Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beyond the Comfort Zone

Sam, David and Kyla in front of the Seattle Great Wheel.
One of the things we did in Seattle over the summer was to take a ride in the new Ferris wheel over the Puget Sound, the Seattle Great Wheel.  It only opened June 29th so it was a brand new attraction for the area.  We bought the tickets and as I stood in line watching others, I was thinking that for the money we had to shell out, this ride seemed kind of short!

Our family had our own "car" or gondola and it consisted of two benches facing one another encased in glass.  The encasement was a good idea not only for safety but also to combat Seattle's famous weather.  As you can see in the picture, we were not exactly sweating.

When we got into our gondola, they told us that we would be suspended at the top for a while which makes sense when you consider that they have to load and unload those on the opposite side of the wheel.  I was originally thinking, "That will be nice, we can see a lot up there."

When we got about half way up, I was getting a little edgy.  David kept moving back and forth as he looked from side to side and this would start the car rocking.  At this point, we were suspended over concrete and it was apparent that we wouldn't survive if the bolts gave way.  My older brother's voice from many a roller coaster ride was going through my head, "You know this was built by the lowest bidder!"  My original assumption that it would be too short was way off.  It felt like we were going to be suspended from this death height forever!

Kyla, David and Sheryl from about 200 feet up!
It was easier when we got over the bay. We would probably die from falling into that as well but it seems more comforting being over the water.  I finally began to settle down and relax and enjoy the view.  We could see ships moving around the water.  The Space Needle was also within view.  The Seattle Aquarium was just below us.  Pike's Place Market was a short walk as well.

But when it ended, I discovered that this was not too short nor too long but just the right amount of time.  I ended up enjoying it and was surprised by my anxiety at the beginning.

Fear and anxiety are funny things.  They may strike us at unexpected times in life.  How we react is up to us. I understood that any catastrophe at this point was beyond my control.  I might as well try to enjoy it as best I could.  It seems like we do this in our walk with God.  We like to be in control and when we discover that we aren't, it makes us a little edgy.  We try to re-establish control even in our prayer lives.  We direct God to give us just what we need.  Or at least what we think we need.

What if we prayed to enjoy the blessings we've already received?  We might be more likely to sit back and enjoy the view.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Christianity and the Prius Plug In

Sheryl stands in front of our new Prius Plug-In
in Burien, Washington
Those of you who know me well would figure it is past time we bought a new car.  The last vehicle we bought, we didn't incur any debt (savings = more overall purchase power).  Our belief is that we shouldn't pay more for a vehicle by making payments in taking out a car loan.  In the past we've always bought used vehicles but this time we decided to buy new.

Good stewardship is important to us whether we are talking about money or God's creation.  So we decided that our next automobile would have a very high miles per gallon rate.  Sheryl (my wife) began to thoroughly research vehicles that were fuel efficient.  She decided to go with the Prius Plug In.  Unfortunately, it is not available for order by Toyota dealers in Oklahoma.  We were planning on going to Seattle to see my sister and her family anyway, so Sheryl began to shop online for our next car there.  We would fly in and get the car - she even arranged for the dealer to pick us up at the airport!  An added bonus is that we saved money by not renting a car while we were there.

We were a little nervous about making an online purchase this large but since we were going with a reputable dealer (Burien Toyota), we felt like we were doing the right thing. And so that's how we ended up making a large part of our vacation the drive home.

So how is being a good steward of the environment a part of Christian discipleship?

The environment can be a touchy subject.  There are many people who do not support Climate Change.  I tend to go with the majority of scientists on this and believe that emissions do effect the weather (it currently feels like Oklahoma is trying to move from a plains ecosystem to a desert ecosystem).  I hope and pray that I am wrong in this!  My simplest rationale for my belief in Climate Change is the traditional conservative value: hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

But let's take Climate Change out of the debate for a moment.  Tailpipe exhaust does affect human health.  Studies show that children who live in the cities with worse air pollution ratings have higher rates of asthma.  This makes sense in that people used to commit suicide by locking themselves in a closed garage with the car running.

So being a good steward of God's creation has positive impact upon God's children.  The less gas I burn in my car = cleaner air = healthier families.  It's hard to argue against caring for our kids.  As Christians we remember that when the disciples tried to brush off all the little ones when they were crowding around Jesus, they heard their rabbi say, "Let the little children come to me." I try to model this each day - I'll also do my part to make sure they can do so while breathing easily.