Friday, April 20, 2012

Checked Your Oil Lately?

Last week while the munchkins were in preschool, I decided to get my van's
oil changed. To say that it was overdue would be an understatement. My 
dear husband had been intending to change it himself, but since weeks and
weeks, or maybe months had gone by, I decided it was time. I gave my other
half a courtesy call, and he agreed. I pulled up to a local garage and informed
the gentleman who came to my window that my oil change was sadly overdue.
I'm sure I gave him a, "please don't judge me," look. I warned him again, "It's 
been a long time." He smiled politely and asked me to leave my keys in the 
car and have a seat inside. 

After a few minutes of perusing children's magazines in the waiting room he 
came in and asked if the car had been serviced since their last record... in 
July (mind you this is now April the following year). I sheepishly shook my 
head and got ready for the bad news. I was informed that not one drop of oil 
came out of my van's engine. Not one drop. I knew it wouldn't be great, but I 
didn't expect it to be that bad. He assessed my driving habits quickly, stating 
that I probably mostly drove short distances around town, but had I taken a 
longer drive, I would've noticed problems. He was surprised the poor thing 
was still chugging along, and I wouldn't have made it one more week for sure.
The only thing that had really saved me was the high mileage oil used last
time. That, I thought, and some divine protection from above.

Now what to do about it. He said he couldn't just put more oil in and that my
van needed and engine flush. I verified with my husband that it was okay,
and my van received a flush, new high mileage oil, and new wiper blades 
(part of a combo deal). He was gracious enough to give me a few discounts
on all the services and reminded me before I pulled away that they'll check
my oil and fluid levels for me in between oil changes and top off for free. 
I assured him I'd remember that and never neglect my van so bad again.

I learned from this experience. Don't assume that because your car still
drives, all is well. God also showed me a spiritual lesson. A while back
my pastor compared maintaining your car's oil to our spiritual lives. This 
incident reminded me of that sermon. If I coast along in life ignoring 
potential problems, assuming I'm okay, not receiving fresh "oil" from 
God's Word (the Bible) on a daily basis, I could literally be on the verge 
of breaking down at any moment. I don't want to live my life with an empty 
oil tank. I want to be full of God's love, patience, grace, and gentleness. 
I can only do that by "abiding" in Him as He states in John 15:4.

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless
it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me." English 
Standard Version

Friday, April 6, 2012

Verity or Apparition?

5 a.m. the other morning I was in the middle of an active REM cycle. My
subconscious was deeply ensconced in a dream about a Christmas 
play I had written. Even though I had written this play (not something I've
done in the lucid world), I only had one speaking line, and it escaped
me! There I stood, bewildered and flustered, behind back stage doors
about to go on with no clue what I was suppose to do or say. Finally a 
cast member handed me a script and all was well, or so I thought. 

This dream took a turn for the worst when I glanced down and spied
a gigantic spider on my left hand. I screamed and tried to brush it off,
but to no avail. The hair-raising arachnid clung to my fingers as though
its life depended on it. 

The next instant I was awake. In the dim light cast by my charging cell
phone, I noticed a familiar eight-legged creature. It scurried across my
left hand, my husband's pillow, and over the edge of the mattress at the
head of the bed. I felt frozen but heard myself saying, "Big spider, big
spider, big spider!" 

Jason sprang to action and used the flashlight app on his cell phone 
to begin the search. After a few breathless seconds there was no sign
of it. I turned on the lamp for better visualization. Jason pulled up the
mattress and looked under the bed. No spider. 

No spider, the words repeated in my foggy brain. Had there been an
actual spider, or was it remnants of my dream... real or imagined?
This dilemma was more disturbing to me. Jason decided to get
ready for work. I had a good hour before my alarm would go off, 
but there was no way I would put my head back where it had been.
Instead I plopped my pillow at the foot of my bed and curled up in 
a fetal position, not even my toes would fall victim to the potential
antagonist. Despite my fear of creepy-crawly creatures, I quickly fell 
back asleep.

Now, two days later, I'm still bothered by the question. Was the spider 
real or imagined? Last night I slept with my head a couple of feet away
from the head of the bed. I'd be inclined to believe it had been imagined
except that the spider I saw looked entirely different than the one in my 
dream. I think that night I prayed that the Lord would strike the thing dead
in its tracks. Whether or not He would do that, I'm not sure, but it doesn't 
hurt to ask. 

Some may chuckle at my reaction to this experience, and that's okay. 
We all have our quirks, weaknesses, or irrational fears. I feel I may 
have more than the average person, but self-awareness is a good 
thing, right? What do you think? Was spider real? Should I sleep
with one eye open? Should I chill and forget about it?