Friday, March 28, 2008

High Dollar Flake

Two sisters recently made $1,350 on eBay. They sold a corn flake.

Yes, you read correctly. They sold a corn flake. Not a box of corn flakes, but a single flake.

Sound a little flaky to you? Well, it seems this particular corn flake was in the exact shape of the state of Illinois. The auction lasted more than a week, and was sold to a man who wants to add it to his traveling museum of pop culture and Americana items.

I will never look at a bowl of corn flakes in the same way. After all, if somebody paid that much for Illinois, just think how much they would pay for Texas! And I’ll bet, if I look hard enough, I might even find one that looks like Elvis. From now on, I’ll view each cereal box as a potential treasure chest, and I’ll search for hidden treasure each morning at breakfast.

Isn’t it funny how seemingly insignificant things can end up having such great value? I’ve found, in my own life, the important, valuable things show up in the most unexpected places. Things like a drippy ice cream cone on a hot day, eaten on the front porch at my grandmother’s house. At the time, that seemed like just an ordinary occurrence. Now, the memory is a great treasure to me.

I can’t help but think of all the wonderful people in my life who, to the rest of the world, probably seem pretty ordinary. People like my Jr. High English teacher. She had gray streaks in her hair, and wore orthopedic shoes. She told me I could write. She told me I had potential. She believed in me.

And my next-door neighbor, growing up. He wore a uniform of a tan shirt, tan pants, and brown boots to work every day. He drove an old blue Ford pick-up, smoked a pipe, and always smelled like tobacco. Sometimes, when he mowed his yard, he would mow ours too – just because. And he always brought us pecans from his tree.

These people were priceless treasures.

So often, we search for treasure in the obvious places – like the jewelry stores. We look to the glitzy, glamorous Hollywood stars, the talented athletes, the slick politicians to be our role models in life. We see the sparkle, and we assume that is where the treasure lies. But remember – all that glitters is not gold.

And diamonds don’t sparkle until they are polished. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist – beneath the layers of coal.

Very often, real treasure in life is found in the ordinary people. Like those corn flakes, they may be a little rough around the edges. At first glance, they seem to blend right in with the rest of the flakes of this world. But on closer inspection, we will find something unique and special about each and every flake in the bowl. When we really look, we find that each one has something that makes it different from the others. And if we look closely enough, we will find great treasure in the midst of the ordinary, seemingly insignificant people of this world.

From now on, I’m going to turn each day into a treasure hunt. I’m going to try to find the unique value in every person I meet. Perhaps, as I focus on that value, others will notice it too, and before long, everyone around me will feel like treasures instead of flakes.

Maybe I’ll even carry one of those miniature boxes of corn flakes around with me, as a reminder. Well . . . I probably won’t do that. That would be too corny.

1 Corinthians 1: 28 “God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.”

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pick Me!

Do you remember that feeling, in third grade, when the teacher lined everyone up against the wall, appointed two team captains, and told them to choose teams? Man, I hated those times. My palms would get all sweaty, and I could barely breathe. Pick me, pick me, please pick me. If the teams were athletic, I was often the last picked. But I just loved it when they were choosing for the spelling bee, because then, I was the first choice!

It feels good to be chosen. It doesn’t matter if it is for a sports team, a spelling bee, or a job, we all want to be picked. We all want to feel wanted, needed, loved. And it doesn’t matter how old we get, or how successful we are, deep down, we all still get that sweaty-palm feeling any time we are thrust into a new situation. We all fear rejection. We all want to be chosen.

Today is Good Friday. Now, I know some of you who are reading this may not give any thought to this day, other than the fact that many of you get a day off. But whether you give any thought to the reason for this day or not, the fact remains. This day, nearly 2,000 years ago, is the day that changed the world.

This is the day that God chose us.

Now, I’m not a theologian. I don’t hold a fancy degree in biblical studies, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. But honestly, folks. The idea that God chose me just blows my mind.

Why would He do that?

I wouldn’t have done that. If I were God, and the very same people who had waved palm branches and shouted my praises just a few days earlier had suddenly turned on me, if they were spitting on me when I had done nothing wrong, if they were shouting my curses and calling for my death, even though they knew I was innocent – I would have zapped them all. Seriously, I would have. I guess that’s why I’m not God.

Today, we remember that He chose us. Instead of condemning us, He loved us. Instead of leaving us to our own godless ways, He chose to show us a better way.

He let us kill Him.

And then, to show that His love and His power were stronger than death, He rose again.

And it gets even better.

Now, the God of the Universe has put Himself on the wall, so to speak, and He wants us to choose Him. He sits on His throne in heaven, and says, pick Me, pick Me, please pick Me . . .

If He had wanted to, God could have created a bunch of robots who have no choice but to love Him. But He didn’t. He chose us, and now He stretches out His arm in a divine invitation to choose Him back. And when we do, when we accept His love, all of heaven rejoices! He lifts us up, cleans us off, and adopts us right into His family! Then, He begins His work in us, making us more like Him, creating in us a family resemblance so that all the world can see - we have been chosen.

Ephesians 1:4 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Confessions of a Rock Star Wanna-be

Have you ever had one of those awful moments when you realized the whole world was laughing at you, but not with you? You know what I’m talking about – the toilet paper on the shoe moment, or the broccoli stuck in the teeth moment. Well, I had one of those moments this past weekend.

I had the great honor of performing a couple of numbers in the Dream Legends production at Vives Les Arts Theater in Killeen. First of all, I was a member of the gospel group, Point of Grace. Then, I donned a long blonde Hannah Montana wig and impersonated Mama Michelle in the Mamas and the Papas. I looked like a 40-year-old Barbie. I shared the stage with legendary greats such as Captain and Tennille, the Spice Girls, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, and many others.

I love performing on stage. You see, on stage, I get to pretend to be the person I wish I were in real life. On stage, I get to be one of the cool kids. In real life, I fit into more of the slightly nerdy with a touch of the dumb blonde category.

So, as a member of the Legends cast, I was feeling like a rock star. As far as the audience knew, I was one of the cool kids. Nobody really knew that beneath that confident exterior hid a true-blue geek.

In the last number of the evening, the entire cast came out on stage to perform a Beatles song. We all wore those little round John Lennon sunglasses – the kind that you order from Oriental Trade Company. Mine had purple lenses. We went onto the stage, swaying and singing. We ventured into the audience, swaying and clapping. We went back onto the stage for our final bows. And during this entire song, I noticed something. People were looking at me. They were nudging and pointing. I repeat – I was a rock star!

The song ended, and we all filed into the lobby to shake hands and meet the audience. People politely shook my hand, nodded, and moved on to the next person. Finally, a woman smiled at me and said, “You were so funny up there, with your one-eyed glasses!”

One-eyed glasses? I quickly pulled the glasses out of my pocket, and sure enough, there was one lens. I promise there were two when I put them on.

The realization flooded in. Dream Legend my foot, this was more like a comic nightmare! All the air quickly escaped from my over-inflated rock star ego, as I faced the truth. I was not one of the cool kids, even on stage. My true nerdy-geeky-slightly dumb-blonde identity was just too overpowering to hide. Everyone knew the truth.

My former friend, who shall remain nameless, burst into laughter. “I thought you knew!” she said. “I thought you were just being goofy!” (I plan to hold this grudge against her for two more days, at which time I will grace her with my forgiveness.) She laughed and laughed until the tears were streaming down her cheeks.

And then, I couldn’t help myself. I was embarrassed. I was indignant. And this situation was . . . hilarious! This was truly the funniest nerdy thing I have ever done – thinking I was “all that”, when in reality I was the Cyclops woman! I tried to display my anger at my friend for not telling me, but I just couldn’t. Before I knew it, I had joined her in a fit of side-splitting giggles the likes of which I have not experienced since junior high. People around us were starting to wonder if our water bottles were spiked.

So now, dear readers, you know the truth about me. I am not a member of the coveted “in-crowd,” but rather, I am a geek. A nerd. A rock star wanna-be.

But if you could just, for a moment, see beyond the geeky one-eyed sunglasses, beyond the nerdiness, I assure you – you would find the soul of . . . of . . . well, to be perfectly honest, I’m pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of gal. So I guess you’d find the soul of a loveable, slightly nerdy rock star wanna-be.

But seriously, friends. If you see me walking around with one lens in my sunglasses, please take pity, and tell me.

1 Samuel 16:7 “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Monday, March 10, 2008

Book Review: Seeing Through the Lies

A couple of weeks ago, I began reading Vonda Skelton’s Seeing Through the Lies. Now, to be perfectly honest, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had seen Vonda in person last fall at the North Texas Christian Writers’ Conference. She is an adorable, hilarious, petite little woman with a warm smile and an even warmer personality.

She also writes children’s books, and she autographed one of her Bitsy Mysteries for my daughter. Then, when Charis e-mailed her to tell her how much she loved the book, Vonda e-mailed her back! Needless to say, I was already a big fan.

After reading this book, I am ready to start a fan club. Seriously, I found such relief in reading this woman’s zany descriptions of her own life! She’s not perfect! And do you know what she showed me? I don’t have to be perfect either! Through laughter and tears, she uses God’s Word to show me – and you – that Satan is the master of lies. And with these lies, he holds us captive.

He tells us we can do it all. That we can be thin. Beautiful. Organized. Excellent housewives. Perfect moms. He tells us that we can work a forty-hour week, run the kids here and there, feed our families perfectly well-balanced meals, have spotless homes, and do it all with gentle, soft-spoken voices and perfect hair-dos. And sleep? Who needs sleep? We superwomen just plow right on through, making the most of every moment. And we spend our lives chasing this myth of perfect, godly womanhood.

But through God’s Word, Vonda shows the reader that God doesn’t expect any of that from us. He loves us unconditionally, and He only wants our hearts. He wants us to love Him back. And when we give Him our hearts, something beautiful begins to happen. When we start loving God, spending time with Him, listening to Him . . . then He will begin His great work in us. Changing us. Transforming us. Making us like Him.

And being like Him? Well, that’s a whole lot better than being a superwoman.

Read more about the book, Seeing Through the Lies, at .

Blog giveaway!!!! Leave a comment and win a gift from the author of Seeing Through the Lies!
(She is doing a blog tour, and will choose a winner from comments on one of the blogs reviewing her book! Learn more at her website, above.)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Being Stretched

I have a question. Now, for all you male-types out there, please forgive me for asking this. I’m sure to you, it will seem like a stupid question. But as I watch my son’s fascination with one particular, everyday object, I am reminded of countless little boys and big boys I’ve known who have had this same fascination. And I just have to know the answer.

What is the deal with little boys and rubber bands?

Seriously, it is a small piece of rubber, formed into a ring. Its intended purpose is to band things securely in place. But give any little boy a rubber band, and stand back. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine what will happen next.

In case you don’t have one of your own (a little boy, not a rubber band,) I will give you the play-by-play. First, he takes the rubber band in his hands as if it were great and rare treasure. Then, he will stretch that rubber band into every possible configuration. He will make figure eights, ovals, squares, rectangles, even stars! Next, he will see what kinds of things he can “band”. He will band his foot. Then his wrist. Then the dog’s tail.

Then, when his mother tells him to leave the dog alone, he will take the rubber band and stretch it some more. Inevitably, he will decide to use it as a weapon! Less than three minutes from the time they were introduced to one another, both boy and rubber band will be zooming around the room, colliding with anyone or anything that happens to be in the way.

Hmmmm . . . have you ever really looked at a rubber band? By itself, it is really not good for much. It is limp, dull, and lifeless. It just sits there. It has very little value if left alone. In order for a rubber band to be useful, in order for it to fulfill its intended purpose, it has to be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d.

And interestingly enough, the rubber band is not going to stretch itself. It has be stretched by someone who sees its potential, someone who has in mind a greater purpose for that rubber band than for it to be just a limp, lifeless piece of rubber.

Have you ever noticed that people are that way? Many times, we are presented with opportunities to stretch our abilities, or our faith, or our patience. But most of us don’t like to be stretched. It is uncomfortable, and it even hurts, at times. We like things to be easy. So, when we see a potential stretching opportunity, we often duck and hide. We make excuses. Like Moses, who tried to convince God that he wasn’t the man to lead the Jews out of Egypt, we try to convince ourselves and others that we’re not up to the task. If given the choice, we would remain unstretched.

But when you think about it, it is good to be stretched. It makes us stronger, causes us to have more faith, causes us to be more useful. And yes, it may hurt a little.

But honestly, that is the only way we will reach our full potential as human beings. If we always do the easy thing, if we always stay in our comfort zones, we will eventually find that we have lost our usefulness. We will become limp and lifeless, like an unstretched rubber band.

When we allow ourselves to be stretched, we will often find that we are stronger than we realized. It may cause some discomfort for a while, but at the end of it all, we will be stronger, stretch farther, and accomplish more than we ever thought possible.

And one more observation for all you female types: the more a rubber band is stretched, the skinnier it gets. Not sure if that’s relevant.

Exodus 3:11 – 12 “But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?

And God said, ‘I will be with you.’ ”