Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Marty, My Crown

People, seriously, I wanted my blogs to be up and peppy for the year 2008, but I find I'm not in charge of the universe. And not that this can't be an "up" entry, it can. It's just that the word "tumor" is charged with such imminent doom. To catch you up, Marty, my wife, has a benign tumor in her head that needs to be removed. I've been all over the board in my head. My thoughts are like a pinball. This is pretty big doin's, and of course there's risks with every surgery. It's hard not to go to the worst extreme, but I try with all my might not to stay there. I wanted to write today about my bride, my crown. Proverbs 12:4- “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown…” I love the story of when I first laid eyes on her. We were at the beach in Santa Cruz for New Student Orientation, for we were both new students at Bethany College in Scott's Valley. We were doing the bat relay in the sand. You know the game, putting the bat to your forehead while the other end of the bat is on the ground then spinning around 10 times only to have to run back to your team. I had just done my leg of the race. After running back, completely dizzy, and having fell at least once trying to do my part, I was sitting there when I watched Marty run her leg. She was on another team, but I noticed her, probably because her hair was so long, that when she spun around the bat she looked like "Cousin It" from the Addamas Family twirling about. Then she began to run back to her team, but in her dizziness, she instead started veering towards the ocean as her team called out to her, "Marty, this way! This way!" She ran right past me, her eyes squinting and her mouth wide open in laughter. I thought to myself, "What a good sport." I love that that's my first memory of my wife, and I had no idea that good sport would end up saying "I do," to me. It's a great first impression, laughing, willing to look silly, veering toward the ocean, her team cheering her on... That was 18 years ago. Who would have thought...? I can't tell you how grateful I am for my wife. She has been the greatest partner I could have ever asked for. She's my balance, she's my support, she's the precious mother of my children. She has loved me, she has forgiven me, she has listened to me, and lately I've needed a lot of listening to. On April 19, Marty and I will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary and I wouldn't have wanted to spend the last decade plus with anyone else. On May 17 we have a date night planned, and on May 21, she has her surgery. I'll tell you what the word "tumor" means to me right now; It means you hug your kids tighter and you tell your wife you love her more than you ever have. Maybe on May 20, just for kicks and to help keep our heads in this situation, I'll challenge Marty to a bat relay race. Hilar.

Proverbs 18:22- “He who finds a wife finds what is good…”

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

One Sorry Tomato

I read a great book, Me, Myself and Bob, by Phil Vischer, the brilliant mind behind VeggieTales. When I first took note of the talking vegetables in the 90's, I was proud that something so original had come out of the Christian community, and it was so groundbreaking that a few years later, a secular knock-off of our sanctified veggies came out, and failed. Usually, it is the other way around, but not this time. And that was exactly what Phil set out to do, something original and wholesome for kids. Not only could you buy VeggieTales videos in Bible bookstores, but eventually in Target and Wal-Mart as well. I never wondered how the national chain distribution of the videos came about. To me, it was just product that appeared on the shelf as far as I was concerned. Little did the common man know that behind the scenes, and surrounding the release of their first major motion picture, "Jonah," Bob and Larry were about to get pureed. Phil sets you up in the preface of the book. Something's coming and Phil takes you on that ride. Lest I reveal too much more, I'll get to my point. I was on Amazon.com, reading a review by another reader. This person said at the end of the book, Phil apologizes, "but not quite enough." Hmmm. I read the chapter where he apologizes and from my perspective, Phil didn't blame the collapse of Big idea productions on anyone but himself. He felt completely responsible. He writes, "For the record, I'm sorry... I'm really, really sorry." So I beg the question: How many times does someone have to say they're sorry before they are perceived as really being sorry? And how many times does someone have to say they're sorry before being forgiven? We tend to treat forgiveness as merchandise that has to be paid for before it is given, in singles: "One I'm sorry, two I'm sorry's, three I'm sorry's..." Until the proper amount has been forked over. Only then will the possessor of forgiveness give it to the buyer. And is someone required to ask for forgiveness as a pre-requisite for being pardoned? "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times,' " (Matthew 18: 21-22). In this passage, there's not even a mention of someone apologizing for the wrong they've done. There is only mention of forgiveness being given. How many "I'm sorry's" did that reviewer need from Phil? And did that reviewer even work for him and were they directly affected by the demise of Big idea? I'm discovering the freedom there is in not demanding people to apologize before I offer forgiveness. There's even more freedom in not mustering up the feeling of being wronged and expecting the offender to then act in a certain way when we can't control their behavior, as much as we want to, or anybody else's  for the rest of our lives. How many times have I demanded an apology before I forgave someone, the whole while entrapping myself in bitterness because of my formula for forgiving someone. I'm not buying into the "Love Story" philosophy, that love means never having to say you're sorry, because I know I'm going to have to say those words multiple times in my lifetime, but I'll be healthier if I can learn to forgive before someone asks to be forgiven, better yet, if I work on not being unnecessarily offended in the first place.