Monday, July 31, 2006

In Search of a New... Part II


As for the couch, Todd thinks maybe we should go for the distressed look. Since that’s how I felt when I first saw the manly man couch, I think it’s fitting.

“All we need are some decorative buffalo heads up there on the wall and we’ll be set!” I chirped.

“You’re a vegetarian,” Todd said. “And I don’t hunt.”

“Then how about some nice golf prints…” I offered.

Todd got that faraway look in his eyes and began to nearly glow. I sensed he was rapidly slipping away again.

“Who do you think inspired the designer of this couch?” I asked.

Todd had already checked out.

“Let’s see…” I continued.

“Marlon Brando?”

“Clint Eastwood?”

Silence.

“Stephen King?”

“Mussolini?”

“Stalin??”

Silence.

“KING KONG! GODZILLA!! Todd! Come back!!”

“Did you just say something?” Todd asked. He seemed startled… as if he’d just been wrenched away from the putt-for-birdie in his mind.

“Did you just say you wanted to rent Godzilla?”

Silence.

I should tell you that before we started shopping for furniture we did some advance work. We culled the furniture ads that came in the mail. We pored over design sites on the internet. We essentially refreshed the home d├ęcor page of our minds to re-orient on what was current and hot and trendy. We were now in the know.

That was our first mistake.

Because it made us dislike what we have even more. We were now panting like a lonely sheep dog for something different.

I’ll stop short of saying I’m in “good company” here. But the Bible reveals a long history of people whose path of desire has driven them into a ditch. Think Eve in the garden surrounded by all that certified organic produce. But she wanted something more. Think of the Israelites and the rain of manna. A pleasant-tasting and wholly nutritional chow that God whipped up and delivered for free! But they wanted something more. Think of Solomon and all those nice hometown sweeties. But he wanted something more. Think of Judas Iscariot and the seminal opportunity to follow and serve the Lord. But he wanted something more.

Seems there is something inside of us—as part of the human condition—that is empty and restless and screaming for fulfillment. I could jump on my Bible soapbox and tell you that only Jesus will fill the void. That only when we surrender to the one true God as our source of sustenance and hope will we even approach a state of satisfaction. And I would be right about that. Yet despite our best intentions and minds and hearts that ache to stay spiritually anchored, sometimes the only thing we hear are the sirens and bellows of the world.

You need new clothes.

You need new furniture.

You need a new body.

You need a new wife.

You need new toys.

You need new gadgets.

You need those impulse purchases at Target.

You need.

You need.

You need


Two weeks worth of trolling for furniture sufficiently convinced me that Todd and I needed to pretty much start all over. Beyond new paint and carpet, we "needed" new everything.

Then a friend told me about something called “sustainable living.” A way of shifting our mindset from what we want to what we genuinely need. Fundamentalist sustainable types are edging toward living off the land. I would be hard pressed to go there. The first time I inadvertently scooped up a slimy worm in a bag of dirt, I turned white as dusted potato roll and nearly passed out. Let’s just say I have “issues” with things that creep and crawl. Nevertheless, there’s something intriguing about the “sustainable living” ethos. Could be there’s a biblical parallel there…

Part III: Sustainable Living… More than Recycling and Sprouts?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Breastfeeding Pic... the Controversy?

More about sin in the furniture aisle to come. But how about the Baby Talk Magazine breastfeeding photograph controversy? It actually made headlines yesterday on MSNBC.com. Seems people are in an uproar over the August cover which features a cute little nursing infant on a mother's breast. People quoted on MSNBC.com talked of being grossed out and offended. Some lady took one look at it and just had to flip it over.

Help me with this. Because I just don't understand.

We live in a culture that doesn't bat an eye at celebrities who skip about in clothing that resembles dental floss. My Sunday paper is fat with circulars that feature women in sexy underwear. Pamela Anderson goes up and down and up again and it's everywhere.

But whoa to the baby magazine that showcases... brace yourself for this: a breastfeeder.

I think there's a larger issue here...

Hmmm... comments anyone?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

In Search of a New...

Three little boys have done a number on our house. I was looking at our walls the other day. We have this creeping knee-to-waist-high band of gray looping the interior. Years of sweet grubby little hand prints have given us a unique designer’s touch. And we did it ourselves, thank you very much.

“Does charity extend to us?” I recently asked Todd.

“We could use some new paint,” he agreed.

And carpet.

And furniture.

And dinnerware.

And glassware.

And flatware.

And marriage counseling.

This is how it began:

Somehow I convinced myself that third-world inhabitants live better than I do. The leather is cracking on my couch. My tumblers are chipped. And we are down to two spoons that actually fit the mouths of our children.

“Our spoons are enormous. The boys are going to have mouths like the Honey Comb kid,” I warned Todd.

“By all means,” he said, “get yourself some new spoons.”

And carpet.

And furniture…

So we hired a babysitter and slipped off to Cantoni in Plano. The excursion was almost romantic. I could swear I heard Barry White wafting over the speaker system as we glided through the store with big eyes and images of a modern and updated abode. Todd and I were nearly single-minded in our likes and dislikes and I was reminded of the dating days when we agreed on everything. The experience was so phenomenal, we did it again the following weekend. Only problem was this time we couldn’t get a babysitter. So the five of us descended upon another furniture store.

“Can I jump on the big bed?” Daniel squealed.

“No!” I snapped.

“Can I jump on the big couch?” he persisted.

“No!” Todd snapped.

“Look! A Tarzan swing!!!” cried Colin.

“That is a $150 decorative tassel! Back off!” I barked.

Barry White was nowhere and I had become a walking hot flash.

At one point, I drifted off in the direction of the dainty and delicate appointments. Todd, bored with the mission before we stepped foot in the store, landed on the first couch he saw. It was a massive manly hunk of lumber wrapped in distressed cowhide and covered with metal studs.

“I don’t know whether to sit on this or shoot it,” I offered.

I thought I could see a bubble over Todd’s head revealing his thoughts and desires. It was a picture of himself fortressed and girded on the manly man couch… kids in bed… wife in other room on the computer… and the 1986 Master’s Golf Tournament on continuous loop. I thought I saw a tiny crinkle in the corner of his mouth as Arnold Palmer sunk a putt.

“Who would we invite over to sit on this?” I asked.

Arnie pumps his fist in the air! Woohoo!

“I know! How about the Gold’s Gym Employee of the Month! Or Billy Idol and some biker friends!” I offered.

Greg Norman’s up! Look at the big dog eat!

“The only thing missing from this picture is Winston Churchill and a box of Cuban cigars!” I continued.

He crushed that thing! Oooeee!

“Todd! Todd! Where are you? Come back!”

“Oh, sorry, honey.” Did you say something?”

“Yes! I said, let’s go, please!!”

Out of the store we trudged. Back to the car that smelled of old chicken nuggets and summer sandals. Back to the home that looks like the southern border of Lebanon.

Feeling somewhat overwhelmed and mildly distressed, I wondered if there was a biblical perspective to guide us.

Um… I think I found it.

Part II: Sustainable Living, Stewardship and Manna Chow!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Christie and Peter...

How does she do it? Christie Brinkley, I mean. She’s as gorgeous today as she was when she first started pitching Cover Girl cosmetics d-d-d-d-decades ago. What do you want to bet there’s a Dorian Gray-like portrait that looks just like Nanny McPhee collecting dust in her spacious Southampton attic?

So imagine the collective shock rifting though the community of 40- and 50-something’s… as we fixed our collagen-starved orbs on MSNBC.com for the latest on the Middle East crisis… only to find that Christie and Peter had seized the moment!

Peter Cheats on Christie… with a Teen!

For those of us feeling more like Nanny and less like Christie… there was a piercing pang of sympathy for Christie… that boomeranged instantly into something more personal.

Whoa. If it could happen to her… it could happen to me!

With this smack-you-upside-the-head insight, I moved my decidedly un-super-model-like body from the computer room to the master bath where I took a penetrating investigative look at my 44-year-old face.

Definitely more like Nanny than Christie… where did my chin go, anyway? It used to be there! Where did it go? Chin! Chin! Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!!

Freaked out and suddenly concerned about who my husband encounters in the bagel line at work… I did what any self-respecting menopausal woman of a certain age should do… I went to the Bible. I figured the Creator of the Universe might be willing to shed some light on Peter and Christie… and Sarah and Todd… and all of you, for that matter. And indeed He has!


“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”

Proverbs 5:18 (NIV)

Many a man, perhaps, has taken this to mean “rejoice in your young wife.” Guys, that's some funky grammar. God established marriage… played out as a life-long union… between one man and one woman... as the nucleus of the family. Imagine if God had given us a twist. Let’s say God gave the sons of Adam carte blanche to flit from woman to woman as their desire waxed and waned. Once a wife became familiar or began to lose the bloom of youth, she was tossed aside like a day-old bagel. This would obviously be a murky and troubling condition for women. The lady gets a few droops and dimples and it’s time to go out and kick some new tires. How would you like to live your life like a toner cartridge… just waiting to be replaced?

Praise God! His admonition to men is to hang with their brides from youth to beyond… forever! And He is quite specific in terms of warning the guys about problems along the way:


“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry.”

Colossians 3:5

God didn’t use girly man language to make this point. I don’t hear Kenny G or Precious and Few in the background. Put it to death! God said put to death… whatever belongs to your earthly nature… sexual immorality… impurity… lust… evil desire…

Rub it out! Snuff it! Swiffer it up! Zout it out!


Now, why do you suppose God takes this all so seriously? There’s a website that covers this subject better than I. Please see http://www.porn-free.org/consequences.htm for a hair-raising walk across the consequences of sexual sin.

Back to Christie and Peter. To be fair: we don’t know all the facts. Peter’s been tried and hung by the media and will no doubt have a hard time hosting the next neighborhood block party. For all I know, he is getting smeared. It’s possible?

Even if he did dally with a woman who probably still plays with Bratz, it is incumbent upon Christians to view this situation as scripture teaches and models. Did God pull back His love from David? There were consequences, for sure. But God hung in there with him. What about the woman the Pharisees wanted to stone? How about the lady at the well? How did Jesus respond? With compassion, forgiveness and mercy. With love.

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Romans 3:23

If he did cheat on his wife, Peter is not unique. Not because there are plenty of other men (and women) who stray. But because sin takes many avenues and forms. And who is to say that the person who cheats on his income tax is any better, morally, than the person who cheats on his wife.

"For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is
guilty of breaking all of it."

James 2:10

Sin is sin.

Which is why we need a Savior... (See in order: Romans 6:23, Romans 6:8, Ephesians 2:8, John 14:6).

So guys and gals. How about it? Unmasked sin can be devastatingly harmful, destructive and, well, flat-out humiliating.

You have to ask yourself: Is it worth it?