he was for his own with what was obviously a flesh-eating monster of a baseball mascot not even two feet away.
But there was nowhere for us to go. We were in the middle of a crowd, and the crowd wasn't going anywhere.
Spike noticed my frightened son. Did he ignore him? No. Did he reach out his hand, ask for a high-five or pat him reassuringly on the shoulder? No.
Instead, Spike decided the appropriate thing to do would be to curl his fingers like they were claws and lunge at Kiddo.
Ever seen that scene in the movie 9 Months where Tom Arnold attacks a dinosaur mascot in a store, and they're rolling around and Tom is whaling away at lumpy pieces of dinosaur felt?
I so wish I could have done that.
Instead, I got my son away, and we went to the bathroom.
Trust me, letters will be written. I'm not one to raise a fuss, but that was downright ridiculous. And nowhere even close to funny. Ignoring kids is unfortunate. Scaring kids is unacceptable.
Luckily, Kiddo recovered--here's a picture of him imitating what Spike did:
And once the cotton candy kicked in, somewhere around the fifth inning--well, good times were had by all (I swear, I have no idea where Kiddo gets that cheesy smile and flair for the goofily dramatic...um...no idea at all...*ahem*):