Neither Hot nor Cold

There comes a time in everyone’s life when technology passes you by. It seems my time has come. I’ve recently described my tempestuous relationship with our microwave (which is no better) and I am constantly struggling with my wifi, iPhone, and all things Bluetooth. My latest brouhaha is with our thermostat – and it isn’t the constant battle for supremacy between husband and wife; I lost that long ago. No, my new thermostat seems to be trying to bring religion along with total home comfort.

At the end of last summer, our upstairs air conditioner stopped working. I called the man who said the AC needed something fairly inexpensive (WIN), but both of our furnaces were in need of replacement (LOSS). Our house is eighteen years old; it is that time when systems fail. So we bit the bullet.

Along with the systems, we got a high-tech thermostat that I named Coolio (Dad joke….) I find it awesome that I can manipulate the temperature of my house with an app on my phone! Sometimes I change it a degree or two just because I can. It makes me feel some measure of control even though I know I have none.


When my oldest came home from school and saw it mounted on the wall she said, “we aren’t nearly cool enough for that!”

“Au contraire, mon ami,” I exclaimed. “It doesn’t take being cool, it just takes a big check.”

Coolio and I have lived in harmony since September. He did a great job through winter of keeping the house warm. The AC man came back out recently  for a spring tune-up and said our main unit was getting close to wearing out. I told him my bank account was to and we agreed on a band-aid for this year.

And then came the season of in-between: when Atlanta’s indecisive weather can be 35 in the morning and 80 in the afternoon. Coolio was set on heat AND cool for those days… only it didn’t cool. The poor fan blew and blew but never turned off. The air wasn’t coolio.

Fear crept into my heart Friday. I began to prepare for the phone call that would cost another $5000 and bemoaned all the fun I could have with that money.

On Saturday I decided we were past the need of early morning heat and just switched Coolio to cool. To my amazement, when it signaled the air conditioner… it worked. Cold air blew through the registers. It’s a springtime miracle!

Like any old codger, I began pondering the technological facts – searching for reasons that elude me.

Heat / Cool

Hot / Cold

Hot nor Cold

That’s when it dawned on me: Coolio is quoting scripture. He’s proselytizing me… calling me out.

“So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”    –Revelation 3:16

Now I don’t mind if Coolio is some crazy street-corner prophet. I can ignore that as easy as I do the pearly-toothed televangelist. After all, I barely go down the hall. But what if God is really speaking to me through my thermostat? Is Coolio right? Am I lukewarm???

I mean, God spoke to Balaam through his donkey, why not use a thermostat in today’s day and age?

I don’t know what’s going on here. I’m just glad I don’t have to get a new AC right now. But if Coolio flashes an address for me to send a donation in exchange for healing, I’ll know he’s in cahoots with the televangelists. When that day comes, Coolio will be Gonio.



A View from the Back

I’ve always felt like if you are going to do something, you should go all-in. Not only should you commit to the fullest, you should urge others to jump into the pool, too. I never understood people sitting on the sidelines watching others pull the load.

If your kid is playing ball, you should be coaching.

If you believe in the issue, lead the charge.

If you’re a member, actively participate.

Everyone should be all-in. Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Be 100% committed. These have been my mantras and I don’t think they are inherently wrong or bad. What is wrong is the judgment and lack of sympathy for others who aren’t in accord. This epiphany came to me during an innocuous conversation last week.

I was asked to sit on a panel at Emory University to speak to young people who hope to go into medicine. The topic was patient experience – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having experienced each of those during our cancer treatment, I was able to elucidate all three positions. One of my fellow speakers was a cancer mom I have met digitally, but never in person, although I have interviewed her daughter via FaceTime.

Before the event started, we were in the midst of a good conversation regarding church and faith when she asked where we went to church. A legitimate question… but it has a trick answer. For the first time in our married lives, we don’t have a church home. Right now, church doesn’t feel right. The two congregations that loved us through Kylie’s sickness and death both worship in sanctuaries that contain stages on which she performed numerous times. To sit through a service at either place is to see her singing, acting, and dancing. We tried for a while and never heard a sermon… we just heard her.

We do go to church – sometimes “homechurch”, but frequently a large church where the sermons are deep and thought-provoking. It’s a place where there are plenty of opportunities to serve, but also contains a huge, packed sanctuary where people can sit in the back and get lost in the masses. I explained that we had always been active leaders who taught and served, but right now we need to blend in the back.

“This should be a lesson to us that everyone at church can be at a different place in their life and have different needs,” my new friend wisely said.

I’m a dense sort. I smiled, agreed, and went on until later in the day when I was alone, something started gnawing at me. That epiphany jumped up and bit me.

You see, for all of those years, not only have I been on my church’s front row, I’ve looked down on the people in the back row – the 80% not pulling their weight. Oh, I never confronted anyone, but I certainly considered them inactive leaches while we pious 20% did the heavy lifting. And now, from my new seat, I realize that while I sat in judgment, there are plenty of legitimate life situations that plant people in the back row. I probably looked down on many helpless and hurting people. Rather than condemn them, I should have been more loving and celebrated the fact that they had the strength to make it through the door.

And this doesn’t just pertain to church. Maybe a bunch of those dads who wouldn’t coach soccer with me or build theater sets felt lost, inadequate, or had issues I couldn’t have dreamed of.

 Wow! This self-discovery stuff is great until you discover you are the one with the problem.




A Pharisee, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22: 35-40 (NIV)