Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sabbatical

Greetings "Toy Trainers". 
After about a year's worth of blogs, and six months of news letters before that, I've decided that it's time for me to take a little break.  Partially this is to give me a chance to recharge and rest after a very busy spring.
But, if I'm honest, it's also because I want to have every story and spiritual application be guided by God and not contrived merely out of my own creativity.
Writing these every week was hard for me....
I'm not sure how senior pastors do it.
So....a sabbatical is needed.  
Or maybe more of a hibernation....
...without the weight gain and the near-death heart rates.
TTNT (or another blog) will return at an undetermined time.
Blessings to you all and thanks for reading.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bullet Ants


I’m a useless trivia junky. 

If there’s any way that I might find a piece of information useful in life, my brain puts it in the circular file.

That’s the garbage, in case you were wondering.

However, if there’s absolutely zero chance that I’ll need to remember something….my brain files that little tidbit in it’s super-safe-random-access-quick-load file. 

Thus, I can’t remember why I’ve gone to the grocery store but I can remember that earthworms are in the zoological sub-class oligochaeta.

Weird.

Anyway…since I love random knowledge, when I see a link on the internet that says, “5 types of stinging ants”, I click on it.

I don’t just click on it....

I MUST click on it (and hope it’s not a virus).

So, as I was reading said list, I discovered that there’s a type of ant called a bullet ant.

This ant is so named, not because of it’s bullet like shape or it’s “superantian” speed, but because, when it stings you, you feel like you’ve been shot.

They live in Brazil which is why I won’t be going there any time soon.

But that same list had ANOTHER link which simply said, “manhood initiation” in the paragraph about the bullet ants.

That link was so compelling it clicked itself.

I was taken to a You Tube video posted by National Geographic. (the link is at the end of this post if you’re interested)

In this video, boys in their teens are initiated into manhood by wearing special mittens woven out of palm leaves and….

are you ready….

thousands of angry bullet ants!

Watching that video made me very thankful for my bar mitvah.

Klezmer music and semi-kosher food VS bullet ant mittens?

That’s a no brainer.

The boys have to wear these gloves for a full ten minutes.

But if they want to be warriors in the tribe, they have to do the whole thing twenty times.

That’s two hundred minutes of their lives spend with angry ants shooting machine guns at their hands. 

Now, lest you think that they are totally barbaric, the most interesting part of the video comes at the end.

This is when the head of the tribe is explaining why they do this. 

He says that it not only marks their transition into adulthood but it makes them better men.

“If you go through life without suffering anything or without any kind of effort, it wont be worth anything to you.”

I had to chew on that for a little while.

Especially considering my last post where I shared how much I hate losing/suffering/pain and how I’m a product of the first “t-ball” generation.

It made me think about American culture and how much we build our lives to avoid pain.

It made me think of how many people in the church are just like me and secretly have been believing that they should be exempt from suffering. 

Frankly, it made me think what a baby I am.

Now…I’m not about to go to the local ant store and purchase some gloves-o-angry-ants. 

But I do think that when suffering comes my way….and it will come…I’ll try to embrace it a little differently.

And hopefully, I’ll be a better man for it.


***Here's the link if you want to watch the video***

 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bathroom Reading and T-ball


I am, for lack of a better term, a bathroom reader. 

I’ve tried the phrase “lavatory learner” but it lacks that certain “every day Joe” quality.

So, “Bathroom Reader” it is. 

As embarrassing as it may seem for me to admit, I take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone. 

In reality, there are whole books written (and titled) for the sole purpose of being read whilst the reader is in the commode. 

Strangely, that isn’t the most embarrassing confession I’ll be making.

What I’ve been reading lately is the humiliating part.

While, at times, I’ve read whole books (not in one sitting), and lots of magazines pertaining to my work and my hobbies, my wife also places reading material in the “facilities”.  And so sometimes, if I’ve exhausted my “materials”, I’ll read the more feminine offerings.

Which is why I’ve been reading Ladies Home Journal.

Men, don’t worry…the authorities have already contacted me about confiscating my “Man Card”. 

But truly…if you can get past the pages…and pages….and pages of advertisements, there is some interesting stuff in there.  Just a note though….it seems to me that the amount of ads in a woman’s magazine FAR exceeds the number in men’s magazines. Ladies…truly….if I see another “Painter of Light” two-page spread (with order form) I’m gonna scream.  Complain already!

Anyway…one such article was about the difference in work styles/ethics/dress between my parent’s generation and the round of recent college grads entering the work force. 

In this piece, the author referred to the younger generation as “The T-Ball Generation”.

This jumped out at me because I’ve been helping out with my oldest son’s T-ball team.

See that?

Man card reclaimed!

Talkin’ ‘bout sports now…….yeah.

The reference to t-ball was not positive though. 

What they meant was that this up-coming generation has been used to getting trophies whether they earned them or not.

This is a generation that has been told that everybody wins because somebody, somewhere, said that having “winners” and “losers” would hurt their delicate psyches. 

Now….I’m not NEAR old enough to use this word, but I’ve always wanted to….

Hogwash!

I’m a gen-Xer  (who were the guinea pigs for that philosophy) and the reality is that sometimes you lose.

Brehm’s first game was on Saturday.

They lost.

This was partially because I was busy videoing Brehm’s first time at bat and forgot to send the runner on third base home. 

Parental pride, apparently, beats base coach responsibility.

But, at that age, there are so many runners and, scores it’s hard to keep track.

So Brehm asked the coach of the other team who won.

“You all won! Cause you all played a great game!” he said.

What?!?!

My son looked at me REALLY confused.

I told him that the other team won but that he did, indeed, play a great game and I was super proud.

THAT actually made sense to him.

And yet, as I’ve been thinking about all this, I’ve realized I’m not immune to the “trophy-for-all” mindset.

Especially when it comes to God’s plan for my life.

I realized this today in church when it hit me that I’ve been secretly angry with God.

Part of this has to do with a couple of good beatings my ego has taken this past year. 

I don’t like losing.

I always want to be the winner.

Because everyone is a winner all the time….right?

It sounds so ridiculous when I say it.

Even my five year old thinks it’s hogwash (yeah! Two times in one essay!)

But in my most honest moments, I believe that I should always win.

Or, at least, get a trophy.

And so part of the sting of losing isn’t even the losing itself.

It’s the expectation that I shouldn’t have to lose.

Of course, this exposes my narrow understanding of what it means to lose.

My definition of “losing” in this case, is me not getting what I want, the way I want it, when I want it.

That assumes that I even know what is best for me.

As I was sharing all these thoughts with Laura and our friend Tara today, Tara said this:

“I promise that God’s plan will not disappoint you.”

She was quoting a friend but I’ll still give her credit.

She’s pretty wise.

So, I come to a place of tension between what I’m feeling right now, and what I know to be true. 

Eventually the truth will win out.

It always does.

In the mean time, I’ll try not to be such a sore loser.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Broken Trees


Last week, at the Moritz household, our yard had a fashion show. 

Due to a frost warning, we had to cover all of our plants (the ones that had just started blooming) with blankets, sheets, and tarps. 

Since most of the sheets that were available were our plaid, flannel winter sheets, our trees and roses looked like they were sporting the latest trend from Seattle, circa 1993.

But, of course, those days are oddities.

Yes, here in Nashville, it’s springtime, even though we aren’t quite finished with the birthing pains called “tornado season”. 

The birds are chirping, the grass is green and the air is filled with the sound of mowers being pushed by men trying to evoke lawn envy in their neighbors.  It’s a wonderful time.

However, as most people know, not all plants bloom at the same time. 

Some, like crocuses and forsythias, bloom first. 

Then there are others that are “late bloomers”. 

This is not a compliment to a middle-schooler. 

To a plant….well….they don’t care so much. 

Anyway…the other day Elijah and I were driving down the road and he looked out his window and said, “Daddy, look at all the broken trees.” 

“Broken trees?” I asked, looking around for fallen branches or something like that.

“Yeah Daddy.  Some have leaves but some don’t.  They’re broken,” He said forlornly.

“OOOHHH.” I said, “they’ll have leaves later.” 

“No.  They’re broken”

I have VERY matter-of-fact kids. 

But I can see why he said that. 

If you don’t understand that some trees take longer to “leaf out” it would seem that they aren’t working properly. 

Three-year-old logic at it’s finest.

But as soon as he said it, I thought about Easter and Good Friday.

Good Friday, for those who aren’t familiar, is when Christians remember Jesus’ death on the cross and Easter is the celebration of His resurrection. 

But what about Saturday?

What about that day between the crucifixion and the resurrection?

I can imagine that the disciples thought that Jesus, the one in whom they had put their trust, was just another delusional rabbi. 

They must have thought that that tree was broken.

No life.

No spring for them.

This wasn’t just a “late bloomer”.

This was a “no bloomer”.

But then Sunday came.

And everything changed.

And Jesus, the Tree of Life leafed out in amazing fullness.

Spring had come.

Life was here.

And the cross, often referred to as a “tree” in ancient times, was the only broken tree after all.

Christ has risen!

He has risen indeed!

Monday, April 6, 2009

1950's Cliche' and Bread


This past weekend was near perfect. 

For those who, like me, enjoy reading people’s Facebook “statusi” (the imaginary plural of “status”) you will already know what I did. 

Saturday:

-       Wake up, shower, have nice cup of coffee, and manage to get 0.5 seconds of quiet time before the kids woke up.  At this rate, if I can add 0.5 seconds everyday, I’ll work my way to one hour of quiet time in 19.74 years…and yes…I actually did the math.  But, hey.  I’ll take any victory I can get….so this day had a good start.

-       Blow eggs out of their shell into a bowl.  Cook eggs for breakfast.  Save shells for Easter egg dyeing.  Score one for efficiency.

-       Head out to the Spring Hill Little League Opening Ceremonies.  Cowboy Troy (of Big and Rich Fame) tosses the first pitch, my boy wins a bat bag in the raffle, and I feel as if I’ve stepped back in time to 1950’s middle America. 

-       We get home and then I have a nice drive through a beautiful part of town for a lunch meeting.  I almost get lost on the way home but have a great time of it and manage to get back to my house.

-       The dog we’re dogsitting arrives and the kids play while I grill dinner.  Unlike the 1950’s, I grill chicken, not steak. 

-       We eat dinner and then I set up the tent in the back yard so the boys and I can camp out. 

-       Laura makes an apple crisp

-       Bed.

Sunday

            -Awoken by the singing of birds.

-Laura makes homemade scones that shame the dry monstrosities they sell at Starbucks and could compete with those made by an old British lady. 

            -Church.

So, why do I give you the annotated itinerary of my weekend? 

To gloat?

No!

Ok….maybe a little.

To prove that my life is a “Leave It To Beaver” episode where the parents don’t sleep in separate beds?

No.

It’s because I’m thankful.

I’m filled with a deep sense of gratitude that I am able to have a 1950’s, Americana, clich├ę’ weekend.

And, of course, that made me think about something that one of my pastors said at church today. 

As we were getting ready to take communion, he read from the Bible where Jesus is eating the Passover meal.  Jesus took the bread, and He gave thanks.

The Greek word is “euchariste┼Ź” where many denominations get the term “Eucharist”

Anyway, as I was, at the pastor’s suggestion, thinking about things I was thankful for, I realized that I was coming up with all the “spiritual” answers. 

Which is strange because this was all taking place inside my own head….and who have I to impress inside there?

And then it hit me that I was trying to impress God.

This, of course is even more ridiculous than trying to impress myself.

But there I was doing it. 

And so I stopped. 

I stopped being so self-righteous and began thanking God for the basic simple things.  Things like Little League and scones. 

And then I kept being thankful for the not-so-nice things.

After all, while I’m sure that fresh, homemade, 1st century unleavened bread is much better than the glorified saltine matzo they have now, it’s still unleavened bread. 

It’s still the bread of haste, rush, and busy.

It’s the hard bread of those who are about to be free but aren’t yet. 

And for Jesus, it’s the bread of His body about to be broken in one of the most terrible forms of execution in all of history. 

But he takes it and gave thanks.

And so should I.

 

 

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Music Monster


One of the benefits of being a musician, songwriter, producer, and worship leader is that I get to wear what I want to work and, most of the time, have control over my schedule.  
That is....until I have a deadline for a project.
Then the Music Monster devours my life.
My wife and kids forget what I look like (or that I can offer them my attention) and I disappear until I'm done.  
Fortunately, this is more of a sprint than a marathon.
Like the whale that swallowed Jonah, the Music Monster will spit me on dry land in another day or two.  
Basically...what I'm trying to say is, "sorry there isn't a post this week...."
"....I've been sitting in a belly surrounded by half eaten fish." 

Blessings,
-a

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bermuda II: Agag and Lawn Envy


Back when we moved into our house the neighborhood was still under construction. 

That meant that our beautiful first home looked out on….

…thirty, muddy lots.

And a dumpster. 

But our youthful optimism would not be quelled.  No! We saw opportunity where other, less visionary types, might have seen a festering metal box of construction waste and half-eaten Taco Bell lunches.

And so, with grit and determination, I built garden paths out of the bricks we salvaged from those alters of waste. 

There was only one problem. 

No one was getting rid of gravel, sand, or rock dust.

And so, instead of using the tried and true method for building a walkway, I took those bricks and shoved them in the clay (which is all we had left after the developer had his way with our topsoil). 

That was mistake number one.

Mistake number two was using the free bricks.

You see, the bricks from the dumpsters were for building walls. 

They weren’t “pavers”. 

They had holes through the middle to let the cement bind to them better. 

Now fast-forward five years and you may be able to figure out how I spent my weekend.

I just spent two full days, on my hands and knees, pulling every brick up and removing the knotted mass of roots that had grown through all the holes.

Without being too gross, I once saw a picture (in a science textbook) of a pig’s intestine that had been blocked by parasitic worms. 

The roots really reminded me of that. 

They also reminded me that gardening is war.

I have, yet again, met General Bermuda on the battlefield. 

For those of you who remember my previous post about Bermuda grass, you’ll know that this plant is my sworn enemy. 

It’s my white whale.

It’s the Joker to my Batman.

The Capone to my Eliot Ness.

And it was those roots that had taken over my walkway.

So why, you may ask, do I still have Bermuda grass if I hate it so much?

The simple answer is “lawn envy”.

Bermuda grass fills in our lawn and, when the weather gets hot, it's a nice green color.

This hides the fact that we don’t have great grass in our yard. 

Having great grass is a mark of manliness in The South.

Not having great grass is shameful.

Just shameful.

But since I actually have work to do and can’t spend all day trimming individual blades of grass with scissors and singing “Eye Of The Tiger” to them, l allow my enemy to live in order to hide my own inadequacies. 

Now, I don’t believe that it’s a coincidence that I’m dealing with Bermuda again while, in my quite time, I’m reading about Saul.

Here was a guy who did foolish things to hide his own inadequacies...a lot.

The particular situation I’m thinking of involves a king named Agag.

You see, God had told Saul to wipe out the Amalekites but, instead, he captures Agag, their king. 

Why?

I think it was the kingly equivalent to “lawn envy”. 

King envy. 

Saul wanted to be able to parade Agag around to show everyone how powerful he was compared to the other kings.

His kingly lawn was greener and had those cool, diamond-shaped mowing lines. 

Here's the irony: that is what cost him his kingdom and his life.

He didn’t deal with Amalekites and it was an Amalekite who ended up killing him.

(Actually Saul tried to commit suicide but was dying too slowly and an Amalekite finished him off)

Often it’s the things we don’t deal with that end up coming back to haunt us. 

If we’re honest, most of us are afraid of how messy things will look.

In the case of my lawn, I have bricks everywhere.  

It looks awful.

And, were I to try and kill off the Bermuda, I would have brown, dead sections all over my lawn. 

And that’s just shameful.

So I get the roots out of my walkway where it’s inconvenient but never actually kill it all off.

Fortunately, God has not allowed me to ignore “soul Bermuda”. 

I’m still in process, but those roots are coming out.

How’s your lawn?

 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Johnny Depp and Hwin


Do any of you have movie stars that you like but don’t want to like? 

I mean…do you dislike yourself, if only a little bit, for being entertained by them? 

For me the list is long, but here are a few:  Tom Cruise, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Brad Pitt.

I never go into any movie that they’re in expecting to like it.

But I almost always do. 

And I almost always dislike the fact that I do. 

One of the reasons I feel that way is because they always have too much of themselves in their roles.

I always think of them first and their character second.

all of them have graduated to such a level of fame that I can’t help but watch them and think, “mmm Brad is being very convincing as Napoleon” or, “I didn’t know Tom could do such a great Fred Astaire impression.” 

Leonardo escapes this critique, but he’s been on my black list ever since “Titanic”

One actor who continually impresses me, however, is Johnny Depp.

Even if I find myself thinking about him and not his character, it’s fleeting.

He IS Willy Wonka

He IS Jack Sparrow

And he IS Sir. James Matthew Barrie

Now, this last name might not be so familiar to you. 

Maybe it’s because it isn’t as iconic as some of his other roles.

He played Barrie straight.

No strange affectations or costumes.  

But when Laura and I saw the movie “Finding Neverland”, we were in the final five minutes of the movie when Laura shouted, “Hey!  That’s Johnny Depp!!” 

We were at home.

Not in the theater.

I kinda wish that we had been in the theater. 

It would have been a better story.

But anyway….

Ole’ Johnny was so lost in his character, that he disappeared. 

He was that way in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” too, but since only me and five other people saw that movie, I won’t talk about it. 

Plus Leonardo is in it so….

But one of the things I like about Johnny is that, while his face is always recognizable, you never see him. 

Recently I’ve been listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on CD with the kids.

We keep it in the car and so whenever we drive anywhere, we listen to the story. 

Now, I’m a big fan of Narnia.

I’ve been known to check the backs of closets looking for snowy forests.

(if you don’t know what that means….READ THE BOOKS!)

Anyway, I think I may have come across one of the most beautiful passages in the whole series the other day. 

It’s in the story “The Horse and His Boy”

I won’t tell the whole story but towards the end of the book, Hwin, a talking horse, meets Aslan, The Lion for the first time. 

“Please," she said, "you're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you then fed by anyone else.

For any of you who are familiar with The Chronicles, you will know that Aslan is Jesus. 

And so, Hwin’s words are words of devotion, worship, and total surrender. 

She’s willing to be lost in….consumed by God.

When I heard those words, I started to cry.

I cried because there was something that resonated deeply with me.

In the same way I don’t like watching actors who have too much of themselves in their roles, I don’t want to have too much of myself in my life.

I want, like Hwin the horse, to be totally consumed.

I want to be the Johnny Depp of Christendom where my life would be so characterized by God, that people would say, “Hey!  Wait!  That’s Adam.  Man…I almost didn’t recognize him.”

I want this, not in any unhealthy way, but in a Biblical way. 

You see, for once, Hollywood gives an amazing picture of Biblical paradox.

Johnny's greatness is directly linked to his ability to be consumed.  When he makes himself small and totally loses himself, that's when he's at his best.

And, much like Aslan’s response to Hwin, I believe that God’s response will be, “Joy will be yours.”

 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mirror Writing


As I mentioned in previous posts, I recently led worship at a marriage retreat. 

Usually, at such events, the amount of information you receive is the brain equivalent to filling a tea cup in Niagra Falls. 

If your brain cup doesn’t get totally knocked out of your hand and shattered on the rocks below, the shear volume of the information “flow” splashes anything you might retain right out leaving you with a mere “mist” collected inside. 

That, basically, amounts to one or two things you actually remember and take home from any retreat/meeting/conference/war council. 

One of those things from this particular retreat was the whole “Pray Naked” concept, which I explained two posts ago. 

The other was mirror writing.

I’m not talking about writing backwards like Leonardo Davinci did. 

This requires a $1.50 dry erase marker and a bathroom mirror.

The idea is that you can have a place to write love notes to your spouse where they won’t miss them. 

They wash off with Windex and are read when most people feel the most insecure.

While they are noticing all the pimples, growing crow’s feet, and slowly inflating mid-line tires. 

It doesn’t have to be anything “flowery” or eloquent. 

Men, if you want to write, “You smell good”, I’m sure your wife will understand that you really mean, “Honey, you are an amazing and attractive woman whom I admire and adore.”

Really.

And so, as you have probably guessed by now, Laura and I decided to adopt mirror writing into our lives.

Our kids have even jumped in and asked us to leave notes for “mommy” or “daddy”. 

We love it.

But I noticed something the other day.

As I was trying to shave or brush my teeth or strike my best Calvin Klein model pose….I mean comb my hair…I realized that I was looking through the notes.

My eyes were focused on my own reflection, reducing the letters on the mirror to mere blurs. 

And I sensed God saying, “Adam, that’s how you approach the Scriptures sometimes.”

I share that for two reasons.

1) Because God was right and…

2) Because I think lots of people do the same thing.

I think that most of us start off OK.

We read Scripture focused on what God is trying to say to us and believing that THOSE words are true.

But somewhere along the way, we become distracted by our own beauty or flaws and slowly, those things pull into focus while the words of Truth and Life fade into the foreground.

We miss the love letter.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I’m all for self-reflection. 

But I believe we can get stuck there and miss what it is God wants to say to us, and the life He offers us.

This past Sunday at my church, we sang a song that deals with this very idea of focus.

As I sang in worship, I thought of mirror writing and The Love Letter of God, Jesus.

Here are some of the words:

 

O soul, are you weary and troubled?


No light in the darkness you see?


There’s light for a look at the Savior,


And life more abundant and free!

 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,


Look full in His wonderful face,


And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,


In the light of His glory and grace.

 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shots


Alanna turned 1 last month, which means one thing to me.

Shots. 

Since I’ve never really had a “real” job (and by “real” I mean 9-5 and suits and stuff like that) I’ve been fortunate to have lots of time with the kids. 

That also means that I’ve had to take all three kids to get their shots. 

Every time. 

Well…except once. 

The one time, Laura had to bring them, she came home and looked at me with awe.

I played it cool and said, “it’s no big deal”. 

Inside I was saying “That’s right, baby!  You’re married to Superman!”

Of course Brehm’s kindergarten shots were the worst. 

I think I was more traumatized than him, which is saying something considering he was so upset he said he would rather get Polio and spend his life in a wheelchair than get another shot. 

Anyway…this week was Alanna’s turn.

I haven’t decided which is worse; shots with the older kids or the baby.

The older kids have a more expressive vocabulary with which to protest.

“OWWWWW that nurse just shoved a metal spike the size of the Eiffel Tower into my femur, Daddyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

But when they’re babies, they don’t know what’s coming.

They lay down on that butcher paper covered cushion smiling and then….

The breathless scream.

You parents know the one.

Mouth open.

No sound

Red face.

You just want to say, “Breathe! Please!  OK….not funny anymore.  Breathe!”

Then it’s over.

They get bandaids with cartoon characters or silvery holograms (yes! I know!  Where were THOSE when I was a kid?!?!) and before you know it, you’re in the car.

Now, whoever thought of inoculations was either a total genius or the scientific equivalent of a high-school boy. 

I can just see it. 

They’re in the lab with a needle full of something, triple-dog-daring each other to try it. 

The reason I say that is this:

When you explain what those shots are, it sounds completely nuts.

It’s a virus…

…but not a virus…

…because all the virus stuff has been sucked out of the insides…

…but it’s still a virus. 

And so you give yourself the virus so you don’t get the virus. 

It seems like a paradox out of medical bizzaro world.

Almost like when Jesus says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”

Why is it, that I seem to have an easier time with a doctor telling me, “I need to make you sick so you won’t get sick” than I do with what Jesus has to say?

Because when I REALY think about it, it seems crazy.

Just like the shots.

That is, until I bring the concept of possession into it.

Not The Exorcist type possession.

The ownership type.

You see, “health” is not something that the doctor possesses that can be handed out. 

That’s why it’s called a “practice” instead of the “health dispensary”. 

But life….

That IS something that God possesses. 

That IS something that is His to give.

So when He says, "...whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." He's actually in a position to make good on that promise.

One the other hand, "life" is not something that I have the ability to find or create.

And so, any “life” I find or create for myself isn’t really life at all.

But as soon as I give up that counterfeit, I can receive the real deal.

The doctor can only offer “weak, non-virus virus” in exchange for “strong, deadly virus”.

But God….

But God offers “LIFE” in exchange for “not life”. 

And that seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hazel and Praying Naked

One of the things that Laura and I have always wanted our home to be is hospitable.  Currently, due to size of house and age of kids, we just aren’t able to have houseguests as much as we would like.  So, of course, when some friends said they had a family member who needed a place to stay for a few days, we jumped at the chance. 

Her name was Hazel. 

At mealtime she got so annoying that we asked her to go in another room. 

The first time we did this she cried.

We felt terrible.

She also had the habit of bursting into the bathroom when I was in the shower or on the commode.

She wouldn’t leave. 

She’d just stare.

However the most humorous/troubling part (depending on how you look at it) was that she took an instant liking to me. 

She began to look for ways to undermine Laura’s position in the family. 

Have I mentioned that Hazel is a dog?

No really. 

I’m not being ugly.

She’s really a dog.

She’ a  “golden doodle”, to be exact.

Goldendoodle.com says that female doodles tend to pick favorites in a family.

Apparently, since I was the official walker and pooper scooper, that favorite was me.

That or my raw attractiveness transcends species.

I think I’ll go with goldendoodle.com on this one.

Anyway, I wasn’t kidding about her trying to take Laura’s place. 

If we went somewhere in the car, Hazel would leap over the kids and get into the front passenger seat of the car.

Then she’d stare Laura down with puppy-dog eyes as if to say, “what? You’re coming?  I had NO idea!”

I got her out and put her back into the rear of the car.

At night, she would try to wiggle in between Laura and me. 

I made her go to her doggie bed. 

It was all mildly amusing because, though she’s a dog, there seemed to be such intent there.  

It was puppy love.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

And speaking of Valentine’s Day, this weekend I lead worship at a marriage retreat….on Valentine’s Day…..without my wife.

**Note from the desk of Laura Moritz:  “I was OK with it….for real.”**

And one of the things they said was this: 

“Intimacy means ‘in-to-me-see’”

At first I thought it was one of those silly sayings people use at retreats.

But then I thought about it.

Plus they explained it.

True intimacy is an invitation to see into our hearts. 

It’s a place of vulnerability and it’s what we should have with God, with our spouses, and to a certain degree, with our close and trusted friends. 

It’s saying to God, “Search me and know my heart” like David wrote in the Psalms.

It’s allowing people to see us bare and honest.

Of course, the key to this being a healthy situation is that it’s requited. 

Unrequited intimacy isn’t intimacy at all. 

That’s why Hazel’s puppy love is cute but not real.

I’m totally unknowable to her and she is totally unknowable to me. 

Plus she has a hairy face.

But all this got me thinking about the incarnation and God’s self revelation.

The Bible, said Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel, is not a story of man’s search for God, but of God’s search for man. 

It’s an invitation to intimacy with God.

It’s God saying, “Come see into me.”

So the challenge for us…for me…is how we respond to God “putting Himself out there”. 

Do we invite Him, in kind, to see into our hearts and have intimacy with us?

Do we (again a retreat saying) pray naked?  

Honestly, and bare before God?

It’s an invitation to life and love everlasting.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a houseguest, with a tennis ball in her mouth, staring me down.