Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fun Sunday, Grace by Distraction

Last weekend we went to Clifton Mill, Clifton Gorge, and Young's Dairy Farm (for a pumpkin fair) with Amanda's family.  The scenery was breathtaking at both Clifton locations (check out the pictures from my phone), and it was great to be outside and walking around in the cool air.  

The Dairy Farm was fun too.  We had a tasty lunch at the restaurant there.  Lucas and I navigated through a corn maze (picture below).  The girls got to ride in a little airplane ride that was pulled by a tractor.  We also ate some ice cream and picked a pumpkin from the patch too.  

Because we knew we would be gone for the whole day, we utilized a coupon for a free day of boarding at PetSmart for our dog, Hope.  The only drawback to boarding her though was that we had to make sure we arrived back at PetSmart before they closed for the day.  

Well, we were in the middle of eating our ice cream when Amanda realized that it was 5pm, and we were approximately an hour drive away from PetSmart, which closed at 6pm.  So we loaded up in the minivan and raced against the clock to get there on time.  

Well, maybe "racing" wasn't the best idea, I realized as the blue and red lights flashed behind me.  How fast, you ask?  76 in a 55.  Yep, >20mph over.  Truth be told, I really didn't realize I was going that fast.  The happy ending to this story though, is that after collecting my license and returning to his car, he immediately and briskly walked back, handed me my license, and informed me that he's letting me off with a warning.  Then he briskly walked back to his car and sped off after someone else.  

I don't know if they were in the hundreds of mph range, or if it was just Amanda's prayer just before pulling over.  But whatever the reason, grace was given that day, and we gladly accepted it.

And we actually made it to PetSmart in time.  Right at 6pm.  On the nose.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Better Than WWJD?

WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) has been a popular acronym among Christians since the 1990s, and for good reason.  It's a catchy way to remind yourself to make decisions that model what you think Jesus' choice would be.  And if you're a Christian (aka follower of Christ), then this should be a daily, if ever elusive, goal.

However, a few weeks back a phrase/verse in the Bible really struck me as completely pivotal to what we, as Christians, should strive for as our overall goal in life - the "big picture" so to speak.  It's Matthew 25:21: 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’.

While utilizing WWJD is useful in helping us make daily decisions, we should be pondering the bigger questions, actions, decisions, and plans with the goal of hearing those words "Well done good and faithful servant!" on the day of our passing from this world.

I'm not asking whether you will get to heaven or not.  If you've accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and have repented from your sins then the answer is yes.  But when you get to heaven, and God looks at your life, what would you expect Him to say, based on how you lived it?  Will He maybe mumble and say "Fine, you made it.  Come on in" with little to no enthusiasm?  Or would He and a host of angels proclaim "Well Done Good and Faithful Servant!  You lived a life worth celebrating.  One that did much good in the world.  One that proclaimed, celebrated, praised, and spread my name to all who knew you.  You didn't just live as a person who calls him/herself a Christian when asked about it.  You lived in a way that all who knew you, and even many who didn't, knew what you represented - ME!  To sum it up, you made Me (God) proud.  Well done indeed."

I wish I could say with confidence that the latter would be true of me, but at this point in time I don't really think that would be the case.  But I want to have this idea at the forefront of my mind on a daily basis, to pursue things, actions, decisions, relationships that would lead to this eventual proclamation when I die.

In the spirit (and popularity) of WWJD, perhaps it would also be a good idea to come up with an acronym to make it more catchy and memorable.  The best choices I can come up with are these:
  • WDGaFS 
  • WeDoGaFaSe (probably too long)
  • WeDGaFS
  • Wedgafs
Which one do you think is the best?  Any other suggestions?

Also, what would your answer be to that question, if you were to ask yourself "Is the way I'm living, the choices I'm making, the way I'm spending my time, the way I interact with others, the way I stand up for my faith, the passion in which I pursue my God, are these things done in a way such that I would expect to hear that phrase (WELL DONE...!)?"  Any feedback is welcome.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Book Review: "50 Shades of Grey" by E.L. James

My wife and I had heard so damned much about this book. It's been all over the news, on Facebook, and talked about amongst Amanda's friends too (even fellow church goers). So both of us were at least a little curious to read it. It was only ~$10 for the soft cover, so Amanda decided to give it a shot. She liked it pretty well, so I decided to climb into a woman's mind and learn a little more about how their most prominent sexual organ (their brain, or so I'm told anyway) works.

 The biggest problem that I had with it is that I found myself comparing our current sex life to that of the characters in the book. But the circumstances of our life aren't anywhere close to theirs. Limited financial resources aside, when we were dating we may have equaled (or even surpassed?) their passion, and even perhaps when we were first married. But once you enter kids into the equation, sex gets pushed way down on the priority ladder. Factor in work responsibilities, financial struggles, time and location limitations (especially due to kids), general life stress, maintaining your material possessions, getting stuck in "parenting" mode, and any number of other difficulties, and all of a sudden romance and sex takes a lot more effort. It's still great and fun and wonderful when it happens, but our emotional and physical circumstances can't even come close to the story that I'm letting myself become engrossed in.

 Maybe that's part of the allure with books like this though, letting your mind wander to alternate scenarios apart from your own reality.  I can certainly appreciate that, as I enjoy that aspect about any book/story I read.  So why not one that includes graphic sex scenes too?  The best that could come out of it will be that it helps inspire me to work harder to make intimate "moments" happen in my own real-life marriage.  The worst that could result is that Amanda and I will find ourselves increasingly frustrated with our own situation and get discouraged instead of inspired.

Well, the jury is still out regarding its affect on our marriage, but I admit that I did enjoy reading it, and I didn't find any obvious annoyances with the story itself or the writing style, like I'd heard about in some critiques of it.  I thought Mrs. James did a good job of creating a believable female main character, and I appreciated her (the character's) introspection and ability to analyze the relationship, her partner, and also his "unique" requests/desires. 

I don't think this book is for everyone, but I personally enjoyed it and so did my wife.  Now if only Ms. James would write another sequel that includes the challenges associated with marriage and family life.  When taking young kids and a puppy into consideration, perhaps it could be called Fifty Shades of Brown and Yellow. :-)

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