It's remarkable - this place in my life I'm in.  I am out on a small thin ledge very high up and yet, standing there I am clearer and more acutely aware of everything around me - as if I am feeling it, seeing it, smelling it, noticing it for the very first time, even though many things are not new.  There is this amazing urgency and hunger to not miss a thing around me.  My eyes are wide open.  When I was a kid in the spring and summers I loved the period right after a warm rain.  I would run outside after the rain had ceased - that moment when you could almost taste and smell the earth - when the sun hesitantly resumed its place of authority.  Taking off my shoes I would jump in the small puddles that would pool on the road.  The water was shallow and warm.  There was this awareness of the cleanness of the surroundings having been bathed in rain - it was fresh again and new.  To feel it against my skin and dance in the puddle was freeing.  I thought about that today after not getting the news I wanted with a pay increase and what that meant for me.  I felt swept away by it for awhile and might again in the days to come, but I remembered the puddle after the rain when I was a kid.  How can I get there again?  I know that the rain causes the sun to disappear, yet that same rain was necessary to clean the earth, to restore all things to green again.  How could I see this rain shower over a job as something that God views as necessary, restorative and part of what He was going to use to move me to where I need to be ultimately? How could I allow God to use it to create a puddle of goodness meant to bring fulfillment and fullness down the road?  It just appeared to be water coming down when I had plans for the day - it was ruining my picnic:)  I have absolutely no idea what to do next to be totally honest. What to do for living that provides what I need to live, at times what direction to move in, where to look.  It all seems big and I feel small and am needing an umbrella today.  You would think that this would be becoming more and more familiar territory for me - these rain showers.  When I was a kid and rain forced me back in the house temporarily I would anxiously watch out the big front window hoping to see the clouds break.  I scoured the sky looking for a bit of blue to break through the gray.  I wanted to find the nearest puddle, to feel the rain water on my feet.  I delighted in what the rain brought when it left.  Rain was good.  This can be good in my life.  It's still a bit of a drizzle tonight for me.  Every day I hear God call me deeper into trusting Him.  Here I was again as He called me to the rain. 



I love the great outdoors.  there runs through me deep love and great admiration for the Creator of it all who paints great landscapes in vivid colors, smells and textures.  I am in awe of the creatures that abide in nature - all of them having their created place within the food chain of creation, serving a God given purpose in the circle of life both vegetable and animal.  I do have appreciation too for zoo animals - those from around the world held in a strange sort of captivity for us to ooh and ah over as we might never get that close to that critter otherwise.  There is a safety in zoos - creatures are kept out of harm's way of people creatures and vice versa.  It's a good system.  24 years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, we bought a house, our first house.  We couldn't afford much and well, like the old adage says, "you get what you pay for".  The first week living there we realized very uncomfortably that the preceding owners, who had indoor pets, had left us with a huge infestation of fleas.  They didn't seem to bother my husband at the time, but they ate me alive (I am much sweeter obviously than he was!).  We bug bombed the entire house twice - spent the night with family and thankfully they did not return!   One early morning I was sitting at the kitchen table when out of the corner of my eye I saw something sitting on top of the spindle of the early americanish cane bottom kitchen chair sitting across the kitchen.  I took a double take.  It appeared to be a large rubber rat that was perfectly balanced on the high back part of the chair.  I laughed out loud at my mate who no doubt was trying to scare me.  Before that thought even finished in my head, it moved!  I screamed and it ran, and I mean sprinted across the room in a mad confusing dash of not knowing where it needed to go to get away from me.  It was most definitely alive, moving and appeared to be a ground squirrel, a piney, a chipmunk - whatever name you choose to use.  I was 8 months pregnant with no bra on having just crawled out of bed.  Straight out the front door I ran seeking male critter assistance from the neighbor man!!  Ok, I am a bit rattled now; fleas and a chipmunk.  Ugh, these things need to be in their natural habitat not visiting me in mine.  One day in the months soon after the chipmunk made a surprise visit I flipped on the kitchen light early one morning to see the floor move in a rapid succession of cockroaches.  I had a meltdown right then and there.  My creature tolerance was already low and this, well this was just down right creepy.  I had visions of them crawling over my newborn daughter in the dead of night!  I waged war once again, and again and again with them until I think I finally killed off the population of them.   Walking into the laundry room one day I see something slither quickly across the floor - a snake!  Oh mind you it was only a small garter snake, but it was a snake none the less.  And, it was in the house not in the wild natural outdoor habitat.  Once again, I called the neighbor over who fearlessly came and removed the snake from the laundry room.  I never went in there again without shoes on:)   There was also the time yellow jackets decided to take up residence inside the house and also box elder bugs came in droves.  But, the ultimate scariest creature was what I saw one day across the kitchen on the kick plate, that space underneath where the floor and cabinets meet.  It was a big spider.  Oh yes, you say, how big of spider was it?  It was larger than an average size hand when spread out and furry like it just came from the hairdresser. It had huge hairy legs and just the mere sight of it (never saw or have seen since then anything like it) made my heart race with fear.  I stood frozen as I tried to even wrap my mind around what kind of spider that could possibly be - a tarantula the previous owners must have had for a pet that got loose!  How to kill it quickly became the rapid fire thought.  I could tell by looking at it that it had some weird sensory ability that sense movement - I feared it would hear my heart beating loudly or hear my breathing!  If I took a step it would run like a gazelle being chased and disappear in some crack or crevice where it would most definitely return in the dark of night to crawl on me.  What to do?  The only thing I came up with was to gently reach down and take my shoe off and hurl it across the room and hope that it landed with deadly accuracy on the spider before it scurried away.  That space where the spider stood only offered maybe 4-5 inches of a kick plate bulls eye.  I think it's eye moved as I gently leaned over to remove my slip on shoe.  In one movement I hurled the shoe as hard as I could in the exact location of the gargantuan hairy beast.  The shoe and my aim could not coordinate a hit.  Never have I seen a spider move so fast - ever.  I never saw that spider again.  No doubt it was alive and reproducing within the space of my house somewhere.  I'm not sure how long the average life span is for spiders with a pony tail.  Never was I as glad as when we sold that house and moved away from Critter Haven Acres.   



Her name was June like the month of.  Really her rightful given name was Neva June, but I never heard people call her anything but June.  She was my grandmother on my mom's side.  Gram, as I usually called her, was a bit on the worried and fretting side of life.  It was evidenced in how she communicated danger to me, her grandchild.  They owned a small country store when I was growing up where grandpa had built her a full operating kitchen in the back of the store.  She cooked for and raised her own two kids, fed 7 grand kids and others in that kitchen.  Gram was a magnificent cook who catered to whatever her grand kids were hungry for.  I would dry the dishes for her and whenever it came to a sharp knife gram would quickly say, "Don't dry that knife.  You might hurt yourself."  I always giggled inside because at home all the dishes were expected to be dried and I created more danger for myself than should have been allowed.  Their store also had two gas pumps where grandpa would pump gas (oh the good old days where someone pumped gas for you).  I would play on the cement median that housed the gas pumps frequently.  Invariably if gram saw me she would holler out the front of the store, "Don't play there, someone might pull in and hit you.  Come away from there."  She never said things in a mean way, just out of a fretting worried heart of love.  She was also a very slow driver.  As she drove she would grip the wheel at 10 and 2 never really turning her head except to look directly in the mirrors and right back straight ahead.  Many times drivers would go around her (and I would have too if I would have been old enough to drive).  As they did she would raise her voice in a perturbed way and say, "You dumb bunny!  You better slow down."    She worried when you rode your bike or went near the lake they lived on or, if you had gotten enough to eat.  Really she was about serving others - and she did it through cooking, loving and playing the organ at her church.  Gram was a great organ player and my favorite song to hear her play was "Gentle Shepherd".  The way she played it seemed to ebb and flow to God with this longing for Him to come and really lead her.  Sometimes I would go with her to the church where she practiced.  I would lay under the pews in the sanctuary or just flat on my back on the front pulpit steps as she enticed the pipes of that organ.  She also had an organ at her house and I would beg her to play that song for me.  I would crawl up beside her on the bench just to watch her play both organ levels while using her bare feet to man the pedals.  She had a special lean but not a full sway when she played.  I would lay on the bathroom floor while she would bathe and we would talk.  It seemed natural to see my grandma naked and I never thought a thing about it.  She had some heartaches in her retirement years with my uncle going to prison for 12 years and my grandpa passing away.  Losing gramps was hard on her as they had never really been apart from each other except for the 2 years he was in WWII in Germany.  They had always worked at the store running it together all their married lives.  When gramps passed, gram began a steady climb downward.  It was a familiar decline as her father, my great grandfather had been afflicted with Alzheimers some years earlier.  She became different; her cooking skills less stellar, her mind forgetting simple things without even the awareness that she was forgetting and anger that came in waves mostly directed at my mother.  As whatever was happening progressed she fought my mom constantly and was just disagreeable.  She had a large stroke one day at church when she was playing the organ.  Suddenly her musical ability was gone and without being self aware she started playing notes that were not right.  The pastor called my mom from church.  She spent some time in the hospital recovering from her stroke, which seemed to only exacerbate her memory issues.  She refused to go an assisted living center, listen to my mom or go to the doctor to get a diagnosis for her memory problem (she didn't think there was anything wrong).  To ease the growing difficulty between her and my mother we suggested my parents go to Florida for the winter as usual and me and my two sisters would look in on gram.  We thought a real diagnosis of altzheimers from a doctor would help us convince her of the need to be in an assisted living facility.  The first time we took her to the neurologist she was compliant with me and my middle sister.  She, though, was not overly compliant with the nurses and doctor that day.  They give all suspected Alzheimer or dementia patients a short quiz; who is president of the U.S., what county are you in, what is your address, where are you at presently and finally they asked her to spell WORLD backwards.  Well, to say that she flunked the pop quiz of questions was accurate.  The doctor was gracious to her and never used the word Alzheimer's to her only to me and my sister.  He put her on some medicine for memory and tried to urge her that it might be best not to live alone.  He wanted to see her back in 6 weeks.  The day of the follow-up appointment gram was sitting in the front seat of my car and my middle sister in the back.  We were trying to engage gram in conversation on the way to the doctor.  There was no real responses or participation in the conversation from her.  When I looked over at her I could see she was reading and mouthing something written on a small piece of paper she held in her lapp.  I realized she was practicing saying out loud the word WORLD backwards.  She blurted out in the car, "I do know how to spell world backwards - DLRW", she said with great anger and determinedness.  I nor my sister had the heart to tell her she still did not have the word correct.  It was a horrible appointment where gram yelled and got very angry with the doctor.  I followed the doctor out of the room to apologize to him for her outbursts and disagreeable manner.  He assured me that he was used to what happens to the personality of Alzheimer patients - they sort of lose the character that seemed to mark them all their lives.  The other day I was looking for a yellow legal pad in my desk drawer at home and ran across a tablet.  Scribbled at the top binding edge of the tablet in gram's handwriting was the word WORLD spelled both frontwards and backwards. She must have been practicing writing it like she was in the car that day we took her to the doctor.  I often wonder if knowing how to spell World backwards helped her when she actually did leave this world for eternity in heaven.


...AND THIS LITTLE RED SUITCASE - and that's all I need!

My dad was the banker in the small town I grew up in.  Sometimes after school, I would walk from school to the bank.  Once inside the bank, there were two entrances to my dad's office; one was where customers entered and the other was a side hall entrance.  That back entrance to my dad's office allowed me to stand in the hall and have my dad see me without his customer's ever laying eyes on me.  So, typically I would go down the back hallway to my dad's office stopping on the way in the kitchen to eat sugar cubes (we didn't have those at home) and then standing where my dad could see me out of the corner of his eye.  He would normally have someone in his office, so with his hand behind the desk low he would wave at me.  Off I would go across the street to the Dime Store.  Oh the Dime Store in 1972 was a magical place for a kid, especially in a small rural community like ours.  There were treasures there to be lusted over and touched, pennies to be slid across the counter for penny candy, mental notes to be made of things you would like for your birthday or Christmas.  It was a cornucopia of delights, wares, trinkets and treats.  Once again that day I marched across the street to the magical land of the Dime Store for one reason and one reason only.  Every day that my parents would allow me to walk uptown after school to ride home with my dad, I would go look at it.  Day after day.  Week after week I would stand and stare at it.  Sometimes I would get so bold as to ask if they could get it down off the high shelf for me to touch and really examine.  There it was - this magnificent small red suitcase.  I wanted it in the worst way.  Really, the things I could do with it - I mean travel the world, go to my grandma's in style or be the envy of a slumber party.  When you opened it up it housed a mirror inside the lid.  There was a compartmentalized tray that was on top.  If you removed the tray beneath it was lined with this red silky material with a small pocket sewn into the lining.  It had a smooth red handle contrasting the red linen textured upholstery.  Beautiful and functional, and I wanted it.  There was nothing else in all the world that I wanted, but that suitcase.  It was a consuming thought - I was coveting that suitcase.  In the months leading up to my birthday I carefully dropped as many hints as I could - well, the hints were just basically saying what I wanted and where it could be found a million times to both my mother and my father.  My desire for the suitcase became so great that I even prayed, "God, if I can just get that beautiful little red suitcase I will never ask for anything else again.  I will be totally satisfied."  Now at 8 years old you have no concept of the great desires that lie unknown and unchartered in front of you.  You just can't know that fully. My world was small at 8 so not wanting anything else was relative to my vision of what was available.  As I stood in the Dime Store I prayed that prayer.  When I laid in my bed at night it was what I talked to God about - wanting that suitcase and my desire would be totally fulfilled.  Well, my birthday finally arrived.  Grandparents came, my favorite meal was made served, cake was eaten and the grand finale - presents were opened!  I cannot remember another thing I got that year for my birthday because everything else paled in comparison.  The last gift given was from my parents.  It was just what I longed for - the little red suitcase!!  It was mine.  I couldn't believe it.  The feelings rushed over me of gratitude - I was so full up of this grand possession I would never need another thing.   Ever.  Ever was not very long.  I think it wasn't long before I wanted something else that I knew would bring fulfillment or be the end all of belongings.  Then I turned 9:)  Somehow one day I grew up with a whole new set of things that I thought I needed for fulfillment.  A bit of destination disease - when I get this or arrive here or have this money or have this job, then I will have contentment and fulfillment.  I will be filled up.  I don't have that little red suitcase anymore.  Actually I don't even know what happened to it.  I'm sure it either broke, was sold at a garage sale or sits untouched still in my parent's attic.  I do know that one day I realized that the "little red suitcase" over the years has taken other forms, but the premise remains the same - how to be content with ourselves and walk away from traps of possessions, money, success and power.  The old saying, "a contented cow produces much milk" is so true.  I want to find in God contentment and delight which amazingly enough satisfies my soul much deeper, richer and more lasting than that little red suitcase ever could.   



I've had my share of illness in my lifetime.  Though, I don't remember being sick a lot before third grade except for typical stuff; mumps, measles, chicken pox - you know all the childhood have to's of my generation.  In third grade I contracted mononucleosis and was put in the hospital.  That, at 8 years old, was my first stay in a place that I would some day come to hate.  I missed some school, hated my third grade teacher and my haircut that year anyway.  That is the only time in my life that I have ever thrown up - on my red pull-over-your-shoes boots while waiting for my mom to pick me up as I was sent home sick.  It would seem that throwing up on my beautiful red boots ushered in a bout with mono.  If you look at my third grade picture you will see everything; a horrific haircut, a ridiculous black and white dress (oh mom come on - a dress!) and the darkest circles under an 8 year olds eyes you've ever seen.  Not a good school picture year!  If you could have checked the option on the school picture order form for a conversation bubble to be inserted above the child's head, mine would have said, "HATE ALL THINGS THIRD GRADEISH".   When I hit seventh grade I came down with some weird cyclic illness that baffled the doctors for a time.  Eventually they concluded juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and thought with age it would diminish if not leave altogether.  Great, just what a kid wants - periods of high fevers and painful, swollen joints.  It came and went but stayed with me until after I had my daughter in my early 20's.  I loved turning 30.  Really it was a great time - I felt great, I was running lots of miles, I loved my body at 30 and how I looked, the age my daughter was and had really begun to be comfortable with Lynn period.   At age 32 after suddenly getting ill, I was again diagnosed with something I didn't want, Type I diabetes-the insulin dependant give yourself shots to live kind.  During a several year period following that diagnosis I seemed to be ill more than I was functioning as a well person.  One Christmas during those ill years, I spent it in the hospital with both mono once again and pancreatitis.  I don't sit around very patiently or very easily sometimes even when I'm sick.  Absolutely everything that entered my mouth and even when nothing did, it came directly out the other end. I was forced to stay in that hospital room just to be steps away from the bathroom as explosive diarrhea went on the rampage with no warning (I am putting it mildly for you here as I want you to return to my blog tomorrow too).  Now if you are of the faint of heart or a child under say the age of 13 you may want to stop reading:)  Because it was Christmas lots of friends and family came to see me.  Side note:  when you are ill you really don't want half the world in your room, especially when you have explosive-can't give you a warning-diarrhea.  I was weary of people and being there.  Early on a Sunday morning at around 6 a.m. I decided I could not stay in that bed one minute longer and would just get up and walk the halls.  It was still dark in the hallways at 6 a.m. on that Sunday over Christmas.  Other than a nurse that sat at a small nurses station at the one of the hall, all was silent.  At some point of being in the hospital you just loose all modesty or at least a portion of it.  I was at that point when I walked out of my room with ugly hospital issue gripper slippers on, a gown that was big enough to be wrapped around me twice and a pancreas and intestinal tract that was in major crisis mode.  I just wanted to walk, to move, to stretch my legs.  Upon leaving my room I decide to turn right, whereas immediately a thought strikes me, "What if I need the bathroom, where is one out here?"  Really I think I had not gone more than 20 steps from my room or more than a few seconds away from my "where is the nearest bathroom thought", when it hit with no warning, no time to think, panic or chance to squeeze your butt checks together (btw-that defensive tactic would not have worked at all).  Standing there in the dimly lit hall on a Sunday morning Christmas weekend explosive diarrhea hit.  So explosive was it that it blew my underwear down to my ankles as I now stood in a pile much like a heifer's pile in the pasture beyond my parents house.  Panic now ensued.  I couldn't take a step - literally.  What do I do!!!  I catch the nurse's eye at the end of the hall and motion her towards me - wondering who might happen out of their room or off the elevator at any given moment and see me standing in the hall underwear and crap ankle deep.  She waves back.  OH MY WORD...she thinks I'm waving hello!  I get more dramatic in my motioning and she catches on and walks down the hall to me.  Now what do you say to a nursing professional who has been trained in all things gross and yet still, there is no amount of money that would make me want to do her job at that very moment!  I apologize profusely and laugh at the same time at the absurdity of it all.  Her and I stand there now, both of us laughing, trying to figure out what exactly to do to minimize the mess on me and well, the surroundings.  She calmly says, "See that door right across from us?  It's a shower.  I'm going to take your gown off, open that door and you can just walk in it."  Did I tell you I am standing in a hospital hallway and she wants me to strip naked?  Well, having lost the last shred of modesty and dignity I had when I exited my room minutes earlier, I strip completely naked in the hallway and walk to the shower.  If you think the worst is over, oh it was not.  Per hospital protocol because I was ill, she had to come in the shower with me - yes, right in there with me as all the crap was washed off.  She was gracious and even though I was embarrassed, it was indeed very funny.  After having gotten cleaned up and redressed in a fresh gown (this time with no underwear) I was put back in my room:(   Sometime later that nurse came in my room.  She sat on the edge of my bed where I once again told her that I can't believe what had just happened and how sweet she had been and how ridiculously funny it was.  She laughed and said in a b-rated hospital drama TV show sort of way, "Lynn, I'm sorry, but we were unable to save your underwear."  Can it get any worse?  Depends.  It's the Christmas year I lovingly refer to as, "The Christmas Of Crap":)



In the trio of sisters we all hold our own offices.  Evidently they are fairly visible to the outside world also.  At my paternal grandfather's viewing some 15 or more years ago, I arrived a bit later than my other two sisters due to my work schedule.  Looking back, I'm grateful that I was not able to get there any earlier.  Before I arrived my father (who's father had passed) was introducing my two older sisters to some of his business associates.  I am told it went something akin to this; "I'd like you to meet my oldest daughter, the smart one.  And this, this one is my middle daughter, the beautiful one."  My sisters together and then separately over the years have recounted that story to me with a touch of anger and feeling hurt for being type cast - each wanting the others definitions.  The one who was called "beautiful" felt like she was only worth her beauty.  And, the other sister who was called "smart" felt unlovely.  I continue to tell them all these years later that it was probably a good thing I wasn't there for the introductions because I don't know what descriptive labelling term my father would have used for me - "sassy" or "tomboy" or possibly "the bold one".  There is an 18 month age difference between each of us sisters.  So, life events in high school were all kind of together in a way - dating, driving, etc...  My oldest sister and I look more alike than does our middle sister, Di, "the beautiful one".  I thought about how my dad introduced my two sisters.  Di is sort of exotic looking with olive skin, dark hair, large breasts and this air of regalness to her - like she came from royalty, not the farm we grew up on.  In fact so different looking than Anne and I that we used to tease her till she cried that she was really adopted - had her convinced a time or two that she really was!  As teenagers we would be walking down the street or in a store together and instantly you could see the eyes of every man go to Di.  Anne and I were virtually invisible and consciously aware of it.  Di usually had two different dates every weekend.  It seemed that boys, then teenagers, and eventually grown men found her absolutely beautiful - like this universal definition of beauty.  Both of my sisters were 4-H fair queen contestants and homecoming attendants in high school and college.  Me, on the other hand - never nominated for a contest of beauty in my life.  Recently my two sisters and I went away for the weekend.  We are all in our mid to upper forties.  Walking down the street side by side I began to notice something again resplendent from our youth - every man was looking at Di.  She was sporting a tan, highlighted by a very low cut black tank top, and things were well, more than amply displayed.  There was this queen like aura around her in the way she carried herself.  It was Queen Di and the invisibles walking together once again now just 30 years older!  In an attempt to make me more "visible", my sisters suggested a lower cut top for me and possibly breast implants:)  I don't know what makes beauty so subjective.  There were times growing up where that beauty invisibility factor caused some doubts about loving my own looks.  But I learned to be more than just ok with who I was.  Our father, whether from personality or era, never really told any of his three daughters they were beautiful ever until that day in the funeral home - when he told one of them that's what defined her. As I've aged I've actually gotten more comfortable with my own style of beautifulness  -whatever that is!  Beauty is subjective to the eye of the beholder...and, that is quite wonderful.  Really I don't feel invisible at all.  Invincible yes, invisible no.



After almost 25 years of being in pastoral ministry, I found myself flooded with circumstances that were soaring way behind certain or stable.  After a very brief stay in Texas for a job that my physical limitations would not allow me to fulfill, we packed back up and headed home to Indiana, me alone in our vehicle and, my husband in the moving truck.  There are lots of miles and hours between Houston, Texas and Indiana.  Miles to think, and think, and think, and think some more.  My marriage had always been shaky at best and I was hanging on by a very thin thread presently.  While in Texas, faced with the fact that we would need to return due to health reasons, my mate had a huge breakdown of screaming and swearing, finally ending his tyrant with the words, "I want a divorce".  The drive home, alone in silence, was actually both excruciating and welcomed as I thought about what I should do, where I was at, all the disappointments I had in my life, my daughter's wedding in 6 weeks, now without a job.  To make matters worse our house still hadn't sold in Michigan and we were headed back to stay at my parents until we figured out what was next.   I physically felt barely able to function, let alone drive back across the country by myself.  Those hours and days I mostly spent praying and crying, buffeted by doubt and fear and uncertainty.  Three days later - emotionally, physically and spiritually battered, we rolled into my parents drive.  They, only knowing we returned due to physical issues, had little idea of what else was going on.  For the next three months both my husband and I looked for jobs but could not seem to find anything.  It was very difficult to be not in stellar shape in most arenas of my life while living with your parents whose house you left 25 years previous.  I tried to go with the flow of eating 3 huge meals a day, harvesting garden produce at the volume of 20 gallons of green beans a day, listening to them bicker at each other, complain about their church, read ethnic names out of the paper and give a racist byline while doing it, physically doing tasks that fill their lives daily.  I seemed unable to let them know the depth of my struggle.  Many times, to escape both my parents and my husband, I would do just as I did in my youth - walk, run or bike alone.  It was during one of those very, very long bike rides that I began to have this very unusual interaction with God.  As I looked over all the unstable, unsured things that dominated my life right then I heard the voice of Tevye from "Fiddler On The Roof" swell inside my head and heart.  If you remember the movie or the broadway play, Tevye is the father who battles with God in outward conversational dialogue over his attempt to maintain his family and religious traditions in a changing world as 3 of his 5 daughters marry, each one going a little further outside of tradition to do so.  His laments to God are over all this uncertainty around him.  I felt like Tevye that day on my bike.  Literally it welled up in me this complete and total uncertainty over everything and every area of my life.  It wanted to take me down spiritually as well.  To this day it is the strangest thing, but I began to hear God in Tevye's Russian voice sing to my spirit, "Do you trust me?" (sung to the tune of "Do You Love Me?" sung by Tevye to his wife Golde in the movie).  At first I said nothing, rattled over this very strange thing that was occurring.  I heard it again clearly and loudly singing with a solid confidence that was asking me, "Do you trust me?"  It was plain God was simply holding out this rope of love and He wanted me to trust Him for everything in every area that was uncertain.  I very timidly and quietly sang back, "Yes, I trust You."   Just like musically in the movie, the notes changed a bit implying with the same words, a more imploring tone, "Do you trust me?"  I sang it back again a little bit stronger, "Yes, I trust You."    This went on for a few miles until my heart was convinced that I could trust God - that I was willing to trust merely because He was trustworthy.  The fiddler in the film and historically signifies joyfulness and tradition (God) in a life of uncertainty and imbalance.  That was exactly the picture of my life right then.  God was asking me that day on my bike not only would I trust Him, but could I find joyfulness in the midst of all the uncertainty and imbalance.   Eventually we both found jobs, our daughter was married, we sold our house in Michigan and bought one Indiana, living with my parents finally came to an end, and when marriage became devastatingly harmful we divorced.  Again recently I have been faced with swells of uncertainty in this life of new singleness.  Once again this week I heard the voice of God with a distinctive Tevye flair sing to my spirit enticing me, imploring me back to the land of trust for all things uncertain.  Would I chose joy and God in uncertainty and imbalance in my life?  I sang back loudly, "Yes, I trust You!"



Smells are powerful mood and memory triggers.  Still to this day there are certain things I can smell that cause a powerful emotional memory, an association to an event or a feeling.  I hated breakfast as kid.  If the word hate defined by Mr. Webster himself means; intense dislike, aversion, loathing, enmity toward, distasteful - then I held all those things for anything breakfast.  I would awaken early in the morning in the unheated upstairs of our childhood farm house to the sounds of my mom in the kitchen.  On that particular morning not only did her sounds awaken me, but immediately a repugnant smell jolted me wide awake!  I knew what that smell was and I held active hostility toward what I knew was awaiting me at the table.  If breakfast was bad enough in and of itself, what was coming that particular morning was of epic-biblical-event-wrath of God-horrific proportions.  The smell was actually tangible - a sort of musty, grainy, gritty, dusty in your lungs coughing kind of smell.   My mind was whirling as to how I would; a) either choke it down without puking, b) fake a sudden and acute illness, c) evoke the constant prayer I prayed that "if you get me out this God I'll be good the rest of my life", d) sit there long enough that I would possibly miss the bus thus causing them to let me out of eating it, or e) if Jesus was planning to return would He magically rapture the church as I sat down.  I walked down the stairs slowly with dread so heavy on me I could barely lift my feet.  My mom, of course, was happy as a lark singing on a spring morning.  There on the stove was a huge vat, almost caldronesque, burping and bubbling with cornmeal.  UGH!  I felt as though I was in the musty corn crib of the barn where the air was thick with dusty cornish smells that settled on you like coal dust on a miner.  Taking my place at the table my mom set the steaming caldron in the middle of the table and began ladling it generously into each of our bowls.  My father would get almost giddy with excitement over what he viewed as a breakfast food treasure - I guess similar to caviar for him.  Oh I tried to eat it, kind of.  I put a small bite in my mouth - disturbed by not only the smell as the spoon got closer to my mouth, but the texture of it rolling around in my mouth.  It was this very strange gritty consistency much like putting a handful sand in a bowl of oatmeal, but larger grains of sand.  The taste and smell were almost one in the same.  My father liked butter and salt and pepper on his.  My mom, she loved a bit of maple syrup on hers.  I, on the other hand, could not find one condiment that would improve the taste, texture, look and smell of it!!  There was only five of us in our family but the caldron was large enough to feed all of us and the bulk of the starving children in Africa.  Which, by the way, was I believe what I told my dad when he told me to eat my breakfast that morning.  "Lynn, there are starving children in Africa who would be grateful for that.", my father stated as a self-appointed delegate to the African Consulate on Starvation.  Feeling overwhelmed with extreme hostility toward all things breakfast, and everything cornmeal, I boldly replied, "Well, let's get an envelope and mail mine to them!"  Not a great thing to say to your father at 9 years old and to someone that held cornmeal in such high esteem in the breakfast food category.  That was it - Jesus was not rescuing me by his return - I knew that God would not answer my prayer as I had already naughtily broken my part of the deal - Puking was not a real option as I only puked once in my whole life and faking an illness at this point after my sassy outburst would not be believed.  My only option was to wait them out.  And I did.  If I remember right that day was one of many when I sat at the breakfast table for almost two hours not eating.  Usually after that long some bartering occurred - two bites and sometimes none as the bus was honking at the end of the driveway.   And, before you think that big vat of cornmeal was wasted, it was creatively turned into another breathtakingly gross breakfast the next day - fried mush!  If big vats of cornmeal had a definable smell definition, it would be described in the soon released Webster's Abridged Edition Dictionary as; invidiously repugnant, contrary to the health and best interest of any child.



In the Old Testament there is a description of the temple that was built; the dimensions, the materials used, the direction it faced, the decorations, down to the serving ware used.  Further in this physical description is mention of the most sacred part of the temple - the Holy of Holies - the inner room where only an appointed priest could enter on behalf of the people to see the glory of God.    I am not comparing my dear friend, who I have a standing breakfast appointment with every Tuesday at 6:45 a.m., to being an appointed priest or, myself to being God, but...... she would like to think that I am.  There are and have been many friends through out my life.  Especially have I been blessed with many relationships of love and laughter both men and women.  It seems that there are some friendships that have been seasonal - for a season in my life or theirs.  Or circumstantial - events created this connection of friendship.  I have some friends who are really my relatives too, like my sisters.  They have both roles in my life and play them very well I might add.  The statement with them that is so true is, "To know me is to love me".  They both know me intricately well and love me like the big blue wide open sky.  Today after driving away from breakfast with my friend I thought about friends I have and those who have meant the most to me.  Who have I let in the Holy of Holies in some regard?  What quantifies a true friend and is it tangible really?  Why do have I friendships?  Now my dear friend will get a little puffed up with herself for making this blog post.  Every Tuesday morning at breakfast I listen to her complain about how bad the coffee is (I don't drink it because it is bad) and ask the waitress for a straw for her water.  I thought about Big D (name shortened to protect her CIA identity) and why her friendship enriches my life.  She is one of a handful of people who truly get me, fans it into full flame and then jumps up and down when I get there.  That's why I love her.  She is the priest I let into my Holy of Holies.  She is one of the few who gets Lynn, doesn't want to change me, brings out the stuff that makes me who I am and allows me to say whatever I want in the delivery system that best explains it (swear words and all at times).  I don't have to be somebody for her to love me.  She loves me - my failings and all, in the state that I am presently in.  She wants me to go places, have good things in my life, not carry anger in me, understands both my extreme irreverence and my deep love in God and what I want Him to do in my life.  She shares my "river runs through it" massive love of pure, unadulterated junior high school antics and laughter.  There are many things that we are completely opposite in.  She thinks bossy, bold things but won't say them in a public setting.  I on the other hand, well I could use a little more of Big D in me:)  Exercising is a love of mine - a way to conquer and release.  To her exercise is one leg lift in bed as good measure.  She likes the staples on papers to go at exactly the right perpendicular angle and well, I could care the hell less!!   She has a hard time saying no to others for social events and I rarely say yes.  She has this great heart that wants to know stuff about God and how to live in God's great Graceland with difficult family.  Once she tried to tell me that Peter (Yes Saint Peter the disciple) had jumped out of the boat to see Jesus and drowned.  I tried to tactfully tell her that Peter did die later in his life, but that he did not drown the day he jumped from the boat to swim ashore to see Jesus after the resurrection.  She admitted to me later that she had read that portion of scripture while sitting on the toilet early in the morning.  The next day she told me she read it again and I was right, Peter had not drowned that day:)  My favorite thing to do to Big D is to call her at work during the day and tell her something absolutely ridiculous or wind up into a comedy routine with her till her emphysema laugh kicks in and she can't stop.  Then quickly I say, "Gotta go Big D".  I love to hang up the receiver still hearing her laugh hysterically.  I have friends, but the best kind are those that know you, love you, laugh with you, cry with you, get you without you having to explain every thought in your head and come back time and time again for more, stay in the fight with you, pray for you and want more for you than themselves. I truly believe friendship is a vehicle used by God in our lives to make us better, keep us company & entertained in the journey through life and, with human skin on show us Himself.  Only a few get to the Holy of Holies.  I am so thankful for the few that have permission to enter into who I truly am:) 



There is a beauty in the darkness of night, a quiet silent privacy.  I didn't always see that though.  Terrified I was of the dark as a young child.  Why, I don't really know.  I can't retrace it to any event that may have sparked my fear.  Maybe it just was there for lack of really understanding the dark.  My parents would ask me to go to the back, creepy part of the old, dark, damp basement to retrieve potatoes stored there or homemade canned goods or something out of the freezer.  I could instantly feel this fear grip me.  Trying to reason with it logically didn't ever seem to work.  So, I would with all the courage I could muster, run as fast as possible into my fear and right back out with item in hand.  The same thing would happen if I was told to go upstairs after dark by myself - palpable fear of the dark, the unknown there.  I couldn't see like in the light.  Outside of my bedroom window on the farm, there was a tall, slender kind of scraggly pine tree.  It didn't have much aesthetic beauty like a white pine or a majestic blue spruce.  By appearances it had weathered some storms, housed the birth and death of quite a few birds, and seemed almost tired.  It also leaned gently toward the house - specifically toward the bedroom that I shared with my two sisters.  That pine tree made its own unique rustling and whispering sounds when breezes came.  It was a comforting, restive sound to my ears during the day.  But at night, all things changed for me.  One particular night laying in the bottom bunk of the bed I was struggling with fear - fear of the dark, the shapes and shadows cast outside of the window that I couldn't distinguish.  You just don't have a grip on absolutes as kid.  With lightening speed I crawled into my eldest sister's bed for comfort.  She had a way of making me feel safe immediately.  I told her that the dark was frightening to me.  Lovingly she said, "Lynn, you know things in the dark don't move.  They are exactly where they are in the light.  That tree looks just like it does in the day - it's just surrounded by night right now."  Recently I reminded her of those words she spoke to me long ago.  She says she doesn't remember saying such a wise thing to her little kid sister.  But, she did and it changed my perspective hugely that night and many other dark nights that would come later in my life.  During one of those dark nights of my life I ran across a book, Night Shift by Dave Shive.  He is an unknown author and you could clearly pick up in his writing that his night shift was still occurring.  It wasn't a polished book by any means, but his struggle still being fresh for him, transpounded off the pages.  The book equates these dark times in our lives as the blackest and hardest work shift - the night shift.  The night shift is not usually associated with first choice in work preferences.  He laments the fact that fear wants to take us over during those night shifts - when you cannot see and know what you do in the daylight.  The book took me once again back to my sisters words so many years ago.  The author goes on to show that actually, according to scripture, the night shift workers are God's favored shift workers.  He allows them there because he trusts them with something that isn't found during the day.  There is a specialness found in God when we are fearful in the dark of circumstances, emotions and heart.  Presently there are some fears in my life.  They seem to want to say how scary, unknown and sometimes overwhelming things are in my life.  I remember being a kid, my fear of the dark caused me not to see the special quiet and stillness that is found only at night.  It wasn't frightening after all, but comforting and serene.   It's like letting your eyes adjust after coming from brilliant sunlight to a dark room.  God is still there.  And I think, showing us more grandly in the dark than the light, that He is the stillness we need for our fears.   Everything is exactly where it is in the light even though its dark. We just can't see it with our eyes.  I love the quote from the movie "Monsters Inc.", "You and me, me and you, both of us together."   That's God in the dark nights of our lives - still there in the darkness with us.



Words are just words right?  I mean, they are letters linked together that create some sort of meaning, a definition.  You can say them like you are referring to them in third person.  A kind of scientific recitation similar to when you are telling a story that involves someone swearing and you are retelling someone else's swear word to your audience.  You remove ownership of the word or phrase, the sting away so to speak.  You are just repeating it. I wish that were case for all my "did I say thats".  Don't get me wrong, I like silence, and need huge periods of it to refresh myself.  But, I love words, phrases, and communicating - creating all those things all over again in waves.  I've said some strange things to other people at times.   Also, just some bold things I suppose.  Our pastor and wife growing up had six kids; five boys and one girl.  I had a huge crush on Judd who was four years my elder.  One night over dinner at our house, while sitting out on the enclosed porch at the "kid" table, Judd asked me where the bathroom was.  Oh I was thrilled he asked me and not my sisters.  I readily pointed him in the right direction.  Upon his return to the table, I blurted out, "Did everything come out alright?"  Laughter coursed around the table.  That's not what I had meant or thought in my head but it is what came out.  I'm sure that statement didn't help me in my crush quest of Judd.  Once at the lumberyard with my dad as a young kid I saw a very crippled man in line beside us.  In the head and out the mouth came loudly in front of the man, "What in the world is wrong with him!"  At times I have patience similar in proportion to a zebra's attempt to flee from a pursuing lion. After having endured one particular realtor's self-promotion and wasting time waxing eloquently about herself and, the inability of the office broker to gain control of the weekly business meeting, I stood up in the middle of the meeting and said, "Are we done yet!  I have contacts to make and money to be earned!"  There was a section of laughter and a few disturbed faces.  The meeting was adjourned:)  After completing a huge construction and remodelling project at church I was cornered by a woman expressing her displeasure over not being able to give her opinion on colors and so forth.  I squarely turned to her and said, "Becky, you could have given all the suggestions you wanted, but we would not have done anything with them."   Years ago I had a piano student who well, was the worst student I had ever had.  I tried all sorts of rewards, motivation techniques, but to no avail.  She was like a wet noodle with no musical ability and no desire to work at cultivating some that might lay buried under the big boulder of apathy she had.  One day she came for her lesson carrying her $12 lesson payment for that week.  With the $12 in my hand I asked that she follow me out to her parents car.  There was no greeting from me to them just this, "I know you are trying to teach your daughter the art of discipline.  I can appreciate that.  But, she has absolutely NO musical talent, drive, desire or ability to want to learn.  You are wasting my time and your money.  I suggest you take this $12 and invest it in some other activity that might better foster responsibility and discipline.  You do not need to return next week."  There was no response from them.  The girl got in the car and they drove away.  They did not return the next week:)    Once on a listing appointment as a realtor I was faced with totally unrealistic sellers who truly believed their crappy property was worth $100,000 over what statistics, condition, location and my experience knew it was worth.  Reason did not work them.  Statistics couldn't "prove" to them that their "wonderful" property wasn't worth what they thought.  I finally said, "You have an Uncle Arthur.  He's kind of quirky and strange, but you love him because he's well, your uncle.  Other people don't know Uncle Arthur or see what you see in him at all.  They will not come to see him at that price, ever.  And, I do mean ever in the never sense."  In an interview once, the man who would be my boss expressed his desire for neatness and order and asked how I felt about that.  No joke, the first thing that popped in my head flew immediately out my mouth, "Well, right now I'm fighting the urge not to scrub you down with bleach."  He hired me.   I once had a lady who volunteered her time in the church office.  She had horrible hygiene.  I mean, it was strange concoction of urine, body odor, no deodorant, not showering, not washing your clothes and well possibly not even ever buying soap.  One day I took her to lunch and sitting down wind from her I directly and lovingly said, "Mabel, I don't know if anyone has ever said this to you.  You do not smell good at all. It's overwhelming to be truthful.  I'm not sure exactly why that is but it is very offensive.  What do we need to do to correct this problem?"  I sold yes, sweepers at one point in my life.  The man who I worked under was well a bit on the thin and shaky line between crooked and honest.  He sometimes would try to get the salesperson to cover a loss when it wasn't their fault.  He tried it on me once.  I sat in his office as he tried his weaselly behavior on me.  I looked at him and said, "Ed, you are one of the most unethical people I have ever met.  How you sleep at night, read to your kids before they go to bed, drive your nice car or not fear hell on a daily basis is beyond me.  I will not pay you money I don't owe.  Fire me if you will."  He didn't.  Did I really say these things?  Is it time for silence?  Not a vow of it, but how about bedtime silence.  Don't worry, I'll start talking again come morning:) 



We had a 4 door green Buick Lasabre circa 1970ish growing up.  It was the era of cars where the front seat was one long bench, allowing 3 people to sit comfortably.  There were deep wheel wells in the back seat large enough for a small child to lay it.  The best part of the car though, was the back window.  It was huge - like a big picture window.  The ledge underneath that window was ginormous.  Before there were seat belt laws, there was immense freedom to roam inside the car while it was moving.  And I did.  My favorite place to be was laid out in the back window ledge.  I fit there easily being the scrawny kid I was.  I loved that car.  I also loved my maternal grandmother, Sarah.  She always had colored marshmallows, Kix cereal, 7-Up out of the glass bottle (nothing better), apples cut in wedges with the skin taken off (my request always and she obliged me), homemade pudding with a film of skin on top, buttery popcorn served in a bowl comparable to the size of person you were, and usually frosted sugar cookies.  I was blessed to grow up right across the road from her.  She had polio as a kid so walking was difficult - sitting was just easier.  There was some spread that happened when she sat, you know some gush to her body.  I loved her desperately in this very powerful strong quiet way.  Always when I took a nap at her house grandma would let me lay on her bed.  She would lay down beside me and rub my back with her very rough hands until I fell asleep.  If she thought I was asleep I would wiggle a bit so that she wouldn't stop rubbing my back.  Magically when I woke up she was never there but out in the kitchen with a snack waiting on me.  She was indeed a gentle soul but loved to laugh.  In fact, she would get to laughing so hard that tears would stream down both cheeks.  When that occurred all you could do was laugh at grandma laughing.  One evening as a kid my grandparents went out to eat with my family of 5.  All seven of us piled into our green Buick Lasabre with the picture window in the back.  Down the road we went with the ignorant bliss of a world with no seat belts.  I assumed my favorite position in an overcrowded car - the back window ledge.  I crawled up over grandma, my one sister and my mom who made up the passengers in the back.  Grandpa, my other sister and dad occupied and manned the front seat.  Laying spread out in the back window ledge you had to use your balancing skills and core muscles when the car slowed, turned or stopped as there was nothing to hold onto.  I could maneuver expertly from years of practice.  Perched there I had a great view of behind and ahead, while expertly hearing both front and back conversations clearly.  To this day I'm not sure what happened that caused my father to abruptly slam on the brakes, but I do know what ensued when he did.  Without any warning of the stop I had no time to shift my body weight (like that would have helped, I think I weighed 50 pounds soaking wet).  In a split second I was catapulted over the top of my grandma who sat in the middle position in the back seat.  Literally I rolled over her head and landed squarely in one motion directly on her lap.  No doubt having startled grandma by my unique approach to laying across her lap she began to laugh.  She tried to say something in the midst of her laughter - something about me flying out of the window - but no one could distinguish the words.  She continued to laugh with abandonment until we all joined in.  I looked up from her lap as tears poured down her face.  She continue to laugh uncontrollably, delightful over the turn of events that must have tickled her clear to her soul.  I loved her even more laying there laughing.  It took her a long while to get it all out of her - wiping her eyes and starting back up several times before the laughter had done its magic.  There are pictures of grandma Sarah with laughter filling her face, clutching a Kleenex while crying uncontrollably amidst her laughter.  Maybe that is where I get my deep love of laughing, even tears on occasion.   I'm quite sure that's where I first learned to connect love to laughter.  They are most definitely inseparable for me.



Life is sometimes hard.  Sometimes fast.  And other times slow.  And mostly, we don't always know the whys of things.  Time is a hard thing to figure since we can only gauge it through our humanness.  One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie "Simon Birch" loosely based on the book entitled, A Prayer For Owen Meany.
Time is a monster.  It cannot be reasoned with.  It responds like a snail to our impatience, then it races like a gazelle when you can't catch your breath.  We were in such a hurry to get to the answers at the end of the road that we never took time to read the signs along the way.  How could we know that everything was working together for a reason.
I've had some huge disappointments in my life.  Some of my disappointments have been situational circumstantial things, others trivial, some relational or of my spirit.  A few years back I was being considered for what would have been a dream job for me; to speak, fund raise and travel for a 5-man privately owned drug research company.  They went with the other candidate.  I thought about that today in light of my middle sister calling me with the news that the job she had interviewed for was given to another.  I listened to her, could hear the disappointment, even questioning in her voice.  After she spoke it all out she said, "Well, I just need to quit feeling sorry for myself and get on with it."  I told her I disagreed with her - that disappointment is a sort of dance.  You have to move through it.  We can fully know that God is working out things for our good, orchestrating the flow of our lives, and still have our hearts be disappointed.  That's because we can't see all that God can.  So, based on our line of vision we have lost something we wanted and we experience disappointment.  I gave her permission to dance with her disappointment for a bit while knowing God's vision is just larger than ours.  She then gave me permission to not mow my lawn tonight:)  After hanging up the phone I thought about other disappointments in my life.  One of them being my marriage.  I was disappointed in the outcome and, that my mate couldn't bring to the table the good stuff to make it flourish, let alone survive.  I too was disappointed in myself that I couldn't find the courage to end something that was destructive to me years ago because of my upbringing, background and family.  How to trust God that even though sometimes 25 years seems a bit wasted, He has a reason. I felt some disappointment when my college aged daughter disregarded my words of "no more piercings till you graduate" and showed up with a large hoop in her nose.  That disappointment soon faded to laughter.   In 7th grade I broke my wrist falling off the top of a human cheerleading pyramid practicing for try-outs.  My 7th grade disappointment was huge.  My cheerleading days were over.  That event though, caused me to realize cheerleading really wasn't who I was - the priceless nugget found in disappointment.  I have been disappointed in people's harsh spirits when it comes to race, or physical appearance or their inability to give grace.  Sometimes those people were even my family.  How to not become like them in my response to their lack was where I needed God's grace too.  Not finishing college has been a source of disappointment in myself over the years.  When the person I loved in my young years chose another path, I danced with disappointment for many, many years.  I was so disappointed at times in the church with "Christians" acting heartless and forgetting that church isn't about them, but rather just simply God - all things God.  What was it about disappointment that is hard?... not getting what my heart wanted or what I thought would be best for me or others.  God seems to weave this strange thread of trust through my disappointments - always asking me "Will you trust me even if it doesn't make sense and it hurts?"  Like the quote says, "How could we know that everything was working together for a reason?"  Which leads me back to disappointment and the dance I do with it.  I'm not alone in it - God is my dance partner.   



I love the movie "Forest Gump" for many reasons.  I love when Forest just one day starts running, and runs and runs and runs and runs until he stops.  We're never sure as the audience fully why he started running and what prompted him to stop just as abruptly as he started.  Running is addictive, freeing and mentally cleansing.  When I was in kindergarten there was a boy in my class named Mike.  He, I had known all of my long life of 5 years.  Mike was first off a boy, and secondly, a very tall boy with very long legs.  Though Mike acted tough, through kindergarten and through my life, he had a soft spot for me.  Not romantically at all.  But he knew I saw clear through to his heart.  I wanted to race Mike at recess - him, the tall legged one and me, the short skinny girl.  So, the recess crowds lined up to be non-ticket holding spectators.  We lined up side by side, Mike towering over me.  In those few seconds before someone counted backwards from 5 signifying a starting gun, Mike turned to me quietly and whispered, "You go first. I'll give you a head start."  5 4 3 2 1!!!  I cut loose, looked over my shoulder to see Mike still at the starting line.  Gaining kindergarten momentum now I glanced out of the corner of my eye to see Mike, with no effort at all, engulfing the distance between us like a giant eating miniature marshmallows.  He won the race with little contest.  But, he also won my friendship for letting me see his tough boy heart had a softness to it.  I would see that in him over the years even though the race of his life was lined with addictions.  Going out for track in junior high I ran the hurdles.  Something about the fluidity of the motion of your arms, the angle of your body and the bend of your legs in this synchronized rhythm made it seem like a magical dance on speed.  I won some, but probably lost more.  When I entered high school I determined not to go out for track.  I continued to run on my own though and was frequently seen by the track team and coach running after school while they practiced.  The fastest girl in our class and the track team was a girl named Lori.  One day when gym class was over and we were relaxing waiting for the bell to dismiss us, someone suggested a race.  A race between Lori - undisputed speed champion and me - a virtual running no one.  I don't know why I agreed.  With only minutes left in class her and I lined up to race.  It was so spur of the moment I had no opportunity to put back on my tennis shoes.  I was barefooted.  A small crowd had gathered and I looked over to see one of the track coaches watching.  Someone screamed, "On your mark.  Get set.  GO!"  We took off running on the cement balcony that circled the gym.  I could feel the cold cement and the sound my feet made hitting it while running.  I was like Forest.  I ran and ran and ran and ran and ran.  Every muscle in my body screaming but forcing it harder.  I crossed the finish line.  I had won barefooted with all the effort I had in me against an opponent greater than I.  There is nothing like running against yourself. Though mostly, at least at my age, that's all I can handle!  If Forest ran to clear his mind of something, maybe it just took a long, long time to be clear of it.  I run for some of the same reasons; to clear my mind and spirit, to test myself physically and to get to the finish line.  Last night I was running in the cool darkness of the evening.  I was struggling to finish the 3 miles.  In my mind I went back to Mike and Lori, junior high hurdles, running along the road I grew up on with corn well above your head lining both sides.  Some races even with an advantage you lose.  Some races with odds stacked against you, you magically win.  And some races you win by not placing at all but just finishing.  I want to finish life strong - across the finish line having been full of grace, grasping fully God's deep love for me - His constant pursuit, and having given the good stuff away to those around me.



If the statement, "cleanliness is next to godliness" is a marker of God, then I was going straight to hell as a kid.  Do not pass or collect $200 but go directly to H E double hockey sticks!  I was most definitely what you call a messy in my childhood years.  In fact so much so that my sisters would oftly remark to me, "Lynn, when you grow up and have a house of your own we are never coming to visit you."  Even that statement somehow didn't deter me from my unkempt, askew ways.  It's not like as a kid you own a whole house full of belongings.  I mean, you have stuff but it usually fits into one room or so.  My problem was I was completely at ease with my disorderly dresser drawers, closet, piles of clothes on the floor, stuff on the bookshelf, my toys, books, my book bag, my desk at school, my hair, the state of my clothes on my body.  I didn't care and didn't want to be bothered by it.  More important stuff was there for me to tend to - reading, biking, adventuring, torturing my sisters, playing outside, swinging on the barn rope, running away to grandma's house, taking my shoes off and running through the cow pasture, exploring the woods, making pud pies, creating strange concoctions in the playhouse from leftover produce left in the garden, stirring the now maggot infested concoction I had created several days earlier, pretending to put on a concert with wigs and costumes while using a wooden spoon as a microphone, chasing the dog, peeing behind the barn, perfecting the bike/book/baby doll maneuver. You know, way more important stuff than organizing dresser drawers or neatly hanging your clothes back in the closet.  My nickname given me by my father was "Homer".  After Homer the Lion.  The premise behind it was that I hated to comb my hair or have anyone comb my hair.  I personally saw no purpose whatsoever in it. Literally my hair looked like a messy mane.   My intentions were never to stay neat and clean anyway.  Conflict came when we had to go to church or town or the dentist who used no Novocaine while drilling a filling.  I think at times it was a group effort to get me looking presentable.  My mom would harshly comb my hair as I tried not to wince from pain of all the tangles that birds nesting in it had created - all the while, trying not to look directly at her where scolding and despair was etched and growing like a beard across her face.  My eldest sister it seems always had the job of putting my cable knit tights on.  Come to think of it, I really was able to do it myself but feigned inability so she would have to do it for me.  She made a game out of putting those tights on me.  First she would get both legs started and pulled up to about the knees.  Then she would make me stand up and get behind me, lifting me off the ground while wildly shaking me fully into the tights.  I loved it!!  She would laugh mostly and so would I.  My middle sister was overly organized which irritated me.  I spent considerable time messing up her papers just to hear her scream.  Her hand writing was perfectly formed and well mine was, busy looking - like the letters were in a hurry to go somewhere.  Part of my messy demeanor was highlighted by the blue blanket that I carried or draped over me.  It's hard to look neat as a pin with your softie blanket used as a cape, a Mary Magdalene head covering or a toga worn for the wood spoon concert that had been performed earlier in the day.  I slept with that blanket until 7th grade when my sisters teased me so relentlessly that one day while trash was burning outside in the burn barrel I marched out there with my blanket and threw it in the burning fire.  Then I marched into my room and cried:)  To compliment this grand messy image I also had what my loving sisters called, "bucky beaver" teeth!  I had an overbite and could not close my lips entirely right without looking like I was wearing a pair of my great grandma's teeth.  There are vivid pictures of me, skinny as a rail, Homer the Lion hair, overbite, my blanket worn as a prop during the day so I could always have it with me, shoes untied, clothes hanging crookedly with a smile on my face.  Somehow I did get neater as I got older.  My sisters have come to every house I've lived in to visit.  My handwriting is quite nice now.  I had braces for 4 years.  I meticulously iron my clothes daily.  My closets and drawers do get cleaned out once in awhile. But, I still would rather adventure outdoors than clean the bathroom or try to make sure my hair looks perfect all the time. Plus I'm not exactly sure where the phrase "neat as pin" came from anyway.  I'm not messy much any more, just a touch free spirited!



Will you marry me?   Circle  YES or NO.    Do you remember those notes in elementary school?  They cut right to the chase.  I mean, who needs to be friends first, date, court, be engaged.  Yes or No, WILL YOU MARRY ME!  It seems that even as kids we like straight up answers and want no fog or middle ground.  Fastest route please.  Eating breakfast with a friend of mine we were discussing how her knee has been hurting.  I sanely in a friendish, loving sort of way suggested that maybe she might want to see a doctor.  She responded with the refreshing spirit of will you marry me? circle yes or no, looked at me and said, "Why would I go to the doctor for him to do tests, spend all that money and his conclusion would be, 'You need to lose weight and exercise.'  I can tell myself that for free."   My suggestion to her was to write out her suggested diagnoses of lose weight & exercise, hand it to him and ask if he would give a price discount if his diagnosis agrees with hers. Questions in general are funny if you think about them.  Mostly there are two responses to questions; ones that directly answer what was asked and ones that answer everything but what was asked.   I once went to an iridologist (reads the specks in your eyes as they relate to organs in your body).  It was most interesting and so was this woman's delivery system for what she discovered by flecks of something (there is probably a scientific name) in my eyes.  After gazing into my eyes and furiously writing things on a yellow legal tablet she completed her diagnostic gazing.  Very directly and very calmly she stated to me, "You are going to die."   Well, I wasn't overly troubled with that as I already knew it when I arrived there.  She did not filter it other than to add, "....if you do not takes these supplements."  The pills were the size of Jupiter and I did not take them.  Mysteriously I am still living although I am heading toward death as I type:)  Her note clearly stated YES you are going to die!  I hate all things butterflyish.  Not the real ones in real life.  But, I don't care for them as decorations.  Years ago I bought a house and affixed on the outside were two very large brightly painted metal butterflies.  I took them down the day I moved in.  I don't like them on shirts, plates, on jewelry, yard ornaments or tattoos.  If you were to ask me "Do you like butterflies?  Circle YES or NO.",  I would most definitely circle no.  My friend gave me a gift at Christmas.  What do you think it was?  A butterfly pendant necklace:)  It's beautiful in fact, but it's a butterfly.  I circled NO but she didn't see the note:)  My grandfather was a food pusher.  You understand what I mean right?  He would in this loving, smiley grandfatherly way try to get you to eat more food or try some weird concoction of foods like cheddar cheese on top of apple pie with a spoon of chicken gravy on it.  You would say, "Gramps, no thanks."  He would try again with his attempts to shove his creation off on you.  Gramps had a hard time reading that the NO was circled on the YES or NO note.  I loved him for it, but no I never tried apple pie with cheddar cheese, heavy on the chicken gravy.  Today sitting in my office a woman client came in.  In the conversation I mentioned a seminar we were presenting and teased her that she and her husband were only coming because there would be pie.  She patted her middle and stated, "I don't need pie.  You, Lynn on the other hand look like pie hasn't built up a front porch on you yet!"  I laughed till I cried over her circling YES she needs to eat pie on my circle YES or NO note.  I was invited to see a professional Elvis impersonator the other evening.  Sure I can appreciate homage to King Elvis, but I don't have a yearning to see someone who earns their living wearing a white jumpsuit channeling Elvis' Burger King years.  I showed her my YES or NO card clearly circled in red ink was the word NO.  In fact, I added hell to the no on that one.  My dad is notorious for trying to give me food off his plate.  I've been at his house or in a restaurant and if he feels I didn't eat enough, he will just start putting part of his food on my plate.  But remember my grandpa and the apple pie - that's his dad.  I keep holding up my NO card, but my dad only has vision in one eye and must think I still look like Festus from "Gunsmoke".   I always liked that verse in the Bible that said regarding oaths, "Let your yes be yes.  And, your no be no."  Obviously God loved the CIRCLE YES or NO things in life.  I know I do.  Am I done with this blog tonight, YES OR NO?   Yes:)



My favorite dessert is found at Olive Garden.  Lemon Cream Cake - yum!  I do know I'll skip the meal just to eat the dessert.  It's made of this delicious bottom layer of light lemon cake followed by a creamy lightly lemon tasting fluffy layer, another layer of lemon cake topped with these delicious crumbs.  My love of lemon goes way back.  I'm not a lover of chocolate, but lemon, it's my version of chocolate:)  I love that dessert so much that one day I decided to try to replicate it at home.  The web provided me knock-off recipes that claimed to be the "actual" Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake.  So I set off to make this thing I loved.  When I got it all done it, in appearance, seemed close.  Oh man, was I excited.  I took a bite.  It was good.  But the texture wasn't quite the same, nor the proportions of cake to cream to crumbs and the taste was not quite the same as the Olive Garden original.  What was missing?  Love is a little like that - the magic ingredient.  It's this thing that you can't always define, can't live without, don't truly know how it impacts us or others fully, but is both given away and received.  Sunday I was shifting through files when I ran across a handful of letters I had saved over the years from people in my life.  I found one from my great grandmother, one from my grandmother, tons from my daughter, several from my sisters, one from my brother-in-law, several from friends who mean the world to me, and one from my dad.  I began to read them all.  What I marveled at was what these people's love had done for me.  Just the fact that they loved me and expressed it was powerful.  Looking backwards I realized their love had added a magical ingredient, a dimension to my life.  They each brought a bit different type of love to my life.  My great grandmother was encouraging me from being ahead of me in the race of life.  She was a prayer warrior who prayed for me.  I felt her love again in that letter even though she has been gone for many years.  Grandma's love was simple and pure and wanted me to know that I was always welcome to eat her food, just to be with her.  As I read her letter I realized she loved me with this special grandma love that we must get when grandchildren come into our lives.  The cards and letters from my two sisters spoke of this love that stays in the ring with you during the fights of your life.  I was reassured that they were on my team, pulling for me, valuing what I brought to their life as their sister.  Their love had consistently been a foundation in my life, a haven and like a pack of sideline cheerleaders.  I was better because of their sister love.  My hand fell upon a letter received from a friend while I had been chronically ill for several years.  The discouragement I felt was almost visible and her letter was ordained by God for such a time as I was in.  Her friend love showed me about God's language in suffering.  She loved me enough to want to tackle a tough subject with someone who was suffering.  Her love make me see God differently.  There were cards and letters from my daughter's growing up years.  That love was creatively expressed in what she wrote and usually how the card or letter was designed.  Her love made me feel blessed to have been given the privilege of being her mom.  The envelope was dated 1984 with a return address of my dad.  It came just a few days after I started college.  He was apologizing for his harsh words several days earlier when he took me to college for the first time.  His love allowed him to be real and ask for forgiveness, to show that he was trying to find a new way to "love" me to the adult world, that he wanted me to win, he was proud and wanted me to fulfill what God had for me.  His love through the years has made me feel protected and watched over.  What had all these people loving me done for me? It made me partly who I am, gave me power to live, laid a soft blanket underneath me, fostered confidence, provided safety, gave encouragement, challenged me, grown my heart, made me feel treasured.  There is though one more kind of love that I want in my life someday - connecting heart love - what I did not have in 25 years of marriage.  I want to connect mind, soul, spirit and body because of a love that gets the other person and simply wants to love them.  I want it to be fully sided, not one sided.  I want it to be the kind of love that makes you better, celebrates you and yet lets you be you.  Someday I trust it will happen.  Love is a magic ingredient in life.  It takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.  It is the backdrop of God's creation, the death and resurrection of Jesus, salvation and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  In the purest form it simply empowers us and is this wonderful "Lemon Cream Cake" -  the magical ingredient we can give to others.



You know the little black screw on cap for the air inlet on your car tires?  I found one the other day just randomly laying about in my garage.  For the life of me I couldn't figure out where it came from.  After painting and cleaning my garage I figured it had fallen out of something.  I threw it away without checking my tires.  Not smart.  A few days later I was washing my car and hub caps when I realized that little black cap was off my front passenger tire.  I should have checked them before I threw it away.  Presently I'm checking to see if I am on target in my life.  I've always had big thoughts - had them as a kid, a teenager, a young adult, while raising a child, while married, at every age and presently while re-entering the world of singleness.  Those "big" thoughts range across oh so many topics and levels.  A reoccurring and driving one in my life has been wanting to do "big" things, accomplish something way bigger than I am.  What is "big"?  Is it a by-product of not striving for it, a natural occurrence or do you conscientiously push and pull yourself toward it?  Where do you fit God into the whole mix of heart desires?  I have really never said my "big" stuff out loud (with the exception of maybe two people who know).  It's so intimate and personal.  It's also scary to say it to other people for many reasons; some are dream crushers, pressure, not being taken serious...  I think sometimes I have a bit of Moses in me.  You know, God called him to do something, but his own fear kept him from it for 40 years and even then he reluctantly did the "big" thing.  I want to experience the making outward of my inward passions.  I have wanted to write and speak since I can remember.  The times in my life where I have been able to do either of those I feel most content - as though I am operating in the way I was created to be.  To connect to people, and see it reach them, by standing in front of them and speaking, teaching, delivering words verbally that I have created is like the sweet spot for me. It's a place I want to return to again and again.  I have always wanted to write a book, sit in a bookstore and sign it, be on the Today Show, be a corporate team builder/motivational speaker/life coach.  Might sound a bit crazy to you reading this, but it's not new to God who has heard me through my life pour it out to Him time and time again.  I've had quite the life that's for sure.  How do I though create something that is true to who I am, not offensive to people or events in my life, meld God into it while just saying it in a powerfully real way?  Then coming at me are thoughts like; do I really have something to offer readers or the literary world, what do I want to say and will people want to hear it other than those that love me deeply, who would publish something from a nobody with no publishable background, am I really good at writing, why have I all my life had such a hunger to do this, do I have what it takes to do the process/the discipline, I do have something to say - a voice-a word-realness.  I need all my free-flowing thoughts to find a start.  I started this blog for the main purpose of getting stuff out of my head and heart while going through a major life change - a divorce.  It began as a way to get the crazies out chronicling what I was feeling.  What has been amazing is that most of what has come out of me isn't centered around going through a divorce after 25 years of marriage.  I soon realized that I just had things I wanted to say.  There are really only 4 or 5 people who read this blog regularly.  So, to you I tip my hat for tuning in to read the jumbleness of my big screened mind (applause to you somewhat forced groupies out there - take a bow)!  Some of you "fans" have been huge cheerleaders urging me on, clapping, leaving hysterical comments, letting me know that you think I am great.  I say to you all - thank you for the encouragement and possibly the lies:)  My goal has now become just to write 1000 words a day for 50 days straight without missing or stopping.  This exercise in blogging has been freeing, an inward study of Lynn, a work in process, a weird mix of strange-funny-thought provoking topics, a challenge to my mind and abilities, great practice of just getting to write words, words and more words (which I love remember), a celebration of creativity and spark unleashed again in my life, a way for me to express who I am and what I feel & think.   Making myself write this daily has caused me to stay up at times way later than my normal bedtime.  At times I wonder do I have 50 distinctive things I want to say.  Then I remember that I no doubt say at least 50 verbally distinctive things in a day - in case anyone in my life was counting all the significant and profound things I say:)   By the way today I found a copy of my high school graduation speech I gave and I laughed.  It's not going to be a blog entry - ever!



There are some things that I just don't like, don't need in my life, and am puzzled over. Hair is one of those things I think about - my own and others.  I was given, by God and genetically through my parents, thin-fine-with a bit wave to it hair.  Though through the years it has gotten thinner and finer.  Also given me by genetics is a very high receding start of my hairline.  If I were a man, I would hope I would not resort to a comb over like Donald Trump or my dad when he was younger.  But, I might be tempted.   So coming from that hairitage :) I am conscious of people's hair.  Especially men who sport long hair that is actually longer, thicker and more beautiful than mine.  That's just not right.  I'm not talking about the guy from ZZ Top or Billy Ray Cyrus sporting a mullet, but more along the lines of Leif Garret (when he had hair) or Yanni.  I've often wondered while walking through the mall or sitting in a restaurant, on a plane, in a corporate business meeting, in church or in the waiting room at the doctor's office why do we choose the hairstyles we have?  I mean really, some of us probably most definitely should not be sporting the doo we have or the color of the doo we have.  Hairstyles seem to be a very, very personal thing - an actual very visible extension of personality topping our heads.  It says something about us.  I don't like to mess with my hair too much (comes as a surprise I'm sure).  In fact, I like to be showered and clothed at the 30 minute or less mark including ironing time.  I'm about simplicity and quickness.  Maybe others in the waiting room feel I should spend more time on my hair than I do.  We all think that of others sometimes.  I don't have bionic hair either.  It absolutely comes out different from one day to the next.  A lot of people I know, both men and women, appear to have their hairstyle look exactly the same as the day before.  I am a bit jealous of that category of people, much like men who have longer, nicer hair than do I.  I don't want to get my hair colored either. My hair is presently an original color mix of the effects of summer sun, graying underneath and light brown all swirled together. You cannot buy this color in a bottle even if you tried. Going to get my hair colored every couple of months is not appealing to me. Give me an afternoon outside or reading or possibly sticking pencils in my eyes over that any day. I am ok with going gray and being middle aged. It is who I am and I love it. Plus who has ever seen a 75 year old with a weird shade of dyed brown hair and thought it looks good or remotely natural!  I never have to worry about the color growing out and my roots showing:) There is so much freedom in less. Jewelry is another area where less is more for me.  I own a total of five necklaces and typically wear only about three out of the five.  It is a well known fact among friends and family that I don't like bling real well.  I can appreciate it sometimes on others, but don't like it on myself.  One day my friend, who wears bling in the category of Mr. T, placed her big assed necklace on me for fun.  She then tried to convince me I looked good in it.  With no real cleavage like she has, it just hung flat against my chest and overpowered my child like upper body!  It wasn't me.  I have my ears pierced and have been known to put a pair of earrings in never taking them out until they break.  Presently I have been earringless for about 2 years.  It just seems unnecessary and unnatural looking on me.  My daughter couldn't be more opposite me in the area of bling.  She loves big necklaces and huge dangly earrings and I can't picture her without them.  During the 25 years I was married I only wore my wedding ring the first 5 or 6 years.  I don't like rings - I felt constricted (both jewelry wise and relationally).  On a shopping trip with my two sisters and mom some years ago they all bought toe rings.  WHY?!  They tried to convince me to buy one too.  I clearly stated that it wasn't me and I would never wear it.  They laugh at my minimalistic approach to most things.  My mom wears big clip on earrings and large beads.  My sisters wear jewelry too.  Both of their husbands have bought them diamond rings, earrings, necklaces, tennis bracelets, etc....  They look great in it.  I, look out of place in it.  The thing is people who wear jewelry think that everyone else should too.  They are constantly trying to get me to wear some, more, bigger or gawdier accessories.  I, on the other hand, don't try to convince them not to wear it.  Girlish stuff just doesn't fit who I am in many regards.  I like to use my hands to work outside and I don't want to have to be careful that I might break a nail or chip my nail polish.  I like the feel of dirt on my skin.  Candy apple red doesn't look good on me anyway.   I own three dresses,.  Two of which I purchased in the last month and the remaining one from my daughter's wedding last year.  Dresses feel a bit unnatural on me.  But, in this process of divorce I have made myself do new things.  Wearing a dress has been one of them (mostly due to my sisters' urging).  I draw the line at pantyhose though - bare legged only please.  I don't want to shop, scrapbook, go to Mary Kay parties or talk endlessly about shopping, scrapbooking or going to Mary Kay parties.   Nor do I want to read Cosmo, Self or Vogue magazine.  I would though, love to finish the issue of "Outdoors" I started at lunch on Friday, slip on a pair of jeans, a hit of lipstick, get my hands dirty and talk about anything but shopping, scrapbooking or Mary Kay parties. You are you and well, I am me.  Celebrate that.       


Getting old starts when you're very young.  Getting old is all about change, changing and changes.  I don't want to get old.  Looking at the why of that recently I think I understand the reason.  Now I have to change why I feel that way.  I try not to be compartmentalized in my thinking but on the issue of change, I might be (working on taking the wall down though).  You know, this is good change and, over here, this is bad change.  I too must be a creature of habit, even though I don't want to be.  I want to be fully free-spirited, open and embrace all things with a beautiful dance in my life.  Change happens so fast in childhood.  It's like rapid fire. Your thoughts grow, your body accelerates forward, your emotions lurch, your heart experiences pain, confusion, and pleasure, your personality forms and finds it place among the others in the world, freedoms increase, opinions of self & others open up, your vision of all things unfolds awkwardly at first and then quickly like a gazelle.  All of that happens without being overly conscious of the change that is propelling you forward.  I have had moments of vision and clarity where that window of seeing change and its significance was clearly felt.  When I was 7 years old my dad would put me on his shoulders and march around the dining room table offly singing, "You are my sunshine.  My only sunshine.  You make me happy when skies are gray.  You'll never know dear how much I love you.  Please don't take my sunshine away."  I had a clarity moment right then.  I knew this was temporary - Dad would not always carry me and that this was fleeting.  My heart thought those things along with a hint of sadness that this thing that I loved, this magical moment, would end.  For the first time, I categorized change into the "bad" slot.  In 7th grade my menstrual cycle started.  It was not a welcome change in my life either.  My extreme moment of clarity came while sitting in the bathroom bleeding and gazing at feminine hygiene products that I knew would now be a regular part of my life.  How to make room for change you don't want and that moves you where you either don't want to go or that you are unsure of.  I cried that day saying out loud, "I do not want to grow up.  I want to stay a kid."   Self-awareness was flooding over me through forced change.  Love brings changes too - the kind brought on by the opposite sex.  I deeply loved someone when I was young.  My mind, my heart, my spirit connected to him unlike anything before him or anything after him.  The path of love, deepness & rawness of emotions, and choices brought unwanted change to my life.  He married another leaving me holding my love for him with nowhere for it to go but inside my heart for a lifetime.  That change altered my life greatly.  More accurately, my reaction to that change altered my life through my own choices of reacting to his choice.  I was realizing that change is not only an event, but also a ripple.  How to move on when you don't want to - how to make changes through pain is tough.  Marriage and a child brought more changes that I was keenly aware of.  The ability to see the ever changing things around me went up decibels instantly.   Now I not only saw my own ever changing world, but how the lives of a husband and daughter affected changes.  I too watched the changes occurring in their lives.  As my daughter grew into her own through the propelling powers of change - I realized life is very full circle.  Dropping her off at college and returning to emptiness of house I knew we were yet again embarking on the familiar territory of change.  It brought both pain and pleasure.  Struggling to survive in a marriage without the good stuff in it forced me to look solely at myself and God.  I could not evoke or perpetuate change in him no matter my method.  Instead, I would need to change my own mind & heart to endure 25 years of barrenness of spirit, soul and mind.  When after a quarter century of marriage I could no longer find my own spirit, soul or mind I had to initiate change - leave a marriage.  This was both frightening and freeing.  Now this change of married to single moves me in a different direction.  I am finding change is a necessary agent, almost like a bus pass or an I-zoom ticket, through life.  I must change a lifestyle, a pattern of living, the way I make money, how I view the future and what I think about the constantly moving waters of change.  David Bowie says it pin-pointedly clear, "Cha, cha, cha, cha changes. Turn and face the strain."  So, at 44 standing on the top of a cliff, I have turned my face purposefully, straining into the winds of change.  I want to welcome them.  Instead of only seeing how they alter things we don't want altered or, being reticent to walk in change since we are unsure of what it looks like on the other side -decidedly I want to turn toward it.  As I age I don't want to fear the changes it brings; in physical appearance, in decreased stamina, the shrinking back of your world, of often times illness, slowing down, or how comfort trumps style eventually.  I want a new and heightened ability to see and experience what is before it isn't, without being paralyzed that it is no longer when it changes:)