Beware of the Blob! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Long after midnight, while watching a creepy classic on the late late movie, we see it: a scene so hideous in its simple truth, so horrifying that— We shudder and try to look away, but it’s too late; and now, we may never be able to fully purge the sickening image from our fevered brains!

The scene: in a dimly-lit kitchen a woman is removing what appears to be an ordinary cookie sheet from her oven. Unbeknownst to her, however, a strange alien substance has covered the cookie sheet … an evil, slimy film that’s been lurking there … awaiting the right moment to strike.

The nasty stuff begins to grow … rising, taking on a ghoulish shape. It’s grey and gooey, sticky and scarier than anything we’ve seen before!

Wait a minute, we cry in unison. Are we watching a repeat of The Blob with Steve McQueen? Remember that 1958 sci-fi flick? Hapless viewers were warned by the movie’s opening theme song, “Beware of the blob! It creeps; And leaps, and glides and slides; Across the floor; Right through the door; And all around the wall — A splotch, a blotch! Be careful of the blob!” Corny? Hey, watch it! The great pop composer Burt Bacharach wrote those crazy lyrics!

All this aside, we were absolutely wrong. Guess our minds wandered a moment, and we hadn’t realized we were now watching a commercial for Pam Cooking Spray. You know, the stuff that keeps food from sticking to pots, pans and baking surfaces.

Apparently, the lady in the commercial had forgotten to spray on the Pam, and now the thin residue of old food, which clung tenaciously to her cookie sheet, was rising up to expose her mistake. “I am the ghost of meals past,” it proclaims, ready to haunt your tastebuds with the disgusting flavors of meals long gone but not quite forgotten.

Imagine, a funky residue of spinach quiche invading the taste of your chocolate chip cookies! Nothing ruins the enjoyment of a good cookie more than something nasty-tasting mingling with the butter and brown sugar! Yuck!

And, heh, life is like a cookie sheet. No, really! In life, we make mistakes; we encounter conflicts and disappointments; and in our relationships we experience, at one time or another, hurts, misunderstandings, and even betrayals. Sometimes the pain and disillusionment of the past lingers on. It sticks to us like that gooey glob in the Pam commercial! We think we’ve moved on, but a thin film of nasty experiences sticks to our hearts. It’s those memories that leave a “bad taste” in our mouths — months, even years, later. These “ghosts” can continue to haunt us, with emotional “residue” that can contaminate fresh relationships and new experiences, preventing us from fully tasting all the good things in life!

Why do bad things seem to stick, even long after we “forgive and forget”? Well, with God, forgiveness and acceptance are instant. The Bible states, “God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, He forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong.” (1 John 1:9 GOD’S WORD)

There’s no residue of the past, because nothing sticks! The cookie sheet of our lives is left clean as a whistle! And our loving, merciful Heavenly Father does not bring up the past to mess up the “flavor” of our present. Instead, He casts “all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19 Jubilee Bible). In other words, He scours the “pan” and then flushes the residue down the drain!

Alas, if only people could do the same! Being weak and fallen creatures (say “humans”), we tend to cling to our hurts and disappointments. This partly stems from self-righteousness. Ouch! We all make mistakes, and we’ve all let someone down in the past. But we refuse to consider the old proverb, “To err is human, to forgive divine!” So we need to give those who hurt us a break. After all, they’re only human! Spray on the PAM of love and forgiveness! “For Love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NLT)

We need to cut ourselves some slack, too. Some emotional wounds do take time to heal. And yet, even after forgiving ourselves and others — and moving forward — we may still feel some emotional residue. But that’s where God comes into the picture! He is like spiritual PAM!

As we grow closer to God, we become more like Him. We begin to see things the way He sees them, and we begin to respond the way God would respond. As we mature in the Lord, we are better able to overcome hurts and disappointments. We get better at forgiving, and better at going through life without having every insult and injury stick to us!

We can only truly forgive and move forward when we include God in the process. So, be honest with your Heavenly Father. Present your hurts to Him in prayer. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT) Ask Him to scrape away any emotional residue, to give you a divine perspective, and cover you with His love!

A little spiritual PAM will keep you free from those ugly emotional blobs that come creeping and crawling — and which try to cling to the heart. Don’t get stuck! Be free! Free from being haunted by the ghosts of past mistakes, hurts, and disappointments. Free to taste the good things God has prepared for you. (Ephesians 2:10)

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A Fool and His Money? (Diet for Dreamers)

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All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. —Walt Disney

Many of us are familiar with the story: a young Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because he “lacked imagination”! Learning that one of the world’s most creative and successful entrepreneurs struggled through his own share of rejection, is incredibly inspiring for the rest of us wannabes. Unfortunately, Uncle Walt never worked for a newspaper. He did work for an ad agency, however; only he was never fired from the company.

It’s impossible to find a reliable source for this fanciful anecdote. Like most urban legends, someone somewhere got the facts wrong, and we’ve been repeating the “story” ever since. But it’s all good. Disney did have his share of misfortunes, and he did face many naysayers in the course of achieving his dreams — including two in his own family!

One obstacle Walt Disney dealt with repeatedly was financing. In the early 1950s, when Disney announced his plans to construct a 160-acre theme park in California, there were no investors lining up to help foot the bill — which ultimately grew to $17 million. Disney was turned down by so many banks that he finally devised an alternate means of funding the project: he created a weekly anthology show called Disneyland, which he gave to the fledgling American Broadcasting Network. ABC was ranked third behind CBS and NBC, so the “alphabet network” benefited greatly from airing the popular show. In return, ABC joined with Western Publishing (which had gotten the rights to publish comics and activity books based on Disney characters) in bankrolling Disney’s dream world.

Disneyland opened in 1955 and immediately became one of the chief destinations of vacationers from across the globe. There’s an ancient proverb that “a fool and his money are soon parted,” but that certainly wasn’t the case with Walt Disney. He may have had the most grandiose dreams, but he was no fool — contrary to what his critics thought.

Disney hadn’t always been the best business manager, though. Based on the financial success of his earliest cartoons, he and his brother Roy had purchased their own animation studio, Laugh-O-Gram, in 1922. Then Disney recruited the best animators he could find, paying each of them a salary far more generous than Disney could balance against his studio’s profits. Within months, Laugh-O-Gram went bankrupt.

Further defeats lay ahead of Disney. His first breakout cartoon character was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a comical and “exceptionally clever” creation that was not only a hit at the movies, but which also made beaucoup bucks in merchandising. But Uncle Walt saw very little of the profits; he’d signed a contract with Universal Pictures which gave the studio complete ownership. Eventually Universal hired away most of Disney’s animators and then took over the production end of the Oswald cartoons. Universal had gotten a “Lucky Rabbit.” Walt had gotten the boot!

Such failed business ventures don’t exactly bolster confidence in one’s ability to succeed. Which is why the creator’s next project was universally greeted with dismay. Uncle Walt wanted to do something that had never been attempted before; he wanted to produce a feature-length animated movie — based on the children’s fairy tale, Snow White. He also wanted realistically rendered human characters and elaborate special effects. To create his unorthodox masterpiece, Disney would need to hire an art professor to train his animators in a more realistic style of design; and the studio would need to experiment with advanced processes and, hence, purchase all new equipment, such as a multiplane camera.

When the film industry learned of the project, they jokingly dubbed it “Disney’s Folly,” confident that such a movie couldn’t be made and that attempting such an audacious feat would ruin Disney Studios. And it almost did. The production, which commenced in early 1934, took the better part of three years, and before the movie was finished the studio did indeed run out of money. In order to finance the remaining work, Uncle Walt screened a rough cut of the film to a group of investors who applauded it.

Shirley Temple presents “Uncle Walt” with an Oscar for Snow White — with 7 mini statures to represent the dwarves!

Meanwhile, Disney’s brother Roy begged the creator not to gamble with the studio’s future. And even Disney’s wife pleaded with him to drop the project. But Disney refused to give up on his dream. He also refused to let his past mistakes define him, or to listen to well-intentioned advice from people who couldn’t catch the vision. Then again, perhaps he was just stubborn.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was the most successful movie of 1938. During its initial run, the film earned $8,000,000 — which today is roughly equivalent to $135 million. Disney was often, precariously, parted from his money, but he was no fool. Just a dreamer.

Don’t allow yourself to be defined by past failures. Dream big. Follow your instincts and the leading of the Lord. “You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21 GW)

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