I am not ashamed

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on I Am the Clay

clothesline [klohz-lahyn] noun 1. a strong, narrow rope, cord, wire, etc., usually
stretched between two poles on which clean laundry is hung to dry. 2. A way to cut
your power bill AND your waistline in half. (“in half” may be exaggerating a bit…)

IMG_0967

Other than hitting a lick or two at writing a book, it was quiet here at the “Lizard Lounge” this past summer. (If you’re new to “I Am the Clay,” take a second and follow that link to find out where that name came from. You can also click here for the whole series.) That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, as it quite possibly means I haven’t done diddly squat around here—except for the laundry. (Those are my clothes in the picture above.) All is not lost, though—the most mundane activities can often inspire a blog post.

Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

I have a clothesline—and use it regularly instead of the clothes dryer. (I also wash dishes by hand and don’t use a dishwasher—on purpose.) So there.

Oh, I hear you thinking, What are you, some kind of hippy, tree-hugging, off-the-grid, antiestablishment, pinko commie liberal prepper? If God had intended us to NOT use the clothes dryer He wouldn’t have created Bounce fabric softener sheets. And don’t get me started on the dishwasher thing…

(Hey, now—that’s uncalled for.) Hear me out. Consider this:

  • Clothes dryers use a la-hot of electricity.
  • Hanging out the laundry burns calories. (not pointing fingers or anything, but…)
  • You can’t beat that fresh (and free) great-outdoors smell.

So there are more reasons TO use a clothesline than to NOT use one. Especially for me.

First off, I don’t have a lot of laundry; it’s just me, and I have a high tolerance for sleeping on not-recently-laundered sheets and re-wearing unlaundered stuff for, well, a while. With no one else to worry about, it’s like really casual Friday every day around here. Take off the jeans and shirt I wore to work, fold them up (neatly) to wear a bunch more times, and grab the same old pair of baggy (but aaaah-so-comfortable) bummin’ around shorts and call it “dressed.” Who’s to know?

(Besides all of you, now. I promise that any overnight guests get clean sheets and towels. I didn’t mention reusing my towel, did I? Just ignore that and keep reading. These are not the droids you’re looking for…)

Plus, being as it’s always summer down here in Florida, things dry really fast outside. Sometimes the first things I hang out are dry by the time I finish hanging out the last things. And since I have my clothesline hanging in the carport under cover, weather is never really an issue. A little sprinkle will have no effect whatsoever on laundry day.

If you decide to put up a clothesline, though, don’t get all nostalgic and use wooden clothes pins. It’s cute and “Country Living” and all, but they sometimes leave little stain spots on wet clothes—then what was the point? I have all my plastic clothes pins in a Home Depot nail apron. That way, if someone drops by while I’m getting my domestic on, I can pretend to be adding a room on to the house or putting up new siding.

BUT… Just know that, when you hang all your stuff outside on a clothesline, ebbody can see it: sheets, towels, skivvies—the whole shebang. For me, that isn’t a problem, as I have nice sheets and cool socks and am a high-end underwear-er. If anybody wanna take a peek at my ‘spensive undies, knock yourself out—they’re flapping in the breeze every other Saturday. I’m not ashamed.

Other than camping out to sneak a peek at my unmentionables, though (which would just be weird—don’t do that), it’s doubtful anyone else will ever see my cool calzoncillos in their native environment—they’ll be securely hidden ‘neath my pantalones. So if you’re going to own expensive underwear, you may as well have a clothesline; otherwise, who’s gonna see ‘em? (Without getting yourself in all kinds of trouble with the Lord, that is. Unless it’s your spouse, who—depending on how long you’ve been married—would probably rather have a new iPhone than see you in high-end “delicates;” or your buddies in the gym locker room, who would probably rather not have to gouge their eyes out.) All that undergarment-y goodness is just going to remain hidden.

Which, in the end, is probably good, as some things just ought to be kept to yourself. Some things oughtn’t—be kept to yourself, that is. Some things need to be hauled out in public—mixed company, even—and shared and discussed; things like, say, the good news of Jesus.

I don’t know if Jesus (or anyone else in His time) even wore underwear, but He certainly had plenty of other, more life-changing stuff to hang out on the line, stuff we usually refer to as “the gospel,” a word we get from the Old English word gōdspel: “gōd” meaning “good” and “spel” meaning “tale.” The gospel of Jesus is definitely a “good tale,” but a true tale and not a tall one.

Not only did Jesus bring us a good tale, He told us to get off our tails and tell that tale:

“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

I don’t know any way to read that other than literally. He told his disciples to start telling the good tale in Jerusalem, spiral outward, and end up…here: in Central Florida. Or there: wherever you are.

Paul, a later addition to the apostolic band, took that command literally as well. He spent his post-encounter-with-Jesus life witnessing to anyone who would listen. Even when he was in prison—which was often—he would write letters about the gōdspel.

Paul was always eager to share the good tale of Jesus Christ, and told the church in Rome:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes… Romans 1:16 NIV

“Salvation to everyone who believes.” Everyone. Ebbody. All y’all.

What forgiven sinner, after receiving that amazing, free gift of salvation, wouldn’t want to exercise Jesus’ imperative to “witness” and share that amazing gift with all y’all?

Most of us forgiven sinners, that’s who. Would that I had the same attitude about sharing the gospel as I do about my “delicates.” One of those two I’m not ashamed to hoist up the flagpole in front of God and country; the other one I fumble over like I’d just as soon push you over the cliff into hell rather than give you directions for getting out.

Blogging and writing about what God has done for me and can do for others is great and has the potential to spread my country-boy message to people from China, Nigeria, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Poland, Hungary, Turkey. Seriously—my blog statistics say all of those countries have citizens who have visited “I Am the Clay.” (The Hungary click is from some young missionary friends from church, but I’m still counting it. I hope my Turkish visitor isn’t off-put by my underwear story…) But besides long distance Kiwis, Poles, and Turks, those right-in-front-o’-your-face/in-the-moment encounters with people who desperately need Jesus are just as important—maybe even more so.

People who desperately need Jesus, like…

…the Ethiopian official in Acts 8, for example. Philip, a convert to Christianity who was described as being “full of the Spirit and wisdom” found himself on a dirt road out in the desert talking to this influential man from Ethiopia sitting up in his chariot and reading Isaiah’s blog. (sort of)

“Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” Acts 8:30-31

Exactly. And living and acting like a believer is great and expected of us, but it’s not enough. Whoever wrote this pithy little bon mot ought to be whipped:

“Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

It’s ALWAYS necessary to use words. Jesus didn’t say “Get out there and wear your diamond-studded cross pin and your Jesus fish on your keyring and your ‘I ♥ my church’ bumper sticker on your car…to the ends of the earth.” He said to talk about it, to be His witnesses, to share that good tale. With ebbody.

Look around—shootings, stabbings, hatred, vehicles used as weapons. And that’s just this morning. I’m not a pessimist when I tell you that Jesus said it isn’t going to get any better. He talks at length about what it will be like near the end. He said that…

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” Matthew 24:12

That means that many of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, loved ones, people in line in front of us at the grocery store are just a crazy person in a rental truck with a foot on the gas pedal away from dying without Jesus.

He goes on to give us hope, though. In the very next verse Jesus says…

“But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13

However, Paul adds a caveat:

How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? Romans 10:14

And we’re right back where we started: hang it on the clothesline for everyone to see—i.e., be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth—or dry it in the dryer in the comfort and privacy of the laundry room—i.e., be ashamed, forgiven sinners who keep that amazing, free gift of salvation all to ourselves.

Are you ashamed? Am I?

Jesus said that…

“Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26

I don’t want that. I want to say “me too” to Paul:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…

I want to channel that power, to see somebody believe because I wasn’t ashamed.

Let’s be unashamed of the gospel: let’s live it, let’s believe it, but—most important—let’s proclaim it. For it…

…brings salvation to everyone who believes…

Clothesline or dryer—what’s it gonna be…?

• • •

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Holy guacamole, Batman!

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on I Am the Clay

avocado

It’s been a rainy summer here at the “Lizard Lounge.” (If you’re new to “I Am the Clay,” take a second and follow that link to find out where that name came from. You can also click here for the whole series.) That’s good, though, as all that free stuff means I don’t have to pay the city for it. While I didn’t plant vegetables this year, I did explore fruit-i-culture; more specifically, the Persea americana, commonly known as the avocado. In the process, I learned a lot about fruit bearing, both botanical and spiritual.

Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

Avocado: you either love it or you loathe it. While there’s typically very little in-betweenism when it comes to one’s relationship with avocado, I definitely fall into that camp. To me, it doesn’t have much taste at all, kind of like eating mushy thick green air. However, I eat it all the time.

All. The. Time.

‘Cause it’s embarrassingly nutritious.

If Jesus had passed out slices of avocado along with the loaves and fishes, those five thousand people He fed would have also gotten:

  • a boost to their immune system
  • a drop in their high blood pressure
  • a little extra help fighting off 1st century cancer. (And possibly more, since Jesus would have been the one slicing it up.)

The fat it contains—and it does contain a fair amount—is monounsaturated fat, the good kind. (Never thought I would use “fat” and “good” in the same sentence.) Your cholesterol levels will thank you.

And now for the rest of the story…

Walking on Bare Concrete

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on Clay

Summer is back with a vengeance — so is the need to recover from the lazy non-summer months (which in Florida, are few) and tackle long-procrastinated-on home improvement projects here at the “Lizard Lounge.” (If you’re new to “Clay,” take a second and follow that link to find out where that name came from. You can also click here for the whole series.) And whether I’m having a DIY moment inside or outside, I have a lot of time to talk to or (even better) listen to the Lord. Invariably, by the time I put down the shovel, the paint brush, or the watering hose, I have an idea for a blog post.

Below is the first one for this season. Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

Time has a way of getting away from me. (Hold that thought for a moment…more to come…)

The past few weeks I’ve been making final preparations for the book I’m writing. To date, I’ve made umpteen editing passes through my manuscript. I’ve also allowed 3 times that many days to go by without writing something new for Clay. (I’m not sure what 3 x umpteen equals. A scad? An oodle? A triscuit?)

Those famous, fortunate, and affluent authors who can hand a raw book manuscript over to a publishing company and then head to the beach while waiting for a formatted proof copy to come back ready for corrections and final approval don’t know what they’re missing. Or maybe they do; maybe that’s the reason they’re at the beach: they’re celebrating all that free time under their beach umbrella, waiting for their next cold beverage to arrive. The self-publishing rest of us are forced to do our own formatting and spell-checking and reading and re-reading and re-re-reading of our fledgling books while chained to a computer wishing we’d had the foresight to buy stock in Microsoft Word back when it was affordable.

In the end, though, it’s been worth every keystroke, as I’m happy with the progress on my book manuscript. I do feel bad that I put all blog activity on hold, though. My poor Facebook followers were subjected to republished versions of former posts while waiting for something new to come out. As I hadn’t sent out one of my “A new article on Clay” emails in a “triscuit,” one of my subscribers asked me if I had dropped him from the distribution list. Another friended me on Facebook just to make sure I was still alive.

Like I said, time has a way of getting away from me.

And now for the rest of the story…

The *squish* wasn’t the end

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on Clay

Below is the final installment in “The Lizard Lounge Series on Clay,” at least for this season. Quite a summer… Here is a link to the whole series, if you’re just tuning in. (And here’s a link that explains the whole “Lizard Lounge” bit.)

Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

I love summer in Florida. Sunshine and beaches and the smell of orange blossoms. (And tourists who need to stay out of the sun and off the beaches.) This past summer I had planned to while away the days watering my bell peppers and tomatoes, lazing on the front porch reading, and collecting rocks for my dry creek bed. However, in Jeremiah 29:11 the Lord says:

I know the plans I have for you…

…and none of those plans included tomatoes, lazing, or collecting rocks.

And now for the rest of the story…

A Mighty Fortress is my Garden

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on Clay

Below is the next installment in “The Lizard Lounge Series on Clay,” a piece about gardening and God. I hope it grows on you… Here is a link to the whole series, if you’re just tuning in. (And here’s a link that explains the whole “Lizard Lounge” bit.)

Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

Something you should know: I love fruits and vegetables. You can open my refrigerator or poke through the fruit bowl on my kitchen counter any time of the day or night and find peppers, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, melon, or sweet potatoes. (But please don’t come poking through my house at night, especially if I don’t know you’re there; that’d just freak me out. If you absolutely feel as though you must, however, would you mop before you leave? I’ve been a little busy.)

A while back, my church decided to spend time in prayer and fasting, and the Daniel Fast, where you only eat fruits, vegetables, and grains for 21 days, was presented as an option. Eating fruits, vegetables, and grains only? I don’t call that a fast; I call that last night’s dinner…

And now for the rest of the story…

*squish*

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on Clay

Below is the next installment in “The Lizard Lounge Series on Clay,” a wet-n-wild little piece about disasters—house AND spiritual varieties. Here is a link to the whole series, if you’re just tuning in. (And here’s a link that explains the whole “Lizard Lounge” bit.)

Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

Stepping into my dark kitchen one evening after work I heard a sound I wasn’t expecting…

*squish*

*squish*? I thought. Tennis shoes on tile don’t usually make that sound. *squeak* maybe or *kerplop*—but *squish*?

I made my way across the room to flip on the light switch.

*squish*squish*squish*

That can’t be good

And it wasn’t. With the light on I could see that the kitchen was standing in water. While barely a half-inch deep (so far), standing water of any depth in one’s home is not a good situation. Not a problem on tile floors, but…

…wood floors. Please no, I prayed silently as I set out on a tour of the rest of the house.

And now for the rest of the story…

Oh, How I Lub Jesus, Because He First Lubbed Me

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on Clay

Below is the next installment in “The Lizard Lounge Series on Clay,” articles about house painting and gardening and, lately, about bugs. Here is a link to the whole series, if you’re just tuning in. (And here’s a link that explains the whole “Lizard Lounge” bit.)

Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

Philodendron bipinnatifidum. I can’t pronounce it either, but I have a host of them throughout my yard. They’re dark green, shrub-like plants with huge leaves that can grow more than 36” long and almost that wide. They’re perfect for my Plant Hardiness Zone (9B) and give a quasi-tropical feel to the grounds of the Lizard Lounge.

I planted all of them myself. At the time they were small enough to fit in the trunk of my car—now, though, they’re as big as my car. It’s fun to plant something like these philodendron and watch them grow to maturity—kind of like raising children, except philodendrons are a lot quieter and smell better.

One day, in a fit of whimsy (or insanity) I gave them all names—Phil (of course), Phillip, Philemon, Philicia, Phillo (he was Greek), Philm (he was into the arts), Phillerup (a blue collar type), Philbert (he was nuts), and Philanderer. (I had to replant him because he couldn’t keep his leaves off Philicia.)

I love my big ol’ philodendron plants. Turns out, though, I’m not the only one.

And now for the rest of the story…

Fire on my feet

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on Clay

Below is the next installment in “The Lizard Lounge Series on Clay,” articles about house painting and gardening and things like that. Here is a link to the whole series, if you’re just tuning in. (And here’s a link that explains the whole “Lizard Lounge” bit.)

Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

I’m digging a ditch in my backyard. Thought that was blog-worthy…

Actually, it will eventually be a dry creek bed, a landscape feature that uses various shapes and sizes of rocks (which I’ve started amassing) to look like, well, a dry creek bed; one that, while currently dry, gives the appearance that, at the first drop of rain, could become a rushing torrent.

For now, though, it’s pretty much just a ditch.

If you saw my backyard you would probably think, “Didn’t you think adding some grass or a patio would provide a much better return on your investment than a ditch full of rocks?”

Yes – yes, I did. But I’m in ditch mode, so judge not.

And now for the rest of the story…

Open up!

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on Clay

Below is the next installment about do-it-yourselfing I’m calling “The Lizard Lounge Series on Clay.” Here is a link to the first one, Old Jockey Shorts, if you’re just tuning in.

Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

Sliding glass patios doors – who thought these marvels of engineering up? (“marvels of engineering” – I jest.) If you have sliding doors and love them, then just stop reading right now. It’s about to get ugly.

When I moved into the Lizard Lounge, sliding glass doors were the primary method of egress from the kitchen to the back porch and, subsequently, to the carport, where the groceries typically ended their journey from the store. Now reverse that process – trunk, groceries, back porch, kitchen via heavy, stubborn sliding glass doors – and therein lies the rub. Ever try to open a heavy, stubborn sliding door with hands full of grocery bags and a watermelon? Can’t be done – at least not without cussin’.

Poor sliding door – and poor anybody who tried to open and close it. And no amount of slicky stuff squirted or sprayed in the sliding track made that chore any easier, either – all that goop just tended to gather a lot of fuzz and dirt and get all gloppy and taunt me when I tried to vacuum it out. (I used to blame the dogs for all the lint and wads of fur in the house, but now that they’re both gone and there are no fewer of those golf ball-sized balls of fluff, I realize it was me all along, with my Sasquatch-ian propensity for hirsutism. I’ll have to apologize to Rosie and Hardy when I see them in Heaven… “Kids, it was daddy – he was the one shedding.”)

And now for the rest of the story…

Old Jockey Shorts

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on Clay

It’s summer – the season for tackling long-procrastinated-on home improvement projects is in full swing here at the “Lizard Lounge.” (Follow the link to find out where that name came from… No really, I’ll wait…) And when I’m outside having a little DIY moment – painting or digging in the yard – I have a lot of time to talk to or (even better) listen to the Lord. Invariably, I end up with an idea for a blog post.

So below is the first post in what I’m calling “The Lizard Lounge Series on Clay.” Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

The color was…

I stepped back and took a good long look at the color of the fresh coat of paint I had just rolled on the most visible exterior wall of my house…

  • The color I had ruminated over for weeks…
  • The color I had gotten a little test sample for and used to paint yet another 2’ x 3’ patch on the side of the house for all the world to see as they drove by wondering what manner of person lived in the color-happy, Mondrian-inspired house…
  • The color I had then spent two weeks squinting at while trying to block out the old color (and the other 2’ x 3’ sample patches) surrounding it so I could envision the house adorned in all its fresh-coat-of-paint glory…

That color – the one that was…

…wrong – totally wrong.

And now for the rest of the story…