June 24, 2005

-image-where “the girls” and I go to camp

Well, I’m off to camp. I’ve got “the girls” modestly tucked away and there is nary a chest hair in sight. After a week of “sideways hugging” My Beloved, I’m now expert in this tame, boring, asexual Christian hug. No one need fear my saucy girls being smushed up against them. All I need now are my old, ratty tennis shoes and I’m good to go.

Oh, and my journal. I’ll be taking copious notes for y’all. 😉

So no blogging until the 1st. Let’s meet back here then for debriefing.

Talk amongst yourselves. And go visit the people on my blogroll; there’s always something hoppin’ at their places.

Oh, and if you think of it, pray for me …. I’m gonna need it.

June 21, 2005

-image-the noble kids way

We’re expected to have little gifts for all the campers in our cabin. Ours has 2 counselors and 4 little girls. So our living room is now a crafting landmine that My Beloved, all 6’3″ of him, must tiptoe through with the grace of Fred Astaire lest he stomp on something and I explode. I am crazed with crafting and he, poor man, is trapped in the nuthouse.

Of course, when I’m finished with my precious, precious heart necklaces, I’m certain he’ll feel it was all worth it for him.

Except …. then begins The Trimming the Tote Bags!

You could say compliance is making me cuckoo. But nobody here’s gonna say that, right?

Right?

June 20, 2005

-image-love is in the air

I was loitering indecisively in the aisle of the arts and crafts store. Several feet away were a very pregnant girl and her fella, debating embellishments for their, uh, wedding invitations. Sweet.

Belated, but sweet.

Moments later, Pregnant Girl bent down to look at something. Fella didn’t offer to reach it for her. Instead, he stood there, sighing irritably. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the huffing and puffing of his flabby somach. From her squatting position, Pregnant Girl said to him:

“Will you hold these for me, please?”

Tough question, I guess, because Fella was silent. Then he replied, with sudden energy:

“What for?! You got two hands.”

Awww.

Don’tcha just love love?

June 18, 2005

-image-where we learn that I’m a bad Christian

(Names are changed in this post.)

I struggle so with a rebellious spirit. I’m not proud of it. But here’s just a recent, unfiltered example. A little bit of the “naked” for you.

I signed up, with my sister, to be a camp counselor at a Christian camp for abused kids: The Noble Kids Camp. Seemed like a good idea at the time. That is, until I endured the 5 – and – a – half hour orientation session for new counselors.

Now, there is only so much sitting and listening a butt can take. I know this because somehere in that third hour, butt and ears on overload, I snapped. Choked in the grip of the deathless tedium and unhinged by the smell of warm potato salad, the “good Christian me” who signed up for this quietly morphed into the “bad Christian me” who wanted to slither unnoticed out the door.

So this is my confessional.

I longed to hear about the kids, how their lives might be touched and transformed. I longed to hear how we might be used by the Lord, how the work, though draining, would be joyous and blessed. I longed to hear stories of God being in the small moments, using our strengths, using even our weaknesses, for His purposes.

I guess I was naive. I just wanted to be inspired.

Not anxious. Not scared. Sigh ….

But, alas, the all-consuming topic seemed to be “The Rules”:

Don’t hug the children front to front, only sideways hugs are allowed. That is the “Noble Kids Way.”

Don’t let them ride on your shoulders.

Don’t touch them in the pool or let them touch you.

Don’t give them snacks or candy; they eat at meal times only.

Don’t call crafts “crafts;” they must be called “activities” because some kids have a bad association with crafts.

Huh?

Don’t say “Good girl” or “Good boy;” we don’t want to qualify them in any way.

Don’t ever let your two campers out of your sight; stay within one foot of them at all times.

(Seems it would be easier just to tether us together.)

No cell phones allowed; (Oh, they don’t “work” here anyway); you may only call your loved ones from the pay phone on your breaks.

But we prefer you don’t make calls at all during the week of camp; it distracts you from your purpose.

No incoming calls allowed, unless it’s an emergency. Someone needs to be “dead or bleeding and on his way to the hospital before we will take the call.”

I sincerely hope I get no calls, not a one.

No sandals allowed; everyone must wear tennis shoes only. Because “if you wear sandals and twist your ankle, you’re useless to us and we’ll have to replace you.”

And, ladies, we were told, we don’t want to see your ‘girls.’

I was confused for a split second, then realized, “Ohhhh, those girls.” Then came the droning instructions on how to hide “the girls.” Minutes dragged by. I started to hate “the girls.” Not “my girls,” understand, just that cutesy, cloying phrase: “the girls.” I was overcome with a nearly irrestible desire to rip my top off right then and there, brazenly flashing “my girls” in front of the potato and macaroni salads.

And, men, no one wants to see your chest hair, so cover up at all times.

You are not to leave the area of the camp during your breaks. You may not hike or run on the trails during your breaks.

If we see you doing that, you will be sent home.

This was The Mantra for the orientation: “If we see you doing that, you will be sent home.” Each time they said it, I felt the certain doom of a sweaty 8 year old with the principal’s office yawning wide and dark before her. I knew I couldn’t possibly remember all the things that would get me sent home. Guess I’ll
pack light …

After a Time Out, say to the child: “Okay. Now please tell me what you think is the ‘Noble Kids Way.'”

My Beloved told me if I want to stay in this marriage, I am not allowed to say that. Period. (Sheesh. Another rule.)

The kids are watching and listening to everything you say.

You will most likely not get any sleep.

But it’s not about you.

Well, okay. I do understand that. But the counselors are still there, right? As human beings, correct? (Unless I’ve been sent home for showin’ “my girls” or allowing that bad word “good” to slip out.)

And finally:

Don’t question any of the rules. There’s a reason for everything, even if you don’t see it.

Resistance is futile.  You will be assimilated.

(I swear I heard them say this somewhere in that carbo-soaked 5th hour.)

So I feel scared and anxious. And not about the kids. I’ve worked with kids a lot. I run a kids drama camp every summer and I’m a Performing Arts teacher. A damn good one, frankly. So, no, it’s not the kids.

It’s the adults. It’s all these rules and restrictions that make me feel I cannot possibly be myself for fear of looming punishment. It’s the incessant “don’t, don’t, don’t” that makes me want to tear about, caterwauling, wearing sandals, showing my chest hair, and “do, do, doing” everything else I’m not “supposed” to do. It’s the lack of acknowledgement that we counselors, as human beings, have some small needs, too, like the need to feel appreciated, perhaps.

I guess, at a gut level, it’s the feeling of being trapped.

And I’m ashamed of feeling all this because it speaks of an immaturity on my part, rampant and rebellious.

But no, I’m not changing my mind because it is about the kids and I want to see if I can rise to the occasion. I do think many of these rules are somewhat ridiculous and confining. I do think the manner of the presentation was less rallying cry and more Emergency Alert. But I mustn’t allow that to take supremacy in my heart. Or rather: I need to stop allowing that to take supremacy in my heart.

So, peeps, on June 26th, I’m going to camp. Please pray for me. My attitude, as you can see, is abominable and, I’m certain, displeasing to the Lord, whose Word says:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe.

    Phil. 2:14,15

And especially, pray for the kids that the Lord will be bringing to the camp.

Pray that He would tremendously bless them, even through the likes of me.

June 17, 2005

-image-neighbor watch 2

Father Tawny bolted past me yesterday carrying something. I glanced down. A bag!

Could it be?! Finally? Trash?!

No, peeps. Let that breath out. Just a small suitcase.

I admit. I sighed, disappointed.

He must not have heard me, because, seconds later, he matter-of-factly announced:

“Weeell, I’m off to Awwstraaawlia for two weeks!”

Moving fast as he always does, Tawny dropped the bag on the stairs. Quickly, I scooped it up for him, secretly checking its heft. Heavy for its size. Could be trash.

(Are you really going to Awwstraaawlia, Father Tawny?)

As I handed the bag back to him, he smiled and said:

“Awww, ahhren’t you kind?”

Hmm.

Wellll ….

Hmm.

I think he’s probably really going to Australia.

June 15, 2005

-image-what to do with a Bible

In the years since I became a Christian as a wee chile, I’ve accumulated quite a cache of Bibles: large ones, small ones, this translation, that translation, leather bound, paperback, kiddie award Bibles, gold-embossed grownup Bibles. Many are worn past practical use, secreted away in a musty box. Their pages are ripped, stained, marked. Covers are cracked, torn, and threadbare. They seem mere wisps, held together only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Picking them up requires cradling them in a certain careful way, like a newborn babe, lest they slip through my hands.

I have newer Bibles now, with better structural integrity. But although I don’t use my old Bibles anymore, I still have them. I’ve never gotten rid of them because …. I don’t think I can.

And by that, I don’t mean “I don’t think I’m “able,” though there is a bit of that.

I actually mean “I don’t think I’m allowed.”

But where does this notion come from? Is this a Divine Compulsion? Or a self-imposed one? Would parting with these Bibles be a practicality? Or a sacrilege? It seems wrong, disobedient even, but then ….

Psalm 119 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” In Proverbs, I’m told to guard His teachings, to write them on the tablet of my heart. A word engraved on the very tablet of my heart would be imperishable, indeed. Whether I had the physical source of it or not, that word would endure. I’m exhorted to be so familiar with the Word that it’s safely inside, buried, no matter where the actual book may be.

It’s not the book, it’s the Living Word contained within its pages.

So then why can’t I part with my tattered, unused Bibles sitting in that box? Why, even after what I just wrote, do I still feel that I can’t? That I shouldn’t? That I mustn’t?

Perhaps the reason is less legalistic, more raw:

The Word is not etched deeply enough on the tablet of my heart.

It’s scratched the shallow surface, I suppose, but not far enough to be called truly “hidden in my heart,” not far enough that I wouldn’t feel lost if all my Bibles, both new and old, were taken from me.

I cling to the external because I haven’t spent time enough making it internal.

So it’s time to lay the chisel to my heart, time to allow the Holy Spirit to carve deep His truths, time to have the Word hewn in my heart.

Not just sitting on the nightstand.

June 11, 2005

-image-posting secrets

atall.jpg

I’m riveted by this site.  It’s not G-rated and it’s not for the faint of heart.  It’s raw, broken, funny, desperate, bizarre — it feels like who we all are in our fallen flesh.  I dare you to go there and read just one secret.  You won’t be able to stop there.  Because somewhere, in someone else’s words, you’ll see yourself.

 

June 9, 2005

-image-welcome, welcome!

To the new incarnation of "Worship Naked"!

I hope you’ll make yourself at home here.  I know that anything new takes an adjustment, so let’s all grab a cuppa coffee, pull up a chair, and start gettin’ comfy.

Because, frankly, it’s too darn purty around here. 

So before I do anything else, I need to thank the fearless, faithful, and forbearing Wonder Woman who did basically everything ’round here.  I simply showed her the artwork I wanted and she ran with it — farther than I ever could have imagined!  I’ve been humbled by the tireless outpouring of her gifts and cheered by the simple sound of her sparkling laughter.  And in the midst of doing all this, no less!  She deserves all the accolades for any loveliness you see here.   

 Thank you, Wonder Woman, for your goodness to me.

 

(BTW: Any comments on posts before this date have not been transfered from the old site. If you wrote something particularly brilliant that you’re quite proud of, please go there and copy it, because I’m pretty sure I’m never going to get around to putting them here. I’m just being honest wich’ya. ;-))

June 6, 2005

-image-neighbor watch

Okay.  I’ve officially succumbed to the Gladys Kravitz gene that lies dormant in every woman.  And if you never watched — or heard of — "Bewitched," then, tragically, my reference is lost on you.

To clarify, I’m now a nosy, shameless, little spy. 

Let me explain.  There’s a good reason.  I mean,think "wanting to know, damnit!"  is a very good reason for spying and such.   Don’t you? 

There are 6 town homes in our fine complex.  The building sits on the edge of a canyon and each successive unit is a little farther down the hill, so to speak.  We reside in Unit 2 near the top of the hill.  The Focus Of My Madness lives in Unit 5, down the hill.  So anybody in a unit with a higher number passes by our unit every day.

The FOMM is an Episcopalian priest who moved here last fall from Australia.  He’s not a shy fellow, that one.  His first day here he knocked on our door, thrust his hand towards me, and barked his name: "Tawny." 

I paused.  "Your name’s Tawny?"

"No.  Taw-nee."

It sounded the same. 

"Do you mean Tony, maybe?"  I asked.

"Yeeece.  That’s riawght.  Tawny."

I quickly learned that if you allow Tawny a face lock, he will explain in breathtaking detail all the subtlety and intrigue that is Aussie rules football.  Not that I mind much learning about this; I’m just not likely to convert from good, ol’, banal American football, which is clearly what Tawny wants.  But it’s interesting in a sort of relentless, cross-cultural way.

What’s more interesting, though, is this:

My Beloved, who is good and kind and neighborly, frequently takes all 6 trash cans to the curb for trash day.   The other evening we were sitting and reading in companionable, brainy silence, when My Beloved looked up from his book and proclaimed:

"Tony never has any trash in his trash can."

"Huh??" 

I thought I’d heard wrong.  I had no idea that what would follow would be a dizzying conversation, ending in a truly shocking allegation.  My Beloved repeated:

"Tony never has any trash in his trash can."

I just stared, so he continued, clearly annoyed:

"How can he not have trash?!"

"I dunno.  He lives alone.  He probably doesn’t have a lot of trash."

"He has to have some!  Toilet paper rolls, take-out containers, junk mail.  Something!"

"Well, maybe it was just this week.  Maybe he was gone and we didn’t know it."

"No!  That’s not it!  It’s every week."

"Well, what’s the big deal?  I don’t get it."

Then came the stunning accusation from Mr. Neighborly:

"I think he puts his trash in other people’s cans so he doesn’t have to take out his trash can!"

I gasped.  But, suddenly, it was all so clear.  My Beloved was right.  He must be right.   Now that I thought of it, I’d never, ever seen Tawny, who walks by our place every darn day, carrying any trash.  Laundry, yes.  Briefcase, yes.  Grocery bags, yes.  Trash, noNever.  At least not during daylight hours.  So if he had trash, he’d been taking it out under cover of darkness. 

Why?  What kind of flimflam was this guy running?!  It was unheard of.  Diabolical.  A man of the cloth becoming a man of the Trash Can Scam?  Outrageous.

That was it.  Never mind the frenzy of snap judgments, the flood of unsubstantiated claims.  Gladys Kravitz came roaring awake.  I felt a sudden, rash urge to dump trash in his can.  But I did not.  And I have not. 

Because I am a true hero.

Still …. I wonder …. where is  the trash?  The mysterious, invisible trash?

I’m not proud of it.  But I can’t help it. 

Gladys still peeps when he scurries past the window.

June 3, 2005

-image-a thought for friday

From A. W. Tozer: "Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against love by daring to inquire into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of God. They timidly remember how the Pharisees refused to accept Christ when He came, and they do not want to be caught in the same snare, so they either reserve judgment or shut their eyes and accept everything without question. This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality. But in sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the absence of the Holy Spirit.

"Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be. Try the spirits is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the genuine. And the current habit of refusing to take sides is not the way to avoid the question. To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world. And the more as we see the day approaching."

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