Love

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Psalm 36:5-6 God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks. The Message

I am not sure where you are on the spectrum of love right now. Yet, I am sure of one thing, you need this scripture above. Not from the God who is all about who is in and who is out, but from the God who is above all, supreme. Let this verse be a reminder that God can help us overcome everything that ails us in life. May our minds rest in this today, as diseases spread, family strife continues, fires rage, and earthly lives are lost.

God is in control of all for all time, before and after.

 

Electric Chair for Bugs

 

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Growing up, I remember seeing a lot of these bug zappers hanging on neighbors’ porches. It was somehow relaxing to listen to the wind blowing through the leaves, trees creaking, and the random zap of bugs meeting their demise.

My brother and I were always fascinated by these fantastical machines. I think we were a little too interested, so my mom wisely never purchased one for us. I think one of us would have ended up electrocuted.

The bug zapper reminds me of some social interactions I have had in my life. See, I struggle with zapping people myself, drawing them into conversation and then going negative zapping their positivity. I am not sure when it started, but throughout life, I have struggled with this. I used to consider myself an optimist, then I turned realist, but now I sit in a balance of a realist with hope.

As I have tried more often to unplug my zapper and not harm others, I have realized I am not the lone zapper. Many others are hanging around just ready to zap the next person. I hope during this holiday season, I will measure my words more carefully and show the ones I love and even the ones I don’t like very much, that they have no fear of approaching the light, for I will not send them to a dark place. God help me.

 

Control

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Janet Jackson sang about it many years ago. We all still want it, at least I do. I can’t help myself. I want things to go the way, I want them to go.

This year, we find ourselves for the first time in many years, without any guests for Thanksgiving. I am relieved in many ways and sad in a few. I am relieved that a day centered around eating and gorging myself, will not happen this year. I am relieved that I don’t have to deal with cooking and hosting a bunch of people this year. I am relieved that the awkward conversations about who was awarded our presidency do not have to take place. If I think about it, this year in particular, I am relieved I can just go hike with my wife and dog, escaping the state of things.

I am sad that not everyone sees eye to eye on the fact that all human beings matter and deserve love. Whether race,religion, or sexuality divide us, it is sad that we can not just choose love first. See, I just want control, but I think you want it as well.

I am excited for my neighbor who will be taking his boyfriend home for his first time to meet his parents. I am sad for the family members who will not be around because of disagreements. I have been there, divided by race, religion, or sexuality, it really hurts people.

I hope this Thanksgiving, whether you are alone or surrounded by others, embrace your ability to control love, control it by giving it freely to everyone, even those that hate you and/or your beliefs.

In My Shoes – BBQ Sales

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When I was around fourteen, I decided I could work a few weekends while living with my grandparents in Herington, KS. My grandpa connected me with Mr. Catlin, who owned Catlin’s IGA. He was a big man and was a very boisterous kind hearted person. At first, I went on a catering job with him.

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My dad worked at a grocery supplier for IGA, Fleming Foods. 

We arrived on the scene of a church function. We had packed all kinds of items that our deli had made that morning. I could never forget the searing pain of spilling a hot soup on myself as I hurriedly carried it to the event. Donned in a white dress shirt and jeans, I was a mess. I quickly figured out catering would not be for me. I could not handle the pressure and not spill things, repeatedly. Of course, I don’t remember being asked to do this again. Probably wise on their part.

A month or so after this event, Mr. Catlin asked me if I would like to sell barbecued ribs for a couple weekends in the summer. It would be long days, nearly twelve hours each day, but the paycheck was worth it. I think I made a whopping $100 in two days of work.

I would be responsible for taking the ribs from a container, wrapping them in aluminum foil and selling them. I think I also ate my fair share, which my grandma Lois came in and purchased. I don’t remember ever feeling so fulfilled as I did when I worked those long days and serving people something that they really enjoyed. The ribs were really amazing, I can still taste the Kansas City style barbeque basted on them.

It is a unique position to be selling something that is not normally offered inside a grocery store, you instantly become a spectacle among the other choices in the grocery aisle. I handed out endless supplies of samples and people would stop to talk to me and ask about my family. I would hear how much I looked like my father and I would grin.

Serving those ribs was like giving people happiness. I envisioned many of them not always having the money to eat a lot of prime meat. It was a unique experience that really made me take customer service to another level. I mean it was easy for me, I was fourteen and had a whole life ahead of me. I knew I would not be doing this when I was twenty-five. I was headed to college and I knew I was going to get a job where I could have a life outside of work.

Those two weekends of work, reminded me of what it means to put in hard work, deal with frustration (I cut myself pretty bad once), and dealing with the bottom line.  When college was hard, I thought of these times and all the people who had no choice but to work in that grocery store, making minimum wage. To this day, I always try to humanize anyone who helps me at the grocery store, they are not a number, they are “making the best of it”, grinding a long making a percentage of what I make now.

God be with them, help me be among them and be a light.

If you want to read more about what it means to live on minimum wage, I think you should check out the excellent book Nickel and Dimed . It is a first person account of someone who intentionally took jobs paying much less, and her experience.

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In My Shoes – Delivery

Autumn color in the Flint Hills

I spent a lot of my teens and twenties working jobs that shaped me.

From age twelve, I worked for my grandfather delivering Maytag appliances, Zenith televisions, and Kenwood stereos. I learned so much as I worked for a furniture store as well. I had to pay attention to detail, as the folks who purchased the quality furniture and electronics did not want their items scratched, or we would hear about it.

We delivered everything from mattresses, gigantic carpet rolls, three hundred pound refrigerators, to VCRs. All of them were challenging in some way, but also rewarding. Imagine, buying an expensive piece of furniture and having a twelve year old show as one of the delivery people. Of course, this was a small town and people knew my family, so I think they probably extended a lot more grace than I deserved.

I learned over those summers that many people live much different than I. People lived lavishly, but many lived in places that were not as nice as my middle class home an hour away. Customers tried to feed me, tip me, and give me all kinds of advice, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I knew at an early age that I liked working with people. I learned more about people as I was too young to do a lot of installation, so I had to face the awkward situation of chatting with a customer while someone else did the installation.

I learned that I had the gift of gab. I loved hearing their stories, from how they ended up in Kansas to stories of rough seasons in their life that they made it through. I learned about the people in my great state of Kansas are gritty, tough people. They can survive, they are fighters. There is rarely a time when I pass by a delivery truck, where it does not invoke the memories of how I first learned how to serve others. A lesson, I could never have paid for, it has shaped my life.

Beating a Sword into a Plowshare

 

I love to get out my sharpening flint, to speak a piece of my mind. I love to complain and call it “trying to find a solution.” I like to cut people down to what they really are. I want people to know the truth of their motives and true desires. They never work as hard as me, or think as much as I do about something.

I mean, really, come on, are you even trying to ______________.

Then I look a little closer in my sword, as I have shined it to a pristine condition. I see the reflection of myself. I see a lot of what I see in other people…

  • Not giving my best
  • Not thinking of others first
  • Complaining more than solving
  • Laziness and complacency

I very quickly realize what I am borderline hating in others, is really me looking at my reflection and noticing all that I have become in my negativity and self-loathing. In fact, if I am honest, I am one of the worst people I know in many ways, because I know my heart. Without Christ in my life, there is little hope for me. Yet, I have Christ and He reminded me today, to quit sharpening my sword and bend it into a plow instead.

Yes, I could rage and complain more, but I more covet a season of peacefulness. A season of giving life, instead of delivering death blows. Dear friends, remind me of this if you see me trying to shape my plow back into a sword. I want to kill with the sword so bad, but I know it will never give me the peace that my heart desires.

Funny Pages

 

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The funny pages from the Raleigh News and Observer

Growing up, we used to visit my grandparents more often than most people I know. They would pick us up after school on a Friday and return us on a Sunday after lunch. My favorite memories of being in their presence would be too numerous to mention in one post, but the other day as I sat waiting for my car to be inspected, I spotted the funny pages.

My grandfather is a pretty serious man. He grew up pretty tough, he is the strong, silent type. A small business owner for over 40 years of his life selling appliances and televisions in a small Kansas town. I was surprised the first time I heard belly laughter erupting from the breakfast nook of their house, it was located near our bedroom, only separated by a sliding vinyl door. He was laughing harder than I ever remember hearing him laugh.

I popped out of bed, said good morning to them both and tried to figure out what was happening. In front of him, sat a gigantic newspaper folded to the funny pages. He would read one and laugh, then willingly share one with me, often having to explain why something was so funny. I loved spending this time with him. He loved reading B.C., The Far Side, Blondie, Non-Sequitar and others. I loved to hear him laugh, a deep belly laugh. What a great way to start the morning.

My grandpa has always been a mystery to me, but I solved this mystery, the man loved his funny pages and I do too.

Looking for some online funny pages – check out GoComics.com