Monday, November 29, 2010

Cat Confessions

Tonight was our first game of the season. We lost. But I when I think back to this game in ten years, I probably won't remember whether or not we won. I think I will only remember the confession made in the locker room afterwards. One of my players announced to the team, "When I took that first shot, I pooped my pants a little." I whipped my head around to look at her incredulously, assuming I had misheard or misunderstood her. But I hadn't. She said when she landed, a little just shot out. After we picked up our jaws from the floor and recovered from our fits of hysterics, I told she should not tell people this. Ever.

"Yeah, I probably should have just told you, Coach."

"No. No, poopy pants. You shouldn't even have told me. I will now tease you mercilessly about it. That confession should have gone with you to the grave."

Then I felt guilty for all my diaper jokes and decided to relieve some of my guilt by making a few of my own confessions.

Confession # 1 I am 28. I am single. And I have a cat. Go ahead. Start making the assumptions. My family was watching "Modern Family" and the nerdy younger sister asked, "If dumb boys like dumb girls, and smart boys like dumb girls, what do smart girls get?" Phil answered, "Cats mostly," and my family turned to look and laugh at me. But I don't care. Dotty is awesome and I might just write a post about how great she is. Matter of fact, as I type this, she is sitting on my stomach giving me a free massage. Sure, it's a little painful since she's digging her claws into my skin but it's the thought that counts.

Confession # 2 Not only do I have a cat, I talk to her. And she responds. Recently she found me downstairs and meowed in a tone that I knew she was trying to tell me there were ants in her food. Sure enough, I trotted upstairs to discover the ants and was amazed by our communication skills. I told this story to my brother, boasting of my cat-communicating abilities and he replied, "Katie, do NOT tell other people about this."

Confession # 3 Some of Dotty's claws have started falling out and I've saved a few... and considered making a necklace out of them. It's not a sincere consideration- I mean, I haven't bought the materials for it. But I do have a few claws currently sitting on my nightstand. It reminds me of when I used to get my warts frozen off and I would save them to mail to friends. I don't think I actually ever followed through though so I just had a desk drawer with envelopes containing my frozen warts.

Here is my first post about Dotty. I'm sure more will follow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Generic Gratitude

Every year when my mom's side of the family gathers on Thanksgiving, we play the candy corn game. Every year we have to decide what we will announce to the entire family that we are most thankful for and then we eat a candy corn. So every year we must decide: do I go cheesy and sentimental? If I do, I risk sounding insincere in my gratitude. So should I attempt to be original and creative in my response? But then if I admit I'm thankful that my adult acne has finally cleared up, my family might think me vain and ungrateful for the major blessings in my life.

This year we're not all gathering so here is my response if we were to play. I'll do both. I'll go generic and then specific.

1) I am thankful for my family. This is a total cop-out in the candy corn game. We all have incredible families. I judge relatives for their lack of creativity and sincerity when they simply say, "I'm thankful for family." Why? Why are they so great? Here's why mine is:

My parents are wonderful. They are my biggest fans and have given us all a healthy self-confidence and awareness of our place in this world. They don't let us have overinflated views of ourselves and they tell us when we are foolish or silly or wrong. But they have always pointed us to Jesus and taught us that we are so very loved by both our creator and by them. Plus, they modeled for us how to live the abundant life and how to love deeply and laugh at oneself.
My siblings are pretty fantastic. We all live within a few minutes of each other (okay my brothers are still down the hall from each other) and see each other numerous times during the week. I don't think it's typical how much we enjoy each other. There is something truly special about hanging out with people who know basically everything about you- every silly crush, every embarrassing moment, every job, every relationship, every mishap and moment you wish everyone would forget about. We are ruthless when it comes to teasing and we have 20 plus years of material to work with. No wonder we are always laughing when we get together.
Trent, Trav and Heid also picked pretty incredible spouses. I don't know anything different so I can only imagine how un-fun it would be if a sibling married someone boring or rude or awkward. Instead Dan, Emma, and Teri are fun, kind, and only occasionally awkward. Now if only they'll teach me how to dance...

Obviously I'm thankful for my three remarkable nephews. See this post or this post if you don't believe me. These boys never fail to bring laughter and joy.

2) I am thankful for my friends. Another generic cop-out. But my friends truly are unique and wonderful. I've often told them that God knew I would be single for longer than many others and thus, He provided me with extra special girls. Granted, most of these treasures don't live close by and I'm not much of a phone person, but when I do get to see them or catch up on the phone, my sides typically hurt from laughing so hard. I've also been blessed with recent friendships as well- girls in similar stages of life and in close proximity who keep me laughing daily. Girls who sneak into my room and leave notes like this on my computer:
3) I am thankful for my job. I think I have the best job in the world. Not just because I have summers off. Sure, I often complain about grading essays being the "bane of my existence" and sure, I answer the same question about 8 times every class period, but I still love it. I love it because every day is different. Every day is an adventure. Maybe not as crazy as it was in Maputo but as I'm learning to live in the present, I am seeing each day as an adventure and teaching truly is a rewarding adventure. My students are hilarious and random and sponges eager to learn. My colleagues are hilarious and random and friends eager to encourage. My players are hilarious and random and jokesters eager to make fun of me. Right now it's the lisp. They die every time I try to say, "free fast break" too quickly. They also got me pretty good yesterday. "Coach, can you come get the bug out of Kari's locker?" Naivee me came to the rescue, opened the locker and out jumped Jelissa. I screamed so loudly that two girls collapsed on the locker room floor in tears. I am truly blessed.

4) I am thankful for my health. See how boring and insincere these sound? But I really am. Even though my teeth are having issues and falling out when they shouldn't, overall I am very healthy.
I've always taken health for granted but as I get older, I am gaining a greater appreciation for my body and the ability to run. I recently told an new friend that I am more rested, more energetic and overall, just happier when I run. She laughed but I was serious. I think I've found that notorious "secret to life." Well, running and Jesus. I also love that I can still play basketball against my girls. The Boise State coach was at our practice recruiting Kari and said, "You sure have fun out there with them." And I do. Maybe too much. I love blocking their shots and shoving them to the ground or diving on top of them after a loose ball. I love that my arms and legs and hips are still speckled with black and blue bruises during the winter season.

5) I am thankful for hope. For the last 6 months this is what God has been whispering and sometimes shouting to me. Hope. I recite Romans 15:13 at least 4 times a day when it comes to mind. "May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may OVERFLOW WITH HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit." Truly, I feel as if now, more than any time in my life, I am overflowing with hope.

Two days ago the same quote from Andrew Murray showed up in two of the different books I'm reading. When I read it the second time in the same night, I said, "What the?" Here's the quote:

We have a God who delights in impossibilities and who asks, 'Is anything too hard for me?' - Andrew Murray.

No. Nothing is too hard for Him. When I'm tempted to stop praying something because I've heard the answer "wait" for years, this reminds me to keep praying. Nothing is impossible with God. This is why I place my hope in Him. This is why He truly is the God of hope. This is why I am so thankful for hope. I know it is not in vain.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Protocol for Encounters with Strangers

I don't always make a great first impression. But the other day I really wanted to make a good one. I was meeting all the other girls' basketball coaches in our new league and I wanted to impress. Being the only female and the youngest, I wanted them to leave thinking, "Wow, that Valley coach sure has her stuff together."

But the problem was I had to come straight from our practice. I scrimmage against our girls and when I play, I do not "glisten" or "glow". I sweat. It pours out of every pore. Once in college, I had just left practice and someone asked me if I had come from the pool. You get the idea.

So I arrived at the meeting sweaty. Not a great start. But I figured I could still recover. "Sound like you know what you're talking about and they'll look past the disheveled hair." I thought I pulled it off.... until I went to the bathroom afterwards. First, I had a major sharky. This is when the hair on the top of your head gets pulled out, making it appear that you have a fin like a shark. They look ridiculous. No matter how badly I was playing, if someone on the court got a sharky, my mood was instantly improved. So I shook my head at myself in the bathroom mirror and redid my ponytail only to notice a giant blob of nutella in my ear. IN MY EAR. I had been eating bread with nutella right before practice and I skillfully managed to lodge some in my ear. And then I played basketball for 2 hours. So I had a sweaty, now crusty blob of nutella in my ear.

I should have gone with a different strategy for the first impression: look like a total buffoon so they underestimate our team. That is what I accomplished.

Why didn't anyone tell me there was a giant mess of hazelnut spread in my ear? Why? And why didn't they tell my my hair looked ridiculous? Why? Because they were strangers and it was not socially appropriate to point out the ridiculous mess in my ear. Had we been friends or even acquaintances, someone might have said something. But I've found that there is a different set of social mores when it comes to dealing with strangers. Today alone I experienced two other awkward encounters with strangers and I'm curious if I am following the proper protocol when these situations arise. You be the judge.

1) What do you do when you accidentally gleek on a stranger? I spit on my students all the time. Accidentally. And I always say something because I know if I don't, they'll be snickering behind my back for the rest of the period. However, should you point out to a stranger when your saliva ends up on their shirt? Or their face? Perhaps there is different protocols depending on where the spit lands. I think you must acknowledge and apologize if your spit makes contact with skin. Today I gleeked all over the desk at Jiffy Lube. I'm sure the guy must have noticed. Especially because I shocked myself a bit and probably looked surprised. But I chose not to acknowledge the gleeking mishap. I didn't hit the guy and I didn't know what to say. "Um, sorry sir. I just spit all over your desk involuntarily. You might want to wipe that up when I walk away."

2) What do you do when you know someone is home and isn't answering the door because they don't hear you knocking? In this case the doorbell isn't working. How many times can you pound on a door without making it sound like an emergency? How many times can you knock without annoying the people who might just be slow walkers? And what if the door is open but the screen door is shut? Screen knocks aren't very loud but "screen pounds" cause too much of a scene. It's not a friend's house so you can't call them on the phone. The only other option seems to be to shout. I stood on a doorstep today pondering what I should yell out. Do I go with a simple, "Hello?" Or, "Anyone home?" Or "I know you're there..." Or, "There is a stranger standing on your doorstep." After much deliberation and a curious look from a nosey neighbor, I went with the classic, "Um....knock, knock?" Still no response. I wasn't loud enough. Darn my insecure "knock knock" choice. I couldn't risk total embarrassment and try a new phrase so I hung my head in defeat and made my way to the car. Of course, right as I finished my walk of shame I heard a faint, "hello?" come from inside.

3) What do you do if a stranger has something giant in their teeth? I'm not talking about a little pepper. In this scenario the stranger has something green and ginormous stuck smack front and center of their smile. You know they will be mortified when they check the mirror later, so do you do the polite thing and point it out? Or is that actually impolite? Should you ignore it instead? If you choose to point it out, timing is crucial. I hate when people make everyone else aware of the awkward moment by announcing, "You have a little something right there" right when I was in the middle of saying something. Now I have to work on picking at my teeth while everyone watches me try to follow your directions to find where the food is lodged. Instead, I am a proponent of the "catch eye contact and silently motion to your own teeth" technique. Discretion is key here. Sure, everyone probably already saw the food but they don't need to also witness the shameful moment when you are made aware that you look like a fool.

4) What do you say to a stranger during the "meet n greet" at church? Most people don't give this much thought but I get a little awkward every Sunday as I debate whether or not I should give them my name. Silly, I know, but there is no set protocol. Some people exchange names and others merely exchange "good mornings" and hand shakes. Last Sunday I made the wrong decision. We said good mornings and then I tried to take it a step further. "I'm Katie" I said, beginning what I thought would be introductions. But all I got in return was a smile. Just a smile. No, "Nice to meet you Katie. I'm Susan." Just a smile. I felt like a fool going around telling people my name for no reason. Lesson learned. Stick with "good mornings" and wait to see if they offer their name first. But Susan, help a sister out and give your name in return.

5) What do you do if a stranger doesn't realize a bug is crawling on them? I think the answer to this predicament depends on the size and location of the bug. Smallish? No potential danger? Ignore it. On the pants or shoes? Ignore it. But at some point, these bugs should not be ignored. Large bug? Potential for stinging or biting? Bug touching skin? Say something. I still think I saved a man's life last year at a craft store by following these guidelines. A spider which had a body alone the size of a quarter was on his shoulder. It was the biggest spider I had ever seen and I was trying not to freak out. He was talking and I didn't want to interrupt. Plus, the beastly spider wasn't on his skin so I hesitated. But then it got to his neck. Now the question becomes, how do you tell them? Do you flick the bug off yourself? Do you speak in a panicked or calm voice? You don't want to freak them out and make them make a fool of themselves but you also don't want them to die. In my life-saving case the man was mid-story and I stopped him to say, "I'm sorry but there is a giant spider on your neck" and pointed to the side. He swept it off and stomped it and then looked amazed at the dead spider and said, "That might have killed me." And that, my friends, is how I saved a stranger's life.

6) What do you do when a stranger has a bleeding zit on his/her face? I endured an adolescence plagued by acne so this is all too familiar for me. I despised people who said, "You're bleeding" when we were in a group, thus alerting EVERYONE to the fact that not only do I have acne, I pick at it too. I say the same rules apply for when someone has food in their teeth. Don't even say, "You have something on your face." These words make everyone turn and look. Wait for a discrete moment and then brush your own face to show the victim where the bleeding blemish is so they can take care of it without everyone pitying them because of their acne. Follow this same protocol when dealing with giant boogers and cliff-hangers. Silently point to the afflicted nostril and then turn away to let them privately figure out how to handle their slimy situation.

7) What do you do when a stranger's underwear is hanging out? Easy one. Say nothing. There is no discrete charade you can do that is socially appropriate to alert the victim to their fashion faux pas. You can only tell friends and family when they need to hide the granny panties or put the crack away. I noticed a male colleague unknowingly suffering from this the other day and snickered from afar. That's all you can do.

8) What do you do when speaking with a stranger and you slip and say something awkward? Should you point out the fact that you realize you just said something awkward? Or do you ignore your own mishap? Example: You started to say "good" but mid-word switched to "great" and ended up telling a stranger that you are doing "grood." Do you ignore this? I say it depends on the stranger. Do they seem fun? Then you can laugh about it together. Do they seem crotchety? Say nothing. They might not find awkwardness funny which makes the situation doubly awkward. Last year our opposing team was wearing pink shooting shirts. I asked the male coach if they wore them for "breast awareness month." Stupid cancer. He didn't seem like the joking type so I said nothing but blushed quite a bit.

I hope you've found these guidelines to be helpful. However, I realize that I am a very awkward girl and some might disagree with my protocols. Are there any guidelines that you disagree with? Are there other awkward scenarios with strangers that I'm forgetting?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Pirate Nephews

My nephews are pretty incredible. I love to brag about them and tell Vander and Huddy stories. They just turned 4 and 2 and have such sweet spirits and such sweet faces.
Yes, I'm that girl who is constantly telling kid stories. And they're not even mine. But they are priceless. Their logic and their actions are so comical. I never knew kids could be so entertaining. And I learn so much from them and laugh so much with them.
They are the main men in my life right now and though I'm usually exhausted after playing with them, it's worth all the laughter and joy they bring me. Here's why they've been making laugh lately:

1) Hudson will occasionally open his eyes SUPER wide.
2) When Vander doesn't have a weapon, he'll yell, "I'm one-armed! I'm one-armed" He means "unarmed." Heidi and Dan purposely don't correct him. He also recently said we were going to "inside-outside" for dinner (aka In-N-Out) and asked me to play "coconuts and ladders" with him. (chutes and ladders)

3) Hudson loves to wear my shoes and go through my purse. His parents are not concerned. Yet. But the other day I had to explain to Dan why his son had foundation smeared all over his cheeks and lip gloss in his hair. He also loves to find my girl products and then run when I try to steal them back. Wonderfully awkward.

4) At their pirate party, Huddy stuffed his face with at least 6 cupcakes. At least he was willing to share his frosting with me. His usual response when one asks for some of his food is, 'No way, Jose."

5) Vander is a bit obsessed with weapons right now and loves "attacking." In a recent battle, he paused mid-battle to ask, "Katie, do you come at me in the name of the Lord?"

"Huh?" I looked to Heidi. She explained that he loves the David and Goliath story and often comes at people in the name of the Lord.

6) Huddy was eating something when we were all playing tag out front. But we didn't have any food outside. So I opened his mouth and fished around and pulled out some gum. Then I noticed the wad of chewed gum on the sidewalk that had clearly just had 2 year old nails scraping through it. He turned "ABC gum " into "ABCBASALOTG gum" (already been chewed by a stranger and left on the ground). Nasty.

7) I taught Vander the expression, "Hey good-lookin, whatcha got cookin?" He was super excited to try it out and ran to his dad and said, "Hey good-lookin, what's in the oven?" He thought he had nailed it because Heidi and I were laughing so hard.

8) Heidi sent me this video while I was teaching. I've since watched it about 47 times. At the very end you can't really understand Hud but he is trying to pray so he folds his hands and says, "Let's pray..."

9) Vander has some interesting problem-solving skills. Luckily, only Heidi overheard this conversation:

Vander: "Katie, do you have boobies?"

Me: "Yep. All girls do."

Vander: "Then why don't you feed Logan his dinner?"

Me: "Ummmmm....Heidi????"

Speaking of Logan, I love that lil' babe as well. He just doesn't say ridiculous things yet. He is 9 weeks and, like both of his brothers before him, giant for his age. He has no idea just how good he has it yet. His brothers both LOVE to kiss him and snuggle him. It's quite adorable.
10) Vander was talking to Heidi about who he will marry one day. He said he would like to marry Teri but Heidi explained that she is marrying Trent. His response:

"I could wrestle Trent."

Well played Vander.

11) Vander's thoughts on God and heaven are full of wonder and innocence. The other day we watched a balloon floating away and he said in a very matter-of-fact tone, "Welp, there must be a birthday party in heaven."

Then when we were watering the plants, he grew concerned that we couldn't reach some of the plants with the hose so I explained that they drink from the rain that God brings. I saw the wheels turning in his head and he replied, "Oh. So God waters the plants on Sundays and Jose waters them on Wednesdays." Something like that, Vander.

When I've had a long day spent dealing with ornery, jaded teenagers, I go hang out with these boys. They remind me of the wonder in the world. They remind me of the innocence, of the hope, of the joy in the world. And they remind me to laugh.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shaking My Fist

I was planning on writing an entry about my nephews and the funny things they say in do in honor of their birthdays. However, I'll save that for later this week. Instead, I need to write about the wrath of God. This one is more for me because I need to process. I clenched my teeth and cried on my drive home today and was unsettled for most of the "pirate party" for my nephews this weekend because of the news.

My sister's friend is a lawyer and told us about the most recent case where a man was chased by a young, local police officer, hid behind a corner with a crow bar, hit him over the head and took his gun. Witnesses heard him say, "You have my gun. Just go." But instead, as the officer lie helpless on the ground, the man shot him three times in the head. Police found him two days later wearing the same shirt with the officer's blood on it.

Just typing that boils up a rage inside me that brings up painfully stinging tears and I have to clench my jaw to keep from screaming. "Lord why? Why do you allow it? Won't you act!" In these moments, I don't want any of Christ's grace or forgiveness. I want only His wrath and justice. And I'm struggling because I know my God is a God of love but I also know that my God is a just God. I don't even want to forgive this man. I want him dead. I don't want him breathing this air. He is evil and I want him gone.

I struggle because I don't know how to handle these emotions that are bubbling inside of me. My hands shake with rage but at the same time, I wonder what God is thinking as He watches me. I don't believe I serve a God who will allow this type of evil to go unpunished and so here's what I think He might be thinking:

"Katie, I've got it under control."

"Katie, I am a just God. I understand your anger. I'm angry too. Punishments will be paid. I hate injustice more than you do."

"Katie, I created that police officer and love him and his family more than you ever could. I know their pain and I am with them."

I used to wonder if God grieved for us when things like this happened. Not because I doubted His love but because I thought, "He sees the big picture and knows the final outcome so maybe this doesn't even phase Him."

But then I remembered how Jesus wept. He wept when he found Lazarus dead, not because Lazarus was dead, but because he saw the pain of those he loved and he wept for them and for their pain. We were not meant for this pain. We were not created to die. It wasn't supposed to be this way. And the God who knit us together in the womb weeps for us when we hurt, even if our hurt may be silly or illegitimate. He still weeps. He feels our pain.

So as angry as I am right now, I know God is more. He weeps for injustice. I shake with rage over one incident. I can only imagine the rage He must feel for all those crimes of injustice daily happening. So though I have these troubling, somewhat disturbing emotions to deal with, I think they might be from Him. I think they might be reminders that there is such a thing as a "righteous anger" and we should weep for injustice. We should boil with rage. But this rage should also move us to action; to do what we can to prevent injustice but also to point others to the eternal kingdom where THERE WILL BE NO INJUSTICE. So many people are going to miss out on this kingdom and that is reason to weep. And reason to act. Reason to speak. Reason to point to Jesus. Every day. Point to Jesus.

I watched Hudson and Vander fight tonight. They fought over the nerf bullets. Neck vains were popped, fists were shaking and tiny hands were swinging because of injustice. Because Vander stole Hudson's bullet and it wasn't right. It wasn't fair. And Huddy was angry. I feel like Huddy right now. Except I don't have anyone to hit.

I used to swing at God. "You're to blame for this evil, God! Why do you allow it?" I've wrestled with Him about that issue but now I've stopped swinging at Him. However, I'm still stuck with this balled up a fist, wanting to punch someone.

But who can I hit?

I want to be angry at that evil man. I want him to die a slow, painful death. I don't want to consider why he is messed up. I just want him to suffer. But I know that if I actually saw him suffering, I wouldn't be appeased. It's not the man that I'm angry at. I have a bigger fish to fry.

It's Satan. He is down here screwing everything up and although we sure play a huge part and freewill blah, blah, blah...the fact is- this is not how it was supposed to be and we have a real enemy who is pure evil. I write things like that and wonder about the atheists and agnostics. They must think I'm silly. They must think I use this made up enemy as a scapegoat to feel better about having someone to blame. But, as Blaise Pascal said, "In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't." Truly there is enough light to see the evidence of a perfect God and an enemy who has unleashed all sorts of evil in this world.

So I shake my fist at this, our evil enemy. I shake my fist at injustice. And I long for the day when God will avenge; when God will bring justice and punishment and wrath. And I am grateful for His wrath.

I realize Hell and God's wrath create stumbling blocks for some non-believers. They can't believe in a God who would create beings destined for Hell. However, I can't believe in a God who is unfair; who lets evil go unpunished.

At the beginning of the year, I had another one of these, "I'm so angry at an evil person I've never met that I could scream and shout and shake with rage" moments. It was on that day that God brought me to Habakkuk. Don't be fooled. I don't typically hang around in obscure Old Testament books. My motivation was actually quite silly. I was waiting in a pizza place and the worker was eyeing me. Giving me the "I want to make small talk with you and maybe date you" eye and I wasn't interested. So I used the Bible as a shield. We're told to that aren't we? Armor of God passage? Anyways, I quickly flipped it open and since said pizza man was quickly approaching, I needed to be instantly engaged in whatever I flipped to. Which happened to be Habakkuk.

So I read the small book of Habakkuk and left the parlor with a pepperoni pizza and a full heart. God knew exactly what I needed. I love when He speaks so clearly through His word. I was struggling with these emotions of intense anger and He knew I needed to be reminded what kind of God He is.

Here are some lines the prophet Habakkuk lamented to our Lord thousands of years ago along with God's response:

Habakkuk: Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. v. 3-4

God: Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told. v. 5

Habakkuk: O LORD, are you not from everlasting?...Why then are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

God: Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of an end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Chapter 2, verse 2-3

God proceeds to say "woe to..." people who are violent and unjust and corrupt, "for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD," and "the LORD is in his holy temple; let the earth be silent before him."

The next book, Zephaniah continues this line of thinking and speaks often of this "day of wrath" that is coming for "those who turn back from following the LORD and neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him." v. 6 And we're encouraged to, "seek the LORD , all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD's anger." chapter 2, v. 3 Again, we are reminded that, "The LORD will be awesome to them when he destroys all the gods of the land. The nations on every shore will worship him, every one in its own land...Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and very new day he does not fail..."

Basically, there will be a day of reckoning. Wait and watch for it. Expect it to come. Evil will not go unpunished forever. Everyone will one day acknowledge God and those who lived lives of disobedience, who mocked God and his children, who thwarted His justice, they will pay.

Habakkuk's response to God surprised me. "LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy." chapter 3, verse 2-3

He was just calling for God's wrath as I do when I think of men like the one who executed the cop. But then, when God reminds Habukkuk of His power and glory and that there will indeed be a day of reckoning, the prophet asks God to remember His mercy. Mercy?

I don't want to think about that. I want the stereotypical God of the Old Testament. The God of brimstone and fire who will smite anyone who disobeys. Men like this deserve smiting. But here, even in the Old Testament, Habukkuk calls on our God's mercy. Apparently He was merciful even before Jesus.

Though this makes me feel guilty for just calling for His wrath, I'm glad that I serve not only a powerful, angry, jealous God but also a God of mercy. This doesn't mean evil will go unpunished. He will be fair. It is impossible for Him not to be. But somehow, someway He is both at once: a God of wrath and a God of mercy. And I love Him for it.

I haven't written anything new or original here. Really I just needed to sort these feelings and record them for the next time I'm boiling over with anger because of an injustice. Mike Erre is a teaching pastor who is much more insightful than I am and in a recent series gave a message entitled, "God is angry." If you want to learn more about how this God of wrath can also be such a loving and merciful God, click on the link and watch.

Thanks for letting me vent. I promise my next post will be much more light-hearted- it will be about balloons and ABC gum and pirates and innocence and heaven.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Things that are BUGGING me

"I hate you so much!"

"Why are you here?"

"Please just go away and never come back!"

"How the heck did you get here?"

"I'm frickin gonna kill you!"

"Die suckers!"

"How's that feel?"

"How do you like me now?"

"Die! Die! Muuuahh ah ah."

I've found myself saying these lines multiple times in the past few months but the most common line I find myself saying is, "FREAKING ANTS!!!" I think the city of Artesia has some weird, mutant ants that have super-ant abilities and abnormally large brains to form these genius strategies to get any and everywhere in our house. How on earth did you get into my completely closed jar of peanut butter? How?

And why? Why are you in my closet on all my clothes? Why? I fear there might be a master, evil plan unfolding in our midst. I understand why you would bombard my roommates delicious homemade cake, but why oh why are you climbing on my pillows?
I came very close to swearing yesterday when I chomped down on a handful of peanut butter MnM's only to taste that awful, bitter taste unique only to ants. I spewed out the chewed candies and ants saying, "Oh sick, oh sick, oh sick! I'm FRICKIN EATING FREAKING ANTS!" and then noticed that the open MnM bag sitting on my lap was crawling with ants which were spilling out onto my legs. New levels of rage were reached as I went on yet another killing spree.

These brilliant, bothersome boogers have got me thinking. Not deep, intellectual or spiritual thoughts. Just thinking about things that bother me. I listed quite a few here but I have a few more to add.

* The individual stickers on apples. Are these really necessary? I don't need to be reminded what kind of apple you are. You are red or you are green. That's all I need to know and I can identify that with my eyes. Those pesky stickers are causing me unnecessary hassle. Now I have to decide- what am I going to do with you? Do I really have to walk ALL the way back to the trashcan to discard of you? I hate that extra walk to the trashcan so please, apple people, can we get rid of the stickers?

* Drivers who hesitate when the light turns green. I know you saw the light change because your brake lights turned off. I don't expect you to peel out but do you have a bunch of eggs balancing precariously on top of your car? No? Then step on it please.

* The juice on deli meat. What are you? Why do I have to pat my ham dry with a paper towel? And why are you sometimes stringy and gooey? You are weird and disgusting and if I didn't love ham so much I would avoid you altogether. (quick story: whenever I talk about ham, my brother Trent says, "I love ham," in a very deep voice. Why? Because he's mocking me. How? Because when I was in high school I went to the fridge for a post-Thanksgiving snack. I thought I was alone in the kitchen. Not only did I talk to myself, I spoke in my scary man voice with a lisp and said, "I love ham" as I reached for the leftovers. Unfortunately, at exactly that moment Trent had snuck into the kitchen and rolled over laughing.)

* The buzz of a fly. This sound infuriates me. Here you are puking and pooping everywhere you land and now you're flying right past my ear buzzing your irritating buzz, mocking me and reminding me of your nasty presence. Back off fly. I might not bust out the swatter if I don't hear you. Speaking of swatters, last week my mom grabbed the fly swatter and started doing slow-motion swinging motions in the general vicinity of the fly. "Seriously Mom? Have you never killed a fly before?" Right as I mocked her she actually made contact with one. I think he flew right towards the swatter because he thought he could land on it since it was moving so slowly through the air.

* The involuntary squeals and squeaks from my stomach digesting food. It's not grumbling but it's working hard and making noises that sound way too close to a fart. Unlike a fart, these cannot be controlled or held back. Plus, you can never just ignore this sound. You always have to explain because you know everyone has heard. Point to the belly and say, "that was my stomach." Although I LOVE when this happens to others, I am not a fan when my own stomach is loud and creating awkward moments that I cannot prevent.

* The spinning colored wheel on macs. I hesitate to complain about this since I can hear Trent's "I told you so" already. He is an avid PC promoter and mocks us cool mac users and though usually I will defend you to the end, when that little colored wheel starts to spin showing me that it is "trying" to accomplish a task, I want to pull my hair out. I literally yelled at it this weekend to "STOP SPINNING!"

* Unsuccessful snot rockets. I had one malfunction on me during my morning run today and was left running half a block with a giant string of snot swinging from my left nostril. Now the dilemma: do I wipe it with my shirt or my hand? Or do I try to keep blowing in hopes of dislodging the stringy snot? This decision must be made quickly or else the swinging snot will inevitably cling to my cheek. If I do wipe with my hand, where do I wipe my hand? On my shorts or a bush or a wall? I went with wall this morning and was left with an index finger covered in snot AND dirt. Perfect. (This is similar to stringy-spit-syndrome. I hate when I don't realize my spit has turned to string and I'm left with a giant line of spit stretching all the way across one side of my face.)

Now it's your turn. I had so much fun reading all your comments about Halloween costumes and candy and even though the comments were mainly from my immediate family after I threatened them, I still appreciated it. This was a simple post to write because apparently, I am easily annoyed and a lot of things have been bugging me lately.

How bout you? What's been bugging you?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10 How To's

Today one of my players forgot her practice clothes for our first day of practice so I lent her mine. She borrowed my sports bra without batting an eye. That's when I started thinking about the unique nature of the relationships I have with my girls. We certainly aren't "friends" because friends don't yell at each other for not working hard. However, we don't have your typical player/coach relationship. This was especially evident on our annual team retreat this past weekend when:

-the girls found a pack of cigarettes and hid them in my purse.

- or when they read all my sent and received text messages.

- or when they said, "Oooooooooo Coachy!" whenever they saw a good-lookin man in his thirties. (Every single stinkin time they have seen me talking to a male, no matter the age or married or not, I see them snickering and raising eye brows at me.)

- or when they teased me about my pot-smoking male friend from high school until I told them to "shut your faces." For the record, I did not smoke and Trent so kindly informed them about this past friendship. Also, I may need to find a new catch phrase since a student was annoying me yesterday and I also told him to shut his face. He looked a bit more shocked than my girls.

- or when they laughed at my wet, sandy butt until I sat on them.
- or when they secretly video taped me singing my heart out to an old Leann Rimes song.

- or when they fell to the floor laughing when I stumbled.

- or when they hid in my trunk to scare me.
Ours is a relationship founded on trust. These girls know that I love them. Even though I can be intense at times and might scream at them for not "catching the freakin ball," they know that I care more about their relationship with Christ than their skills with the basketball. They've seen me unsuccessfully try to hold back tears and they've heard me unsuccessfully try to hold back farts. There is certainly trust here. Sometimes I feel like their mother. I especially felt this way when I heard myself say, "We'll get there when we get there so stop asking." And even though I was slightly appalled when someone asked if Kari was my daughter, I do appreciate how, like a mother, I get to watch my girls grow and mature and experience things for the first time. I love being in the position to expose them to new experiences and pass on knowledge I've been given over the years.

Here's what they learned this weekend:

1. How to make ugly faces and do weird poses. I continually am teaching them new ways to be ugly and what I love about these girls is that the embrace the ugliness. They don't try to be "cute and goofy" as many girls do. They also know that I appreciate weirdness and are maturing in their abilities to pose awkwardly. They make me so proud.
2. How to play flag football. I am a certainly no football expert. I only recently learned that the yellow line for the first down is only on the tv screen. However, I do know the basics and one of my favorite moments of the weekend was watching them make up plays and catch interceptions and rip the flags off and laugh and cheer and huddle. I acted as ref and as the "yellow line" for the teams and watched in wonder as God painted the sky with hues I've never seen before. He stretched clouds across the sky which He then turned orange and pink and then purple. He also made my jaw drop in wonder and eyes brim with tears because I felt like I often do with my nephews- I felt my heart literally swelling inside of my chest. It's like I have an increased capacity to love these girls- more than I previously thought possible. Here they are playing and huddling.
3. How to appreciate God's beauty and marvel at His creation. I often made them pause playing to notice the sunset. Driving home we were passing by my favorite part of the drive leaving Santa Barbara where the cliffs fall on one side of the freeway and the waves crash on the other. I had my typical jaw-dropped expression while Kari, sitting shotgun, was texting away. "Would you please stop pretending to be popular and appreciate this view, Kari?" Being the sarcastic pastor's kid that she is, she sat on the edge of her seat with huge eyes until I told her she could relax. Such a brat. How could one not marvel at this sunset though and acknowledge that our Creator is beyond comprehension.
4. How to take an amazing jumping picture. I can't take credit for this pose. My dear friend Lindsay taught me how on the beaches of Mozambique and I've been doing this jump ever since. It looks much cooler with 11 girls jumping at once.
5. How to build a fire. I actually don't know how to. I had meant to google it but never did. Luckily, my God-send of an assistant, Kelsi, knew. However, she didn't have to because I built the fire the same way I did last year. I looked clueless. This was not intentional and I think it is merely the nature of "friendly fellow-campers" to help out a bunch of girls. For the second year in a row, our neighbor provided the wood and lit the fire. (Last year our neighbor broke off a piece of that magical burning wood and gave it to me. I said, "Thanks. Wow, what kind of bread is this?")

6. How to lie and play mafia. Some had never had the campfire experience and it was so fun to teach them Mafia and Kelsi taught us "Wink Em." Both involve killing your teammates and then lying about it and trying to figure out who is lying and who is being truthful. They tell me I get a bit too intense when I play these games and we were asked by our fire-building neighbors to keep it down. Whoops. Sometimes I forget that I am the "chaperon" and have to be the responsible one.

7. How to worship without inhibitions. Taking the girls to church was another major highlight. They are used to very conservative churches- the kind where you are weird if you close your eyes during worship. So I knew this church would be a bit of a shock for them as the entire congregation belted out songs of love, raised hands high and often and cheered during worship. When I asked them what they thought about the service afterwards, they said that it was so neat to see so many people so "into it." It certainly is easier to get "into it", to lose inhibitions, to stop noticing people around and simply stand before the Savior with a lifted voice and lifted arms when you know that no one is noticing you.

8. How to make the most of the college experience. Since I talk so often and so highly of my experience at Westmont, I had to take them to see the campus. When we walked to the admissions building they joked that I went to school at a castle and asked if they served tea and crumpets. My "tour" of the campus was not a typical tour. I didn't know what the new buildings were but I took them to the spots where I had peed my pants and where I had told the president of the school that I was good when he asked me WHAT I was doing. I showed them where I had done my devotions and where I had pulled pranks like filling a friend's water bottle left in his open car with my pee. Here we are in front of the prayer chapel:
I also taught them the basics of eating in a college cafeteria:

- how to gain the freshman 15 (20 in my case) by eating BOTH of the options for each meal and ending each meal with a hearty bowl of soup. Cookie soup that is.

- how to spot people in "the zone" trying to mask their awkwardness and fear of having no friends to sit with by slowly walking through the zone, covertly scanning the cafeteria. At one point during lunch, one girl yelled a little too loudly, "Coach! I see one! She's in the zone!"

- how to put salt in your friends' food. NEVER leave your plate unattended.

9. How to pray for your friends and hold them accountable. Every foot of the Westmont campus is full of memories and most of those involve Iron Well. I've often told the girls about this group and modeled for them what it looks like to pray for a friend. I prayed for each specific girl at different times throughout the retreat and talked about importance of setting goals and then having teammates who will help you reach those goals by holding you accountable. Here's one spot on campus we stopped to pray:
10. How to ride a 6-man bike. We caused quite the commotion laughing and screaming as we went charging down the bike paths of Santa Barbara racing and high-fiving strangers and running each other off the road. It was a bit of a circus and I'm sure several people thought, "those girls need some supervision."
My friend Angie introduced me to the idea of "10 on the 1oth." The idea is that every month on the 10th, you post a list of 10. I hadn't been planning on making a list of 10 but since this post turned into a list and it happened to be November 10th, I'm taking it as a sign and am doing it from now on. Thanks for the idea Angie.

I'm so excited about this season with these girls. Clearly they are goofy and weird and fun and I am so blessed to be able to teach them different "how to's" and point them to Jesus. We might not be the biggest or strongest or fastest team, but we will certainly laugh often and grow as players and followers of Christ.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Playing Go Fish While I Wait

I cried in chapel on Wednesday. Nothing new. However, it was new that I turned to see the girl next to me wiping her eyes. Excited to find a fellow crier, I tapped her shoulder, pointed to my tear-soaked cheeks and whispered, "me too." She looked confused. Then she saw the tears and said, "Oh. No. I just had something in my eye." I blushed and she giggled the rest of chapel.

I cry easily and probably was thee only person that cried because of the skit the drama class performed but it was so clearly God whispering to me that of course I cried. In the skit four kids stood in line looking irritated and impatient. Enter Blake. Blake is one of those students you never forget. He says off-the-wall comments and often appears to be living in another world. Last year I told him he couldn't eat in class but he said he only had one more bite and then he dropped his entire lunch on the carpet. Salmon salad. What high school kid brings salmon salad to lunch? It smelled for days. He is quite intelligent and wrote an incredibly entertaining story personifying a french fry and big mac as well as a poem about a suicidal clown that made me cry. I know- surprise, surprise. Needless to say, when Blake galloped up the steps onto stage, the whole school tried to suppress a giggle. "Oh boy, what goofy line is he going to say?" But he didn't say anything goofy. He said something remarkably insightful. And then he pulled out a deck of cards and asked his annoyed classmates if they wanted to play Speed or Go Fish. He went on to enlighten his classmates and remind me that while we "wait in line" for God to answer prayers, we can rejoice because (A) we know He has our best interests in mind and (B) He hasn't said "No" yet. Thus, we can be hopeful and ENJOY the time "waiting" with the right attitude. Cue my tears.

Some days it feels like I've been WAITING for answered prayers for too long- longer than it seems others have to wait. But Blake reminded me that I should drop my "irritable, impatient demeanor" and simply rejoice in today and play cards. Relish the moment. While I wait for answers from God about my future, I can simply relax and enjoy the present.

Ever the dense student, God has had to pound this into my head lately. The skit wasn't the first time He reminded me of my need to trust His plans and live TODAY.

My friends and I read Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning and one chapter was devoted to the topic of living in the present or what he calls "Nowhere." Here were a few lines that struck a cord with me:

Being fully present in the now is perhaps the premier skill of the spiritual life. (a skill I desperately need to hone)

Preoccupation with the yesterdays and tomorrows of life to the neglect of now/here- Nowhere- is not living at all. When my mind is replaying past glories and defeats or imagining unknown tomorrows, the music of what is happening is muted. ( I've always thought it would be cool to have a life soundtrack- how terrible to realize there is one but I have it on mute by focusing on yesterdays and tomorrows)

It is through immersion in the ordinary- the apparently empty, trivial, and meaningless experiences of a routine day that life is encountered and lived. Real living is not about words, concepts, and abstractions but about experience of who or what is immediately before us. (I've been trying to consciously practice living in the moment. The other day this quote came to mind as I got ready for school and I giggled as I focused intently on tying my shoe. Never had such a great lookin bow.)

To live in the present moment requires profound trust that the abundant life Jesus promised is experienced only in Nowhere. (As much as I day dream about it, I cannot time travel and cannot experience this abundant life while thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.)

The effort to free ourselves from concerns and the willingness to put aside fuzzy distractions involves a kind of death in order to take up the cross of the present moment. (I've never imagined living in the present to be "taking up the cross" but I do see how "fuzzy distractions" have hindered me from enjoying the present, from sitting down and playing a game of Speed while I wait for God to answer prayers.)

Wednesday was a day of enlightenment for me for another reason. Girls' bible study happens during lunch on Wednesdays and this year I have a remarkably silly group of freshmen girls. I love it. I'm often shushing them as they giggle for a good majority of the lunch but they plan days like "high five day", "headband day", or my personal favorite, "talk like a man day." Here we are on headband day:
Of course we took a goofy one:
I love being around them because I'm reminded of the childlike innocence we're called to have. They aren't "too cool for school" or jaded yet and though they are plagued by worries and insecurities, for the most part, they still have a childlike faith. I love Wednesdays because I am reminded why God has me here- these girls are 15 reasons. On this particular Wednesday, it was Nettie whom God used to speak to me.

This girl is mature beyond her years. When I asked them if they had prayers that God had answered, "Wait," most of the girls talked about wanting a boyfriend. But sweet little Nettie rose her hand and explained, "I just want God to show me how to live His will for my life. I'm afraid I'll get off that path and I want so badly to stay on course." She's 14 and she blew me away. Part of the reason her comment made my jaw drop was because the very night before I watched this on-line sermon by Andy Stanley. He heavily emphasized the importance of praying the following prayer:

"God, show me your will for my life."

So when Nettie nearly quoted him word for word, you can see why I was a bit shocked. I know it wasn't coincidental. I've started praying this prayer daily. Not that He would show me the future but that He would show me His will for me TODAY. It is changing how I live, and not just because I'm focusing more as I double- knot my laces. It's making me aware of my purpose so I don't just "get by" but rather, embrace each day- even the mundane ones. I seek His will in the midst of the "ordinary" days and it's making ordinary days much more enjoyable.

I recently discovered Pandora. I know- I'm not sure how it escaped my notice the past few years and I had a slightly embarrassing moment when I gushed to people about this new website I found. Today a song I never heard played and it made me laugh. God knows I need lots of reminders. Here are some of the lyrics:

I'm waiting on you Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will SERVE you
While I'm waiting
While I'm waiting
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

This is the song playing on repeat on my "life soundtrack" right now- I'm trying not to mute it. At the end of the skit in chapel, Blake recited the following well-known verses which took on new meaning for me:

Even youths grow tired and weary, (of waiting)
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who HOPE in the LORD
will renew their strength. (strength to live in the present moment)
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (as they seek God's will for their life)
Isaiah 40: 30-31