Smell You Later

Will Smith, as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, famously rapped the phrase “smell ya later” as he departed a cab that apparently had a foul smell. Smells are something I am extremely sensitive to. I will never buy another front load washer because of the smell that lingers because we forget a load of laundry in it for more than an hour. The days of diapers are happily behind me while the smells of dirty diapers have created haunting memories. Strong perfume and cologne (to all you AXE preteens, spray less…way less) give me headaches, most of the time.

One lady from our church has a perfume that sticks on me for a couple hours after she gives me a hug. She is one of those people that is always so happy to see you, always greets you with a warm hello and a hug and a kiss. She is interested in your life, genuinely interested. For those couple of hours after we greet each other, the smell of her perfume that lingers on me brings to mind the smile and warmth of the sweet “aunty” that I always look forward to seeing.

What smell do you leave with people? I know I have many growing areas that have rubbed people the wrong way. I’m certain that certain interactions have left people stuck with the stench of my poor attitude or sharp temperament. I’m trying to make sure people walk away with a sweet fragrance and fond memories of my interactions with them, even if just a passing moment. There are so many characteristic of Christ that I aspire to, love, compassion, mercy, grace, etc. I know if I strive for those things, the aroma will be pleasing to most.

Of course I know for myself I can do nothing else but rely on my Lord Jesus Christ for such sweet fragrance. All those acts of love and compassion are just preludes to the greatest act of compassion which was Jesus on the cross. If my actions stop at myself, I am selling people short.

In 2 Corinthians Paul is writing to the church in Corinth and it appears there are some challenges. His words to them from God are to push forward in sharing the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. He uses the imagery of a victory march after a battle where incense would be burned. To those who are victorious, the smell is sweet. To those who are defeated, the smell is of death. He says in chapter 2 verses 15-17

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

My hope is to be a sweet smell to those I meet. I want to ultimately leave people with the fragrance of life, life that is only from Jesus Christ. The battle is won, victory has been established, and I’m just a messenger of that good news. If I have no love and just preach to people, I risk becoming a “peddler of God’s word”. There must be the sweet fragrance of love, but in the end my calling is to swing my censer of incense in the victory of Jesus. The sweetest fragrance of all.

What smell will you leave lingering in your path? -jason

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Mind Over Manners

Something has been replaying in my mind the last few days. Our family stopped off to get some food for a potluck. We walked into the restaurant and I noticed a transgender individual sitting, waiting for an order. I didn’t think twice about this individual, I just went to look at the menu.

In Hawaii there are very open and supportive LGBT policies and views. Perhaps this is why I have never really thought much about my interaction with anyone that was homosexual or transgender. While my personal views hold me to the belief that it is not a lifestyle I should choose, I understand and respect that others do not hold the same belief. I have friends that choose this lifestyle and I love them just as I love any of my other friends. I don’t think I have ever been uncomfortable around an LGBT individual because of their lifestyle choice, until now.

As I stood looking at the food, Kammy comes up to me and in a LOUD whisper says, “Dad! Is that a man or woman?” HUH? How do I answer that? In my adult mind I can reconcile this situation, but how to I explain that to a 5-year-old right in front of this individual? My first thought is, “I don’t know what this person would like to be identified as!” I’m trying to formulate how to address this and she repeats it two more times. By the second time she says it, Jonah jumps in, and his whisper is even louder. “DAD! Is that a man or woman?”

I’m sure it was probably over the duration of only a minute, but it felt like an hour had passed. I rein my mind in and I tell the kids, “Why don’t you introduce yourself?” Before I complete my first word this individual says, “It’s okay. Really. It’s okay.” Geez, I was not ready for that conversation. It was right up there with, “Dad, is that lady pregnant?” Kids, have a way to create some awkward moments.

My mind, in trying to find the best politically correct thing to say, made me forget my manners. My core belief is that all creation is from the Lord and He loves His creation. When asked the greatest commandment Jesus says, love God and the second is like it, love others as yourself. The “right” thing to say overshadowed my core beliefs. It was my mind over my manners.

I’m sure I am probably going to get some backlash for this post. I’m sure there are many beliefs our there and you all would handle the situation differently. For me, I think the next time I’m in that situation I would walk Kamryn over and I would say, “It is not polite to ask a person if they are a man or a woman, but we can introduce ourselves and say, ‘Hi, my name is Kamryn.’” In my opinion transgender, homosexual, heterosexual or whatever other classification is out there, we must see a person beyond their sexual preferences. That’s what I want my kids to know. That’s what I want to teach them. Maybe then they won’t stumble on their mind over their manners. -jason

V.O.G.

 

This vog has really made the last couple of days miserable for me. Vog is a word that combines volcanic and fog (or smog). The vog contains high volumes of sulfur dioxide. These gases travel across the islands and create allergic reactions for many who live here. Watery eyes, sinus issues, sore throat, headaches and in some people it can even cause more serious respiratory issues.

My allergies have overwhelmed any desire for me to get out and do anything on this beautiful Sunday. So I lay in bed and rest. I was thinking about the vog, where it comes from. It’s this active volcano, the life source of the islands. Through this outpouring of earth’s magma, the islands, which I call home, were formed. Hawaii is a favorite destination for many, paradise as it is often described. Without the volcanoes that spewed the lava, there would be no islands. The vog is a product of the very thing that formed the ground I stand on, but it’s also the source of my allergic suffering.

Sometimes, good things have negative side effects. Let just call it, V.O.G. – Variance Of Good. Things and deeds that are good can sometimes produce negative side effects. When I worked in social services, there were examples of services and programs that on one hand were good, but then resulted in negative side effects. My three little kids are very thoughtful and helpful and sometimes their good intentions result in more work for mommy and daddy. We’ve all heard that phrase, ”I was just trying to help.”

Perhaps it is a good reminder for all of us. As we plan for the good we can stop and ask ourselves, “What kind of V.O.G. will this produce?” Sometimes the negative side effects are unavoidable and less than the benefit. Other times we may see that the “variance of good” is not worth moving forward on our best intentions. Never stop doing good deeds, never stop loving people. Do them with awareness of VOG you might be producing. -jason

Composing Your Life Song

 

My car radio preferences go through seasons. They fluctuate from news and sports talk radio, to sermons, to a variety of musical genres. I stumbled across AM940, “All traditional Hawaiian, all the time.” I’ve been listening to that regularly on my recent drives. It’s the same station my dad listened to often when I was a kid.

I think that is why I am drawn to it. There is something about that hollow, monophonic Hawaiian falsetto and slack key guitar that takes me back. It may be archaic in technology, but powerful in its ability to teleport me to a different time. Vivid memories of our house in Kuliouou and that music coming out of the garage throughout the day come to my mind. Suddenly I am hunting mongoose with my BB gun on the hillside next to our house, or riding my bicycle around the driveway. A lady comes on with a Hawaiian greeting and announces the time. Static breaks in an out as my dad moves around in the garage.

Amazing how things are so attached to memories. Things we wouldn’t imagine. Recently Emily and I had a discussion about our kids. What do you want them to remember? We have been happy that they are playing outside more. They dig in the dirt, climb the avocado trees and explore the hill behind our house. Sometimes they can stay out there the whole day. It’s great. When they think back to their childhood, I hope those memories are tied to those things over television, or iPads. When they are older and they hear a particular song, or eat a certain food, or catch the scent of certain smells, they think fondly of their childhood and the times that we have had together as a family.

In some ways we are all writing our own song. The things that pique nostalgia are the verses and choruses of our lives. The people around us hear our song, hear the tunes we play and sing and they love it or hate it. When they catch the familiar rhythms and beats that we have composed, it’ll either be happy memories, or unhappy ones.

What do people feel when they listen to your song? Some may like it, some may hate it, and some may not notice it at all. Everything you do and say gets written into your song. These things not only impact your memory, but the people around you.

May your lives be music to the hearts of the people around you. -jason

 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” Psalm 100:1