Monday, July 18, 2016

The Gospel According to Zootopia

I recently saw Zootopia and absolutely loved it!  I loved it so much that the Shakira song, "Try Everything" is now my ringtone.  The movie has gotten a lot of flack because of the supposed underlying message of the liberal bent in our country.  Ok, I'm about as conservative as they come, but people, please.  Can we not look at every movie for some political agenda that will warp our children and turn them into raging entitlelists?  Granted, Hollywood is saturated with left-wing thinking, but I prefer to look at movies - especially animated ones - through the eyes of the gospel.  Our country is divided enough these days.

The story begins with Judy Hopps, a vivacious, energetic bunny with big dreams, wanting to leave the comfort of her family's carrot farm to pursue a life as a law enforcement officer in the land of Zootopia.  Zootopia is that big city for animals - the Los Angeles or New York City for creatures - where dreams come true.  Although her parents hate to see her go (even though they have a passel of her siblings still remaining), she heads to Zootopia and does indeed become a law enforcement officer.  I'll save ruining the plot, but Judy comes into her own through a complex situation between Mayor Lionheart and his assistant mayor Bellwether, a lamb.  

In a world where chaos seems to be happening all around us, this little flick truly waves the flag of "All Lives Matter."  From Judy Hopps to the Mayoral Lion, everyone was important.  Nobody cared if Judy was a tiny rabbit, she was a great policewoman!  And her life had a plan.  There may be no better verse in Scripture that screams "All Lives Matter" than John 3:16..."For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that WHOSOEVER (emphasis mine) believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."  God loved ALL lives so much, He gave His only Son for us.  

I applaud Disney on many fronts.  Yes, they are a secular company so they aren't weaving Christian themes in every movie, but they are hitting home runs with their recent movie messaging.  Inside Out...a child struggles with a major move and life change and we see her real emotions, realizing that Joy and Sadness go hand in hand.  Finding Dory....a fish with a short-term memory can still make a difference, displaying that a child with special needs is still very valuable.  And, now Zootopia, where a small bunny never gives up on her dream and makes a big difference in the world of Zootopia, meaning every life matters. 

In this movie, all animals co-habitate with each other, even those that would normally eat each other in the real world.  One day we will live in a new world where the lion will lay down with the lamb, and it will not only be Zootopia, but it will be Paradise, with Jesus in complete control as we live in this New Earth.  Until then, let's all remember all lives matter....because they matter to God.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

A World With No Color

The news in the last week has been disheartening and sad.  It doesn't matter who you are or the color of your skin, if you've watched the deaths at the hands of law enforcement and the deaths of those retaliating those actions continuing to split the country by color, you should feel sad.  

I have best friends that are black, and I have friends who are police officers.  I love them both.  I don't agree with the actions we've seen in the past week and feel like I want to just live in a world without color.  But how boring would this world be without color?  Yet, if we were all green, then maybe all of this would stop, and the issues at the heart of this would be addressed.  We're sinful people living in a fallen world.  We all need a Savior.

This past weekend, I spent a lot of time with my church family, and as I reflected on the activities I did, I was reminded how "colorless" my world is, or rather, how I don't "see" color.  Saturday morning I celebrated with a woman at our church about to become a Mom for the first time.  This precious little girl is being born to a sweet couple that will raise her to love the Lord and to not see color.  I left that baby shower and headed to a "farewell" gathering for one of my great friends who is heading westward to take on his dream of teaching at the college level.  It just so happens, that great friend is black.  I don't see him as black.  We all hugged him and will miss seeing him regularly, and see him as family, not black.  Both black and white will miss him terribly and thanks to technology can keep up with him much easier.

Last night, our church family had a building community night, which means to us, fun times after the evening service.  We had organized kickball games between teams of young 'uns and old folks, a bluegrass band, and Steel City Pops which seem to be life altering, but I'd say it takes two for that change to occur.  Our church is blessed to have many members of law enforcement as part of our family, and our congregation - black and white - love and respect them.  I couldn't help but look around at all the colors I saw, too.  Families who've adopted children from Africa and Ethiopia.  A church family full of all sorts of "color" of people and, again, I didn't see color.  I did see the cutest little bluegrass dancers and Popsicle eaters around.  By the end of the evening, I'd almost forgotten the way the rest of the world operates.  

If you're like me, you're sick of all the hate, violence and division you see in this country.  I've decided that we need to adopt a new song that this country needs to sing...and the lyrics go something like this....

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.  

Jesus doesn't see color.  Nor should we.  

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A Round Tuit

My Dad used to carry around a wooden disc with the word TUIT painted on the face of this pseudo coin.  I could always find one in his suit coat pocket when I went digging for a peppermint.  Or on the top of the dresser when he emptied his pants pockets out.  Someone along his work journey gave him this disc to remind him that you needed to get a round tuit.  Or removing the phonetics, "get around to it."  My Dad was the ultimate in Dad humor so he ate this up.

He'd make conversations at gatherings by throwing the coin on a table and asking the person if they knew what it was.  This was a puzzle that could go on for hours and he found it comical to finally have to explain it if they gave up.  I miss his Dad humor.

On Sunday, my friends and I went to Zeggz for lunch/brunch after church.  A quick aside - this restaurant is apparently a competitor for a local favorite, Wild Eggs.  After my first experience, there is no comparison.  Wild Eggs is clearly better, starting with the fact that you have to order off a wall at Zeggz.  (I'll save "ordering off a wall" rant for a future blog post)

As we were eating, I saw a man come in the door that quickly reminded me of my Dad.  His salty gray hair was slicked back, and he was in a suit that was snappy and a bit progressive for a man who looked to be in his 80s.  My Dad had gray hair with touches of his jet black still visible and wore it slicked back.  He also could pull off a stylish suit coat like a champion, wearing pink, yellow and green ones on occasion.

It was a bit surreal, even though this man didn't look a ton like my Dad, there were things about him that reminded me of him.  That's happened a few times and a flood of memories come back, and I miss him so all over again.

While we were finishing our meal, he came over to our table and said, "Now this table looks like a fun group of people" and he gave each of us a yellow Round Tuit.  He and his wife smiled and walked out of the restaurant.  That was about the coolest thing I've had happen in a long time.  I'm now keeping my Round Tuit in my car console so that every time I get in, I think of my Dad.   

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Traffic Violation

I've had my driver's license for 33 years and haven't read a driver's manual in about 34 years.  You may be far removed from studying for those tests as well, so let's have a pop quiz, shall we?:

If you are driving down the highway and see a policeman who has pulled someone over on the right, off the highway, and you are traveling in the right lane, are you required to merge to the next lane over?

I'll give you time to think on that.

Yes you say?  Bravo because you are right and kudos for you knowing that.  I would have answered no, and not only am I wrong, but I now have a traffic date in court.  

While I was traveling home the other night, I was almost to my exit that takes me home when I saw the above mentioned scene ahead of me.  I looked to see if the right lane was blocked or obstructed, and it wasn't.  Since my exit was just past this scene, I didn't want to get over unless absolutely necessary.  It was about 9pm and the sun was setting in my rearview mirror causing some glare.  As I approached this scene, I saw the cop on the side of the road throwing his arm to the left like he had a charlie horse in his elbow.  I took that to mean "get over" though I didn't get it, but I checked the ability to merge left, and then did.  Shortly after, I merged back to the right lane since I was about to exit.  And that's when my night went south.

I see his flashing lights behind me.  I first thought, "Did I swerve?  Do I have a tail light out?"  Seriously, I had no idea why I was getting pulled over.  It crossed my mind I didn't merge left fast enough so I expected a stern talking to and a pass on a citation.  Au contraire, mon frer.  Not the case.

He came to my window and asked for my driver's license, insurance card and registration.  Praise Jesus I had all those things and knew where to find them!  He was gone for a while, apparently making sure I wasn't on the lam from some high stakes murder ring.  The police officer returned, handed all my paperwork and IDs and said, "Here is your court date."  I asked, "Officer, can you explain the offense?"  He said, "Sure, you didn't observe right of way for an emergency vehicle.  Did you see me motioning you to get over into the next lane??  Did you see my flashing arrow?"  I said, "I didn't see a flashing arrow..." Interrupting the officer said, "Well it was flashing."  I continued, " I saw you motioning and I got over as soon as I could."  Mr. Policeman said, "No you didn't.  You didn't get over."  I replied as calmly as possible, "I did get over.  But I got back in the right lane because this is my exit."  He replied, "Ok, so you got over, but it was past me."  And he walked off.  

It took all the grace of God to keep me from going off.  I'm a pretty level-headed, calm person, but I was furious.  Not only did I not know this was a violation, this citation was court only.  No pre-payment to avoid court, or traffic school as an option.  Given it was June 28, I can only think my citation was to help meet his monthly quota.  

I plan to plead at my court date that I had no idea of this law - friends have told me it's fairly new - and that unless those types of laws are communicated, I can't abide by them.  If we are supposed to get over in the next lane, put a barricade in the right lane and there will be no question.  I know ignorance doesn't stand up in a court of law, but maybe my southern charm will help.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Giddy Up, Eunice!

I'd never read a book authored by Sophie Hudson, even though I follow her on all the socials.  She seems like a fun, southern gal who loves the Lord, and who doesn't need more of that in your life?  A few months ago, she announced a new book being released in June and was recruiting for her launch team.  I was in the midst of my first two launch teams ever - Looking for Lovely, and The Gospel of Mark Bible study - and thought, "yeah, let's do this again!"  

Entering into this journey, I had no idea the topic of the book. With a name like "Giddy Up, Eunice" I assumed it was some sort of Toy Story spin-off where Woody and Buzz rescued Grandma Eunice from the jaws of a Lego crane.  But the sub-title, "Because women need each other" was intriguing and indicated it was more than a toy search and rescue thriller.  

Sophie takes three teams of women from Scripture - Mary and Elizabeth, Ruth and Naomi, and Lois and Eunice (there's Eunice!) - to show the biblical evidence of why women need women.  Each dynamic duo is used to show how God used each one for the other and how that applies to our lives today in our fast-paced, hashtag, social media world. #imexhausted  Now, if you pick up this book and expect an expositional retelling of each of their stories, it's not.  And, that's completely ok!  I believe there is a time for deep, Scriptural study and a time when we look at the biblical story, draw out the truths, and well, Giddy Up!  

As a woman who works at a high school with many young girls, Sophie adds her own spice of life experiences and how they apply to ministering to women.  The most endearing part of the book, to me though, are the stories of her Mom, her Mother-in-Law, Martha, and her Mamaw.  We visualize the legacy of her Mamaw as we tour her farm and Sophie retells her experiences.  Through her stories, we fall in love with those that have invested in Sophie's life and it causes the reader to begin to reflect on their own legacy and those that have played a part in the development.

My Mom passed away in September day after my 35th birthday. I really couldn't fathom losing one of my best friends so early in my life.  I remember sitting in her hospital room on my birthday thinking back on all that she taught me. How to trust God when you are married 18 years without conceiving to finally have your one and only child.  How to love a husband till death do you part.  How to stand for the truth even when it isn't popular.  How to live with a chronic illness and still go on.  How to walk gracefully through the valley of the shadow of death.  All that I was reflecting upon couldn't be absorbed in those moments.  But in the sixteen years following, I've reflected much.  She was and is my hero.

After my Mom passed, it hit me that I was blessed with a godly mother for 35 years, but oh so many more woman have not had that privilege.  In that moment, God ignited a passion in me to invest and disciple women.  The blessings I've experienced on that journey since my Mom's death are too numerous to recount in one blog post.  What I would give to have a few hours with my Mom to catch her up on the last sixteen years of my life and get her wise counsel on so many more things.  

During the time I began reading Eunice, my pastor's wife and I had met to discuss all things women's ministry and discussed our need to train others to invest in women.  That's what I call a God-incidence when His Plan pops up everywhere and all in a beautiful, syncopated symphony.  Giddy Up, Eunice, was a good kickstart to get me back on the horse (pun intended) and get serious about investing in women.  

The world is hurting.  In the last week we've had massacres, shootings and political ramblings and it all wears me down.  The world needs hope.  The world needs Jesus.  Women carry a huge burden of trying to fix everything, and in the midst of what is swirling around us today, we are frustrated and sometimes helpless we can do anything.  It's time to stop navel gazing and start looking outward to those women in our lives who need encouragement, who need a hug, and who need us to walk alongside them through life.  Giddy Up, Eunice will be just the book to light your fire and get you on the road to investing in other women.