Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garbage In, Garbage Out

My mother-in-law often says, “Garbage in, garbage out.”  I’ve found this to be quite true, and I realized recently how much garbage I’ve been taking in.

Confession #1:  I listen to “secular” music.

As a Christian, I’d love to be able to say that I only listen to Christian music.  Especially living in Central California, where there is an abundance of Christian radio.  However, I love music of all kinds (except hard core rap and country - shudder).

Music affects me in such a profound, visceral way.  Maybe because my father is a singer, and I grew up hearing his deep, beautiful voice singing traditional Armenian songs.  Music moves my soul and evokes so much emotion in me that life would be unpalatable and bleak without it.

We bought a new car a few months ago (a minivan – aren’t you jealous?) and it came with three months of satellite radio.  Jayson and I have been enjoying this immensely (Jay = channel 23/Grateful Dead; Me = channel 19/Elvis).

And so, although I have a terrible singing voice, I sing all the time, usually along with whatever I’m listening to on the radio in the car.  Adele, Pitbull, Hot Chelle Rae, Foster the People, Maroon 5, Alexandra Stan, and, of course, (don’t judge me) Britney Spears.

I’m singing along, “I-I-I wanna go-o-o all the way-ay-ay something something the night… I-I-I wanna show-ow-ow all the something something something through my mind…”

What words am I missing?  I looked them up.  These are the lyrics:

I wanna go all the way
Taking out my freak tonight
I wanna show all the dirt
I got running through my mind

Hmmm.  Wonder what she’s talking about?  And I’m actually singing these words?  Garbage in, garbage out.  Oh, right, I didn’t really THINK about it – I’m just innocently (and ignorantly) singing along.  Right?

No excuses from me.  Although the only dirt I got running through my mind is the dirt in my house I need to clean, the dirt on my car I need to wash, and the dirt on James’s face that seems to be perpetually there.

Confession #2:  I will probably continue to listen to “secular” music.

I have to be honest.  I like some of it.  I don’t want to cut it out completely.  Do I have to?  If it’s not FOR God, then it’s necessarily AGAINST God because it doesn’t PRAISE Him.  I guess I know that ultimately I should apply this principle to everything in my life, but I’m either too lazy or too undisciplined or too spiritually immature or too weak to do this.

I will try to avoid Britney’s song, at the very least.  Actually, I also cut off Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” as those lyrics are disturbing (All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun.  All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet.)  These are words I would never say, nor do I want my children to hear them coming from my mouth.

Time to be a little more aware of what I take in, and what I put out.  Sorry, Brit!

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Overflowing is Right...

I was a late bloomer, physically speaking.  I was always short and skinny, small, and looking younger than I actually was.  Being obsessed with Madonna didn’t help, as there was no way I ever thought I would be able to fill out a bustier the way she did.  I even stuffed my bra once.

Be careful what you wish for.

I developed much later than my friends, toward the end of high school and even into college.  With my 20th high school reunion coming up in a couple of months, I’m nervous that my former classmates may think I’ve had some, shall we say, enhancements.  (I’m happy to note, for the record, that I have not.  If I did, my height would be the only thing about me I’d want to change.  But, alas, that’s not yet possible – without stilettos, anyway.)

Suffice it to say there was a bit of an awkward transition in my early 20s trying to get used to my “new” body.  Some embarrassing and inappropriate outfits ensued, but I learned.  I know now what works and what doesn’t, and I’m still somewhat self-conscious about it (as evidenced by the sequined pink top noted in my last post).

This afternoon I was on the Internet and came across photos of the New York City red carpet premiere of Sarah Jessica Parker’s new movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It.”  The article focused on actress Christina Hendricks, who also stars in the movie.  She was wearing a pink satin Vivienne Westwood dress, and the title – in large, bold, capital letters – was, “CHRISTINA HENDRICKS SHOWS OFF MASSIVE CLEAVAGE ON RED CARPET.”

I sat mortified, staring at the computer, utterly dumbfounded.

I’ve spent years trying to cover up, figure out, work around, minimize, and detract from what other women are splashing across the red carpet for the world to see.  I know there’s nothing new under the sun.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about that headline.  Who – I mean, WHO – on earth would want that headline splashed about them?  If it was my name instead of hers, I would DIE of shame.

I need to find a turtleneck immediately.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Full to Overflowing

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Christians say that they don’t need to go to church.  That going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.  I believe that corporate worship is crucial and necessary to spiritual growth.  But this post is not going to debate that topic.  I just want to share my experience at my church this morning.

I woke up with a heavy heart, this being the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  I made a deliberate decision not to be sad today, because we are a country of fighters.  So I searched for the brightest, cheeriest item of clothing in my closet to wear to church – a pink sequined top.  Maybe the pink disco ball look is not 100% appropriate for church, but it made me happy.

We went first to Sunday School, where I was filling in for the preschool teacher who was out of town.  The morning started with worship, and just singing those three or four songs really stirred my heart.  We sang a song that I hadn’t sung or heard in a long time – Step by Step by Rich Mullins.  This is a personal favorite of mine, and it was on the cd we gave out as favors at our wedding almost ten years ago.  It brought back happy memories.  I walked out of the room feeling filled with the Holy Spirit, ready to pour it out to the students in my class.

I had three students in my Sunday School class – all boys, ages three or four.  We read the story of how the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias to bring him news from God that his and Elizabeth’s prayers for a baby would be answered, and they would have a son (John).  The boys loved when I made a “shoop” sound and zipped my lips to show that Gabriel took away Zacharias’s speech when he didn’t believe the angel’s message.  When we reviewed the story the boys were able to repeat to me most of the important facts, and their excitement filled my heart.

Church began with more worship – our Praise Band plays twice a month during the main worship service.  The songs were meaningful, and the instruments so effective at conveying the power of the lyrics.  There was a short electric guitar solo that stung my heart; the piano was beautiful in its simplicity; the shimmer of the cymbals pretty and effective; and the violin – my favorite instrument of all – pulled at my heartstrings.

Our pastor preached on 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, about being comforted in our sufferings.  About our church reaching out to show mercy and compassion to our community.  About being confident in the comfort of a God who raises the dead.  It was powerful, passionate, convicting.

And so I left church full.  Full of worship.  Full of God’s Word.  Full of the Spirit who will remind me this week of the conviction I felt today.  Who will prompt me to rethink my lack of mercy on others.  Who will comfort me in my day-to-day afflictions.

The ironic thing, though, is that I walked out of church full.  I don’t go to church to take.  I go to church to give – to worship, to praise, to honor, to thank, to adore – I should walk out empty.  But that’s how good our God is, and that’s how much He loves us, that He doesn’t leave us empty.  And that reminds me of today’s Children’s Message.  When Jesus is in our hearts, our hearts cannot be empty ever again.  That hole gets forever sealed.

Full to overflowing.  Thank you, Jesus.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.