>Killing the Consumer Within

>I really enjoy shopping. Especially when I can get a great deal.

A t-shirt for $3? It’s mine!

Shoes on 50% off clearance? Move over, lady! I’m gettin‘ them!

And kid’s clothes? Oh…I could buy them all!

There is a thrill to finding a bargain. Some kind of adrenaline courses through the veins when buying something marvelous. A rush of pride when looking through the bags at the end of the day, perusing the newly bought goods.

I remember one day, not very long ago, walking through a mega big store. This particular super market is well know for it’s super duper low prices. And, oh, those prices roll on back. It’s blue (except in Roswell, New Mexico…that one is green like an alien). There is a smiley face at every turn. Huh. I just can’t seem to remember the name…

But that day, walking up and down the aisles of the store I thought to myself “How on earth do they keep these prices so low?”

Well, I found out.

They don’t pay the people who make the items. And if the workers are actually paid, then it is to repay a debt that has been unfairly kept against them. And what they pay their workers is typically not enough to cover living expenses. And they are not in safe environments. And they work far more hours than not. And they use little children to make the t-shirt that I get for so very cheap.

That is how the prices stay so low. It is true and ugly and sad and evil and destroys lives. And just so that my kids can have a pair of shorts that they may wear one time.

I felt horrible. In the words of Julia Ormond (the actress from “Legends of the Fall”…you know I’ve seen that one) in the documentary “Call + Response” “I don’t want to wear someones despair”.

So, I made a decision in a discussion with God. I will no longer purchase clothing for myself or my family unless it is either fair trade or second hand.

The day after I felt that conviction I realized that my kids had very little to wear once the weather warmed.

I went to the Goodwill store a block from my house (I know…that’s pretty nice). They had little to nothing in my kids’ sizes. And it was all for winter. I, however, found 6 outfits for myself to wear when I work (and all for $30!!! And that money doesn’t pay slave drivers!). I counted that blessing and was very, very thankful for it.

Then my friend Dee delivered some hand-me-downs (a full tub) packed with sandals, t-shirts, shorts, etc for my boys to wear. A few days following that my friend Ashley gave me 3 boxes of really amazing clothes that her son no longer used. Some still with tags. And all very, very fun! Then my friend Andee sent some items for my daughter. Also, my friend Wendy sent along 2 big bags of things for Elise.

I say this with much humility…we are completely set for clothes for our kids for the next year or two. Seriously.

This causes me to marvel in the provision of my Father. I stand like a little girl, unable to give enough thanks to the One who sees our hearts and yet loves us.

The song that keeps running through my head is this…

“God will take care of you,
Through every day,
Over all the way!
He will take care of you!
God will take care of you!”

And I no longer worry about my clothes. He is adorning our family in more than the flowers of the field. And we are humbled.

>At this moment I am feeling a tad bit melancholy. There are a few things that are weighing heavily on my spirit and pulling the corners of my mouth down just slightly. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes things don’t go the way we hope. Sometimes it feels as if we are running into walls at every turn.

I know you’d felt that way. I know I’m not alone.

But being an idealist, I want so desperately to look to all the ways that God is good. So I am going to count out five of my blessings. Five is a small number compared to the amazing ways that God has worked in my life. But nap time is nearly over. So, this is what you get today.

1. Jeff. I have such an understanding, adoring husband. And I know that I can trust him. God has given me an encourager, protector, provider and a motivator. And, hey, he’s really hot too.

2. Elise. My daughter is a compassionate little lady. She desires to help others; especially those in need.

3. Austin. My son is singing fool. He loves to sing to Jesus. Especially while doing headstands in bed instead of sleeping. I don’t stop him. It causes me to worship.

4. Timmy. The other half of my combo sons. He is affectionate. Always generous with his hugs for me. His smiles melt my heart. He is my shy child. But that just means I get all the snuggles (yes, I am greedy).

5. Coffee. I know that it sounds kind of insignificant when compared to the first four. But here’s the thing, coffee has been a tool in my life. A tool for waking up, making it through research papers, keeping me from falling asleep on long drives. But it has also been a great way to build relationships. How many times have my friends and I opened our hearts to one another over a cup of joe? More than I can count.

How are you blessed?

>U-Scan…U-Make-Me-Insane

>Today I went to the local Super Market for coffee creamer, cheese, 100 calorie cupcakes (thank you, Hostess), pop and diapers. It took me a total of 7.5 minutes to collect those few items in my mini cart (Oh…let me tell you how much I adore the mini carts).

I had one too many items for the express U-scan.

I made a fatal error (no, that is not hyperbole). I went to the No Limit U-scan.

The lady in front of me in line appeared to be nearly done self-scanning. Boy, oh boy, was I ever wrong.

She had 4 cups of yogurt, all with a clearance tag, none of which would scan properly. She had bananas and couldn’t find the code to punch into the screen. She had a t-shirt without a tag. She read each of her bazillion coupons before redeeming them. Her items were overflowing the bagging area. She bagged some items individually. Her order totalled over $340. And she paid in cash. Small bills.

And I was stuck with Heidi Montag’s plastic surgery obsession on one side and the best and worst beach bodies on the other.

I tired not to be obvious, but I was grinding my teeth, near panic attack, white knuckling my beloved mini cart. The cheese turned green and fuzzy, the creamer soured, my babies became potty trained.

This was truly a test of my patience. And I lost.

I wish I could say that I transcended my human nature and offered assistance. I did not. If only I had smiled and thought “Oh, I have no where to be. She can take her time.”

But I didn’t.

I thought about how much of my precious free time she was burning away. I considered bumping her out of the way with my mini cart. I considered eating all the candy bars in the aisle and throwing the wrappers at her. I wished early over riping on her bananas, that the t-shirt would shrink in the wash and that all the clearance yogurt curdled.

Alas. I am not the nice person I wish I could be. But what could have been done?

Just when I get to a point where I think that I’ve arrived to an understanding of living righteously in this life I get pulled down by getting frustrated about trivial things.

So, what do you do? And what would be the right thing to do?

>A Post for Jill DeJonge

>I am learning something new about myself. Here it is…ready?…

I am a bad blogger.

Jason Boyett (author of “The Pocket Guide to the Bible” and “Oh Me of Little Faith”…seriously, ya’ll, buy it) said this (and I paraphrase) “if you don’t blog everyday, your blog may as well not exist”.

“Le Sigh.” (that was Pepe LePieux)

So, I can add “blogging” to my list of “Susie’s Failures”. Hey…you want to see some of the other things I’m terrible at? Why not. I’m in that kind of a mood.

1. Cleaning. I hate it. I would rather eat brussel sprouts with boogers on top (really, could boogers really make the brussel sprouts worse? I think not.)

2. Staying on task. I get distracted often…HEY! Cookies!

3. (crunch, munch) Eating well. I enjoy crappy food. Chips, chocolate, cheese, cake, chocolate cheesecake, candy, french fries, pizza…ugh. I love it all.

4. Picking out clothes. I really dislike my choice of clothing. But the problem is that I also dislike dressing rooms. So I don’t know that I hate my clothes until I’m home. Oh, and the other problem is that I dislike looking into the full length mirror. So, I don’t know I look like a frumpy sixty year old until I see myself in the mirror section of Target. Crud.

5. Saying certain words. I struggle with “rural” and “family reunion”. They come out as “rrrul” and “family ruin”. It’s embarrassing.

6. Drinking water. If it doesn’t have ground up coffee or high fructose corn syrup in it I don’t want it. Water seems like a rip off to me. Seriously. Where’s the stuff that should be in it?

7. Lotion. Due to my disdain for water, my hands get dry (that’s what my husband tells me…I’m not completely convinced). I forget to lotion up. And when I remember, I just don’t do it. Because I’m lazy.

8. Matching my socks. When folding laundry I don’t pair my socks. When I get dressed I like to be creative and pick out two different socks to wear. After all, I don’t look in the mirror…what do I care?

9. Confrontation. I don’t like it. Unless I should like it. In which case, if it makes you like me…I will like it. Is that okay? I just want you to think I’m cool. I’m sorry.

10. Chatting. It’s awkward. I never know when it’s over. I have no desire to use “brb“, “rotfl” or “lol“…I HATE “lol“. I would love to see “lol” go to it’s own little island and die. lol. Really, are you truly laughing out loud? Or are you, like me, sitting expressionless, looking at the screen and just writing it? And it’s so passive aggressive. “I hate you. lol“. So, do you hate me? Are you joking? Or are you laughing to spite me with your hate? I DON’T know! Die, lol, die, die, die!!! You, lol, are ruining communication as we know it!

Oh, unless you, dear reader like “lol“. Then I like it too. I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad.

Okay, I think I’ve fulfilled my blog for the day. It makes no sense. It is weird. And I’ve burned 20 minutes or so.

Just for you, Jill DeJonge. You’d better read this. lol.

>I Love Obama

>I want to preface this by saying that I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I don’t really fit into any of the political pigeon holes. That being said…

I am tired, folks. I’m growing weary of the negativity…no…outright hatred that I see toward our President. I know, I know…George W. Bush got the same treatment. That is not my point. I know that some comments might get pretty heated. But, don’t think I’m taking sides. I am not. Read on, dear friend…

It is never appropriate for anyone to pray for the death of anyone. It doesn’t matter if they are good people or bad. And it isn’t a joke. The Lord will take account of every careless word that we speak/write/think.

“Oh, be careful little mouth what you say!”

Additionally, wishing death upon someone, even as a joke, is wrong. If we hate someone in our hearts (which I believe to be a prerequisite to wishing someone dead) we are murdering them. Jesus said that.

I prefer to err on the side of love.

We are called to “Love our neighbors as ourselves,” and to “Love our enemies”. No where in the Scriptures does it allow for us to jokingly or seriously desire death for another.

Obama is a man. He was made in the image of God. And…get this…Jesus died for him too. Because Jesus loves Barack Obama.

So, stop being hateful.

Cut it out. Seriously.

When you say such horrible things about Obama you are wrong. Flat out wrong.

We can only love God as much as we love our worst enemy.

Obama is not my enemy. In fact he has said publically that he is a Christian man. It is not my job to say or believe otherwise. But, because of this I am to consider him my brother in Christ. I will not argue this fact with anyone. It is for God to determine who is His. That is not my job.

My job is to love.

Because I love Jesus, I must love Obama.

And if you love Jesus, you must love Obama too.

>Of Couches and Tables; Birds and Flowers

>The other day I looked around my house and realized that every single piece of furniture we have is second, third of fourth hand. The piano was purchased at a garage sale. The table and chairs are from my childhood home. The love seat from Mike and Lisa Krauss, the big couch from the Hullahs. The cribs, bed frames, toy box…all used goods. Even our appliances came from the former home owners.

So often in my life I have wanted things. New furniture, new curtains, new clothes. I look at what I have and find a million reasons that it isn’t good enough. There’s a stain on the couch. The washing machine isn’t “high capacity”. The camera kills batteries like no body’s business. At tax refund time I made a list of what we “need” to replace.

I want to buy, use and throw away. I want to be a consumer. And don’t I deserve it?

During my internship in the Dominican Republic I was invited to have dinner at Luis’ house. At the time the Jimenez family lived in a really small, 2 room house. Not 2 bedroom. 2 room. They had a living/dining/family room and a bedroom for all of them to share. No couch. No TV. No piles of toys for the kids. They had to borrow chairs and a card table for us to eat on.

They didn’t gripe about what they lacked. They weren’t embarrassed that they didn’t have more. They were happy for what they had. They felt blessed to have their home.

So often we get entrenched in the idea that we need all kinds of different things. But the reality is that we need very little. And all that we need the Lord provides. But we forget all about that!

We work ourselves silly trying to acquire more. We think that if we can’t have the big flat screen LE…blah blah blah that we aren’t really living. That if our kids aren’t in 100 different activities that we have failed them as parents. That if our church buildings don’t have state of the art sound systems that we can’t really worship God. So we consume…consume…consume.

In the acquisition of things…junk…we have forgotten our worth. And we have forgotten His provision.

Aren’t we more beloved than flowers and birds? Our Heavenly Father takes care of them. What makes us think that He would neglect us…His precious, His children.

>When a Merry Maiden Marries…

>As a 14 year old I wanted nothing more in this world than to be an actress. Somehow I would be discovered while buying candy at 7-11. From there, I would be whisked away to Hollywood where I would instantly be wed to Brad Pitt. After my first feature film the “Academy” would declare all other nominees to be unworthy of an Oscar nod compared to my amazing acting abilities. I would take no less than $20,000 for each film…come on. I was 14. What did I know about money?

In preparation for my life as Mrs. Pitt I took every opportunity to take the stage possible. One such role was that of a chorus member in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Gondoliers”.

Here’s the thing; I was sure I was way too good to just be in the chorus. Everyone made it into the chorus. I had to prove to these people that I was destined for greatness.

Somehow I was given a special part. No lines. No solos. Yet, still special.

During the wedding scene the bride Tessa sings a song.

When a merry maiden marries
Sorrow goes and pleasure tarries…

I was to sway to the song and act like I was happy for this awkward, off key bride.

Every flower is a rose
Every goose becomes a swan…

It was a very, very long song. But I had to wait for my big part until the end.

Worry is melodious mirth
Grief is joy in masquerade

And finally it was over.

Tessa tossed her bouquet over her head. I was to be the one to catch those flowers. Out of all the chorus girls I was chosen for this important part. Boy, oh boy. This would build my resume.

Each rehearsal I caught the bouquet to perfection. I visualized this choreography constantly. I analyzed my character to insure that I caught them just as she would have. I had my role down pat. I would steal the show.

On the night of the performance I shook off the flittering fluttering butterflies that attacked my guts. Practice had made perfect.

The flowers flew through the air. They flipped end over end over end. And landed on the floor at my feet.

My heart skipped a beat. My face felt flushed. What was I to do?

I remembered one thing…all good actors can recover. So, I bent over, scooped up the bouquet into my hands. Last minute I thought I would raise the flowers over my head and wave them in victory!

Yea! I was getting married next! To Brad Pitt!

But there was one small problem. Well, maybe a big problem. Perhaps the biggest problem I would encounter on the stage.

The stems of the flowers caught the hem of my skirt. Lifting them over head caused my skirt to follow…over…my…head. To the full extent of my arms.

Realizing what had just occurred I lowered the flowers and did the only thing I could think of. I smiled like an idiot and waved.

Thus my most embarrassing moment was born. Many other mortifications befell my life. But I must say, this is the winner.

Tell me about your most embarrassing moment.

The best story gets…um…Brad Pitt.

>He Loves Us. Oh, How He Loves Us All.

>Bad things happen. Bad people often make those bad things happen.

While reading a section of “Half The Sky” by Nick Kristoff I became overwhelmed. I was beyond grieved by the evil that is done in this world. It is incomprehensible the damage that one creature of God can commit to another creature of God. How could one made in the image of that all loving deity destroy the body of another? I will never understand. I had to put the book down on the nightstand. I had to place another volume atop it. I had to turn off the light.

I had to pray.

God, make me forget what I just read. I don’t want to think about it again.

The Heavenly Father answered my prayer with a clear and devastating “no”.

He wants me to keep that in my heart. He wants that heart to break for His beloveds who are hurt. And so, I must be mindful.

I decided to think of the hope that those victims have. The missionaries that can assist them. Education is spreading across the globe. And that learning is changing so many of these terrible acts of violence, dominance and exploitation.

Ah. That’s better.

The next day I was driving. David Crowder was singing of the love of God. Oh, how He loves us. I was struck by how undeserved I was of that adoration. I was moved at the measure of His great love for the widow, the orphan, the marginalized, the abused. Yeah, He loves us all.

He loves us…all? All? No, Lord. Not ALL of us. Not the dark, evil, cruel enemies.

No. Please, God, no.

“Yes” the Holy Spirit whispered. “I love them too. And you must also.”

A wave of humility flowed over me. I was hit by my own depravity. I am a sinner. In that sin I am an enemy of Christ.

My sin. The sin of others. It all gathers together in a mess of muck. It is putrid, disgusting, horrifying. And it all…all…all is what Jesus came to defeat.

He loves us. Oh, how He loves us all.

>The Tale of the Periwinkle Peacock

>I am just a little different.

One would think that a 32 year old woman would have figured this out 25 years ago. But…like I said…I’m different.

Can I just tell you that this realization was earth shattering. That I didn’t see this knowledge coming. I ended up in a crisis of ideology for which I hadn’t planned (does anyone ever plan such a crisis??).

To me the world is ripe with possibility! That people are generally good…and full of good intentions! That we all have such great jobs to do to better this world! Exclamation point…exclamation point…exclamation point! ! !

After all, what does the Gospel say? Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will be taken care of! There is an abundant life for you in Christ! And if tomorrow is a tough day and that abundance seems to be slow coming…well, there’s always that place that Jesus is going to prepare for us!

So, smile! Rejoice in all things! Be that bright, sparkling, beautiful light! We’re all going to be okay!

For 32 years I believed that everyone held these sunny ideals.

But, golly gee, Pollyanna…was I ever wrong.

After listening to negativity spew from a sister Christian I realized that she didn’t think of the world the way I did. She saw the world through very, very different eyes.

And then my eyesight changed too.

I started seeing people doubt that life would ever be good. Friends who questioned the love of Jesus. Family members who are stuck in the muck of hopelessness.

Suddenly I realized that I was not like most people.

I felt like a periwinkle peacock among a world of vibrant blues and greens. I was similar…but not quite the same.

What was wrong with me? Should I change? Might realism make me more equipped to face this broken world?

And then the answers came.

Oh, thank You, Holy Spirit for Your comfort!

Nothing was wrong with me! I should embrace the way I was created in the Lord’s image! He has given me the tools to journey through this crazy, pain-filled, roaming people. And one of those God given tools was a belief that this world can be a better place to the Glory of God!

So, here I am. I don’t ask you to agree with me. I don’t expect you to like me (although that would be nice).

All I ask is that you allow me to fight for a better world.

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