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?
This prayer was originally published on August 22, 2016.
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?
This post first appeared on April 12, 2017.
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?
Soon after our wedding, Hubby and I discovered crucial differences. A key divisive subject: broccoli.
I had grown up eating broccoli, pretending to munch trees like a powerful giant. I liked the taste. Broccoli was good for me and filling — important in a household with four siblings. What wasn’t to like about broccoli?
In Hubby’s family, no one competed for food or imagined eating trees. His father and brother also loathed broccoli. Drowning it in cheese sauce, his mother insisted they eat it occasionally.
However, my new husband formulated his own broccoli policy, namely, nada.
I adopted his mother’s.
The debate continued for decades.
If my mother-in-law had cooked the President’s meals, he would have tried three bites or been sent to his room.
Like Steve, President Bush probably believed his DNA rejected broccoli. My husband even insisted God never created broccoli for human consumption.
I’d never encountered Scriptures regarding broccoli, with or without cheese sauce. However, several commanded him to give thanks for what was set before him.
Hubby replied with Scriptures that discouraged quarrels.
One day as I typed, deep in Novel Land, Hubby leaped from the hallway, hands thrown open like a spotlight performer. “Ta-da!”
He announced, “I’ve found scientific evidence that taste depends on a person’s DNA—”
“You interrupted my best writing time to diss broccoli?”
“Look.” He offered his laptop.
“I don’t have to look. That writer’s scientific expertise probably consists of blowing up science fair projects with his kid.”
Finally, I read the article. It stated a person’s DNA profoundly affects taste. The author, a bona fide scientist, didn’t sell snake oil or exploding science projects on the side.
I. Was. Wrong.
Daily I become more aware of Steve’s forbearance and generosity … because he reminds me.
Still, the more I pondered his broccoli triumph, the more I questioned: Should our DNA enslave us?
I take bitter-tasting medicines because they’re good for me. Hubby wants his patients to do the same.
Yet he can refuse broccoli, despite its nutritional value, because it doesn’t taste good?
The great broccoli debate rages on ….
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What food inspires debate at your house?
My church serves doughnuts. No surprise. As a pastor’s daughter and veteran of hundreds of ecclesiastical gatherings, I know “fellowship” is synonymous with “doughnuts.”
Some insist the tradition began when Jesus and his disciples made regular stops at an ancient Krispy Kreme. Despite intense efforts, I haven’t yet found that in the Bible.
Still, my childhood church’s divine doughnut ritual made a powerful impact. What kid does not feel her spirituality increase a hundredfold with a table-level view of big white boxes of fresh doughnuts?
The memory lingers: my favorite chocolate-frosted, Boston cream-filled confections; sprinkles, glazes and powdery sugar like sweet fairy dust. Even jelly doughnuts, my last choice, looked as heavenly as the fellowship they represented.
Today, doughnuts no longer symbolize fellowship to me. Alas, they remind me of a major miscue.
As a young mother, I started a kids’ Bible club in my neighborhood, often serving doughnuts.
One swaggering 10-year-old declared himself the world doughnut-eating champion.
I couldn’t let this untruthful claim go unchallenged.
He sneered, but shook it.
The following week, my excited Bible club assembled. Robby and I stared each other down as a fifth-grader ran the stop watch.
“Ready. Set. Go!”
We stuffed doughnuts with the ease of marathoners running the first mile. But my long-time conditioning began to win out. Robby slowed as I snarfed doughnut after doughnut. (How many? I’m not telling.)
“Ten! Nine! Eight! …” The kids counted down the last seconds.
I felt the rosy flush of victory.
Robby’s face, however, turned green.
“I don’t feel so good.” He went home.
Suddenly, I found my win hard to swallow — especially with a stomachful of doughnuts. What kind of role model made a kid sick? What would his parents think of my Bible program?
After repenting and praying for Robby — and my stomach — I mustered the courage to call his mother. “I’m so, so sorry.”
She’ll sue me.
Or have me arrested.
A howl of laughter erupted from the phone. Finally, still chuckling, she said, “He needs to be taken down a peg or two. Thanks!”
Robby showed up the next week. And the next. Apparently, I had earned his respect.
Although that scenario occurred 25 years ago, it replays every time I see doughnuts.
Writing about it now, however, my spiritual vision clears. Doughnuts do not have to symbolize my downfall. Instead, they recall God’s kindness in fixing even my dumbest mistakes.
What’s your favorite kind of doughnut? Have they taught you a spiritual lesson, too?
According to Jewish comedian Sam Levenson, God has played matchmaker ever since he introduced Eve to Adam: “Have I got a nice girl for you!”
The Almighty guided Abraham to Sarah, the Mae West of the Old Testament. He used thirsty camels to bring about Rebekah’s marriage to Isaac. He masterminded Boaz’s marriage to Ruth, the great-great-great-great-grandma of King David and, ultimately, Jesus Christ.
But finding a spouse who will stick with a writer? That task might make even God scratch His head.
Online dating services insist they can find the perfect partner for anyone — even writers. One website includes 29 dimensions by which future mates can be measured. (Why not a nice round number like 30? Just sayin’.)
These surveys never include correct questions for potential writer spouses. I submit the following in hopes of helping experts increase the reliability of the profiles they create.
Would you want to marry someone:
- Who wears a baggy sweat suit and feather boa to work?
- Whose house and yard officially have been declared a landfill?
- Who will awaken you at 3:00 a.m. to brainstorm a dozen new book titles?
- Who works 80 hours a week and nets 2.4 cents per hour, minus Xerox and Prozac costs?
- Who invites poison experts and chain saw murderers over for coffee?
- Who maxes out credit cards attending conferences where hundreds study “beats”?
- Who crashes weddings, funerals and Rotary meetings to develop characters?
- Who robs a 7-Eleven, crashes your car, and sleeps in a dumpster in order to research and “feel” a crime story?* **
- Who needs years of psychotherapy to recover from her last fiction plot?
- Who vandalizes signs with apostrophes in the wrong places?
- Who drinks espresso to calm down?
*If a potential spouse boasts lots of rich relatives who can post bail money, the marriage’s survival chances increase exponentially. **Yes, I’ve listed 11 questions, not ten, for researchers who are all about 29 dimensions.
Some claim anyone who agrees to these conditions resembles the dependability of a JELL-O sidewalk.
Exactly. God, in His matchmaking wisdom, has designed special lunatics who voluntarily accept the impossible task of marriage to a writer.
Civilized society should be warned: these spouses often appear normal. My husband of 41 years eats Cheerios every morning. He serves as the rational voice on church and community boards.
Yet he regularly rescues my manuscripts from the Black Holes of cyberspace.
He attends my book signings, hauling and hovering as needed.
Finally, he told me money and success weren’t important, as long as I was doing what God wanted.
And they say writers are nuts.
What special craziness in you or your spouse keeps you both sane — sort of — as you pursue an impossible occupation?