Humbug…

I am back safe and sound from my travels abroad!  And yes, I did learn something abroad that might be appropriate to pass on to you.  One must always be learning something…

So!  I have learned that travel is my humbug.

What does that mean?

I think most people have at least heard of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Spirits of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.  Scrooge’s most famous saying is that which he used in response to his nephew’s hearty ‘Merry Christmas, Uncle Scrooge’:  humbug!  What he basically means is that he disregards the importance of Christmas in his life and despises the assumption that he has to practice it.  An interchange with his clerk, Crachit, on Christmas Eve displays his ‘humbug’ attitude to Christmas:

“You’ll want all day [off] tomorrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge.

“If quite convenient, Sir.”

“It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I ‘ll be bound?”

The clerk smiled faintly.

“And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”

The clerk observed that it was only once a year.

“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning!”  (from A Christmas Carol)

So, Mary, you say, how is travel your humbug?

Well, friends, I say, I have noticed that when people travel some of their habits (and even good sense) seem to drop away, as if to say that they are ‘disregarding the importance of it in their lives’.  For example, I read a statistic once that stated that somewhere around 94% of travellers within the first 3 days of travel will break at least one of the rules regarding safe food or water intake.  And these rules are important!  Yes, traveller’s diarrhea may not kill you, but Hepatitis B could!  And yet people disregard these rules on a regular basis as not important!

A lot of regular habits can fall away when we are away from home:  adequate (and safe!) water intake, diet, sleep, physiotherapy exercises, Godly pursuits…

AHA!  We are finally to it!  The first day or two of my trip I was good–I was drinking water, eating carefully, getting sleep, doing my physio exercises, and reading my Bible and praying.  Then…the humbug fell over me…I started to skip a few of these items each day.  Which one did I notice the most by the end of the week?  The sliding away of my daily time with God.

Why is it that something so important to my daily health and safety could slide away?  This is the humbug spirit.  Satan is good at slipping thoughts into our heads–Oh, I’m on vacation!  It doesn’t really matter, does it?  This is when we need to cling to Christ the strongest!  Isn’t it on vacation that we do the worst sorts of things?  Why do you think they coined the phrase ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’?

We need to be constant in our Christian discipline.  Look at the following verses.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 NIV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… Hebrews 12:1

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27

So, practically, what will I do next time I travel to keep the ‘humbug’ of travel away?

1).  I will print off the above verses and work at memorizing them over my holiday and meditating on them throughout my stay.

2).  I will plan out a Bible study for each day I am gone.  It won’t be huge, but a few verses to contemplate and a time for prayer every day.

3).  I will try to enlist my travelling companion into my plan (someone to gently ‘remind’ me of my goal!).

Will it work?  If I pray before the trip, during the trip, and after the trip for this to work I’m sure it will (it will have already worked!).  I will have to keep you informed!

Happy (and Holy) Travels!

What to do when…Someone Asks You What Your Husband/Wife Thinks…

I find myself at times in amongst people who don’t know me well.  Of course, being the gregarious and often loquacious person that I am, I sometimes find myself in the position of having mentioned one of the crazy things that I’ve done in my life (for example, having traveled to India on my own).  The response by certain people is surprising, given this day and age, and yet seems to be the inevitable.

“What does your husband think of you galavanting around like that?”

(Really? What is this? The 1950’s?)

What does one say in response to this?

Bad girl response (tempting…):  I don’t care…I’d go anyway…

CIA response:  That’s on a need to know basis…and you don’t need to know!

Typical Mary answer:  Uhhhhh….right!  I mean, well…uhhhhhh….I’m not, like, married…no, I like boys, it’s just I haven’t…uhhh…found one that…well…How about those Canucks?

(Yes, I know–where is your loquaciousness now, Mary?)

Playing Ignorant:  Husband!  I have a husband?

Spy response:  I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you…

Vegas, baby!:  What is said in my house stays in my house.

Playful:  Husband?  Well, I don’t know.  I haven’t met him yet.

I am a big girl ( I’ve lived on my own for longer than I haven’t) so I think I can decide where to go and how to get there on my own (indignantly).  But, I guess we do have to be civil…

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 (NIV)

Good answer:  Oh, I am very careful when I travel.  My family knows where I am and when I will be traveling. God called me to India and I know that He had me in His hand while I was there.  He is with me wherever I go.  Thank you for your concern!

Things I Like About Being Single…

The last post may have been a bit…serious. So today will be a little more light hearted–I’m going to talk about a few of the things I LIKE about being single. God wants us to have ‘life to the full’ (John 10:10b) so I firmly believe that he desires us to have happiness in our lives.

OK, so what do I like?

1). Messes–if I come home and there is a mess in my house, I have made it. If it doesn’t get cleaned up, I can blame no one but myself. I usually shake my head and chuckle and say ‘what a fine mess I have made’. I don’t have clean up after someone else–just myself.

2). If a friend of mine calls me up and says ‘Mary, you must come to Ireland with me! If you don’t come, I’ll be stuck with my mom and she snores!’ I can go (and did).

3). I can spend every Saturday night with my favorite boys (my adorable nephews) who love me!

4). I can usually get tickets at the last minute for any shows since I only need one ticket (and I can usually get a seat in a good location!).

5). The non-singles around me feel sorry for me so they invite me over for holiday meals (and even sometimes send me home with leftovers. Yeeeeaaaah!)

6). People think I am younger than I am (seriously). If you are not married and don’t have kids people seem to automatically assume that you are in your twenties, despite what their eyes tell them.

7). The blankets on my bed are mine and mine alone!

8). If I want to eat popcorn for supper I can (don’t tell my doctor).

9). I don’t take up much space on my own so I can have a beautiful home in a prime location for a reasonable amount. Nice!

So when you start to get down about your situation (we all do) I would encourage you to make a list of the things that YOU like about being single. Focus on the good things and enjoy them.

Whatsoever is true, whatsoever is noble, whatsoever is right, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is lovely, whatsoever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  Philippines 4:8,9

Confessions of a Single Christian…

Yes, I am advocating contentedness in my position in the world.  However, there are a few things that bug me about being single where I am.

PET PEEVES:

1).  Super Size This!  I think it is a great thing that supermarkets have Family size items, like peanut butter, however, it would be nice to be able to get a smaller size more in keeping with my ability to consume.  Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love buying toilet paper in bulk, but do you know how long it would take me to finish off a family size peanut butter container by myself?!

2).  Two for one.  If this was a sale at a shoe store, I would be there with extra reusable bags for carrying out all of the loot…but usually this does NOT involve shoes.  No, this is more likely involving food or tickets or admission, etc.  For me, I only need one entree when I go out to eat, so why can’t they just give me that one entree for a discount?  Even when I go out with my friends there’s 3 of us so there is still someone left out of a two for one deal.  I think I’m going to try to pretend that I am their child one of these times, to try to get in on these family deals!  I fear it’s not likely to work 😦

3).  Single Supplement.  Closely related to Pet Peeve 2 is the Singles Supplement.  If you are not familiar with this concept, it is an additional amount that a single person has to pay if they are travelling on their own.  Because most travel related groups expect double occupancy, the supplement is the penalty you must pay to travel by yourself… hmmmm… So my friends called me up one day and invited me to go on a river cruise of the Danube with them–Heaven!  Alas, the prices were as follows:  $9000 for a single person (yeah, seriously!) or $9400 divided by 2 for double occupancy.  Suffice it to say that I didn’t go (insert sound of crying).

4).  The Perfect Man.  This of course could also be called The Perfect Woman, and refers to the tendency of friends of singles to claim to know the perfect person for them.  The criteria for choosing this person as your “perfect” potential mate appears to only require them to be breathing, and of the opposite sex.  Don’t get me wrong non-singles–I know you are concerned for us and want us to be happy, but please, please put a little care and intention into finding us the perfect man.  I once had a sweet little lady at my church try to get me to go out with this gentleman who was an absolute stranger to her but had happened to show up to church that day.  He turned out to be a felon on a day pass from prison (again, seriously!).

Thank you for listening to me rant.  I’m sure there are one or 2 of you in cyber space that have had similar experiences.  Getting it off your chest is good so talk to your friends about the things that bother you, just be sure that you don’t become embittered by these light and momentary troubles.

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  2 Corinthians 4:16, 17