Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rebecca Miller & the Divine Do Over

Wrote this in March 2005. Thought I'd share with an audience that probably hasn't seen it (at least in a while). Just remember that when reading it... take a 2005 perspective.

Earlier today, I was walking through the hallway, and I passed by a TV in the lobby. On the TV was The Goddess, and so of course, I stopped, because she's The Goddess.

But the words on the screen weren't "Ashley Judd--Movie Star" or "Ashley Judd--Hot Kentucky Fan" or even "Ashley Judd--Hot Chick with Oscar Winner Morgan Freeman and Oscar Winner Tommy Lee Jones in Another Crappy Chase/Wrongly Accused Movie" .... no, the words were "Ashley Judd, Global Ambassador". Say it slowly. Ashley. Judd. Global Ambassador. I haven't looked yet, but I'm sure that's one of the seven seals in Revelations. This has nothing to do with anything. Just thought I'd share.

(author's note from 2013--Ashley Judd is no longer my Goddess.  She was my favorite for a long, long time, but she got a little flaky and a lot left wing nut job for my tastes.  Now?  Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with.)

Its kinda long, so buckle in or read it later... On with the show...

I had a childhood friend named Chad Ward.  When we were about 13 or so, I was playing HORSE with him on the basketball court one Saturday afternoon, and I had him all but beat. We were both at H-O-R-S (for you spellers out there, that meant the first one to get the E would lose), when I made an unbelievable behind-the-back, bounce-the-ball-off-the-court-into-the-net shot from the arc. He tried it, and failed miserably.

Did he say, "Dude... that was awesome... you got me."? No, he began to complain that the wind (!) caught the ball and that he needed another shot. South Alabama is known for its July wind. More tired of hearing him fuss at me more than anything, plus convinced the game was over, I told him go ahead... and of course, he made it. Then, after he did a simple lay-up, to which I missed, he proudly declared himself the HORSE champion of the day. Even after I told him I needed another shot, because the court was too hot, it was to no avail. He got his do-over. I didn't get one.

It was a sign of things to come for me, I think...

One of my biggest pet peeves right now is credit card mail. I don't mean the things I actually owe on, I mean Bank of America, Citicard, Chase Bank and the mack daddy of all "YOU ARE PRE APPROVED!!" mailings, Capital One. According to Capital One, not only do d$ and The Lovely Steph Leann live at our apartment, Stephanie Campbell lives there, Ruth Campbell lives there and Velma Dollar, my aging, credit-card less mother also lives there. I know that from the fact that we are inundated weekly with all sorts of mail from every card company you can imagine, all wanting us to get their low interest cards.

I've tried a few things. At first, I called them, one by one, and said "Please remove me and fill in (pick from above names) from your mailing list immediately." Nothing changed. Then someone told me that they knew someone who opened up the letters, shredded the application, put it in the return envelope and just sent it back. This was a great idea until I tried it. When you shred it and stuff it back in the return envelope, it makes a big, bulging envelope that does not in any way resemble a flat, completed credit application. When the novelty of this wore off, I made some return stickers that said "Return to Sender... We Don't Want Your Crap!"

I got a kick out of slapping this sticker on all credit letters, until I read an article on MSNBC.com about how one of the leading causes of identity theft is by people swiping credit applications out of mailboxes. So the sticker idea ended quickly.

Now I'm back to calling them again. One rep actually asked me why I was giving up such a great deal on credit, and I told him that they had to be a totally inept and completely unethical to actually offer me any kind of credit, and therefore, I could not, in good conscience, do business with such people. I laughed. He didn't.

I'll be honest with you, I have horrible credit. I got caught at an early age in college by those tables sitting outside of the Adams Student Center, with clubs peddling card applications. I went out with a girl named Rebecca Miller in college. She was an Alpha Gamma Delta girl, and extremely attractive at that... nothing serious, we went out a few times here and there... well, I remember seeing Rebecca Miller sitting outside of the Adams Center, asking me while blinking those pretty green eyes to sign up for a card, because with every card application they had, her Science Club or whatever got $10 from Chase Visa. Wanting to impress what could be a budding relationship (and my chance to actually go to a sorority function--things we hold important tend to evolve, I think) I naturally signed up for it, because she told me, with that big cute smile, "Oh, you can just cancel it when you get it!".

Coincindentally, I used that card when she and I went to dinner at Darryl's Restaurant and a movie (the immortal classic "Two If By Sea" with Sandra Bullock and Denis Leary.)

In my first two years of college, I went on to sign up for four cards--an Chase Visa, a First Nat'l Bank Visa, a Discover Card (the card that pays you back!) and an AT&T Universal Mastercard (which they quit making about eight years before I finished paying the darn thing off). As a matter of fact, I still have one of the Slinkys that I got as a prize for signing up for Discover. Currently, that plastic rainbow Slinky has cost me a little over a thousand dollars lifetime. It now resides in a box with other trinkets that I will slowly toss a little at a time as Stephanie's Creative Memories spreads like kudzu, taking over the entire universe.

And somehow, I maxed out four cards averaging $500 to $1,000 limits per card. Of course, I used some of it sensibly during college--books for school, tuition, fees, dinner with Katherine Gates--but otherwise, I would look around my room and try to figure out what I own from those cards. A Harry Anderson book, my Pulp Fiction soundtrack and my Monkees 4-cd Box Set. That is about it. The rest? *Poof*. Nothing to show for it but a credit score lower than John Kerry's approval rating around Rush Limbaugh's house.

Thing is, I now have a record. Every time I would apply for anything that actually made sense, like credit at Goodyear to get tires or for a better interest rate on my student loan, I was not just rejected, but met with a "That's pretty funny... wait... you are serious?"

Of course, God truly blessed me in a bazillion ways with Stephanie, one of which is her financial brain. Oh, she's not an accounting guru or anything, but she is the budgeter of the Casa de Pesos and her own good credit is helping my credit make a slow comeback. (As a matter of fact, through the grace of God and the fact that when we got married, my debt became OUR debt, I just wrote the check last Thursday, paying off the Discover Card, the final of the four that have haunted my bank account for over ten years. Curse you, Rebecca Miller, and your green eyes too!)

Here's another thought... let me tell you about my pal Cari. You might know her as the former Cari Kates on 93.7 WDJC. (I'm personally a big fan of 104.7 The Fish out of Atlanta, but don't tell her... she does tell me, however, my crush on Wendy is kinda creepy. Steph just rolls her eyes. Where was I?).  Now she is world famous Cari Kates on the airwaves  Now without going into a long recap of the full story, apparently she said something--in a comical fashion--about President Bush and the Secret Service agents that came with him when Dubya came to town a couple of years ago. A few visits by the Secret Service and FBI at her home, and she's red-flagged at the White House, meaning she can't visit many places in Washington because she now has a record. Its kinda funny, when you think about it.

Here's the gist... Things that we do follow us around. Be it credit, or a radio stunt gone awry, or even if you are known as a "certain type of person", whatever that means to you, we are remembered by things we do. And most notably, the bad things we do. I have been working at Starbucks for two years now, and I can probably count on two hands the number of times I've heard someone say--not in defense, but just bring it up--" You know, (insert barista name here) is fantastic. Let me tell you what awesome thing they did the other day." But combine all of the hands in Starbucks (at least 40 hands) and triple it, and it might come close to half of the times I've heard "You know (insert barista name here) really stinks. You know what offense they committed?".

Not only are we remembered by the bad things we've done, sometimes all it takes is one bad impression to brand someone forever as irresponsible... trampy... geeky... arrogant... sinful... pompous... and we're that way forever. When it comes to records and reputations... many times, there is no do-over. We can whine all we want our reasons or excuses, no matter how legit, but "the wind caught it!" just doesn't cut it in real life.

Imagine if God kept a record? A record of sins. I know, some of you are laughing, thinking "Wow... I'd be in trouble", but honestly--we would all be in VERY serious trouble. Some of us would have a couple of volumes, some of us would have a shelf devoted to us, and I'm thinking I would have a wing with my name on it in the Sin Book Library. "Yes, this is the d$ area of sins. Over there is the lust area--might I recommend this volume of Ashley Judd pictures--over here is pride, if you go upstairs to the third floor, you'll find selfishness and gossip, and the entire fifth floor is dedicated to how he's destroyed the book of James.   And on these 71 bookshelves, you can read about the Attempted Justification of Scripture Interpretation of All Actions.  Oh you want to know what he did right? Um... ah yes, here's a pamphlet."

Wouldn't it be great to able to call up Visa, Discover and MasterCard and say, "You know, I really goofed up. Rebecca Miller's smile just got me, so I had to sign up. I'm really sorry. I've been paying back for seven years now, I've got some of you taken care of, can we just make it a clean slate? Can I have me a do-over?" and they would say, "You're right. You've worked hard at this. And we know that Rebecca is such a vixen, so we understand. Your debt is paid, we're back on square one, and you still have the ball."

Or maybe if Cari could call up Donald Rumsfeld and say, "Hey, that was all a joke, I was just kidding. Please let me visit the Pentagon. I voted for Dubya because... well, I have common sense. A do-over, maybe?" and Rummy would say, "You're right, ma'am. We were overreacting. Come visit us, spend your hard earned money on our overpriced snow globes with plastic famous monuments in them. Do-over granted."

Or if we could start over with people, and say, "Hey, I know I came across truly arrogant the other day when you met me. Please don't think that about me. Give me a do-over and I'll do better" and they would say, "Oh, you're right. I jumped to conclusions... I'm willing to form my opinion of you only after I've known you a little more."

Isn't it great that God doesn't keep records? Once we realize our bad credit with Him, we have the freedom to repent... and then He wipes it clean. Once our jokes go awry, He takes it away like it never happened. There are no first impressions with God, because God knew us before we did.

Here's the encouragement I wanted to share.... its in Psalm 130, verses 3 thru 7.

"If you, oh Lord, kept a record of our transgressions, who could stand? But with you, there is forgiveness... therefore, you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than the watchmen wait for the morning, my soul waits for the Lord. Put your hope in the Lord, for the Lord, with his unfailing love, and with Him is full redemption."

If God kept a tally of sins... no one would make it. Not you, not I. Not tobyMac, not 50 Cent, not Martin Luther, not Britney Spears, not Billy Graham, not Paul, not Peter, not Mary, (the folk band OR the apostles and the Mother of Jesus), not anyone. None of us would make it. But in Him... in Him there is TOTAL forgiveness.

I wait for the Lord. I wait for Him to direct me. I wait for Him to hold me. I wait for Him to forgive me. I wait for Him.

Watchmen in those days... they loved the morning time. They got to work when the sun went down, watched the horizon all night long, keeping watch over the town they were protecting. If someone attacked, they could be killed... and they waited for the morning. When morning came, they would be free, they would be safe, they would be able to rest and be at ease.

I wait for the Lord MORE than the watchman waits for the morning. And in His Word I place my hope. In His promise to me, His guide for life, His written Word, I place my hope that He will fulfill all of His plans that He promised us.

Be encouraged that you have a second chance... maybe you can't buy a house because of your bad credit, maybe you can't visit the Pentagon because you are a suspected terrorist in the form of a cute Christian DJ with a hoopty car and quirky glasses, maybe you can't start over with some people because of things that have happened in and out of your control... but with God, there is always a do-over... but more than a second chance... its a second chance with four of the most beautiful words a sinner can know... Unfailing. Love. Full. Redemption.

Its the Divine Do-Over.

Through the death of His Son, we have been given the ultimate Do Over. Be it starting back from the point you messed up yesterday, or going back years at how your life has completely falling apart... with God, there is a do-over that no one can offer but Him. Now with your Divine Do-Over, that doesnt mean you won't have messes to clean up, but when you are in the midst of your cleansing, He'll be right beside you, loving you, directing you and blessing you. And waiting to give you the next Divine Do-Over, because He knows you will need it.

When you fall, remember your Divine Do-Over. Clean up your mess and keep moving, steady on. And you know what? Here's to hoping (raising my glass) that somehow, somewhere, Rebecca found hers.

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