Tag Archives: God

Fresh butter, thirsty towels, and Heaven

This past Wednesday marked a year since my Grandma passed away.  It’s been a rough year. A whole year of grieving. We have seen every day, every season, every holiday… without.  It hasn’t been bad.  But it’d be hard to say, whole-heartedly, that it’s been good. It’s been, mostly, bittersweet.  And very different.

I cannot attend a bridal or baby shower, or a wedding, without thinking of my Grandma. She really loved things like this; and, in our family, she was at the center of traditions and fun.  No one will ever fill this void, despite how they try.  I tear as I see other family’s traditions and miss my own.  I was never much for showers, honestly.  Although, I have to say, I think I like them more now. Although they make me a little sad at times, they seem to connect me to this amazing woman I miss so much. I’d like to think that, in my friends, I will be the one who carries tradition.  And, someday, in the family that I will create.

Butter.  My grandma loved butter (and I imagine she still does in Heaven) about as much as Julia Child did.  Maybe more.  And salt.  Whenever I put butter on anything, whether it be bread or pancakes or a little in the brown rice I just made… I think of her.

When Grandma was sick, Mom and I spent three months living in her house, taking care of her and the house.  We brought her to see Deda when he was in the hospital.  Mom bandaged her legs, prepared her meals, helped her arrange the pillows which she needed all around her body so she could sleep comfortably.  I helped get medicines and carry food.  Sometimes, I was just company and someone to talk to.  Often, I helped her get out of bed in the morning and made her tea.  Later, Mom and I would help her take her medicine together; measuring the morphine, double-checking the dose, preparing a spoonful of applesauce or something for after, to cover the terrible taste.  And we would sit with her, comfort her, and watch the Food Network.  And, of course, there were household chores.  My main household responsibility was the laundry.  And Grandma loved when I did laundry. She may have just been glad that I knew HOW to do laundry.  Although Grandma was proud of my academic accomplishments, she was equally happy that I could cook and do things that might fall under a more “domestic” category.  And Grandma loved laundry.  She prided herself on sending Deda to work with the cleanest clothes.  That didn’t stop when he retired shortly after I was born.  I remember many times, coming up the stairs from the basement, carrying a large stack of nightgowns and socks, or towels– big bath towels, fluffy hand towels, thin kitchen towels– the kind my Great-Grandma took from the butcher shop her family had, or that Grandma had gotten in the boxes of Duz detergent.  Grandma loved seeing me carry those stacks of clean, fresh laundry.  She always complemented how neatly they were folded and stacked.  And Grandma simply loved towels.  And sheets.  “Textiles,” she’d call them.  And she loved them all.  Tablecloths.  Cloth napkins. We found many more after she passed away, when we cleaned the attic.  When I had gone away to school, moving into my on-campus apartment for the first time, Grandma had given me brightly-colored bath towels, and some dishtowels and washcloths.  She always had things like that.  Ready. For whoever would need them.  I know I’m not the only one to benefit from her generous spirit– and love of textiles.  When I moved to my apartment last summer, I needed some more towels.  Thanks to Grandma, I still had the ones from my on-campus years. I didn’t need any bath towels.  But I needed more handtowels, and dishtowels.  And a few washcloths.  I bought mostly from Target to save money and to match my bathroom colors.  I treated myself to some on-sale Crate and Barrell kitchen towels that were bright and cheery.  And I bought one pack of thick, white washcloths at Kohls, which I wound up mostly using in the kitchen to clean instead of using them as washcloths.  It was the other night when I was folding these that I thought about Grandma.  She would have loved these towels, I thought.  They are big, for a washcloth.  And thick. And thirsty.  And pure white.  And they look amazing stacked up, the four of them, folded neatly.  No wonder Grandma loved Kohls.  And as I folded, the washcloths, the hand towels, the bath towels from the dorm… I can’t help but think Grandma would love seeing me fold these towels. She always did.

Driving home the other day, I saw the sky the most gorgeous purple I’ve ever seen it.  It was a perfect shade and it looked exactly like what I might imagine Heaven will look like.  I imagine Heaven as full of vibrant, beautiful colors.  This sky reminded me of why, as a child, I hated sunglasses.  I understood that it was bright and I needed to protect my eyes and I was light-sensitive so sunglasses would make it hurt less.  But I hated how it distorted all the colors. I wanted to see the world the way it was– not dimly lit and shaded grey and dull.  Today I read a quote by C.S. Lewis and a discussion about how people who think about Heaven, and the life that will come after this one, live differently from those who think only about this earth and their life here.  And for half a second, it made sense.  While I’ve always acknowledged eternal life, and its importance.  I don’t think much about it, really.  Losing my grandparents makes me think about Heaven, everyday.  It is not just comforting to know they are there.  But comforting that I will see them again.  Heaven makes me think of Grandma, too.  Along with big life events, and butter, and freshly laundered towels.  And thinking of Heaven– is amazing.  For the past year, I have been baffled by death.  I could not wrap my mind around it.  I still can’t.  It’s too big.  But maybe part of it is this:  When we lose people we love, we remember our own short stays on this planet.  And maybe that makes us live a little different.  And maybe, it makes us think of Heaven.  And maybe that makes us live a lot different.  And so God is still using my grandparents to enrich my life, to make me better, to teach me and guide me– just like they did when they were right here on this earth.  

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God, love, and anger.

I’ve recently started reading “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of ‘A Course in Miracles’” by Marianne Williamson.  I have always loved the quote from this book,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I have, in fact, built my life around that last part.  You have probably read me say things in this spirit before, like last week when I talked about being Shameless.

I decided to read the whole book and was gifted a Kindle edition.  So I’ve started.  (I’ve also been reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love at the same time– both, incredible.  And very balancing, in an odd way.)  Maybe there is a theme here.  Maybe when I am done with both, I will write a post, or book, on both.  And I can call it “Returning to Crazy Love.” 🙂

But, I digress… back to Williamson.

There is something very right about her thinking.  I have never read “A Course in Miracles,” so I must only go by her reflections and scattered quotes.  I have just started chapter 2.  Chapter 1 focuses a lot on our fear.  Everyone’s fear.  The culture of fear we live in and all the many ways we reflect it.  It resonates with me, greatly.  Now, Chapter 2 is on God.  I am curious about Williamson’s God.  She makes it clear from the start that she is not supporting Christianity, although the principles do apply.  It sounds a lot like Christianity, though.  Enough to be useful to a Christian, or non-Christian, but confusing to someone who’s in between.  And then I hit a sentence which made certain that, although similar in many ways, Williamson’s God is not my God.

I highlighted this:

“Rather than accepting that we are the loving beings that He created, we have arrogantly thought that we could create ourselves, and then create God.  Because we are angry and judgmental, we have projected those characteristics onto Him.  We have made up a God in our image.  But God remains who He is…”

Good so far, right?

I think this is many people’s perception of God.  Whether or not they mean it to be.

But then this:

“God remains who He is…the thought of unconditional love.  He cannot think with anger or judgment; He is mercy and compassion and total acceptance.”

Hmm… Well… kind of?  It cannot be accurate that God cannot be angry or judge.  He is THE judge.  And He hates sin.  Cue the tape of Jesus overturning the tables in the temple.  Oh, He gets angry.  And there is acceptance, but not TOTAL acceptance.  Sin cannot be accepted.  God has standards.  What kind of a walk-all-over-me doormat God would He be if He COULD not be angry.  If He accepted everything?  He’d be an abused, co-dependent God.  He would not be a God worthy of praise and awe.

That said, there’s something to this.   What about for the Christian?  What about post-judgment?  I imagine this is exactly what our forever-reining, Satan-defeated God would be like.  With no cause for anger, judgment… or even mercy.  Overwhelming, total acceptance.  Dripping with love and compassion (while being powerful and awe-inspiring).

Jesus got angry.  It’s a quality talked about in the last book I read, Beautiful Outlaw.  The personality of Jesus.  God has emotions.  There are times when God is angry.  There are times when we should be angry.  But He is not angry all the time. And neither should we be.  God doesn’t have a problem with rage.  But when you look at His response to sin… rage certainly describes it.  Jesus has harsh words for the Pharisees… but with little exception, he does not speak this way with “sinners.”  He does not speak this way to His disciples.  There are times when I sin and I wonder– is God angry at me? Or disappointed? Perhaps I will understand a bit better when I have children of my own.  Or maybe God will have to just explain it to me one day.

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Shameless.

Her name was Jyoti Singh Pandey: Father of Indian Gang Rape Victim Speaks Out.

There is something about these words, spoken by Jyoti’s father.  In a world where parents are often pressured, and rapes sometimes occur as the result of family disgrace, or where rape is seen just as sex and is therefore family disgrace… these words ring out. Honest.  True.  Bold.  Proud.  Shameless.

There is something about shame.  It usually occurs with some form of sin.  In the Garden of Eden, we read about sin coming into the world.  Just one simple command: don’t eat the fruit of this one tree.  No Levitical law.  No Ten Commandments.  Just one.  But temptation arose and sin entered our world.  And it has stayed with us ever since, waiting for Jesus to come back and establish His reign.  We have escape from sin in Jesus now, but not perfect peace from it.

But then what happened?  Adam and Eve became ashamed.  And that shame has stayed with us too.  And it’s good.  Sometimes.  It’s our conscience speaking up.  Sometimes.  And other times, it’s culture.  It’s false guilt.  It’s what we’ve been made to believe we should feel guilty for.  It’s not having enough money.  Or admitting to a wrong.  Not the wrong-doing causing the shame, but the sheer admittance.  We are Adam and Eve.  We hide.  

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Sin is sin.  There is no arguing with that.  If you’re not sure you believe this, there’s some interesting food for thought HERE.  But perhaps sin was unavoidable… just maybe, if it hadn’t happened in the Garden, it would have just happened somewhere else.  Maybe while we battle sin daily, we need to battle shame with it.  Maybe the war on shame will be the key to the daily battle against sin.  Maybe.

Sin separates us from God.  But so does shame.  Shame made Adam and Eve hide.  Instead of approaching God based on His love, in boldness, saying “We messed up! Help!” Adam and Eve ran away.  And we do the same thing.  With God.  With each other.  

The dangerous part is that we do it when we’re not at fault– We have these bodies all backwards.  We don’t want to talk about rape.  We blame the victim.  We call it sex.

We don’t want a woman breastfeeding in public, however modestly.  We don’t even want to say the word “breast,” unless we’re talking about poultry.

We argue about the fine line between pornography and art.  

But we sexualize our TV, our music, our attitudes, our hearts.  And wonder why when we look at the world, we see sex.  I should mention here, I’m pretty pro-sex.  In the right contexts.  But sex in the wrong contexts has brought about a ton of shame.  And it’s taken our beautiful masterpiece bodies, designed by God, and hidden them.  From fig leaves to designer jeans.  

It’s late and I may be rambling.  I’m not suggesting we all just de-robe, walk around, and say it’s what God intended.  But what about teaching our sons, our daughters, and maybe even ourselves– that bodies are beautiful.  That they’re sacred.  That we need to live right, and that this is the key to no shame. That it’s ok to know your body, to educate yourself, to love what God made in you.  Each one of us is a sculpture by the Greatest Artist who exists.  He’s signed each of our hearts with a desire that we try to fill until we find Him and manage to give in to His love.  But some of us will find sex, alcohol, money, fame, science, pleasure, and a host of other things to try to fill that desire with first (which, are all OK things– but in proper priority).  And even those of us who find Him, will struggle with shame. We will call Jesus our Savior, but refuse to accept His love, because we are too ashamed.  Or we will accept the love, but never feel its full measure, too ashamed of our daily messes.  Shame.

Shame that makes us hide from God when He’s the only one who can make it better.  Shame that makes us hide from each other, and makes it easy for sin to target and pick us off.  

Almost a week in to 2013, I’m thinking it’s not too late for resolutions.  So I resolve to attempt to live more shamelessly in 2013.  To be willing to be uncomfortable, at times, in the proper situations, to attempt to free myself and others.  To attempt an honest conversation.  To connect, in a real, honest, intimate way– the way God intended us to interact with Him and each other.  

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An Airbag of Angels

Pulling into the supermarket parking lot yesterday, the thought flashed through my mind that I’m worried that my car will be destroyed by the end of this summer.  People have been driving so crazy.

My mini fender bender was just two short weeks ago.  A few days after this, the car next door was hit in the middle of the night by a drunk driver.  The road I live on curves and, apparently, the driver was too fast, came around the curve and slammed into the first parked car that was there, managed to keep going (up on the curve) and then drive back into the street.  He stopped and, thanks to another neighbor, was caught and arrested– but one of the neighbors said that he was just inches from my car– which was also clear from the dirt marks still fresh on the road the next morning.  I was thankful that God not only allowed me to make it unscathed from my own mistake, but also protected my car from unseen, middle-of-the-night danger.

Yesterday, I was about two minutes from home when I approached a yellow light.  I was at that speed where you could possibly stop, but can probably more easily go– and as I could tell I had plenty of time to make my turn, I opted to do this as opposed to slamming on my brakes.  With left-turn signal on, I started turning into the intersection.  As I started to turn, I see a car coming around my left!  I partially stopped in shock, but not before the car hit my own (front driver’s side).  I pulled over, not realizing that I was now on the wrong side of the road because I missed my turn.  The other driver pulled over, although much further up ahead– hesitated a bit– and then pulled away!!  I am left with only scratches and scuffs on the car, it seems.  But I was pretty darn mad!  I can understand the urge to blow through the yellow light before it turns red– but not when there’s someone in front of you– and much less when you’re coming around my left when that’s the direction I’m turning towards.  And second, that you then wouldn’t even stop?! Not cool.

My mother always prays that there would be “an airbag of angels” surrounding my car.  Well done, angels.  Three times in three weeks, well done.

That said, there are some areas of life where creativity is not encouraged.  I’d appreciate if people drove a bit LESS creatively.

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