Wednesday, May 27, 2009
As I started making my way through the cabin and closing bins I noticed a girl crying in an exit row. The man next to her was trying to soothe her but she just seemed to be getting more and more upset. It was starting to evolve into all out wailing but I didn't want to stare, maybe a boyfriend had just broken up with her or something...they're a passionate people, right? I certainly did not want to risk saying anything stupido again. I continued closing bins and by the time I had circled back there was a major drama going on. When a flight attendant had attempted to brief her about her exit seating duties she had begun shrieking and shaking. The flight attendant said that wouldn't "do" for the "willing and able" response we require, and that she would have to move to another seat. The girl was incapable of moving, apparently she was having a full-blown panic attack. Yet another page for a doctor, oxygen bottles brought out, paper bags provided for breathing into...the whole nine yards. Nothing seemed to be working to calm her down. One of her traveling companions commented that they go through this every leg. Every leg??? It seemed like they would have grown tired of these antics and sent her packing back to Spain a long time ago. They finally had to physically lift her out of her seat, one lifting her torso, the other her legs and tote her back to a row of empty seats. They laid her down, belted her in while one stroked her head and the other her feet until she finally calmed down. Phew!
Finally, we were able to take off. The service required passing out hot towels, snack boxes and a beverage. There were six of us serving close to 300 people in the back and the 52 minute flight only allowed us to serve about half the people before we had to quickly stow everything and prepare for landing. How embarrassing. The whole "easy" day was a fiasco from start to finish.
I was telling Caitlin about it and asked her if she'd brushed up on her Spanish during her stint at an orphanage in El Salvador. She said she had boned up on only two phrases: "sientate por favor!" (please sit down) and "quieres pow pow?" (do you want a spanking?). Darn! I could have used those phrases! I could have told the passengers to please sit down and I could have asked that girl if she wanted a spanking. It would have been perfect. Oh well. Maybe next time...though I'm kind of hoping there won't be a next time.
Friday, May 22, 2009
I read a quote recently that said, "We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirement of life, when all we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about." Isn't that the truth? Winston Churchill described success as "going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm." I love it.
I was reminded of that joke about the optimist and pessimist, where a couple of psychologists decided to perform an experiment on two little boys, one an eternal optimist and the other a perpetual pessimist. They locked the pessimist in a room with every thing a boy could ever dream of owning. There was a real merry-go-round, an umpteen amount of popular video games, a live pony and all sorts of other toys to charm the daylights out of any little boy. Surprisingly, when they came to check on him in a hour, they found his dreary little self just sitting in a corner.
They were incredulous, "Why are you just sitting there??? Why aren't you playing with all the fun things we've provided for you?"
He answered dejectedly, "If I tried to ride the pony it would probably buck me off, and if I rode the merry-go-round it would probably make me dizzy and the video games are too violent..."
They left him moping in the corner and went to check on the optimist. They had locked this little boy in a room full of nothing but manure. When they came to check on him, he appeared to be having the time of his life! He was diving in out of the manure, happily flinging it about, and generally just having a walloping good time.
Again, they were absolutely incredulous, "What are you doing??? How could you be having so much fun in there?"
The happy little lad answered joyously, "I just figured with all this manure, there had to be a pony in here somewhere!"
Doesn't this illustrate my point exactly? We need to be enthusiastic about something, and as Christians we have something far greater than the prospect of a live pony to make all the "crap" worth wading through. We have the assurance of eternal life. We know that despite what wretches we are that we are loved unconditionally. We have God's Word to direct, comfort and empower us. We have brothers and sisters in Christ who are steady sources of love, encouragement and prayer. We have confidence that regardless of what tragedies come our way, that God has a plan and a purpose, and that He doesn't waste any experiences.
Yet I still have days when all I can see is the manure. Days when I feel far from God, when I feel hopeless and inadequate. Days when I act just like that wretched little pessimist moping in the corner because I've let all the sad stuff blind me to all the really great stuff that God has so lovingly provided me with (like Caitlin).
Let's face it, crap happens...but thankfully God hasn't left us alone and He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. So...show some enthusiasm!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
After Bob and I got engaged we asked the pastor that had married my parents to marry us too. He told a little story at the rehearsal dinner that made me deeply regret ever considering him for the part. He told of a newlywed husband that asked his wife to try on his jeans. Of course, they were way too big on her and he said to let that serve as a reminder as to who wore the pants in the family. Very funny! I felt like everyone was laughing at me, because the fact is, two of Bob's legs could probably fit into one of my pant legs! So if that little illustration held true, I would be the one wearing the pants. That silly, old coot...what was he thinking??? He's not really a silly, old coot. The fact is he is a wonderful, godly man that just didn't do his homework. Fortunately, I've never wanted to wear the pants anyway. Although it would be nice to be able fit to into Bob's pants.
The truth is, Bob's missing the boat on this one. I know God meant for us to enjoy eating...otherwise why would there be all that feasting in the Bible? Anytime there was something to celebrate a feast ensued. Remember when the return of the prodigal son called for the fatted calf to be prepared? Remember the Israelites thinking they would rather return to slavery(!) if only to experience some tasty morsels again? I remember thinking that if Martha had chosen the "better thing" too, who would have cooked the meal? Silly thought. Compared to feeding 5000 people, a meal for that small gathering would have been small potatoes for Jesus. Doesn't just the aroma of outdoor grilling make your mouth water? Remember Jesus cooking some fresh fish for the disciples after His resurrection? His resurrected body took in food so why wouldn't ours? I believe we will continue to enjoy eating in the New Heaven and the New Earth and that Bob will be contentedly lapping it up right there with us (finally!).
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I meant to send a card.
I meant to not fly into a rage when Bob got perturbed with me...but after 30 years shouldn't he know that I don't even like the idea that I can perturb anyone...much less him?
I meant to leave in plenty of time.
I meant to spend some meaningful time in prayer.
I meant to be a better listener, remembering that God puts people into my life to teach me something (not the other way around).
I meant to be more affectionate.
And some time ago, I meant to take pictures of Flat Stanley. Unfortunately, I only remembered Flat Stanley when another flight attendant (Linda) brought him with us on our trip.
Flat Stanley is a laminated paper doll that elementary school classrooms send to out of state acquaintances. The recipients of Flat Stanley are encouraged to take him along with him on their daily outings and include him in some pictures before they send him (along with the pictures) back to the classroom. Apparently, the goal is for Flat Stanley to "see" all fifty states by the end of the school year. Linda took a picture of him "sitting" on the front of her beverage cart. When they opened the aircraft door in Montego Bay, she hung him in the doorway so you could see the hills and palm trees of Jamaica behind him. On our layover in D.C. and she took a picture of him on the hotel van. She was very, very good to Flat Stanley.
Unfortunately, Flat Stanley was doomed from the very first day he arrived at my house. If I would have had a shred of decency I would have immediately mailed him back...knowing deep down that he would be just another tragic victim of "meant to". Instead, I pondered taking some pictures with him and put him in my suitcase. Months later (or was it years?) when I flew with Linda, I remembered him and realized his days of riding around in my suitcase were over. So ultimately, all my Flat Stanley "saw" was the inside of my suitcase and then (of course) the inside of our garbage can.
I've been convicted this past year of the need to simplify my life. To get rid of all the "stuff". Simplifying makes room for what really matters: relationships. I've never regretted setting "things" aside to spend time with friends and family. I've never regretted writing a letter, or making a phone call or doing anything that strengthens relationships.
Procrastination is a real saboteur of time and my propensity for it is stealing the peace and joy God gives me when I do carry out the things He has planned for me to do.
Years ago the the teaching leader at Bible study (Anne Milleville) used a visual aid to illustrate the importance of prioritizing our time. She had a mason jar, some walnuts, and a cup of rice. The jar signified how much time we have in a day. The walnuts signified the really necessary things, like quiet time with God, prayer and serving others. The rice signified all the other "stuff" that fills our lives, both things we like to do and things we need to do...things like taking walks, reading, paying bills, doing laundry, watching our favorite television shows, etc. When she put the rice in first the walnuts didn't fit into the jar. When she put the walnuts in first and then added the rice, it ALL fit in! Because the rice fell into all the extra spaces the walnuts didn't take up. To get everything in, you have to put the big things in first. The message is simple: When we put God first, our time is miraculously multiplied to allow us to accomplish everything else. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Mt. 6:32-33).
I've taken the "walnut challenge" and have been amazed at how true the principle is...putting eternal things first did miraculously allow me enough time to accomplish all the other "stuff" too. In fact, I "meant to" do it more often.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I had fake teeth because I had knocked out my baby teeth shortly after they came in. My older brother had been walking around the living room with a blanket over his head pretending that he could see through it and (not to be bested) I put one over my own head and took off running, proceeding to knock my teeth out minutes later. I wore the fake little beauties for the next five years of my life. I never understood why my parents had settled for the yellow teeth. Couldn't they have at least insisted on beige? I faithfully took them out every night to clean and brush them, but alas, no amount of brushing or cleaning made them any less yellow. When I finally got my adult teeth they were (disappointingly enough) almost as yellow as my fake ones but had the added feature of having jagged, shark-like edges. I was only able to get rid of the shark look years later after I got my braces off and the dentist finally agreed to file them down.
In fourth grade (yet again in the middle of a school year) we moved out to the country. I became a new "special surprise" for a new class in a new school where I didn't know a soul. However, this year proved to be much better than any other year of school, for one reason: Wonder of wonders, a boy liked me! The very first day, when I was standing against the wall at recess trying not to look too pitiful, he came by and snatched my hat off my head. My initial thought was that I was going to be the butt of some cruel game these new schoolmates of mine had come up with. I looked away, determined not to be affected by any of their stupid jokes. He came back by me, still holding my hat and, with a big grin on this face, asked "Aren't you going to try and get it back?'". I was meant to chase him! I couldn't resist grinning back and set off running after him. He let me catch him, I'd get my hat back, he'd chase me again and so on until the bell rang for us to come in from recess. It wasn't long before I was shyly handed the typical, " I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no" note.
The following fall a family moved in down the street from us. They had twin girls that were my age and we became friends. One of them was put into my class and regrettably developed a crush on my boyfriend. Unfortunately she had the sad, misguided idea that he liked her back. Not willing for her to entertain such a ludicrous thought, I set out to set her straight. I insisted my boyfriend put in writing that, unlike she may have believed, he did not, in fact like her at all. He cooperated, but for some fiendish reason, I didn't think that was enough. Who knows what evilness prompted me to to have it clarified even further...perhaps she didn't seem hurt enough. Anyway, I had him write a second note. This note said that he not only loved me but hated her. Who would have thought that a seemingly sweet fifth grader could be such a manipulative little witch? This second note caused her to cry...how could someone actually hate her? I felt terrible then. What kind of evilness existed in my heart that would want to hurt someone like that? Believe it or not, I had asked Jesus into my heart in second grade. As Jeremiah so pertinently reminds us: "The heart is deceitful above all things". Anytime I'm tempted to believe that deep down I'm a sweet person incapable of such cruelty I'm reminded of that wicked little scheme... along with all the other mean thoughts and deeds that I'd like to think are beyond me. It is comforting that even the apostle Paul struggled with sin, saying: "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do...I know that nothing good lives in me...for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out...who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God---through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom 7:15-25) We can never underestimate the power of sin, but as Paul so enthusiastically points out, we don't have to attempt to fight it on our own. Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death once and for all, promises to fight by our side. I am ever so slowly learning that I can count myself "dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."