Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Craig's List

What a different world we live in than when we were youngsters. Heck, even the last five years has changed things. Smart phones with GPS, Facebook, and Amazon have all changed our lives. As a non-shopper I love shopping from the comfort of my PC. No malls. No malls. And did I mention no malls?

Craig’s List has proven to be quite a time saver – and this week a medium for helping people. You may be unimpressed at my revelation, but there are real people selling those items! A few months back I bought a car via Craig’s List. As I blogged, the gentleman was in a world of hurt and needed the cash far more than the car.

This week I gave away a few items. Don’t pat me on the back just yet. Item #1: empty cardboard boxes – about 100 of them. It cleared my garage and I wasn’t forced to stuff them in the recycling bin the next 13 weeks, so it helped me out.

When I unloaded the boxes I discovered the story of a woman who was moving out of state in conjunction with her parents. A new job would provide better income, but would also yield a loss of community. The woman’s mother has cancer. A cancer for which little can be done save multiple tumor removal surgeries. I met “mom” and asked about her potential for a support network. Her church here promises to stay in touch, but there was some anxiety about the big move. So I got to pray with her.
Feeling very generous (because we’re studying generosity at church this month), I chose to give away item #2: a couch. I guess I could have sold it for a few bucks, but it had been a gift so I felt a wee bit guilty following that route. Anyhoo, the first person to respond to the couch said he’d be by in the morning. I grumbled when he didn’t show up on time and thought I’d wasted 45 minutes. But he showed up, revealing that it had been a two hour drive to get to my house!

He must really need this couch. He proceeded to share that the couch was for he and his wife. They have five kids and they just gave most of their furniture for his mother who’s in a bad place (physically, not geographically). His truck was humble – maybe worth $300. He was missing a few teeth and was in physical pain from a work related injury.

I quickly sized up that he hadn’t been as wise as me in high school. Probably didn’t study as hard and he probably reaped what he sowed. Within milliseconds I was reminded of Pastor Sharon’s sermon yesterday. I don’t deserve what I have. It’s all a gift! Thank God for my parents. Thank God that I haven’t had any life-altering disabilities. In that moment I also remembered her challenge to be content. I do this every once in a while when I meet people worse off than me. The other 23 hours a day I complain about everything under the sun.

As you strive to be content and thankful, I urge you to look for the lonely, ignored, and hurting in your everyday life. As I’m learning, you may have to peel an extra layer to find the story, but it’s there! Be the ministers to those online, in coffee houses, and to your next door neighbors.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Not Kissin' Up...Really!

As my sister’s boyfriend recently declared, we Frasers are cheap. So in lieu of flowers, today I decide to declare my love electronically for my wife. (She’s at work today and isn’t allowed to receive flowers anyway.) And this post doesn’t come on the heels of some idiot move by yours truly – I swear!

For those of you in a less than great marriage, I am truly sorry. The marriage relationship is one which should parallel our relationship to God. Sadly for some it’s the obedience component of the relationship with God that is the only parallel – your marriage has one master and one follower. But another component of knowing God is the forgiveness, honesty, joy, and fun he initiates between us and himself. If yours is a God who plots unnecessary misery for you, you don’t know my God. No, His objective is not to get me through life without a scratch. But through life’s ups and downs he offers unequaled companionship, peace, and solace.

This is what my marriage most often looks like. Two imperfect people, who love each other mightily, experience life’s highs and lows with the comfort of being friends - constantly holding one another’s hands.

For fifteen years, life has been good. There have been highs and lows, but mostly we’ve been spoiled. Despite incredible events and people, life threw us a curve ball this most recent season. Though we suffered mildly compared to most in our world, we experienced enough heartache to appreciate the little things. With little else to cling to, we watched our little people circle around us like Jupiter’s moons and we’ve fallen more in love.

More often than not we discuss God’s blessings in our lives. We laugh a lot, grumble a bit, and share secrets. Our jobs both require a degree of anonymity so when we can’t be specific, we still understand each other well.

Unlike most romantic comedies, we understand marriage is not salvation. Jesus is perfect. Jana’s not. And you KNOW I’m not. But like those sappy movies, we sure are having a blast. Having recently moved into our new home, much of the transiency and worry is leaving us behind. We’re planting roots and pretending we’d never consider job offers in Tahiti. (Their coffee isn’t nearly as good!)

Tomorrow is not promised and even if it comes, sorrow may follow – or another stinkin’ leaky toilet. But this I know: because she is my wife, I AM blessed. I love you, baby! In the immortal words of Nacho Libre, “Hug, hug, kiss, kiss. Big hug, little hug. Big kiss, little kiss.”

Monday, January 3, 2011

Best Seats Ever!

I promise – last football post for a long time. But you have to hear about this one. For my recent 40th, my parents bought me tickets to go see the Seahawks. They bought them off one of those re-sell your tickets websites for season ticket holders – in case you forgot about your cousin’s barber’s Uncle Morty’s 90th birthday in Walla Walla which someone rudely scheduled on a Sunday during football season. And because you’re greedily hoping to stay in his good graces because you want him to bequeath you his 57 Chevy, you gotta go.

That’s a bit sharp, but it gets you in the right, selfish frame of mind. Please forgive my artistic license. So my folks bought two seats for Jana and me for the last game of the year a few months back. Because of their moderate success (especially compared to the ‘08-‘09 seasons) all I hoped for was a meaningful game from my new team. Had they been out of the playoff picture, the energy wouldn’t have been there. It would have been like a scrimmage – a mere exhibition game with a hot dog and coke on the side. But because the NFC West was pathetic and the stars all aligned (I don’t think God providentially chooses to determine most or any games), the winner of the Seahawks v. Rams would be in the playoffs.

Upon entering the stadium we were given the unfamiliar direction of walking DOWN to our seats (Fraser seats are usually up – WAY UP). Row J was our three hour home. Translation – 10 rows from the field. Close enough to see that even the punters are uncharacteristically gigantic humans. Close enough to have to look around the sideline television camera. Incredible seats. Incredible game. We froze because there was no cloud cover. But we didn’t care. Our feet are sore because we never sat down – everyone stood the whole game. (And because I made Jana walk over a mile to a parking spot – I ain’t paying $30 to park!) My voice is gone today. But that’s okay – no preaching on Mondays, just blogging and emails.

Today’s lesson? Ummm. Go to football games for a great date? Nope. Let’s see. Sometimes good seats are worth it? Nah. How about this: life is like the playoffs! Had the Seahawks lost – season over. But because they won, there’s a buzz around town. People are excited, and somewhat afraid, that the Saints are marching in next week (the Superbowl winners, not the Christian Church mothers and fathers of centuries gone by). There is hope. There is joy. We’re scheming to find out how to avoid their complex defense. We’re debating who’s going to be our quarterback.

God wants His Church to be that alive. To passionately hash out our opinions. To come together to high five believers we’ve never met. To choose our leaders. To strategize the best way to carry the life-altering news of Jesus Christ to the world. At some point the playoffs will be over. Our time is limited. We don’t get a second chance to live our lives. We cannot take things likely. Win or go home.

May those of you unfamiliar with life with Christ know the thrill of playing for His team. May those of you who’ve chosen to be on His team live like you’re in the playoffs!