Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Love McDonald's!

I have a routine of grabbing a bite of lunch from McDonald's, driving out to our building site and eating while watching our new house being built. Today I decided to check on my daughter while driving to McDonald's. I called her house and caught up on all the days activities (sorry, I was driving and talking at the same time....we will discuss that later....) when I pulled into the drive-thru. "Well, sweety, guess I will let you go so I can order," I said as I rolled down the window. "Ok, Mom, I love you! Bye," she said. "I love you, too!" I replied, looking at the menu. The speaker at McDonald's answered, "Uhhh, excuse me?" ... .... ....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Gift of Hope

"...we (also) rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured our his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5.

I had to start out with that scripture in front of me. It is a reminder of where I have been the last few weeks and where I am (by grace) going. I started the year with a promise to "do in" TSOO (The Spirit of Offense). Nobel. Then for lent, I set up in MY mind the idea of doing good things for people in Jesus name and giving up of myself. I really thought I could have a checklist at the end of the day: 1. Called sick person (check) 2. Didn't yell at the person who cut me off in traffic (check) 3. Helped a mom in Walmart pick up after her kids who had ransacked the shirt section when her back was turned (check!). Now I can feel good about the lent day I have just experienced! I really gave up some Jerks, right? And I did things good on purpose, right?

And then God placed me in a very strange place. After a few "check list" days I had nothing to do. Not that there weren't opportunities, just that they all turned out weird. I would do a "check off" thing and feel absolutely awful and empty! I prayed for guidance, more love, more grace, wisdom, etc. And He answered.

I had just finished cleaning up our itty-bitty apartment, set the trash out on the front stoop for Derek to take to the dumpster when he got home in about an hour, showered and left for an appointment. Later in the day I was greeted with a "Notice of Lease Infraction" for putting the trash out on the stoop. It was only there for 30 minutes, (I asked Derek). He had taken it to the dumpster when he got home! Our neighbors leave theirs out in piles for weeks at a time and I get the Infraction notice for a 30 minute offense?!? My prayer came back to bite me along with my resolution to not take offense. The office was right. Our lease did say not to leave garbage sacks outside the residence. No loophole of how short the time might be...just don't do it. I took another garbage bag out and cleaned all the trash from around our apartment outside asking God to forgive me for being so petty thinking that a check list of good was the way to go. The real Jerk is Satan, deceiving us into thinking that our "acts" are what is important and by doing more of them God is impressed. He's not impressed. After all, looking down from the cross at my checklist attitude must have added to his reason for dying and made Satan chuckle at his success in hurting the Son of God a little bit more through me. That's when I realized that Satan was the Jerk I had given up for lent...not people after God's own image...the one, real, true Jerk on the Earth is Satan!!

A few days later came the bigger answer to that prayer. And it was a bit more personal. I have a standing appointment with Ms. Clairol every few months (and you thought my hair was natural at my age?!) Having only five minutes left in the process, I went to set the water temperature only to find out there was NO WATER! I frantically called the office and got the lady that had previously sent me the lease infraction notice..."Apartment 710 doesn't have water!" I gasped. "Oh," was her reply, "We have someone replacing a hot water tank in one of the apartments and had to turn it off. We never know when he is going to work so we can't give any notice of shutting of the water." "When will it be back on?" I asked, my head beginning to sting with the hair solution. "Maybe an hour or so...never know," she answered. Then she hung apology, no words of encouragement...she just hung up. That prayer bit me again, but this time the Jerk was so clearly apparent I began to laugh! Then I realized my hair felt like it was on fire! I rushed to my daughters house with a towel on my poor head and rinsed the solution off 35 minutes late. I am waiting to see if I have to get a new haircut and style. So far I haven't lost more than tips of my hair. But that is a small price to pay for the lesson learned.

I have prayed everyday for that lady, that I have an opportunity to do something nice for her face to face with all the love God can plant in my heart. She is not the Jerk. She is the instigator of a very funny event (at least it will and the real Jerk is the Spirit of Satan that tried to convince me that doing good things is a simple check list with no heart involvement. And TSOO that threw the option of offense in my face at a time he knew it would be hard not to claim my 'rights'! Thank you sweet Father for the glimpse of your wisdom and love, and allowing us all to participate, in different ways, in the great sacrifice that your Son experienced! Please continue to put to death the parts of me that are not like Him and raise up the Spirit you have given me to praise you in all things!