Friday, June 19, 2009

Hold The Mustard

For the most part, I think all the food that's going to be discovered has been discovered. All we're getting now are variations on the same theme. As a matter of fact, someone out there thinks they can bring back old food, in new packages, and act like they've discovered the 8th wonder of the world. For instance the re-emergence of Hydrox. Who wants to eat vintage cookies, anyhow? And since when did Hydrox get more expensive than Oreo’s? HELLO??

Anyhow, I digress.

By this point in my life, I think I should have a fairly good grasp on what foods I like and don't like.

For example:
  • Beans = REALLY bad

  • Rigged potato chips = bad (think Ruffles)

  • Broccoli = not bad, but not good, either. Just kinda there.

  • Chocolate = good

  • Caramel = Better

  • Mexican food with no beans, no rice and a dessert of chocolate and caramel = BESTEST OF ALL BESTS!

  • Toss in a Coke Light and I’m in ecstasy.
So it came as a shock to me a few weeks back when I realized, I don’t like mustard. Specifically, I don’t like mustard on hot dogs. My whole life I’ve thought that when you get a hot dog you get ketchup (Heinz, of course), mustard (yellow) and relish (sweet). Now I’ve always known that I prefer hot dogs over hamburgers, I figured that out at the ripe old age of 6. But this whole non-mustard thing was news to me.

It made me think about other things I assume about my eating preferences:

  • Spaghetti = thin or regular? Turns out neither – I prefer rigatoni.

  • Bread = white or wheat? Grew up eating white and switched to wheat when it became popular to do so. Truthfully, I don’t like bread.

  • Pizza = Pepperoni or sausage? This was nearly as shocking as mustard. I prefer plain cheese.

  • Ice cream = chocolate or vanilla. THANK GOD that is one truth I hold to be self evident: CHOCOLATE!
All of this made me think about things in my Christian life that I assume, some correctly (like chocolate ice cream) and some incorrectly (like mustard).

  • God loves me = WOOT!!

  • God only wants HIS best for me = BONUS!!

  • My best is always His best = Um…. Well… no…

  • If I obsess about something enough, it will eventually become God’s best = there just aren’t enough words to describe how wrong that is.

  • If what I think is best never happens then God doesn’t love me and He doesn’t want His best for me. Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go eat worms = OK, someone just slap me now.
Where in the world do all these incorrect regular spaghetti, white bread, pepperoni pizza assumptions come from? I don’t have the answers. I don’t have any one to even blame it on. Satan comes to mind, but that’s probably too easy. Laziness? Possibly. Selfishness? Definitely. Immaturity? Probably. Human self-centeredness? Yeah ok – I’ll blame me.

What I do know is that just like my radical shift in how I eat hot dogs, I also need to do some radical shifting in how I view God. I think the hot dog thing was easier, but I think the God-thing will be better.

I also know that tomorrow for lunch I’m having hot dogs - slightly burnt with Heinz ketchup and sweet relish.

Just hold the mustard.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back When I Was Sports Editor

Maybe I was in high school and maybe I knew absolutely NOTHING about sports when I started, but for two FUN years, I got to go to every WHS football, basketball and… well… that was it. I think I avoided all other Wilkinsburg High School sporting events. I’m fairly certain we had a baseball team and a wrestling team. Oh yeah and there was a golf and tennis team, too… I think. Where is my Yearbook?

But this brief foray into the wild world of sports bred in me a love for all things team sports related. And, being from Pittsburgh, this means that I bleed black and gold. Particularly when it comes to the Steelers, but during the off season, I’ll root for the Penguins and even the Pirates. We don’t have a pro basketball team, so my allegiance goes to college ball – Kentucky… don’t ask why. (As for soccer – well that’s been a more recent passion (10 years or so) and my loyalty is TOTALLY for the JV United, because, again, Pittsburgh doesn’t have a pro soccer team.)

Naturally, the fact that 2009 is turning out to be a mighty fine year for us Pittsburghers, is… well… WONDERFUL.

After the second Steelers pre-season game I declared that we were going all the way and winning the Super Bowl. The guys in my office, laughed at me. Who’s laughing now, boys?

After the 1st Stanley Cup playoff game, I thought, yeah, we’re taking this one too.

Now it's the Bucs turn (Bucs is what we Pittsburghers lovingly call the Pirates – and that a whole other story). I confess, however, I don’t have those same feelings. Mainly because my love for baseball faded during the strike many years ago and mainly because I think the Pirates are under WAY too much pressure right now.

Think about. How would you feel if you played for the Pittsburgh Pirates? Can you imagine the pressure? It’s not bad enough that it’s been 20 years since your team has played in the World Series, but the other 2 major sporting teams in your city have reached the pinnacle of their sport and you’re ranked 22 with a 30 and 33 record and you’re closer to the bottom than the top. No pressure dudes. Just play ball.

However, I would like to go on record as saying that I TOTALLY believe that the JV United of Jacinto Village, Toledo District, Belize, CA are going to win the 2009 TIDE Freshwater Cup this Sunday. This is HUGE! Not only for the guys I know who are involved with this team, but for all of Jacinto and Punta Gorda.

I’m just glad that none of those guys are from Pittsburgh and that most likely I’m the only Pittsburgher rooting for them. Again, the pressure.

But as for the dear Buccos – you can do it guys! You wear black & gold just like any other professional athlete in Pittsburgh and you can make your city proud!! Ignore the nail-biting end of the Super Bowl and tense moments of the Stanley Cup. Win the Pennant Race in your own unique style and way.

Let’s Go Bucs!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Today I Wore My Danskos. News at 11.

First off, let me make a disclaimer: THIS IS NOT AN OBAMA BASH!!

This morning, as every morning, I was watching the Today Show (or as I prefer to call it, The Matt Lauer Show). And this morning, as they do every morning, they began the show by giving 10 second blips about their hot, upcoming topics/stories for the show. One of today's hot topics: President Obama killed a fly.


No really, it was.

A hot story.

And, as if 7:30 AM EST they haven't just talked about it once, they've talked about it 3 times.


No really!

Obviously, we've entered a slow news season. Just look at how much time is being devoted to Jon & Kate? I mean, OH MY STARS!! Can you just imagine if Jon or Kate killed a fly?

It's probably just a matter of time before the ASPCA sues the President for his cruelty to animals. Please, no one tell them about Bobby, a guy I work with, who has killed at least a dozen of them (flies, not ASPCA'rs) this week. I can only imagine the amount of time that will be taken away from REAL news stories because of this.

At least Matt was absent for today's shameful display of journalism.

Of course one of the last times he was out it was because he got run over by a deer.


No really.

And that made headlines, too.

Today I wore my Dansko's.

News at 11.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Herd of Butterflies

I'm still working on unpacking the whole redemption vs. restoration thing (I'm having a hard time figuring out what to put in the top left hand drawer), but an interesting sidebar has popped up: forgive and forget.

Can you? Do you have to? Can you truly forgive someone without forgetting? And can someone really have a herd of butterflies and not have forgiven (don’t try to understand that)?

My friend Amanda and I were chatting on this very subject last night. She told me that her grandmother told her that you haven’t truly forgiven if you haven’t forgotten. Huh.... Now I am certainly no expert on, well on anything really, but certainly on the whole human psyche thing, but I'm fairly confident that it is nigh and unto impossible to forget (short of the whole amnesia thing, of course). I think you can stop dwelling on it constantly, but to literally forget something at the moment of or near to the act of forgiveness has taken place... well I just don't think so.

For example, I have BEYOND forgiven Jen for giving Mike my blankie to wrap up his table in the back of his pick-up, but even though it's been YEARS since this unfortunate incident, I haven't forgotten (ok, so I only remembered it like 10 minutes ago when I was trying to think of an example, but still I remembered!). I really, honestly believe in my heart that I have forgiven Jen. And I hope AND PRAY that she knows that I've forgiven her (she probably doesn’t even remember the whole incident). But does the fact that I've remembered, even if it is something I haven't thought about in YEARS mean that I've not really forgiven her?

I really think that the only One able to forgive and forget, i.e. to give us total and complete amnesty is God. Amnesty is the act of pardoning past acts. It’s an act of oblivion derived from the Greek word amnesia, meaning to forget.

Whereas this One [Christ], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, then to wait until His enemies should be made a stool beneath His feet. For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy. And also the Holy Spirit adds His testimony to us [in confirmation of this]. For having said, ‘This is the agreement (testament, covenant) that I will set up and conclude with them after those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their hearts, and I will inscribe them on their minds (on their inmost thoughts and understanding), He then goes on to say, and their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more.’
Hebrews 10:12-17 (Amplified Bible)

Only God will ever really, TRULY have amnesia when it comes to forgetting our sins (only if we truly repent, that is). The rest of us will just have to do our darndest when it comes to forgetting. There are many, MANY things I hope folks have forgotten about, just as there are many things I’ve forgotten about. But I know forgiveness is there. There has to be – otherwise how many friendships and relationships would be ruined without forgiveness?

Unlike God, who forgives and forgets the moment we repent, for me, forgiveness sometimes takes time. That’s not ideal, but that’s the truth. Sometimes it’s quick, often it’s not, but it does come. Forgetting – well that’s different. I want to forget and sometimes, like now, forgetting would be a welcomed friend. But just like Jen and my blankie, forgetting takes time and is never really achieved. But the forgiveness is there completely.

And as for the herd of butterflies, turns out you don’t need to forgive or forget to have them.

Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Colossians 3:12-13 (The Message)

Quickly and completely.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Redemption & Restoration

So I'm trying to unpack some thoughts on redemption and restoration. Can something be redeemed without being restored and can you have restoration without redemption?


Redeem: to make up for; make amends for; offset (some fault, shortcoming, etc.): His bravery redeemed his youthful idleness; to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom; to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner.

Restore: to bring back into existence, use, or the like; reestablish: to restore order; to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition, as a building, statue, or painting; to put back to a former place, or to a former position, rank, etc.: to restore the king to his throne; to give back; make return or restitution of (anything taken away or lost); to reproduce or reconstruct (an ancient building, extinct animal, etc.) in the original state.

I don't know the answers to this, but I wanna figure it out. Any thoughts, etc., that y'all wanna pass along would be GREATLY appreciated!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Please Don't Hate Me

I didn’t vote for Barack Obama. I voted for the OTHER person that was running. My reasons are certainly not important to this particular post. But we lost. And I accept that. Most importantly I accept that the person who DID win is the person that God wanted in control of this beautiful country I live in.

Did ya catch that?

The part about GOD being in control??

I have complete confidence that on November 4, 2008, God didn’t take a nap. He wasn’t preoccupied with what’s going on in the Sudan. He wasn’t playing Solitaire on His MacBook Pro (remember, God would be a Mac). Well actually I guess He could have been doing all of that because HE IS GOD and He can pretty much do EVERYTHING at once and give EVERYTHING His complete and undivided attention. All at the same time.

He is God.

What I mean is that, GOD KNOWS WHO THE PRESIDENT OF THE US IS! He didn’t let Satan have this one. He didn’t smack his head Wednesday morning and go, “STINK! How did THAT happen??” Only He knows President Obama’s heart. Only He knows President Obama’s sincerity.

He is God.

And, the most important thing of all is what He wrote:

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing."
Romans 13:1-6

Barack Obama is human, and therefore, by his very nature, a sinner. So am I! And, guess what? His sins are NO WORSE than mine! And yes, he is an elected public official who should be and needs to be held to a higher standard than a peon like me. BUT he is not in office accidentally. I think some of us may have lost sight of this fact.

God knows who the President of the United States is.

Recently I’ve been assaulted by an amazing number of people via email, FaceBook updates, Tweets, etc., who all feel the need to bash, smash and generally make it known that they feel that our current president is terrible. And while I love and appreciate all of my friends out there who are enjoying this time, let me remind you, that you too are sinners. I’m sorry we lost. I’m sorry the other guy won. But, for me, I need to trust that ultimately God is in control. And if Barack Obama being elected president signifies the end of the world then YEAH! I’m going home!

But, maybe, just MAYBE, God has different plans that we know nothing about. Maybe, just MAYBE we need to listen to His Word and submit ourselves to the governing authorities. Maybe, just MAYBE we need to live to a higher standard ourselves and not stoop to a level so low that we embarrass ourselves. And maybe, just MAYBE, we need to take the time we’re using to bash and smash and pray, on our knees, for President Obama, our country and ourselves.

It’s just a thought.

Don’t hate me.

Oh yeah, and I am FULLY aware of our freedom speech and couldn’t have MORE respect for the men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we could have this freedom. That’s why I’m writing this post.