O Lord, It’s only October, but I can’t buy a can of beans without seeing a Santa Claus. You, who made the sun move backward to preserve daylight during an Old Testament battle —OMG, could you pause on lovely fall …
Recently, my pastor, instead of dismissing the congregation after the benediction, seated us.
How could he? Everyone had closed their Bibles and grabbed their purses.
“We have a problem,” Pastor said.
A million-dollar error in our building project? Heresy in the articles of faith? The closing of Cracker Barrel?
He said, “We don’t know when summer’s over.”
For weeks, the church staff has trumpeted program changes in bulletin, website and email. Though Pastor performed the parental equivalent of holding our faces in his hands and articulating new schedules s-l-o-w-l-y, we’ve asked spouses. “Um, what time does church start?
Past decades, summer exited after Labor Day. As for equinoxes — spring never arrived in March, so why bow to September’s equinox for summer’s departure?
Opening school early has shaken our culture. Back-to-school sales start before the previous school year ends. Indiana’s General Assembly passed school-excuse legislation so county fair winners could participate in the state fair.
Once upon a time, children sent to bed during broad daylight assumed they’d committed major sin, or their parents suffered from psychosis. Now, kids consider such craziness normal. Soon, they’ll consider cleaning their rooms as natural as microwaving pizza bites. No wonder everyone worries about this generation.
This summer’s weather has reinforced bewilderment. Droughts during June fried Midwestern fields and gardens. Unheard-of July rains rescued us and produced bizarre green August lawns.
Early last week, night temperatures fell into the 40s. Before Labor Day, they soared into the 90s.
Should we rev up the air conditioner or the furnace this morning? How about this afternoon? This minute?
Covering all seasonal bases, we snuggle under blankets every night. Turn on air conditioning, start ceiling fans and open windows. No wonder we’re befuddled. We alternate hot chocolate and snow cones.
Besides all this, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf and football blare from screens. Aaaaugh!
Let’s switch from Daylight Savings Time now, instead of November — absorb maximum confusion like a sucker punch and be done with it!
Or next year, we could once again mark Labor Day as summer’s end. But 100-degree heat waves might bake us for two more months.
We’d be more confused than ever.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you handle summer’s supposed end?
Father, drought had caused our garden row of lettuce to falter, but You gifted us with this volunteer patch on our compost heap! Not exactly the biblical version of manna, but OMG, we fresh-lettuce-lovers will take it. Thank You!
Have you created a bucket list? I’ve considered it.
Instead, I recorded what I’ve done and would rather not repeat:
Buy stupid shoes. At 20, I wore platforms with heels so high they gave me altitude sickness. Repentant, I then purchased “healthy” earth shoes — hideous footwear with nonexistent heels and built-up soles that tilted me backward. Either way, I risked possible surgery.
Attend the Indianapolis 500. Amazing, but the cars’ incredible speed and incessant roar made me crave 30 quiet seconds inside a refrigerator, away from sizzling heat.
Tour France without knowing the language. My French, limited to “bonjour” and “french fries,” invoked eye rolls, especially on Petite Street, where shops sold clothes that fit only Tinkerbell.
Other remembrances make me shiver. I never again want to:
Camp next to someone a sheriff greeted by name.
Read Ku Klux Klan recruitment posters.
Lodge in a Honduran hotel room with broken locks.
Accept rides with strangers.
Nor will I:
Endure red and orange shag carpet.
Allow a closet-sized kitchen whose fridge froze lettuce and melted ice cream.
Sample saki. It tasted like turpentine.
Finally, I won’t challenge anyone to a doughnut-eating contest. Ronnie, a street kid who attended my Bible club, claimed he could outeat anyone. I devoured twice as many. Humbled, Ronnie went home, sick. Humbled, I realized the Bible didn’t recommend this form of evangelism. I called Ronnie’s mother to apologize.
Silence. Then laughter. “Glad you called his bluff.”
Still, I couldn’t look a doughnut or bathroom scales in the face. God, either, but soon I realized He’d forgiven me and had taught Ronnie and me to engage brains before mouths.
God isn’t limited by clueless mistakes. Amazingly, the kid still attended Bible Club. Decades later, I pray doughnut disaster memories have faded. That Ronnie clearly recalls Jesus loves him.
In reviewing my once-but-never-again list, I realize God’s protected me big-time. I never fell off my shoes. I haven’t been abducted, joined the Ku Klux Klan, or worn French Tinkerbell clothes.
I now can look doughnuts in the face.
Scales? Still working on that.
And God’s bucket list for me.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s on your once-but-never-again list?
Merry Christmas! I’m the tree chosen by the Phillipses. I’m decorated and lookin’ good, if I do say so myself.
Though, I wasn’t always so full of holiday cheer. You wouldn’t be, either, if you’d hung around Lowe’s while everyone critiqued your figure and bald spots.
Still, we trees looked forward to seeing children — despite sibling arguments. Those mostly ended with the famous parental line, “We’re getting this tree because I said so.” Plus, hot chocolate bribes, which parents wanted anyway to medicate away seasonal frustrations.
While I missed kids when these seniors decorated me, I’d heard horror stories about toddlers scaling tree trunks. However, older people own nosy cats and dogs that would over-hydrate me. Or would these seemingly normal Midwesterners allow a pet boa constrictor to wind around my branches?
Like I said, I’d heard stories. But saw no animals, not even goldfish.
I like life by their picture window. None of my fellow fauna outside are bedecked with colorful lights and ornaments of every size, shape and hue like me. I love being a Christmas tree — even if the lady piles too much tinsel in the wrong places. She doesn’t like looking fat around the bottom. Why should I?
My owners bring coffee, tea and Bibles. Together, we worship our Creator, who gave Himself at Christmas. They pray for their family — 17 strong, who’ll arrive soon.
I can’t wait to see the grandkids’ shining eyes.
Their parents will breathe in my fragrance and memories. A miniature needlepoint mailbox holds a note in their great-grandmother’s handwriting. The figure wearing a serape was brought back from Spain. A one-of-a-kind collection of ornaments made of plastic lids, crayon-scribbled Nativity scenes and spray-painted macaroni reminds these grown-ups they can be children today.
If they spoke conifer, they could ask me what’s inside those packages. We Christmas trees eavesdrop, you know. We also could tattle on who’s shaking gifts, but why spoil the fun?
It’s a great gig. I work only a few weeks of the year. Afterward, I’ll stay in the garden, covered with food for hungry critters.
A short life. But if I live and give more joy in a few weeks than some people do in a lifetime — who’s complaining?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: If your tree could talk, what would it say?
O Lord, You know we love camping in Your wild, beautiful world. But this year, a gnat plague of biblical (Exodus 8:16-19) proportions swarmed us the entire trip. After we returned home, Hubby even sorted piles of dirty laundry in his truck’s bed, rather than let the pests infest our house. OMG, Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to You, but we want to know: was it something we said?
O Lord, Thank You for our garden’s superior squash production —I think. Anticipating dead-in-the-night porch gifts to unsuspecting friends and neighbors, I wonder how Adam and Eve coped with Eden’s abundance. OMG, maybe in that perfect garden, squash grew and ripened one at a time?
For years, I celebrated holidays by directing church musicals. One fateful Easter, I chose Watch the Lamb, which focused on Jesus as the Lamb of God. A live lamb would make the ancient story come alive.
During rehearsals, the cast greeted our lamb with enthusiasm.
Church janitors did not. “Do something before that animal pees all over — or worse.”
Why hadn’t I considered this minor complication? Especially as the lamb made entrances down different aisles.
Most Passover lambs in 30 A.D. did not wear Pampers®.
What other option existed?
God provided the perfect solution: we would cover the stage and church aisles with the burlap-like backside of my recently discarded carpet.
However, God didn’t send angels to cut, arrange and duct tape the carpet throughout the sanctuary. After two unspiritual, aching-knee days, all my bases were covered. No worries now, right?
Loony the Lamb had his own ideas about entrances and exits. A hay bale helped keep him quiet, but for obvious reasons, we avoided feeding him too much.
The 60-member cast’s noise made Loony more nervous than your Aunt Nellie. Kids petted him without mercy. Bright lights and heat caused him to hyperventilate. During dress rehearsal, Loony the Lamb collapsed onstage in a wooly, quivering heap.
Watch the Lamb? No audience would want to watch this.
Two animal lovers carried the prostrate lamb outside while we prayed — and Loony recovered. One guy built a pen outside the stage door where our prima donna cropped grass between scenes. Visiting hours were restricted, with no autographs. We did everything but paint a star on Loony’s gate.
Thankfully, he showed no new signs of cardiac arrest. His brassy baaaaa erupted only once during performances — during solemn prayer after the crucifixion.
Our ingenious actors shifted and blocked escape routes, all the while looking very holy.
One child earned my special appreciation: “Loony was peein’ on my foot the whole time Jesus was on the cross, but I didn’t say nothin’.”
Even after Loony returned home, I couldn’t shake off sheep. Scriptures about lambs leaped from the Bible’s pages. Jesus frequently called his followers His sheep. After Watch the Lamb, I figured He didn’t mean it as a compliment.
Nevertheless, the King of Heaven volunteered to take on the title “Lamb of God.” It meant daily life with stupid sheep and deadly encounters with wolves in sheep’s clothing. What God in His right mind would do that?
Only a King who loves confused, clueless sheep more than His own life.
Even one dithery pageant director named Rachael — which, BTW, means “lamb.”
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever participated in a pageant/play that taught you more than you expected?