Grab Bag Monday: Smelly Again

This month I’m switching things up! Today is Grab Bag Monday, and I’m reposting one of my personal favorites from earlier this year. Next Monday you’ll find the monthly review. This week I’ll get to see one of my favorite musicals, and it’ll inspire that review. Have a good week, dear readers.

Which scents do you love?

I’ve been burning a candle this winter called “Alpine Frost.” It’s green and it smells deliciously like pine-covered mountains (big surprise!). The only downside: I want to drop everything and head for the hills each time I fire it up. It draws me in, and not only because I’m a closet pyro.

photo by Nicolas A. Tonelli

photo by Nicolas A. Tonelli

Not only can we enjoy certain aromas around us, but if you’re a Christian (meaning you’ve given your life to Jesus), you are a fragrance. Do you remember this passage, written by Paul in 2 Corinthians 2 (NLT)?

14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.

This unique picture encourages three reminders about carrying the aroma of Christ.

1. It’s powerful. We’ve all noticed good smells. Friends and family laugh when I insist that one of my favorite memories from traveling to England was the heavenly smell of the potatoes there. I’m not kidding. They’re amazing. The aroma of potatoes baking filled one entire little town that we visited before lunch. And all from a small handful of pubs and tea houses.

Scents can be powerful, and so is the Jesus who fills our hearts. Simply by having Christ in us, His powerful presence magnifies His message like an earthquake ricocheting from its epicenter…far and wide. We may feel small, but each step of our feet lands with the might of heaven. The message of Jesus travels farther than we ever imagine, farther than our days take us. His aroma flows through us and beyond.

2. It sticks with a person.  Have you noticed that you still smell like places you’ve been after you’ve left? Sometimes that’s welcome, sometimes it’s not. There’s a chain of convenience stores that fills each town in the region where I live. Spend twenty seconds in one of them, and–no lie–you’ll smell like it the rest of your day. It’s a major commitment to buy a Coke there. That aroma has staying power.

We can affect people the same (but hopefully more pleasant) way. We can share the fragrance of Christ during the briefest of interactions. A kind word, a smile, a door held open…it has staying power. Given more time, people can’t help but take notice that something is different about us. We can point them to Christ more easily than we realize. And it’ll stick with them.

3. Not everyone likes it. Did you notice the u-turn that verse 16a takes? We meander the previous verses like a kid skipping through a lovely flower garden, then…bam! We smell like the grim reaper. “To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom.” What a downer.

But what reality. Not everyone will choose Jesus. Many reject Him. We know this all too well. After someone turns away from the Good News, do you think they want reminders of Him? We Christians come around, and it’s not a pleasant smell to them. We’re like a tuna sandwich left abandoned in a car during a Texas summer day.

But it doesn’t have to send there. We can continue to humbly pester them by showing God’s love, praying that they’ll have a change of heart.

And, as verse 15 shows us, we always smell good to God. And that’s good enough for me.

What do you think? Is it hard or easy to remember that we always “smell like” Jesus wherever we go? Have you ever met someone who didn’t tell you that they were a Christian, but you could sense it in their demeanor?

 

 

 

 

Time Travel: Independence Day, Fred Astaire Style

It’s the tail end of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, so let’s talk Christmas movies!

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Just kidding…a tiny bit, at least.

This last weekend does remind me of one of my favorite Christmas movies, Holiday Inn, which I talked about in this post.

But Holiday Inn covers all holidays, not just Christmas. For Independence Day, Fred Astaire delivers one of his most entertaining performances.

I’ll let you see for yourself in the clip from TCM’s site. Think real firecrackers and jumping feet. My inner pyro gets excited each time I see it.

Keep in mind as you watch that the number took three full days and 80+ takes to get perfect. That helps explain his reaction at the end.

Happy Independence Day!

Watch Fred Astaire’s Firecracker Dance

Moving On

We’re in the middle of a big transition right now. And right now, I hate my stuff. All of it. Well, almost.

Okay, not really. It’s when things multiply in closets over the years that you start to eye those trendy Tiny Homes with new interest.

Do you think the ladies of World War II and the WASP had that issue? Just what did they have to keep up with during their moves?

Let’s take a peek at their living quarters, called bays. By the way, six cadets shared a bay, and two bays–twelve cadets–shared one toilet and one shower.

From the WASP WWII Museum website

From the WASP WWII Museum website

See those white lockers? Each cadet filled half of one. So, imagine your junior high school locker. Now imagine living out of it. Cadets could also have a smallish suitcase or footlocker, but that was it.

Not much to go on, but not much to have to keep up with, either, when living on the go.

It makes me appreciate anew the situations that they and all service people live in.

Grab Bag: It’s Your Turn, Part II

You all inspired me with your responses in this post to where you were in years past. Thanks!

Then I got to thinking about your replies to where you would’ve liked to have been at the turn of the 20th century. (See this post.)

So…let’s have some fun and combine the two.

Where would you have liked to have been in these years/decades? 2005, 1995, 1985… You get the picture. Extra credit? Jump back a century or two. 1815, 1715, etc.

Go crazy! =)

 

Review: Gilbert Morris’ A Bright Tomorrow

Once a month I offer a review– usually fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes movies/TV. Grab your favorite hot beverage (mine’s a mocha), and let’s talk!

Gilbert Morris stands as one of Christian fiction’s most prolific writers. Still going strong in his mid-eighties, he’s given us sweeping family sagas and numerous standalone novels. A Bright Tomorrow, the first in the American Century Series takes the spotlight this month.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 mochas

What it’s about: Rural Arkansas at the turn of the 20th century can’t contain the ambitions of three teenagers. Lylah, Amos, and Owen Stuart lead their large clan as the oldest siblings. Their mother strives valiantly to grow a godly family, but their father’s wandering ways leave the others to shoulder the backbreaking work.

Circumstances draw the three away from the farm to far-flung corners of the country–and the world. Each takes very different paths to find their destinies. Readers lay down roots in New York, storm San Juan Hill in Cuba, infiltrate China, and witness bulging circus tents across the country. And God fills every place with His love and mercy.

You might like this if you like: Family sagas, turn-of-the-century history

What I’ve liked: Gilbert Morris excels at conjuring vivid characters. Each is not simply sketched; they’re painted in striking detail. Speaking of details, Morris does his historical homework, assuring his readers of an accurate read.

I’m not crazy about: This is merely nit-picky. However, the writing style in this story uses conventions that were more common to the earlier days of Christian fiction. For example, “head hopping” (hearing the thoughts of more than one character within one scene) is a common occurrence. Having said that, as a writer myself I’d take Morris’ track record any day–minor infractions or not.

The bottom line: The first in this series, A Bright Tomorrow sets up the saga well, and I look forward to following the Stuart family for fictional years to come.

What about you? If you had lived at the turn of the 20th century, what historical event or person would you have wanted to see in person?