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we gave them new names. we had to.

August 20, 2008

brent and i bought our first home in 1996. we purchased in a new neighborhood that was filling up quickly with young families. shortly after we moved in, the house to our left was sold and we met our new neighbors within weeks. they came over and introduced themselves. we had no idea what they were saying. they were speaking english, but we couldn’t understand them. they had moved from russia just 4 years prior and their english was still very broken. so, because we couldn’t understand much of what they said, or even how to pronounce their names…we called them, vodka and smirnoff. it worked for everyone. they were amused.

i remember the day vodka, the husband, came over and was so excited because the men were bringing his S.O.D., his new lawn, SOD. but he called it by each letter, S…O…D. so awesome!

i learned that smirnoff learned english by watching soap operas from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the week! yes. it’s true. it explained all the dramatic pauses in our conversations.

today i was thinking of smirnoff (i truly do not know her real name) and thought about how she got something useful out of something that doesn’t really offer much in terms of personal growth, character building or wisdom. but she did the best with it and it benefited her well. she took one aspect of it and used it to her advantage. she learned english from soap operas!

how often do we as christians stay inside our little bubble and clicks because we are convinced that anything outside of that is useless or evil? we don our holier than thou attitudes and miss out on community and culture, the beauty of the world that He has created, the differences in others that we can glean from.

if we choose to, we can see good in everything. we can learn from anyone, in any situation and environment. the key to all wisdom and life perfected is not solely within my bubble of Christ followers…it is in the world He created, the world outside our church doors. in connecting with others who don’t always share our views.

your thoughts?

31 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2008 4:31 am

    if we choose to, we can see good in everything

    I would have to disagree a bit with this. Maybe not disagree but say it different.

    If we choose to allow God to show us, he will show us the good in everything. For he works everything to the good for his Kingdom.

    But you are so correct in that we have to get out of the boat, into the crashing waves, out of our comfort zone, into the realm of the unknown, where Jesus is holding out His hand…. (Hmmm that should be a song or something… 😉 )

    Have a wonderful Christ filled day Tam

  2. Heidi permalink
    August 20, 2008 4:43 am

    “if we choose to, we can see good in everything. we can learn from anyone, in any situation and environment. the key to all wisdom and life perfected is not solely within my bubble of Christ followers”

    This is a dangerous statement among believers. Some “christians” would say heck no that you cannot be exposed to a martini or Days of our lives. It’s iced tea and the 700 club!!

    Myself (heidi speaking) I am a Christ follower. I need to be among the crowd and I need to be exposed. But I also have to MAKE RIGHT CHOICES. If I walk inside jazz cafe (because I love music) then I will, it doesn’t mean I am walking out smashed. If I chose to watch Days of our lives and see Marlena resurrected for the 35th time I need to with a good conscience.

    I get bugged when people put labels on me. My greatest ministry as a Christ Follower is in the crowd and so was Jesus. You didn’t find him in the synagogue praying every minute of the day, you found him working, socializing, and

    mostly you found Him in the crowd!!!

  3. August 20, 2008 4:54 am


    For God so loved the WORLD…

  4. August 20, 2008 5:22 am

    I agree wholeheartedly – if you are afraid that your Christianity would rub off when you are away from a ‘Christian’ environment, then it isn’t real Christianity – it’s a veneer.

    When I am at work I don’t stand on a desk and preach – I live my life according to the Scriptures and be authentic with all people. Several times people have come to me privately and said, “I know you are a real Christian.” and I’m usually shocked! How did they know? Because I wear my Christianity on my sleeve…..

    One other thing…

    Speaking about the fact that Tam’s neighbours used soap operas to learn English – God is awesome! He has spoken to me through movies several times – so much so that I regularly reference movie quotes when I’m praying or prophesying! As I am speaking, the Lord reminds me of a relevant part of a movie, and I usually speak it out: “As Gandalf said, “You cannot pass!”” (Lord of the Rings quote) when going thorough a spiritual warfare session. I have several movies that are in my collection solely because God has and does speak to me through them. I use the quotes so often that my church family went through a stage that when I referenced movies they’d roll their eyes – but they’ve finally accepted that I’m special like that. 😉

  5. August 20, 2008 5:43 am

    Mama and I are about as conservative as Christians can be – there are exceptions. We have a TV but are very cautious with what we watch – no soap operas. We drink no alcohol – zero! Having said that, I agree with you totally Tam – you need no further clarification. I would have recommended they learn english from Star Trek (Beam me up Scotty!)! I do not think mama and I judge just because our personal convictions may be different than yours – we serve the same savior. I think Jesus, if he were here today in the flesh, would go in Vodka & Smirnoff’s house and sit down with them and work on english with them – after all Jesus didn’t speak english either!!

  6. August 20, 2008 5:45 am

    LOL!!! Would it be okay to say I’d take one of each(the actual drinks) as I bare this stupid storm day!

    I have neighbors across the street….oooh they are different. But extremely nice.

    It is a couple who moved from Germany, the lady was my substitute teacher at one point(I wasn’t the most behaved student…). And they have three kids a few years older than me.
    And they are freakin’ GENUISES!!! and…their dad works for NASA…

    So…they just remind me of ” Blast From The Past” meets ” The Coneheads”…is that bad to say?

    Like I said they are nice…but extremely weird!

  7. TheNorEaster permalink
    August 20, 2008 6:02 am

    “your thoughts?”

    What a nightmare the world would be if Jesus had stayed inside a bubble.

  8. August 20, 2008 6:30 am

    Such an awesome story! Vodka and Smirnoff! lol

    Very good lesson too.

  9. August 20, 2008 6:42 am

    My thoughts are that believers do have a calling to have some sense of the world – if that’s what it takes to reach the world. With a balance of accountability – plenty of time in the Word and around godly people – we can be around the not-particularly-holy things the world dishes out and be just fine spiritually. TheNorEaster is right that Jesus set that example for us of balance between godliness and being approachable/available to everyone that doesn’t believe the same way. I would, however, caution a weak or new believer about using this principle to justify too much time around worldiness. I have seen one too many Christian fall head-long into a stronghold of sin because they weren’t discerning and hadn’t yet developed the strong foundation that is needed first.

  10. August 20, 2008 7:11 am

    “how often do we as christians stay inside our little bubble and clicks because we are convinced that anything outside of that is useless or evil? we don our holier than thou attitudes and miss out on community and culture, the beauty of the world that He has created, the differences in others that we can glean from.”

    We have encountered this here a bit. It’s funny b/c Minot North Dakota is more “bible belt attitude” than Missouri was. 😕 Go figure.

  11. oneDirection permalink
    August 20, 2008 7:29 am

    Couldn’t agree more, seems like I am learning more and more about what you are talking about. Growing up in my 20’s I seem to find that I crash and burn more if I stay in that bubble then if I am out and about learning and challenging what I believe to myself and others.

  12. August 20, 2008 7:43 am

    Wow, you sound inspired. I completely agree with you.

    It’s not often I do that with anyone.

  13. August 20, 2008 9:57 am

    Agree, out of the bubble, learn what you can from others, dare to go places that some would not feel appropiate…but ALWAYS take Jesus with me..
    Loved lots of the comments..Jesus was in the crowd lots..and it really does come down to following HIM, HE is moving, and its not just with the believers…how else will we be able to do what we are called to do according to the end of Matthew 28? ..just my thoughts…

  14. August 20, 2008 10:01 am

    that is so funny! it’s even funnier that they like it too!

    i heard someone else recently learning english from the soaps.

  15. ramsey72 permalink
    August 20, 2008 10:46 am

    I totally agree….I listened to a great podcast by Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC about Christians and culture. It was right on. We have got to get rid of our self-righteous arrogant attitudes and go meet the people where they are. That is what Paul did. He didn’t stay confined to the church, he went where the people were and he spoke their language. Check it out on ITunes if you get a chance.

  16. August 20, 2008 10:55 am

    I think we can learn from all sorts of folks. We can learn that some are right on and some are not. We can learn what we want to do and what we don’t want to do.

    Just keep some balance.

  17. August 20, 2008 2:26 pm

    I think the real moral of the story here is that soaps are beneficial.

    Just sayin. 😆

  18. August 20, 2008 2:52 pm


  19. August 20, 2008 3:32 pm

    Just last weekend I was sharing with a friend that I’d like to get a job in a bookstore. She suggested that I apply at a Christian bookstore so that way I could meet other Christians. I told her that is all I have is Christian friends. That is my point. I want to meet others that view life differently.

  20. August 20, 2008 3:53 pm

    ive been away most of the day registering one kiddo fro school and coloring the other ones hair, grocery shopping, cleaning. oh. and i managed to fit in a bathroom break. thought you should know 😉

    carl – yes. with God we see things completely different. which is a given (in my mind) in my statement. that is who i am and how i try to see things on a regular basis. things, people, opportunities seem to look completely different and hopeful when viewed from His angle.

    heidi – the labels bug me too. but, i think for the most part, we christians have created the label. thats the sad thing. we need to do away with the labels (although there will always be the ones who are lemon suckers) and get ‘out there’ and live His purpose, not others purposes.

    @ngie – “WORLD” that pretty much sums it up! well said, beautiful!

    bajanpoet – this is one of the reason brent wrote a post on “christian” vs “secular” – it segregates, compartmentalizes and creates division where the labels and mis-perceptions begin to take root.

    papa – yes. we serve the same savior! i love that. on a side note – its one of the reasons why my hearts breaks when there are scripture wars and a judgmental attitude mostly over personal convictions. its a hard one for me. but i have never once seen that in you and mama! love you Papa!

    ang – so are you saying you cant judge a book by its cover?

    nor – AMEN!!!

    brad – thinkin of their fake names last night was cracking me up! they were awesome people!

    epiphany – i 100% concur with your caution. that happened to my sister. she acknowledged Christ for who He is and within months left to go back home to missouri cuz she wanted to “save our family”. we told her over and over she wasnt ready and it wasnt her job to “save them”. but she went anyway…she is no longer walking with the Lord…

    brandy – its clicky there? i can totally see you shaking things up tho! yes? 😉

    oneD – hey girl! i getcha! its like i become this robot or something if i dont get out…i just think its healthy to taste and experience life outside of our sphere of influence. i love you!

    hover – dude – wow! if you saw me now you would see my jaw on the floor!

    darla – yes, yes! always take Jesus with you (us). there is a danger of becoming too self-reliant. leaning on our own knowledge and letting His word take back seat. i have done that too many times. it aint fun or worth it. love you princess!

    danielle – i remember my husband saying that if smirnoff suddenly walked over and slapped him across the face he would have to take it in stride, knowing she probably learned it from the soaps 😀

    ramsey – “We have got to get rid of our self-righteous arrogant attitudes and go meet the people where they are. That is what Paul did. He didn’t stay confined to the church, he went where the people were and he spoke their language.”

    yes – yes – yes!!! I LOVE THAT!!! thats a whole sermon just right there! such a good word! thank you!

    cindy – i agree. and that applies to believers and unbelievers. the responsibility has to fall back on us. making sure to take everything to Him for inspection.

    alece – glad we agree! love you!

  21. August 20, 2008 3:54 pm

    B. – this is what i mean. i do not think Jesus would only work in Christian establishments. He wouldnt only attend “Christian” outings. i wonder if He would at all. so what are you gonna do??

  22. August 20, 2008 7:46 pm

    Tam, not clicky, but very “tsk tsk” from some churches we’ve encountered, and even just looking online for a church, it’s CLEAR we would not be feel free there. y/k?

    I think I’m just still shocked at what happened with my friend at her church. Oh we are still friends, I absolutely love her, but I had never EVER felt like an outsider at church before.

    I was talking to a church receptionist yesterday (one we are checking out this weekend) and she and I talked for a LONG time. There was lots of laughing. 😉 Anyway, I made a comment about being “accepted” at some churches and she said “oh yes, you will find that around here.” 😦 It’s just sad. And annoying.

    I do have to laugh though because my friend is sort of “tsk tsk” about some things. I slipped and said the dreaded S word when she scared me yesterday. That was awkward. 😆 And when she found out we drink, well, yeah, that was awkward too. 😆

    You know, just stuff like that. It’s funny because we totally get along on every level and talk several times a week, if not daily. And her kids play with mine, we swap babysitting, and on and one. But when it comes to our beliefs, even though we’re both Christian, there is clearly a divide.

  23. August 20, 2008 8:53 pm

    The more of life that we experience the more we learn about life. The more we limit our exposure to include only those people who live as we do, the less we will learn about life. It is impossible to predict how life will challenge us. The greater the variety of our experiences the better able we will be to meet whatever life throws at us. It’s is in the challenges we face in life that we learn how strong our faith is.

    If we want to influence society we need to live in it. We won’t have much influence in our society if we only live with people who have a similar lifestyle and system of belief. If we want society to adopt our beliefs than that means dealing with people who do not think as we do.

    I also simply think that the more people I meet from different countries, cultures and life styles the more interesting my life becomes. The more friends I make the better my life becomes.

  24. August 20, 2008 9:14 pm

    brandi – eeks – sounds like life lived in boxes. time to live out of this box right now. then this one later. or am i reading it wrong. i think of when i used to be such and such way with certain people, depending on the situation..i realized i was living by regulations of acceptability by mans expectations. its such a stressful way to live. there is no freedom in that. and im not talking about freedom to deface the name of God…but freedom to live out our convictions in Him while staying true to His will for our life as we know it and as He has revealed to us. make sense? sometimes i dont. this i know 😯

    ed – you just said what i was trying to say in my post…only SO MUCH BETTER than me! AMEN!!! thank you for those wise words friend!

  25. August 20, 2008 9:29 pm

    [ I just have to say I am in complete boredom]

    Can’t judge a book by its cover….yea I know lol.

    I think we all have strange people outside of our own home…down the street, a city further, a state further, a world further…they just exist…:-)

  26. August 20, 2008 9:47 pm

    girl…some of us have strange people INSIDE our home. trust me 😯

  27. August 20, 2008 10:23 pm

    Tam, yes I get what you’re saying. 😉

    And I completely agree.

  28. LSOF permalink
    August 20, 2008 10:23 pm

    Yes…but I try not to think about the crazies around me:) LOL

  29. August 21, 2008 2:05 pm

    Sorry Tam – missed this post.

    Yeah, I’m totally hearing you on this. It’s another one of those issues where there is a balance which, when lost, produces either a falling away or judgmentalism. We have to be IN this world, but now OF this world. Figuring out how to do that every day can get tricky. One of the strongest things I think my parents could have given me (which they did give me, I mean) is a good, solid, healthy, Christian environment to grow up in. Truly, I see the benefits of this every day. The weaknesses that they passed along with it, were not knowing how to respond and relate to those who lived in a very different environment. This is what life (to a large part where I work) has gradually taught me. Although there is SO much to learn still.

    One of my best friends has 5 little girls (is about to deliver her 6th – a boy this time) and came from probably an even more radical Christian environment than I did. But her family has always reached out. I just had the three oldest over for a sleepover. Their ages are … 9, 7, and 6. I had them go outside and play for about 20 minutes. In that time, they made friends with a couple of neighbor girls, played tag, witnessed to them about Christ, asked them if they wanted to get saved, prayed the prayer of salvation with them, then taught them about being filled in the Holy Spirit. WOW! I mean, I know all this stuff, but … it was culture shock to me a bit. These girls come from what is easily the most ‘sheltered’ (in most people’s terminology) environment you could possibly find. I mean, their mom (my friend) wouldn’t let them watch Veggie Tales until they were a certain age because there were bad attitudes in it. She has come under so much flack for raising her kids in such a … pristine (don’t want to say strict) environment. Yet I have never met kids like her kids before. At the end of the day after we made dinner, I was pretty sleepy. One of them noticed, and said, “Are you tired?” “Well, yeah, I am a bit.” “You should lay down.” They took me into my room, laid me down on the bed; one of them took my hand, the other my foot, and the other my back, and they started to massage me and sing songs over me. It was ministry. Right there in my house. From 3 girls who don’t know what the ‘real’ world is. Amazing.

    All that to say, I know it is possible – to live IN this world, but not be OF this world. Christians just haven’t known how to do it for so long … we have a long learning curve. Churches taught for so long that to stay ‘holy’ you had to ‘separate yourself’ from the world. While these words and passages are in Scripture, the meaning was buried under piles of self-righteousness … because Jesus never made himself an island. Yet He never lost His holiness.

    Really great thoughts, Tam. Thanks for posting.

  30. August 21, 2008 2:24 pm

    i just know so many people who will not allow themselves or their children to anything that isnt church related. ever. and my own personal feeling is that that is such a waste. and im sorry if that sounds harsh…it is not my heart to be. i just dont see the good in keeping to ourselves and our own little groups. and i think the biggest disservice is done to the children. (not the ones you mentioned above…wow! amazing!!!) but whats gonna happen when these other kids face opposition one day, when they hear a “bad” word, or if someone says they dont like jesus? will they prepared for that? i dont know. it will be a culture shock and something they cannot relate to.

    i want me and my family to be so grounded in Him that all that cultures and different environments can do is season and enhance the existence of Him and His love in us so that it pours out and flavors the lives around us!

  31. August 21, 2008 3:07 pm

    WOW! I just found your blog & this very entry in itself is an answer to a prayer request of mine. It is a long & sorted story, so I won’t bore you with all of the details but please know that find you & this entry today has been a blessing to me!

    Fabulous blog! 🙂

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