Thursday, April 26, 2012

One of My Stories

This is a story I wrote for Fiction Writing Class. Sorry. I know it's long.
But, tell me what you think! I greatly appreciate comments and constructive criticism ;)

            “I’m sick of them. I’m leaving.”
            “I’m sick of them too,” she piped in.

            “No,” he said looking down at her. “You’re not.”

            “Yes I am, Jackson,” she declared, placing her hands on her hips. “I am, I am, I am.”

            “No, you’re not. So just, just shut up.” Jackson spun on his heel and went over to the window.
            Avery summoned up all of her ten-year-old charm and stepped quietly to her brother’s side. His forehead was pressed against the glass and the warmth of his breath was making a cloudy spot. Avery reached over and drew a squiggle in the moisture. Jackson glanced down at her and kind of wished he hadn’t said shut up. Then, he stiffened his face. He could make himself look stern. Easily.
            “What do you want?” he asked.
            “Nothing,” Avery answered, busily breathing on the window and making cloudy spots of her own.
            “Hah,” Jackson said, with an almost-smile. “Like I really believe that.”
            Avery smiled. Jackson pulled out one of the dining room chairs and sat down. Neither of them said anything for a while. Avery sat down in his lap, leaning her head on his shoulder. Her hair smelled clean. Jackson smoothed one of her stubborn curls. The cuckoo clock in the hall struck the hour. Avery jumped. 4 o’clock.

            “Okay Av,” Jackson said, lifting her off his lap and standing up. “I’ve got to go.”
Avery nodded. “Me too,” she said, taking his hand. “Let’s go.”
            “Avery Claire!” Jackson shouted. “You can’t come with me. You hear?” He sighed and swallowed. Then began again in a quieter voice. “They love you. Mom and, and Gary love you.”
            “They love you just as much as they love me,” Avery said. “Which is zero.”
            “That’s not true,” Jackson said. “They, uh, they took you to the zoo for your birthday. And to the movies last week. Take a look at all the toys in your room. They love you, Av. You’re pretty, and you’re little. And, and they love you.” He mentally kicked himself at the stupid arguments he had just presented.
            “Do you have any idea how annoying it is to be kept just cause you’re little and pretty?” Avery stomped her foot. “I’m not always going to be little and pretty! ” She was shouting now. “I can’t stand Gary. And he can’t stand me. No matter how nicey-nice he acts, he hates me.” Avery crossed her arms and turned away. “And I’m not dumb. Those things you’re telling me are things you’d tell a baby.”

            Jackson groaned. He couldn’t take a little kid with him. Even if that little kid happened to be his sister. Why’d she have to be so smart?
            “He’s your step-dad,” Jackson said. “Don’t be disrespectful.”
Avery looked up at him with a smirk. “Hypocrite,” she said sweetly.
            “How do you even know what that means?” Jackson asked, forbidding himself to smile.
            “You say it all the time, Jack,” she informed him. “When you’re talking about Gary.”
            “I’m a bad influence on you, Av,” Jackson sighed. “That’s another reason you need to stay here.”
Avery laughed. “You’ve already lived with me for my whole life. I think the damage is done.”
            “Good bye, Avery,” Jackson said, reaching down to give her a hug. She leaned against him, and gave him a limp squeeze. He pressed a quick kiss on her forehead. “I’ll miss you,” he added, as he turned and walked down the hall. She didn’t answer.
            He trudged up the stairs and into his bedroom. He stuffed a couple changes of clothes into his backpack, along with his kindle, and iPod, and his wallet. He went into the bathroom where he grabbed a tube of toothpaste and his toothbrush and put them into the bag. Then, he hurried down the dark hallway to his mom’s and Gary’s room.
            He used to come down the hall a lot when he was little if he had a nightmare or something. That was when his dad was alive though, so it was different. He felt like a trespasser now. The bed was unmade and clothes were flung everywhere. The dresser was strewn with his mom’s makeup. Disgusting. Jackson swallowed and walked confidently over to Gary’s closet. He rummaged through the small box on the shelf and brought out a roll of dollar bills. It wasn’t stealing. This was his step-dad, after all. Gary wouldn’t want him to starve. Jackson stuck the money into his pocket.
             He went over to the dresser and opened the top drawer. It was his mom’s. Wrong drawer. He started to close it again, but then something caught his eye. He pulled out the tiny picture frame. It was a picture of his mom and dad. On that cruise to the Bahamas when Jackson was six. She was so beautiful without her makeup on, with the wind in her hair, with his dad’s arm around her.
            Jackson looked at the picture for a very long time. Then, he slid it into his pocket. He slowly closed the drawer. He glanced up. There was a giant picture of his mom and Gary on the wall. They were at some formal dinner for Gary’s job. Gary was sporting his usual leer. His mom was wearing something that was, frankly, inappropriate. Jackson was ashamed that she was his mother. He pulled the picture frame out of his pocket, dropped it on the floor, and crushed it with the heel of his shoe.
            He pulled open Gary’s drawer, grabbed the keys to the old Prius, and left the room, giving the picture frame one final crunch as he did.

            Jackson headed out the back door to the garage where the Prius was parked. Sliding into the driver’s seat, he tossed his bag into the back and cranked the car.  He pulled out of the garage and started down the street, out of the neighborhood. It was just starting to get dark. His mom and Gary would be arriving at the cocktail party right about now. Gee, he sure hoped that Avery would just go to bed on time and not sit up all night waiting for them.
            It’s really boring driving by yourself. Especially at night. Jackson flipped on the radio and scanned through the stations for a while but as usual there was nothing good on. He drove on for about an hour and a half. He didn’t even know where he was headed. He just drove. On the interstate. Toward the south. He just kept going. Anywhere was better than home.
            A light came on, telling him that the gas tank was almost empty. So he pulled off the interstate at the next exit.
            He stopped at a little gas station right off the interstate. The place was pretty much deserted. Except for a couple of creepy looking guys in a pickup truck. While the gas filled the tank, he leaned against the car. Finally. He was out. Free. No more screaming arguments. No more step-dads that smelled like beer half the time. No more mothers that ran their long painted fingernails through your hair and told you lies. No more---
            “Oh shoot!” He slapped his palm against his forehead. He had totally forgotten about Avery’s supper. He tapped his fingers against the car window, wondering what he should do. Then, he pulled his phone out and dialed Avery’s number. He didn’t think Avery should have a phone in the first place. That had been Gary’s idea. But might as well use it. It only rang once.
            “Hey,” she said.
            “Look, uh, Av,” Jackson said, stopping the gas pump and pulling the nozzle out.
            “Yeah. What?” she said.
            “You aren’t mad at me, are you?”
            “Why would I be mad at you?” she said. “You’ve only betrayed me, treated me like a baby, lied to me, and tried to run away without me.”
Jackson sighed. “I know. I know. Look. It’s what’s best for you. And I didn’t call to argue either. There’s a frozen pizza in the freezer on the porch. You know how to cook that, right?”
            “Yeah. Since I was like six years old,” Avery retorted. “But, um, I can’t really get to the freezer right now.
            “Do what?” Jackson asked, absently, replacing the cap on his gas tank.
            “Just use your brain,” Avery laughed.
            “What do you mean?” Jackson said, heading toward the gas station to buy a soda.
            “Oh, and get me a Coke. Cherry Coke if they’ve got it,” Avery said. “Bye.” And she hung up.
Jackson turned around with the phone still at his ear. He walked slowly back to the Prius. He opened the passenger side door and looked down at Avery, who was contentedly munching on a snickers bar. He didn’t say anything as he put the phone back into his pocket.
            “Back already?” Avery asked. “Where’s my Coke?”
            “What are you doing?” Jackson said.
            “Um,” Avery shrugged. “Sitting? You know, you forgot to bring food.” She showed him the backpack on her lap. It was filled with snacks. “So I grabbed this stuff on the way out.”
            “How’d you get here without me seeing you?” Jackson asked.
            “Easy,” Avery said. “I mean, have you seen any of those movies where some kid hides in the backseat? There’s a bunch of them. And like you said, I’m little.” She smiled.
Jackson shook his head. “Should have known.”  He looked down at her. She would be good company. Never at a loss for something to say. Maybe he shouldn’t leave her with them.
            “Yeah, you should have known,” Avery agreed. “I was like, is he ever going to realize I’m here? It was so stuffy and---”
            “Uncomfortable, huh?” Jackson said.
            “Yeah,” Avery said. “It’s a whole lot nicer in this seat.” She leaned back and smiled. Jackson closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb. No, no. What had he been thinking?  She needed to stay home. Where she belonged.
            “Yeah? Well you can enjoy it on the ride back home,” Jackson told her, making himself slam the door, and walking over to the driver’s side.
            “ Aw come on, Jackson,” Avery said when he sat down. “Don’t be like that.”
            “Just be quiet for a change,” Jackson said and started the car. “Be quiet and do what you’re told. I’m taking you home. And that’s where you’re staying.”
Avery turned away and stared out the window. “Sometimes…” she started. “Oh just never mind.”
            “You are the most difficult person I have ever met,” Jackson said.
Avery ignored him.
She didn’t speak until right before he pulled out onto the interstate again.
            “It’s nine-thirty,” she said.
            “Yeah. I know,” Jackson replied. “I can tell time.”
            “Hmm,” Avery shrugged. “Okay.”
            “Why does it even matter?” Jackson asked, turning to look at her.
            “We won’t get home till at least eleven,” Avery yawned and adjusted her skirt. “And by then they’ll be back. Gary has that big business meeting early tomorrow. And so, “ she shrugged again.
            “Oh, nice try,” Jackson said. “It’s not gonna work though.”
But he pulled the car over to the side of the road.  He ran his fingers through his hair and sighed.
            “You are so---,” he struggled for words. “Okay. Okay. Fine. You win.”
            “Win?” she grinned. “Thought you said it wasn’t gonna---“
            “Just be quiet before I change my mind and take you back,” Jackson said.
            “You won’t,” she informed him. “You wouldn’t risk getting caught and having to stay there, yourself.”
            Jackson reached over and pushed her. Gently.

            She fell asleep some time past midnight. Jackson had decided that he would drive through the night. People did it all the time.
            But it’s easier said than done. Without Avery’s chatter, his eyelids began to droop. The headlights of the other cars blurred together in slow streaks of light. Jackson squeezed his eyes shut and reopened them several times. But at a little after one, he had to stop. He pulled off the interstate into the closest exit. It was a small town. Deserted. Everyone was asleep. The stores were all closed. Jackson drove the car behind the little supermarket and parked. No one would even find them there. And they would leave by morning. Before first light. He curled up in his seat, leaning it all the way back and was asleep before he had time to think.

            He heard the tapping like it was in another world. Another lifetime. He turned away and put his arm over his face.
            “Shh,” he said.
            “Uhh, Jackson.”
            “Go away,” Jackson replied.
            “Jackson, really. You need to wake up.”
Jackson opened one eye and glared up at Avery. She was shaking him. When she saw that he was somewhat awake, she pointed to his window. He turned slowly, painfully. Sleeping in the car wasn’t exactly pleasant. Then he sat bolt upright. A man was standing outside. Tapping on the window. He didn’t look happy.
            Jackson rubbed his eyes and sat up straighter. The man motioned to him to roll the window down. Jackson turned the keys in the ignition and rolled the window down about an inch. The man put his mouth up to the crack.
            “What are you doing?’
Jackson glanced at Avery who was trying to hide a grin. Why did she always smile when something terrible was happening? “We, uh,” Jackson sighed. “We were, are on a trip. Um, it was really late last night, and so we, uh, we just figured it’d be okay to sleep here for the night?” He forced a grin and shrugged. “We better be on our way now, so, uh.”
            “Don’t you know it’s against the law to sleep in your car?” the man demanded. “You’re breaking the law. You can get a hefty fine for this, young man.”
Jackson stared at him. He hoped his face looked blankly innocent.
            “No sir,” he said. “I had no idea, sir. My little sister and I, we’re headed to Florida to visit our Aunt Martha. We just, uh. I’m very sorry about this. Won’t happen again.”
            “Well, see that it don’t,” the man said. “There’s hotels that are made for sleeping in.”
Jackson smiled and started to roll the window up, but not before Avery spoke.
            “Only we don’t have money for hotels,” she said, shrugging.
Jackson whipped his head around to face her.
             “What?” she mouthed, big-eyed.
The man looked at them quizzically. “Why don’t you just wait right here for a minute?” he said. And it wasn’t a request.  It was an order. He walked a few steps away and pulled out his cell phone.
            “What in the world possessed you to say that, Avery?” Jackson said in a loud whisper. “Won’t you ever learn to just keep your mouth shut?”
He slammed his fist on the steering wheel.
            “Well, that’s the end of that,” he said. “You know what he’s doing? He’s calling the police. They’ll figure out who we are. And they’ll take us right back home.”
Avery looked at her toes.
            “I knew I should never have let you come along. Would have been fine if I were on my own. Would have been long gone. Safe. Never have to go back. But now.” Jackson shook his head. “This is all your fault. How do you feel? Huh?”
He looked over at Avery. “Huh? You’ve officially ruined it all. Feel good about it?”
A tear dripped off of Avery’s nose. “No,” she said. “I’m sorry Jackson. Really, I am.”
She looked straight into his eyes, her own swimming. “I wasn’t thinking.”
            “Well, that’s not good enough,” Jackson continued, ignoring the tears. “You can’t just always say that about everything. You’ve got to think. Think Avery. Before you talk. You never think.”
Avery put her hands over her face. “Well I sure wasn’t thinking when I said I wanted to come with you. I wish I’d never come,” she sobbed. “You’re mean, anyway. I like them better than you. Just go. Go away. He can’t catch you if you leave now. ”  She got out and slammed the car door.
Jackson sighed. She ran over to the man on the phone. Jackson put the car in drive and pressed hard on the gas.
“I like them better than you,” she had said. Jackson slammed his fist against the radio button and turned the volume up. Loud.
 “I wish I’d never come.”  Well he sure didn’t blame her for that. He wished she hadn’t come too.

Didn’t he?

Jackson flipped off the radio. “Yes, I do,” he said aloud, to make sure. “I wish she hadn’t come.”
He nodded, proud of himself. Things would be much better now. Avery would go home where she belonged. Where all her friends lived. Where their mom was. And Jackson could go on alone. Quicker. More efficiently. Alone. Without a pesky little sister. Alone. Alone
            He glanced over to the seat beside him. Avery’s backpack was still sitting there. Full of candy bars, Pringles, toothpaste and a change of clothes.
            He slammed on the brake. After chewing on his lip for just a moment in thought, he turned the car around and drove slowly back to the supermarket parking lot. Avery was still standing there with the man. They were talking. The man looked quite upset. Jackson sighed and shook his head. Oh well. It didn’t really matter anyway. They’d get out of this mess somehow. Together.
Then he stopped the car and got out with the backpack.
            “Hey Av,” he said. “You forgot your stuff.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Do We Say It?

What is the origin of the word "dude"? 
"Duds" are our clothes---from the Middle English word dudde meaning "to dress." The Easterner who goes west dresses himself in fancy "duds"---and to Westerners seems to pose or strike an attitude. "Dude" is "dud" plus "attitude."(Why Do We Say It? pg 83)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jesus Loves Me

Dr. Karl Barth was one of the most complexly brilliant men of the twentieth century. Thousands of people flocked to hear him speak. He wrote massive volumes as part of a series called Church Dogmatics, full of profound words about the meaning of life. He was a greatly admired and revered man. He was even called "the most outstanding and consistently evangelical theologian that the world has seen in modern times." He spent his entire life learning everything he could.
Once, when Barth was lecturing at Princeton Theological Seminary, a student asked him, "Dr Barth, can you summarize the theological meaning of the millions of words in the Church Dogmatics?"
Dr Barth thought for a moment before replying simply, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

This renowned man truly understood the heart of the gospel. I love this story because it shows the great beauty, and yet the great simplicity, of our faith.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

City On The Hill

This is a beautiful and almost haunting song about the Church. We need to stand strong together and not let our differences divide.

"It takes all sorts to make a world; or a church. This may be even truer of a church. If grace perfects nature, it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell." -C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Problem of Evil

This is a post written by one of my classmates on his blog. Check out

We talked about this issue in our Omnibus IV class at VPSA a while back. It was a great discussion and I really liked Mr Davis's answer to the "problem of evil", but I never got around to writing anything about it. So, I'll just echo Cooper's thoughts instead  :-)

The "Problem" Of Evil. (Not as much of a problem as you think.)

"How many times have Christian apologists heard the argument about the "problem of evil"? The argument goes like this:
"God (Assuming He exists) is omnibenevolent and omnipotent. If God is omnibenevolent He wouldn't want evil in the world. If He was omnipotent He would have the ability to get rid of evil in the world. There is evil in the world. God must not exist. QED."
Some Christians would say that this argument is illogical. But they would be wrong. This is actually a perfectly logical syllogism.
"But God does exist! How can this be logical??"many Christians would say. Well, obviously it's false. So how can it be proven wrong? Well the formatting of this argument fits the laws of logic perfectly. But just because an argument is logically formatted right doesn't mean that it's actually true. Here's an argument that is perfectly logic and perfectly untrue:
"If Mr. Davis is an Omnibus teacher, he's the King of France. Mr. Davis is an Omnibus teacher. Therefore Mr. Davis is the King of France. QED."
Perfect logical format. But the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. The one step that fails is the one that implies that if Mr. Davis is an Omnibus teacher he's the King of France. Does the problem of evil have a failing premise? It has to have one because it's perfect logically, but it's obviously false.
Which step is the one that fails? Well God is omnibenevolent and omnipotent. There is evil in the world. God does have the ability to get rid of evil in the world. So the only one left is "If God is omnibenevolent he wouldn't want evil in the world." It is my belief that this is the weak link in this logical chain.
A friend once asked me "If God is omnipresent, and there's no evil in God, how is there evil in the world?" He was joking, and omnipresent isn't really the correct word, but the question still remains. I couldn't think of a way to answer this problem until Mr. Davis compared the world and history to a story where God is the author. "See, in Lord Of The Rings," Mr. Davis said, "is Tolkien evil for having evil characters? No, because he disapproves what those characters are doing. But he wouldn't have a story if there weren't evil people in it." Imagine LOTR without evil people. The name would have to be changed to, "Frodo and Sam Have The Jolliest Time In The Land Where Nothing Bad Ever Happens." It's a mockery of a story. God is supreme over all of His creations, and I try to just trust whatever He chooses to do with me. This analogy is immensely helpful to me because I love stories. But if this analogy doesn't help you, then it's just an analogy. Find one that works for you, while still saying the truth."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Do We Say It?

In the same boat.
How did "all in the same boat" come to mean equality of opportunity---or lack of it?

The allusion is to a shipwreck. When a ship is wrecked and has to be abandoned, all distinction of class must be abandoned as well. Each man must accept and share the common fate---they're "all in the same boat."(Why Do We Say It? pg 130)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Don't Waste Your Life

This an excerpt from a book I'm reading, called "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper.

"I will tell you what tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader's Digest: A couple 'took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells.' At first when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn't. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life----your one and only, precious, God-given life----and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgement: "Look, Lord. See my shells." That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don't buy it. Don't waste your life."

There's not anything I can really add to that. It speaks for itself.
This is, so far, one of the most convicting books I have read. If you haven't read it, you really should. You won't regret it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It is Well With My Soul

It is 1870 and life is good for Horatio G. Spafford.
He is a dedicated Christian, first and foremost. He has dedicated his life to the Lord. He lives every day for his Savior.
He lives in Chicago with his lovely wife, Anna and their five children, Annie, Maggie, Bessie, Tanetta, and Horatio Jr.
Mr Spafford has a very successful law practice where he spends a good bit of his time, but he has quite a bit of time at home as well.
They are well-to-do; never wanting for anything. His wife loves him. His children love him. Everything is just right.

Then suddenly, without any apparent reason, all of that begins to change.
Four-year-old Horatio Jr catches the scarlet fever, and after a fierce battle with the illness, he dies. Horatio and his wife are devastated. Their youngest, their baby has just died. But they trust the Lord through their struggles and things seem to be getting better.
But that is only an illusion.
In October of 1871, the Great Chicago Fire broke out. The fire destroys all of Mr. Spafford's property and this once-wealthy man is now almost without a penny.
However, the Spaffords do not despair. Their own home is left unharmed and this is much more than most had after the fire. Instead of focusing on their own misfortunes, Horatio and Anna instead use the small amount of money and resources that they have left to feed the hungry, to care for the sick and wounded, to comfort the mourning, and to show the love of Christ to everyone they meet.

In 1873, just as the Spaffords are beginning to get back onto their feet in other respects, Anna's health is steadily getting worse and worse. Horatio decides that a trip to Europe will be just the thing to restore Anna's health and to raise the children's spirits. They would sail on the French steamer Ville du Havre in November. The four girls are thrilled and can hardly speak of anything else.
On the morning of the departure, the Spaffords' bags are packed and they are ready to leave.

But God had other plans for Horatio Spafford.
Just as they were supposed to leave for Europe, he has a sudden business emergency and is not able to leave Chicago. Since the girls and his wife are so excited, he does not want to disappoint them and so, sends them on alone to Europe. He will follow on another ship in a couple of days and meet them there.

It is November 22, 1873 and the steamer Ville du Havre is struck by a British sailing ship, the Lockhearn. Within twelve minute, Ville du Havre has sunk and 226 of the 307 passengers have gone down with the ship. Including Horatio's four little girls.
Miraculously, Anna Spafford is picked up from the floating debris by the Lockhearn. She is unconscious and does not yet know that all of her children are now dead.
 She is taken to Cardiff, Wales, where she must send the awful telegram to her husband.
"Saved alone." She writes. "What shall I do..."
Horatio comes at once to bring Anna home, leaving Chicago without delay when he receives the heartbreaking telegram.
On the way over the Atlantic, the captain of Horatio's ship calls him up on deck.
"We are passing directly by the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked," he tells Mr. Spafford. "The water is three miles deep."
Horatio stares down into the deep, deep water; the water where the bodies of his four little girls lie drowned. This is the place. It looks just like the rest of the ocean. Nobody would ever guess what horrible things had happened there in the rolling"sea billows".
 And soon they are past it. And he can only look back.

That night, in his cabin alone, Horatio wrote the words to his famous hymn "It is Well With My Soul."
His faith in God never wavered. His faith was the only thing, through the awful times of trials, that stood strong. It can be truly said it was well with his soul.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Do We Say It?

I have a book called "Why Do We Say It? The Stories Behind the Words, Expressions, and Cliches We Use." It's kinda interesting to learn the history and meanings of unusual sayings or words. I thought I'd write a post each Tuesday talking about a new word or saying and the story behind it.

The first one I chose is "macaroni."

Why did Yankee Doodle call himself "macaroni"?
Because that was the then current name for a "fop" or a "dandy". It was the name for a dandy because a group of well-traveled young Englishmen of wealth and position formed a club called the "Macaroni Club" in London, around 1760. They named the club that because they were fond of foreign cooking. These young men also dressed in a foreign manner; the common people misunderstood the use of the word "macaroni" and took the name of their club to be descriptive of their dress. (Why Do We Say It, Castle Books 1985)

See? If you're like me, you've always kinda wondered about that you finally know why it is that:
"Yankee Doodle went to town
 riding on a pony,
stuck a feather in his hat
and called it macaroni"
Pretty cool, huh? :-P

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is Risen!

"Christ the Lord is risen today. 
Sons of men and angels say. 
Raise your joys and triumphs high.
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply. Alleluia!" 
-Charles Wesley.

It is early. The air is fresh and crisp. Rain has fallen during the night. Everything is green and alive. Yet, Mary Magdalene does not see any of this as she goes to the tomb this morning. She doesn't notice the life of the creation, since the Creator is indeed dead. Nothing matters anymore, since the only One who really did matter is gone. She is going to anoint his dead body with spices. That is, if the guards will even allow her that privilege. She does not weep because all of her tears are gone. She has cried all night. The events of the previous days seem like nightmares, and not real at all. But she knows that they are real. And she knows that Jesus is dead. 
She reaches the tomb. Her heart almost stops beating when she sees that the stone has been rolled away from the entrance. The guards. They must have moved His body. They have even taken that away from us. 
She begins to weep, falling to her knees at the open tomb. Everything has been taken. She feels so alone. The birds do not even stop their glad songs. The flowers keep on blooming. The world keeps on living. And yet, to Mary, life is over.
"Woman, why are you weeping?" She hears the voice behind her. She glances over her shoulder and through her tears, she sees the gardener. Turning away again, she hides her face in her hands. 
"Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
There is a moment of silence. Then the man speaks again. He only says one word. 
And she knows, from His voice, that it is Him.

Easter is the day that life conquered death. "Easter says you can put truth in the grave but it won't stay there." (Clarence W. Hall.) Easter is the day to banish doubts and to instead revel in the surety of God's love for us. 

He is risen! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Evil isn't ever supposed to triumph over good, is it? 
That's one reason why the day of Jesus's death was such a mystifying and awful day.
The disciples are dumb-founded. The Son of God isn't supposed to die. It isn't right. It isn't natural. Has everything that they have founded their lives and faith on just crumbled to the ground?
Have the bad guys just beat the only real good guy? That's not supposed to happen, is it?
Was everything Jesus told them a lie? 

Or have they, instead, just witnessed the most miraculous, breathtaking event in all of history...?

The irony of it: God, becoming man. God, being born in the filthy muck of a stable. God, washing dirty travel-worn feet. God, willingly dying for sinners. God, being mocked, and cursed, and spat on. 
It's not normal. 
The Christian faith, Jesus's life here on earth, God's incredible love for us, the longed-for return; it's all anything but normal. 
It's extraordinary. And that's what we have to always remember no matter how many times we hear the story. 

"The cross was two pieces of dead wood; and a helpless, unresisting Man was nailed to it; yet it was mightier than the world, and triumphed, and will ever triumph over it." (-Augustus William Hare)

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 
And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" 
The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!"
There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews."
One of the criminals railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember when you come into your kingdom." 
And Jesus said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."(Luke 23:32-43)
...Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister...and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Elil, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:45-46)
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst."
A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:28-30)