Tomorrow is November 1st.  I love November.  Clearly I know why I love November and the emotions, thoughts and memories that sweep over me every year at this time.  In fact, when someone says to me, "Go to your happy place in your mind"....this is always one that I go to.  My grandparents lived directly across the country road from me my whole life on the family farm.  It was a magical and deeply reassuring way to grow up.  Fall on a farm is a busy time.  Crops are harvested and hauled, fields are plowed, equipment cleaned all on a race to beat rain and ultimately the first snow.  There is something mystical hidden in every season.  November brings to a farm a starkness, grayness, a barrenness that has always been strangely beautiful to me.  Once green fields now lay still and the dirt laid back creates a sort of finished, resting calmness now quiet from its frenzied activities.  Thanksgiving in particular is without question my favorite holiday.  It stirs in me my love of simplicity, raw thankfulness, family, blessings - causing us all to stop and just be without gifts and decorations and distractions from what it truly means.  One Thanksgiving Day in my youth, the sky low and gray, sharp cold November winds blowing hinting snow was coming, the fields plowed, the family all gathered across the road at my grandparents with smells of pie, turkey, cranberries, hot cider hanging heavy in the air we ventured outside.  Wrapped in winter coats and hats and gloves we stood in the stark, freshly plowed field in the harsh wind watching the kites we launched flying high.  The contrast of the grayness and the bright hue of the kites still clear in my mind today as they soared high that day.  I remember feeling that I wished time would stop.  There was an amazing warmth to that day standing in that field with those I loved, feeling and breathing in November, knowing that inside was all that I loved and held dear.  Last Thanksgiving morning I ran a 5k.  I felt that same sensation on that gray, drizzly November morning - cold winds that reminded me of the safety and love in my heart for all I had.  Did I tell you I love November?



I'm not really sure what happened to all my wine glasses.  Maybe part of them left with my ex-husband when he left too.  I could only find two today in my house.  Not a problem normally as it's usually only me here and two suffices for one person.  But, three people would be here tonight for dinner and I needed another glass.  I contemplated what to do about that.  I mean I have two how would I find more to match the two I had?  Did they need to match? I mean isn't it kind of esoteric and trendy now to have mismatched items?  (I may have just made that up as I don't run in decorating circles nor do I typically watch HGTV).  I decided I didn't care if they matched - it's a stinking glass for crying out loud!  Way more interested was I in the wine that goes in it:)  Being someone who lives fairly minimalistically in surroundings, simple tastes in clothes and furnishings and who hates to spend money on "stuff", I decided Goodwill was the store to find another wine glass.  Wouldn't you know it, my lucky day - 50% off today!  There wasn't a huge selection of wine glasses, go figure.  I didn't care I just needed one.  There was no price on the glass I found.  Standing in front of the cashier she said, "That will be .27 cents."  Can you buy a candy bar for .27 cents or even a pack of tic tacs for that?  I think not. The two bottles of wine consumed over dinner with friends around my table cost way more than .27 cents.  My friends will comment on what I have on and then giggle at me and are astonished when I tell them, as I point to the article of clothing much like Vanna White does with the letters - "Goodwill".  Some I can tell feel I have stooped a little too low for them.  It just really doesn't bother me at all.  Much like the wine glass, why would I care about shopping there if it fits, looks great, and costs a fraction of the money I would spend somewhere else.  It's now a joke with my boss.  He will comment on whatever outfit I have on and I will smile and say, "Goodwill.  Cost?"  When we first started this Match My Clothing To The Correct Price game he guessed way too high.  He's finally catching on with a standard answer, "$2.50".   Sitting in a seminar not long ago with a colleague we were writing notes back and forth, of course some business things:) - but mostly just ridiculous stuff.  His note read, "Don't turn me in for sexual harassment because I don't mean it that way, but I love your jacket and you look great in it."  I scribbled back, "Goodwill $2.50."   His response, "Suckers are the only ones that pay full price!"  Now there's a man you may want to be your financial advisor.  One day just for fun I tallied up the cost of what I wearing - jacket $2.50, pants $3.00, shirt $2.50, shoes $5.  Looking good for $13.00, priceless.



A lot of my life I have not loved. Despite not loving my life I found ways to love life around me, and found good things wherever I seemed parked even though I was held up by accidents and construction quite often.  I know that might not make sense.  I did live the life I had - dutifully mostly because I thought that's what I needed to do based on how I was raised and my own inability to understand God's real design for my heart and life.  That life limited the real me from being totally free knowing others wouldn't know how to take all of me, my more liberal views, the irreverence that coursed through me, my questioning spirit, or my freedom of thought.  I tried to conform to this life that I was in and it was hard and honestly, painful to operate in a way that made me less.  To be a free and open spirited soul in a boundaried and constrictive world creates problems.  Operating in ministry for 25 years was always a challenge for me.  I didn't hold doctrinally to some theological stances of my denomination or their narrow window on things like drinking and dancing just to name a couple.  A glass of wine, a beer, a martini I don't have a problem with.  But I could never say that or do it where anyone from church would see me.  I hated that!  I was married to a person that had been a huge mistake at age 19 and I had truly and deeply loved someone else all my life - you can't say that in ministry!  I'm sure when my daughter got married (outside of the church) and we had a dance floor and music blaring some of our former parishioners from the churches we had served in who were in attendance must have thought we had gone "liberal" (they didn't know I always was)!  I also don't think an occasional swear word is going to send you packing straight to hell but for obvious reasons kept those words from being used around that group of people and even my husband who would chastise me constantly for it.  Questioning everything is part of my makeup and I had to curb it constantly and just accept what was in methods, traditions and just about everything!  My irreverence of most things also had to be kept buttoned up as that can be taken as sin in many people's eyes.  My quick mind was also buttoned down so as not to totally usurp my insecure pastor husband who would get angry when people looked to me instead of him many times. My desire to pursue things in my own life took a backseat with a mate that used my abilities to cover his blaring inadequacies in ministry and relationships with others.  As time wore on I really looked at the issue of my marriage and how I had to operate in a not-lynn-zone to even manage the struggle daily. I realized I could not endure neglect, ambivalence, no passion, no connectivity, no love, no mental stimulation any longer as I had seemingly lost myself at a great cost.  When I battled it out what God really thought, I mean really thought and could know His desire was just to love me - not dependant on what my family thought, the church people, or sometimes even myself, I knew it was time to end that life and start the one I should have lived all along.  He designed me to flourish and I was not and had not in 25 years.  I unbuttoned my top button that day.  Today a year and half out of the pastorate, a martini and a couple glasses of wine splattered through my week, my divorce final, a clearer vision of God's view of me and life, I have unbuttoned several more buttons and am now actually showing some cleavage - that is if I had any:)



In corporate training sessions over the years I have heard all about personality types, styles, charts, taken personality diagnostic tests, found out what is my dominate and passive traits, and what personalities have the greatest ability to adapt to all personality types.  Those who can navigate successfully all personality styles are center of the personality box people.  Where they strategically sit in the mix of personality types allows all other styles to intersect them.  I think God is like that too.  He sits in the center of the personality chart, able to know and meet all of our different approaches to Him, our methods, our ways of communicating.  Prayer is interesting to me and how we all view it, use it and physically verbally pray.  My Dad and others I have heard pray over the years have a sort of drawn out syllabically changed version of saying God.  It seems to come out something like, "Gauwd".  Not sure why exactly as it only comes out during prayer not in regular conversation.  I have wondered over the years if God ever giggles at how we all approach Him.  One of our former Youth Pastors, himself an alternative sport nut, touted and addressed God from the pulpit many times as "Dude or The Big Man Upstairs".  I had to suppress laughter when I heard it.  Maybe God just merely smiled knowing that was Jeff's love language to Him.  Mattie was an old lady at church and she always started her prayers in this blue collar matter of fact way, "Dear God, it's me Mattie.  I was thinking..."  Sometimes I wished for dramatic purposes she would have added, "You know Mattie Stiebritz, brick house corner of Starke and Woodbridge." :)  I've heard people pray in a very strange way, appearing to have put on this cloak of humbleness, that seems a bit unauthentic based on how they are outside of praying.  I have wondered what God thinks about that.  My ex-husband's deceased grandmother was quite a woman of prayer.  I loved to hear her pray.  It seemed to come from 97 years of relationship with God - a familiarity with who He was that allowed her to approach with a history of God hearing and answering her.  She boldly went to Him with expectation that He was God and all that meant.  Through the years of being in church I've heard some eloquent prayers that seemed to be prayed more for the listeners than who was being prayed to.  Beautiful, but seemingly hollow words.  Did God take an intermission break during those prayers since really they weren't intended for Him anyway?    How about evangelists, southern or black preachers?  They have a cadence almost to their prayers.  "Dear Gauwd ah (pause pause), we come to you ah (pause pause), Creator of the world ah (pause pause), and Giver of all life ah (pause pause), the Alpha and Omega ah (pause), The Beginning and the End ah (pause), the One before all things ah (pause) . . . It seems those prayers are about addressing God's titles and subtitles in a never ending opening paragraph which never seems to progress to the body of the prayer.  Some prayers I've heard contain small sermons covering all major and minor books of the prophets, parts of the Israelite's journey from obedience to disobedience and then back to obedience, along with a portion of the entire documented birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ all held within the prayer.  I am lost in those prayers and wonder if God is thinking, "Nice, good material, but I wrote it so I kind of know that already."  I have heard some prayers that are beautifully scripted having been penned thoughtfully before even being prayed.  Do you think that takes away from being led by the Spirit or is extra credit a good thing with God?  There are roteish prayers like "Now I lay me down to sleep...", or the famous, "Good Food.  Good God.  Let's eat."  Some of the Catholic prayers recited word for word week after week denote sameness and repetition.  Maybe God likes that as we probably never truly master any spiritual concept and He knows we will need to repeat learning stuff over and over again in our lives.  Of course too there are rescue prayers, plea bargain prayers, and prayers we pray that we don't fully know the magnitude of trouble we will face if God decides to answer them.  Some prayers over a person or issue involve a steadfastness in our hearts to stay in prayer for a lifetime over that person or issue.  God I believe loves when we feel passionate enough to keep talking with Him about anything, everything, always.  I myself have prayed prayers of questioning and even yes, anger at God - at not understanding, of crying out.  He has withstood my questions, my anger, my frustration, my wounded spirit and even at times my wordless sobbing.  He even asked me to come back anytime.  I'm so glad He is in the center of the personality box.   



Some things just strike me as ridiculous.  Though I can typically find a strand of the ridiculous in most anything without trying too awful hard.  One day this summer while in a tourist beach town with my sisters, I was standing up against a wall waiting in line with my sister for the bathroom to become available.  Going through a divorce at the time I decided to do what I hadn't really done in 25 years, not just glance at a man (ok you do that when you're married at least if you're human and have a pulse), but meet his gaze and keep it.  Standing by my sister a very good looking, athletic sort of man walked by and looked right at me intently in fact.  Wow, I thought this whole not turning away from a man's gaze is really working.  I was feeling invigorated and upon entering the bathroom with my sister she said, "Lynn, that man was extremely gorgeous and he was looking right at you.  Did you notice?  I mean did you notice that he really was looking at you?"  About the same time she is telling me these words I step in front of the bathroom mirror.  Oh, it suddenly dawns on me why the intent gazing was occurring.  I mean, here I mistakenly thought that after 25 years of marriage I still had it.  Oh I had it alright and giggled!   I, with quite a bit of shaking my head and laughing, reply to my sister, "Yep I think I know why he couldn't take his eyes off me.  I believe he was enjoying seeing the results of having a tight fitting spandex running tank top with no bra on in an overly frigidly cold air conditioned restaurant!"  What the hell!  Just when I thought I had the whole package, that man was only looking at one part of it:)   The words "what the hell" are the only situational fitting words that describe the fashion faux pas of a beret being worn on non-military personnel or pretty much anyone other than those who are part of the Green Berets, certain segments of the military, and possibly small children who are dressed up like dolls by their over eager fashion hungry mothers.  Waiting again in a restaurant with my eldest sister a man in a beret on walks by our table.  I cannot help but stare and out loud before I think, say to my sister, "What the hell is wrong with that man! Why would a person wear a beret?  Why?"  I told her to write down the word "beret" in her little magic notebook she keeps in her purse.  I wanted to remember to extol in print my hatred of the beret worn by anyone other than military personnel or by the character known as Rerun on the show, "What's Happening!".  A few days ago I went out for a run, like I do most days.  As I ran by this particular house I see a man with a dog on a lease out for a walk who has stopped to visit with the owner of the house.  I run by and do my usual waving of my hand and a quick hi.  I see this man later on my way back home as he is now walking his rather large dog.  As I near him he says, "Hey, do you need a running partner because I can leave my dog at home and join you."  What the hell!  What kind of pick up line is that.  I reply, "Thanks, but I'd rather take the dog with me:)"  Tonight on my drive home from work a semi decides to pull out in front of me when I am going 50 mph through an intersection.  I lay on my horn, slam on my brakes and have to go on the right shoulder of the road around him to avoid slamming into his truck.  I get around him and raise both arms and shake my head with a "what the hell!" look plastered across my face and oozing out of every pore in my body.  Outdoor gazing balls and geese statues that people dress up seasonally and place on their porches are two things that no matter how many times I drive, walk, bike or run by them I say either out loud or in my head, "what the hell".  Seriously who spends money on that and then honestly thinks it is beautiful and places it strategically in their outdoor decorating treasure chest!   I also sometimes say the words "what the hell" about myself.  Over the weekend I was trying on this seemingly very cute blue cotton thin summery dress (I know people calm down at this very moment - yes, it was a dress!).  It seemed low cut (which is troubling for a 34 barely A-cupper), but hey I'll give it a whirl.  I pull it over my head and turn and face the mirror where the first words out of my mouth alone in the dressing room were, "what the hell!"  I do realize I have the upper body of a 13 year old and my four lane highway is probably putting it mildly, but come one.  The front of the dress came below the bottom of my breasts with a very wide V cut.  Seriously I would have had to put double stick tape on my boobs to keep the dress from moving.  Who wants to see wide open lanes of traffic where there should be cleavage on a middle aged woman?  What the hell is wrong with those dress designers:)



My middle sister is what you might call a worrier. Maybe now a more reformed one though.  Oh she has worried about things ever since I came on the scene 18 months behind her.  I never really had to worry much as a kid, Di did enough for me too.  How great is it to delegate all your worrying to someone who is not only very, very good at it, but must enjoy it too.  I didn't want to take that joy from her, so I left her to worry.   The night before the first day of a new school year my sister and I, who shared the room without our eldest sister who recently had acquired her own room, are laying in bed.  It's that period of time where your mind is thinking of starting something new the next day and still finishing all the thoughts from the day you just lived.  Sleep is still a few minutes away.  It's September and we live in an old farm house with ancient cord strung pulley windows.  There is a small gap where flies sometimes got in.  That particular night laying there in the dark we hear the familiar buzz of a fly in the window.  I am not overly concerned about it.  I don't have visions of it crawling in my ear, nose or mouth during the night - but then again I don't worry much.  Di though is flicking on the light on a mission to get that fly before it attacks her in the night.  She spends the next 15 minutes or so trying to kill this fly, unable to rest if it is left alive buzzing in the window - worrying about where it might fly to if she falls asleep.  Growing up we spent a lot of time at our grandparents lake house.  It was at the lake that Di would invariably think if Jesus came back suddenly (for whatever reason Jesus seemed to only be slated to come back while we were at the lake and during a thunderstorm according to Di's worries) she somehow had lost her salvation and would go to hell.  Her worry of going to hell usually began on a "dark and stormy" night.  She would somehow doubt her ever-loving salvation and end up in tears.  Mostly every time during this repeated "lost salvation" event I would want to sock her.  Grandma would take Di to the bedroom where she would read scripture and pray to convince her that God loved her and she was still saved.   I don't if God is like a Kroger sale item - limit 2 or not:)  I mean maybe you can "lose" your salvation much like your car keys.  It would appear that Di was constantly losing her salvation and seemingly magically only during thunderstorms at the lake.  Conversely she got saved just as many times as she lost it.  Even as a kid I held to the Baptist version of God more so than not.  I mean, if He is God the only way we can get separated from Him is if we choose to walk away.  And even then, He still knows where we are.  God though never walks away from us.  I guess Diane, the worrier, didn't get that theological memo as a kid.  She was too busy worrying.      



Purpose is an interesting word for me.  Always has been.  But, in the past months it has taken on new heightened intensity for me.  Though as I look over the course of my whole life I have always wanted purpose.  Many times in trying to figure out "purpose" I asked questions out loud to others.  Often though, my questions were inside my mind and spirit as I would grapple with the purpose of certain things, how to live purposefully, how to have such purpose in my life that I operated in that zone of living using all I was and had.  I love that within that word purpose there is this resoluteness, determination and intention.  That was and is me - those words describe me most of my life.  By intent I want to live fully.  I once read a quote that said, "Find out who you are then do it on purpose."  At age 44 I think I am just now beginning to find out who I am and starting to do it on purpose.  Probably there is a multitude of reasons why that is just now happening in my life - getting a divorce, being free for the first time in 25 years to really think about myself and sift through it all, getting a lot of my thoughts out in counseling, being validated and affirmed by a group of people in my life, forgiving myself for wrong decisions in my life and understanding why I made them, going back to who I am really and was designed to be, having my creativity fanned into flame by a small bevy of people in my life, letting things out of my heart that have been trapped inside for almost 30 years.  That quote has taken on new meaning in my life recently.  I have a pressing desire, a propelling quest to fully use the crayons God has given me to express and influence.  I am realizing that takes being free to understand what I have to give and who I am.  And then, with resolute determination, with intention, do those things.  That is where I am headed.  There are many things that I am intent on right now.  I don't necessarily have all the details figured out, laid out painstakingly clear or the avenues to reach them all nailed down.  This I do know and cannot explain, I have an unusual settledness in my spirit that they will happen, that my purpose is coming in so many ways.  So, the things I do know I am doing on purpose.  Meaningful, sparking, invigorating, intentional purpose in living in all areas of my life is my path now.  I don't want less than that.



My sister-in-law, from my married years, was a fanatic about wrapping gifts at Christmas.  She spent time, money and effort on the packaging of the present  in presentation of what was inside.  So much so that I felt bad opening it - destroying it's beauty.  My packaging of a gift never could compare to hers.  In all reality I hate gifts; buying them and receiving them.  Although I do like what the word gift truly means in its purest sense - something transferred to someone without any need for compensation.  I like what that can mean, not necessarily a tangible but also an intangible.  I don't like gifts because they seem manufactured, trite - orchestrated for events and holidays.  That's just too boxy for my personality.  So, I struggle in giving gifts - greatly.  Many times we give gifts to someone of things we like instead of what we know they will like.  I hate "stuff" gifts given to merely just fill the need to give a gift.  Why do we feel we need to give tangible gifts of things wrapped up with a bow?  My mom is a bad gift buyer (we though never tell her that - would be sort of tacky wouldn't it).  She wants to give a gift with either a theme or with the thought that it may make your life easier and better.  It though usually ends up with items in my possession like; waffle maker (have made waffles from scratch like 4 times in my 44 years of living), onion chopper (my knife and cutting board worked fine), a magic bullet (ok that I have used from time to time), a weather alert radio (am I 80 years old), baking stones (if I can't scrub it clean or put it in the dishwasher no thanks), a quesadilla maker (why I say, why), a large jar of jelly bellies (ok I regifted those to small children I know),  a subscription to "Family Circle" (not my reading style or preference), nylon dish scratchers made from plastic pop bottles ("Oh, mom, thanks just what I wanted!"), yet another tea pot (I still have the last one she gave me - regifted again!).  My brother-in-law now has in his possession, gifted to him by my mother over the past 26 years, a 45 cup John Deere mug collection.  By the way, he is not a farmer, mechanic of John Deeres nor does he drive one for the county mowing crews:)  I don't want stuff, but thought.  The best gifts I've received have been gifts of purpose given lovingly, thoughtfully thinking through who I truly was and meeting me there with a book, music, a concert, a photograph of a memory, a donation to something that helps someone who truly needs something as I don't really need anything, a card written with love and honesty, humorous tacky items that speak to my irreverence, time spent with someone I love.  I loved my Mother's Day present this year from my daughter - a wonderful hand made card written with words straight out of her heart to me....  "Mom, I thought of you when I saw this.  You love green and you love the outdoors, so I wanted you to be able to have some of the outdoors inside.  You are the best mom and my best friend.  Part of your gift is just spending the day together doing whatever you want to do."  My ex mother-in-law, like my own mother, was also a horrible gift giver.  Invariably every year she would buy me clothes - never in the right size and always in the style she liked.  For many years it was a dress.  I would never, ever wear it and the tag never came off it:)  I am bad at buying gifts.  That probably is a huge understatement!  Last week on Bosses Day I gave my boss a 6 pack of Guinness Beer (his favorite) and a pan of warm brownies.  See what I mean:)  I did all my Christmas shopping last year in a CVS pharmacy while waiting for a prescription.  Really.  Gift card rack - less than 10 minutes:)   



Style, much like beauty, is very subjective.  Everyone has their own, and everyone has an opinion about everyone else's too.  Seriously you would have thought by looking at the three Cherry sisters that we had grown up on the mission field.  Oh, I don't know maybe in say Siberia or The Republic of Chad.  One would have also thought by first glance that we were well, borderline impoverished or landed here through a time machine from the 1940's.  Now I, in my adulthood, am not the most fashionable middle aged woman out there, but I don't think I do too awful bad. Though to be fair I should probably ask my friends and relatives as I could be walking around looking somewhat ridiculous and not even know it (note to self - ask them!).  Banned from my wardrobe are patterns, styles meant for a 25 year old, turtlenecks, velour anything, bright colors, the colors red and purple, crushed velvet or terry cloth and tube tops from the 1970's & 80's.  Practicality ruled the house when I was growing up.  If it wasn't practical, durable and able to stand the wear of three children, then it wasn't bought.  Clothing was most definitely NOT viewed as fashion, but as a necessity, a covering for our nakedness.  Like going to church was to ensure rightness with God:)  There is never a time that I remember really picking out my own clothes or going to the mall to shop until I was old enough to bum rides with friends, my sisters or drive myself.  If I needed new shoes, or say a new coat it would just magically appear one day.  There were three sources that all clothes came from; 1) Sears - solidly crafted American made, not fashionable but oh so sturdy, 2) Homemade by our mother from patterns long out of style on material similar to what Maria from "The Sound of Music" made the children's play clothes out of - old curtains or, 3) A store called "Quality Farm & Fleet Supply" or it could have been "Tractor Supply" or possibly "Farm Stuff Is Us":)   Any of the three preceding purvayors of clothing were equally bad.  I mean what kid does not dream of wearing "Wrangler" stiff as a board unflattering blue jeans, or shoes that were designed to make it through a nuclear holocaust.  How about a top sewed from 1976 Freedom Eagle print?  Until I started working in high school, mostly to be able to buy my own clothes, I wore what they bought like it or not!  How any of us three sisters ever got a date is nothing short of a miracle! Many times when an item of clothing or shoes was bestowed upon me, I would immediately think of how to ruin it before nightfall.  Shoes were easy - running with toes down scrapping cement or across the stone driveway hastened their demise.  If you think stiff dark blue Wrangler jeans aren't bad enough, if you outgrew your pants too fast the magical ribbon like accent called "Ric Rac" was sewn along the bottom edge of the pant leg to give it extra length and extend the wear.  Quality, durability and practicality were synonomous with fashion in our house.   I presently never go in a Farm and Fleet store to buy anything ever.  Sears clothes are well, just ugly but their refrigerators are swell.  Homemade clothing actually costs more now to make than buying something that says "made In china" does.  My daughter when she was growing up was highly creative.  She found expression through clothing styles.  I let her go.  I let her find her own sense of style, and I didn't shop for her:)  Seriously, there is something not right about buying clothes in the same store you can buy rabbit pellets and a horse trough!  Unless it's coveralls and chore boots. 



As I sat to write this tonight, I took a good hard look at myself.  I am alot of things.  Just today someone added "scrappy" to the list of descriptions of Lynn that range from free, purposeful, simple, real, determined, irreverent, intelligent (this one may now be in question in this blog), funny, compassionate, quick, natural, open.  The fact that I have "key" issues is both alarming based on my personality and well, totally blows my image to mankind:)  I do not mean I have "issues" in my life that are big, but that I literally have trouble with keys, the inanimate object that unlock doors and locks.  I can't figure it out about myself though I have tried at least once, maybe twice:)  Now as I am aging I am getting worried about my key problem as it must run in my family.  My grandmother before her death, declining mentality from Alzheimer's, became obsessed with locking doors and keys.  Oh no!!!!  My history of key issues runs down like this.  When married and on my honeymoon twice I locked the keys in the car while in the Smokey Mountains.  Twice in a 4 day period.  Thankfully it was 25 years ago and cars were still able to be easily broke into with either a hanger or a call to the police who would come and break into for you - no charge.   I locked myself out of the house many times over the years at different houses we lived in when I would leave to run, lock the door behind me and get back from the miles without a way in - that is until I began just leaving a key outside where I could always find it.  When I was a realtor it happened at listing or showing appointments multiple times.  Once while at a listing appointment early one Saturday morning with a dear sweet older lady who lived on a lake, I went to leave and realized my keys were in the ignition and my cell phone on the passenger seat.  I was meeting some buyers immediately after that appointment and all their cell phone information was locked in my car.  Unable was I to call them and tell them I would be significantly late.  On that particular day I couldn't bear to call my then husband out of a meeting so I called a locksmith - ouch!!  Another time while showing bank repossessed houses to a young couple I locked my keys in the car once again.  I had to call my husband to drive to where I was and unlock my car.  Most recently just after my husband and I separated, filed for divorce and he moved out, I went for a run.  I got back and realized the key I normally slip in my pocket was laying inside on the dining table.  Now mind you I gave a key to my sister.  She was nowhere to be found.  I thought about every way imaginable to get inside my house to no avail.  My only option was to call my recently moved out soon to be ex-spouse to drive over and let me in.  Oh, it was a tough call to make.  Here I was on my own now and he was the one I was forced to call.  Just a couple of Sundays ago while waiting the arrival of my sister and her husband for Sunday dinner, I decided to clip off 10 miles on my bike.  I confidently rolled back in to the driveway, sashayed to my front door where one turn of the screen door reminded me that I had locked it from the inside and exited through the garage where I got my bike and ran out while the garage door was shutting.  I had absolutely no way back in the house.  Walking around my house I tried every window.  But my windows, even though open, had the safety locks on and would only open about 4 inches.  As I came back around the front of my house I could tell my bedroom window lock was off.  I popped the screen off and shoved the window up.  I stood there relived I had found a way in, but troubled as to how to hoist my 44 year butt and body up through that window.  I tried several times, no doubt to the neighbors delight if they happened to be watching.  Finally I gave up and waited on my sister and brother-in-law to get there.  When they got there I confessed what I had done and that I needed my sister to shove me through the window.  I climbed up as far as I could and then told her to get under my butt and push.  She did, a bit harder than I had anticipated.  I went diving head first into the bedroom with flip flops flying off.   We laughed at what that actually looked like from the street.  Every night now when I get ready to run I do my pilot ready for take off check list; Kleenex, sports bra:), shoelaces double knotted, cell phone on my waist, aging body stretched, key either in pocket-bra-or tied to my string of my sweatpants.  Door locked and clear to run.



There are times in our lives when the uncomfortableness or pain is so wide spread it is almost funny.  Almost.   In the summer of 2009 with a myriad of circumstances that were causing my life to be upside down I found myself 43 years old driving back across the country from a job that did not work out, a house still unsold, a daughter less than a month away from getting married, a marriage that was in the fast lane of failing, and the prospect of bunking at my parents house till I figured out what to do next.  For three months I could not find a job, struggled with a marriage held together by toothpicks and lived under the microscope of my parents in their home adapting to their way of life as best I could.  I felt a bit lost during those months wandering to the beach as often as possible, hanging out with my sisters and nieces on a regular basis and trying to fit back into a world that I had been absent from for nearly 25 years.  It was a friend I had gone to high school with that mentioned to my brother-in-law that he heard I was back in the area and was I looking for a job.  The next week I went to see him and we caught up from 25 years of being out of contact, laughing and sharing about our lives and families.  He was the catalyst to connect me with the person who hired me. It was late summer and I was starting my new job in a just a couple of weeks.  I noticed running in those weeks before starting this new job that I was struggling to breathe.  Oh well I was 43 and it was summer and I was running.  Then I noticed to climb the stairs to my old bedroom where I was staying at my parents my chest would burn till I thought my lungs were going to explode. I mean I was tired and achy, but I tend to push through most things past what most people probably would. The final straw was when starting to cry over the many things askew in my life at the time I felt such searing pain and inability to get enough oxygen in me I thought I would pass out.  My doctor confirmed pneumonia in both lungs.  I am desperate to get well quick.  Explaining what was happening in my life with starting a new job in a couple of days I can see the look on the doctor's face.  She agrees to pull out the big guns - you know bend over pull the pants down power shot and the newest strongest most expensive antibiotic out in an attempt to enable me to start this job in a few days.  Antibiotics in that massive of dose in me were not a good match at all.  By the time I had 2 full days of them surging through my system it was time for day one of a new job.  The night before opening day of this job, it hit - massive intestinal antibiotic reaction that was other worldly!  I'm thinking can this get any worse.  The next morning my reaction to the antibiotic is well now soaring completely out of control and I am panicking.  How do I call a brand new employer to say that I have massive uncontrollable diarrhea?  I can't do it.  There is no medicine in the house to stop the onslaught - to stop the leak in the dam:)  It is a 30 minute drive from my parents to my job.  Looking for a 24 hour pharmacy between their house and work I find nothing open except a gas station that I have to stop at to use the bathroom.  As I am fleeing the vehicle for the bathroom I am praying that there will be pepto bismol, anything in that gas station that might help.  I find single packets of pepto bismol tablets by the cash register and I buy six individual packets and leave.  On the remainder of the drive there I eat as many as I can stomach.  Ugh, the chalky horrific don't-leave-your mouth-taste about makes me sick but I chomp away.  I am desperate at this point.  When I arrive at my new job, I am rattled, running a temperature, feeling like crap (ha) and having no clue how I will make it through a regular day, let alone a first day of anything.  Once at my new office I realize the only bathroom is right outside of my boss's office.  Oh my word - what in the world would he think of me being in the bathroom 4,000 times in one day!   After fleeing to the bathroom at least a half dozen times in a span of an hour or so I finally confess to the other woman in the office.  I mean she was either going to be fast friends with me or think I was off my rocker.  I explain that I was having a reaction to 2 antibiotics for pneumonia and the diarrhea issue.  Making light of how horrible I felt I cracked a couple of jokes about diarrhea with her.  We instantly bonded:)  Just this week I shared with my boss the story of my first day with him.  He died laughing as I told him of being really sick that day and running to the bathroom 8 million times that day and did he not notice how often I was in and out of it.  I mean how could he not have noticed it was right by his office.  He didn't miss a beat, "How could I notice your trouble as I was too busy laying under my desk bawling from the stress of starting a business and hiring my first employee!"  He asked me why I hadn't just called to tell him I was ill and would have to postpone my first day.   I said there is a relationship length protocol before you say the word diarrhea let alone describe your physical problem to a new employer.  We had not known each other long enough then, but now, well I told him the story with not one flick of uncomfortableness. 



Some of you reading this may be unfamiliar with the salty, thinly sliced and cured meat lovingly called dried beef.  It's uses are several - please note I did not say many are the uses for dried beef.  My parents, believing without a doubt that we still lived pre icebox/refrigerator era, were great lovers of this dried and cured meat.  I once asked my mom in my adult life - now this side of a world of dried beef - why they had so much dried beef around when I was a kid.  My mom replied, "Well, when we butchered a cow we had them put a lot of it into dried beef.  It was cheap and kept for a long time."  The only thing missing from us being pioneers was the hard tack:)  You can imagine if in the 1970's your parents are buying dried beef in bulk what their stance was on buying your lunch at school or packing it.  It did not take me more than about 2 days of bringing my packed lunch to school to realize I was in the minority, but even more so when I removed my dried beef sandwich from its waxed paper baggie that had been neatly folded over at the top.  Oh I looked around that what other lunch packers were bringing to school; peanut butter and jelly, bologna, ham, Twinkies, chips, cookies.  Incredible bounty!  Then I looked back at my 2 pieces of bread that were only separated by a smattering of mayo and one thin, salty slice of dried beef.  With it was applesauce or an apple and maybe some carrots or celery.  I remember no processed anything or even homemade dessertish items in my lunch - ever!  Soon I realized after eating a dried beef sandwich every day for lunch since school had started that year, that there was a sort of swap meet thing that went on during lunch.  It was almost like everyone and every lunch item was a free agent up for trade.  I thought one day that I couldn't bear to eat that mostly bread and salt sandwich one more day - I too would try a trade.  Making my offer to another kid at the lunch table I suggested a trade - my deliciously salty pioneerish mostly bread sandwich for oh I don't know ANYTHING BUT a salty pioneerish mostly bread sandwich!  I put that sandwich in the best light possible as trades were occurring faster than I could market this sub par sandwich.  Nothing.  No one would trade.  Did I really blame them?  Seriously who wants to eat salty dried cured meat on two pieces of bread!  Who I ask wants that?  When no trade could be had I realized I had to come up with some other alternative to get out of eating that sandwich.  In our cafeteria there was a teacher on duty who monitored the behavior and the food consumption of the kids.  I knew I could no longer eat a dried beef sandwich.  After some thought, I decided starvation would be a better alternative which would at least permanently remove me from the possibility of ever having to eat another dried beef sandwich.  How to get dismissed from the lunch lady and hide the fact that I did not eat my sandwich?  I would need to conceal it under my napkin and then quickly throw it away.  That too was risky though as Roscoe the school janitor usually stood near the lunch trash can and would tell kids they couldn't throw uneaten items away off their plate.  I had witnessed Roscoe scolding a kid into eating something before throwing it away.  My caper almost completed, I walked to the trash can and smiled at Roscoe and threw my lunch trash away - including the sandwich wadded up in my napkin.  I hurriedly walked away trying to not look or act guilty, feeling as if I had done something and actually gotten by with it.  NO MORE DRIED BEEF SANDWICHES...HOORAY!  My excitement was short lived as Rosco found the sandwich in the trash and he, like all the school, knew it was the Cherry kids and ONLY the Cherry kids who had dried beef sandwiches every day.  He came to talk to me about throwing my sandwich away.  I was scared and intimidated and confused why all this fuss over a sandwich not being eaten, let alone a dried beef one.  I wondered as Roscoe talked if he could eat a dried beef sandwich daily since school had started.  As he scolded me a bit I just nodded my head in agreement and didn't say a word.  Though now, as I  look back after eating all those salty dried beef sandwiches for an entire school year, I was probably thirsty and didn't have any saliva in me from excessive salt consumption!  I'm thinking anytime you have to rinse the excess salt off of something and pat it dry before you place it between two pieces of bread it will not be good to eat or eligible for any lunch trade - ever.  And I do mean ever - not in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th grade. 



I was talking to my friend at work this week.  She wears a little cordless ear piece for her office phone and randomly roams around the office talking on the phone, eating lunch, really acting like she is working.  While in conversation with her she blurts out, "Lynn, I love when you call.  It's like you are fiber to me.  Every time I am on the phone with you I have to have a bowel movement!"  Her openness of that part of her life just made me laugh loudly.  If only it stopped there.  I keep talking in conversation and pretty soon she says, "Did you hear that?"   "No," I say, "what should I be hearing?"  She laughs, "The toilet that I just flushed!"  That was it! I told her that I believed from this experience she has with me every time we talk on the phone that I certainly hold some sort of shaman magical powers.  Now I have two sisters who through the years have done exactly the same while on the phone with me.  The freedom people exhibit in my presence.  My magical powers set them free:)  I'm thinking now I must hold some ability to evoke intestinal movement in people within merely the sound of my voice. I suddenly have visions of a circus act sort of thing that could possibly take the place of the bearded lady attraction.  No?  Through the years I've also realized that there must be something in the sound of my voice or the manner in which I speak that causes people to open up and say things well, that are bold, out there or intimate.  When I was married, and my mate was pastoring a church, one of the deacons came to me and asked me, "Lynn, I was just wondering if you like sex?"  I was a bit taken back by that bold question, but knew a bit of why he was asking - his own home situation with his wife.  Sometimes I figure if someone has courage to let something that personal out I am going to meet them right there.  I told him that I most definitely LOVED SEX!  My honesty and approachability causes people to say and do things that they don't with others.  It's been a mystifying thing for me over my life.  Once in that same church I was standing in the foyer after church talking to a group of ladies.  I had been ill off and on in that church and my weight was a whopping 90 pounds at that time.  Without notice one of the men in the church came up behind me and literally picked up me and carried me around the foyer!  No, you heard me right!!  Obviously I was caught off guard and pretty disturbed at the same time.  When, with some laughing on my part (no doubt nervously), he finally put me down I asked, "Bob, what in the world did you do that for!?"  He looked at me and I think realized what he had done, "Well, you are so little I just wanted to pick you up!"  I'm telling you this air of honesty, realness and approachability must eliminate boundaries for some!!!  Over the years I have had people, some I knew in a relationship sense and some total strangers, confess startling things, big emotional things, have melt downs in stores or while waiting in line, or sitting in a waiting room.  Some of those revelations have been of physical or sexual abuse in their lives, struggles, bits of emotional breakdowns.  Usually it comes out after a few sentences of interaction or questions about their lives.  Today I was in my backyard raking leaves when the husband of the couple that lives behind me came into my yard and greeted me like this, "Hey!  How is my saucy little divorced neighbor?"  Both extremely bold and funny - and, of course I laughed!  Again, my honesty and openness must cause others to let loose:)  In the office where I work many times I talk to our clients, vendors, and prospects.  Invariably I will find out something of grand interest that my boss has not.  Like recently one our clients who is a high ranking former military officer now a state policeman came in.  He is a tough, cocky ass sort of guy that emits piss and vinegar like the oxygen we breathe.  One day he was sitting in my office and through some questions he told me that he had sung all four years in college in the concert choir at a Big Ten school.  Now that was a revelation of huge magnitude - a chink in his tough guy persona.  I called him on it and how funny it was to picture Mr. Tough Guy singing in a tuxedo.  Honestly, I have no idea why people feel so free around me, but mostly I love it!  I must be like people truth serum.  And, obviously after this week I can add "intestinal movements" to my list of things I can magically extract from people!


HE IS + I AM = ?

"God was in the details", is a quote attributed to German architect Ludwig Miles van der Rohe, 1886-1969.  His design style was a bit of "less is more" (one that I hold to in my own world) with works built in Europe, New York and Chicago.  I thought about that tonight.  God was in the details - less is more - and, faith in the process of being.   Not to wax philosophy or theology but at the core of those statements are some basic what is our existence and God's role in our lives kind of stuff.  If you are into philosophy or theology, want to giggle at my thoughts regarding things way bigger than I am, like to argue back on such issues or just have a curious spirit then keep reading.  If none of those things apply to you, then you may want to stop reading and try back tomorrow:)  Existentialism basically says that I, as an individual, am solely responsible for giving my life meaning and purpose - then living it passionately and sincerely in spite of obstacles and despite internal and external factors like a God view of intersection or a no God view of intersection in my life.  Whenever I get to these points of "details" or "decisions" in my life it seems I circle the existentialism God intersecting wagon train once again. Oh as a Christian, a follower of Christ, a believer whatever term you choose, I hold to a more mixed bag of existentialism.  For me, I know that ultimately I am responsible for having meaning and purpose in my life despite the circumstances in my life through a renewing of my mind and spirit which comes through the Holy Spirit - power from God, and a bit of personal responsibility and freedom to play out that meaning and purpose in our lives.   I don't think though that it is solely and entirely up to me to give my life meaning defined by what is always meaningful to me and me alone.  At what point does God intersect our existence and intertwine His purpose and meaning into ours in each decision we face?  The opposite of pure raw existentialism is the Sovereignty of God - to which I hold belief in too.  Although I don't believe we are swept through life like the movie, "The Truman Show", with God orchestrating every thing and we are pawns without choices.  Wow - our free will, God's sovereignty and our responsibility to then play it all out with meaning and purpose based on who we are and the choices we make.  There is though too such attention to detail in all that God does in creation, why would our lives be any different?  God is in the details.  Less (of belongings and usually myself) is more.  And, sometimes I need faith in the process of being - waiting on God to bring His meaning and purpose fully to mine.  Where does that intersect again:)  I have just circled the wagon train again! 



I like simple clean lines of clothing.  So, when shopping if I find something I like within this small window of likable things I am willing to wear, I buy it.  This particular day of shopping in the early summer I ran across a jacket for work - black of course:)  It was linen and free feeling not boxy and business like, and hit at about the hipbone. I purchased it and hung it in the closet when I got home without cutting the tag off.  That's not unusual for me not to cut the tag off until I wear it in case I change my mind.  Actually a few weeks went by before I wore it.  The day I chose to wear it was a morning I was meeting my boss, my friend and her boss for breakfast.  We all used to work in the same office and were just missing the camaraderie and connectivity we had on a daily basis.  Here I was in my new black linen jacket, a great pair of heels, a pair of black pants and a little white cami.  It was a great outfit.  We all get to the restaurant early that morning and are sitting there enjoying each other's company and laughing up a storm (which is what we did all day long when we worked together).  The waitress comes and takes our order.  My breakfast party laughs at my typical order of oatmeal as they all get artery clogging yummy food.  Very quietly the waitress who took our order slips up behind me and tries to quietly whisper something to me, "Ma'am, you have a tag hanging from your armpit."  Well, I bust out laughing reach under my arm and sure enough there hung the tag proudly for all to see along with that little zip bag that an extra button comes in.  I give it a tug and it comes right off.  The table guests with me began to die with extreme laughter at the thought of me looking so stylish but walking around with the tag and button hanging from my armpit.  I go to that same restaurant usually once a week.  For weeks and weeks after that the staff would come up to me when I walked in and I would spin around for them asking them to please check for tags.   Years ago I was walking in a mall by myself.  Just casually walking, thinking and watching people as I walked.  This woman walking toward me stops me and says, "Excuse me, but did you know you have a sticker tag on the back of your leg?"  I had a new pair of jeans on and evidently much like the jacket incident had not removed the size sticker tag that runs down the pant leg sometimes.  So I had been walking through the mall with a foot long size sticker tag on.  I'm wondering if people thought I had just walked out of a store without paying for them or if they wondered if I wanted people to really, really know what size my jeans were.  You would think that this would have taught me to cut the tags off immediately when I get home.  It hasn't.  In fact the other day I put on a new bra and all of sudden felt something poking me.  It was the tag:)  So if you happen to ever see me in public, please don't hesitate to remove tags or stickers from me.



I do not abide well with little craps, knick knacks, doo-dads, bric-a-brac, too many set abouts, pretties, or small articles sitting willy nilly in every square inch of free decorating space.  To be frank, I don't understand it.  It seems to say several things; I love to dust so much that I prefer to have as many small items displayed so I will have to pick them up individually to dust every single one of the them and the surface underneath them, this is a treasure to me and I think it needs to be displayed for others to see and enjoy too, I am uncomfortable with wide open spaces and need the security of things to give me decorating boundaries and my identity.  Ok, maybe I made it a bit deeper than it really is -  except for the dusting observation:)  I suppose then the jump can usually be made that if we don't understand something sometimes then we don't have an affinity for it.  Maybe that's where my dislike of knick knacks comes from - lack of understanding their purpose.  I am a purposeful person and I can't find a category of purpose for them in my mind or world.  When I was young, not fully grown into this definable person that I probably am now, I had a few of those things in my house too.  Why even at the holidays I would pull the box(es) from the attic and "stuff" up the house (ok not much though) with holiday paraphernalia solely designed to make us celebrate more fully the Resurrection, Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, Flag Day, Ascension Day, Rosh Hoshana, Ash Wednesday, Columbus Day, President's Day, Sweetest Day, St. Patricks Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Mother's & Father's Day, New Year's Day and Veteran's Day.  Ok, well maybe I didn't decorate for all those holidays - but I think my mom does.  She especially loves 4th of July where she covers not only the outside and inside of her house in I Love America decor, she even has a flag short and shirt ensemble she revives each year to celebrate being a nation:)   I think my total freedom from holiday decorations came when I was seriously ill for several years.  There was no extra energy for anything but to barely live.  It was during those years that I realized  - WHO CARES!  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas came and went during those years many times without a tree, a pumpkin, a mum and it was sort of freeing actually.  It caused a new pattern in my life - total holiday decoration abstinence:)  When my daughter was in high school the joke was that neither of us cared about putting up a Christmas tree and some years we didn't because it's just a big pain in the ass to take all that crap down anyway.  Not surprisingly though, my mother decorates for every holiday or season with "things" splattered through the house, on the porch, hanging on the door.  Not me.  You can come to my house on any given holiday and might not even know it's Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas (ok except for music).  And, if you think I don't get the point of inside knick knack patty whackish stuff, how about those big inflatable lawn ornaments - pumpkins, the abominable snowman, frosty, baby Jesus in a large round ball meant to simulate a tree ornament tethered to Bill & Irene's front yard.  One of my friends years ago knew of my disdain of the world of lawn ornaments.  One fine day I awoke to some horrific lawn ornament she had put in my yard in the night.  I waited several days leaving it up to give her some pure delight and then crept out after dark and planted it in her yard.  One year they went to Hawaii over Christmas.  While they were gone I strung lights and holiday decorations on their property and plugged it all in the day I knew their flight landed.  I was thinking about big blow up lawn ornaments tonight while running past a house that had a big huge ghost in the front yard.  First I giggled and then I wondered if my neighbors would mind if I put my version of a lawn ornament in my front yard perched on a lawn chair - my inflatable Boy Toy Brad doll given me by friends on my birthday.  I mean it doesn't scream Halloween exactly, but it's all I got!



One Saturday several weekends ago on Notre Dame's opening home game day I got a text from my boss that said, "Cold Corona and Notre Dame.  Could someone please push the pause button for a couple of days!"  I laughed and laughed about that moment of pleasure he was having.  I too love when we  have those things in our lives where such a rivlet of pleasure comes that we don't want it to end.  Today was that day for me.  Really, I don't think it was just one thing that made it that way.  I took a vacation day today not because I had a long weekend away planned and wanted Monday off to extend my travels.  I spent my vacation day at home while my attic was being insulated.  There was nowhere I had to be at a certain time, looking a certain way, doing something for a set amount of time.  My day was free to interpret however I saw fit.  On top of it, the weather for October 11th was a perfect high 70's fall day.  I am never at home on a Monday so I don't really know what goes on in my neighborhood during the day.  Parking my laptop on the kitchen counter with a bar stool to set on, I sat down to look for a new job that I desperately need to find.  Distraction soon ensued.  The window above my kitchen sink is quite large - probably six feet in width.  What a view I had!  I watched old people walking, biking, small dogs being closely monitored by two blue haired ladies who appeared to be solving the world's problem's and perpetuating the hole in the ozone with their coiffed hairdos lacquered down with a fire hose of Aqua Net hairspray, aerosol can please.  I tried to pay attention to what I was doing, but found it hard as my eyes kept watching the colors, the activity of a crowd I don't normally see on my normal watch at home.  So, even in the neighborhood there were the day shifting walkers/runners/bikers/dog people and then the night crew.  I wondered if I was the only evening shift runner who now realized there were others on the planet who routinely exercised!  Oh I did oh such important stuff.  Called a friend on the phone, emailed another I dearly love, looked for jobs, talked to the insulation installers one of which was missing his front tooth, ran, read, listened to music, cleaned the bathroom, got a face book message from an old high school friend who wanted to meet for dinner tonight.   I also wondered if my AEP neighbor man always comes home in the middle of the day or if this special for some reason.  Realized too there are some in the neighborhood who start putting their trash cans curbside 1st thing on Monday morning for pick up Tuesday morning - so I guess they have no trash accumluating for the next 24 hours. Basically I just frittered away the day and had my own version of a "cold corona & Notre Dame" day.  A pause button would have been great for today.   At the restaurant I ordered a La Corona Martini and my friend, a male, ordered a glass of Riesling wine.  When the waiter came to the table he tried to give me the glass of wine and had mistakenly brought a bottle of cold Corona beer instead of the martini, which he tried to give to my friend.  We laughed and said no the girlie wine was for the boy at the table, the beer was an error, but the La Corona Martini went to me.  So, I guess I did end up with a version of a Corona day after all.  But I didn't find the pause button, yet:) 



After 10 years of piano lessons I was wanting to quit, but my mom wasn't too hip on the idea.  So, I decided to bring a trade to the table - piano for voice lessons.  That's how I convinced her.  She had missed Parenting 212a - Be Suspect Of All Trades From Teenagers:)  I was getting ready to audition at college for a music scholarship and I needed help with coming up with the appropriate foreign language song to sing.  My voice teacher was an ecletic woman who lived in a ramshackle, unkempt house in a rather seedy part of town.  She had lots of clutter in her house and it perpetually seemed disorderly and just dirty.  Her hair was usually styled in a messy loose pinned up sort of way befitting her creative free spirit.  I got along well with her with the exception of her telling me to quit thinking I was an alto and be the soprano she knew I was.  I kept thinking who in the hell's voice are you listening to, I am NOT a soprano.  Not today, not with another year's worth of voice lessons, or ever would I ever be a soprano.  I, not being in love with foreign language songs, let her pick what she felt would be appropriate for a college music scholarship audition.  I can't remember the name of the song, but it was in German.  There was obviously a lot of "auchting" going on in the song requiring some gutteral hacking sounds attached to the ends of words.  Even though I had taken German in school, I still felt completely out of my element - if I even had an element.  Of course she had to pick a key that was just a bit higher than I wanted to sing in.  As she said it was intended to, "coax the soprano out of me".  My heart wasn't totally into this whole music major or auditioning for a vocal music scholarship.  It wasn't the college I wanted to be at, or the major my soul craved.   I went to the scholarship audition - era of boom boxes with a taped accompaniment of a crappy German song in a key that I didn't want to sing in.  If my recollection is correct, I was the one that had played the taped accompaniment music I sang to.  Does it get any more horse and pony show than that!!  The audition room was long and narrow with only 3 of us in the room; myself and, sitting at a table like the judges on American Idol, the department head of the music program and a professor of instrumental music.  The notes came out and finally the last measure finally ended.  I made it through singing a song I didn't like, to get a scholarship for a major I didn't want, in a key that was too high for me.  I did get the scholarship, but changed majors eventually.  Many years later leading worship at church I NEVER sang in a key I didn't like or was too high.   If the song got above a C above middle C for me, I lowered the key.  Karen Carpenter and I have about the same range:)  And, I haven't sang in German since that day.



When I was seven years old I was in 2nd grade.  I loved everything about being seven.  Literally it was my favorite year as a kid say under the age of 12.  I loved it for so many reasons - I was still small enough for my dad to carry me around either in his arms or on his shoulders and, my 2nd grade teacher was my favorite elementary school teacher.  It was her first year of teaching making her young, idealistic and highly creative.  I loved her and her free style of creating outside the box and letting you be you.  It resonated with my spirit even at seven.  Still to this day I can remember thinking that I didn't want time to move forward.  I always wanted to stay seven.  One day I told my dad, "Dad, I don't want to get older - I LOVE BEING SEVEN!"  He laughed and picked me up.  There is one blemish on my year seven though.  Even as a kid I loved to know things.  I mean I wanted to know why about most everything.  Even if I didn't always ask, I investigated most things to study them, to figure them out.  My second grade Sunday School class met in the old church basement.  It was actually kind of dark, musty smelling down there with furnishings that seemed to be as old as God Himself.  In the corner room where my class met there was a kidney shaped table with small little people chairs on the outer edge of the table with the teacher's chair on the inside facing us.  On the one wall was a built in cupboard with material hanging over the front of it for a make-shift cabinet door.  The room was relatively sparse and archaic.  Mrs. Stump was a seemingly old woman when I was seven and I loved her gentle spirit.  She was never harsh or portrayed God as mean or scary.  I liked that about her, a lot.  What I noticed though was that we had student books but she had a teacher's lesson book.  From where I sat at the table I could see that she had words and pictures in her teacher's manual that we didn't have in our student workbooks.  That piqued my interest and thirst to know stuff.  What was in her book that I could benefit from.  I mean, was she holding out the good Jesus stuff on me.  Every week I would go to class and well, honestly I would focus on her teacher's book and how much I wanted it.  It became the consuming focus in my head during class.  How could I get it?  One day after class I dawdled back to see what Mrs. Stump did with that teacher's book.  I carefully watched her place it in that cabinet with the material for a door.  She gathered her purse and Bible and went upstairs to church.  Here was my opportunity.  I cautiously looked around.  I mean I knew enough about this whole Jesus thing to know that I would have to be quick in taking that teacher's book for my own or God Himself would see me:)  Quickly I picked it up.  My heart quickened with a bit of fear, but more from excitement of the knowledge that I held in my hand.  If I remember right I hid it inside my student workbook so no one would notice it.  When I got home from church that day I poured over each page - amazed at how many more words and smart things were in her book.  I felt all of a sudden way older and way smarter than seven.  I'm not sure how long I kept that contraband teacher's book until guilt racked every square inch of me.  I, with deep remorse and big crocodile tears, confessed to Mrs. Stump returning the book to her.  She flowed with grace and love to me - forgiving me in a grandmotherly way as I explained why I wanted it.  I think I might have seen a small smile dance in her eyes.  What sort of kid makes the first thing they steal a Sunday School teacher's guide - a Jesus book!!  Me:)

2,000,000,000+ THINGS AT ONCE

Driving to work today I decided to park right in front of my office instead of in the small parking lot a half a block away.  I was listening to music, in particular "Come On Get Higher" by Matt Nathanson.  So, I was driving, listening to music, watching people, traffic, thinking about something specific and then parking in front of my building.  I was doing many things at the same time.  As I pulled my car into the space, I for some reason wanted to hear the rest of the song.  Leaving my car running I just sat for a few more minutes.  Listening to the song I glanced out the driver's window and saw a handful of small sparrows playing and prancing on the pavement close to a storm drain cover just a few feet outside of my car door.  The music continued to play but I was mesmerized in watching their playfulness and activity.  Here I was a few feet away from these little birds that God had created.  It struck me - God knew where they were and what they were doing and at the same moment He knew where I was and what I was thinking and all about everything in my life.  Then my mind lept to the fact that there was a car coming down the street and God knew that person and their life at the same time still being totally present in mine and the birds movements.  Talk about multi-tasking!  God was so aware of everything and I mean everything all at the same time and yet, he was totally aware and present with each thing.  He knew all about me, the bird, the other driver and was in tune to all of us at the same time multiplied by the town, the county, the state, the country, the world.  How did He do that?  Yet, I did not feel like a number to Him.  I sensed that He knew the flow of my life.  God knew me with familiarity that could only come by being the Creator to the one He had created.  I was created by the Creator in deep love, with great purpose, and continued to be cared for in great up close and personal presence by Him.  God I sensed, at that moment in my car, to be showing Himself to me to be present with every move of the birds, every ebb and flow of my life because He loved me - the created one.  I felt a powerful love sitting there.  How did God balance taking care of the creations He had made with such purpose, deliberateness and presentness.  It made me take a deep breath and rest in His awareness of everything about me and my life. 



Being emptied of every last drop.  I think of that statement in what I do every morning as I finish a good cream laden cup of coffee.  I tip that cup up to get every last drop.  Why?  Well, I love coffee, and I want to completely empty the cup of coffee that may have cooled so when I pour in the next cup it is hot - not lukewarm.  I'm starting to think God adheres to that principle in my life too.  He keeps finding one more drop to get out of me, even while I think I can't take the pain of my heart being emptied of me.  Why? Why does God do that?  Does He want to hurt me?  I don't believe so, and yet I don't like it.  God somehow knows that we are capable of greater love, greater devotion and seeing His goodness more clearly if there is less of me dwelling in me.  He is trying to empty the cup of every last drop according to scripture so that we can experience His goodness which seems to only come when we are emptied out.  "Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all the goodness."  How to worship while being emptied?  It is an act of true worship that in spite of what is being lost or broken or emptied out of us through events & circumstances we will trust Him for goodness.  In fact it looks like worship (God focused living) is actually the key to God's goodness.  I'm not sure how God's goodness always manifests itself - in tangible and non tangible ways.  Or, what exactly definably God's goodness is.  But I'm coming to understand that if the possessive form of God is used in front of goodness then it is safe to say since He is God it's going to be good.  With all that is at His disposal His goodness knows no limit or boundaries.  So then knowing that, why is it so hard to worship - to rid myself of me - to be emptied out of my desires so to be filled with God's goodness which comes as a result of making room?  Why is that so hard?  Tell me why? 



There are things in our hearts that are so deep, so intimate, so delicate that we keep them there.  We don't always share them with another living soul.  Maybe we can't or maybe we don't know how to let them go.  It might be deep hurt, shame, guilt, longing, unmet desire, regret.  Some of those things we may have carried all our lives.  The circumstance that created the resulting locked emotion is long over, but not the imprint of it upon us.  The Bible says that the heart is the wellspring of life.  I can see why God says that as it appears to be the center of joy and trust or hurt and sorrow, and sometimes all mingled together.   What if our heart is troubled, in bondage, unable to let go?  How do we do that - how do we find freedom through God for our heart?  I read tonight Psalms 34:18a in The Message Bible, "If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there..."  God is in our hurt, in our regret, in our sorrow, in our unmet desires.  He's by all points of scripture not just on the sidelines handing us a dixie cup of water as we run by struggling on mile 13.  He's right there running with us in the hurt.  That's comforting to me as I ran tonight my heart full of some pain and my body struggling to make the miles.  He ran too, He hurt too and let me yell it out at Him for awhile - He is more than able to take my hurt.  Though it's not enough for me to know that God is present in my broken heart.  There has to be more or I will stay in the hurt without moving on.  How do I get past it, see it for what it is and trust God?  The end of that same Psalms chapter 34 says exactly what I need to hear, "God pays for each slave's freedom, no one who runs to him loses out."  Am I understanding that in issues of the heart there is bondage - the inability to free ourselves from it's hold.  But, God not only in salvation through Jesus bought my freedom, He buys our hurt off of us whenever we run to him.  I do so love the last part of that verse, "no one who runs to him loses out".  Even though I obviously feel like I have lost something to guilt, shame, regret, unmet desires or hurt, God says I will win something when I run to Him.  So, he must make a trade - hurt for freedom from the weight, the bondage, the longing for.  It's present tense and not conditional, "God pays..."   He wants my slave heart to be free not just from sin, but hurt, regret, shame, unmet desires.  I'm asking Him for that tonight.



I wore a plaid pencil skirt today with a cream colored cami and this little corduroy fitted jacket.  For some reason, I was behind the eight ball with time this morning.  I mean it was Tuesday morning and I had to meet my friend for our normal breakfast 6:45 a.m.  After ironing my shirt, my skirt and finally my jacket I notice there are 3 buttons missing on the jacket.  Crap!!  I don't have time to iron anything else and make it to breakfast reasonably on time.  So I find some thread and a needle and throw the buttons in my purse and head out.  I'm just going to have to sew them on sitting at my desk at work.  Later sitting at my desk I threaded the needle but decided for strength reasons to double it up as I sewed the buttons on.  As I'm weaving the thread in and out of the holes in the button from back to front I started to think about thread and what it does.  That thread woven into the fabric and into the button merged them together.  The button without being on the jacket would not serve its full purpose - it would never be able to close something.  And, the jacket with missing buttons would be unable to look as lovely or be fastened closed.  My life is made of things woven into it similar to what thread does.  I thought about experiences I have had, and even though the circumstance might leave or change the effect or result is woven into who I am.  I thought about people in my life.  Their thread of connectivity either through the past, present or future makes me see and ultimately actualize my full purpose.  Those people who have been threaded through my life have made it stronger by not only their numbers, but by their presence and impact on this unfolding creation called Lynn.  Once I got those buttons sewed on I looked at them - all that thread layered and layered on itself made it complete.  Without destroying what I had just sewn there was no easy way to separate all those threads and, if I could, the button would not be as strongly attached.  God also weaves His thread into me and it is the larger doubled over thread in me.  I guess I am held together with thread figuratively speaking anyway.



I was close friends with my neighbor who lived directly across the street from me in my former location.  During parts of the year my red maple tree and her flowering cherry tree blocked the view from her living room to my spare room where I kept my ironing board.  But, during fall and winter, when leaves are gone, it was a clear view into both houses.  I finally confessed one day to her that it would be best if they didn't look at that corner of my house in the morning as I usually ironed in the buff, sometimes underwear but bottoms only:)  She, born and raised Catholic and still very devout, couldn't imagine living like that.  Really she laughed and shook her head and smiled.   I have this thing that I don't mind, even feel totally comfortable, without any or little clothing at times, in my own home.  Now before you think it's every time I walk in the door I am striping my clothes off - no.  But, in the mornings when I get ready I usually don't put my clothes on until I am ready to slip my shoes on, gather my belongings for the day and leave.  I like the feeling of freedom to be Au naturale'.  It's probably good that I had a daughter as I could freely live like that.  If I would have had a son, oh man I would have had to squelch my freedom desires.  Why am I like that?  Well, looking back I think it was environmental.  Both of my parents didn't seem to mind you seeing them in their underwear (ok I minded seeing them as a kid!!).  Both of my grandmothers never seemed bothered to undress or bathe with me in the room.  It just always seemed a natural part of life.  I think that's where I get it.  I also love to run on the treadmill in only my skivvies - I think it shaves a few seconds on my mile!!  Really I'm not an exhibitionist - I am covered when there are people around, my shirts aren't unbuttoned too far (but even if they were refer to the blog post "Four Lane Highways"), I don't wear tight clothes or short skirts (ok, don't typically wear a skirt!).  I did skinny dip a great deal with girlfriends growing up, have flashed a boy or two by accident in a pool, modelled a bathing suit in the 4-H fashion show (what was I thinking there!), have once or twice been laying in the sun on my stomach with my top undone and have forgotten and stood up to turn over, and accidentally streaked in front of my sister's boyfriend in high school.  Friends who know me well, get the biggest kick out of my uninhibited ways.  When I was married and staying with my in-laws once, my mother-in-law came out of her bedroom when I was in the hallway.  She shrieked and ran.  I laughed - she had a full slip on which looked like a dress but that was too much for her to be seen in that little of clothing.  The few weeks before my ex husband moved out - that period of time when he was looking for a place - my exhibitionist ways were a bit awkward.  For the first time in my life I felt conscious in those weeks as he would keep coming in wherever I was.  In fact it made me angry that he wanted to keep looking, but couldn't get love and beauty right while in marriage.  I think I shared that with a friend of mine, who as a man said, "Well, you can't fault him.  What man wouldn't want to see beauty especially if he knows it's the end of it."  I finally put my clothes on till he moved out.  Oh that cramped my style:)   I'm back to my uninhibited in the nude ways.  I'm telling you there is freedom in it.  Try it, you'll like it:)



Not that anyone other than me was counting the number of blog entries.  In case you want to know, it's number 50.  That was my goal.  To write 50 entries in a row.  Ok, I succeeded with the exception of Friday, October 1st I was too exhausted to stay up and write.  But, I put myself in detention and Saturday, October 2nd you will see two entries:)  This started actually 51 days ago on a weekend trip with my two sisters.  I shared with them my desire to write - divorce experiences and just life.  We sat outside on August 14th at a coffee shop as they encouraged me, fanned my desire to life, came up with a few topics, helped with the title of the blog, and described characteristics of me that helped me see myself through the lens of others.  It was a great weekend.  My husband of twenty-five years and I were divorcing and he had moved out three weeks prior to that weekend getaway.  I poured my heart out to my sisters, drank a bottle of wine, bought a dress I still haven't worn, confessed things to them that they had no idea about, was reaffirmed with their love and laughter, slept in the bed with my oldest sister just like I did when I was scared as a kid.  I encouraged them both to buy something sexy to go home to their husbands with.  They did:)  I took pictures of their cleavages and them holding up their sexy wares and texted it to their husbands to start the flame for them:)  I desperately wanted them to have great marriages since I didn't.  The weekend over we parted ways, all back to our respective lives - them to their husbands and kids, and me to my house now alone.  I felt energized after being with them and ready to bite off this blog.  No idea did I even have technology wise how to do it!  So on August 15th after multiple failed attempts at setting it up I sat down to write.  Every day I somehow came up with something to say, whether anyone cared to read or not, I wrote.  I motored to day 37 without much thought of what to write about.  Then I hit a blog entry wall for several days before my mind and spirit let loose again.  For me this has been a great experience - just getting to write random thoughts down day after day put wheels to actually writing.  This blog has caused me to think, I mean really think about thoughts, memories and feelings.  It has helped me to know I have something I want to say.  I did this for 50 days during a time in life where things have been a bit well, strange-new-and scary at times.  I think sitting down for a couple of hours a day to write caused me to focus on something other than going through a divorce - and that has been a blessing.  It's funny that I reached day 50 the day after we signed our final divorce paper.  I truly believe this has been a vehicle used by God in my life for tons of reasons - discipline, preparation for writing in the future, to feel, to remember, to laugh, to be open about who I am, to see God in events in my life, to change my focus.  I kind of feel like I just ran a marathon in some regard.  Remarkably I feel lighter and more free than when I started 50 days ago.  Possibly I realized things more clearly about Lynn; who she is, who she wants to be through the remainder of her life, how events have shaped her and what lens she views things through.  Thank you to God for giving me sisters who helped flesh this whole idea out on paper.  Mostly though, thank you God for using this as part of what my soul needed. 



There is a picture of me still in a closet at my parent's house of me and my date for my junior/senior prom in 1983.  I still laugh hysterically when I run across that photo and can distinctively remember the thoughts and feelings of that evening.  It's even funnier to the average person who glances at the picture because my face gives away every thought in my head.  Really, I think it started long before prom night - starting with my mom's declaration that she would make my dress:(  Having grown up with a mother who sewed alot of our clothes when we were young I was very familiar with homemade clothes.  I hated them when I six and, at seventeen I hated them even more.  She probably knew I wasn't really into this "making of the prom dress" thing and tried to engage me in the process.  Well, I had about as much enthusiasm as you do when putting your feet in the stirrups at the gynecologist:)  To the fabric store we went to find a pattern and material.  What came over me, I to this day do not know.  It had to be just a resolve to get this dress thing over with as quickly as possible, but I picked out a pale pink material with these very tiny gray dots.  Why I say, why did I do that?  I'm not a pink lover and I hate patterns of any kind.  I'm thinking I hadn't fully arrived at feeling, knowing and embracing who I am.  It is prom protocol to let your date know what color your dress is for two reasons; 1) so they can pick out appropriate and color coordinated flowers that will be pinned on or strapped to your wrist declaring boldly "my mom ordered these" and, 2) so your date can order a tux in some fashionable style and color to compliment you while letting you retain your place of greater beauty than him.  When my mom got the dress nearly done and it was time to try it on, stand on a chair to have it measured to be hemmed, I took one look at that dress and wanted to start crying.  Oh, not only was the material ugly and looked like something a missionary was given on the mission field dug from someone's cast aways, but the style was ridiculous!  Not wanting to hurt my mom's feelings for all the work she had done, I bore up under it as she hemmed that hideous dress.  There was no flow to the dress - the material was heavy, the ruffle near my shoulders looked like something resplendent from "Little House On The Prairie" and the pink ribbon around my waist tied in the back well, it made me feel like I was about six years old.  It was bad and I was in deep fashion trouble.  Prom night came and I was lacking most of the excitement that a person should hold for such a night for a myriad of reasons.  The doorbell rang and there stood my date.  No joke (you can't make this crap up!) if I thought I looked unbelievably ridiculous, you should have seen him.  His tuxedo pants were about 2-3 inches too short (they gave his tux in error to someone else), his vest did not reach his belt line, you could see a full half of his calf when he sat down, and his jacket sleeves stopped above his watch line.  It was all I could do to not laugh hysterically as I opened the door and my eyes first swept over him.  We were indeed a matched pair, fashion-wise anyhow:)  The picture of he and I shows us on my parent's deacons bench in the living room.  I have 1980's permed hair, braces, a little house on the prairie dress, some gaudy flowers and a look flashed across my face that was screaming, "UGH! SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME I DON'T WANT TO GO!!"  My date is sitting next to me trying to look dapper in a tuxedo that was built for someone 4 inches shorter than him.  He is leaning over with one arm across his knee looking far more excited than I.  There is another picture of me pinning on his boutonniere with an actual scowl filling my entire face.  You know that night was just miserable for more reasons than clothing - but that didn't help!  I probably owe my prom date an apology for my lackluster presence that night.  So, Mike if you're reading, 27 years later - sorry I ruined your prom experience:)   


The joke with my daughter and I over the years was an ongoing duel of who was the funniest.  We would each declare ourselves to be the self proclaimed winner of the funniest person in our house category.  I have always loved humor, and those who partake of it.  There is a huge streak of relentless irreverent wit that flows effortlessly from who I am without even thinking about it.  I use it constantly as I think most things even if serious have a small vein of irony or a touch of ridiculous in them.  Even things out of our control at times.  I have and continue to find great humor in the midst of horrific things - maybe not at first glance.  Others tell me I am funny all the time.  But somehow inside my family - my daughter and husband, when I was married, they refused to crown me champion of humor.  When I sold real estate I once had a company placed referral for a microbiologist and his wife, a corporate executive from Bath & Body Works, from out of state.  Now right there is a stressful situation in and of itself.  It wasn't a typical show some folks a house kind of day.  I was with total strangers driving them around a 3 county radius for 8 full hours.  What to say for 8 hours, even from me who can talk about a toothpick or get conversation of out others like honey from a bee.  I decided to really just let myself go, to be who I really am, irreverence and sarcasm and all:)   Well, for all those hours I had that couple laughing hysterically as I recounted funny stories to them or made sarcastic comebacks.  The give and take made for a remarkably delightful day with them both.  At different times during the day during laughter they would say, "Lynn, you are the funniest person we've ever met!"  I decided to let them in on the on-going humor contest in my home.  They roared laughing at the mere thought that my family refused to bestow me the winning trophy for Best Person In The Humor category.  I asked if they would be willing to jot down on paper how they felt about my humor and delivery of it so I could legitimately prove that the outside world loved my humor:)  A couple weeks later I got a large package at my office with their name on the return address.  Inside was every product you could imagine from Bath & Body Works and a note that said, " are the funniest person we have ever met! Thanks for a great day!"   Laughing is such a huge part of who I am.  In fact, I have friends who because of distance we don't see each other frequently but stay in contact through email or face book.  Invariably if a season of time elapses without us seeing each other I will get a message from one of them that says, "I miss your laughter and hearing it!"   When I moved from the last place I lived a very close girlfriend of mine gave me a small gift.  I opened the card and gift when I got home that night.  In the card was written, "Lynn, no matter what's going on in your life or how blue I might be at times, when I am with you your laughter and humor that springs from your soul makes me smile.  You are like liquid sunshine!"  I opened the box to find a small necklace of a sun with the word SMILE splashed across it.  My now married daughter and I spent the day together last weekend.  We laughed hysterically about all kinds of things.  As I left her that day she turned after hugging me, "Mom, you really are funny."  I said I was glad she finally realized that I was the rightful winner of the title of funniest person in our family:)  She laughed.