When Harry Met Sally Strikes Back

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I’m still processing the fact that Princess Leia died today. I understand that all of us humans have an expiration date and will face death someday. I was hoping her’s wouldn’t be so soon.

I decided to honor her memory by revisiting a classic movie where she plays one of her best roles, When Harry Met Sally.

This movie is a cultural icon. Just about every frame is memorable. Through older eyes, I find it both timeless and a time capsule to all things 80’s. The themes are eternal. The hairstyles, fashions, technology, and trends? Not so much. They lend a touch of nostalgia to the film.

I understand that celebrities are just as human as the rest of us. They make poor choices that have consequences. Sometimes, those consequences are fatal.

Still, a lot of them are a part of the fabric of my growing up. I can watch one of their movies and be instantly transported back to when I was 17. For that, I’m forever grateful.

I admire Carrie for her absolute refusal to kowtow to anyone else’s expectations of how she should look or behave. She followed her own path and couldn’t care less if anyone else approved or not.

I’ll most likely be watching the original Star Wars movies some time soon and reliving more old memories. Rest in peace, Princess Leia. You were one of a kind.

 

Untitled Blog #1,623

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“Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you” (C. S. Lewis)

One of the reasons I write this little daily blog is to tell you that it’s okay to be you. You don’t have to conform to anybody else’s expectations of who you should be because no one else has to live your life or walk in your shoes but you.

I sincerely hope that you will do what you like, not what society or fashion trends say. Especially not what the current hipster movement says. If you want to grow a beard, then grow one (unless you’re female, which might make it a bit awkward). If you don’t, then be clean-shaven. Or scruffy. It’s really up to you.

Never be ashamed of who God made you to be. You are the one God dreamed up in His infinite mind long before anyone existed. You are the one God fashioned out of the dirt with His very own hands and with the very breath from His mouth giving you life and spirit. You are the one Jesus, the very incarnation of God in human form, died for. And He would have gone through all the torture and death if it had been only you that needed saving.

So go ahead. Wear black socks with those sandals if that’s what makes you happy. Wear those Christmas-y t-shirts in July. You can even wear plaids with stripes if you fancy, but I will disavow any knowledge of you if you do.

Just you be you, because what the world needs more than anything is to see you loving who you are and who you’re becoming. Nothing delights God more than a man comfortable in his masculinity and a woman who is in love with her femininity.

That’s all. You can go back to your pink fuzzy bunny slippers now.

 

#1,400!!

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Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)

I thought of a movie I hadn’t thought about in a while. The movie in question was Dead Poets Society and the part of the movie was where Robin Williams’ character tells his students to seize the day.

Then there’s the line from the movie Braveheart that goes something like this: every man dies but not every man truly lives.

That’s all good and great, but what does that look like? I mean, how can I tell if I’m truly living or just existing?

I think it has something to do with being in the moment. That means not looking back with regret or looking forward with anticipation while forgetting to see what’s around you now. That sounds vague and shadowy, but it’s true.

Too many times in the past, I’ve wasted a week looking to Friday and the weekends that never lived up to my expectations. Too many times, I didn’t really see my surroundings because I was waiting to get to the next place. Too often, I missed out on one part of my life because I was so eager to get to the next part.

True wisdom comes from being fully present to where God has you and cultivating the habit of gratitude, learning how to see the blessings around you instead of always seeing what’s wrong with the picture.

I can’t say that I’m always very good at this. Mostly, I suck. But I’m better than I used to be.

I also read something that stuck with me: always celebrate those who are always making forward progress, no matter how slow. I like that, because usually, that’s me– Mister Slow and Steady.

So yay for all of us slow and steady folks out there because we’re the ones who truly win the race.

Throwing Rocks 2

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It almost always happens when I write one of these blogs that I will remember something I left out. In this case, it was when I woke up in the middle of the night around 2 am that I remembered what specifically I left out.

Maybe the person who needs your forgiveness the most is you.

Even if someone else did the wounding, it’s easy to blame yourself for letting it happen. Especially if the abuse went on for some time. You stayed and made excuses and didn’t run when you had the chance. So a part of you feels that you deserve what you got.

First of all, you don’t.

And second, you survived. You’re still here, which counts as a win in my book.

Sometimes, you just need to forgive yourself for not living up to your own unrealistic expectations. Or to the expectations that the culture and society has hoodwinked you into believing were essential to your success.

You need to know that God’s plan for you is your own and no one else’s. Maybe you’re not where everyone else seems to be at this point in your life. But you are where God put you. Where God wants you to be. Where God is using you and molding you and making you more like Jesus. And that is by far the best place to be.

I know I’d rather have Jesus and nothing else than to have everything else and not have Jesus.

So everything I said about laying those rocks down and building that altar still applies, even the person who you’re aiming at is your own reflection in the mirror. Let the altar be as a reminder of the time when you stopped letting your failures or unmet expectations or your shame define you. When you started to let your Creator define you.

I think that pretty much covers it.

The Kingdom of God and My Expectations

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In the Gospels, there’s a part where the crowds that had been chanting hosannas about Jesus suddenly did a 180 and started shouting for his crucifixion. I”ve always wondered why the sudden about-face?

Then I got to thinking. Maybe it’s because Jesus didn’t fulfill their expectations of what the Messiah would show up and what the Kingdom He ushered in would look like.

They were fixated on the idea of a political Messiah routing the Romans and restoring the rule of Israel to the Israelites. They looked for Jesus to lead an army prepared to fight, but what they saw was Jesus teaching a rag-tag following about going the extra mile and turning the other cheek. So the crowds turned on him.

I wonder if I don’t have false expectations of the Kingdom of God. Maybe we all do.

Maybe we think of the Kingdom of God in terms of electing Christians into Congress and the Senate and getting our kinds of laws passed. Or maybe the Kingdom of God is seen as a kind of utopia where there are no poor people and where we all share and share alike.

I personally have thought of the Kingdom of God in terms of where Christians are the majority and where we have a lot of power and influence.

But the truth of the matter is that the Kingdom of God is nothing more or less than the presence of God among His people. It is His rule and reign. It is now AND not yet.

Sometimes, I’ve thought the Kingdom of God meant an uninterrupted pathway to peace and prosperity and success. I’m finding out that it’s not. More often, the Kingdom of God looks like persecution and suffering. It looks like losing.

But Jesus said that in the Kingdom, the first would be last and the least would be the greatest. He said that whoever wanted to save his life had to start off by losing it.

In my own experience, it means that I’m not promised a 100% success rate or comfort or prosperity. I am promised that Jesus will always be with me and never leave or forsake me.

I know there’s a whole lot more to the Kingdom of God, but these are some thoughts I’ve had recently and I thought I’d share them with you. May these words bring you comfort and hope and may the God of all comfort and hope be with you.

A Good Non-Gaming Game Night

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The Green Hills Community Group scheduled a game night for tonight. Sounds like fun, right?

It was. The only minor complication was that it wasn’t really a game night. Only four people showed up, so we attempted Catch Phrase, but ended up doing something much better.

We had a bit of church.

I don’t mean we broke out the hymnals or burst into song. No one got up and preached and no one testified. Well, at least not in a Pentecostal way.

We had meaningful conversations and got to know each other a little bit better. To me, that’s church, where we figure out life together.

I couldn’t have asked for three better people to spend a rainy Friday night with. Even if I was tired and a bit dizzy, I still had a blast.

Life is like that. You show up expecting one thing, but get something else entirely. You make plans based on where you think you’ll be in ten years, but ten years later, all those plans and expectations are moot.

God rarely meets my expectations. He rarely does anything according to my timetable.

What He does always exceeds my expectations and His timing may not be mine, but it is always perfect. He gives me what I need exactly when I need it and not a moment too soon or a second too late.

I think if I have any expectations going forward, it’s that God will continue to astound and amaze me at how He turns setbacks and quiet nights into blessings.

He’s so very good at that.

How to Not Marry a Jerk

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This is again going outside of my comfort zone. As in different time zone kind of outside. But I have some things that I need to say after something I witnessed at work.

A girl who is otherwise nice went out of her way to apologize to a guy who had gone out of his way to be a jerk to her because she did something he didn’t like. She barely speaks to me, who goes out of my way to be nice and friendly to her.

My own advice on how not to marry a jerk is as follows:

1) Don’t date jerks.

I know it sounds past obvious, but so many girls will marry the handsome guy who treats them like garbage thinking that her love will change him over time. Since this is a Baptist blog, I will say bull-oney.

Guys are who they are. They generally don’t change all that much. Who you see now is what you’ll see ten years down the road. If you’re thinking of marrying (or even dating to marry) someone, ask, “Can I live with this person exactly like he is now for the rest of my life?” and “Would I be proud to have a son exactly like him?”

I know there will be someone who knows someone who married a frog and ended up with a prince. For every one of those, there are a hundred more stuck in bad marriages or living out the pain and shame of a broken marriage.

Even in Beauty and the Beast, the Beast learns to love and become a gentleman BEFORE the beauty falls in love with him and marries him.

Check how he (the man not the beast) treats his parents and his siblings. Watch how he treats servers at restaurants and cashiers at the store. Especially watch how he acts when he’s angry.

Learn to distinguish between confidence and cockiness. Confidence doesn’t always have to prove itself or show itself like a peacock preening its feathers. Also, know the difference between a man who is willing to fight for you and a guy who just likes to fight. The first will cherish you; the second will belittle you and cut you down and make you feel worthless. He might even abuse you verbally and/or physically.

2) It’s better to be alone than with the wrong person.

Don’t date someone who doesn’t share your faith. Period. You will end up either feeling alone in your marriage or your faith will suffer. And I don’t just mean date a guy who says he’s a Christian. Go for the man of God who strives to be like Christ and who lives out his faith on a daily basis.

Date a man who loves Jesus more than he loves you, not the other way around. If he loves Jesus most, he will love you unconditionally and with the love of Christ. If he loves you most, he will make you into an idol in his life and place expectations on you that only Jesus can meet.

Don’t date just to date. The danger with that is that if you date a guy you don’t intend to marry, you could end up falling for him and disregarding all those red flags and warning signs.

On a side note, don’t go for a guy who is 30-something and still lives with mom and dad. If he mooches off of them, he will mooch off of you. If a guy like that says he loves you, respond with three words in return– “get a job!” I stole that one from Mike Glenn.

Date who you want to marry. I personally believe the best marriages start out as friendships before they become romances. And if you keep ending up with guys who treat you badly and use you, maybe you need to step back and look at you. Look at what vibes you’re sending out, where you’re going to meet people (a bar is generally where you find a real gentleman), and how guys perceive you (as a godly woman or as a flirt who likes to date around). If you hop from relationship to relationship, that will turn off a true gentleman.

Looks and attraction matter, but they’re not everything. Character matters. Kindness matters. Over time, you will see that true beauty can’t be seen with the eyes but felt with the heart. And beauty is who a person is on the inside that shows up in their actions and behavior more that what you wear or look like on the outside.

Men, you have to be just as diligent. But that will have to wait for another blog on another night. Sadly, gender equality means that both men and women can now be jerks.

These are my thoughts on the matter. I don’t claim to be infallible or know even close to everything about love or dating or romance.

Early Autumn Breezes

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Today was perfect. It was like God sent a sneak preview of fall about two months early and gave us Nashvillians (and lots of other folks) a break from the usual heat and humidity that’s the norm for this time of year.

I actually ate lunch outside and went for my usual walk and for once didn’t sweat like that pig that’s about to become Sunday dinner. It was lovely. And I managed not to get hit by any cars, which is always a plus.

I think it’s amazing what little surprises come your way when you let go of expectations and assumptions of other people and live in a kind of anticipation of what God will do next. When you have those rare moments when you’re totally unaware of self and focused on being the kind of person to others that you’ve always wanted them to be to you. You can’t control other people or how they’ll respond, but you can control you. You can choose Christlikeness in each moment and leave the results to God.

I’ve long ago stopped trying to figure out Tennessee weather and enjoy the mild sunny days, whether those come in January or May or August. Who knows? The next day could be hot. Or rainy.

As my old boss used to say, any day without a toe tag is a good day. That is, any day you’re alive is a day worth living. I know most of us are always eagerly awaiting the next Friday so the all-too-short weekend can begin. But there’s a lot of good things happening during the week if you’re not too busy looking ahead to see them.

On a side note, it’s amazing how a certain smell in the air or the way a breeze hits me can trigger memories of what I was feeling when I was 15. It’s as if for a brief moment I’ve time-travelled back 26 years and am reliving a single good moment. For some reason, autumn does that to me more than any of the other seasons.

I digress. Go enjoy the weather. Go for an evening stroll or lay out in the hammock. Sit on the back porch or lay out in the grass under the stars. Even if it’s for 15 minutes. You won’t regret it. I promise.

Things I Love 48: When My Job’s Done You’ll Be the One Who Knows

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“You’ll fly away
but take my hand until that day
So when they ask how far love goes
When my job’s done, you’ll be the one who knows” (Dar Williams)

“Life is dessert – too brief to hurry…”Where ever you are, be all there” is only possible with eucharisteo. Slow down and taste life, give thanks, and see God. Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus. Eucharisteo keeps the focus” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

On the way home from work, I ran out of gas. Well, my car ran out of gas, Right in front of where I live. I had just enough power to park on the street before everything died. I’m not saying that me focusing on eucharisteo (or thanksgiving to you non-Greek speaking people) had anything to do with this, but I do think God was looking after me today. I am truly learning trust lately and finding out that my God is infinitely trustworthy.

1,491) Not running out of gas in the middle of a busy street during rush hour or in the middle of a left turn at busy intersection.

1,492) Putting in 30 minutes on the treadmill for the first time in a very long time.

1,493) Knowing that tomorrow is once again Friday.

1,494) To use a horrible pun, getting LOST in a very intriguing TV series.

1,495) A little coffee with my creamer and sugar.

1,496) Being able to go back and revisit what I wrote on this date for the past three years.

1,497) That I always forget about my paper cuts at work and only remember when I go to apply hand sanitizer. Ouch.

1,498) That God is much more patient at teaching than I am at learning.

1,499) The dream of one day typing these posts on a MacBook Pro.

1,500) Another day of having fun at my job and living in the moment rather than speculating about the future.

1,501) Black olives on just about anything (except ice cream).

1,502) Having a great ideas and brain-storming about possible blog cards for when I run out of my current ones.

1,503) Not having watched the Sci-Fi movie Sharknado.

1,504) Being young at heart (and I like to think in real life).

1,505)  All those optimistic Titans fans (including me) who hope this year will turn out better than the last.

1,506) Letting go of my expectations to find that what God gives is infinitely better.

1,507) Craving a glass of milk at 9:19 on a Thursday night.

1,508) Old books with their dust jackets still intact.

1,509) Getting yet another cat scan from Lucy. Literally.

1,510) The now 10-year old album, The Beauty of the Rain, by Dar Williams. Amazing from start to finish.

1,511) Drinking a glass of milk at 9:29.

1,512) My little iPod shuffle.

1,513) God smiling over me right now.

1,514) Just now finding out that people from roughly 120 countries (roughly as in me counting by hand) have read my blogs at some point in time since I started them over three years ago.

1,515) Having 140 followers of this little blog.

1,516) Not having to look for a job.

1,517) Shoelaces that stay tied.

1,518) Crisp cucumber salsa.

1,519) Getting so caught up in my job that I lose track of time.

1,520) My optimistic and cheerful personality.

Thoughts About the Boston Bombers

I know there are some people out there that are celebrating the capture of the two individuals who allegedly set up the bomb devices that killed three and injured so many at the end of the Boston Marathon. I know many people out there want these two to die slowly and painfully so that they feel all the suffering they inflicted on their victims.

But I wonder how many out there will pray for them? I wonder how many out there really believe that Jesus really died for EVERYONE and that God’s love is truly UNCONDITIONAL. Even for terrorists and criminals.

I think so. Just ask the Apostle Paul.

I also wonder what might have happened if either of these two men had seen the love of Jesus lived out before them. If someone had come alongside of them years before and said, “I’m your friend,” not out of a need to convert somebody but out of a genuine love that expects nothing back in return.

I wonder who will mourn the tragic tale of two lives gone horribly wrong and how they got so blinded that they willingly embraced the lies and the hate that could only lead to nothing but destruction and despair.

I am saddened at the lives lost– all of them. I am glad that justice is served, but that doesn’t mean that I rejoice over death. Even God doesn’t rejoice in the death of the wicked (see Ezekiel 18:23 and Ezekiel 33:11).

Faith shouldn’t ever be about us versus them. It should be about us and God. It should be about who we are and who we would have been apart from the grace of God. It should be about seeing the best in people, not the worst, and helping them to see it, too. It should be about holding on to the Love that is stronger than Evil and Death and Hell and believing that this Love ultimately wins out in the end.