Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Clothes Make the Man (...or Woman)

My church has put out a new 21-day challenge (a reading plan of 21 days of scripture) through the letters of Paul. Yesterday's verses were from chapter 3 of Colossians and the following verse jumped out at me:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." - Colossians 3:12, NIV

I wrote a bunch in my journal about it and I can't do all my thoughts justice here, but basically I think it's an interesting analogy to consider virtues as clothing for Christ followers. We live in a society in which clothes are often our first impression of people and whether we like it or not, clothing sends snap judgments about other people straight into our brains. (Would you think the woman who cut in front of you at the mall was snobbish if she wasn't dressed in a Gucci ensemble with Prada shoes and a Ferragamo purse? Would you assume the man on a bench at the train station was homeless if he was wearing a Brooks Brothers suit instead of a tattered winter coat?) In Biblical times too I'm sure that clothes also were a sort of statement. Rich people could obviously afford expensive dyes and nicer cloth and religious leaders were probably most recognizable by their dress. So the message is timeless - clothes will tell other people something about you. Thus, if as Christ followers, our first message to the world is that we are covered with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" we're going to more accurately display who God is to those that do not know him. Those attributes should be the first things that others see in us. We must live out and show them, not just think and feel them. Just as we must consciously choose what to wear every morning, we must also consciously choose to wear these virtues in our daily lives.

That's what I'm meditating on today. And as I'm sure you've come to expect, here's the fundraising report for our St. Baldrick's team. Extreme gratitude to everyone contributing. (And if you haven't yet, you can donate online here!) I might sound like a broken record but I really can't say it enough: THANK YOU!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Something Yellow

I bought a bunch of daffodils at the train station on Friday morning as a fundraiser for the American cancer society.* A few started to open during the day and by Saturday morning all ten of them were fully open. I used them as a centerpiece for Easter brunch and I realized that daffodils make me happy. Seriously. I just kept smiling every time I looked at them. So in my random ponderings I came up with a short list of yellow things that make me smile:

1.) Daffodils
2.) Sunshine
3.) Mountain Dew
4.) Big Bird
5.) Tony in a Yellow Shirt

*And speaking of fundraisers for cancer research, it's not too late to donate to The BeeGees for St. Baldrick's Foundation!

Friday, March 21, 2008

St. Baldrick's Update

Getting Closer!
Hoping we can at least hit the halfway mark by the end of the month! (Donate Here) Thanks to all our awesome supporters thus far!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Help Fight Children's Cancer!

Many of you have heard by now about the fundraiser that I've gotten involved in to raise money for Pediatric Cancer Research (a field I've worked in for 5+ years). For those that are not in the loop, let me tell you about the St. Baldrick's Foundation. See like St. Patrick before him, St. Baldrick is an Irish saint but unlike the snakes that St. Patrick chased out of Ireland, St. Baldrick was responsible for ridding the Irish of their hair.... Okay so that's not at all true. St. Baldrick is a fictional character - a portmanteau combining St. Patrick and the word Bald - giving his saintly name to the Foundation that encourages volunteers to shave their heads in solidarity with the children who lose their hair to the harmful treatments for cancer.

Next month, two amazing men - my husband and father - are going under the razor and shaving their heads to raise money for this most noble charity! I am so proud of them and their willingness to make this sacrifice. Thank you so much for those that have already donated to their team (The BeeGees)! We are nearing the halfway point to our fundraising goal and if anyone is interested in contributing to the cause, every little bit helps! (Seriously, even if you can spare $10, $15 or $20 - the contributions really do add up!!) The online donation is really easy and you can click here to help out our team!

Meanwhile I thought I would post a little progress meter so that people can keep track of how close we are to the goal!

Act now to be the honored donor who pushes us over the $700 mark! ;)

Thanks again to everyone supporting us! I am so thankful to have six healthy nieces/nephews but I've seen up close the devastating effects that cancer has on individuals and families - especially when the patients are children. The cure for cancer lies not in harsher treatments but in research and the promise of new therapeutics. It really means a lot to me to have others contribute to this cause and make the statement that they believe in research and the work I do!

Thanks and blessings to all!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

ECON 102

There was a guy sitting in the seat opposite me on the train this morning reading, likely studying, an economics textbook. When the conductor came around to collect tickets, the gentleman pulled out his wallet to find that he only had $5. Tickets are up to four something now but there's a two dollar extra fee for buying on the train versus at the station. Seeing panic in the young man's eyes and annoyance from the conductor, I offered the guy a free ride courtesy of a punch on my ten-ride ticket that I keep in my wallet in case of emergencies.* He thanked me profusely but I replied simply "pay it forward" - the instructions I was given when a similar situation last fall left me in the young man's position with a stranger providing my fare.

But the Econ book did take my memories back to my freshman year of college. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:15-11:45 in the South Rec Room of Allen Hall was my Microeconomics course that, despite the good grade I earned, I positively loathed. Here's where I should probably insert an apology to those that liked Econ or maybe even majored in it: sorry I hate your subject but it's all good 'cause chances are you can't stand biochemistry so we're even. The only thing I can actually claim to have "learned" from Economics is what econ folks will tell you is the most important thing to know about econ: The Law of Supply and Demand. Good thing I learned it, right? Seeing as how it's a "Law" and all. Basically it's a common sense type thing that says as the quantity (supply) of something goes up, the price of that thing (demand) goes down. The place where supply and demand are at an equilibrium is the ideal price. (I like the part where it talks about equilibrium cause that sounds more sciencey.) The whole concept is better explained with a graph - which is why I remember it, it's sort of like a math problem:

That's the part of Econ I could tolerate. It's when everything got all businessy and theoretical that I wanted to puke. Or maybe just snooze. Regardless, I find there are times when I think back about Supply and Demand and how it really does apply to life. Even in terms of God and the church. I don't really think that as a whole, there is a big "demand" for church in this country. We have plenty of "supply" - drive through Wheaton, IL and there's one on every corner, sometimes two or three! But with this surplus of buildings has come a sort of devaluing of the product. Is church worth an investment of time (and maybe even money) to the average American? I somehow think that maybe there's come a perception that the "price" of church is lower than it should be for most people. We take it for granted. It's always there, same as our Target, Meijer and Jewel. And God's around too. Whenever we need him, no big deal. It's everyday, ordinary, it's a surplus of church. And yet... what value should we be giving to the shining bride of Christ? To a beacon of light in darkness? To our city on a hill?

For an instant let's look at the flip side of this scenario and envision an unspecified East Asian country where there are few Christian churches. As soon as the quantity mark moves to the "shortage" area of the supply line, we see an entirely new intersection with "demand" on the graph. Price - or value, if you will - has suddenly skyrocketed! And sure enough, we find believers meeting in secret, missionaries smuggling Bibles, and overall a passion for God that changes lives and in some cases induces martyrdom. If that example is too far off home turf, think back to your home ground in the days following September 11, 2001. In the midst of tragedy, when many people seemed sure that God was far away - in short supply - there was a huge demand for Him. Prayer services were organized. Bibles were opened. Worship houses were packed. People actively sought His presence, healing and comfort because it seemed (quite falsely) that we were not in a state of surplus of His love.

This is where Econ will always fail us. The Law of Supply and Demand will never fit God's character. Economics has no way to accommodate something (aka God) with infinite price and infinite supply of which we will always be in absolute shortage.** There's no such thing as having enough of God. Equilibrium can never be reached. The less you have, the more you need; the more you have, the more you want. That's called Grace and much as I love math, there's not really any way to graph it. It's best displayed by a stranger buying you a train ticket. You say, "Give me your name and address so I can pay you back," but the stranger just smiles and says, "Pay it forward instead."

*There was something just a little ironic in seeing someone reading economics unable to come up with train fare. That's my wicked side sneaking in, sorry!

**This is why I stick with science, physics says that a thing can be in two places at once depending on whether you look at it, that's a little more God-style.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I know, I know....

I really need to blog more.
And I will.
But not now.