Monday, August 27, 2012

Why a PB&J Can Be Extraordinary!

Today I am reminded of the little things.  Such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which can make or break a day, according to Casey Schu.  Eating this as a pick me up (one of my favorites) during this dragging day recalled her infamous lectures on the snack.

A minister somewhere told me that when his friend was feeling down, he would buy a pack of socks.  Now, for the next six to eight days, on average, he would have something very small yet special to look forward to.  A pack of socks do not cost very much, but they are new... they are clean (especially if you are like me where my socks tend to be white only once)... they are special, but only for him.

On my off days, I make myself a warm beverage.  I generally read.  I might surf the internet.  However, I try to do things that are special to make an un-special day worthy.

Interestingly enough, I consider humanity's relationship with Christ in the same way.  Ordinary people living ordinary lives become extraordinary because of their interaction with the Divine.  Ordinary days become extraordinary because of eternal love.

So the next time I have an off day, I intend on making a cup of tea and reading from my novel... but I will also reflect on what makes life beautiful, and just how dull every day could have been without it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Conversacion y Controversia

Today is dreary, rainy, wet and cold in Central Illinois.  I love it, in general, but the persistent heat is making everything feel like a sauna of sorts.  So with today being a rain day, I decided to tackle homework instead of... well, tackling homework (had to be done either way, but it felt nicer being inside without the sun teasing me).  

As I was reading my Spanish book, I had a lightbulb moment.  For, you see, my book is entitled "Conversacion y Controversia" or, for all you monolingual people, "Conversation and Controversy."  The textbook goes through modern issues and gives "both sides" to read and reflect on.  The book uses conventional Spanish vocabulary and writing style (so the text is "real"), it simply is a book that would be read more in the fifth or sixth grade for a native-speaker.   I can easily understand the book, especially by context, on these issues.

What I realized while reading today about whether 2100 A.D. will be a pleasant or horrible place to live is that this is what national dialogue is becoming, or as I fear more likely, became.  A dumbed down, pick one or the other, sound-bite driven, black and white issue book.

And when trying to learn a second language?  That works well!  It is even kind of fun!  Being able to read and understand what any Spanish speaking fifth grader is reading is awesome (coincidently, most newspapers are written at a fifth grade level).

But when we're using the same method of conversation and controversy to govern a country...? Well, 2100 never looked scarier.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

And I've Murdered Yet Another

I have never had a green thumb to speak of.  When I was in high school, I always tried to have a large vegetable garden, but between camps and the heat and my juvenile level of devotion, I soon had a weed bed.  Most plants that come my way end up going to the green house in the sky or to the care of other more talented people.

That is, until Bambi, the Bamboo came my way.  

Last year for welcome week Campus Activities Board (CAB) gave away good-luck bamboos.  I thought it was darling and naturally I took one of my own.  Oh how it grew!  And it only took one watering a week!

Coming into my dorm this year, well, we had an accident.  The poor thing fell not once, but twice.  Each time the rock bed that it was grounded in scattered on the gravel parking lot and each time I picked up the rocks and the plant.

Bambi is still alive, but I fear just. The leaves are in "distress green" and it appears the tips are losing even more color.  

So any tips?  Any words of help for my poor house plant?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Being Recognized

Sunday I received a gift that I was not expecting.  I drove into church, as I typically do on a Sunday morning, went down the avenue, started to turn into the drive when I suddenly stopped.

The marquee had changed.

I read it quickly and realized that an addition had been made.  The last line of the marquee now read, "Colton Lott S.P.I."  

I received billing!  Most churches don't even recognize associate ministers on the marquee.  Youth ministers have an even slimmer chance.  And interns?  No way!

But my church did.  They put me up there for travelers to see.  I felt so loved and honored that even today, Friday, I am amazed at their generosity and care.

I think the secret is that we can often do the same.  Remembering and recognizing those around us is critical. When we emphasize that the important people in our lives are important, we figuratively open the door for "our people" to inhabit the niche they have created in our lives.  Things that are as simple as this can strengthen the bonds of community and shape the way that our friends and family hold and carry themselves.

I do not know how much work, consideration, or time it took for my church to put my name on our marquee, but I do know how much it meant, and for that I sincerely say thank you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

God All Encompassing

I was considering today God.  That, on its own, does not sound too particularly exciting because at one point or another all of us take a moment to reflect on the nature of the Divine during some point of the day (even if that 'reflection' is no more than turning around to yell at the g@% d@#* cat you just tripped on).

I suppose I was envisioning heaven, or really anticipating the presence of God when I realized that all of my imaginings had a male God. In some of my thoughts, God was even a very old white man with a salt and pepper beard.

Don't take me the wrong way- I have no problem with anybody daydreaming about God or heaven or the stupid cat.  What intrigues me is that in my mind I still had not consciously made the full transition to conceiving of God in genderlessness.

I know  a few of my friends (and even a few of my readers) dislike seeing God in any gender but male.  I personally prefer to, theologically speaking, consider the Divine to be exempt from, yet encompassing all genders.  Even though I feel this way, I have resisted for many years of taking into practice invoking God in the feminine because I did not see the worth.

My daydream didn't have a matriarch, but a patriarch. 

Perhaps I have already covered this ground once in the preceding paragraphs, but this set off a red flag when I realized this.  The alert didn't occur because I could conceive of God the Father, but as I tried to do the same for God the Mother...

Well.  I couldn't.  When I tried to envision God the Divine... Well.  I couldn't.

Startling myself with all of this, I decided today that it IS time to incorporate gender envisioning into my spiritual exercises ... to consider AND practice that perhaps God can transcend gender yet be encompassing of all genders.  

Maybe I'm over-reacting.  Maybe I've just been in a darned liberal arts college for too long (two days back in that yankee-land!).  However, I think that now is the time to consider a God who is generous... who is "omni-"... who is able to be my patriarch and matriarch.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


One of the scariest but most interesting facts about me is that I like to read people.  I am not sure why, but I like to know what is going on behind the eyes.  I generally desire knowing what I shouldn't know, what a person is thinking, what they didn't say as opposed to what they did, where their coming from- even their deepest darkest secrets.

Maybe this is because I am in the people business.  Perhaps it is because I am a freak.  I really do not know.

What I do know is that one of the most valuable ideas that I have learned in recent years is the "fight of flight" tendency.  Once I was able to understand this idea, I  was able to understand people's actions, on occasion.  Having a very elementary understanding of Game Theory did not hurt either.

When it became obvious to me that I was not doing as well as I should have with my dear blog, I had the option of fighting harder to accomplish the goals I set for myself... or fleeing from the whole operation.

Guess which one I picked.

This is my reintroduction spiel.  I hope that I have not evaporated my entire following on Minor Musings... I hope that some will come back and read my words.  I hope that my writing improves with time.  

More than anything else, I hope that you will forgive me for leaving so abruptly and forgetting to write- literally and figuratively.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Called to Serve and Destined to Move Part I

Sometimes I wonder how Christians can stomach to live in this world.  This world is still broken, the hungry are still aching, the homeless are still cold, the sick are still dying, the orphaned are still unloved, the widows are still forsaken, and yet so many of us are SO blessed and we refuse to lift one finger. 
How did we get to be so greedy?  How did we get to be so wrong?

Jesus may have said “the poor will be with you always” but I do not believe that was an invitation to stop working passionately and diligently to change this world.  To bring mercy and justice; for ALL Christians to be change agents to this world and to frequently and whole heartedly devote their life to having “His will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Folks, somewhere in the rat race, we dropped the ball.  Take, for example, the poorest nation in the Americas- Haiti.  Do you know what Haitians eat when the food runs out?  Yellow mud cookies, worth about a nickel.  In our country we play with mud pies; there, they really eat them. 

Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Hey, hey, anybody there?  Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Anybody care?

In Haiti, 50% of children will die before they reach the age of five.  Why?  These children will fall from diseases that we have vaccinations for!  It’s not expensive, about $1.50.  When you bought your coke today, how much was it? 

Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Hey, hey, anybody there?  Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Anybody care?

In America, we have our poverty too.  Don’t ever think that we don’t.  We have safety nets, yes.  But we have deep human need too.  What do we do for them, besides tell them to go ask Uncle Sam for a handout?

Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Hey, hey, anybody there?  Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Anybody care?

When was the last time we tithed to a church, or gave significantly from our paychecks?  When was the last time we gave something more than the token quarter in the Salvation Army buckets at Christmas? 

Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Hey, hey, anybody there?  Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Anybody care?

We all have the ability to tithe, I remember reading in an article.  The reason more people do not is mostly boiled down to discipline.  If everyone earnestly decided to give a percentage of their paycheck, then they could do so.  Not necessarily easily, but they would have the ability to.

Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Hey, hey, anybody there?  Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Anybody care?

Even though I advocate giving to Godly things, don’t think that the church is not also guilty.  Why do our churches have savings and reserves, sometimes in the six or seven digit range, and there is still desolation in their land.  Why do churches run budgets where they are not even tithing or significantly giving back to their neighbor?

Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Hey, hey, anybody there?  Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Anybody care?

Why do we claim to be pro-life, or pro-choice, and not open up our doors to foster children and adoption?  Even though we know of too many horror stories to the families that go through the process, why are we so scared that we cannot back up our beliefs and work to make the life of a child better?

Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Hey, hey, anybody there?  Hey, hey, anybody listening?  Anybody care?

Why why why?  How can we live in this country and not see the truth anymore?  I am just as guilty, please do not think I am ranting against you, my blogging community.  I am calling myself to task, and I hope that you feel my energy.  I promise.

I was talking to a profound lady today about how the spirit of service and hope is like wildfire.  However, apathy and pessimism is like buckets of water.  We cannot not care any longer.  We never should have started in the first place, but we have got to move. 

**** This blog will be continued tomorrow.  Stay tuned! ****