Friday, July 30, 2010

Things I Learned from Barbara and Walter

For those of you who don't know, the name Sister Sunshine Charlotte began as this private joke between me and The Husband. He always teases that when we retire we are going to get us a bus evangelism ministry and travel the world street preaching and hosting tent revivals. He says that he's going to paint on the side in big green letters: The Right Reverend Steve Johnson and Sister Sunshine Charlotte and the Traveling House of Salvation Ministries. (He's awesome.) So, this is what he calls me whenever I get preachy about something (hence, they are called Sister Sunshine moments because I'm righteously tearing it up).

With all of that said, this is going to be one of those posts that make some of you squirm. I know it's made me squirm thinking through it. And it's flat out preaching, so read at your own peril.

I've been studying over something lately that's really gotten under my skin. It was also the topic of conversation at the recent WMU function our church attended at Shocco Springs. It wasn't a lesson or session, it was a conversation had with dear, dear heart friends over a meal. It was about service and about devoting ourselves to supporting the things of God. Both are common and spreading problems in our churches.

Here it is in a nutshell: Everyone wants to come to the party, but nobody wants to put it on or pay for it.

I think I'm tired of the entire Christian community (not just my church or yours) sugar-coating our reasons to get out of service to the Lord. Quite frankly, the people of God have become a lazy group of watchers instead of doers. I think this is mostly evidenced when the Nominating Committee comes around and no one will sign up for nursery duty because they've "done their time". Really? Are you dead? Do you still breathe God's air? Well, then I have news for you, Sister and Brother, if you are breathing His air, you've still got something to do for the Kingdom. Cooking, cleaning, praying, giving, going, doing, hammering, sweeping, grilling, puppeteering, teaching, evangelizing, sharing, changing and rocking babies so that mother's can hear the Word...we'd better get up off our collective church backside and start doing it too, or He'll take away our blessing and give it to those who actually deserve it. (Insert Amen Here)

If we really understood how short time is we'd all be tearing it up for the Lord, running the Nominating Committee down at our home churches to please, please let us do something for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, our Sustainer, our Provider, our Healer, the Great I Am, but based on many studies, most of us aren't serving or going or doing or giving--we are sitting and watching and complaining. Hmmm. Makes one wonder if we think the Word is real and alive or that it's a series of 'life applications'.

We had the amazing privilege of hearing Barbara Joiner speak during one of the breakout sessions at the WMU conference. She's the most amazing person--missionary, servant of the Lord, wife, mother, brilliant story teller. I believe she said that she's 83. She told us that one of her greatest joys in life is that she can still sit in the nursery floor at VBS and that she can't teach anything anymore after her STROKE, but she can hold a baby with the best of them. Shame on anyone who uses age to avoid service! Shame on anyone who ever let a physical disability or fear stop him or her from putting forth the very best for Christ! You cannot get beyond physical limitations, but you'd better make sure that it's an actual limitation and not just apathy in disguise. God doesn't let many folks tell him 'no' and get away with it. If you are apathetic about your service at church or refuse to go when called, God just might do the same right back at you.

Or how about this doozy that's been on my mind lately...

I have a dear couple friend. They have been blessed in love and family and finances. After 20 years of marriage with a very modest wedding band set, The Wife expressed a casual interest to her Loving Husband that maybe, possibly, do you think we could upgrade this deal? The Loving Husband indicated on numerous occasions that he felt that was a complete waste (and some would agree). He saw more land to buy and more equipment to work that land and trips and things.

Fast forward.

The Loving Husband was injured in a freak accident while on vacation with The Wife.  He had to have surgeries and lots of down time. The kind of injury he sustained made it hard for him to get up and down, so someone had to stay with him constantly. I had the privilege as friend of the family, to sit with him during his recovery one day to let The Wife go to town and run some errands.

One of the first things out of his mouth as we were sitting there visiting and eating sub sandwiches was that the very second he could get out of that house on his own he was going to take a considerable sum of money directly out of the bank and buy the love of his life the biggest rock he could afford. He looked me dead in the eye and said that all of this land and home and stuff didn't mean anything thing at all without her. He said that she was the most precious person in his whole life and that he was going to show it by doing something that was solely for her and caused him to sacrifice personal wants and needs. He said, "She is never, ever going to be able to forget that I adore her after all that she has done for me and that I love her more than any stupid piece of land."

Wait for it. Wait for it...deep breath...lean in really close so you don't miss it...

How much you love God is directly related to how much you put in the plate on Sunday. It's like telling your children, "Oh, you are the love of my heart and all that I am" and then refusing to feed or clothe them. You love God? Don't just post it on Facebook. Pull out your giving record and let's look at that together, shall we? I can tell the extent of your love and devotion to the things of God and exactly how much you Trust Him for Your Daily Bread by whether or not you put your money where your mouth is. We are a people who give God lip service, but don't prove it by our actions. For shame. We have nothing without the direct Hand of God providing it to us. You'll never one time regret sacrificial giving to the Lord!

Perhaps the most effective way to see where your relationship is with the Lord is to look at your bank statement and look at your church service, and then you can join me prone on the floor in repentance, weeping, begging God to forgive us for not doing more to see souls that are absolutely bound for eternity in Hell saved and redeemed and restored! If not for someone sharing the Gospel with you, someone faithfully putting money to missions in the plate, and that person wiping your nose in VBS it would be your fate also! It is the smallest measure of love and faith to pay if forward.

Pray about your service. Pray about your giving. And prepare for God to challenge you in your spiritual walk in new and exciting ways! Hallelujah, Amen! (Sometimes that Sister Sunshine chick scares me to death.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Saucy Pirate Wench Vs. Sister Sunshine

This is documentation of "The Sister Sunshine Moment that Almost Was" via Facebook. To follow this tale, you'll need a little background info:

This was posted as my Sis-in-Law's (The Husband's sister) Facebook Status:

     If you believe in Jesus Christ, put this on your wall. DON'T JUST IGNORE THIS because the Bible says if you deny Him, He will deny you in front of His Father at the Gates of Heaven. This is the simplest test. If  you love Jesus and you are not ashamed of him, copy this and put it on your wall. God will smile at you! :)
(I'm not sure that God really gives a rip about your Facebooking habits, but that's another rant for another day.) Below it, because he’s The Husband, he wrote something cute and smarty pants to his sister:

      The Husband: Some of us have been sharing God's love long before Facebook ..glad u could find Time to push a button and join us in our mission.
Clever, pithy, witty smart remark that’s true; posting something about Christ on Facebook has nothing to do with actually witnessing and evangelizing (hence, there is a dearth of I Was Saved On Facebook groups).  His funny sister, Diana, would totally get this--he's teasing her. Some people have no sense of humor, so this Crazy Facebook Chick (who we don’t know and doesn’t know us) responded right under The Husband’s post with:

     Crazy Facebook Chick: You know, I may be wrong but just from reading Mr. Johnson's posts he doesn't sound very much like a Christian, much less a pastor. He sounds rude & almost sarcastically condescending. If this is not the case then I apologize it's just the impression he has given me. Sorry Diana. By the way, Diana, get the message out any way you can! EVEN if it means clicking buttons on a computer! You never know who will see it.
Never being one to Let it Lie, The Husband quickly responded:

      The Husband: Hehehe..he's nothing but trouble. ..wouldn't listen to a sermon title much less a full sermon he might preach. ..however. .I feel quite certain this fb exchange will make it into a sermon illustration concerning being judgmental.. lol
      Crazy Facebook Chick: I am not judging you. I said that was my IMPRESSION of you. And, as I posted, I don't know you but that's the IMPRESSION you are giving. You made it sound like Diana was wrong for trying to spread God's message on here.  I took offense to that, Sir.

At this point, my alter ego, Sister Sunshine Charlotte almost showed out. You have got to be kidding me. This sort of deal is the reason people HATE Christians. Steve was picking at his SISTER and making a joking point about how clicking a button does literally NOTHING for advancing the cause of Christ. But, being The Husband and perfect gentleman and pastor, he smoothed things over with the Crazy Facebook Chick with the following exchange:

      The Husband: I'm sorry. ..having a bit of fun..I did say LOL. She (is my sister) and I pick all the time... sorry to have offended you. is too short not to laugh a little. ..

      Crazy Facebook Chick: Well that explains EVERYTHING! LOL if you are her brother then give her absolute misery! I apologize.

Me? I wasn't fully satisfied with that. I wanted to explain to Crazy Facebook Chick in great detail  via a very polite, well-mannered email that she is the reason people reject the message of salvation:

1) There are too many arbitrary crazy rules made up by The Religious Right (so now we aren’t allowed to be sarcastic? That’s it, I’m out of the club!).

2) We are insulting to those we believe to be our spiritual inferiors instead of focusing on restoring broken people.

3) We are held to a church standard of “spiritual behavior” that is not in any way representative of a Biblical standard of spiritual behavior. (I'm pretty sure that Christ and Paul used sarcasm quite effectively on several occasions to call people out. Look it up.)

So, in gearing up for a Monster Rant because I Am Not Yet Satisfied, I cruise on over to Crazy Facebook Chick’s home page and glance through her public photos just to check out what kind of human being I'm dealing with (Know the Animal You Hunt 101). I kid you not, this is one of her profile photos (obviously, I've cut her head off):

(insert cricket sounds here)

Let us recall that she actually used the word "impression" in all caps bold when saying that The Husband's tone indicated that he wasn't a Christian or at least he wasn't a very good Christian (so glad to know there's a rating system). There’s absolutely no need to waste a perfectly good Sister Sunshine Charlotte Monster Rant calling someone out who's discrediting her own self via her lifestyle. In public. On Facebook.
  • Publicly fussing at someone for being a spiritual hypocrite?--costly to the kingdom because it turns people off the message.
  • Condescending to a pastor who is joking with his sister about something that’s absolutely none of you business?--just costly to you personally because your righteous indignation is nothing but foolishness.
  • But photographs of yourself in your public profile dressed as a naughty pirate wench after berating the pastor for not being spiritual enough and questioning his very salvation because he used sarcasm and gave off the wrong IMPRESSION? Priceless.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Family of Four

The Wonder Twins and The Bonus Child left for camp today. They'll be gone until Thursday, so it's just The Number One Son and The Little Flower here with us this week. We get to pretend that we're a typical family of four with one boy, one girl, one dog instead of this over-bred house of crazy we live in.

Things we can do with the three oldest girls gone:
1) all ride together in a standard-size car
2) sit at the same table
3) go to all of the "uncool" places

I'm so excited! Er, I mean, I miss my babies! And if I hear any of my parents of Less Than Three Kids every again whine about how haaaarrrrrddddd it is to do this or that or the other, I will be more than happy to loan you a few Shorties until you Shut It.

So, The Number One Son and The Little Flower went to church to make a special craft. Kudos to Ms. Gretchen for her willingness to do crazy stuff that I refuse to tackle at home. Today? Cakes with frosting that the kids  mixed themselves. A braver soul, I know not.

Here is "Daddy" by The Little Flower. Awesome. Just awesome.

Here is "Mommy" by The Little Flower. When asked what the holes represented (thinking that it might be some sort of Dali symbolism), she looked that little cock-eyed-look up at me and said, "Well, I had to taste it. Duh."

Here is "The Ocean" by The Number One Son (seaweed, I know, I asked too) He said that he figured he could eat it since Lilly made us each our own cakes. Sounds about right.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Vast Wasteland

Daytime TV--we are all aware that it's a complete wasteland, but I'm pretty sure that I've learned just how deep and wide the void actually measures this week. I haven't been able to focus on reading because of the fabulous pain medications I'm taking, so I've resorted to watching Style Network, TLC, History Channel, etc., between periods of unconsciousness.

More meaningless observations:

We are obsessed with Weddings. And I completely got cheated at my wedding. I didn't have enough Bridezilla in me or a Monster-in-Law hovering over me or a Monster-of-the-Bride moment. I didn't spend enough money on the wedding based on the top 20 Forbes Celebrity Weddings. (Although, if you paid more than $500.00 on your wedding dress, I question all of your decision-making ability.) It's a dress that you are going to wear ONCE. And if you spent $1.5 million like some of these folks on the TV, well, you fall into an entirely new class of creepy decadence.

We all Want a New Look, Because We are Hideous. I need a makeover, but I don't want my friends or those idiots on What Not To Wear to do it. They have absolutely no taste. They just put a chunky woman into a nightclub dress made out of silver disco fabric with gladiator sandals (a major no-no for cankles) and then they had the nerve to tell her she looked fabulous. Are you kidding me? I couldn't stop myself from screaming at the television, "You look like a freak cross between the Tin Man and a giant Bass fish!" Where are Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum? Seriously.

We Are All Fat. I can't decide between Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, that 6-Week Body Makeover, or E-Diets. Everyone who diets on TV loses a zillion pounds with little or no trouble. Doubt it? Well, just watch the testimonies--they are all thin without sacrifice and have new, wonderful lives to match their skinny booties. I'm pretty sure I'm going with Marie Osmond, since she's so happy about the entire deal. She also appears to be laughing at some of the people on stage with her, and I'm totally down with that.

If I Weren't Sitting and Staring at the TV, I Wouldn't Know Anything About all of this Amazing Workout Equipment/Programs. Zumba is a scam. No one has that much fun dancing unless alcohol is involved. Or unless we're talking about Richard Simmons. (He might actually be having that much fun.) And I love it when they do five or six complicated dance moves with spinning and jumping and hip rolling and arms flailing and then look into the camera and say, "It's so easy!" Liar. And if you aren't lying I seriously hate you.

So, to recap what I've learned from the TV today: I'm poor, need to sue someone for my disability, I'm fat, ugly, badly dressed, and too stupid to live since I can't Zumba. Lovely. Someone pass the Percocet.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Post Op

Surgery went well Monday. Sore, but up and moving about, so it's all good. When I say it's an enormous difference, I really mean it. Had a little trouble in recovery where my blood pressure and heart rate became a little exciting, but other than that, it was all good. I'm glad it's over for sure.

The Number One Son came into my bedroom to visit with me (I'm still taking it easy and on pain meds, so I'm laid up in bed for a few more days). He sat on the edge of the mattress staring hard at the new and improved me. He stared so long that I finally asked if he wanted to ask me any questions about the deal. He raised his eyebrows and said, "Yeah, I have one question; when can I snuggle them again?" So, we know what Carter's looking forward to, but here's what I'm looking forward to:

1) Being able to run.
2) No longer being able to hide an entire cell phone in my bra without drawing any attention to myself.
3) Going into Victoria's Secret and purchasing bras.
4) New bathing suits and clothes!
5) Being able to fit into any booth in any restaurant in the world.
6) Not having to go up one size in clothes just to accommodate Bob and Chuck.
7) Being able to purchase blouses that button up the front.

Whoot! Now, I'm ready for the sore part to be over and to get up and get gone doing stuff. Yea for me!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Evidently, NOT the Last Airbender

The Husband and I ditched the Shorties and went to the beach with awesome friends for a few days last week. Basically, we slept, ate great seafood, watched a movie, swam, soaked in the hot tub, and lounged around. In short--PERFECT! (I'm such a slug.)

We went to see The Last Airbender. I repeatedly told The Husband over the past few weeks of previews that I wanted to see that movie, to which he'd ask, "What's it about?"

I responded the same way every time, "I have no idea, but M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed it, so I'm in." Then he'd say, "Shama-lama Ding Dong? What? Who's that?" (insert big sigh here)

I must have explained Shyamalan's filmography to him ten times. You know, The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village...M. Night Shyamalan. The last time he started singing like Bowser from Sha Na Na, I stared blankly at him and said, "Get in the car and drive me to the theater or I will kill you." That, he got.

So, we saw the film. That's about all I can say about it. There's a sequel coming, but I don't know if I care enough about it to actually go see it. It was just...hmmm...visually beautiful. And the costumes were cool. But I just didn't give a rip about any of the characters. At one point this princess is about to become the sacrificial character and  give herself up for the greater good, yada yada yada, and I'm wondering to myself if it's too late to go get popcorn.

(Side note to Hollywood: There's just not enough set dressing or CGI in the world to take the place of character and plot development.) I would have thought Shamalama Ding Dong had those parts firmly under control.

Steve didn't fall asleep during the movie, so he came out with some new "skills" which he practiced at random during the remainder of the trip. He kept striking these crazy poses next to moving water and announcing he was air/water/earth/fire bending. For example, the sprinklers at the shopping mall fired off, and he struck the infamous crane pose from the Karate Kid and moved his arms, legs, and hands in the tai chi focusing intently on the sprinkler system and announced that he was "water bending".

Let's see, he also bent some traffic, bent some water fountains, and bent some liquid in a tea glass using a straw. Then, when he had to excuse himself to use the bathroom, he announced to the table of friends we were eating with that he "had to go bend some water".

I want to see a marriage license. I need some proof that I married and bred with this man on purpose. Seriously.

Domestic Bliss

I try to avoid anything serious or difficult or depressing on my blog. Frankly, I have enough stuff trying to kill my buzz in Real Life to let it interfere with my Virtual Life. So, I tell what feels funny to me and share the absolutely meaningless anecdotes that when sewn together are the quilt that makes up my day-to-day life.

It's weird how we are just a series of random events strung together by daily, easily forgotten, menial tasks. Such as, ZOO, dishes, laundry, food, DATE NIGHT, dishes, laundry, change sheets, food, MOVIE PREMIERE, laundry, POOL, laundry, food, dishes, DOCTOR APPOINTMENT, dishes, food, laundry, and so on. For example:

We went to swim at JuJu's today and a youth was there swimming with the Shorties. JuJu and I were discussing a mutual friend and her new cabinets. Mutual Friend (hello Jennifer!) is building a new house, and we were going on about how excited she was about getting her new cabinets and how pretty they were.

The youth smiled and looked up at me over his sunglasses, "She's excited about cabinets?" I said, "You just wait. One day you'll be all stoked about rolling off the lot with the new family truckster and your cabinets." He rolled his eyes and I said, "Mark it down. The day your new kitchen is finished, you'll turn to your wife and say, 'There was this woman who told me once that I'd be all wound up about cabinetry. Go figure, she was right.' and you'll recall this exact conversation."

Funny about what gets you all excited in the middle of domestic bliss. Things like...
  • Your kids playing sports
  • New appliances
  • Used cars that are new to you
  • Clean towels
  • Someone else making dinner
  • The smell of Pine Sol, provided it's been applied, not spilled
  • A new mattress
  • Fresh vegetables
Of course these things fade, but they are joyful in those first precious moments. You might say they aren't particularly important in the greater scheme of things, and you might be right. But then again...

Watching my children play sports is so thrilling that I completely understand that psycho woman next to me screaming and jumping around every time her baby boy makes contact. With the T-Ball. The first time The Number One Son ran his five-year-old self five yards into the end zone making a touchdown, you'd have thought we were watching Alabama and Auburn play for the National Championship and he'd just scored the winning points.

New appliances--there's nothing in the whole world like having a really old dishwasher and getting a brand new super duper quiet one installed. You keep opening it, getting a face full of steam, just making sure it's running since it sounds nothing like the dinosaur you were using earlier in the week.

That little black convertible VW Rabbit given to me right after my 17th birthday was the finest thing on God's green earth. The first time I slipped behind the wheel and me and my girls rode Spiffy to nowhere, blowing through an entire tank of gas in one night driving in circles, is in my calendar of Greatest Days Ever. Right up there with the day we bought Yukon Sam and drove the mother of all family trucksters off the lot. (Side note: I don't trust people who don't name their cars.)

Clean, fresh laundry-smelling towels are like heaven. Especially if my mother came over and washed them while I was working. It's like a little personal laundry miracle of freshness.

What is is about sandwiches and hot dogs?
You make 'em: average.
Someone, anyone else makes them? Delicious!
Weird science.

Pine Sol means that the maid came!!!!!!! Praise Jesus!!!! One of the things I wish for you is a maid. (Sure, we need food and clean drinking water and access to medical supplies and absolutely sharing the gospel is right up there, but if we're talking Never Never Land, get you a maid. It will change your entire world view.)

Anyone who got "one more year" out of a mattress doesn't need any further elaboration. The rest of you? Next time you're in the furniture store, recline on the mattresses just for fun. You'll see what you've been missing.

Fresh veggies out of a garden make canned ones taste like dog food. If you don't garden, make friends with people who do.

It's the little things that make the most difference in your domestic bliss the older you get. Can I get an amen?