Thursday, June 27, 2013

…my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5)

            When a cup overflows, it usually means a mess to clean up.
            Twice in less than two weeks, restaurant servers have spilled ice water on me. Cold, but clean. But as a mom, I can remember countless overflowing beverages, and I sopped and I mopped.
            So how can I view this overflowing thing positively? Two modern examples come to mind.
            First, I think of a slot machine in a casino spitting out coins into a cup that quickly fills, spilling the bounty onto the floor. Note:  I have only seen this in TV shows and movies.
            I have experienced my second example many happy times. When I go to Johnson’s Popcorn on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ, they ask, “Do you want the lid on or off?” If I want the lid on, I get less popcorn, because the lid has to close. If I ask for the lid off, I receive a tub of warm, sweet, caramel popcorn heaped over the top and falling out.
            Time out for my favorite statements about cups:

  •     Optimist:  The cup is half full.
  •      Pessimist:  The cup is half empty.
  •      Whiner:  What cup? You got a cup?! Why don’t I ever get a cup!? Waaaaaaa!

    (Okay, I confess:  An alternate spelling of whiner is “R-o-b-e-r-t-a.”)

            David, shepherd, psalm-writer, and king was neither optimist, pessimist, nor whiner—at least not in this psalm. Everything he writes about God in 114 words (NIV) encourages me to pray, asking for the lid off.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Psalm 23, from

Friday, June 21, 2013

Man of (Recycled) Steel

            Superman has been re-imagined one time too many.
            I grew up watching the black and white TV series and reading my brothers’ DC comic books, including Superman, Superboy, and Supergirl.
            In December of 1979, I took my one-month- old son Kyle to the Susquehanna Valley Mall, where we saw Superman starring Christopher Reeve. Well, Kyle mostly nursed and napped, but I enjoyed the movie. I eventually saw all the movies in that incarnation, some on the big screen and some at home.
            In 2006, when Superman returned in Superman Returns (duh), I made a date to see it with Kyle for old time’s sake, and we enjoyed it at the Campus Theater in Lewisburg. This time Kyle stayed awake and ate movie theater snacks.
            Last week my husband thought Man of Steel would be a perfect movie to celebrate our thirty-eighth wedding anniversary. I thought a romantic dinner for two would be more apropos, but my D. H. would have none of it.
            So we bought our senior discount tickets at the Lycoming Mall along with a small bag of overpriced, salty popcorn, and settled into our favorite spot in a sparsely filled theater—which is not a good sign for only the second night of what was supposed to be a blockbuster summer release.
            After watching ten minutes of previews and dozens of subliminal and non-subliminal messages reminding me to turn off my cell phone, the movie began.
            Man of Steel has a plethora of special effects and violence and a paucity of character development. (Look them up; they’re Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop words.) However, Amy Adams turned in a respectable representation of Lois Lane.
            A few years ago when my high school girls and I were reading the Hunger Games trilogy, M. described the third book as “tediously violent.” Man of Steel is, also.
            I kept thinking of going to the restroom, wandering around the lobby, and taking out a small loan to buy Raisinets, but I thought I’d miss something good the minute I left.
            I needn’t have worried.
            The violent, tasteless, and boring destruction of Metropolis dragged on and on. Tasteless because it looked too much like Manhattan on September 11, 2001. Boring because how many buildings do you need to see crumble?
            The opening credits scene of Robin Hood Men in Tights came to mind. As the thatched roofs of the village huts are torched, the villagers shake their fists and yell, “Whenever they make a new Robin Hood movie, they burn down our village. Go away, Mel Brooks!” (or something like that)
            I would have like to have seen the people on the streets of Metropolis shake their fists. “Whenever they make a new Superman movie, they destroy Metropolis. Go away, Zack Snyder!”
            So I’m swearing off Superman movies for the foreseeable future. The next one I attend had better be written, directed, and produced by Mel Brooks.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Happy (early) Father's Day

            As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:13, NIV
           That’s a difficult statement for those of us who had less than healthy relationships with our less than godly fathers. My dad’s slogan was, “Stop crying before I give you something to cry about.” When I was twelve, my parents divorced, due to my father’s long history of infidelity. Although he had unlimited visitation and lived about a half hour away, I only saw my dad a few times a year.
            I thank God for providing me with different images of fatherhood.
            Mr. Roberts, my spiritual father, encouraged my first wobbly steps as a believer, prayed for me, and chauffeured me to any Christian youth event in northern New Jersey.
            My father-in-law was a comical and infuriating grandfather, sneaking chocolate to my son who hadn’t eaten his Easter dinner. My favorite memory of him is how he carried my sons in his arms, serenading them with all the verses of “Pop Goes the Weasel” and “It Is No Secret What God Can Do.” Once he ran half a block in his socks, carrying my oldest to see a train up close.
            My younger brother Tim matured from an entertaining uncle to an involved father, once cooking a double batch of that awful boxed macaroni and cheese that kids love so much, and serving it to his boys and mine.
            My husband Gene sobbed with relief after locating our preschool son, momentarily missing at a boardwalk amusement pier. Early in his fathering career, Gene learned to diagnose ear infections, using his own otoscope to peer into tiny ear canals. Much later, he mastered college financial aid applications. Even with the boys grown, Gene remains the go-to person for health issues and malfunctioning cars.             
            Those are just a few snapshots of good fathering, and I have many more in my album. Thanks to these men, I can better envision the compassion of Father God. 
           Is there a man in your life who has shown you the character of God? Wish him a Happy Father's Day from me.