Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Lifetime Warranty

So I'm driving down Ridge Road in Wichita yesterday when I notice it. One of the 8 lights beside the speedometer was glaring at me. Then it started to blink.

Thank goodness I was close to Sonic. I pulled in and got my usual. (Route 44 Diet Coke with vanilla. One time a married friend of mine - an accountability partner of sorts - did the math and figured out I spend something like $94 A MONTH on Diet Cokes from Sonic. That's $1,128 a year. She said I'm crazy and that her husband would kill her. I told her it's an addiction (obviously) and it's a good thing I didn't marry her husband.)

Anyway, I took a second to call the dealership where I JUST bought the car. They transfer me to the mechanic, and I explain that something is apparently wrong with the car I JUST bought.

"What's wrong?" he asks.

I explain that a light is on. "What does it say?" he asks.

I explain that it's a picture, not a word.

"What is the picture of?" he asks.

I explain that it's some sort of mechanical part. "It looks like something from a Dr. Seuss book," I add hopefully. Pause. Then comes the longest "I-really-hate-dealing-with-women/why-do-they-even-issue-y'all-driver-licenses-anyway" sigh I've ever heard.

"Well, I think it's covered under the lifetime warranty," I say. Then the minute I said it, I realize that was the water heater I just bought, not the car. And I think he heard me.

Yep. He laughs. "Oh, you got the lifetime warranty," he exclaims sarcastically. "Well aren't you special!"

Whatever. But it did make me think. I came home and and pulled out all the warranties, lifetime protection plans, insurance policies, retirement savings papers... everything... and began reading. And, as I sat among the piles and piles of paper with my calculator, I start to cry.

I spent $739 this month on insurance. You know, to protect myself. My health. My life. My assets. And yet, no amount of insurance can protect us. No number of policies -however great- can ward off accidents, catastrophies, and death.

As I cried, one of my favorite hymns started playing in the back of my mind. And I started to sing, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.... Perfect submission, all is at rest; I in my Savior am happy and blessed. Watching and waiting, looking above - filled with His goodness, lost in His love...."

Jesus is mine. Blessed assurance, indeed! That's better than any insurance any under-writer could ever come up with. I think when I take my car in to see that mechanic on Monday, I'm going to explain. Explain that I DO have a lifetime warranty plan. Not for this lifetime, but for the next.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Soap Box Brin

I was deciding between paint colors called "Cat's Whiskers" and "Aspic" yesterday morning when I heard it....

"We can't take back custom-mixed paint," the clerk at Sherwin Williams barked into her phone.Silence. Then, "Well, I don't know. I heard Habitat for Humanity takes paint and uses it in the homes they're building around here."

I was instantly excited. Having already learned that Sherwin Williams definitely does NOT offer any kind of 'sorry-you-hate-your-paint-and-it-reminds-you-of-kid-puke' exchange, I too have buckets of paint I can't (won't) ever use. (Unless I decide to get underneath my house and do some painting. And even I don't get that bored.) Anyway, it got my mind racing. Wonder what else is hiding in Freeman House that Habitat could use?

I drove home quickly and paced the house. There was the washing machine my Mom gave me. I have a new one being delivered today, and there's no reason I should let Lowe's haul it off. Someone could use it. Oh! And then there's the sink I bought that I can't stand now. (Really, somedays I have poor taste.) Oh! And over there....

A huge pile is accumulating. But I've noticed that it's not just sinks and paint. It's clothes. And shoes I never wear. And lamps and dishes and....

Wow. I really wish I could take all this stuff to the Christian Service Center here in town. But I refuse. In order for anyone to get any help - or clothes, food, etc. - the person must first trot down to a local church and ask for a voucher. Sure, the churches say it gets people in the doors... gets them in contact with a pastor or deacon. Whatever. The Service Center is nearly busting with Baptist hand-me-downs that people need but no one claims.

The longer I considered my pile, the angrier I got. It made me remember. Remember that when Jesus sent out His disciples, He coached them somewhat like this:

1. Go to the 'lost sheep'.
2. Preach this message: the kingdom of heaven is near.
3. Heal the sick. Raise the dead, etc.

I wonder if my church's altar Bible is accidentally missing that page. I'm not seeing much giving going on. And I certainly wouldn't characterize it as the "freely" sort of giving, either.

I wish I could say that I'm sorry if this is offending local church friends, but the truth is - I'm not. I'm not a bit sorry. The average American eats nearly 14 POUNDS of bread a year. (Yeah.) I read this past week that if you slept under a roof last night, you're better off than over 90% of people in this world. My heart is breaking. Certainly we as Christians could do more. Certainly Jesus told us to do more.

I don't know where this soap box appeared from today. (I guess that phone call at Sherwin Williams.) Before I hop off this box, however, I leave you with this quote a friend emailed me yesterday. It's from Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw. It reads:

This is the one true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy....

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.... I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no `brief candle' to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

God Bless America!

(I read this today, and wished I had written it first! The following was recently published in a Tampa newspaper, and it reminded me that my country - my United States of America - was founded by Christians men and women. Christians who probably weren't afraid of offending someone by wishing them a "Merry Christmas". Christians who weren't worried about stamping "In God We Trust" on our national currency. Christians who fought for the right to voice audible prayers - to a Sovereign God - in our nation's schools. Christians who wouldn't have hesitated to belt out a few stanzas of "God Bless America" in public. If only today's Christians were so frank... so unintimidated! - Brin)


"I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the politically correct crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.

"This idea of America being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Americans...... we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

"We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

"In God We Trust" is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women... on Christian principles... founded this nation... and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home........because God is part of our culture. If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don't like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle.

"Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so! But once you are done complaining....... whining...... and griping...... about our flag....... our pledge...... our national motto........or our way of life.... I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other Great American Freedom......

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Introducing... Knit Together!

It's a little weird, I know, but I LOVE to knit. Love it. My aunt taught me last year, and since then my social life has seriously suffered. I can't seem to put the stinkin' needles down!

But no worries. I think I've come up with an excuse to knit even more - without regret! I'd like to introduce you to something I'm calling Knit Together. As in Psalm 139 ... "You knit me together in my mother's womb". Check it out soon at Knit Together is a little Christian grassroots project that will provide children and families with hand-made knitted, crocheted, and quilted clothing and personal items - blankets, sweaters, toys, etc. - along with the message that they were created by a God who loves them so much he "knitted" together their inmost beings! Plus, it will give us needle holders an excuse to buy fun new yarn or material!

We need everything - people who knit, crochet, or quilt. We need yarn, thread, and needles. We could use patterns and advice. It's my hope that eventually we can organize a few groups -friends and church members, etc. - to teach knitting or invite folks over to work on projects together.

Again, this is still in the planning stages, so any help you could provide would be appreciated. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, April 10, 2006

An Open (Birthday) Letter

Happiness,... not in another place but this place, not for another hour but this hour.
- Walt Whitman
This weekend marked my 27th birthday - another year of being me. It was such a great day!
I couldn't have asked for a better celebration. Really! (Well... hang on. Tyler Florence could have made it a little better. So could Luke Wilson. ;)
Anyway, my friends and I loaded up and headed to Jefferson, Texas. Omgosh... the fun! There was, in brief: a horse named Prince, the weirdest game of checkers ever (long story, right Lisa?), vanilla peanut butter fudge (yum!), a mishap with a lily pad, a brick, and a creaky old 1850s hotel that all played a part in the day. (See Lacy, I told you the Excelsior wasn't haunted!) I'll remember it forever! And for those who were there, I have only one word: cuckoo! cuckoo!
I couldn't ask for better friends. Nor would I. My house is old and ... needs help, but I love it. My family isn't perfect, but we are family. There's a lot of love there. Standing back and taking it all in on Saturday, I realized: I'm happy. Today. Here. Now. I am happy.
Seems like we always sit around waiting... waiting for payday or Friday or someday. We wait for those days to be happy, while this day - with all its hope and promise and blessings- ticks by....
We've all heard it - the old: "Count your life in smiles, not tears. Count your life in moments, not years." Well, I'm doing that. Starting this birthday.
Special thanks to all of you who were there to help with the smiling bit! You bless me more than you know! -B

Saturday, April 1, 2006

April's Fool is Circus Bound

Follow Maebelline and me around for the day and you'll see her act up or do something completely asinine. And soon thereafter, I promise you'll hear me threaten to send her off to the circus.

Guess what? This morning - this blessed April Fool's morning - I think I heard her tell me (from underneath a sea of blankets, so I can't be sure) - that I belong in a circus.

Of course, it could just be today. I have always been a little ... different ... on this day. I mean, my birthday is April 8. A week after April Fool's. When I was (a little) younger I wondered if April Fool's was invented a week before my birthday to warn the world I was coming. Teh heh. Now I KNOW April Fool's was invented to warn the world its prize fool was coming.

It didn't work out with the lawyer. At all. Not that I'm surprised. (Admit it. You aren't either. ) I've always said that I have the worst luck with guys, but last night, amid packing my circus bags, it hit me. Maybe I don't have the worst luck with guys. Maybe I'm like a circus mime in a glass dating box - I'm stuck here despite my efforts to break out. Or maybe I'm like the tight-rope walker. Question my single's position in life, and I'm dead. Or maybe I'm like the guy who takes care of the fancy elephants - doomed to get crapped on BIG TIME... forever.

April Fool's Sigh.

He had a lot going for him. Good job, good hair, cool house, similar values, etc., etc. But the first week we dated I fixated on something about him that bugged the living circus out of me. I tried to ignore it, but the longer I did the more wishy-washy and irritable I got. And before you know it, I was calling him last night to say that it just didn't... I just couldn't... maybe he could...

Sob. Sigh.

He was cool about it. I mean, he did say that I was "annoying". And he did allude to the fact that he's not over his ex-girlfriend (whom he dated nearly 2 YEARS ago). But hey. This "annoying" girl only cried for about an hour after the call. Then I spent several minutes practicing my best circus smile and trying to find a copy of Juggling for Dummies online.

I really hate dating. I hate the emotional circus that tags along with it. I hate the margarita and french fry binge that will inevitably come sometime today. And I hate pulling out my post-breakup waterproof mascara that only sees the light of day when my heart's been broken.

But enough self-pity and self-loathing. I have my holiday to celebrate today. And circus training to finish. Before all that, though, please excuse me while April's Fool makes a french fry run....