This week we met Jack's family - his brother Graem, "who pulled the strings in last spring's plot by President Logan" (Gary Levin, USA Today). That was quite a surprise. Then there is Jack's father Philip,and former girlfriend Maryland, now Graem's wife. Graem and Maryland have a son...Josh....or is he Jack's?
'24' is not only off to an intense, suspenseful start, it holds the promise of exploring Jack's background. Which I find intriguing.
All of us are shaped by our environment. The good, bad and ugly of it molds and shapes our thoughts, words and actions. Some good and some not so good.
It is kind of like the nature or nurture question. Some of who we are is by nature - our genetic predisposition toward certain traits. But nurture, or perhaps a better word would be shaping, explains the rest and possibly most.
What results is our response to nature and shaping. At some point we can look at how we are shaped and respond by embracing what we like and minimizing the negative aspects of what we dislike.
Future episodes will bring more insight into Jack's background and possibly explain more of his personality, fierce loyalty, and willingness to sacrifice for a cause. Is it because of or in spite of his family?
"It’s not a good decision, it’s not a bad decision. It’s our only option. One man’s life for the rest of us."
Sound familiar? If you didn’t know better you might think that was God contemplating what to do about a world that turned away from him when actually it was a conversation about Jack Bauer during the premiere of the hit series “24”.
My husband and I waited eagerly for the premiere last night and we weren't disappointed. Chloe still scowls and Jack is positioned to save the country. Again.
I casually mentioned to my husband that Jack Bauer is what women want in a man -- handsome, strong, protects those around him, takes risks. All right - so he kills a few too many people in the process.
Bauer had been held hostage for two years by the Chinese. His release was arranged by President Wayne Thompson in exchange for knowledge about a suspected terrorist.
Jack knew his life was being sacrified, “I survived 2 years in a Chinese prison because I didn’t want to die for nothing. I know what’s expect of me and I’m prepared.”
In the first twenty minutes there are so many redemption messages I lost count.
We want and need heroes. We want and need to be heroes.
Listening to President Bush last night one message I heard was that we've made mistakes - we're shifting our plan of attack - and we will persevere. Those might not be the exact words but I think it was the intent. And I am not an expert on strategy or politics so I make no claim about that.
What I did hear - and liked - was admitting to mistakes and changing strategy. Our work in Iraq to date is not failure - we need to adjust our strategy to accomodate circumstances as they are now.
It takes boldness and strength of character to shift gears. And the more public the gear shifting - the more courage it takes.
For someone (me) who lived in what might be considered a "failing" church environment I can state with much confidence - I didn't fail! The church didn't fail! We made changes to accomodate new circumstances.
Kingdom work - like war - requires never ending evaluation, analysis and strategy adjustments. Some of the Kingdom work I have been involved in required me to set aside my personal agenda - my personal desire for "success" and do what is best for the Kingdom. I had to sacrifice "what will people think" for the greater good. In the last couple of years Desert Crossroads brought a lot of glory to God. It's final chapter may have been it's greatest testimony to God's work being done - not man's.
Today I started a new project - painting. Not walls this time! Artwork. I never knew I had this artistic bent in me until a few years ago when I started quilting. Something happens when I'm engrossed in a project - I just get lost there.
My project today involved painting artwork for my kitchen (the walls of which I will be painting in a few days...) and I selected a coffee theme for my artwork. Not a big surprise there....somewhere in the room will be the words "Sacred Grounds".
I came across an image found during a Google search of a coffee cup with newsprint. This sort of sums me up right now. If I'm not writing, or doing a project, I'm reading. And if I'm doing either I am generally drinking coffee.
I sort of miss my weekly column in The Kingman Daily Miner (Kingman, AZ) - consequently, this blog - and I intend to make some sort of "newsprint coffee mug" of my own. I will use an old column, of course - sort of a nice image, if you ask me!
As for the other coffee themed artwork - I'll post some photos when they are complete. Hmmmm.....now that I think about it I could allow you to consign a signed original for yourself. For a fee. I am out of work, you know.
So at church today the speaker talked about what it means to accept Jesus. Not much surprise there - it should be somewhere on the agenda every Sunday. But this particular speaker - Glen somebody - from Impact World Tour (www.impactworldtour.com) - said that to accept Jesus is when I lay my life down "so he can live through me".
I know that - I've preached it before! Today I heard it in a bigger way. When I lay my life down so Jesus can live through me -- that means it's not my life anymore! It's a "wholehearted surrender" to God. I want to surrender to God - I think I already have. Somehow this struck me...
Going through my mind was Romans 12:1 "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering." (The Message). That's the Apostle Paul telling us following Jesus is in the details.
When Jesus gave his life for us - when he died on the cross - that was so we could live in eternity -forever - with him.
When I surrender - when you surrender - we are giving up our claims on our life now so Jesus can live in us - today. In the details. What I do; where I go; the way I think, talk, and shop. Not for me but for him.
The speaker, Glen, said there is a battle going on - at the same time the "light is getting brighter, the dark is getting darker." And the battle - "some are engaged in it and some look on".
If you are anything like me we often look for things outside of us to render change. If we choose the right politicians and judges, truth and justice will prevail and the light will increase. Someone "out there" will fix our problems if we just find the right someone.
But it's the details - the details we engage in every day that make the difference. Surrender is sounding much bigger all of a sudden.
I tend not to like women's events. Particularly Christian women's events. My opinion -they aren't particuarly well done, presentation is tacky and the food is generally poor. It conveys to me that since it's "Christian women" quality isn't an issue. I'm generally embarrassed by what happens. Which poses quite a dilema for me since I like women's ministry!
The Arizona Free Methodist world and Emmanuel Pines Camp get it right. Over the top right!
So you're wondering where I'm going with all this....
It had been a long time since I had a good laugh. A long time since I felt relaxed to just let go. And it was time for women's retreat. Great. But since I had to go I figured I would get as many of my buddies there with me. Retreat officially started Friday night but I arrived Thursday night to hang out with Christine and catch up on our friendship. It was blessed relief. Friday morning I met with another good friend - Jacquie. I thought -- it doesn't get much better than this. God knew what I needed and he met that need!
Friday afternoon Aimee & Linda arrive on the scene. We lunched and shopped and got settled into our dorm room at camp. We giggled. Linda very graciously did hair. Aimee's, Janelle's, Jeana's. We giggled some more - most of the night, in fact. (my apologies to the room next door - we did hear you knock on the wall - thus we moved our room the next morning).
Saturday was just as delightful - and giggle-filled.
Those of you who know me probably never thought I would be called a "gigglebox" - but it's true. Deep inside - it's there.
And I attribute it to God meeting and exceeding my needs. It had been years - maybe never - since I giggled. And even writing this some months later I smile. I tear up too because I miss all of you so much.
And in case you're wondering about the picture next to mine -- it is my fellow gigglebox - Aimme. Find out more about her at amioutthere.blogspot.com
Today I took care of lots of details that go into keeping new year's goals...phone calls, updating my resume, graduate program application, running, praying, reading. Then for year end "housekeeping". Updating check books, gathering receipts and best of all -- giving the pile to Wes to deal with come tax time.
Then on to wallpaper removal. Removing wallpaper gets me to thinking and that got me to listening to Johnny Cash "Live at Montreux 1994".
Some of you probably find it odd that Johnny Cash is on my "favorite music" list. It's true. I think it started this past March when I went on a personal retreat. I know it doesn't sound very spiritual but the first night away I watched "Walk the Line". The rest of the retreat led to many of the changes we undertook in 2006 - but back to the story.
I didn't listen much more to Cash until October. Back in Ohio, with two of our best friends - Chuck and Sue - we watched "Walk the Line" at our weekly dinner and movie night (We alternate turns fixing dinner and bringing dessert. A highlight in my week.)
The following week I happened upon "Live at Montreux 1994" a Johnny Cash DVD - I couldn't resist. We watched every second of it at our next gathering and I've been listening since.
There's something about the music - about sin and redemption. Strikes some chord in me. There's pain and hope and humor. I wonder if the "man in black" ever experienced the fullness of redemption. He said "My music is dark, sort of like my closet when you open it. Like me - if you look inside - it's dark." All of us are, without God. And Cash sang and spoke of Jesus and redemption and that without it - he would be lost. So I know he knew. I hope he didn't die thinking he was still dark inside.
This time of year many of us are doing some sort of planning for the year ahead -- I know I am. Thinking about what I need to have happen, what I would like to see happen and want I WANT to have happen. And a little planning goes a long way toward making that happen.
This year I'm a bit more determined than usual. Why? Because 2006 ranks up there as having been one of the saddest and most challenging years. Notice I didn't say worst? It can't be all bad if I'm learning and growing through it. And I refuse to go into survival mode -- just waiting - wishing it would change.
That's why I want to set goals - not make resolutions. Most resolutions are broken by the 3rd week of January never to be resurrected. And that's not going to do me (or you) any good. So I'm taking some time to think and dream and plan and talk to God about what's going on - how I am doing - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually...am I where I ought to be? Are there areas where I am just getting by - just surviving?
That's where I'll be spending the next couple of days - some quiet time - reflecting, talking - reading - praying. Making sure I have a plan to go from simply getting by to actually living.
How about you? Do you set goals? Make resolutions? Do you think - really think - about whether you are getting by or really living?