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12.27.2010

LOVE IN BOUNDLESS MEASURES

Today I said to my dear friend, "I am at the bottom of a pit with a magnifying glass."  She laughed at my choice of mind stopping descriptive terms for where I am.  But, she also responded with great compassion and encouragement for temporary pit dwelling and its necessity, much like a colon cleanse, for the soul-spirit-mind-and heart.  Parking my short bus on God's great love recently, I have been uncovering, dissecting and then embracing it without fully understanding or figuring it all out - trying to undo years of defining it which I suppose has limited me knowing it or experiencing it fully.  To define something limits it to what I can think and know.  I cannot think or know God's love from human bound eyes.  And, what I can has an end, a beginning and an end, it has boundaries as that's how I, as a human, view everything.  I have used the word "boundless" as an over exaggeration in referring to young children's energy.  But we all know, raising our own kids or being around them, they eventually run out of steam - at the table with food in their mouths, laid out in the bathtub, in the car, on the floor, in their beds.  They are not boundless.  But God's love is boundless - not bound by human expectations, limits, definitions, reasoning, or comprehension.  Today, in my pit dwelling, I literally called out God's love audibly to focus on it and not my surroundings in the pit - not anger, nor hurt, or disappointment, or unmet expectations, struggle, or grief.  Sitting over the heat vent after a run tonight I turned to Eugene Peterson's The Message Bible, asking God to give me something tangible, His voice to know of His great love which overrides and eclipses everything both in heaven and earth.  This is where I turned, Jeremiah 31:35-37ish (that version doesn't follow verses exactly) subtitled, If This Ordered Cosmos Ever Fell To Pieces.  It says this:

God's Message, from the God who lights up the day with sun and brightens
the night with moon and stars, who whips the ocean
into billowy froth, whose name is God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
If this ordered cosmos ever fell to pieces,
fell into chaos before me - GOD'S DECREE -
Then and only then might Israel fall apart
and disappear as a nation before me.

GOD'S MESSAGE:
If the skies could be measured with a yardstick
and the earth explored to its core,
Then and only then would I turn my back on Israel,
disgusted with all they've done.  GOD'S DECREE.

I am a connected and a grafted part of Israel, His example of God's nature in loving mankind.  HA, I said out loud as I read those words!!  That is never.  Never was God saying could He stop loving.  It is not His nature.  Ever.  Ever also includes when I am in the pit with a magnifying glass.  He is wanting to love me through letting it loose and only caring of His Great love, not the hurt or disappointment, a life of struggle, my own expectations of myself, uncertainty before me or grief that wants to eat me alive.  Trying to unleash my grip of a lifetime to hold what my humanness can of God's love, which ultimately probably is very little of it.  Make sense?

12.26.2010

DON'T TAKE ME TO THE RACES

There are certain products, shows, styles that I have really liked over the years.  You know, stuff and or things that you just enjoy.  We all like to think that what we think is good or funny or entertaining or flattering on us is the same for others.  I'm finding that is not true, even though I feel I have stellar taste:)  It happened again to me yesterday.  I have a handful of things that I love.  One of them is one of the two fragrances that I like to wear.  It's a smell that smells, what I imagine anyway, my personality would smell like if you could bottle it.  Some of you are now laughing hysterically at that thought and saying something like, "Wow!  Who would ever buy that!" (I agree with you!).  I wear only two fragrances - 360 by Perry Ellis and Ralph Lauren's Polo Sport.  In fact, they are so distinctively me that I have people (those I know and perfect strangers) comment to me that they love the way I smell - what am I wearing?  My Polo Sport bottle has been empty for a few weeks now.  I searched for it in the store where I normally get it and have not been able to find it.  So, yesterday I searched the web for it.  What I found out alarmed me - Ralph Lauren is pulling that fragrance even though it's been one of its best sellers since its inception in 1996.  WHAT!  It's happening again.  It would seem that products I come to love get pulled from the market or the store I shop in.  You may not want to take me to the horse races:)  I will now have to buy a case (and take out a home equity line of credit to do so) of Polo Sport through the internet just to last me the rest of my natural life as it defines, smell wise anyway, who I am.  It happened too with coffee about a year ago.  I only like good, smooth bodied coffee brewed strong.  I have tried many brands over the years, but Christopher Bean roasts some great coffee.  Their Jamaican Me Crazy and Winter Wonderland are my two favorite flavors.  I used to be able to buy them in a local grocery store where I live until a year ago when they quit carrying that line of coffee.  Why I say?  Why?  Again I turned to the internet to find my caffeinated addiction.  I now have to order it by the case every few months.  Before you think it's just me that loves this coffee, I have now gotten my boss addicted to it and, at the last several Cherry gatherings, I brought the coffee (I hate my mom's coffee).  The crowd loved it and asked for more.  I'm wondering who Ralph Lauren and Christopher Bean polled to come to their marketing determination.  They didn't poll me.  I can assure you of that!  I think most people find favorites of things and don't like when they disappear.  Remember when Coke pulled regular Coke and, with a stupid marketing strategy, deployed New Coke.  Some things don't need improvement, remarketing or removal from the market.  Unfortunately it never seems to be the things I favor:)   There have been a few TV shows over the years that I thought were great that soon disappeared.  One was years ago, a show called, "Crime Story" (ok, I also liked Mickey Spillane's "Mike Hammer").  It was a great show with some great characters in it, set back in the 1960's with, you guessed it - cops and crime.  I thought it was more original and creative than most shows with a similar story line.  Obviously I wasn't polled on it and must have been one of the few viewers that tuned in to watch it weekly.  In more recent times, I fell in love with the American version of the British show, "Kath and Kim".  I loved who they cast in the show and thought it was humorous and different.  My love of it only kept it on the air for one season!  Today I went to lunch with my daughter after which we were in a store.  I was riffling through the rack of pants and pure panic rose up in me.  Pulling a pair, that from the waist looked like something I would like, I removed them from the rack and was visibly shaken.  From the knees to the ankle they were skinny pants - UGH!  Why, I cried in my head?  Why?  Fighting terror I quickly pushed through all the pants looking to see if all normal width legs were now absent from all pants.  I could only find several "normal" pairs.  Would I have to stock pile normal legged pants (much like Noah did with the animals on the ark) till the flood of skinny legged pant styles relent?  I am going to need a shelf in my basement to store my stockpiles of my favorites soon.  My daughter said something interesting today.  Walking out of the restaurant a John Mayer song was playing.  She said, "That's new John Mayer, isn't it?".  "Yes," I said.  She commented that she used to listen to new music all the time, but she must be getting older as she likes what she likes and doesn't necessarily care to look through new artists and music like she used to.  Preferences reign even if you are 23 too.  If you are ever out and about and run across Ralph Lauren's Polo Sport or Christopher Bean coffee you can think of me, try for yourself the goodness that they both are, or buy it as a gift that clearly says LYNN! 

12.25.2010

BY DESIGN

When I was a kid Christmas was a magical time.  Every family has their own set of things that create specialness at the holidays.  For me, it was that palpable sense on Christmas morning of anticipation - food being prepared, a trip to grandmas awaited, presents being opened, Christmas music, goodies eaten only once a year, a different spirit-feel-tempo, a deep river of contentment overflowing its banks.  On Christmas morning the year I was seven, magic indeed happened.  Snow blanketed the ground that year and cold wrapped its strong grip in the air.  My mom, two sisters and I were warm in the house on Christmas morn.  Mom was readying for the day in the kitchen and we as kids were, well brimming with excitement not even remotely containable.  My dad had gone out to either hunt or attend to some chores.  As he walked in the kitchen from the wintry cold, he called us to him, "Girls!  Girls!  Come here.  I have something to show you!", he said with excitement.  We came running to find our dad holding a beautiful small dove he had somehow caught.  It was magnificent - a dove bird on Christmas morning in our house.  Christmas music was playing, the smells of delicious foods filled the air, the flocked Christmas tree stood twinkling and a Christmas bird rested in my father's hands.  We oohed and aahed over it, gently touching it as it tried to do what any bird wants to do by design of its creator - fly.  In the flurry of excitement the bird flew loose of my father's hands and began a full and harried flight through the house frantically attempting to find sky and trees.  My mother's screams echoed as that beautiful Christmas bird went nuts being boundaried and not free to be itself in its natural world - in the design its maker had purposed for it.  The bird was finally captured and it was released back outside where it immediately flew away - free to be a wild bird.  Watching television recently I was listening to a preacher who shared from the text of Exodus 35:35 - the scripture where it talks about all the craftsman who used their talents to build the tabernacle during Moses' era.  He talked that morning of God's design for us - to operate fully in our creativeness, in the way He purposed us to flourish and find fulfillment.  How often I get frustrated - you get frustrated - when we can't operate in that design, can't figure it out, don't think we are allowed, can't walk by faith in what it takes to perform or function at our highest capacity - our God given design.  We are like that bird sometimes - baffled, beat down, not fully understanding God's great desire for us to know His heart's design for us, by expectations of others or responsibilities - unable or unwilling to be wide open to operate fully in the design of our maker.  When that bird got free to flourish in its God-given design, it flew, it soared.  The blueprint and intention of God is for us to know fully and thrive in His unique architecture for each of us.  Fly by design.

12.24.2010

THE EVE OF ALL THINGS

It was a very odd day today - Christmas Eve.  I procrastinated my Christmas shopping till this morning, and then in an hour and half completed all I needed.  I went through the day disconnected for some reason.  I willed myself to get out of the way of what this time of year is focused on - not the birth of Lynn:)  I looked around the store and wondered if anyone else had some of the same thoughts I did.  Had their life changed radically this year?  Were they trying to move on but life seemed in slow gear?  I felt not totally at ease in gliding through Christmas this year.  My ex husband has a girlfriend it seems.  Really I am glad for him.  I want him to have love and fulfillment.  Yet, I struggle with it because he seemingly is experiencing love at some level and I seem to be unable to during this season of my life.  My frustration mounted as the day wore on.  This is a day to be shared not only with kids, extended family, friends, but someone special you love.  I thought about Jesus while I was sitting in the 10 p.m. Christmas Eve service (as well I should be thinking of Him!).  I wondered what it was like to be the Son of God and be born less than what you are.  To know that He was taking the slow route so that He could connect to mankind, to heal our hearts, to make us whole.  Jesus, the Son of God, probably was not thrilled over the mechanism that brought Himself to man, but was willing to because of this great big God love He has for us.  I wanted my life to move faster but God saw fit to have it be in slow gear.  Sometimes we look at salvation as a one time event, and it is - sort of.  But salvation also involves making us whole, healing our hearts.  Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are the only two days of the year where the day before the day we say eve.  Jesus is all about eves because He is always working His healing, His touch to make me whole and will show up tomorrow and continue His love relationship with me designed to make me whole.  Everyday is the eve of something for God.  Everyday is.  When God is set against the backdrop of my humanity He is magnificently showcased.  The contradiction of who I am and who He is shows clearly and powerfully all He is.  He really is the Eve of all things - always working, always present into the next day where He once again showcases Himself against my humanity.  Christmas is all about God becoming less so He could make us whole - giving us a piece of Himself.  Powerful.

12.23.2010

THE WAY OUT OF THE WAY OF THE MENNONITE - 12 STEPS OF DISCOVERY AND RECOVERY (part 2)

During last night's post we covered and discovered 7 of the 12 steps in The Way Of The Mennonite that create bondage and perpetuate its grip.  Lest you think I am only picking on Mennonites, please know that all of human kind struggles to break free from bondage which comes to different people in different forms.  Leaving off last night with step seven which is that love and affirmation in the Way of the Mennonite is behavior based. My dear friend, a former Mennonite, declared this phrase to me recently, "Don't drink the Mennonite Kool -Aid!"  Funny!  She also tells me I would have never made it in the Mennonite world - too big of a questing and questioning spirit.  We begin  where we left off.  8) We worship at the altar of all things carbohydrateish - noodles, mashed potatoes, corn, bread/rolls, stuffing along with a bevy of sweet breads, cinnamon rolls, pies, whoopie pies, cakes, cookies and other sugary comforting goodies complete the totally remastered food pyramid.  Life is easier to bear in bondage if you are filled with carbohydrates.  You are then too sluggish to run from our people group.  9)  Activity means success.  Doing over being always.  10)  Pleasing others is another form of service.  Deny self.  Saying no to what others ask of you is not an option.  Serve others, no matter what.  11)  We know what is best. Don't think too much.  Questioning always leads somewhere that is not good.  Don't rock the boat.  12)  Benefit Haystack Suppers (and the selling of quilts) are what we do for the those in need.  Nothing serves up charity and compassion better than cracker piles served on a paper plate:)   I close with these quotes, "I know but one freedom, and that is the freedom of the mind."   And as Henry David Thoreau said, "All good things are wild, and free."

12.22.2010

THE WAY OUT OF THE WAY OF THE MENNONITE -12 STEPS OF DISCOVERY AND RECOVERY (part I)

There are two people in my world whom I dearly love.  Both are Mennonite by birthright.  Though they are not necessarily connected by choice any longer in belonging to the people group referred to as Mennonites, in lifestyle or worship.  But, I have found there is something in them both that I refer to as The Way Of The Mennonite.  Thankfully both have a great sense of humor about everything including themselves and can see what I tease them about.  These 12 steps of discovery and recovery were penned on restaurant table paper as I sat and listened to my friend talk of bondage.  In order to access the hard emotions attached to part of these discovery and recovery issues I have chosen a light hearted approach.  What I have heard from both these whom I love, is that part of these discovery steps were a bit hard to uncover as it is so much a part of their thinking, living and decision making process that at first they were somewhat unaware of what bondage the Way Of The Mennonite had them in.  As Austin Powers so notably said, "Freedom baby!".  And more powerfully yet is Jesus' statement, "So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed."  Bondage is not Jesus' way, but mans.  This will no doubt be a two-part mini series on The Way Out Of The Way Of The Mennonite, so tune in late tomorrow night for the conclusion:)   There is an overriding principle on top of these 12 discoveries of bondage and that is; independent thought is selfish.  Those four words are the hinge that keeps the Way of the Mennonite perpetuated in all twelve of these bondage points.  It's why it is very, very difficult to think through these thoughts and to grapple with truth because that involves independent thought and possibly action.  So we begin.  1) We pride ourselves on not having pride.  Pride is independently selfish and draws attention to self.  Self is not ok in packs or herds.  We will tell you that we are not full of self or pride in case you can't see it on your own.   2)  Guilt is the ticket to heaven - always feeling a bit bad that you didn't do enough, didn't do for others more, didn't go without more, didn't deny self more, that you have done better or gotten more tasks accomplished which is a definer of who you are and is vital to motivate you to do more. Please ride the hamster guilt wheel.  3) Keeping up appearances is imperative and paramount in life. Forget how you feel, it only matters how it appears you are.  What you feel is totally irrelevant (& selfish) and your own needs are wrong.  Self-denial is a marker of righteousness.  Did you hear that, self-denial is a marker of righteousness and God smiles on that.   4) We are a non-confrontational people/religious sect.  Wrong is wrong, but I won't tell you it's wrong. I also won't admit being or doing wrong until caught. We are a waveless group, sort of non-swimmers who want the waters to be calm at all times, at all cost, even to our own huge detriment.  5)  If you can't bake, you can't be Mennonite.  Pure and simple.  You are a failure and less than if you buy your baked goods or fail to make from scratch a bounty of signature Mennonite goodies.  You cannot operate in the Way of the Mennonite with a bucket of KFC.  No, you must get the skillet out and fry that chicken yourself.  Boughten pie is a form of blasphemy.  6)  Make peace at all costs - in the world at large, peace over war.  In your family and inside yourself make peace no matter the cost.  Make peace, but don't make love:)  7) We strongly believe God mandates behavior based love and affirmation.  You want to be accepted, part of the herd, then you must live in the Way of the Mennonite.  If your behavior does not follow our mandates, both spoken and inferred, then we will not love or affirm you, let alone your choices.  Move over Pharisees the Mennonites are here!   If in reading this you are struck by an uncomfortable feeling or a familiar wave of bondage you just might be in the discovery phase.  Which when fully acknowledged, embraced and let loose of becomes RECOVERY!   Join us tomorrow for steps 8-12 where we will talk about haystacks and all things carbohydrateish.  

A MUSICAL MYSTERY

Certain things in life hold a power that really defy total explanation or sometimes complete definition.  There are words and phrases that can capture part of the depth of it, but it still leaves a portion of the power, the intimacy that it holds, uncaptured by language alone.  Four things hold that undefinable explanation and power for me; smells, nature, music and love. Those things possess the ability to bring a powerful memory to vivid life-to full living color, to see things within their presence that you couldn't without them, to experience a time-a place-a moment all over again, to hear the voice of God more clearly, to be more with Love than you are without it, to feel something so big and yet so small and personal that it just can't be boundaried with human words alone.  Music is a powerful force.  It is debatable what style of music does what to certain people.  Preference is always subjective.  But music has sway - the ability to speak to a part of us that no other medium can.  Music, since its inception, created a way for people as an avenue to express, to feel, to communicate a message with notes, chords and rhythm, speed, syle and variations.  Music is amazing to me, much like nature is.  It holds similar potency.  How can certain notes, combinations of them, rhythms, and patterns evoke a feeling, a thought, allow us to create, communicate something in our spirits, tell a complete story, heal us, move our hearts or even free us?  There is a bit of mystery in music.  I think God uses music a great deal.  It's recorded in scripture of the many, many times music was used for victory, celebration, expression, declaration, worship or just reflection.  So, without a doubt God created it as a route to experience something undefinable with just words alone - something only an instrument, a note can speak.  Music is also so intimate and personal that it is interpreted by each listener or creator of it a bit differently for what their soul needs at that moment.  Strings hold that mastery for me.  The give and take of strings, the rise and fall of their combinations speak and soothe me like probably no other.  The beautiful freedom of an acoustic guitar, simple and unadorned, pull my heart without fail in ways that I can't articulate.  Other times, the loud rhythms and fast combinations of electric guitars, drums, and voices mysteriously make me want to move from the inside out - setting all of me free.  Things created by God are always too big, too wild, too intricate to box and wall in with complete explanation.  Music is a spirit, soul, mind, emotion and body experience.  I cannot explain totally its power, its majesty, its delight to the center of me, what it creates within me.  But, I think in music is hidden a bit of mystery only known totally by its originator, God.  Music is a language all its own and I have always loved when it speaks to me.  I still do:)

12.20.2010

S H E C O U L D G O A L L T H E W A Y! (said in Howard Cosell's voice)

I am in good shape for a woman in her middle forties.  I'm not saying that in and of itself is a guarantee for living long, I just love exercise.  My intensity with exercise stems not just from my personality, but the fact that for a few years when I was very ill I couldn't do this thing that I love.  Now I can again and I count it a gift to be able to move and to push myself physically - a daily reminder of God's gift back to me.  If you have some exercise knowledge then you know (and if you are Big D, my daughter, or those that subscribe to the < 2 leg lifts a day exercise protocol then you might learn something here) something called muscle confusion or tricking (not the term for what a prostitute does either!).  The premise is that if you do the same exercise at the same intensity every day your muscles don't get maximized, they know what to expect.  So, to mix it up and "confuse" them, forcing them work harder and change shape, you have to change duration and intensity along with throwing in different types of exercise.  Some days I run harder and shorter distances, and other days I run slower and more miles.  Once in awhile I run a couple of miles and then walk a fast mile or two just to mix it up a bit.  But several times a week I throw in weights and specific muscle concentrations.  Being "relentless", as someone once told me I was, I love to shove myself over the edge from time to time - it's actually fun for me.  One night I did 150 squats and then 100 kick box moves on each leg along with weights for my upper body.  What a feeling of exhilaration that lasted for several days when I couldn't sit comfortably on my padded office chair without a grimace or two - which was most entertaining for my office comrade.  I conquered something though with that pain which left me feeling a bit like Rocky Balboa (more like the aging Rocky in Rocky XXII).  Yesterday I lifted weights - not heavy ones, maybe 15-20 pounds.  Same weight I normally use, but I took my normal reps to the third power, two complete routines of it.  Running tonight holding my arms in that 90 degree angle hurt so bad I actually said "ouch" multiple times on the four mile route.  Just sitting here typing this my pectoral muscles are whimpering a bit.  Oh don't feel sorry for me, I love it!  It's also always been a great way to work things out of my mind and spirit.  Even now my dear 2 leg lift a day friend is shaking her head saying, "Why Lynn?  Why would anyone do that to themselves?".   Some people drink 2 pots of coffee a day, or smoke weed, drink a six pack a day, eat fast food or gray colored meatloaf every day for lunch, or possibly log onto porn daily.  Others, like myself and a group of exercise junkies, love to feel the pain of pushing yourself just past comfortable.  Oh, I also did 150 crunches yesterday just to feel the burn, confuse the muscles and leave a bit of a lasting imprint for the next day.  Mission accomplished and now I'm ready for bed.  I'm exhausted :)     

12.19.2010

AMBIGUOUSLY RELATED

Yesterday the Cherry extended family celebrated Christmas.  There are usually 15-20 people depending upon whether any of my nieces bring a date to the festivities.  We typically have brunchish foods no matter what time of the day we celebrate it and yesterday was no exception at 4 p.m.  Six pounds of bacon were consumed celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all of us will no doubt meet Him sooner than later as a result of six pounds of bacon!  We don't give gifts either, but have a rousing game of grab bag with everyone bringing a $5 gift and then stealing it away from each other during the game.  Someone actually included two boxes of off brand macaroni and cheese in their gift!  There was some general hooting and hollering going on during the game.  And, my one niece's husband, the newest member of the family, kept us all in line during the game, with what I referred to him as, "The Olympic Games Rules & Regulations for Grab Bag", which no doubt had been sanctioned by the Olympic Committee or a sub-committee thereof:)  Sitting on the fireplace hearth next to my oldest sister conversation included of all things, tether ball.  Why, I don't know!  I commented to her that I never understood tether ball, it seemed like chaos on a string.  She couldn't stop laughing and I ran for paper to write the phrase down.  I know there are general rules for winning a rigorous game of tether ball, but no one seemed quite able to know them in detail other than to pummel your opponent hard while wrapping the chaos on a string around the pole without letting the other player have a chance to touch a moving ball on a string.  Brilliant.  It is a riveting game indeed.  If you have seen the movie, "Napoleon Dynamite" and the closing scene between Napoleon and his girlfriend playing tether ball, you will know it to be a spectator favorite while being a taxing sport for only the extremely skilled.  From there we covered cleavage which is a popular topic among three sisters, a mother and 6 nieces.  My youngest nieces are 18 years old, seniors in high school.  I, of the three of us sisters, shall I say, am lacking the most in all things cleavage related.  Because of that, my nieces, during their blossoming years, frequently would comment that they were gaining on me in the bosom arena.  Yesterday, during what should have been quiet moments of reflection of what the birth of Christ really means, it was declared by the smallest busted niece that she has now surpassed me in breast size.  I think the comment was actually, "Aunt Lynn, look at my boobs," my youngest 18 year old niece said to me, "they are bigger than yours now!"   I looked at her, with pride that only an aunt can hold for her niece that she loves dearly ily, and said, with a twinkle in my eye, "Well honey, I can see that very clearly.  Congratulations!  Good job!".  We all laughed which led my sister sitting by me to say there is some word that Hollywood uses for chest/cleavage.  She couldn't remember it so we googled it off her fancy new phone.  The word was decolletage, which refers to the area of chest above and connecting to a low cut top.  My brother-in-law yelled out, "That's what we men call pre-chest!".  I couldn't stop laughing as I looked at my brother-in-law and said, "What if you don't have a chest!".  He smiled and confidently said, "Well, Lynn then you have a pre-chest to the pre-chest!".   Oh Jesus was indeed at our Christmas.  He loves a celebration.

12.18.2010

CREDITS, COFFEE AND CONFESSIONS

I spent the evening last night with my grown married daughter - my only child.  We went to see the Narnia movie.  Both of us are lovers of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia books and, having seen the first two movies, I wanted to see this, the third one.  It did not disappoint - great vivid color, cinematography that was stunning at times.  But mostly there were moments that spoke to my heart like the line spoken by Eustace (the cousin of the main characters), "I tried to do it myself, but I couldn't.  I needed Aslan to do it for me."  What a grand confession and how true in my own life also.  The other quote that I loved was when Reepicheep (mouse) said to Eustace (now turned into a dragon), "Extraordinary things only happen to extraordinary people."  I loved that quote - taking a different perspective on the things that happen in our lives that are difficult and looking at them as extraordinary.  I wanted to stand and applaud.  I laughed at times when no one else did and my daughter leaned in close to me and whispered, "Mom, why is no one laughing but you.  That was a funny line."  I whispered back, "Have you ever known me NOT to laugh at something that no one else finds funny!"  We were the last ones to leave the showing watching every credit and listening to all the music.  The cleaning crew was coming in as she and I exited.  We both commented that we needed to hear the message of love and hope that Aslan (God) brings to despair.  I especially needed it.  We went to a coffee shop down the street for a couple more hours just sitting and talking about everything.  I asked how she was really doing.  She admitted she was worked up about some things in her life.  We broke them down; masters class and test questions due Saturday night that she had no clue how to answer, Christmas for the first time with her dad and I not married, her dad's girlfriend.  We talked at length about school and her being a non-concrete thinker, how that plays into her having a degree in communications and why she can't figure out a couple of the questions on this test - they are concrete questions with a definitive right and wrong.  I told her how smart she is (she most definitely is) and how proud I am of her and how much I loved her - every cell of her body!  She laughed and said who says it like that :)   We then talked about her dad and I not being married and what I could do to make it easier on her.  I suggested we just all have Christmas together, I mean we are always going to be her parents and I was perfectly fine with the notion.  She vetoed me immediately and said she was not okay with that idea.  We talked about her dad coming over for Christmas with her Monday night and would he be bringing his girlfriend.  Before I barely had the question out she loudly and with disgust said, "I should hope not.  I did not invite her and hope that he does not bring her."  I asked her why she felt so strongly about this woman, could it possibly just be that it's very strange to see her dad dating someone who isn't her mom for the first time. We analyzed that for a bit, but then she just said, "Mom, I want dad to be happy.  I just don't like her.  I don't like her judgemental spirit and how she referred to gay people as "homos" and how rude and demeaning she was to the waitress at the restaurant.  You know how I feel about both of those things."  I smiled, proud that she got what it is to love people and give value to everyone (I was totally agreeing with her as they are hot buttons for me too).  I guessed finally at who the woman was her dad was dating which relieved the pressure from my daughter of trying not to tell me as she had promised her dad she would not.  We talked about how I don't want to operate with her in that way, and won't.  She is free to tell her dad whatever she wants about my life - I'm good with that.  She wished her dad could be the same:)  After thoroughly discussing her dad's new gal pal and her disappointment with his choice, she declared she was going to talk to him about it.  I openly spoke to her about when that time came in my own life, where there was someone I loved out loud, it mattered to me that she would love him too and that the man I loved would love my daughter - it was vitally important to me.  I bet her over a handshake and $20 that when love came to her mom she would love him too or I couldn't love him fully.  She laughed and shook my hand knowing she would lose the bet as she knows that is ever so near and dear to my heart - her, and creating family, albeit in a new form.  She lovingly and laughingly shared again how beautiful I was and there was no contest between me and her dad's new girlfriend either physically or with heart.  I loved her for saying it - true or not :)  I shared with her my frustration of wanting to get published and soon she began to confess.  She knew I had a blog, but I had chosen not to tell her how to get to it or other details that might lead her to it.  I just didn't know if a daughter needs or wants to hear some of what I write.  Out it tumbled. "Mom, I've been reading your blog," she said a bit sheepishly at first.  I stopped and blinked and looked at her.  "Well, you know how you are a great detective and figured out about dad without me telling you?  I am your daughter and have those same skills.  You mentioned once a title of a post you wrote and I googled it and eventually found it though not written under your real name," she said.  "Kudos to your mad skills kid," I said!  Without missing a beat she smiled and started laughing, "And mom, you are so funny!  I can't stop laughing sometimes at what you write and how you say it.  And, you wrote that you hated my apricot fish!!"  "Yes," I said, "sorry if that hurt your feelings but your fish was horrible!  You laughed though didn't you,"  I said with a grin.  "Yeah," she said, "I think I've gotten better at cooking though!"  I asked her if she thought less of me for what she read.  "No. In fact, I love you more after reading it," she spoke from her heart.  The conversation turned toward me writing and whether what she has read is good because she loves me or it's good on its own.  "Mom, you are going to go somewhere with this.  I really believe it.  I'm not sure how, but you will.  All famous people were at one point just normal people who had a passion and pursued it.  So will you."  I told her again that her comment about thinking what she read was good and believing I can take it somewhere were great things to say, but that I don't want things said that aren't accurate.  I really am looking for honest truth in this arena - a bit of Simon Cowell realism if you will.  "You know me," she said, "I'm like you.  If I don't feel it I cannot say it."  I did know her and I loved her deeply.  As I dropped her off at her house I told her I had a deal for her, "Hannah, if you declare right now I am the funniest in the family (a contest we have been having for years and years without a declared winner) I will one day call you Dr. Hannah when you get your doctorate."   She couldn't stop giggling, "No, I will not declare you the winner just for you calling me Dr. Hannah.  I'm holding out for something bigger!"  She kissed my cheek and both of us laughed as she climbed out of my car - me secure in my knowledge that she really did know I was the funniest and her holding out saying it like always.  It is our love song and dance.

12.16.2010

THE VIEW FROM HERE

It's so quiet in my life it is deafening.  I can hear every thought.  I can feel every feeling from my lifetime.  I can see all the pieces of me.  I can see God in all of it, across my life, wanting more, wanting to give me more, show me more...wanting me to quit having to know, be right, figure it out, exercise my rights based on injustice to me, to quit subjectively determining what is good for myself and what is bad, to fully trust Him without anything but being so absorbed in His love for me that I would be willing to let loose of my life - not for an instant, in this or that circumstance, when my back is shoved to a wall - but like breathing - completely. What I saw I both did not like about myself and yet loved about God all at the same time.  I did not feel condemnation for falling short of knowing God differently or more fully at times, nor did I feel impatience from God for my human journey of fight and slowness in seeing Him.  Looking differently, through God's lens, at my life - I saw both my failings at each turn and God's desire for me.  He viewed what was good and purposeful in my life clearly totally different than I did. Good had many forms to God some of which seemed painful to me.  I was again viewing God with humanness.  It appeared that I was not always fully aware there was so much more of me to give up at every turn, to let loose to the secureness and completeness of God's love for me. God is so big and my humanity so small that I only get Him in chunks at a time it seems.  My heart broke with the visual of how I had tried, but even in trying, couldn't see Him clearly through my human scope.  I didn't like the me I saw.  What I saw was a lifetime of hurt and fighting through it.  I was tired and obviously unsuccessful at maneuvering it and without a doubt viewing it wrongly.  Laid out in the bathtub after running, my brokenness of a lifetime let loose.  It seemed to be more than crying, more than sorrow and grief, more than anger, more than disappointment in myself, more than hurt, more than regret - it was broken surrender to the completeness of God's love for me.  I didn't have to fight through hurt, circumstances, relationships, myself, desires, dreams, longings, grief, regrets, needs and wants.  God longed just for me and wanted me to know His love for me, I mean really know it.  Only then would I trust Him in all things seen and unseen.  Only when I could get the love God had for me more fully and richly would I quit trying to fight through everything in my life past, present and future.  I needed to stop having to have everything make sense or be good according to Lynn's view of what is deemed good in my life.  I needed to live where nothing made sense, except the bigness and fullness of God's love for me as the full and complete backdrop for trusting Him and for living life.

12.15.2010

RAISINS INSTEAD OF CHAMPAGNE

I love to run.  If you have been a follower of this blog you know that.  What you might not know is that I have loved running since I was a kid.  As I grew into adulthood my love of running, exercise and health expanded and deepened.  Age 30 was a magical time for me.  I loved being 30 for many reasons; I felt great about who I was, confident in where I was life, I was in great shape, I felt sexy, I was running, I loved the age my daughter was at 9 years old, I felt like I understood myself better than earlier in my 20's.  I don't know, but all those things added up to loving age 30.  Around age 32 things started to change for me as I grew extremely fatigued.  While running, after only a couple of miles, I would have to stop and sit down somewhere and rest while figuring out how to get myself home with no strength left.  Over the course of 6 months or more doctors were trying to figure out what was going on.  I was in shape, a health nut with eating while losing energy and weight rapidly.  I can remember the date - March 12, 1999 - my doctor called me at home after yet another battery of tests for everything you could imagine.  He asked if I was sitting down as he wanted to talk with me - explaining that after all these months of trying to figure out what was wrong I had Type I diabetes - juvenile diabetes.  He said they hadn't looked at that because of my age firstly coupled with the fact that I was in such great shape physically.  I was at a loss for words.  I asked him how someone my age could acquire Type I diabetes just like that.  His best guess was I had gotten a virus that destroyed my pancreas' insulin making ability, but because I was into exercise and eating right it had probably delayed the severity of it until now.  I would need to go back to see him and learn about a life of insulin shots to live.  As I hung up the phone  I was devastated, confused and already figuring how to conquer all at the same time.  My personality believes anything can be done and yet I felt betrayed.  I had done all the right things, but instead of champagne I had gotten raisins (hate them!).  I would use my self discipline abilities and apply them to this disease, I told myself.  Over the course of the next few years I found out that my discipline wasn't enough to conquer, to subdue.  On top of that diagnosis, I was struggling with other auto-immune diseases which complicated everything.  My health went from bad to worse.  I often tell people that chronic and/or progressive illness is tough enough just in the physical realm, but the emotional, mental and even spiritual battlefield is deep and treacherous.  I was not winning physically nor mentally, emotionally or spiritually.  One day, a few years into this diagnosis, I was sitting in my elderly endocrinologist's office.  He was a kind hearted man who cared about not just the body but the mind and emotions of his patients.  We were discussing my high level of frustration at not being able to control my blood sugar numbers consistently no matter what I did.  With tears in my eyes I told him that I had done all the right things leading up to this horrific disease and instead of champagne I got raisins.  I was angry.  That I couldn't seem to get past that in my mind or my relationship to God.  He listened intently as I poured out my heart about the physical part I constantly was experiencing but also not knowing how to fully move forward mentally.  As he leaned forward in his chair he took my hand and patted it, "Lynn, I don't know why you got a disease like this at age 32.  It doesn't make sense, maybe it never will.  It is what it is - horrific indeed.  You did do all the right things in life and did not get the result that they should bring.  You are doing all you can to care for this chronic illness and still not getting the result you want.  You have a very brittle form of this disease which happens when you acquire it at your age.  At some point you will have to know you are doing all you can but there is a segment of it that is totally out of your control."  As I stood to leave that day he hugged me as I cried over my inability to relinquish control even in fighting it daily.  My scrappiness was a blessing, but now a curse.  I wanted to be rescued by God and was angry He was not.  I wanted what I thought I deserved, a life free from this ball and chain.  I wanted the result that should have come from a lifestyle of exercise and healthy ways.  My heart and mind were blown wide open with this exception to the cause and effect principle.  I really wasn't in control - not of my health in preventing this, nor in successfully navigating its ups and downs.  In June of this year I was sitting in my doctor's office, a new doctor since early spring.  He and I were talking about how tenacious I am with wanting levelness daily to this disease and how that does not happen for stretches of time.  He is not a man of many words and was patiently listening to me share my frustration, which I have danced with off and on for 12 years.   When I came up for air he said, "Stop being so hard on yourself with a disease that is very fragile and very brittle in you.  Keep doing what you can as I know you do.  We will tweak some things, but there is much of this that is totally out of your control.  Go easy on yourself."   Going easy on myself is not something that my relentless self finds naturally easy to do.  Over these 12 years I have prayed and prayed and prayed to be healed of this particular disease and struggle.  God has healed me of other things, but at this time He has chosen to leave it in my life.  I have made peace with it as much as you can make peace with an enemy that resides in your house.  I continue to learn that most things are out of this relentless girl's control, and, that the cause and effect principle has many exceptions to its rule.  I am thankful that after some rough years physically I can run again.  I too am thankful that 7 shots a day and God allow me to live life.  So, maybe I did get some champagne after all - the gift of living. 

12.14.2010

HOUSES' PERSONALITIES

Every time my one niece enters my front door she does two things without fail; she hugs me and picks me up off the floor while saying how light I am, and she then says, "I love this house.  It's my favorite house you've lived in."  She's 18 and ever since she and her twin sister entered the world, her parents have been coming to see me wherever I happened to be living.  One day my niece wanted to know how many houses I lived in during the years I was married.  I lived in 16 different houses in the twenty-five years I was married.  Geographically I did not move jobs/cities 16 times, but changed houses 16 times.  Some of those moves were multiple houses in the same years of residence in a location.  A handful of those houses were church parsonages:(  And, six of those house moves occurred in under four years.  There are though, only four houses out of the mix, that I really loved and which had a great feel to them.  I was a realtor for some years, so I looked at a great many houses.  With one couple in particular I showed them upwards of 40 houses till we found exactly what they liked.  There is a feel to houses, a tangible palpable feel to not only the aesthetics of a house, but the spirits that have been in that house or are presently.  I once showed a house, a vacant house, where a murder had taken place.  Wanting to see if I was feeling a spirit in the house just because as a realtor it had been disclosed to me of the murder, I asked the buyers what they felt as we walked through the house.  They said, "There is a creepy feel in here.  We're not interested.  Would it be ok if we didn't finish looking at this one."  I then told them of the history of the house.  They couldn't get out of there fast enough!  I myself have bought four houses in particular because of what I felt the moment I walked in the front door - not in surroundings always, but with a feel to the house.  My present house (the one my niece declares is her favorite of all time) is the most freeing house I've ever lived in.  It's not just the style that is most me - wide open, wood floors, plastered walls with depth, 1950's originality.  There is a feel of creativity, freedom and warmth that is very tangible.  Last night one my friends stopped by for an impromptu sandwich and glass of wine.  Sitting in my living room after we ate she commented on the feel in my house.  How can an inanimate object, like a house, have a feel, a spirit to them?  I thought about what all goes on in houses with relationships, feng shui (if you are into that), design and how they really do tell a story without words.  I am not into stuff.  It's not what drives me in life.  But sitting in my living room Sunday afternoon reading I again felt this house and its inviting, freeing and restive atmosphere.  I thanked God for not only a warm place to be on a cold wintry day, but the gift of beauty, creativity and expression that is this brick house on the corner that I call home.       

12.13.2010

How to leave a comment on this blog - AND PLEASE DO! (Monday, December 13th, 2010 2nd post)

Ok, for some blogging technical updates.  Some of you out there in my blog reading bleachers have told me, in one form or another, that you cannot leave a comment as you either don't have a gmail.com email address or, you just want to do so anonymously.  Well, I have heard the collective 3 cries and changed my comment settings.  Anyone should now be able to leave a comment and not leave their name/address/email address/weight/social security number and/or religious preference.  I hope this makes it easier for all, but especially for you Aunt Dee :)  Comment away as I love to read what you say back to me!

THE FRUITCAKE FOLLIES

Talking with a friend today conversation lent itself to fruitcakes - the edible holiday version.  Which led me to my mother.  There are two types of people - those that love the fruitcake and those that well, don't.  You either say in response to being asked if you would care for a piece of Aunt Edna's fruitcake, "No thanks" or, you say with great anticipation for this fruit and nut laden treasurer that weighs in at a whopping 4.5 pounds, "Please, that would be great.  I'd love a piece!"   My mother loves fruitcake!!  I racked my mid-forties brain trying to think back to a time pre-fruitcake in the Cherry family.  It has a been holiday staple since I can remember such things as my first Mitch Miller Christmas album or that mom and dad could always be talked into letting us open a gift on Christmas Eve.  That's a lot of work up to this:  No one, and I mean no one, other than my mom and, occasionally my dad, ever eat the fruitcake.   But, every year since my conception (and before since I am the youngest and was born in August), my mom has been making a batch of fruitcake every year at Christmas time.  To her credit, if you had to eat fruitcake hers would rank up there in being way better than most.  She chocks it full of multi-colored candied fruits brimming full of toxic food dyes (though adding a festive yuletide showing to it), raisins and nuts.  For those that cook, she also leaves the citron out, which is typically the thing that adds a bit of a bad aftertaste to fruitcake.  She religiously makes it yearly.  But, instead of  making it into several large fruitcakes, she creates a gaggle of small mini loaves (that's good because if you have to receive a fruitcake at least hers are small).  Fruitcake or a variation of it has been around since the 1700's - ok not literally that one fruitcake!  In the U.S. it originated when it was realized that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits.  So when there was an excess of sugary preserved fruits - wha la, the fruitcake was a way to use the excess preserved fruit.  Some feel that fruitcake improves with age (not the age of the person eating it either), and that cloths wrapped around the fruitcake that have been soaked with wine or brandy or rum intensify the flavors.  I personally think anything can be improved with wine, brandy and rum - even myself!  My mom only gives the fruitcake away to those that she knows really like it (she obviously doesn't understand the code of fruitcake giving, but merely wants to keep as many loaves for herself as possible).  Sitting at my parents house in the middle of summer I have seen my mom remove a small loaf of fruitcake from the freezer, slice off a couple of slices and eat it.  Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la . . .
(ily)

12.12.2010

JUST ENOUGH

Just enough.  Just enough.  Who determines what is just enough in my life?  Obviously I think I know what is enough, but did I really?   I mean did I want more than I needed?   Did I think I knew exactly what the provision of God looked best like manifested in my life?  As I laid in bed early this morning (one of the 3 places that my very best thinking occurs; bed, bathtub, running), I talked to God again about moment living -how to break down feeling overwhelmed, doubting, fears, sorrow.  Manna.  That's what I heard.  Just the word manna.  Laying there I let God's presence speak to my heart.  Manna, God said again to me.  Let Me provide today and only today what you need.  Let tomorrow come Lynn, God spoke reassuringly to me, and I will bring you manna for tomorrow.  Let Me sustain you, provide what you need in this day for this moment, at this time.  Don't run ahead of Me and My manna, God again said.  I am enough, just enough, He whispered with care from One who sustains the whole universe moment by moment.  I was a child of Israel - thinking God's provision wasn't quite enough, which left me lacking, frustrated and fearful.  In a child's voice I asked Him to please forgive my stupidity and lack of faith.  His manna He held to me was enough.  As I gently and cautiously maneuvered through the day with weepiness, I stopped time and time again declaring out loud what God had promised me - manna for today, not what was needed for tomorrow, but what I needed today.  Today manna is enough.  If I remember the manna story correctly, it came every day for exactly what the children of Israel needed to eat for that day.  No more, no less.  If they tried to store it up, it rotted.  He wanted to show them and me that trust is a daily thing - Manna is new daily.   You God are more than enough for each day.  You God, give it in abundance if I just trust that your provision is better than what I think I need. 

12.11.2010

ICE COVERED LAVENDER

Standing at my front window looking out today I glanced at the expanse of landscaping beneath me.  The temperature had risen well above freezing melting back the snow and unearthing parts of the plant life again. My eyes watched the icicles, now turned clear, hanging from the eaves dripping to the earth below.  Several icicles were dripping onto my large lavender plant helping to melt back the snow from it, but also creating chunks of ice which encased pieces of the plant.  I couldn't avert my gaze for a time  - drawn to the sea foam green delicate leaves of the lavender.  How did that plant, so beautiful and so fragile, flourish alive under the weight of the ice?   How did it still show its stunning beauty even in winter?  The contrast was mesmerizing to me - the power and harshness of winter over top of this thing of frail beauty.  I could clearly and distinctly see both.  The strange stark contrast actually made each thing, the ice and the plant, even more beautiful.  How could that be?  How?  Continuing to watch the drops of water fall I saw my own life too.  I was that plant - created for beauty to display God through who He made me.  I too felt covered in ice - encased with the weight of things in my life.  Bound I was, by things that had changed that I didn't want changed - feeling their loss.  And, I was still waiting under the weight of the ice for things to change that I desperately needed changed - wanting to be free.  My branches felt fragile as though they may break.  Why did God operate this way?  Why did He like to portray His creation of beauty for a season in ice?  Spring seemed forever away as I stood watching the plant with snow and ice on it.  It seemed forever away in my own life too.  Did I know it would come?  Could I right now rest in the ice and know God would bring Spring?  Could I?

12.10.2010

THE TRIFECTA

First off, I am not a proponent of taking the Lord's name in vain.  I do not say "God" or "Jesus F** Christ".  That duo of the trinity is highly regarded by me and not used by me in swearing.  Have I prayed to God having been angry a bucket full of times in my life, yes!  But, swearing God's name, I just can't do.  It's like taking this huge untamable loving God of creation, creator and savior of our souls and reducing him to commonness. He is far from common, though God loves common things, like us. Not a huge fan of the F-word either.  Too many teenagers, and a few adults I know, use it like a preposition:)   I also grew up with parents and extended family who really didn't swear.  Well, ok shit was used from time to time.  And, in my dad and mom's defense of the word's appearance in language in our house, it is excrement and we did live on a farm :)  I also do not use my trifecta freely or with people who I know would be puzzled or it might lead them to a state of spiritual confusion (Even though I don't think God cares about the usage of certain words - but man always has their own opinion!).  Curse words have always been funny to me.  Who decided which were swearing, profane, vulgar to begin with?  I have said before, a word is just that, a word. They hold power when mixed with emotion, but as a single unconnected word, just a word.  Was there some committee somewhere before Webster and Wikipedia reigned who determined category of words and specifically what would be curse or swear words?  Was it done right after Adam and Eve named all animal and plant life?  Did they determine swear words but it just wasn't recorded in scripture :)  To be honest, sometimes I can think of no other fitting word than damn.  Damn literally means several things; to be condemned to hell, to bring ruin on, to swear at, well beyond doubt or certainty-extremely.  I use that word well, sometimes, frequently...ok this week probably more than frequently.  And, for me the reasons for its use are many and varied.  Said in anger by me sometimes but more often just said because it is a poignant way of highlighting, with certainty, the words around it.  It's a bit tongue in cheek. This week was a rough one for me, so rough that I knew my intolerance for slow drivers would be magnified.  I literally drove the 30 minute drive from my house to work a completely different way bypassing a highway that, when I haven't been laid low, I can express anger and a bit of "damn" on a regular day.  It was best for me and probably everyone on the highway that I took an alternative route.  No doubt they missed me passing them though.  Hell is another word that I use, but with variation.  Instead of hell no, I say, "hell to the no", a phrase uttered in a group interview by another interviewee candidate sitting next to me.  The question to each interviewee was, "Is swearing offensive to you?"  Her answer was simply, "Hell to the no!".  I was offered the job and she wasn't!  But, I took from that interview her wonderful phrase (really should send her a thank you note - oh, hell to the no, I'm not really going to!).  Friends of mine love that phrase so much they have stolen it from me and now use it themselves. That's when you truly know you have made a lasting impact on other's lives!  And lastly in my trifecta of swear words (to me these are not really swear words but emphasis words), my childhood word of shit.  Shit is normally a light hearted word to me in how I use it.  Usually it's used when I make a huge inconvenient mess in the kitchen - spilling things, breaking something accidentally, using powdered sugar instead of flour in a recipe.  I also use it during all phases of any type of home improvement project that does not go according to plan either with time involved or ease versus difficulty.  I recently installed 4 overhead lights by myself with almost no usage of my trifecta.  I wasn't being a saint by not saying them, the project was one of the few that went according to plan.  A damn rarity. 

12.09.2010

SHE WEEPS

Grief is powerful.  It is so totally encompassing that it forces out everything except itself and takes control of all that is in us.  It comes suddenly - unexpected - without much warning.  It stays like an unwelcome house guest leaving only when it has thoroughly washed itself through us.  Sometimes grief is like the tide, coming in so deep and so far that we feel its weight and wonder if it will relent before our soul is drowned from its inconsolable pain.  Other times, grief is like the wind, constantly and poignantly making us minute by minute aware of its presence - showing us the loss again and again.  I was talking to my sister tonight about something in my life that has been tormenting my spirit causing me to not be able to stop sobbing.  How tired I was, I told her, of it taking me again and again.  She listened to my words and even as I shared them I broke down in sobs on the phone.  With gentleness of spirit she said, "Lynn, that is grief you are experiencing.  You cannot will yourself to not feel it, to not let it take you to a place you don't want to go.  You have to let it have its way, its time.  You cannot tell yourself if I do this or that it will abate.  Your loss is inconceivably great and so is your grief great in volume to match it.  There is no timetable for grief either, just be in it for as long as you need to be."  I wanted it to leave as I am exhausted from its presence.  I wanted it to relent or rest or release me from its grip.  What I really wanted was my loss back.

NOT WHAT MEETS THE EYE

Remember one of my earlier posts about eating sushi with my daughter and the Chinese waiter with broken English - Jack.  (If not, go read post entitled, "Where's Lynn?")  I met my daughter for lunch today.  We went back to where Jack works, not only for the food, but for Jack too.  He remembered us and commented on "the beautiful sisters" again, shaking both our hands and bowing slightly.  He reminded my daughter that her mother was beautiful and my smile was remarkable and that it never seemed to stop (he gets a big tip from me of course!).  He also told her to always, always love her mother.  He remembered our ages which was amazing.  Today I asked his age, "49 tomorrow, December 10th," he said.  I asked did he have children.  "One son, age 19 a college student at IU Bloomington, Indiana where my brother teaches as a nuclear physicist", he beamed with pride.  He told us how smart his younger brother was and I commented that there was no doubt that he too was very smart.  In broken English he told us that he was a teacher in China before coming here to help a friend.  He asked me what I thought he taught in China.  I had watched him carefully last time and on this particular day also noted his creativity and free spirit of life.  I said, "You taught music in China.  You are a musician."  The biggest smile broke across his face, "Yes," he said, "music is what I taught.  I play the piano and several different Chinese flutes."  Meeting Jack working as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant he wasn't what he appeared.  My eyes saw one thing, but in conversation with Jack he was not all what met my eyes.  It made me realize how easy it is to pass people off, to cast a judgement based solely on what meets the eye.  Years ago on a back alley in Los Angeles I sat down by a homeless person.  What met my eye, was despair, filth and wrong choices.  As I sat there this man began to share his background, losing his job, being without choices and ultimately money.  He was not in total despair viewing this as a temporary part of his life with hope to live differently.  He shared about finding good things in this life he was in too.  He too was not at all what met the eye.  Then I thought about myself.  How many times people might view me a certain way without really knowing anything about me.  Those that know me would most definitely say, "She's not at all what meets the eye!"  Beware:)

12.08.2010

FREE TO BE REAL

Having been in the pastorate for years, I witnessed many a kid tearing through the sanctuary post service, or running full boar through the foyer and out the front doors or bolting in race form down one of the long halls either being chased or chasing someone.  It never bothered me.  There was a family in the church with four kids, three of which were girls and two of which were under the age of six.  Those two little girls loved to run.  I found it entertaining.  One day two ladies in the church came to me after the morning worship service.  They were bothered by something as I could easily see the sanctimonious fervor flushing their faces.  "Did I realize," they said, "that children are running in the church and especially the sanctuary.  AND, that their parents are not stopping them?"  I tried my best to look concerned, but I really wasn't.  They moved onward in their agenda of the running of the kids.  "Now didn't I think I should do something about those children.  Go talk to them or their parents?", they said coming close to full religious indignation.  "No," I said, "those kids are fine and if you are bothered by it, maybe you should go talk to their parents.  But I would suggest you think through it first.  Some of those kids belong to a new family in the church, who just recently started coming and are spiritually very new to God and church in general.  God loves running. He created it and He created kids to do it. They are just being real - who they are."  I'm not sure they liked what I said.  Today I thought about running in church and how God wants us, actually longs for us to be real with Him.  Once in awhile I have to remind myself that I am free to be real with Him.  I don't have to clean up my emotions, my thoughts, my deep hurts, my longings, my sorrow, my heart's desires, my guilt, my torment or my brokenness.  I can in realness just bring it to Him.  When those kids operate in the natural realness of who they designed to be they are totally unaware that they are even running - it's a flow of their hearts to cut loose.  God loves our hearts - the wellspring of our lives.  Our thoughts, emotions, desires, longings reside there - who we really are converge there.  I want to operate like those kids running - my heart free to be me in the way that God created me to operate best as.  Having God so know my heart that when I run in the sanctuary after church he smiles because I'm just being me - being real. 

12.07.2010

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE

Ever feel a bit lost.   I mean maybe things in your life that brought joy and meaning have lost their luster, their magic.  Picking up a book isn't as exciting as it once was and well, I just haven't picked one up in the past few days.  It reminds me of here, this place I am in.  Music that moves my soul and makes my spirit soar has not been turned on in the past couple of days.  Its sounds remind of here, this place I am in.  I didn't run last night either - it reminded me of here, this place I'm in.  I didn't write a post yesterday.  All words reminded me of this place I am in.  I touched the dictionary with fondness, but couldn't bear to open it as it just was too hard because of this place I am in.  The thoughts that I cannot empty from my head.  The measure of completeness in my soul.  The connection of spirit - all less than capacity because of this place I am in - here.  Tonight when I ran, I chose not to look at the sky.  I could not bear to see the moon as it too reminded me of this place I am in.  My normal relentless self even reminds me of this place I'm in - I just don't feel like being relentless right now.  The sparkle in my eyes, the speeding thoughts in my head, the fullness of my heart, the connection of my soul are just dim right now, at this place I am in.  Where to do I go from here?  This place of here was where I covered the depths in one breath and rose to the surface in the next breath with ease and laughter.  I don't really want to leave to leave this place I am in, this here. But it's just not the same as it used to be.  The colors aren't nearly as vibrant, the smells not nearly as scented and the sounds have all grown silent.  Where do I go from here?  God, where do I go from here? 

12.05.2010

LYNN'S REALITY SHOW

One of my friends always says that stuff happens to me that doesn't happen to other people.  I don't know if that's true.  Stuff does happen to me and I don't know why, but I find it highly entertaining.  Because it was Saturday, I had errands to run.  I stopped at the bank my daughter works at to say hello.  She works the drive through on Saturdays as that's the only part of the bank open.  So, in order to talk to her I have to go through her drive up window.  We banter back and forth through the microphone till a car pulls behind me for a legitimate banking transaction.  I pulled all the way around the bank and got back in the drive up lane behind the car.  I waited my turn and then pulled back up to my daughter's window and we continued the conversation.  About 4 times I have to pull around the bank and go to the back of the line as cars back up behind me in line with actual money needs.  We both laughed at the absurd way we are carrying on a conversation much to the delight of her co-workers inside the bank who can hear every word of both sides of our conversation.  I failed though to get a bank sucker from her when I drove away for the last time.  Leaving the bank I stopped at Salvation Army, the thrift store.  I was looking in particular for a pair of tan pants.  Once again, the I-must-be-part-Jewish in me finds a great pair of Banana Republic pants in my size (it's a gamble there as to whether you will find anything or not - much like playing the slot machines in Vegas!).  They are marked $2.50 - a steal:)  I also run across a great pair of cream colored high heeled mules that appear never to have been worn.  They are marked $2.50.   I take my $5.00 purchase to the counter with a five dollar bill in my hand.  Ready I am to pay five dollars for two items:)  The clerk says, "That will be $1.61."   I looked at her and started laughing out loud which she doesn't quite know what to do with.  I asked her, "Really, $1.61?"  "Yes," she says, "The shoes are 50 cents and the pants are $1.00".  I hand her the money and laugh as I walk to the car knowing that my dear friend Big D will ridicule me while laughing hysterically that I have a great pair of pants and shoes for $1.61.  And she did later that day when she picked me up for dinner.  After I leave with my $1.61 purchase of a lifetime, I headed to the grocery store.  Because it's Saturday the store is crowded with people.  I gathered the few things I needed and like a lab rat, navigated and inched my way in the long line closer and closer to the check out belt.  Standing behind me is a younger couple with a new born in a car infant seat.  They seem fairly normal and well adjusted and I watch them converse with each other with ease and familiarity.  Suddenly a man walks up to me in line carrying only 2 or 3 items.  I think he is getting ready to ask if I would mind letting him ahead of me.  I have no trouble letting people with only a couple of things ahead of me.  He stops and quickly and quietly says, "Do you want to go on a date with me?"  I thought since he spoke fast and soft that I didn't hear him correctly.  I repeated it back to him, "Are you asking me if I want to go out with you?"  He looks directly at me again and smiles with what appeared to be a bit of craziness in his eyes and wildness splashed across his face, "Yes", he says.  I don't hesitate one iota in my response to the crazy date asking grocery store man, "No" I say emphasis on the no spoken clearly and somewhat incredulously.  It appeared to not faze him much as he just continued to smile this very strange smile, turned and walked to the back of the line.  I looked up while still in line and saw him still gazing at me with the same look he left me with.  My amazing $1.61 two clothing item purchase, Indy racing through the bank drive through for conversation through the teller window with my daughter and, being asked out in the grocery store by a crazy man all in a Saturday morning errand run.  Wonder what I can experience next Saturday?     

12.04.2010

THE WAITING ROOM

I drive 20 miles one direction to work.  People do not drive the speed limit either.  For a highly impatient person such as myself, it is extremely irritating.  On average I would guess I pass four people each direction in my coming and going from work.  I also don't do well waiting in the doctor's office, the dentist, in a huge line in a store, in a traffic/construction jam.  Waiting in those instances just seems so totally wasted and purposeless.  I don't do well if there isn't a purpose - shopping also falls under a purposeless activity for me :)  Years ago, being seriously ill and having been taken out of the lanes of traffic for a very long extended period, I began to look at what was really frustrating me about being ill and not being able to participate in life.  Obviously it was many reasons; physical pain, not being able to do the things that brought me great pleasure, standing still and watching everyone around me move and live, having my world shrink so small that thinking how to get my clothes on became a huge mind altering task, fear that it would never change-I would never get strong and well again.  One particular winter day, I laid on the floor in my sun room over the heat register vent with pillows shoved under every part of my frail body to ease the pain I was in.  As I laid there, honestly too sick to even hold up the book I was attempting to read, I thought about my frustration of illness.  I was waiting to get well.  I was waiting for my life to return to me.  I was waiting for God to heal meI was waiting for the medicine to work, waiting for the excruciating pain to abate.  I was waiting for tomorrow hoping it would be better than today was.  I was waiting for my then husband to care give and love me during this period of really needing him.  I was waiting on myself to come to terms with what if it never changed - what if I never got better than this day on the floor unable to hold the book.  I pulled myself back a little further from the equation and saw that panoramically all of life is about waiting.  I mean, hadn't all of my life been like that - just waiting on all kinds of things.  Waiting to grow up enough to not have to ride the school bus, date, drive, be independent, get married, have children, get the job you want, make enough money, waiting for your kids to get independent, unable to make a decision because it hinged on waiting for a circumstance to change-an event to happen, waiting on love to come, waiting to be able to purchase a house, a car, waiting on illness to leave, waiting for someone's behaviors to change, waiting on sorrow to lessen its grip on our hearts, waiting to grow up, waiting to retire, waiting ultimately in line to die.  Laying there I began to see that God must have some wild hair purpose in giving all of us lives where all we do is wait.  That day I clearly saw all of life as a sort of a "waiting room" if you will.  But why, I asked God laying there.  What purpose would He have to make the whole earth operate in a literal waiting room?   Waiting for me, if I am forced to wait long enough (in traffic, in illness, etc...) , causes me to eventually realize nothing is in my control.  Ah, God uses waiting to show us constantly He controls things.  But, also that in waiting we find things we wouldn't if we were moving - treasures like contentment and trust.  One of our clients called this week and in conversation shared a frustration of waiting on something in his life.  I could tell he was discouraged.  I shared with him about the "Waiting Room" of life. 

12.03.2010

IT'S ONLY A NUMBER

Ok, everyone out there in the blog peanut gallery, those known who come to Lynn's swirling mind screen daily and, those who are anonymous and show up but leave no trace - this is the 101th blog post.  Can I hear a cheer, a boo, a small whisper of "is she ever going to stop!"  For those that have been along on this journey - thank you for reading and stopping by to be puzzled by me, learn your dictionary better, horrified over my blatant honesty over body parts and diarrhea, learn my take on colors and Christmas craps, church history, grace, see my struggles and come to know of my desire to become the next Andy Rooney.  I thought about numbers since recounting this is the 101th blog post.  There are numbers for everything in life.  I mean if you're in the military you're assigned a military identification number.  Birth puts us in line for a social security number which follows us through every financial transaction and job of our life and even our death certificate bears its number.  We are asked our height and weight at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles - which most us remain our height and weight from age 16 when we first obtained our driver's license until we pass on:) Our paychecks bear a number - albeit a smaller one than what we wish.  All of us have a phone number, an address which consists of some grouping of numbers.  Our vehicles have a VIN number and also a license plate number.  I do so hate when checking into a hotel that they want your license plate number!  Like I have that memorized.  It always involves me going out to the parking lot and then reciting it over and over again so I don't forget it by the time I get back in to write it down (and I have a time or two!).  There are IQ test score numbers (I wonder what mine would be...best I don't know as I would no doubt lose the fake sense of intelligience I currently hold onto).  We are measured for college entrance by our ACT or SAT scores (I can't remember what my score was - probably good again!).  We have lab tests done which give us numbers for indicators/measurements/markers of something good or bad.  By the way my cholesterol number is 149.  One vivid number memory I have that has stayed with me all these years is from 7th grade Home Economics class.  I wasn't real fond of art or home ec to be quite honest.  In art class if it didn't involve me drawing a sun, a house, grass or trees I failed miserably at it.  Hated sewing and well cooking, I wanted to create not follow a recipe:)  On this particular day we were to pair up with another girl in class and take our body measurements - bust, waist and hips.  My best friend and I paired up, and for good reasons did we choose each other.  Neither of us could ever be serious for more than a span of several minutes which made most everything in life way more fun - even taking body measurements.  I took her measurements first.  Honestly I don't remember her waist or hip measurements but I would imagine they were amazingly close to her bust measurements as she was built similar to me in the 7th grade.  Her bust was 29 inches.  We roared laughing!  We were also making jokes and comments as my second cousin was also in our class but had "blossomed" very early and spy indicators were throwing us a 34 inch number from across the room for her.  Angie took my measurements - I lost to her.  Can you imagine being worse than 29 inches?  I came in at a whopping 27 inches!  I can't remember my locker combination that I had for four years in high school but I can still remember 27 inches for my bust in 7th grade Home Ec class.  Just last year I think I made it to a 32!!!  I'm calling Angie to tell her:)  It's only a number, right - just like age! 

12.01.2010

FINDING HAPPY

I have this quote hanging on my bedroom wall that says, "We don't laugh because WE'RE HAPPY.  We're happy because WE LAUGH." -William James.  That's powerful, at least for me it is.  I laid in bed early this morning and read those words on my wall reminding myself of the words and their truth.  Laughing is a huge part of me.  It is one of the lenses I view most things through.  It is also the filter that I use to break down the seriousness of life and a way to find pleasure and delight.  Laughter also allows me to pull back and, from a higher view, see things a bit clearer.  It's like soul salve to heaviness.  Laughter is like real whipping cream on pumpkin pie - it's what makes good, rich experiences even better and brings a measure of tolerance and spice to bitter hard places.  Laughter helps me savor and capture what is felt in my heart many times.  What does happy even mean really?  It's a sense of well-being, contentment, pleasure, joy all rolled into one.  Nowhere do I connect it necessarily to circumstances, although it most definitely is at times very directly tied to experiences and circumstances and moments.  I like that happy is both a noun and a verb.  I most like it in the noun form in my life though -  That definable, staying thing.  Nowhere do I connect happy as dependent on what someone else provides, brings to the table, and gives me in return.  Happy I suppose, as joy as a subtitle, is a choice to find and look for  - sometimes hidden in hard, in doubt, in fear, in struggle, in the simple, in the complex, in plenty and in need.  Laughter is one of Happy's vehicles, a tool, a catalyst in my life that restores and rebalances Happy's rightful place of honor.

11.30.2010

HANT

No you aren't reading the title to this post wrong.  Yeah, I know you think I must have meant to type HANK or HAND and it's just a typo.  My grandmother (spitting to the left and saying, "God bless her soul" in a Jewish voice denoting reverence for the deceased) on my dad's side only went to the 6th grade due to polio and the era she grew up.  She though, was not an illiterate or un-smart person at all.  She did have a few words she said that were just a bit syllably off by a smidgen.  One was the word hate which came out as "HANT".  No, I was not reared in the south but in the big Midwest corridor of the great lakes.  My grandmother was not reared in the south either nor did she fly a confederate flag as a northerner.  I'm not sure why she said hate as HANT.  Possibly she just didn't want to use the word HATE for the power it holds and changed it ever so slightly to diminish it's negativity.  How did she use the word?  Well, she would use it in a sentence like this, "I just hant when the sweet corn kernels don't fill out properly on the cob."  Or, "I hant tomato worms". BTW; tomato worms are these big juicy green apple colored jointed worms with tentacles that can munch and destroy a garden tomato plant.  Knowing of her HANT of those worms me and my sisters once collected a metal pie pan full of them and walked to grandma's house with them hidden behind our back.  When we stood in front of her we declared we had something for her and presented her with a pie plate full of her favorite worms.  She screamed and laughed at the same time.  Grandma was not a HANTING (hating) sort of person, but occasionally expressed her hant of something.  I can relate to grandma's hanting something.  Presently I hant a few things in my life too.  They are circumstances and choices beyond my reach to change them and I HANT that.  I hant that I can't make the choice, change the circumstance, speed up the decision that will be made. I HANT the fact that this choice will affect me in a huge way.  In essence I have to wait, can't store up emotionally for it either.  I am living with some measures of uncertainty.  Today I am just hanting that.  Hant I say:)

11.29.2010

EVERYONE'S GOT ONE

I took the day off from work, a Monday, giving myself an extension to a long Thanksgiving weekend.  Driving to the Social Security Administration Office not far from my house, I had a stack of papers and the governmental form requesting a new social security card due to a name change - my maiden back from a recent divorce.  Pulling into the parking lot I see hoards of cars and it is one minute till the doors are unlocked.  I join the host of people in line waiting for the official 9:00 a.m. opening of the doors.  Standing in line I do what I do - talk to those around me.  I am standing by a man who, as I introduce myself to him, tells me his name is Mike.  While idly waiting for the line to move forward I look at the sea of faces around me.  Everyone comes from somewhere.  Everyone has a life of some sorts.  Everyone is here for a reason.  Some are here because they are unemployed, are signing up for food stamps or some sort of governmental assistance, some are reporting changes of addresses that are imperative for them to receive their monthly check(s), some have lost a loved one and are beginning the process of settling an estate, some are signing up for social security as they are about to retire from a life of work, some like me are needing a new social security card for a new child-a new marriage-or a recent divorce.  I wondered scanning the sea of faces what each person's story really was.  What was their life like?  Mike, I can tell, is a veteran of coming to the Social Security office.  I surmise that he is no doubt unemployed and probably has been for some time.  The lady behind me I greet and comment on the cute child she has with her.  "My granddaughter," she says with tiredness worn like the tattered shirt she had on.  You could see that she had that child more than its mother did.  There was poverty and a shadow of despair that hung on her.  My heart wondered what her daily life was like, what her entire life had been like.  I thanked God for my blessings.  I wondered why I had the life I did, and she the life she did.  I follow behind Mike as the line slowly moves to some sort of registration terminal.  He follows the screen prompts like it was old hat to him.  When done, he turns to find a seat and I ask for his help, telling him I didn't quite know what to do - first timer I say:)  He smiles and actually does it for me.  He finds a chair and I decide, based upon my interactions with him, to sit by him for the long haul.  As I sit down I say, "Well, I stood by you in line I might as well sit by you for the next hour.  You ready for some conversation?!"  He laughed.  I was serious, but of course he doesn't know how I operate.  There was quite a contrast between us;  me - a 40 something middle class white woman with a job and, Mike - a 30 something black man from a life of struggle currently unemployed.  That didn't seem to stop our conversing.  I asked him questions about his life, did he have kids, how long has he been unemployed, what did he do for a living before, what does he want to do now, did his two boys play sports, how did he like that school system, why was he there (change of address), how was Thanksgiving, did he cook (he laughed and said he grills only!).  He told me about sweet potato pie-one of his loves, that his boys were 12 and 9 and played league and school football, that he had been a welder and lastly a purchasing agent for a glass company, unemployed for over a year.  And then, for whatever reason, he began to tell me about how he came to have his boys in the past two years.  His former girlfriend, who is the mother of his children, was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for operating a meth lab.  It appears that a call from a police officer changed his life and his boys too.  He shared that this year has been tough but that he was trying to get his boys settled into a better life.  I liked Mike and silently prayed for him sitting next to him.  When his number was called I patted him on the back and told him it was a pleasure to spend my first experience in the Social Security Office sitting by him and wished him well.  Soon before Mike left an older gentleman in his 80's and his son came and sat on the other side of me.  I introduced myself to them and asked how they were.  The son said they were there as his mother's funeral was Saturday.  I expressed my sorrow for he and his dad's loss.  He shared that the day his mom died (from complications of open heart surgery) was his parent's 58th wedding anniversary.  I glanced at his dad, grief and unsuredness of life seemed heavy on him.  The son continued....I asked questions.....he answered.  He had grown up here until he went to the East coast to college 35 years ago.  There he stayed upon graduating and had dealt in antiques and floral design.  I could tell that he was gay and that life here in the Bible belt would have been hard for him as a gay man 35 years ago.  He wasn't sure what all they needed to do to process his mother's death so they decided to come and talk to a representative.  I told them I had been there close to an hour and hoped they weren't in a hurry.  The son shared he was leaving to go back to the East coast after helping his dad today.  As they called my number I stopped in front of the father who was holding a folder of papers concerning his wife's death.  I told him that I was sorry for the loss of his love and he reached for my hand and thanked me.  I prayed for them inside my head as I stood touching the father's hand.  Walking to the clerk I thanked God for the chance to see a little bit of what everyone's got - a life.

11.27.2010

SOUL'S WINDOW

Attributed to an old English proverb, "The eyes are a window to the soul" is a familiar statement to most.  Theoretically it means eyes give a clue to what another person is thinking.  Our mind streams into our soul.  Well, if that is indeed true then I have a picture window showcasing the contents of my soul.  

I have large eyes.  Literally if you saw a picture of me you would say, "My, what big eyes she has!"  Growing up my two older sisters would occasionally say, "You have cow eyes."  It was a statement I could track on since we grew up on a farm.  Cows were familiar to me.  In fact, I had a pure black pet cow which I named Bear.  He had beautiful big dark eyes that showed kindness in them.  I really didn't mind too much that they called me "cow eyes".  Though due to their size, I sometimes hate that my eyes easily betray my thoughts.  

People have said some interesting things to me over the years about my eyes, besides cow eyes.  Just to name a few; you could be a model from the nose up (was that a back handed compliment-wait, not a compliment at all!), your eyes will get you what you want in life (still waiting on that fulfillment of prophecy), your eyes show very clearly who you are (who am I again?), you've got nixie in your eyes (duh!), your eyes tell me you're going to die (when exactly as I need to mark that on my calendar), there is that blue eyed beauty (I wasn't aware I had blue eyes -think the old man was color blind), I see trouble brewing in those eyes (trouble is such a subjective word isn't it?).  

Not only are my eyes rather large, but they are not a constant color.  Sometimes they are very green and other times, they lean toward a grayish smokey hue.  I was asked in the bureau of motor vehicles (DMV), when recently updating my driver's license, what my eye color was.  What a dilemma!  I couldn't decide so I asked the clerk to look at them at that moment and decide what color they were right then. She laughed.  My favorite comment on my eyes though is, "I could get lost in your eyes".  I love that because if our eyes are a window to our soul and ultimately our mind, then what a grand compliment both physically and intellectually.  

Remember the grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood when the big bad wolf came disguised as Little Red Riding Hood wanting to eat her?  "My, what big eyes you have!", said Grandmother.  "The better to see you with, my dear!", said the big bad wolf.