Monday, March 31, 2008

You know you've been in L.A. too long...

... when the following conversation takes place...

Lolli: Mommy, what are those things you put on your hands called?

Me: Huh? What things?

Lolli: You know, those things you put on your hands when you want to pick up snow.

Me: You mean "mittens"?

Lolli: Oh yeah. Mittens. That's what they're called.

At least she still remembers what the white stuff is called.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

No small sacrifice

a gesture of sacrifice
Originally uploaded by
I've been meaning to blog about a recent experience that left Air Boss and me shoeless for a whole day. It started out by going to church on a regular Sunday a few weeks back. The title of the sermon was something like "What Would Happen If Everyone Made Small Sacrifices?"

Pastor Erwin McManus made succinct points like "love always demands sacrifice" (and to further elaborate "while love can be the most exhilerating experience, it can be the most demanding") and "we are not simply to receive love but we are also to be conduits of love."

Well somehow towards the end of the sermon, Pastor Erwin spoke about Moses' encounter with God through the burning bush. Moses was commanded by God to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground. Moses obeys and received God's calling for him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. God gives Moses signs of His power (including turning Moses' staff into a snake and back to a staff again). The pastor's point was that no where does the Bible record that Moses put his sandals back on again after his encounter with God - but he did gain a shepherd's staff that would perform miracles for the benefit of the Israelites.

Pastor Erwin then took off his shoes on stage and challenged us to do the same . . . only instead of simply putting them back on, he challenged us to sacrifice our shoes for others who are on their feet all day and yet do not own a single pair of shoes.

"What? You mean, like, right now?!" were my thoughts. "How will I get home without shoes?"

As I pondered these questions, Air Boss had already taken off his tennis shoes and was beginning to stand up. I looked down at my only pair of black dress shoes. Unlike Air Boss, I wasn't wearing any socks. Walking barefoot in a public place (a high school nonetheless) icked me out.

"C'mon," Air Boss challenged and yet encouraged me.

I took them off and walked with him to the front of the auditorium where literally HUNDREDS of other people were doing the same. I noticed that some people immediately jumped up and without a moment's hesitation gave up their shoes. Others visibly struggled with the decision and even after the service ended ten minutes later, some were still walking up to the front of the stage. I saw one woman visibly sorrowful as she walked her (very nice and quite possibly very new) leather boots to the stage and place them among the others.

Honestly, it wasn't such a big sacrifice to give my shoes up (although I can't imagine how many homeless people in the streets of LA will find use in a pair of women's size 5 black high-heels but that will be God's problem and not mine). It was, however, a bigger inconvenience to spend the rest of the day without shoes. We didn't get home that day until close to 8 PM. And I was hoping that 'Shroom and Lolli wouldn't have to use the restroom because there was no way I was going to take them into a public restroom barefoot!

All the shoes were dontated to a local homeless shelter and probably with the exception of the flip flops (although there were some nice leather flip flops on that stage), this donation may have been the best they have received. Current styles and trends along with recognizable brand-names were well represented. These weren't your "old-and-worn-so-let's-donate-them" type of shoes.

It makes me realize that a simple sacrifice as giving up the shoes on my feet can mean a lot to a person who gave up his life in a horrific way on the cross. Sacrifices don't have to be huge to be meaningful. I don't think Jesus wants us to experience the same torture he had to endure. But I think he wants us all to live a life of sacrifice and service.

Wow. The shoes on the stage may have been a big sacrifice for some and a small one for others. But on this Easter Day, there is no question that what Jesus did on that cross was no small sacrifice.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Question

The early afternoon sun is filtering in through the lone kitchen window. All four members of the family are seated around the kitchen island and eating their lunches. Conversation is sporadic – actually, constant – but interrupted frequently by the high-pitched voice of the almost-four-year-old girl.

MOM: ‘Shroom, I’ve noticed your snack bag was empty today. Did you eat everything at school?
BOY: [looking up from his sandwich] Yup.
MOM: You mean you drank your juice box and ate all the crackers?
BOY: Yes sir!
MOM: I am not a “sir.” Only men are sirs. Not women.
BOY: Yes sir.
[The man beside the boy snickers audibly]
MOM: [ignoring her husband's laugh] So, who helped you open your juice box?
BOY: Miss W helped me.
MOM: What? Miss W isn’t even in your class. What was she doing there today?
BOY: Oh – I mean Miss P.
MOM: Miss P doesn’t even go outside for snack time. Did you go inside for help? [getting slightly confused] Oh – did you open your juice box by yourself?
BOY: [smiling widely] Yeah.
MOM: Good for you—
BOY: Naa. I didn’t open it. Christian helped me. Yeah, he helped me open it.
MOM: So . . . Christian helped you with your drink box. [confusion is replaced with a bit of skepticism]
BOY: Haha! No, Christian didn’t help me. [the boy’s devilish grin exceeds the width of his face]
DAD: [at this point, he’s wondering why the inquisition] What difference does it make who opened the juice box?
MOM: I just want to know if 1) he was able to open his juice box by himself and 2) if he really did eat everything in his snack bag or just threw out everything.
DAD: Okay, ‘Shroom. What did you have in your snack bag today?
BOY: A juice box and goldfish crackers.
DAD: [turning to his wife for verification – and hopefully resolution] Is that true, Mommy?
MOM: Well, yeah but . . . [her voice trails off]
DAD: Well what?
MOM: I’m just asking a simple question of who opened his juice box. First he tells me it’s Miss W and then Miss P. He then says he opened it himself but no, it was really Christian – but not really. [confusion and skepticism have long been replaced by exasperation] How difficult is it to answer that question?
DAD: Well, at least he's more coherent in what he’s saying.
MOM: What do you mean coherent? He’s been speaking like this for a long time. Not answering a simple question with a direct response is nothing to brag about.
[The man sighs while exchanging knowing smiles with the young boy. The resemblance and mannerisms – not to mention the head shape – are identical.]
MOM: ‘Shroom, I’m just asking a simple question. I just want to know if you opened up your juice box by yourself or if someone helped you.
[The kitchen falls silent for a brief moment. Surprisingly the young girl has been quiet during this time. She, along with her parents, await the boy’s response.]

The afternoon light fades on the family of four. The boy and his father laugh conspiratorially and the young girl resumes her chatter. The mother has given up trying to find out anything and as usual, keeps her thoughts to herself.