Thursday, March 31, 2011

Grins and Giggles for the Week - Squirrels, Super Moon, and Surprises

In the past, I've written blog posts called "Musings for the Week." In my verbose way, I'd highlight a few areas in my life that were insightful, but not worthy of my normally long Rumination post. Now that I've embraced Twitter and have learned to summarize my thoughts in 140 characters or less, I've decided to change this feature to "Grins and Giggles." (I have this affinity for alliteration). There are little things in life that we overlook at times that bring joy, grins, blessings, giggles and smiles to us that deserve a notice. In a study I'm doing with a friend, the author made this statement in regards to the love of God...."We look with pained desperation for what is already there." That statement has rocked my world and caused me to not take for granted the joy that surrounds me. And now, without further ado...the first installment of Grins and Giggles.

1. On my way to work, lamenting the work before me, I drive by two squirrels chasing each other and playing in a yard as they climb a tree. I get all giddy thinking how they live life without a care in the world as their Creator takes care of them and remember...He takes care of me just the same way.

2. I just finished teaching an eight-week study at my church. This study was a churchwide effort and a great lesson in allowing the gospel to shine through our lives. But, the study was structured much differently than I'd taught before and many of the lessons truly stretched me intellectually as well as spiritually. Some weeks I'd study and read and feel like I just heard Charlie Brown's teacher in my head. Many a week I felt very inadequate to lead. I spent time in prayer confessing to God my inabilities and just asking for His Wisdom to see me through. Just when I needed it, one of the members of my class sent me an encouraging text, followed by an encouraging e-mail about how much she was enjoying the class and my teaching. Little did she know how much I needed that...not to fuel my pride, but to keep me going. It reminded me to be that encourager to people in my path.

3. A couple of weeks ago we experienced the "Super Moon." This vision of the moon was a bit clouded in my area, but I could still experience it to the fullest. It was on a Saturday night, in the midst of a very fun weekend, and the first full weekend of spring-like weather. Even in the dark of night, God provides the brightest of moons to make me smile.

4. I few weeks ago I had an employee who had worked for two weeks resign with no notice, simply sending an email and never returning. As a manager, I felt like I just had a huge fail as I was in the midst of three hires and after three months of recruiting, everyone was in place. My co-workers passed me in the hallway with that "sorry for your loss" expression as if I'd had a death in the family. At the end of that week, one of my employees took her eight-month old baby girl to the park in the beautiful weather. She posted a picture on Facebook of her sweet, smiling face as she experienced her first ride in a bucket swing. One of our co-workers printed out copies to sit on our desks. When I need that pick me up, I just look over at that joyful smile and can't help but giggle. When we encounter failures in life, sometimes we just need a good swing in the spring air.

5. One of the sweet young women in my life recently turned 21. I love her to pieces and she is full of artistic talent that I'm sure will take her far in life. For her birthday, I was able to secure her a tool for her trade that she needed desperately. I wanted her 21st birthday to be epic and this was something she had to drag back and forth from school when she needed it...which is no easy task since she depends on public transportation or rides to get her there. Since I couldn't be present for the surprise gift reveal, her Dad was sweet enough to video it for me. I love technology. Now, when I need an uplift in my day, I pull up that video, smile and remember that no matter how many times I fail in my week, there are times when I hit a home run.

Friday, March 04, 2011

If Jesus Had a Cameo on Glee

I love the show Glee. Clearly I'm an anomaly and blow the demographics profile of the typical fan, which is probably those that could be my children. But, as a music lover - especially of all genres from the 80s to Broadway Show Tunes - this show has sweet appeal. I've received a lot of questions as to why I would watch a show that embraces the liberal agenda that runs rampant in Hollywood. Tis true that the show focuses most of their episodes on some issue that portrays a non-Christian worldview. The harsh reality of this is that these issues are in the face of our teenagers today. Sad, but true, and it keeps me on the edge of what those sweet young ones in my life face in the hallways of their high school.

After watching an episode recently where Finn, the quarterback of the football team and member of the Glee club, asked the cheerleaders, when faced with the choice of being a "Cheerio" cheerleader or staying in the "geeky" Glee club, "What would you choose if you weren't afraid of what others would say?" And they said "Glee Club" and chose the path of the misfit..the path of the high schoolers that receive slurpies in their face and are taunted daily. And, I thought, "If I was asked that same question of my Christianity, would I say the same thing?" If I was persecuted as those in foreign countries who take a stand for Christ, would I be a Peter and deny Christ? Or would I take the road less traveled and take the hits for what I believe in? I took this thought further and wondered what an episode would be like if Jesus made a cameo appearance on Glee. So many famous folks have made guest appearances - Gyneth Paltrow, Carol Burnett, John Stamos, Katie Couric - what would an episode be like if Jesus Himself made a guest appearance. I think it would go something like this...

Emma, the school counselor, is called away for a week to accompany her dentist husband, Dr. Carl, at a dental convention and she needs a fill in counselor. A humble man, by the name of JC, appears on the scene to fill in as the substitute counselor for the week. He's not a man of stellar looks, a simple man, but for some reason, the kids of McKinley High are drawn to Him. From the hurt he sees in their faces, JC knows their pain runs deeper than a few slurpie incidents. It's a void of something missing. A true love that reaches beyond what this world can offer. He spends time sharing the truth of Love, of His Love, to those the world finds unlovable. Rachel, a girl who has two gay Dads and a warped view of what a family unit really looks like...Quinn, who had a child out of wedlock and needs to understand what forgiveness is and how a new life in Christ can change her...Kurt, the professing homosexual that is struggling with his "lifestyle choice" while JC shows him what the Bible says about how we were created, and does it with grace and love. He spends an afternoon at Cheerio practice lovingly showing those girls that running to sex is not the answer to the emptiness they feel. JC shows them they are valued in His Eyes, just the way they are. He even has an interesting encounter with Sue Sylvester, the brash cheerleading coach, and softens her heart to the truth that her Down Syndrome sister isn't some punishment from God but that she is a blessing to the world and a sign that every life is precious.

Toward the end of his week, as the school is spun on its side from the transformation JC's Truth is making in the lives of the students who He is reaching, He encounters Artie, the wheelchair-bound Glee member. He's heard about this JC and is longing to know more about who He is and what He's sharing with his friends who have been changed. As JC shares with Artie the truth of the Gospel, He does something miraculous. Artie's heart is broken and open to becoming a follower of Christ and having the abundant life all of his friends now are experiencing. Through this spiritual transformation, JC transforms him even more by healing Artie of his paralysis, while stating, "Artie, your faith has made you whole." And, Artie sings his own rendition of the Mary Mary praise song, "Shackles" singing those lyrics, "Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance...I just want to praise You! I just want to praise You!" And Artie he's never danced before.

As JC's week comes to an end, and He leaves His role as school counselor...the show ends with the group doing their version of "In Christ Alone"....these students standing tall and unashamed as they sing "This is the power of Christ in me. From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny." And many lives are changed, while many others watch JC walk out of McKinley High still searching and wondering..."who is this wonderful counselor, JC?"

We are all misfits in a world where we don't belong. But Christ came to give us life abundant in Him. By simply acknowledging we're sinful, turning from that sinful life and following Christ, our lives will never be the same. I know that episode will never really happen in a world where the truth isn't part of the entertainment agenda. But in my dreams, I see a cameo by Jesus on Glee, and seeing lives changed forever. And I'd call the episode, "He Came for Us."