Friday, May 29, 2009

Feeling Drained

My water had 'hardened'. It looked clean and clear - but over the years it had gotten overloaded with chemicals. Week after week, chlorine, algaecide, clarifiers, oils from sun screen - Stuff. It just couldn't take it any more. Water, H2O, would evaporate every day. I'd refill the pool with fresh water, it would rain, but the chemicals lingered. Invisible, but there. Some things, just never go away. I could pour new chlorine in by the bucket fulls with no effect. The chemicals were dead before they even hit the water. The pool was saturated and couldn't take any more. I was wasting money, time and energy. And worst of all - I could no longer feel comfortable swimming in my own pool.

So I drained it dry. Last week I rented a submersible pump from Home Depot and sucked every last drop of water out of my pool. Now this may sound easy and it is, but what makes it tricky is the damage it can do. There was the possibility that the pool walls would cave in without the support and weight of the water. And there was the possibility that the pool would actually 'rise up' - lift out of the ground like a boat without the water inside to keep it down. Everyone I talked to had a different piece of advice - mostly: 'don't do it', and 'you're crazy'. But I had to take the gamble.
It took 4-5 hours to pump it dry. Then I scrubbed the walls (a pebble tech finish). Then I patched some cracking along the top. It took a long time and a lot of energy. I stuck a hose in and starting filling the pool with brand new, fresh, sparkling water. It took 24 hours to refill it. (and now I'm dreading the city water bill!)

But I had to do it. It needed to be refreshed - it needed new life. The source of life in my pool had died a slow death and it was rendered useless to me - unless I did something fast.
We're not much different - over the years we become so intoxicated with bad chemicals (poisons, attitudes, hatred, worldly ideas, contempt, lethargy, complacency) that seep in slowly. We don't even know it's happening - and we wake up one day so 'hardened' that we are a problem - we are the problem. We are no longer receptive to things like peace and happiness and joy. We don't slow down to watch a sunset or listen to the birds in the morning, or appreciate the architecture of a simple flower. We're hard on people. Our attitudes are bad and it shows.
We have to surrender and give it all up.

Maybe you're feeling drained. Maybe it's time to GET DRAINED. Get poured-out. Empty yourself. Surrender. Get clean. Even believers need to be refreshed with living water. The great news is that it doesn't take hours or days to do it. It can happen in a moment. Then - be careful what you put in it, don't dump it all in, be selective with what you allow into your 'pool'. Skim daily.

Jesus said "I will give you water …… and you'll never thirst again". Cool stuff. And in Ephesians Paul says to 'be careful how you live - don't live like fools, but like those who are wise'.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kahlua & Me

The few friends I have only tolerate me to be around Dina. I don't try to be abrasive and opinionated and moody and brash ..... I'm working on it, I just need a little more time.
So Kahlua is good for me. He's 7 ish, so in dog years we're the same age. Like me he has some new 'lumps' popping up here and there - but he doesn't know it or care. He acts tough, barks loud and growls. But when he's close to another person or dog, he's not so much 'all that'. They say you're either a fighter or a lover in this life. He's a lover.
I admire him because he has purpose. His purpose is to serve and protect - me. If there's a squirrel on the fence - he better get off. If there's a mouse in or around the pool equipment - he better beat it. If there's someone at the door - he or she better have good intentions. For some reason - his purpose is all about me and our house, our yard. He only lives to serve and protect. By doing a good job, he eats well, gets lot's of treats and chewy's and toys. And, though against my wishes, his mom prepares him a comfortable bed at night and actually tucks him in, right up to his neck, with a soft cashmere type blanket. I think this might make him weaker than he should be - his work is important - he stands on the 'wall' between safety and disaster - I need him strong and alert!
There are too many lessons to be learned by observing dogs. You've heard them all.
I apologize in advance - I've never read 'Marley and me' - the articles or the book. I saw the movie - cute. But Kahlua is my dog. Trust me, I agree, the last thing the world needs is another article about some guy and his dog, the loyalty, the eagerness to please, the ever-forgiving, never-judging companion, the 'I sure hope dogs go to heaven' routine. I'll spare you all that for now.
But, I sure hope dogs do go to heaven. And lucky me - Jesus said "if you stick with me, and I live in you, ask me whatever you want, and I'll give it to you". So far, everything else He said has come true. Kahlua's comin!
(picture by dagengray)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Secrets of Bikers and Believers

I've always wanted one, but can't afford it, really. Well maybe I could, but, priorities ..... So, as luck would have it, my future son-in-law was shipped off to Iraq, and I'm babysitting his 'bike'. "Just warm it up now and then - keep the oil flowing, don't let the tires get stiff" -he asked. OK, right. (they used to do dowries, but this is better I think.) Thanks Jeremy - I'm trying to keep the miles low!! (this is a picture of 'our' gas cap).

Last weekend I did a 120 mile roundtrip through North Texas, on the brink of a terrible thunderstorm. There is no place like Texas for Harley riders - no place. The roads are well done, the slopes and curves are exciting, the wind blows and the sky never ends. The sunsets are unmatched (and I know what I'm talking about people). From my garage in Plano, I'm in the Texas countryside within 10 minutes. Cows, horses, tractors - and me. It's breathtaking. And I'm alone, on a powerful, growling machine (a work of art on wheels). By the way, I forbid any of my sons or daughters from EVER getting on one of these things (do as I say ....)

Pretty much, all I ever do is jump on the bike and go to a nearby Starbucks for a drip - early in the morning or late in the evening - low traffic times. I like to pull up close, make a lot of noise, casually swing my leg over the seat and disembark. Slowly take off my dark glasses, look right, look left, slide the keys into my black leather vest pocket. I put on a show - people either hate you or admire you - such is life. (I can be such a narcissist sometimes - I know it - sorry).

Wow, I'm off the point. Here it is: do you know there's a bikers 'brotherhood' out there? I didn't know this - absolutely didn't know. Everytime I ride and I pass another biker, without fail, I get the 'salute'. The salute is when a rider, every rider, passes - he sticks out his left arm, slightly downward toward the pavement - making a fist or a V sign. It's a wave, but very deliberately done. So now I do it - I do the salute. I don't make friends easily, so this is good for me. You can be on any model or manufacturer - you don't have to be on a Harley. I'm part of a fraternity, a loose gang of sorts - finally! What we all have in common is that we are experiencing something special, and only we know what it is. It's our secret, and we are proud to have that secret, and hold that secret. And we're proud of each other, we respect each other for taking the bold step of riding with the wind in our hair - carefree - gutsy. If you don't 'get it' - too bad. You have to be one of us to really get it. It's true by the way. And all you have to do to belong, is to ride. But when you're not actually on the bike, and you happen to pass the very same guy, you've got nothing.

Belief in Christ is like that - but still different. You can't possibly know what the big deal is, until you try it. Then, when you pass a fellow believer, you should want to share the secret. Unfortunately, most "Christians" don't do any saluting - well, they think they do, subconsciously, when they go to church on Sunday, in the foyer, in the parking lot, you get the 'hey - ya, I'm likely a Christian too' nod. Or maybe by carrying a Bible, you are signaling the secret sign of membership - a brotherhood / sisterhood - in something.

In the book of Revelation there's a frightening thing. 3:14-16 the Lord says there are a bunch of us Christians who are fakes - we straddle the fence - we play games. He says its better to be cold or hot. When he thinks of those 'lukewarm' types, he wants to vomit. Yikes, serious talk for the creator of the universe. You're either the real thing, or you're not. And apparently He won't be duped like passing 'Christians' in the parking lot. Flashing a secret code thing doesn't cut it. He's serious, dead serious. End times, Second Coming kind of serious. Eternity kind of serious.

I'm working on being hot! - not cold, not lukewarm - staying off the fence, falling to one side or the other is better than pretending in the middle ......... it's hard, no joke.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Q: What about ME ?

A: What about you ?

So, last night was the season finale of "Lost". I like the show and have been watching it since the start. I do find it intriguing - and I keep coming back for more. (one more season to go). I've never read a word from the multitude of books and websites dedicated to solving all the mysteries of the show.

But last night, for the first time, we met the ultimately mysterious 'Jacob'. He's in charge of the Island, the boss. What he does and who he is - nobody really knows. But he IS in charge - make no mistake. Jacob doesn't age. Jacob is everywhere. Jacob isn't bound by time. Ben is going to kill him, and he's been put up to the job by John. But John isn't really John - someone or something has taken over John and given him powers of extreme confidence, persuasion, good looks and pride. John (this fake John) apparently can't kill Jacob himself, he needs someone else to do it - so Ben: somebody who is really mad at Jacob, because over the years Jacob didn't do everything he wanted, even though Ben did everything that Jacob wrote down for him to do (in writing, he never talked audibly to him). He, Jacob, even allowed Ben's daughter to be killed. Ben even got cancer while serving Jacob.
So Ben says, "all these years, I've done everything you've written for me to do!", "I've followed all of your instructions!" he said. (I've kept your law). Ben is mad - at everything - everyone - and particularly mad at Jacob. He can't take it any more.
"What about me?!", he asked Jacob.
Jacob replies softly, "What about you?"
And Ben stabs Jacob. And the island goes white in a nuclear blast.
Not to become too philosophical here (it's just a tv series after all), but "What about you"? It's in the inflection of the word 'about'. What's this all about anyway?
(I took this picture of an old statue on the Charles Bridge in Prague - a depiction of prisoners in purgatory, bound and praying and looking up).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Obama's 'Bay of Pigs'

Pigs are cute.

All weekend it's been bothering me why Eqypt (of all places) has decided to wipe-out its entire pig population - a genocide of pigs. They don't have one case of the 'swine flu', and all of the scientific powers out there determined that the 'swine flu' has nothing to do with pigs. And Egypt knows this.

So it bothers me, why do they have to kill all those pigs? At Starbucks I'm reading the Star Telegram and they happen to say, burried deep in the text, that the pigs owners are Christians.

That's it. The dots have been connected once again. The 90% Muslim country has found a way to cripple the small number of Christians in Egypt. Kill their livelyhood, and blame it on a the 'flu'.

Hey Obama! Heads up. Where are you when a Christian needs you? Step in, make a statement, uncover the thin veil of mystery in Eqypt why don't you. Why doesn't ANYBODY?? I checked an hour ago on google, and sure enough, it's starting to come out, in small dribbles: Muslims don't like pigs, or Christians. But the bottom line is that no one really gives a hoot.

These are real live people, losing it all, to Islam. Christians, the most persecuted people group on the planet - take another hit - and no one cares. I want to go over and just sit with some of the families, and just be with them in their trouble, let them know someone noticed here in America - and appologize that no one in authority from this powerful nation even gave them a glance.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day!

I'm pumped! I love May 1st. And today is even a Friday - double bonus. I start thinking about summer, and taking a vacation, sitting on a rock in the sun. Pretty self-absorbed on that one. There's Mothers Day to think about, some upcoming important birthdays (like my baby boy Dagen turning 21 - yikes), there's a Memorial Day holiday coming. My calendar even says that the 31st is "Pentacost" - hmmm - don't remember that one ...... but worth celebrating!
But today I'm thinking most about my father: 'dad' (known by others as 'papa' or 'Don'). He's a stoic person. He's not 80 yet - but getting there. Perfect health. Clear thinking. Everything works. He's also one of the 3 people who reads my pathetic blog - and cares about what I say - because that's what he does and has always done - cares. He cares about the little things in everyones life. 40 or 50 kids/grandkids/great-grandkids, and he cares about each of them equally (I have no idea how many there are, but there's a bunch).
He's worked hard all his life and doesn't want to stop now. He's a pastors pastor. Not flamboyant or anything, but he's been around the church block a few times and knows how to navigate things that I have never even thought of. He's never met a stranger - ever.
I think I'm pretty 'cool' because I like to attend 2 different churches - for the different styles of worship and teaching and people. But I only do it if 'I' have time and it works for 'me'. Yet, I know for a fact it would not be unusual for dad to attend 4-6 different churches a week. He even teaches at nursing homes - places no one else will go on a Sunday afternoon - to show the elderly that someone cares enough. He does it now, and always has. It's not about him.
I've been 'lucky'. I've had jobs that pay well - and probably wouldn't work if it didn't. I keep working hard at working hard (I'll spare you the rat race routine). He, on the other hand has been 'blessed'. He's always worked hard of course, but not for the money. His boss really is a Jewish carpenter - and the boss has always taken care of him - extraordinarily well. Dad represents probably the best example of a life lived by Faith, that I have ever seen.
He tells me he wishes he had done more for us over the years. More? No dad could have ever done more. As an example of a life lived with humility, grace, honor, dedication, pride and perseverance - he has done it better than any other - and continues to do it week after week.
So. What does May Day 2009 have to do with dad? Nothing really. It's really just another Friday, of another week, of another month, of another year, when dad has always been there for me.