Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dig me a hole and let me crawl in it and never come out...

They ascended upon me as got out of the car.
My keys were handed over to them for "inspection" of my long time friend.
I was whisked into a holding room.....(well....it was really a cubicle)...and asked if I'd like anything to drink. Was this my final meal before execution? And then the hand-offs began.
I was watched and prepped by a "trainee" who referred to herself as the "product expert".
After realizing she did not have a clue what she was doing, I asked her how long she'd been on the job. Two weeks. Yes, I can see how she would be an expert, can't you? She fumbled through some papers and the computer screen, constantly shuffling the papers....obvious she didn't know what she was looking for. After what seemed like an hour, I was handed off to another "manager" who was helping out the person who had met me at my car. He was apparently "busy" and needed lots of helpers. It takes a lot of people to help someone be able to stand in the middle of a large showroom and do nothing. This new person proceeded to ask me questions that all had to be answered with numbers:

1. spouse's date of birth

2. salary

3. social security

4. work telephone number

5. insurance policy number

6. how many miles on your car

7. how many years do you plan to keep your new car

8. how many miles do you plan to drive said new car in a year

9. my date of birth

10. salary

11......get the picture????? AHHHHHHHHHH!

Well, my head started spinning.....my vision blurred....my heart began to race.....my palms started sweating.....

Was I having an......anxiety attack???? (Get a hold of yourself, woman!)

After this person got through leading me down a path of total confusion, I was given the news that the long time friend I'd dropped off upon arrival was in "fair condition"............FAIR CONDITION??? I wouldn't go that far!!!! Sure....... she had some cosmetic issues and needed a little repair.....but don't we all? I wouldn't say that I'm in "fair condition". I was offended.

I picked up the cell phone and called my husband who was at work............WORK! Is work more important than keeping me from drowning in the sea of ignorance? I called and broke the news that our friend was in "fair condition". I returned to the holding room (the cubicle) and told the man that my husband was on the phone. I began listening to their exchange and then the truth came out. Not only were they listing our friend in "fair condition", but her value was even less, simply because her parent company is now financially unstable and has "taken a turn for the worse" in their business. And this is my fault?? And so I pay the cost for their downward spiral? ---sigh---I took good care of my old friend and what did it get me??? Not much.

Well, at this point I am HANDED OFF.....yet again. I was to wait for the next available team member to tell me how "lucky" I was that they were giving me such a great deal. Time seemed to creep. Then.....I spotted them. They were rounding the corner with folders in their hands, dark suits, cufflinks, "clicky shoes", and the look of starved animals on their faces. My heart began racing again, and the room started to spin.

(Concentrate. Focus. GET ME OUT OF HERE)

I was told that they were working as a team today for cross-training purposes. Man A stood against the wall silently observing. Man B sat across the table from me and started his statements and questions.

"How many miles will you put on this car in a year, m'am." (stare)

How am I to know? I can't see the future. Is it any of his business? Quick....try to divide the number of miles on my long time friend by her age....wait.....how old is she? How many miles were on it? carry the 1, subtract.......AHHHHHHHHHHHG!

"If you or your husband become ill or incapable of paying for this vehicle, how will you make the payments?" (stare)

Ill? Unable to make the payments? I DON'T KNOW!!!! "I'll let my husband worry about that." (I laughed...they didn't")

"How long do you plan on keeping this vehicle, m'am?"

"Until it quits!" (I laughed, they didnt. They stared at one another.)

Where is the "wining and dining" I should have been treated to? I'm giving them my business for goodness sake!

Then they told me they were ready for me........Ready for me? I was finally taken to the room.

The room where I would have to negotiate the payment process. (panic......I can't breathe....I just want to run out the back door and go home.....but wait! I have NO CAR!!!!!! It's gone. Poof. Disappeared!)

So I did what any smart, intelligent, (anxiety stricken, palm-sweating) woman would do! I called my husband and sat the phone down right there on the desk and said, "My husband is on the phone....make sure you speak loudly enough that he can hear you, too."

At this point it all becomes a blur. All I really remember is my husband said, "We'll finance it elsewhere." Then they shook my hand and said it was nice to do business with me. They gave me a loaner until my car was ready to be picked up.

It felt strange driving away in a little bitty car to pick up my children. Then we headed back to pick up the new vehicle. Now that it's all over, I can honestly say that


I went to bed exhausted......physically, mentally, emotionally....and numbers were swimming in my head....which was about to explode from a headache caused by the people who acted as if I were on trial.

So I will drive this new car until it quits.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Purity (Spiritual Diet Pt2) www.twiggtales.blogspot.com

I've been thinking about purity. I have two beautiful daughters and I pray for their purity often. They are still very young and I want to protect them from the negative influence of the world as long as possible. God has been speaking to my heart a lot lately about purity. He has been showing me how purity is so much more than physical.

Psalm 24:4 says:

"Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ? Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God
his Savior."

When we are saved we are purified before Christ. Our sins are washed clean. This purification must be a daily act of obedience.

I pray for my daughters to remain pure and to save themselves for their future mate. What a beautiful gift. But purity has to start in the heart. It should be something we strive for in all areas of our lives. There are so many ways in which all of us should strive for purity.

I've been thinking about all the ways the world influences us that can lessen our purity. One time I was talking about this and someone said, "Yeah. But we can't escape it. It's all around us and is going to influence us one way or another. We just have to do our best and choose our battles." That's exactly what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to come to a realization that we will have to make concessions to society because it isn't going to get any better....so we do.....one small thing at a time, until we are so sucked into "the norm" of society that we begin believing that it's okay.

The struggle is huge. How do we survive in a world that is so media driven. Do we remove the television from our home? There has to be a balance. So we resolve to do better and get a handle on things. We limit the TV time, we pay close attention to the shows and make wise choices, we limit computer time, etc...and then life takes over and we start slipping. Just one time watching that show won't hurt them. The kids say, "We know that they are disrespectful at times to their parents and we promise that we won't talk that way even though they do." What???? I have actually fallen for that line before, I'm ashamed to say. I thought, "Wow, they are getting it." Sadly their parents weren't at that moment. Anything to get 30 minutes of time to cook dinner or get some things done...even just 30 minutes to take a nap.

Television, movies, books, computer, words, conversation, activity choices, and music! The list is endless. More and more my children's friends are listening and watching and mine wonder why we don't want them to. They constantly ask "what's wrong" with a program or "what's bad" about that song? It's hard to explain. Sometimes I think, "nothing....really wrong or bad"...just not something I want being stamped in their subconscious that becomes part of their soul.

So many things are targeted at MY GIRLS. My girls who haven't reached puberty, yet the things marketed at them are drenched in subjects that are way beyond American Girl dolls and dress up. It doesn't take long either. Only a matter of minutes. My girls watched the Disney Channel every night one week. They were allowed to watch one show. Before I knew what happened, they knew the names (real names) of all the characters and would speak about them as if they knew them personally. I had NO IDEA who these people were. It was quite humorous....until I realized that they couldn't remember what 9X4 was and got quite "sassy" when I suggested they stop what they were doing until they could learn their 9's!
So many of these television programs feature children/teens speaking with sarcasm and "sassiness" that gains laughter from the audience. Is that seemingly innocent humor really modeling purity for our children--teaching them to respect their parents and authority in their lives? You may laugh and say, "It's really not that bad." And then you hear your child throw out a quick sarcastic remark to you or another adult and you wince with alarm and think, "Where in the WORLD did they learn that? I never taught my child to speak that way!" But we did.

We want our daughters to not be consumed with their looks and with the opposite sex. We want their identity to come from Christ....and yet the programs they watch are consumed with boy/girl relationships, what is cool, who can come back with the quickest cutting remark, and fashion that makes eyes immediately focus on their body. That "cute" little pair of sweatpants with something written on the backside invites everyone to look. That low-cut shirt invites others to look whether they intended to or not.

This battle is exhausting. It requires constant action. It requires us to provide an alternative...not just pull the plug. I found myself saying, "No, we aren't going to watch that...now go find something else to do." That's not parenting. So I am trying very hard to find alternatives, and that requires me to be involved and a participant in the alternative at times---like reading a long novel that is interesting to their ears and minds, but too hard for them to read and understand on their own. Yes, that requires less time to do other things, but I know the efforts are eternal. One glimmer of hope came this past week. We had not watched TV at all that week and they asked to watch a movie. We let them stay up and watch one. After it was over at ten o'clock, my 8 year old asked I would read a chapter or two out of the novel I had been reading them. I told her that it was too late and we needed to get to bed. She paused for a moment and said, "Well, maybe instead of watching TV tomorrow night as our free time, we could read three or four chapters out the book....an extra long story time!" Ah........the fresh air of success. Music to my ears.
My time with them is fleeting fast. It's half way over and it's only just begun. I want them to remember....

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." ~Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spiritual Diet Part 1

I love to eat. (The very reason I can't get down to the weight I'd like to be....but that's an entirely different post. ) I like a good meal. I really hate it when I go to a pricey restaurant and order something that sounds very appetizing, expecting high quality food, only to be disappointed. Sometimes the dish looks good, but once I bite into it, I realize that all the sauce, marinating, and decoration in the world can not turn a leathery piece of steak into a tenderloin. Looks can be deceiving.

I was having lunch today with my daughters and overheard a conversation in the booth behind me. Two men were meeting for lunch during their busy day and one asked the other what he had been up to and doing this week. The gentleman launched into an exciting description of his church's "VBS".....Vacation Bible School. He talked for at least 15 minutes about how fabulous it was the night before. The set on the stage was phenomenal. They had a working drawbridge right on the stage. The kids could walk over it and out the building when they were finished with their time in the sanctuary. He said that his church goes "all out" in visual aids and decorations. He said that he was helping in the four-year old department. He said that he didn't have to do anything but show up and herd them from room to room. After describing the "set" he launched into how incredible the recreation time was. "It was total chaos"...."wild"....."things flying everywhere"....and how much fun the kids were having. He explained to his friend that the whole night was designed to be that way so it would be exciting. (the other man still hadn't spoken) The gentleman continued with his description of a contest that the boys and girls were having. They are competing to see who can bring in the most pennies by the end of the week. (For what, you ask? He didn't say. I'm sure there is a recipient, but it wasn't important really, only the contest.) He laughed and said that he'd never seen so many pennies in his life and how much work it was for the kids to get everything changed into pennies. He finished by saying that the kids went back into the sanctuary at the end of the evening to "get a penny count and sing a couple of songs and then go home". As their food arrived, the other gentleman asked if he was going back again tonight and he told him he was and that he was looking forward to another night of fun.

I was stunned. Well, not really. I was really just surprised at the "coincidence" over the fact I had just had a conversation this morning about how children AND ADULTS are not satisfied with anything that isn't well packaged and high-tech. There seems to be a lot of time spent on the package....the visual appeal....anything to keep our attention. I mean if it doesn't move fast, have special effects, and sound like our favorite pop/rock band then we lose interest. Last year we purchased a $30 computer game called "Mathblaster" because it was exciting and "fun" and was supposed to reinforce math skills. We found that after one week, the math skills had not improved at all, but our daughter knew how to play the game. Her score was not even important as long as she could get her super hero from point A to point B. He could arrive at his destination, unharmed, but without any points from correct math equation answers. So back to the old-fashioned flashcards we went. Amazingly, the flash cards worked...and I got them at the Dollar Tree. ($29 too late)

Sadly, in the entire conversation I overheard today at lunch, not one time did the gentleman mention how much the children were learning about Christ. Never once did he say relationships were being built with the children. After all, how could they as they "herded" them from station to station amidst the "wild chaotic fun".

We are caught in a current that keeps dragging us farther and farther away from the shore. We are serving up beautiful, elaborately prepared and garnished meals with no sustenance or nourishment. It tastes good going down, but there it is basically cheap meat with a lot of sauce.

What if all the money that had been spent on that drawbridge had been turned into pennies? And in turn, those pennies turned into dollars? And the dollars given to further the kingdom of God? How much time did it take to build that drawbridge? How much time was spent preparing the message for the children to actually hear? Do they even compare?

I am thankful for all the wonderful teachers in this world who pour their hearts into their lessons. Who spend hours with the Lord during the week, in order to bring a deep, succulent lesson each Sunday that gives us something to nourish our clean our souls and minds. God's Word is living and breathing and stands on it's own. It doesn't need a makeover.

Now before you go and chew me up and spit me out, I am not saying that having fun and decorating is wrong. Let's just be honest. Where is the investment being made? Are we laying out a beautifully decorated table, piping in the latest music, stimulating our venue visually, and serving MUSH, or are we cleaning up our house, planning a healthy and tasteful meal, searching for the best and most beneficial ingredients, cooking it until it's perfectly done, and serving it after a prayerful blessing?

You decide.