Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gotta’ Get Plugged In

   I use laptops, one at work, and my own at home. For one meeting, I moved all of the required technical components into a conference room, hooked up the network cable, plugged in, and then moved the mouse. Now wait a minute – why isn’t the cursor moving? I moved it, clicked it, moving the little mouse wheel thing, clicking right and left – nothing! All of this took about thirty seconds and then I moved ever so slightly to my right and realized that the mouse wasn’t plugged in. I had to laugh. Of course it can’t work if it’s not plugged in.

   What do I need to plug into? Faith, friends, family, hope, love, laughter, work, and prayer. But, sometimes I get plugged into distractions, moments of discord, stress, and struggles. Then, the proverbial mouse doesn’t work as well in what I want it to do. I have to be “plugged in” to the right things for the motion to work, for action to occur.

Monday, August 30, 2010


   Degas used to make beautiful art of dancers. They are posed in such deceptively simple and graceful ways. Dancers on stage show themselves as confident in their choreography. The costumes, stage, and music are set.

   But, what about that sign dance as if no one were watching…
   A little girl stood under the fountain, a multi jet creation shooting water drops into the air thirty feet. She twirled in her brightly striped dress, doing a happy little jig with her feet. She didn’t care if others saw her, if others joined in or noticed. I loved her twirly freedom. I loved how she didn’t pause when people walked by or look sheepish and embarrassed. I loved the freedom of dancing as if no one were watching, and my own feet would have loved to be invited to twirl along with her.
   We each have a dance, an action in our life, that we can do with ease and freedom. But it really only reaches the ease of this moment when we forget to care if others find the dance what they are wanting or liking and just twirl to our own hearts music.
   If you find me at the fountain, twirling barefoot through the water, just come join me.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

People Watching

   The coffee machine was wushing; there were the soft clinks of metal silverware striking porcelain plates. A Panini was in the back being pressed for me, and while I waited with great anticipation amidst wonderful smells, I took the opportunity to do a little people watching. It seemed like someone could write a fictional novel based off of those who came in that day. And perhaps a summary of their stories would go like:

   A student came in and chose coffee and dessert. An enormous smile was plastered on her face at the prospect of well flavored caffeine and sugar. Soon, her friend joined her and they walked with the flip flop heel popping sounds to their table. It was one of the last little vestiges of summer freedom before school started back again. Freedom was slipping away and this student was thoroughly enjoying it.
   The lightly pressed black pants and tailored blouse spoke her professional status. Rounded toe heels created a nice swing of the hem. The haircut was modern, neatly falling about in short layers. Her menu choices seemed to speak of calorie counting, until the large coffee creation with cream came out. I imagined that she was heading into a series of afternoon meetings that were going to be draining and needed the boost to make it through.
   His hair was showing grey under felted brown hat, blue jeans, and loafers spoke his comfort. A newspaper on the table, a cup of coffee in hand, everyone seemed to know this fellow. The regular, whose order is known by his face as he walks in. Familiar conversations and jokes were shared back and forth over the sputtering of the milk being steamed.
   Two women sat at a table, deep in conversations. This was not the quick lunch time conversation of two co-workers, but the conversation of two friends. They were relaxed with each other, tasting their lunches and then comparing notes. They showed no signs of leaving, enjoying the sunny day and the shady spot at the table instead.
   A little girl in a summer dress was brought in by a mother. She took in all of the foods displayed with wide eyes and a quiet, but eager face. This was a big moment for this long haired twirly dress girl. She looked around, perhaps scoping out which food she wanted. Her mother ordered and they left for a table. She clung closely to her mother’s jeans, but with time will be off exploring on her own.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Escape Hatch

   Stop the world – I want off! Okay, so maybe I don’t really want the world to stop spinning on its axis, but it is a call for a break. And a break is most definitely a needed thing. The news that is displayed is saddening at best, disturbing at worst. So, what do we do when we are wanting an escape hatch? Well, it’s not rocket science. Thank heavens!

   Instead, it’s a gift. “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Did anyone else catch the escape in there? Here is our escape hatch! We, who have God within us as one of his followers, may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world. Forget the stopping part, I already have my escape hatch!
   2 Peter 1: 4-5

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flouting Socks

   Why do socks have to match? Okay, I know it’s a conventional rule that if you wear one white sock with a grey heel and toe, that the other sock also has a grey heel and toe. But have you ever considered why? Why can’t I wear one blue sock and one green if they both match my outfit? I mean, it’s not like one is more or less sock than the other.

   There are lots of little rules that we obey because they are the conventions. I’m not so certain that most of them are even written down. But, we are taught them none-the-less. Is there an area of convention you need to flout?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dream Chasing Entrepreneur

   That word, entrepreneur, evokes thoughts of an explorer and a pioneer in my mind. The spirit that brought some westward to explore, tame, and shape seems to beat in the hearts of these men and women to start their own business.
    I was thinking about this last week as I wandered through a few local stores. The ladies that own them are there, behind the counter. One I had visited the week before and made a purchase. She remembered me, making sure to try and connect with a customer. It can’t be easy to be the owner, worker, errand runner, and chief bottle washer all at the same time.
   I don’t want to romanticize it unduly, because the truth is that there is a lot of hard work that goes into this. But, there is something so appealing to having a dream and following it through. Maybe that is what really catches my attention when I talk to entrepreneurs. They are dream chasers. How many dreams have we dreamed and turned away from them because of fear? Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of what others will think. What dream is it that you have? Go be a dream chaser.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

School Day

   School is starting back up across the country. Some started last week and some are still a week or two out, but over the next month school doors will be opened. Don’t you remember the first days of school? It was a mix of excitement and uncertainty, in dreading that summer was over and yet perhaps secretly glad that the routine is going back into place. Lockers and cubby holes, book bags, school supplies, and text books that seem to grow exceedingly heavier as the grades progress greeted me at the door. I remember looking forward to music class in elementary school. We sang the 50 state song and other songs as well. The teacher would always introduce themselves and start setting up some expectations of the year. The class clown was well, being a clown. And there were incessant songs about new shoes in third grade (not my favorite thing).
    Then, my perspective shifted as I was preparing the classroom for the students. Materials had been prepared over the course of the summer. Posters had been hung with a pound of sticky tack goo and seating charts had been prepared carefully. In the days leading up to the start of school, it was quiet in that room. I remember studiously preparing my lesson plans (which got a little less formal in writing as the year progressed). There was excitement and nervousness as we waited for students to come in.
   As the teachers prepare for a new school year, as the students reluctantly drag themselves in from the summer freedoms, I hope you all have a wonderful school year. Not only full of learning, but also complete with friendships, laughter, and conquerable challenges.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pain of Freedom

   In our world of I can do it without any help, thank you very much, we often assume that freedom means a release of pain. Freedom seems to be seen as something which lets you be carefree and without any sticky and messy attachments. But freedom can be something that is quite painful. I heard the other day how Frederick Douglass seriously considered staying in a life of slavery because the transition to freedom was going to be so painful. He was going to have to say good-bye to dear friends and family and venture into a new life. Freedom awaited him, but so did pain, and this led him to put off the decision to leave a while longer. Imagine the world without Frederick Douglass, if he had not taken his place in the use of his gifts and been instrumental as an abolitionist. Douglass wrote upon leaving, “‘A new world had opened upon me.’ ‘Anguish and grief, like darkness and rain, may be depicted, but gladness and joy, like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil.’”

   We can learn from this that when we move from the slavery of sin to the freedom of righteousness that it may be a difficult, painful, and wonderful thing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bad Rap of Four Letter Words

If I say the expression “four letter words” the words which flit to your mind probably aren’t of the best quality. Oh, they might be colorful and certainly not used according to their definition, but do four letter words get a bad rap? Personally, one of my biggest four letter words is… math. Yes, math! What can I say, it’s not my subject. So, let me challenge you to consider the four letter words, perhaps we could infuse a few ones into our vocabulary.

Love          Hope              Keep        Idea     Moon                
            Live                                     Find          Jump                       Life
    Kind           Soil       Made                    Door              Rain                              Fire
       Week             Good          Mine                     Over                        Sail                   Bind
Your                  Word                              Care                             Kite               Able                   Bold     
         Edge                     Walk                 Rose                   Open                                    
    Tear                             Tent                             Book                               Flit                        Time   
                   Save   Born             Drop                                    Even                              Faith

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dreams of Flight

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

  I fell in love with the ideas of flight and space when I was a little girl. It caught my attention, held my imagination and dreams. The space shuttle program is coming to an end. The orbiters, the beautiful black and white birds, are taking their place in history. However, there is no new craft ready to take its place. Instead, we are entering a new time of unknowns. Where it will go and where it will lead I do not know. But, I do know that I plan on seeing the Discovery lift from earth on this flight. To watch the fuels mix and combust, putting forth thousands of pounds of pressure and create inertia, to boost the bird from her home. What will happen without these dream capturers, these pure science moments? Where will our newer technology come from, our new spin-offs of products that many never will realize nor care that they come from space. Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, and Endeavour – the names caught the hearts and imagination of some. The names still ring of bravery, intelligence, tragedy, and yet victory in the face of utterly devastating circumstances. I want to see the bird fly. I want to see the orbiter move away from the trellis which holds her and be powered into the sky. I want to feel the roar of the engines in my insides, as my heart and the vibration of that might sound mingle for a moment and my heart beat is part of the engine roar. Slip the surly bonds of earth, top the heights, and trod into space.

High Flight – by John Magee

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Unfamiliar Truth

   Words rattle around in the mind like pebbles that have been scattered over a stone floor. Plunk, plunk, plunk. Then, that floor has to be walked on. Ouch, feet hurt from standing on the stones. Over time, the feet become calloused and we forget to even pay attention to the stones that originally called pain. Words and stones, they can both bruise and build, especially unnoticed lies and unfamiliar truths.

   Unnoticed lies occur to each of us. These are the sneaky and subtle lies that are inflicted on each of us from time to time. They are the lies of failure, discouragement, loneliness, and the absence of God. The little words that are whispered in our ears that say, “No one else has ever felt this way. Nobody else has problems with this. Stupid, failure, weak.” The words separate us from each other and from God. It is not that we are perfect, but that this is not the answer to improvement. Instead, these words are like the stones on the floor. We find ourselves feet bruised with deep stone bruises. Overtime, our feet become calloused. The bruises fade as the skin grows thick protection over the tender nerves.
   When the truth is pointed out, it is unfamiliar and feels strange. You are not alone; you are not the only one who has ever struggled. We all have weaknesses, failures, areas where we are not strong. There are consequences, but there are also opportunities. God loves you before you are perfect, before you have everything figured out. Instead of pushing you away, he pulls you in and washes your feet. The calluses are gradually removed. The stones now cause pain and we are reminded that they are lies. We push them away and find that the ground beneath is smooth and cool on our feet.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nursery Tales

You never quite know what kids are going to say in the nursery at church. This latest time in the church nursery was no exception. I found one of the little ones lining up pint sized chairs.

  “Are you making a train?”
  “No, I’m making a shuttle.”
  “Wow! That’s cool! Are you going to fly to space?”
  “Yes, I’m going to the moon. I want to see God.”
  “And God is on the moon?”
  “Yes, God lives in the moon.”
  “Oh, where else does God live?”
  “In my heart. But, I can’t stick my whole face in my heart to see God, so I’m going to the moon.”
Well, I can hardly argue with his logic, so we had a pretend shuttle ride to the moon. So we could see God.
Yes, the munchkins were cute in their pretend and play. But, their reasoning is not so different than what you or I might use. We try to contain God, not in the moon, but in our little boxes of familiarity and understanding. Then, we travel and traverse to God forgetting that he is already here, already with us. Thank heavens that we don’t have to go to the moon!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Glass Walls

   I have always read how writers are often at their most effective when they write from their own experience. So guys, hang in there – because I write from a woman’s perspective better.

   There is a concept which seems to be floating around that women are better at seeking out help and the guidance and help of others. Yes, we may be more open to talking about our lives, but I’m not sure that we are really that good at asking for help. Instead, I think we look for super woman in ourselves. To be the perfect woman in everything we do, with a good attitude, a cheery disposition, the perfectly organized calendar, and an answer for every problem. Wow – if such a woman exists, she really does deserve a cape! And yet, we demand super woman behavior from ourselves so often, when it just not possible.
   Leadership training will bring up the concept of delegation, focusing on your strengths, and learning to rely on the strengths of others to compensate for weaknesses. Women, we need this training too! We need to be able to have broken the glass walls in our life with someone at some time. We have glass walls that need broken because we need to shatter the self and society made supposition of being super woman. So many opportunities are lost when we hide behind our glass walls and pretend that all is well. Knowing that the glass is there, we put on all the trimmings that we can. We Windex the window, dust everything in sight, and try to ignore that everything that doesn’t quite match or fit is stuffed in the closet.
   Ladies, let’s open up to each other and break those glass walls. We can have something so much better by leaning on each other, relying on strengths and experiences of others. Unpack the closet, then fold up your cape and put that in the closet.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On the Other Side of the Table

   I had an opportunity to help pass out food to around two hundred families last weekend. With around 10,000 pounds of food shared, approximately 800 people were helped. It was a beautiful experience. The mobile food pantry works by a truck loaded with food coming. The food contained inside on palates is a combination of canned goods, fresh produce, and items which are considered extras by many grocery budgets - like large bags of walnuts and juices. There were large ripe tomatoes that were bagged up for easy delivery. A family even had picked a truckload full of sweet corn the night before and it was also bagged and added to the stock of food.

   People started lining up about two hours before the registration could even begin. Workers came approximately an hour early to help unload the truck and set up the tables. Registration began and people passed through. Soon, grocery carts were filled with food and people were loading their vehicles full of produce.
   One of the discussions I heard going on was being on the other side of the table. It is a joy being on the giving side. It is a beautiful thing to hand out milk, tomatoes, corn, cereal, soup, and a variety of other foods. It is not always so easy to be on the receiving side of the table. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t gratitude there, but there may also be wounded pride, embarrassment, and feelings of failure. It is not always easy to be on the receiving side of gifts. Especially gifts you cannot pay back.
   And yet, isn’t that what grace is?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Misunderstood Covering

   We have been having heat advisories here nearly every day. I know it’s hot when the walk from my car to the office leaves my sunglass rims hot enough that they are uncomfortable against my face. The high humidity and heat leave me craving cool weather, cool water, cool air – cool everything! So, as I climb into my car after such a hot day and crank up the air conditioner, I wonder for a few minutes if it is making any difference at all. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the air cools a bit and then a little more. In the time between the air conditioning really taking strong effect and the initial blast of heat, it seems that nothing is occurring. And yet, cool air is really slowly moving in and the space is cooling off.

   I think that something similar happens with headaches and taking a couple over the counter pain pills. A pounding headache, burning eyes, and piercing straight into your skull from any lights doesn’t necessarily go away from two ibuprofen. And yet, when the pain pills wear off, it comes to light how much they were really helping.
   It is the same way with God’s peace. God moves in his own way, and speaks with a still small voice. We often think nothing is happening, that nothing is changing. And then the pain is diminished, the air is cooled and we realize that there was something happening all along.

Monday, August 16, 2010


   An adorable puppy joined our home a few days ago, just for a night as her people were out of town. At fourteen weeks old, she is tiny compared to the labs that are full grown and quite at home in their home. For quite some time, when one of the labs would head toward her at full play speed, she would find the handiest hiding spot. Then, there would be this cute little face looking at the big dogs from under the chair. Soon, one of the dogs learned that the puppy would play with her if she would just lay down and let this little creature come to her.

   Puppies are a lot of work. They are babies, and require a great deal of attention. But, it was fun to see again a puppy exploring her world. Plants were smelled, bushes were bounced on, puppy kisses were had, and a little mouth explored its world through taste. Soon, all three of the girls were running around outside together.
   Puppies are mischief on four paws. They eat things they shouldn’t. They make messes in the house. They bark and cry. Their teeth are sharp. And they are a lot of work! But, they are also cuddly and are happy to see you upon arrival. They are learning to play, learning to be adult dogs. They are too cute when they play with toys. And when they first discover their own tail and chase it round and round, well if you don’t laugh there is something wrong with you. So, don’t get a puppy unless you are willing to put the time and effort and attention and work in that is required to make it into a good dog. But if you are, you will be rewarded in a thousand ways from a creature that speaks without any human words.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Didn’t Even Realize

   Around two years ago, I had hit a wall. I knew I needed to address the issues, but I didn’t have a good idea of how. I had never dealt with something like this and when conflict would come – I just froze. So, crunch had come. By crunch time, I mean that my middle was crunched with stress. It hurt running into that metaphorical brick wall, and I went to a class which was a light bulb turning on moment for me. I finally put the pieces into place of how to be assertive, set good boundaries, and yet also wanting to care for someone else.

    The thing about any kind of new habit or new skill is that it takes time to learn. So, I very consciously went about trying to do this. Reading a boundaries book, I took great comfort in knowing that when first learning to set boundaries you often would go overboard and draw them too tightly. I set out to put my new skills to work, and they did work. Every success made me a little more confident. With the failures, I would remember that this was a skill and it took time to develop.
   It’s been somewhere around two years since that awful day of running into brick walls (over and over and over), and then going to that class. It’s been somewhere around two years and I just realized last week that I can do these things. I can be assertive. I can be caring and compassionate and assertive, while being gracious. It’s not a perfect mix and I am still learning. But, I didn’t even realize how much it had become ingrained in me.
   A friend on face book posted, asking if there was something we could change about ourselves, what would it be? The answers were all good. People want patience and caring, forgiveness, kindness, persistence, family, and listening; they are all good answers. Realizing that this skill which seemed beyond my ability when I was learning it has now really started taking hold in me, it made me start thinking about what I want to focus on next.
   Confidence in self, based on my values and not on others? Gracious hospitality that is more of an effortless art and less of an enjoyable effort? Believing in my intelligence capability when it comes to topics which are very difficult for me to grasp, and finding ways to really understand them? A better understanding of God and His perspective? Wisdom to know the difference between someone’s opinion and someone’s good opinion and to be able to let one go and hold the other close. Perhaps it’s just learning how to write a doable to do list! Practice of trust in God, even when I don’t understand and to step out in faith, even when I can’t see the path. I’m not sure – there is so much I want to grow into! All I know is that in a few more years, I want to be able to look back and think, wow – this new character trait has become part of who I am.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

To Answer the Question

    Someone asked me a few weeks ago how bloggers came up with blog topics and how they were able to write on a fairly consecutive basis. Well, I cannot answer for any other blogger, especially since I’m having problems still calling myself a blogger. All I can really comment on is my own experience. That consists of little scraps of paper and learning to keep a pen or pencil in my pure. A familiar joke in my house has become, be careful – you may wind up in the blog. And that is so true! A blog for me has been an outlet, a stage for my words that live more than just on my computers screen. I hope they encourage, uplift, teach, make you laugh, and make you think. I give a shout out to Russia, Brazil, India, and other various locations where people have clued in. That is just a really cool thought.

    Blogging started for me as a challenge from a speaker at a Conference not quite a year ago. I enjoy writing and wondered if I could do something like that. I wanted to get back into writing that wasn’t work or school based, and this seemed to be the perfect way. I have found myself with scraps of paper in my pocket ever since. As a topic comes to me, I jot it down and then stick the paper back in my pocket. Then, as I have time, I write. Normally it is in the hour or so before I go to bed. Somehow, pulling out the thoughts over a day is relaxing and I go to bed a bit clearer minded.
   It has been a little more than a month shy of a year of blogging. Thank you for reading – I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed writing down these random thoughts.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vets Visit

    Megan, my chocolate lab, has a head cold. It started out about a week ago with a little sneezing and a stuffy nose. It progressed to a night where I finally just moved her mouth so it was open. I wasn’t worried about my own lack of sleep at that moment, and was more concerned about her breathing. So, it was a trip to the vet.

    I have a great vet! He’s a farm vet and really loves the animals. Megan was very excited to go for a RIDE when I got home and started pulling out the leash and collar. She did her happy puppy dance all the way to the car, twirling and spinning. She parked herself in the backseat in front of the air vent. We have years of car rides with the two of us and Megan learned a long time ago that her balance is best when she sits or lies down in the car. So, she sat down and we started off.
     Arriving at the vet, Megan went in and I was relieved that there were no other dogs in the lobby. For a people friendly dog, she isn’t terribly dog friendly. It can make for some tense moments. And that happened just a few minutes later. Out of an exam room came three collies. One slipped its leash and came over to say hi. Needless to say, Megan got moved over and I tightened my grip on her collar as the collies’ person came over to reclaim her.
     Then, one of the ladies working there came by and offered Megan a treat. She was all wiggly once again and accepted the treat happily. We sat there a little longer. And if I would be in a hurry it would have been hard to sit. However, a vet trip is kind of a nerve wracking thing for Megan, so it’s good if she can wait for a little while before heading into the exam room. Then, a graying Great Dane made its way inside. The poor baby got so nervous that he pottied all over the rug. The people looked embarrassed, and the staff handled it with considerable aplomb. The poor dog though, he was taken outside and sat down on the side walk. If a dane could look embarrassed, this one did.
     Anyway, Megan made it through her exam, got lots of treats and was proud of herself. I’m glad to have a good vet!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Loos’d Absolute and Imaginary

    I was at the Hallmark store on Sunday and admiring the Peanuts display when I saw a little snippet of a Walt Whitman poem. Peanuts caught my eye as I am a fan of the cartoon, and relate so well to different characters there. My hair is naturally curly when I let it grow out, I want to believe in the Great Pumpkin, and I have a blanket that a comfort. It was given by a friend and it’s super soft and warm. Anyway, amidst the Snoopy and Lucy displays, Walt Whitman made an appearance. It was just a morsel, a fragment of a larger poem. The words, scripted in blank ink italics, said “From this hour, freedom! From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines.” It’s from Song of the Open Road and continues on with the poem.

   I just loved the images in the words; they just popped in my brain like little kernels of ideas. Loos’d of limits and imaginary lines. Am I loos’d, do I see myself free? As much as I would probably like to say yes, I’m going to say no. I’m aware of the imaginary lines, most of us run into them every once in a while. The people goo we step in without being aware that it is there. Imaginary lines exist on maps, not just of the international variety but of the local as well. And what is freedom? Freedom is not going your own way and being completely heedless of everyone else. That is slavery to self and selfishness. Freedom is serving, is giving, and is consideration. It’s not being a door mat; it’s not being someone that people wipe their feet on.
     I think I need to pay closer attention to the imaginary lines and limits in my life. Some of those should probably be loos’d.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ecclesiastes Considerations

   About a year ago, I was going through a rough time and a friend passed along a verse to me. It has since made it onto a yellow post it note, scribbled with some green marker ink, and has a home tucked partially behind my computer monitor on my desk. Somewhere over the last year, the post-it-note got wet, so a few of the words are a bit smeared. But I can still make out the words of Ecclesiastes 7:14. “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.” It has been a comfort when things are difficult to remember that God makes what I think of as good and bad times.
   So, without diving into waxing philosophical about why God would make good and bad times or not want us to discover about our future, I take comfort in knowing that God’s hand is in the total plan and the minute details.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dream Town

   I live in a small river town, where the cliché downtown has unfortunately become the truly economically depressed downtown. Though a few restaurants and stores have survived, there are many more empty places rather than full now. The buildings have some beauty to them still; the architecture that survives shows the wear and tear of years of rain, snow, ice, and sun.

   When I walk the sidewalks on this street (it’s a one street downtown), and dream about what could be done there. First of all, the buildings are restored. Clean off the plank wood, repair the old architecture, new paint, new plaster, and new bricks. Then, from the repaired buildings, put in beautiful wooden floors and crystal clear windows.
   I imagine this as I walk down the sidewalk, and imagine elegantly decorative signs showcasing artisans who have taken up residence here. Glass blowers, wool felters, sculptors, painters, photographers, writers, architects, craftsman, would slowly fill the buildings and take up residence for studios. Soon, beautiful pieces would be shown in the windows. Music would be heard on cool spring days drifting from open windows. Clinics would be held and people would gather to learn about different types of arts. Children would have a place that is safe for them to explore texture, color, and new things.
   Wouldn’t it be beautiful?

Monday, August 9, 2010


   I was reading Tennyson a few nights ago, the beginning of the poem, In Memoriam. I was reminded why I loved the words, especially when I reached the part about out little systems. “Our little systems have their day, They have their day and cease to be, They are but broken lights of thee, And thou, O Lord, art more than they.”

   Little systems, our large grandiose plans, our projects and processes and systems and thing we pour ourselves into – are they really worth our time, our energy, our devotion? Well, some would say yes and some would say no. And each, they nay sayer and the yay sayer would have their moments of correctness. But, I love how Tennyson doesn’t say we stop and just freeze we are at because our systems are so small. Instead, he recognizes how they are small and broken lights compared to God.
   We work on our systems, dreaming them to be something big and important. They are a drop in the bucket, a micro drop in the drop in the bucket. And yet, I don’t ask if it’s worth it or if knowing the smallness of it try to pretend it is less important to the other micro drops around me. Instead, I take heart and continue on, knowing that my systems, my broken lights are known by God and can be used by God. He can take all of the little broken lights and reshape them into a beautiful mosaic to make a spotlight, a sun, a star, a beautiful thing. “And in thy wisdom make me wise.”

STRONG Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou:
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Celebration Choice

   I caught a bit of the news the other day, and then remembered why I don’t generally watch the news. Wow, there is a lot of hurt and anger and general yuck out there! So, in the midst of this, it would be so incredibly easy to become lost in problem. So, with all of that, with all of the everyday difficulties we face, how do we celebrate?

   I think it’s a choice. I think that we choose to celebrate the small things. We must choose to celebrate moments with friends, puppy dog wiggles, the smell of fresh herbs and spices, the feel of a good batter, and the sounds of baby birds. We must choose to celebrate small and large efforts and successes. We must choose to celebrate achievements, moments of overcoming struggles, and the steps we take to move forward. We must choose to celebrate.
   I’m not a morning person and like my coffee. Once I wake up, I can take in the day, and try to have a mindset of celebrating the day. It’s not always a success. Earlier this week, I had a back ache and was just a grump. I tried really hard not to be grumpy, but simply wanted to go back to bed. What do I do in the midst of pain or struggles? Well, I did take care of myself – the massage and ice pack and hot bath combos were very helpful. I can celebrate that I am able to do that. So, it’s a choice to celebrate or something else. Choose to celebrate.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


    A cat behind an electric box, peering out on the squirrel playing in the yard, seems as if it is just perfectly content in the moment. A tiny little spotted doe stands in the back yard, eating corn. Her ears are showing that she is watchful, but not overly fearful. At the corner of the flower bed, cardinals started a nest in the bird house that is tucked into the red bud tree. A friend’s house, where a welcome is real and ever present. The quiet of a morning with coffee in hand standing outside as the dog’s go out and greet the day.
    If the Church is the followers of Christ, then is this all the sanctuary? Is the space where the tiniest of lightning bugs dance through the night part of the dazzling light display put on by the stars a part of the glory of the sanctuary? The world around us contains such beauty, little spaces with the ruffles of marigold blooms and giant spaces of mountains and canyons. I can’t think of a more fitting sanctuary, vast and grand and alive.

Friday, August 6, 2010


   For a brief time, I lived on a sand bar island in Florida. The backyard opened out onto the bay and if I would have walked straight out the front and continued across the street, I would have eventually come to the Gulf of Mexico. The water was beautiful, and the sounds of it lapping against the barrier were very restful. I learned very quickly that the water, though beautiful, was something that had to be respected.

   People walk in their own little circles, stand on sand bars in life, and feel the waves move the grains of sand beneath their feet. But, life can be full off currents, rip tides, and hidden shoals in the tides. So, I vote for a life jacket. Actually, some days I vote for a life jacket, little army float things, an inflatable dingy and a raft. The thing is that we all need a life jacket. We cannot save ourselves in the water, floating around forever. Instead, we need something to help us keep afloat.
   So, what it is that keeps me afloat? Well, I have learned that my dingy gets water in it not only because of storms, but because I keep putting water in it. The water in it is because of worry. Instead of bailing the water out, I could hold onto worry. It’ s like taking one of those empty coffee cans and filling it up with water, only to pour it into the boat. Not such a great plan. Worry, sin, destruction, the world we live in is a turbulent one. Many times a day we refill our empty coffee cans with water and instead of tossing it back out into the water, we pour it into the boat. With all of that going on, we may find that our boat sinks. Treading water, we realize that we need something that we cannot just keep refilling. We need a life jacket. I need a life jacket that keeps me afloat.
   There are good days and bad days, good choices and bad choices – life is still turbulent. What I need is something that will not fail to keep me afloat, even when my boat fails. My life jacket is the one who created the sea. He holds me even when I fill my own boat.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Son-flower Follower

   A few years ago, a local farm planted at least one field in sunflowers. I would occasionally drive past and loved to see the bright yellow petals contrasting with the dark brown centers. They stood so tall and straight in the field and were so beautiful.
   When I would drive past, I would be headed to a different city and would see these flowers at different times of the day. I didn’t even think about it the first time. When I drove to the city, the flowers were all visible from the road. When I drove back, several hours later, the flowers had turned their heads and what I could see then was the green framed with bits of yellow petals. It puzzled me for a moment and then I remembered, sunflowers are so aptly named because the follow the sun.
   I want to be a sunflower kind of Christ follower. I want my movement, my purpose, to follow the son. When I need to move because He has told to move, I want my face turned in the right direction. I will plant my feet, lift my face, and follow the son.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Goodbye Shoebox

     In my closet there are several shoeboxes, without shoes in them. Instead, they are stuffed full of cards, notes, comic strips, photos, and little mementos from over the years. Tickets torn in half from movies, programs from different shows, and a little confetti sit in boxes. Every once in a while, I pull them down out of the closet and go through them. Birthdays, special moments, and special people come back to me in memories. I remember friends that I have dearly loved and haven’t seen in years. I remember family that I haven’t seen in much too long and will not see again on this earth. Memories and melancholy and joy mix into together and live in those shoe boxes. Ribbons tie on some of the lids which are bulging and need some extra help.

     The shoeboxes are a reminder of what has been. I don’t live there now, I don’t even linger there very often. But, every once in a while I have a desire to see something from years ago and to remember the laughter, challenges, sweat, and plans that made up those days. Then, I put them away and say good bye to my shoeboxes. I say good-bye to what was and hello to what is and look forward to what could be.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Winged Neighbor

It is a two story house with blue siding. On my way from work to my car, I can see they have a tiny little neighbor who has taken up residence on the second story windowsill. A morning dove has staked out a little territory and built herself her own home addition. She is there every time I pass the house, sitting on her nest.

I would have such a hard time not bothering her if she were on my window sill. I would want to watch and feed her. Oh, and of course she would have a name. There would also probably be a good five hundred pictures of her as well.
I wonder what the dove sees during the day. As she looks down from her little home, there would be cars and people walking. Children bicycling and skateboarding up and down the sidewalk as they enjoy the last little bit of summer might not even notice their quiet dark eyed observer. Some of the residents at the adult assisted living apartments walk this block as part of their daily routine. As they stroll past, do they notice the quiet tucking of wings? It’s like a little reminder of guardian angels that we have tucked into our own lives that we don’t even notice.
I love the little addition that has been built on that house. What a wonderful neighbor!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Reverse Paranoia

       I saw this idea on a t-shirt and just loved it. It was something about being a Reverse Paranoiac, “I believe people are secretly conspiring to make me happy.” After I had laughed my way through the rest of the catalog, I found myself thinking of that idea every once in a while for the next couple of weeks. Something would happen and I would have a little laugh in the back of my head as my Reverse Paranoiac came out. Let’s see, they don’t like that concept? Sure they do! They are just waiting for the right time to spring it on me how much they love it. Or maybe I’ll come in someplace and find balloons and confetti just because! Okay, before I roll out the full blown ticker tape parade, I will admit that that is not the way that we typically think. Instead, it’s normally the fear of someone who is out to get us, someone who is going to step on or over us. Business is regularly called a dog eat dog world. Enough companies have vernacular inherent to this type of mind set that our market place even encourages it at times. But, what if we did act that way?

       What if you came to your office and had a sincere thank you note for just giving it your best during a hard day? What if you came home and found someone had cleaned out the refrigerator because they noticed it needed done and wanted to surprise you? It’s really the concept of serving and then standing back to watch the results. The results, by the way, are really fun to watch. If you have a chance to do something to be a reverse paranoiac for someone, make their day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I recently got to tie-dye with some friends. Besides having feet and hands a bit stained, the dying went well. It was so amazing watching the fabric soak up the dye. Then, we had to practice our patience as we let everything sit over night. The next evening, I pulled out the first t-shirt. It was bound still with twine and rubber bands. I rinsed and some of the die came out. Then, after doing the rinse ring cycle several times, it was time to cut away the rubber bands and twine. I was a little nervous doing this. The colors on the outside were really strong and vibrant. But, as I imagined a whole shirt looking like this, I wondered if it would just be a mess of brown on the inside. Starting at one end and moving toward the other, each little binder came off. Much to my amazement and delight, beautiful patterns emerged and the color combinations came together in expected and unexpected ways. Standing out in the grass under the big tree in the front yard, I thought about how we are much the same way. We get bound up and wrapped up in different things, people, events, activities. Our life gets filled up with colorful memories and actions. Even when it is full of good things, the colors on the outside may seem to bright, too much. Eventually, we get so wrapped up that it just looks like one great big color blob on the outside. But then, God unwraps the bindings. Underneath, and in-between the areas where we think that there is just going to a brown muck, there is instead colors and patterns, blending and swirling in unexpected ways.