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50 Shades vs 50 Reasons

Typically this is the weekend when you can count on an overpriced dinner and safe, if not cheesy, romantic comedy, but what Hollywood has released this Valentine’s Day is far from safe.

Social media and the blogosphere are full of “50 reasons not to see 50 Shades of Gray” articles so I’m not going pile on with another list of reasons we should avoid it when those reasons should already be obvious to any believer or morally conscious individual.

But one thing I haven’t heard much about is the irony of this type of movie opening on this particular weekend.  We all know 50 Shades was strategically placed over the weekend we set aside to celebrate love and romance.  But what the movie is supposed to portray and what Valentines is supposed to represent aren’t in the same universe.  It’s like marketing a slasher film as a Christmas movie just because the story takes place in December.   Despite that no one seems to see this valentine’s release date as anything but normal which may be an indication of just how distorted our ideas of love and romance have become.

So how are we to respond?  Instead of wasting time with the obvious (i.e. this movie is bad and I refuse see it!) let’s find ways to give a more accurate and higher view of love and romance than what 50 Shades is presenting. So instead of “50 reasons I’m Angry”  Here are “50 Reasons I Love My Wife”  Happy Valentines Day, Lesley!

  1. She is the funniest person I know.
  2. Blue eyes that you get… lost…in…
  3. There are no cheap laughs, she makes you earn it
  4. But when she laughs it’s still the best sound ever.
  5. The girl can flat cook.
  6. Her superpower is speed reading.
  7. She doesn’t tell me every sermon was good
  8. Sweet Tea
  9. People like me because of her.
  10. She is always up to try a new restaurant.
  11. She has no tolerance for drama
  12. Classic rock turned up loud.
  13. She speaks my love language: Sarcasm
  14. I get to try two entrées at every restaurant because I get what’s left on her plate.
  15. Inside jokes from 20+ years of history
  16. She listens to NPR with me.
  17. She knows more about my relatives than I do.
  18. We still hold hands.
  19. She is willing to go wherever God leads us.
  20. She loves our church well.
  21. When she gets embarrassed he eyes tear up, which leads to more embarrassment…
  22. She gives good advice and has good ideas.
  23. One liners I can rip off and use in my sermons.
  24. Always Classy, but with a hint of redneck.
  25. Peas and Cornbread
  26. What I say to Lesley stays with Lesley
  27. She could be a professional napper.
  28. Dessert is never a question.
  29. Conversation is easy…
  30. …but silence isn’t awkward.
  31. She plays the piano.
  32. She likes to travel as much as I do.
  33. We love to wander through the same stores.
  34. Low maintenance beauty.
  35. Her chocolate chip cookies
  36. Her commitment to study God’s word…
  37. And her calling to lead others to do the same.
  38. Her willingness to make sacrifices for her family
  39. She talks to me through Pinterest
  40. Hot tea w/ plenty of sugar & a splash of milk every morning
  41. Guys/Girls Night Out are fun, but we both prefer Date Night
  42. She never brings up my past mistakes.
  43. When she looks me in the eye and says “I like you.”
  44. She has always been smart, but I am watching her become wise.
  45. She believes in me.
  46. She knows me, and she still loves me.
  47. Her inner child is very much alive and a lot of fun.
  48. She still flirts with me.
  49. When she answers the phone and is excited it me.
  50. She is more beautiful today than the day we met.
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Well, It Was Nice Noing You. Bye.

Yesterday my Mom adopted a kitten and seeing the  pictures of her new cat reminded me about this post I wrote after Chloe, our first pet, made the journey to the great scratching post in the sky. Enjoy.

In Luke 9 Jesus told a prospective follower to “Let the dead bury their own dead…” That’s good advice if you choose to listen… I didn’t.

As you may (or may not) know we recently had to say good bye to Chloe the cat. When I took Chloe to the vet for the last time I had every intention of saying goodbye and leaving her there for the vet to dispose of the remains. But as I stood next to her on the examination table I began to think back over the last 15 years.

Chloe was the first pet Lesley and I had together. We bought her from a mall pet store a year after we got married. The pet store clerk told us that the kitten was a female. So we named her Chloe, took her home, and loved her from the start. It was only a few weeks later during a visit to the vet that we learned “she” was actually a “he”. But by that time we were so used to calling the cat Chloe and referring to it as “she” that we decided the best course of action was to make the whole question of gender irrelevant. Snip.

The only cat I had ever really known was a fat, black stray that my family had adopted when I was in junior high. “Fatboy” as we called him was your stereotypical cat. Haughty and distant, with a mean streak that caused you to tread carefully when you walked barefoot through the house.

But Chloe was different. (I know…that’s what they all say. But it was true.) She was actually loving and sweet. Not everyone is a big fan of cats, but I think Chloe could sense a “cat hater” and instead of avoiding them she seemed to make it her mission to change their mind about her species. And, over time, she actually won a few people over.

She was big and she was loud. I can’t tell you how many times the voice on the other end of the line would ask “Oh, is that your baby crying?” “No, it’s just my cat.” Standing there stroking her fur I thought back to all the times she had annoyed us and entertained us, and all the times we pretended to be annoyed but were really entertained.

In the end I couldn’t leave her there. I had to take her home one last time and bury her in the back yard like my dad did when we put our dog to sleep when I was a boy. So I carried Chloe home in her cardboard coffin.

That evening after dinner I surveyed the back yard, carefully trying hard to avoid the areas with cables, pipes, and dense networks of roots. After settling on a spot I drove the shovel deep and turned over load of dirt. This continued for some time until I heard the distinct “CLICK” of metal colliding with plastic. Carefully I moved the dirt aside and nestled there in dark brown dirt was the unmistakable white of pvc pipe. Heavy sigh.

With much of the hole already dug I decided to take advantage of the sweat that was falling from my nose and the blisters forming on my palms, and move the hole just a little to the left away from the pipe. The digging began again. With every shovel full of dirt the hole was getting deeper and the pile of dirt was getting higher. Not much longer now.

Then, after removing a scoop of dirt, the glint of copper caught my eye as a dozen colored wires sprang from the earth. Oh no. “Lesley! Check the phone!”

I abandoned that hole and decided to try another location.

The digging began again and progress came quickly as I sliced through the dirt. Be then, for some reason, the dirt refuse to yield as easily as it had done. The blade didn’t dive as deep has it had before and I saw why. I had struck clay. Dense, thick, impenetrable clay. The digging slowed to a crawl as I began to chip out the hole a half inch at a time. Looking over at the white box on the ground I was beginning to have second thoughts about my decision. As regret began to form I again heard the familiar “CLICK” of metal and plastic greeting each other. You have got to be kidding me.

Nope, like a star in the nighttime sky there was another white pipe laying in the dirt.

I looked over at the white box…Doesn’t the trash run tomorrow?

To take advantage of the effort I had already put in (not to mention my current state of dehydration) I, once again, shifted the hole slightly and began to dig. One side of the grave would run along the white pipes I had just unearthed. Over and over again I drove the edge of the shovel into the packed clay and broken up the bottom of the hole making slow progress just a layer at a time. By this time daylight was quickly surrendering to the dark and I was running out of time. I picked up the pace stabbing the shovel in to the clay over and over and over.

Almost done. Just a few more…”CLICK”. My stomach sank as I pulled the blade of the shovel out the plastic pipe and water began to drain into the bottom of the hole.

I looked at Buster, our elderly Beagle, who was standing there watching. “Sorry buddy, but I’m not doing this again.”

After two holes, a pipe, a cable, three blisters, and a trip to Lowes; Chloe the cat was laid to rest. We stood around the hole and said goodbye one last time. Elle asked questions, Lesley cried, I wanted to, and Jake wrote a letter.

“Dear Chloe,
You were a nice pet I loved. But now it’s time to say good bye. I liked the way you snuggled with us. I promise to keep the cowboy blanket forever cause that was your favorite. I liked the way your whiskers tickled us. I also liked that you would chase our hands. Well, it was nice noing (knowing) you, bye.

Jake

Amen.

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