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Home Repair

"The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks."

G. K. Chesterton

Years ago, I spoke with a co-worker who had just returned from a week-long honeymoon with her new husband.

“So, how’s married life?” I asked.

I felt dumb for not coming up with a more eloquent or meaningful question. At the time, Katy and I were still newlyweds ourselves. We worked opposite shifts, and felt completely tortured by the fact that we could not spend every minute together. (I know, cue the violins.)

But this is why the woman’s response was such a surprise.

“Same old crap.”

I can still hear the resignation and matter-of-fact tone in her voice. I remembered that she had been living with the guy for several years, and that the marriage was more of a convenience than an expression of their devotion.

This was hard to relate to as a young, happily married guy, and twenty-eight years later, seems just as strange. One thing Katy has never been is “same old.” Katy is a surprise, and almost always a pleasant one.

I’m not sure she can say the same about me, since I tend to settle into comfortable patterns and predictable responses. But this morning’s Easter sermon brought a challenge to let God bring things to life that have been dormant, or maybe didn’t exist at all. I can’t think of anything better I could give Katy this year.

Not that this undermines the importance of reinforcing, repeating, and remembering the things that God has done in our lives. I’m just thinking that reprise and surprise can work together very nicely.

The awakenings of Spring are familiar, habitual, and similar to the year before—and this is part of what we love about the season. But the feeling that everything is brand new is undeniable. And, in fact, things are brand new—each emerging leaf, flower, bud, and seedling had never existed until this moment in time.

After God created the world, the Bible says He rested; it doesn’t say He stopped. That’s encouraging for a guy who still has more than a few missing parts.

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17

Posted March 27, 2005
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"What is worst of all is to advocate Christianity, not because it is true, but because it might prove useful."

T. S. Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society

For some strange reason known only to God and my mother, at the age of ten, I was given the job of being the chief mashed-potato maker in our home. I might have interpreted this honor as recognition of my knack for the culinary arts if it wasn't for the fact that we are talking about instant mashed-potatoes here. Flakes, water, butter, and salt. Not a likely start to a hit series on the Food channel.

While other kids were getting, "Johnny can throw harder than anybody on the team," or, "Allison was born to play piano," I got, "Nobody makes mashed-potatoes quite like Dougie."

It was years before I understood the method in mom's flattery, and I don't blame her for using whatever strategy worked to get some needed help from a very unmotivated kid. But being valued for one's usefulness definitely had more benefit for the value-er than for the value-ee.

If assigning usefulness to another person seems selfish, what happens when we do the same thing with God? How do I use thee, God? Let me count the ways...

Getting my way. Impressing my friends. Enhancing my reputation. Getting out of a jam.

It's human nature to want my way, so recruiting God for that purpose has an certain logic, and a sneaky way of seeming right. It's that fact that makes what Jesus did on Good Friday all the more amazing.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!" Philipians 2:5–8

God help this flake get out of his box and be a real servant for You.

Posted March 24, 2005
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Class Dismissed

Kevin is attending two colleges this year—Johnson County Community College (which, according to Kevin, is cool) and Longview Community College (which, according to Kevin, sucks). This perspective is due to the fact that we live just inches over the state line in Missouri (which, according to Kevin, sucks), and most of Kevin's friends live on the Kansas side (which, according to Kevin, is cool).

When Kevin brought up his interest in photography again, I suggested that he should consider taking a photography class next semester.

"I don't think so," Kevin said. "I'd have to do it at Longview to get the in-state tuition, and Longview sucks."

"You're saying you would abandon something you really enjoy, jeopardize your future career opportunities, and give up a lifetime goal just because you don't like the campus?"

"Oh Dad, that's so lame."

If only I hadn't avoided that debate class because the other kids weren't cool, I'm sure I would have had a snappy comeback.

Posted March 12, 2005
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