Saturday, January 28, 2012

One More Blog Post about Tim Tebow

I can’t begin to make this post fit into my food theme, so I won’t even try.  Included at the end, however, is a recipe just for good measure.

I have now become one more of millions of writers and bloggers talking about Tim Tebow.   For the sake of full disclosure: I don’t have much that is really new to say.  I am only registering my own amazement that I have now become a believer where I have long been skeptical.

I carry a considerable cynicism about sports.  It has become the dominant religion of our culture and I rarely see it leading to productive ends; except, of course, for the millions of dollars produces for a lucky few folks.  Where I once found it enjoyable, the over-zealous following it receives is now off-putting.  Athletics certainly has its good points.  I realize that it can promote teamwork, sportsmanship and discipline.  But that doesn’t mean it always does.  It can also perpetuate an empty competitiveness and even an addiction that is all the worse because it is sanctioned and encouraged by broader society.  I happily – no, proudly – follow very little of it.

When faith does intersect with sports, it tends to be very shallow.  Worse, it is all too often victory-related.  You might imagine, in a world reeling with hurt and hunger, that God really cares which people in which color shirts runs an oddly shaped ball past an arbitrary line the highest number of times.  But then, popular culture offers a faith that is similarly superficial.  We celebrate the outward appearance of it – like Tebow’s kneel that so many love to mimic – then set it aside when we’ve gotten enough good feelings to last us for a bit.  No taking on the challenges of a real life of faith, or digging into the harder questions that arise from real engagement with scripture.

In spite of all this skepticism, I have to say that Tim Tebow has made a believer out of me.  I’m already a Believer of course.  But now I am a believer not just in Tim Tebow, but in at least some the faith-based hype that can exist around the celebrity of sports.

Not long ago, I heard a reporter speculate that some of Tebow’s success comes from his consistent support of his teammates and colleagues.  He is known to offer encouragement to fellow players even when his team is behind.  When so many of the Christians in the spotlight today are known for less than positive behavior, it is nice to hear of one who is described as a genuinely nice guy. 

What is most impressive, though, is Tebow’s outreach to children and adults who are sick or disabled; bringing them to his games, spending time with them, offering them an experience better than probably anything they have known.  For many, it is a dream come true. 

What I find most appealing about Tim Tebow is that he doesn’t seem to buy into his own hype.  His own words describe the relative importance of both the game he plays and the life he lives:

Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn't really matter. I mean, I'll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it's to invest in people's lives, to make a difference."

My skeptical heart has been changed by the things I learn about Tebow.  Though he is human like all of us, he seems to be genuine; real enough in his faith to not only put on a show but to put real time and effort into making a positive difference in the lives of others.  You can do the “Tebow” all you want to, kneeling in prayer, fist to forehead.  But visiting the sick and showing kindness to strangers – seems like Jesus mentioned something about it – let’s mimic that one!

Blessed eating!

Our family loved this recipe.  I bet it would be good on game day, too!

Strawberry Pizza
1 c. flour                      ¼ c. conf. sugar
1 stick melted margarine
Mix well. Pat out in a 14’ pizza pan.  Bake at 350o for 10 minutes.
Cream together:
1  8 oz. cream cheese                         1 can condensed milk
1/3 c. lemon juice
Pour over cooled crust.
1 large pkg. frozen sliced strawberries          4 T. cornstarch
Stir constantly until thick.
Cool and spread over cream layer.
Top with:
Cool Whip
Enjoy!  -  Diane Taylor

Monday, January 23, 2012

The To Do List

Unless the Lord builds the house,
     those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
     the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
     and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
     for he gives sleep to his beloved.

                        Psalm 127:1-2

Whew!  This year has started out in a maddening hurry!  As new years go, this one has been much more demanding than I could possibly have imagined.  It especially comes home to me when I realize with horror that it has been a month since my last post!  I never wanted to go this long without writing. 

There were plenty of ideas in my head about what my first post of 2012 might look like.  I had imagined serenely reflecting on my New Years Eve meal of 7 Can Soup.  (My husband and I, being the parents of young children, have decided to forego the wilder parties for now.)  I had considered writing about the usual January themed topics; goals and resolutions, winter and cold, new beginnings.  All of this fell by the wayside with the insane charge that January has become.

It all began with one very long To Do list.

Now we all know that January is a very busy time on the church calendar.  Just as busy, in fact, as December with our Advent celebrations and our preparing once again for Jesus to be born.  We are now getting ready for Lent which comes quickly on Advent’s heels.  (One might ponder the theological significance of Jesus’ birth and death coming so insanely close together.  What was our Savior thinking!)  We are also busy welcoming those new visitors who come through our doors with their resolutions to get back to church.  We are inaugurating new leaders and working to equip the entire congregation for another year of ministry and mission in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  It doesn’t slow down. 

This year, I was lured into some pretty unhealthy practices; namely overwork.  I labored in the office some very long hours; coming in often before sun up and remaining at the church till well after the dinner hour; tightly scheduling my timeframes for crossing off each item that needed to get done; and, if I was lucky, arranging for time to eat and breathe.  I put all of my energy and my efforts into taming this monster called the To Do List.

It didn’t take long to realize that my over-zealous attempts to get it all done were counter-productive.  Terribly.  My work almost certainly lacked in quality what it made up for in quantity.  I became, to say the least, exhausted.  I was dragging around the office at best, grumpy and paranoid at worst!  I feel certain some of my co-workers were ready to throttle me (though if you were one of them, I’d appreciate your silence).  Most of all, I became blind to the fact that I was allowing no room for actual faith; for the belief that God could and would work through my efforts, even if I only labored for a reasonable, humanly possible number of hours per day.

It is easier than breathing to become so wrapped up with our tasks that we forget the reason we showed up in the first place.  “Mission creep” takes on all kinds of forms, and it is probably at its worst when we think we are burning rocket fuel directly toward that mission.  We forget not only the people God has called us to serve, but the very God who is both the reason for the work and the one who makes it a possibility. 

I had hoped to get “on top of” my To Do list, thinking I could manage it from there.  The myth, I’ve learned, is that such a place even exists.  It is like trying to get on top of a river, or a stampede of horses.  There is no such location.  One cannot be over it, only in it; and there is nothing to grab hold of except for the lifelines of grace.  If I want to keep my balance, I can only hang on and ride. 

The 7 Can Soup marked the end of a peaceful week of rest and the beginning of an important life lesson.  So I share it with you here.  It is easy to make and tastes pretty good.  I hope you enjoy it. 

Blessed eating!

7 Can Soup
1 can chili with beans                              1 can chili, no beans
1 can corn                                                   1 can Rotel
1 can mixed veggies                                  1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce or tomato soup     1 onion, ch.
1 lb. ground meat

Brown meat and onion until done.  Rinse in hot water to remove most of the fat.  Mix all ingredients together in a crock pot and simmer 2-3 hours until onions are done. – Winslow Moore