Ugly Bathing Suits

My favorite clothes are ones that look a bit like costumes. I especially love clothes that remind me of Mary Poppins, or the 1940's, or a gypsy—the kind from old movies who wear big hoop earrings and scarves and swooshy skirts. And although all of that is peculiar it's also pretty.  But forever I've had this problem with completely losing my taste when shopping for bathing suits. 

I remember in high school when my older brother (one of my favorite people ever) confronted me about this. He said something like, "Amy, when you buy a bathing suit this year, get something cool. Think— no beads, no fringe, no bows, and above all, no ruffly skirts. They're terrible." Thinking back on the bad bathing suit choices I'd made in the past, I took his advice really seriously. Not only was my brother helpful about what not to buy, he went on to tell me what a cool bathing suit looks like. They’re usually black and kind of athletic. They do not have ruffles. So I went bathing suit shopping for exactly that. I was determined. But then I saw them—racks and racks of brightly colored bathing suits. Ruffles, bows, beads, fringe…

Why I repeatedly buy tasteless bathing suits is a mystery to me. As I sit here considering it, I can't comprehend what strange powers are at work when I go bathing suit shopping. Or is it some kind of unnamed syndrome? Do others suffer from it too?

That day back in high school when I went looking for a cool, black, athletic bathing suit, I came back with a brilliantly colorful one covered in tropical fish, psychadelic stripes, a coral reef, and yes—ruffles. Layers and layers of ruffles at the top. But no skirt, so that was a small victory.

Last year I bought my bathing suit online. At the time I thought maybe it was not ugly, but now I'm certain it is. 


Hyperactive Bird Dogs

I want to share a Bible verse with you that I used to dislike. "The Lord is a strong tower. The righteous runs into it and is safe." Now I'll leave that verse dangling in your mind while I go on to tell you about my hyperactive bird dog, Alice.

I've learned a lot about bird dogs in the last couple of years, thanks to Alice. For instance, there are some dogs who have mild-mannered personalities and are easily trained, and some have spunky personalities and can be more of a challenge. Both kinds are truly wonderful. Alice is the spunky kind. It would be easy to think that mild-mannered equals good and spunky equals bad, simply because one is easier to train than the other, but that's absolutely incorrect. They are different kinds of dogs, and as such they have different strengths and weaknesses, and they bring with them different joys and pains. 

People are like that too. Like Alice, I'm one of the spunky ones. I've always had a passionate temperament, and with it comes some joy and some pain. From an early age I began to equate my passionate temperament with "BAD", and certain other people's mild-mannered temperaments with "GOOD". I didn't see that there were both bad and good traits that come with either. And that wrong idea of BAD and GOOD affected how I viewed God and how I imagined He must view me and other people. 

So back to the verse—"The Lord is a strong tower. The righteous runs into it and is safe." That's not good news if you're pretty sure you're not the righteous. A verse like that might make you imagine God way up high in a tower (along with other people you think would make sense there)— looking out the window at you, way out beyond the mote, on the hillside. That's what I imagined when I heard that verse. But I was looking at it all wrong, just like some people look at their hyperactive bird dogs wrong. For one thing, God loves hyperactive bird dogs and people with passionate personalities. But also, when that verse talks about the "Righteous"  I think it's talking about a title, rather than a trait. No person is totally righteous even when they're trying their best, just like there are no perfect bird dogs. But my Alice is loved. I could call her Beloved Alice—not because everything she does is lovable (although a lot of it is), but because I've placed my love on her. I've settled it there. So it's actually my love that makes her Beloved Alice. And I think it's that way with God. He's able to declare all different sorts of people righteous (not just the mild-mannered, easily trained ones) because He puts His righteousness on them—and that title, that stems from His righteousness, welcomes us to Him.

So now I love that verse.

The Best Advice

When I was a teenager, I visited a local nursing home from time to time.  

One day a good friend of mine went with me to the nursing home and a rude woman barked at her. I don't mean that figuratively. I mean she barked like a dog. And then she said, "You know why I'm barking at you? Because you look like a dog!" Nice. I guess that proves that not every cute old lady is sweet. 

However, there was this one woman I visited many times who had the kindest expression on her face. She was in a wheelchair and when I walked up to her she would take my hand and look at me so earnestly, often with tears in her eyes. She would repeat one sentence over and over again— the only sentence I ever heard her speak. She would say, "Love one another! Love one another! Love one another!" She said it like it was the most important message in the world, and I think it really was. 

I wonder what her life must have been like? No one's life is lived perfectly. It must have been full of good and bad decisions, happy and sad stories, victories and failures. I imagine she must have been convinced of God's love for her because her heart was clearly overflowing. Isn't that amazing? At the end of her life, when everything else had slipped from her mind, she still remembered, "love one another."