Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Idea of Love, Sacrifice, and How it Relates to Lent

Yesterday I posted an essay about sacrifice, which I linked to Peter Pollock's blog carnival.

I ended that post with the statement " Love prompts us to meet someone else's need, even when it has a dear cost."

Which brings me to the question, what need do we meet when we sacrifice during Lent (which begins March 9).   God has no need of anything from us.  Why give up anything?   The answer my heart comes up with is to meet our own need to show our love.   Did you ever notice how children don't keep their love bottled in, but show it, whether it is in hugging a parent, drawing a picture for a teacher, or pulling the hair of the girl in front of them?   They just can't keep it inside!

That is how our love for God needs to be (and I don't mean to suggest that Lent is the ONLY time we should do this, any more than Christmas is the only time we are to be in awe of the Incarnation.):  we need to love Him so much that we must show Him our love!  How does giving up donuts do that?   Well, if we have become so enamored of that donut that we miss it if we don't have it in the morning, isn't it a lovely gift to give to Him?   Doesn't it say "YOU, Lord, are the sweetest thing in my life! "  ? What if we don't like donuts?   Then it isn't a sacrifice, is it?

But the point here is love.   How big the sacrifice isn't the point.    There is no big or small in this.   Giving up a morning cup of tea would be hardly anything to me, but very difficult for someone else, while cutting my computer time in half would give me fits, and hardly noticeable to someone else.  Giving up alcohol was difficult last year, when it seemed I needed a bit of whiskey in my tea to fall asleep, while this year I haven't had any since I drank a glass of wine on New Year's Eve.

 If I gave up food and water for forty days, I'd die, and I still wouldn't in any way, shape, or form repay God for His sacrifice, anyway, so though I owe Him everything, there is no point acting from obligation, but from love. 

While I don't mean to deny the penitential nature of Lent, I would submit that, again, we are only penitent because we have learned to LOVE, and regret unloving actions of the past.   We can't make up for those unloving actions at all, but can show that we DO love now by sacrifice.

What do I cherish that I can give to Him during Lent's forty days because I love Him?   I have until March 9 to talk this over with Him and decide.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Meaning of Sacrifice

It's a funny thing; I looked up the word "sacrifice" on, and could not find a perfect definition.  I found plausible working definitions, but not a perfect definition.
The best definition there was the third.
"the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirablefor the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim."
I can't wrap my head around the idea of "higher or more pressing claim."   That implies giving something to get something, doesn't it?

I think the perfect definition of sacrifice is more of a model than a traditional definition. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."  John 3:16  New American Bible

And there we have described the most perfect sacrifice, offered for the best possible reason:  love.  God doesn't get anything out of it, does He?  He sacrifices the greatest treasure EVER, for the only reason worthy of Him:  love.

 He did  not act out of obligation.  God was in no way obligated to us, at least not until He gave us His own word that He would send us a savior.  He did not act to fill in some sort of void in His own life:   being God, He is complete in and of Himself.   But He LOVES us, so therefore, He sacrificed what is most precious for us.

I have just finished reading a novel by Beth Pattillo titled Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart.  (No, this is not a "Christian book".  It's not an Unchristian book either.)  The setting of the novel is Oxford, at a summer session workshop on Pride and Prejudice.  Through the course of the novel, she realizes that she has spent her life sacrificing for others, not so much out of love, or even obligation, as she does to fill in the void left when her parents died.  She is so busy sacrificing for her sister (who no longer needs her to make these sacrifices), and later her boyfriend, that she hasn't developed her own talents, or discovered her own purpose in life.

Now, I'd be the last person to suggest that say, Mother Theresa, was unfulfilled because she spent her whole life serving others.   I would suggest she was actually fulfilled because she loved Christ, and that love gave her purpose, a purpose she sacrificed for...   Love filled a void, not sacrifice.   Sacrifice is an act of love.

And sooner or later, true love requires sacrifice.    Love for a child has caused parents to sacrifice their own future financial security for their child's well being.   Love for a parent or relative has inspired some to sacrifice their time.   Love for country has motivated soldiers to sacrifice their lives.  Love prompts us to meet someone else's need, even when it has a dear cost.

Tomorrow I will post more on love and sacrifice, and how it relates to the concept of Lent.  

Today's post is being link to Peter Pollock's blog, on his post One Word Blog Carnival Post on Sacrifice

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This week, it is my honor to host Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday Volume 17.  The application process was absolutely grueling (consisting of being on the twitter at the same time as Duane), but I WON!   Eat your hearts out, bloggers!

So let's see... What is disturbing me lately?  Well, for one thing, my computer keeps booting me off of the Internet.   It did so just a moment ago, then wouldn't let me back on for a couple of tries.  I was worried for a moment that this post wouldn't go up at midnight, since I have it in draft mode!

I suppose there are bigger fish to fry than my Internet connection woes though.   Still, I don't want to blog about disturbing political situations across the ocean for PDT, because it would definitely NOT be pleasant.  

I've started yet another blog, although this one does not have any posts yet.  It's called "Happy Lent", and will be about politics.  PSYCH!  It will be about Lent.  I'll tell more about it in another post, but for now, I'll explain how I came up with the title "Happy Lent".

I taught at a Catholic School for thirteen years.   I spent nine of those years teaching second graders.  That is a very sweet age.    At this age, children will draw a picture for you and / or make a card for you for any reason.  Sneeze.  Cough.  Pass gas.  It doesn't really matter.  They will also make cards for your loved ones.  When my mom was in the hospital when I taught, she got dozens of cards every day.   I waited until she was out of intensive care to bring them to the hospital though...

Anyway, I spent a bit of time teaching children each year about how much Jesus loves us, and the proof being His great sacrifice.   We talk some about that.   Then I talk to them about how they can "fast"  by sacrificing something to say "I love you" to Him.   We talk about the meaning of sacrifice, and what sort of things we can sacrifice (no ice cream is a sacrifice, no broccoli,  not so much.... ) 

Inevitably though, Ash Wednesday comes along, and at least half of the children present me with "Happy Lent" cards they made during lunch.   For a while, I felt like I must have missed the mark in these lessons, because the tots thought of it like any other holiday...

But praying about what to call my Lent blog, it seemed I kept coming back to a picture a sweet little girl drew of flowers and smiley faces surrounding the words "Happy Lent" in bubble letters (No, that's not my header.  I have NO clue how to do that, because it would be if I did!)  I realized that those kids were teaching me something:  don't forget the joy.   His great sacrifice is given out of His love, and our small one to show our love.   I need to focus on the joy that love brings me, even as I solemnly remember the great cost to Him.

So there you have it!  The disturbance of my computer woes, and my choice in blog names.

Happy Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday!

A big thank you to our regular host, Duane Scott for allowing me to host this week! MWAH!

Monday, February 14, 2011

OWW! Don't Aim the Rocks at My Face, Please! (A Valentine's Day Post)

Did I ever mention that Rod Stewart's "Have I Told You Lately" is Bob and my song.  Yep.  Our song.  It became so when we chose it for our first dance as a married couple at our wedding reception.  Bob suggested it because I used to like to tease him. (Actually, I still do...)

Me:  Did I tell you today that I love you?
Bob:  Not yet....
Me:  Well, remind to mention it before you take me home...

This was our little ritual of exchange when we were engaged.  That, and the much renowned

Me:  I love you!
Bob:  I love you, too!
Me:  I love you THREE!
Bob:  I love you FOUR!
Me:  I love you MORE!

Seriously, if Facebook had been around when we first started dating, we could have met the fate of the couple in the following video...

Some days, we still pose a danger to ourselves.  Like today.  Yes.  We ARE celebrating Valentine's Day.  We do every year.  And no, we don't help to keep the candy makers and florists in business.   We do it our own way, so florists and candy makers will be lining up with rocks, too.

How will we be celebrating Valentine's Day?  (Yes, I know you weren't asking, but I'm going to pretend you were!  So there!)  We order take out from the restaurant we had our first date in (because they knocked the place down and built a fancy place where you can only get their pizza on the take out menu, not in house, and we want pizza with sausage and diet cola because that is what we ate on our first date! ) and pick a romantic DVD we saw together when we were first dating or engaged (like "Three Little Words" or "'Til the Clouds Roll By", or maybe the movie we saw on our first movie date, "While You Were Sleeping"). Sometimes we go to Denny’s for coffee like we used to late at night after seeing a movie together before we were married. 

I am glad we celebrate Valentine’s Day in our own way, rather than as a commercial suggests.   We choose to celebrate OUR love, and not what anyone tells us love is... (Really, if I see another "He went to Jared" commercial, as if we don't like gifts that AREN'T from Jared, I will rip out the television and throw it in the foot of snow that is left in the yard!)

Bob, honey, if you by any chance I reading this post today, I love you, and I love us together!  Let the stones fly, so long as my hands are in yours, my love!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why I Don't Need An E-book to Help Me Buy a Car, Thanks!!!

Okay, I have been getting a lot of Anonymous spam comments on this blog lately about how to go about getting a free e-book online to help when buying a new car.   So I am going to share with you how I go about shopping for a new car.

(I dial the phone.)
Me:  Hi Bobby!... er I mean Bob.  How's my favorite cousin? (to the untrained eye, it may seem I am buttering him up, but watch what happens..)
Cousin Bob:  My brother is fine, thanks....
Me:  Ha ha ha ha!  Your so funny!  And correct.   Rick always could make me laugh!  (This is how we kid each other) Though you being 10 years older than him, and 14 years older than me, we always SO looked up to you....(See the way I subtly kid him about his age ...)
Cousin Bob:  Yeah, he's a good guy.  Great sense of humor.  We go golfing every Saturday, so long as there isn't snow.
Me:  Really?  You don't let the cold weather stop you?
Cousin Bob:  Nah!  It's great weather for golfing!  No waiting for slower players like you do in Spring and Summer.
Me:  Well that sure is one way to look at it!   How are the girls?
Cousin Bob: Good, good... How about you?  So what's new with you?
Me:  Well, my husband and I have been thinking about buying a new car.
Cousin Bob:  Any particular model?
Me:  No.   We trust your judgement in what will give us good mileage and last longer than most marriages... (He and his wife have been married almost thirty years)
Cousin Bob:  Okay.  I'll give you a call when something I like comes in the dealership.
Me:  Thanks Bobby, er, I mean Bob.  We appreciate it!
Cousin Bob:  So did you read the email I sent you about using wasp spray instead of pepper spray on an intruder?
Me: I DID!  And....(blah blah blah, conversation which you are most likely not as interested in as we are continues)

So you see, Anonymous car spammers, I don't need directions to a website that will tell me how to shop for a car, I already know how!  I call my cousin the car salesman!  HELLO-OH!  And as for my friends, I'd tell them to call my cousin the car salesman!  And if they live across the country, I'd give them his email address so he could give them advice!   He's a great guy, and I don't just say that because he is my cousin!  Strangers come into the dealership he works, buy a car, and like him so well they join his softball team and invite him to their weddings!  (Seriously.  I meet these people when he barbecues in the Summer!)  I don't need your website or free e-book, and neither does my blog!

And I am positive that if Cousin Bobby, er Bob somehow sees this post, he'll be cool with the cartoon in the beginning.  He sells Chevys!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Renew, Rejoice!

More than a month into the new year, I think it is safe to say that everyone hankers for a renewal of some sort in their lives, whether it is of body were we lose a bunch of weight and have the energy we never did ten years ago, to stop smoking and not be dependent on nicotine to bring us peace, or of mind where we resolve to read more, becoming smarter and making up for lost time, or of heart where we promise to be kinder and mend relationships that have been in tatters for decades.
Since my mom's passing, I have been hoping for a renewal of some sort, and am waiting.   The word I have been given from Him is to make room in my home, mind, and heart for His plans.  So my own personal resolutions this year have been to declutter my home, mind, and heart.  The funny thing is, while organizing my home has always been a challenge for me, it is the decluttering of mind and heart that is truly troublesome.  I CAN organize my home, with help from my dear husband who will move the furniture and reach the high cabinets for me (Poor Bob.  He is a good man.  Never once has he asked me why MY new year's resolution means he moves furniture and clears out the high shelves.)  But the decluttering of my heart and mind are tasks that Bob can't help me with, and I CAN'T do on my own!
That's okay.  I have the promise from Him that He will do the renewing of my heart and mind, if I consent, and I do!

2 Corinthians 5:17 

So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

You know another funny thing?  Our gracious Lord knows that I have this need to help, and he led me to another passage in scripture early January when I was praying about the decluttering of heart and mind thing!

Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.

Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 6

Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. 7

Today's scripture references were taken from the New American Bible.

This post is part of Peter Pollock's blog carnival on renewal.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thank God for an Inward Swinging Exit Door!

This picture courtesy of some stranger I've never met who doesn't know I am using it.

It takes a lot of snow to dishearten a Chicagoan.  20.6 inches is more than enough for any of us, though! We are prepared for the 1-2 inches that freak out warmer climates so well that we forget that they don't normally need to prepare for snow like we do, and don't.   But yesterday was enough to close Chicago Public Schools for at least two days.  Really.  The last time CPS closed was in 1999 (21.6 inches).   Really, when my friend Katdish said on her blog last year that they closed school for half an inch of snow, I laughed so hard that tears were falling down my cheeks.   I forgot that we have things like plows and salt trucks and drivers who are aware of precautions to take during snowfall and are therefore probably safer drivers when it snows or rains than they are in good weather.

I'd be a fool to complain too loudly about the blizzard, when there were so many people trapped in their cars on Lake Shore Drive for so many hours.  My husband was home early almost two hours early on Tuesday.   I was like a kid on Christmas morning!   I had thought he'd have to work until four, as usual, and then come home in the blinding snow alongside people who had left early, but his office closed early on Tuesday and all day on Wednesday due to the blizzard.   He walked in an I yelled "Wait there, I have something for you!" and the proceeded to maul him with a great big hug and a kiss!   He didn't seem to mind.

I didn't think I was worried, but the degree relief I felt when he was home (and early at that) indicates to me that I wasn't as relaxed as I had believed myself to be.  I told people verbally "This is Chicago, we know how to prepare for bad weather."   I even told myself that silently.   Who knew that I didn't trust me?

Bob is a terrific guy who insisted on cleaning the snow off the driveway himself.   He said it was a "man's job".  It's not like he'd ever refuse to do something because it's "women's work",  but God bless him, he steps up to the plate for the heavy lifting!  (My momma didn't raise a foolish woman.   I offered to help, and when he said no, I told him I'd be keeping the hot chocolate warm for him!)  He didn't complain either, though a wife can tell when her husband's back hurts him.   I think he was actually glad to get back to work today.

I didn't take pictures of the snow, but my cousin did.  I'll share them when she sends them if it is okay with her, because it is unBElieveABLE how much snow we had!   I couldn't open the front door.  I seriously thanked God that the back door swings inward!  I mean, really!  Who says "thank you, Lord, for providing us with an exit door that swings inward so that we aren't trapped inside all of winter?"  Apparently I do...

I called my uncle, aunt, and cousins yesterday.  All family members were safely at home and not caught in the awful LSD mess (we Chicagoans know that "LSD" stands for Lake Shore Drive.... ain't no road just like it!)  I'm sure though that if anyone who was stuck on it ever hears that song again in their lives, they will have a break down and crush the CD!  Anyway, I am grateful to God that we were all home yesterday.  Obviously the clean up efforts aren't easy, but home is the best place to be in a blizzard, especially if you have heat, power, and an intact roof, which we all did!  (Which reminds me, Thank you God for a good roof!)

OOoooooo!  Loook!  Bobcat in front of my window in the alley!   No, not a feline...   the kind that removes snow, people!  Oooo!  Snow plow in the alley!  I wonder who our benefactor is?  (Alleys don't normally get plowed).

The following videos are of an adorable little girl whom I have never met in my life reporting on the Chicago blizzard.    She is much more fun to watch than any of our local talking heads!

The snow begins...

The blizzard is gaining momentum

The cleanup effort...

The aftermath...

This post is being linked to Duane Scott's Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday blog carnival.