Thursday, August 25, 2011
I love Jeff Dunham. Sure, he plays with dolls for a living but the guy is a genius. One of my favorite parts of his act is when Peanut and Jose the Jalepeno are talking about their day:
Jeff: I understand you guys had a good day today?
Peanut: Yes, we had a great day!
Jose: No, we did not.
Jose: No! We did not haaave a good day.
Peanut: Yes we haaaad a great freakin' day!
Jeff (to Peanut): You were supposed to take him to the spa
Peanut (to Jeff): I took him to the spa!
Jose: He put me in the vegetable steamer!
Sounds like they did not have a great day, well at least one of them anyhow. That skit reminded me of someone I once knew. Fred was 104 years old, I think, when he finally had to stop saying "I woke up on top of the ground, it's a great day!" You could always count on Fred to greet you that way. Even though he might not have been having a great day, from the best I can remember, he always seemed to keep things in perspective, and saw each new day as a gift to be celebrated.
I've been noticing something lately and it's beginning to concern me. I'm not really sure how long I've been watching for this, but it's been a while, and what I've noticed is that folks like Fred are few and far between. Few are the folks who celebrate each new day as the gift it is, and allow that gift to shape their perspective for the entire day. Much greater is the number of folks who wake up and begin their day belly-aching about something, then allow that negativity to spread like the plague to those around them.
Don't believe me? Run through your facebook friend's posts and look at the number of people who seem either unhappy, depressed, or just plain negative. Talk about a buzzkill. After I started noticing the trend on facebook, I began looking for the same in the people I interacted with face to face. Same thing. More people than not seem to be oozing negativity.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a realist and I know that things are tough all over...but really? Also, I'm not an anthropologist, nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I did come across a study that said negativity is contagious. It's true in marketing, in our own circles, and in the church.
Being a realist, I know that life is not all puppies and daisies, but for crying out loud, how about a smile every now and then? Is that really too much to ask out of folks who wake up, can get out of bed under their own power, have a little food in the house, and have friends and family to help get them through the really tough days? I think not.
Honestly, I have my share of bad days and I know you do too. I have days when I could absolutely spit nails and things happen that even make a preacher cuss, but that's just life. You roll with the punches and go on. Fred has been gone for years, but his words still ring in my ears anytime I feel the urge to start griping: "I woke up on top of the ground. It's a good day."
I'm halfway through with this journey we call life, and I'm going to spend the last half doing everything I can to curb this tsunami of negativity. I don't know what that's going to look like yet, but something has to give. I care greatly about the things that cause you stress and difficulty and want you to know I'm here for you. Don't be surprised, though, when you start complaining and I say, "Hey, you woke up on top of the ground. It's a great freakin' day."
I'll leave you with a little Electric Light Orchestra...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj8kMmUxkSE (Copy and paste into your browser)
Thursday, August 18, 2011
I'm a dad. Have been all of my kids' lives. I love being a dad, not always crazy about some of the stuff that goes along with it but I love it. My girls are my pride and joy, and each is the apple of one of my eyes.
I will admit, though, there have been times when watching something they were doing, had done, planned on doing, or even thought about doing upset me, that's just the way it goes, but for the most part I've got some good kids. They make me proud...a lot. Jen rocked the volleyball court day before yesterday, at least that's what I was told. I wasn't able to go to that one. Hannah has a heart the size of Texas and just watching her take on the mother hen role with kids in her class, Cheetoh (her cat), or even the stray dachsund that camped on our porch last night just makes me melt. I love my girls...
...I love my church. There are times when something it is doing, has done, plans on doing, or thinks about doing upsets me, that's just the way it goes, but I love my church. We have our issues, no doubt, and some of them have been driven home for me this week...on a denominational level numbers are slipping, financially we're budgeting more than we're taking in, and I could go and on, but last night, my folks made me proud to be their pastor and to be a Methodist.
During our Leadership Team meeting last night we had the usual stuff to discuss...finances, committee reports, yada yada yada, then they did it...new business...
"We want to start a Celebrate Recovery group here at the church..."
"I think that's a great idea."
"The county definitely needs something like this."
"What do we need to get started?"
"Let's do it."
"We need to start a feeding program in town..."
"Like a hot meal?"
"Once a week?"
"If we only serve one person a week that's one person that got a hot meal who might not have otherwise."
"Whatever you need, you let me know and I'll see what I can do."
Now, let me say this...financially we're struggling just like every other church in the nation right now. The numbers on Sunday morning? They're getting better but not where we need to be yet. We have the same 20% of the folks doing 80% of the work just like most other churches in the world, but in the midst of all of that, the Grace Church family decided to hear the voice of God, step out on faith, and launch two new ministries. Not programs to fill up a calendar, ministries that will make a difference in someone's life and just might help bring God's kingdom right here in LaCenter.
That's how we're going to roll. Times may be tough, but even in tough times God calls, and when God calls, Grace Church is going to answer. I love my kids...I love my church.