Thursday, April 22, 2010

Trash Talk

Since today is Earth Day and all I thought it would be a good time to tell you about our family and recycling. A while back my neighborhood stopped paying the private recycling service that was coming through our area picking up those little blue bins. I think we are getting the City to provide us with that service sometime soon. But it doesn't really bother me that much that we don't use the blue bins anymore because I was skeptical of how well that was working anyway.

Ever since we have started doing our own recycling, our family of five probably only throws out about two to three bags of trash a week. I'm not exaggerating. That's the truth and you can come look in my giant trash bin if you don't believe me.

Instead, outside we have in place five plastic containers labeled: Cardboard, Paper, Plastic 1&2, Plastic - Other, and the last one isn't labeled as it doesn't have a lid. It's our old blue bin and we use it for glass and aluminum.

We're pretty much recycling Ninjas.

Once a week or thereabouts we -- and by "we" I mean Mike -- take the bins to the local recycling center about two miles from our home. Since they are presorted he just dumps them into the proper bins and then we start all over again.

We feel pretty good about the difference we are making, and I have wondered what kinds of things our trash is turning into. But I know that whatever it is, it pales in comparison to what God can recycle from the trash of my heart.

It would be great if we could sort out the trash of our internal lives into bins like we do our external trash. I have a feeling it would only take a day for me to fill my bins up before I needed to empty them again.

Amazingly, He wants my trash. Yours too. He wants to take the ugly parts of our hearts and re-create them into something beautiful.

What can He make from the selfishness I give to Him? What about my impatience? My envy? Beauty from ashes.

God made the Earth and everything in it. That includes you and me. So don't worry about how gross and ugly your trash is -- go ahead and hand it over. He's seen worse. And I'm betting you'll be blown away by the beauty of His creation.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Have We Met?

I have a familiar face. Countless times I have had people approach me and start talking to me as if we were old friends, only I have had no clue who they were.

That is not to say I haven't had my share of embarrassing moments when I HAVE actually known the person. It's really nothing personal, it's just that I am not all that great at remembering people's names. If you will give me a little grace on that, I will give you grace on something you're not so great at, too.

Just the other day at Subway a woman I don't think I have ever seen before was very friendly to me, "Oh hey! How are you?" And I wondered if she really thought she knew me, or if she was thinking of my doppelganger:

This is Cynthia Stevenson. She has been in a bunch of TV shows and movies through the years, most notably (in my opinion, probably not hers) as the Mom in the "Air Bud" movies. I mean, c'mon, all my kids are still young and that has got to be the target audience for those movies. So you can see how it would happen: Someone's kid has an Air Bud movie on, the mom walks through the room and watches for a few minutes then sees me out and about and thinks she recognizes me. I, on the other hand, remain clueless.

(As a side note, I think Cynthia Stevenson seems really nice and I am pretty sure we would be friends if she lived in my neighborhood.)

And then there is the other matter of my name, which is the same (although spelled differently) of a famous Christian missionary and author, Elisabeth Elliot. She has lived an extraordinary life, lost her first husband to cannibals while on the mission field and has written several books.

Keep in mind that for both of us, Elliott -- or Elliot -- is our married name. But I have had all kinds of questions through the years, like "Did your mom know your name would be Elizabeth Elliott when she named you?" (Um, noooo ... ) Or some people who have confused the common tradition of passing down the male name in a family, and instead thought perhaps it was more usual to pass down the mother's name.

Like when I was in a Christian bookstore a few years ago and pulled out my credit card to pay, the salesclerk looked at my name and smiled sweetly at me. "Honey, I think I know your mom ..."

Sometimes You Just Need To Hear It

Last night we were listening to the messages on the answering machine and Mike could not stop laughing.

You see, April has been an exceptionally busy month for me. It is a month of 'endings,' and what I mean by that is there are several things I have been invested in for a few years that all happen to be ending this month. But as you know it's not like you ever just walk away -- there is a lot to do before you can officially 'end.' This is why I have not blogged since March 31 -- too much going on, and not enough time or energy to blog about it.

But back to the story. I am a list maker by nature but occasionally not everything makes the list before I leave the house, especially when I am trying to remember all that needs to fall into place before these things can be completed. So I call and leave myself reminder messages on the machine.

Mike was laughing because after each reminder ("drop books off," "email so-and-so") I ended the message with "Have a great day!" Actually that wasn't all I said but I don't know if I am ready to share the rest of it. Anyway he thought it was hilarious.

As it turns out, men don't leave themselves cheery messages like this. When they leave themselves messages, if they say anything else -- and that is a big IF -- it's something like "be productive" or "get it done today." Too much of a command in my book.

Women like to be encouraged, even if they are the ones encouraging themselves! We tell our kids to have a great day when they leave the house -- sometimes they say it too but more often it's a quick kiss and bye and off to the bus. Our spouses will tell us, but occasionally our day doesn't go as planned and we need a reminder to keep a positive attitude. So even if you won't admit it, I know I am not alone in my message-leaving.

There are just 10 short days left in the month and I have lots to do before it's over. The end of the school year is a busy time for everyone, and it is approaching quickly. So let's encourage one another to finish strong, to keep your chin up when things aren't going as smoothly as you would have liked. Sometimes you just need to hear it:

"Have a great day! You're fabulous!"