Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shooting guns and other fun girl stuff...

This week I spent a day shooting guns.

Anyone who knows me really well will probably be shocked that I wanted to do this sort of thing. I am a girly girl. I like makeup and clothes and fashion ideas. My favorite magazine is In Style and I love to pour through it to get new ideas in how to improve my face.

You might be wondering what brought about such a change of personality or desire. Well, I'm writing a book and it involves my character knowing a lot about guns. When I asked Josh if maybe he and his friend, Robert Milton, could show me how to shoot a gun or at least let me watch he jumped on it. So on Wednesday the three of us traipsed up to Butte Falls with an M4, Beretta 9mm, Pistol 1911, a shotgun with hand grip and pump action, Josh's .22, Smith and Wesson airweight .38 special and 2 rifles, one of them was a sniper, the other resembled an AK 47, but I don't think that was the technical name for it.

Robert shot the M4 first, I wanted to watch him do it, and I was little nervous to be honest. He emptied the first round into a target sitting precariously against piece of wood. The kick kind of scared me, I don't like bruises. Then he reloaded and handed it to me, showing me the safety and how to aim using the red laser dot at the end of the scope. I didn't want to look too silly or fearful so I handled the gun like he said, resting the end into my left shoulder (I'm left handed), aimed and shot at the target.


The silence shattered as the shots echoed against mountains and trees. I stood there with this amazing weapon butted into my shoulder, gunsmoke filling the air, and rocked the power behind my forefinger. I looked at Josh and Robert and yelled (we wore earprotection so we all yelled) surprisingly (I surprised myself), "I love this gun!"

Josh and Robert started laughing and I went back to emptying the round like Robert had done. I was hooked. I shot a round with each gun, even the shot gun. I learned how to bum shoot with them as well, that was really fun. I learned the smallest gun I thought would be the easiest turned out the most difficult to aim and fire. The kick was intense on that little .38 special. I understood for the first time how a gun could be described as beautiful, the smell of spent bullets could be described as actually quite pleasant, and how big a relatively small slug can look, especially if you imagined being shot by one.

I stood transfixed by these two guys, watching them shoot up pop cans (because in Butte Falls that's what makes up most of the targets) and for the first time I understood the mystery of why guys like to shoot things.

There is a feeling of power in a gun. There is a feeling of being in control, using the gun to shoot wild game, bringing food home for the family, protecting your children and wife from intruders. I think this is what sane men desire for thier lives, a sense of control. I'm not talking about the mental cases that shoot up retirement homes, mountain retreats, or schools. There are always people out there that will take something meant for good, productive use and use it for evil deeds.

What I'm talking about are the good guys that have been raised to hunt with their dad, uncles, and grandpas in order to feed the family and share some good camaraderie as they sit around the campfire. I'm talking about the men (and women too) in the service who use weapons to protect those they love back at home.

That day I learned why guys like to shoot guns. I also learned the value of entering into something my husband truly enjoys and sharing it with him. When we dated I pretended to like all kinds of things just so I could be with him while he did it. Somewhere in eleven years of having babies and paying bills I forgot what it was like to spend an afternoon doing something he really liked. There was a friendship and intimacy shared between us in that open field with a bunch of guns that I hadn't shared with him in a long time. It was an intimacy involving us standing side by side without a word, shooting guns and simply sharing a brief three hours together.

Its funny, I went up to shoot a gun for research on a book and I came back with so much more than I expected. You don't have to shoot a gun in order to enjoy your spouse, but sometimes doing something you didn't think you'd like turns into a hobby you couldn't imagine your life without, even if you're only doing it for the one you love.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A little more about The Shack...

I feel I need to say a couple of things on this book. I am loving the topics that are being addressed, however, I am not reading this instead of the Bible. This book is a theodicy (a defense of how God can still be God and yet temporarily tolerate evil in this world) and should be read as that but not in place of the real thing, the words Jesus spoke about Himself, His Father and the Holy Spirit. The words I have been challenged by aren't ones that contradict what Jesus says in the gospels. What I have loved about this book is the subject of how much God does love us and desires to have a relationship with us and that He works outside of "the box" we so often put Him in.

This book is written by a man and, lets face it, humans can't fully understand God because He is too big and too smart for us. What we can receive from this book is that God works even in the traumatic evil of this world. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater--There are some really good thoughts and heartfelt encouragement in the chapters--just don't take your theology from it by always imagining God as an Aunt Jemima character or the Holy Spirit as a small Asian woman. The author's point of writing this book was not to show the trinity, but to show us how much God loves us even in the confusing and gut-wrenching pain we experience in life. If you read it in this light you won't get tripped up on other issues and if you really have issues with it you are always welcome to stop reading it. It just might not be the book for you at this time. I better get going...Blessings to you all.

PS You are welcome to comment or ask a question if you have concerning this book...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Thoughts on The Shack...

I find it interesting how that there are few fence-sitters when it comes to this infamous book. People are either hot or cold on the subject of The Shack. I was one of the cold people on this subject. I resented it and had no desire to read it's contents. It was only when I was in a situation in my life that I had nothing to go on, no how-to manual on dealing with a particular crisis in my life that this book was dropped in my lap. In the last three weeks of reading I have been challenged and encouraged by the heartbreakingly honest words of Mack as well as the encouragement from Jesus.

I have had so many "aha!" moments through each chapter as Mack talked with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu (the Holy Spirit). I have highlighted so many lines throughout each chapter because in one way or another I was challenged in my own heart about things I didn't think I thought. I found my self indentifying with this man.

Mack is any man, woman, or child that has experienced something difficult in life. He is the devastated parent after a death of a beloved child, an exhausted woman who knows the right answers but can't see her relationship with God anymore, and the child who finds herself devastated in a way he/she never could imagine.

This book is not for those who have never been hurt. It's not for those who don't want to be challenged in their belief of how personally connected God is to his children . This book is written for those who have experience such an immense trauma that their life has been rocked upside down and they have no idea where to turn and wonders if God sees them where they are at in life.

Last week the sentence that grabbed my eyes and gripped my thoughts was at the end of chapter 8. Mack and Papa are having a somewhat heated discussion and Mack says, "One last comment...I just can't imagine any final outcome that would justify all this." [I fill in my own heartbreak in "all this"]
"Mackenzie." Papa rose out of her chair and walked around the table to give him a big squeeze. "We're not justifying it. We are redeeming it."

I will end on that note for tonight. I'll write more on chapter nine later when I have untangled some of the mess in my mind and have allowed the Lord to talk me through some of these things that have been planted in my heart.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Elliptical Ponderings

Sweat trickled down the middle of my back. My shirt stuck to my less-than-firm tummy and the under wire of my bra. Beads of perspiration made a road map of my face and any remnants of makeup were erased. Leg muscles burned as I pushed myself harder in the quest of a shapelier shape. Five minutes on the stair stepper, five minutes on the stationary bike, five minutes on the elliptical machine, and repeat. After this I start working on the cable machine and core exercises during which I punish my body for last night’s Snickers bar. This is what I do every Tuesday and Thursday; even Saturdays if I get the chance. Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays are my ‘slow’ days in which I only do an hour of cardio and fifteen minutes of core movements.
Looking at this schedule you might think I’m a cover model for a fitness magazine, but I assure you I’m not. I’m a wife and mother of four children for the past eleven years. I managed to cram all four pregnancies within five years and if you do the math you’ll see I’ve spent half of my married life having babies. A person might think I have wasted my twenties doing nothing but have babies and gain more than sixty pounds, but I don’t feel that way. My only regret was not eating healthfully over the last decade. I am now a thirty-two-year old mother that just desperately wants to get back into her size six jeans she used to wear in college. I probably won’t wear them in public but I just want to say I can wear them again.
It is that thought that drives me to the gym at five o’clock in the morning or seven o’clock in the evening. It is the encouragement from my fellow gym rats that keeps my exhausted legs pumping on a bike that goes nowhere and offers no scenery but the woman walking in front of me on a treadmill. It’s the hope of a life beyond size eighteen pants and shopping in little boutiques instead of plus-sized chain stores for curvy women like me. But what started as a goal to lose weight has quickly turned into something a little more than I bargained for.
I never thought about the friendships I would make at the gym. I now know every girl who works behind the desk between four and nine in the morning. I am well acquainted with the personal trainer that put me on this diabolical workout plan and whenever he sees me at the gym we talk about his kids and wife or how much I’m suffering during my hour and a half workout as he smiles sinisterly. The same people come every morning and we all wave or nod a silent hello to one another as we choose our preferred method of torture.
There’s an older man with a nice smile but whose name I don’t know, that changes the television channel to CMT because he knows I like watching it. Another woman with bleached blond hair and a body that I would kill for works out on the elliptical machine next to me. She cracks me up every morning as she complains about cardio machines because she gets bored with it but needs it because she claims she has some fat on her that I have yet to see. I smile because I have no idea what to say since I see no fat peeking between her sports bra and spandex yoga pants. But I like her and her excessive bubbliness because she comments on how hard I’ve been working and swears I’ve lost weight even though the scale begs to differ. But I don’t tell her that. I just say ‘thank you’ as she takes off on another conversation with the nice man she comes in with every morning.
There’s another couple that doesn’t say anything to anyone but a few people. He is tall, muscular and formidable looking. His companion is pretty, shapely in all the right places and about as tall as he is. Another young woman comes over and talks with them and she is nearly perfect in every way. I comfort myself with the hopes this woman has probably never had children which is why her waist is maybe a size two and the implants are the reason her boobs are the right size and not sagging. I hope it’s not genetics because that would be unfair. I haven’t had the guts to make small talk with any of them yet. They remind me too much of high school, the jocks and the cheerleaders that made fun of me every chance they got.
The truth is that is the reason I didn’t want a gym membership at first. I was afraid that it would be filled with the Ken and Barbies of the world. I reverted back to the fears and trepidations of high school locker rooms. I had been the brunt of too many mean words and rude jokes to even attend my ten year reunion much less subject myself to the grown-up versions in the local gym.
What I didn’t account for were the nice, normal people I have met. Now we actually talk for a few minutes instead of the casual nod. I know some of their names and routines. I look forward to seeing them first thing in the morning. Their smiles and encouragement wake me up better than a hot cup of coffee. We are all there for different things: getting in shape, talking with friends, hobnobbing with each other; the same people at the same time on the same days. Kind of like a bar, only without drunk people and we have more energy due to the serotonin high. There’s camaraderie between us that I never counted on as we rub elbows and sweat together under the same roof.
This last week my family and I went out of town on vacation and I have to admit it was nice to get away from the gym at first. But as the days wound down and we prepared to leave for home I was surprised at how excited I was to workout with my friends again. I wondered if “Miss Perky’s” son has come home from the fire he was fighting a state away. I looked forward to seeing the desk girl again and asking how her vacation was. I thought of the older gentleman that always teases me and reminds me of my Papa when he was healthy.
Tomorrow is Tuesday and I’ll be back on my stair stepper/bike/elliptical program again, feeling very much like a hamster on a wheel. But I don’t dread the pain or ponder the future hope of fitting twelve-year-old jeans, I just think about seeing my friends, whose names I don’t remember but whose faces I think of fondly.