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11.30.2010

HANT

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

11.29.2010

EVERYONE'S GOT ONE

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

11.27.2010

SOUL'S WINDOW

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

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

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

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

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

11.26.2010

THE GONG SHOW AND JIM JONES

During my 25 year marriage to a pastor there were quite a few uncomfortable moments in church.  People who sit in the pews have, many times, an unrealistic and pedestalish view of the pastor and family.  I always just saw myself as Lynn, barely able to keep myself buttoned up enough to be a pastor's wife, let alone perch on a stool to be admired by the congregants. And, I tried to be me as much as I knew people could handle. One such agony moment in the pastorate is when you resign your church.  You try as much as you know how to get people attached to God and moving with Him in relationship daily, and not linked to you in an unhealthy way as their human savior.  It does happen though, that a few people have a skewed view of you to the point of a weird sort of worship.  It was the last Sunday service in this particular church we had just resigned from and we were being paraded in front of the crowd, bestowed cards and gifts upon, made to eat a potluck carry-in dinner and physically hug every parishioner, including the ones who might have been secretly glad we were leaving.  During the service a woman in the church, a bit younger than me, who had more of a love for me and a need for a relationship than I did for her, sang a song.  It was one of those moments in your life when you wish you could disappear kind of like "I Dream Of Jeannie" could with a fold of her arms and a nod of her head.  She stood on the platform and while nearly breaking down said, "I love you Lynn.  I don't know what I will do without you.  You mean the world to me."  I am squirming in my pew as every eye is now staring at me and my reaction to her emotional breakdown.  Gosh, how do I fake emotion that I don't have for this woman.  "God, please help me think of something horrifically sorrowful or at the very least let me have a pitiful, forlorn look plastered upon my face",  I remember praying in my head.  Before she began to sing she finished her worship of me by saying, "Lynn I dedicate this song to you."  Oh boy, I am in serious trouble now!  I folded my arms and nodded my head as if acknowledging her words, but I was really attempting my "I Dream Of Jeannie" disappearing move.  It didn't work.  She began to sing a song I literally hate, from an artist that is not really on my list of musicians I love, "Friends Are Friends Forever" by Michael W. Smith.  It was bad.  I mean musically it was "Gong Show" bad.  Emotionally it was a train wreck.  Theatrically it was much like a lounge singer - over exaggerations of emotions and interpretation of the song and well, some C rated vocals.  I literally am frozen with thoughts speeding through my mind while trying to maintain a face that shows appreciation, a touch of emotion and love for her.  She breaks down in the song which only adds to the bad singing quality she had going without tears.  When the song finally came to an end, and time began to start ticking again for me, she was bawling.  Standing there she paused, blowing me a kiss before walking off the platform towards me.  She then proceeded to make her way down the main aisle to where I sat on the end of a pew and threw her sobbing body upon me in a ginormous hug while the entire church watched.  Oh, I have always struggled when someone is crying, feeling something deeply, and I cannot muster a tear to match point them.  I couldn't that day.  I took the love route instead patting her and telling her how sweet it was and thanking her for her special gift of song to me.  At another church we served at I taught an adult class.  It was a large class and in it were people mostly in their 20-40's.  There was a couple in my class that hadn't really been a part of any church before and started coming.  For whatever reason they took to me in a way that again made me highly uncomfortable - looking to me more than Christ at times in their lives.  I spent time encouraging them in their faith journeys, stopping at their house and sometimes being bold with what I said in regards to growing up in Christ.  They lost a child during those years - a still born.  It was a devastating experience for them.  Understandably so.  I sat with them on the ash heap, prayed with them, spoke at the funeral.  Things I would have done for anyone - loving them as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  When we resigned that church I was very worried about their spiritual progression once we left.  I drove out to see them one night sharing with them ahead of time (before we had resigned on that coming Sunday to the rest of the church) because I knew how hard it would be for them to hear the resignation while sitting in church a few days later.  Crying sitting in their living room they asked what they were supposed to do now.  Who would know about their lives like I did?  How would they make it spiritually if I left?  Oh boy, talk about feeling like I had done everything humanly possibly wrong with teaching and encouraging them, I wanted to scream, "I am just Lynn.  Regular old Lynn.  Who fights with her husband.  Gives stuff to God then two days later takes it back.  Who needs grace in buckets full daily and falls short of the mark every other minute."  I spent some time going over my own humanity with them and trying to get them up off their knees from bowing before me.  I'm not Jim Jones nor do I like grape Kool-Aid!  God is God and I'm not Him.  I'm just Lynn.

11.25.2010

ANTICIPATION

It's Thanksgiving today.  I ran early this morning while the world was quiet and dark.  Recently my brother-in-law said something to me about running with his iPod and did I run with mine.  I responded that I don't own an iPod and even if I did I don't know as though I would always run with music - it's a magical free think and pray time for me.  

So today, iPodless once again, as I ran I noticed how many people were up early (before 7 a.m.) on Thanksgiving morning.  There were lights on and I imagined that people were getting turkeys in the oven, preparing their family's favorite holiday side dishes, setting the table or getting ready to travel to see those they loved today.  Anticipation, I thought.  There is anticipation in holidays.  For some it's anticipation for the day to get here as they thoroughly relish every moment of not only the preparation but the day itself.  For others it is anticipation for the whole fiasco to be over!

When I was a kid there was a ketchup commercial for Heinz ketchup which actually used the song from Carly Simon "Anticipation"... "Anticipation, Anticipation is making me late, is keeping me waiting".  The commercial was touting the fact that their ketchup was so thick you had to wait, with anticipation, for it to come out of the bottle, hinting it was worth the wait.  The song really is about loving someone but not being able to be with that person in the present. The anticipation of hope that keeps you waiting on the person you love.  

If I zoom out further, God speaks of anticipation throughout scripture.  The picture of Simeon waiting for the consolation (to alleviate grief, trouble and bring comfort) of Israel through the birth of Christ.  Simeon gets to see that anticipation fulfilled when he holds baby Jesus in his arms in the temple. He is The hope of the nations.  Jesus is the long anticipated fulfillment of promise and salvation.  It also says that we wait (anticipate) for the blessed hope - the reappearing of Christ Jesus.  Clearly hope is an anchor both spiritually and practically.  


11.23.2010

STRANGE COMBINATIONS

Have you had apricot jam on baked tilapia?  No?  Well, I'm here to recommend you never, ever do.  Growing up my daughter exhibited no interest in cooking at all.  In fact her standard response to me when I asked why she didn't want to learn to cook and what was she going to do when she grew up was, "Mom, why in the world would I want to learn to cook when you are such a great cook.  I will marry someone who cooks."  I loved her brown-nosing spirit and her worry about it all later way of life:)  She's been married a little over a year now.  A few months into being married she invited me over for dinner - dinner she made.  I was quite amazed that she, and not her husband, was cooking.  Eagerly I accepted with great anticipation of what in the world this young woman who never really cooked, was going to make for dinner.  We sat down to eat and to be honest, I can only remember two foods she served from that meal; ice cream for dessert and baked talapia with apricot jam slathered on top of it.  Even as I write, that amazing flavor combination is coming back to me.  Horrible would most accurately describe what it tasted like.  Imagine the taste of apricot and then, at the same exact time, imagine a fish taste mixed into it.   She dished it onto my plate and I took my first bite without knowing what exactly was on top of the fish.  As my taste buds began to revolt, I asked my daughter what specifically was that flavor on the fish.  "Mom, that's apricot jam," she said like I should have easily been able to connect the jam fish dots.  "Oh," I said with wonder and amazement of her boldness, while at the same time, barely able to hide my repulsion of the taste.  I asked, "Well, where did you come up with this recipe?"  She clearly stated, "Mom, this isn't a recipe - I remember you put apricot jam on meats."  Great, now I was being handed the blame for this unwinning food coupling combination.  Not wanting to hurt her feelings ,but feeling I needed to let her know that she may have been a bit misinformed, "Yes, you're right I did put it on meats," I said, "but only pork and chicken."   The correct applications for apricot jam appeared to have just flown right over her head as she turned with the spatula and yet another piece of apricot soaked fish came hurtling toward my plate.  Trust me I valued her effort but there was little to no value in the apricot baked talipia.  Another strange combination but a truly great one is bacon and watermelon.  I actually stumbled on that together when I was eating bacon one morning for breakfast and realized I wanted to eat something with it.  What, what would be around to eat?  It was watermelon season and I popped a bite of it in my mouth after I had eaten a piece of bacon.  Wha la!   The flavor combination of that salty bacon mixed with the crisp crunchy sweetness of the watermelon was a 5 star experience.  I have continued to over the years extol to anyone who will take my flavor combination serious, the award winning and often overlooked bacon and watermelon duo.  There have been a couple of family members who had tried that flavor bonanza and have declared, much like me, its greatness.  I love oatmeal with cinnamon and a hit of agave nectar.  I also like sweet wine.  One night while nearly done with my oatmeal I grew thirsty for a glass of sweet red wine.  I poured myself one and took a drink right after a bite of oatmeal. Surprisingly one would image that there is no way that could be good, but it is, most definitely.  Lynn, the food combination critic, gives watermelon and bacon marks for my most favorite and unlikely food combination.  Oatmeal and sweet red wine both good for the heart  But if you see baked fish with something that appears to be apricotish, fake a recent jaw wiring or a seafood allergy, but whatever you do, DO NOT EAT OR HANDLE APRICOT LACED FISH.   

11.22.2010

MY PREDILECTION OF PROFOUND

Profound is a word we just don't use much.  It's a great word with a clear picture attached.  Maybe that's why we don't use it often - it has an exact and powerful meaning, and to show reverence to the word, it's only used when absolutely necessary.  For instance, it doesn't fit in the following sentence; While running tonight my spandex cotton running pants would not stay up on my waist and I was profoundly fearful that my butt crack was showing as the further I ran the lower they slunk.   Somehow the word profound seems out of place there - it cheapens the magnitude and power of the word.  It seems to work better in this context; The events and tragedy of 9/11 had a profound effect on our nation.  Or maybe; Her words were profound and made me think in a way I haven't before. (I'm sure that is no doubt what all the readers of this blog think regarding what they read here daily!)  You hear the phrase, "he is profoundly deaf".  How about, "the quietness was profound"?   Webster's definitions of profound are very good; having intellectual depth & insight, difficult to fathom or understand, all encompassing, intensity of feeling.  I created a variation on that definition of profound;  more than completely, in a way that causes nothing else in with it.  I will submit my reworked definition to Mr. Webster, or Wikipedia at the very least, which is the online people's version of the "if you put it on the internet it's got to be true" dictionary.  I thought about my version of the word profound and wondered how it would look attached to love.  I mean how would profound attach itself to love or being in love.  Not love in the, "I love ice cream or I love roller coasters" kind of love, but in the soul connecting love of a lifetime kind of love.  Parking my mental bus there for a time I strolled around how that would look - being profoundly in love.  Is that a double statement in and of itself, as we typically know being in love as being all encompassing?   Yes, maybe.  Profoundly in love would take love to a place light years past infatuation.  It would mean there is an intellectual depth and insight in the love that cannot always be understood or easily described but that encompasses all parts of who you are and all parts of who the other person is - an intensity of feelings.  So full of that intensity that the profoundness causes nothing else but love to be in the love.   Oh, I think I like that.  I'm absolutely profoundly sure I want that.  You?

11.21.2010

WHERE'S LYNN

I had lunch with my daughter yesterday.  Sushi.  The waiter, a middle aged Chinese man with horrible English, cracked a joke in his broken English that his name was Jack.  "Not Jackie Chan", he said with a smile and bit of a bow.  We roared laughing at his humor amidst his inability to command the English language well.  He said we were beautiful sisters.  I think my daughter cried, but I, well I giggled out loud while smiling to my toes.  He shared that in his culture you do not ever say things you do not truly mean.  If he has nothing he feels or sees in people he will say nothing.   Trust me he said lots over the course of the hour and actually followed us to the door saying he would remember us when we came in again - the beautiful sisters.  

His words stuck with me as I left my daughter after lunch... he would remember us, the beautiful sisters.  Sitting and catching up with Hannah over lunch I asked her how Thanksgiving was with her dad's side of the family.  This was the first time in 26 years I was not part of my now ex-in law's holidays.  I don't know if I really felt like I was missing something as much as adjusting to not having the drama and clinginess of my mother-in-law surrounding me.  It was a good adjustment actually. Hannah shared that she was looking at photo albums and pictures around her grandmother's house when she noticed that my picture had been meticulously cut from each and every picture.  She said her eyes fell on her own wedding pictures from a year ago and the picture of her as a bride, her husband as the groom and her dad and I was now missing me.  I had been physically, with scissors, cut out of the picture.  

Hannah began to leaf through the album and scan the frames of pictures that dominate her grandmother's house.  Me, her mom, was scrupulously and blaring now cut from each photo.  I could tell it bothered Hannah so I tried to make light of it.  I told her it was like the "Where's Waldo" pictures except it's called "Where's Nancy"!  She laughed.  I asked her how that made her feel.  She shared that it hurt as I was her mom.  It was me that gave birth to her, held her, played with her, participated in who she was, gave up things for, cheered for her, cried with, prayed over, laughed at things with the same wicked sense of humor - who she was a part of me.  I cracked another joke that her grandmother was never really that fond of me and probably enjoyed slicing me out of pictures. She was merely reverse scrap booking I said with an evil grin! 

Changes in life cause us all to handle things differently.  I lived a life with someone for 25 years.  Even if much of it was hard, I can't erase those years I lived.  At my own extended family gathering recently I shared with them that they can talk about my ex-husband whenever they want.  He was a part of their lives for all these years.  I was not going to create a "Where's __________".  I guess I deal with change more head on.  

I asked my daughter if her dad knew what his mother had done to all the pictures of me.   She didn't believe he did and wanted to talk to him about it.  I urged her also to be honest with her grandmother, to speak in love how that hurt her and made her feel.  I know her intent wasn't to hurt, but she was hurt herself and that's how she dealt with it - to create a sort of "Where's Lynn" theme in all the photo albums.  It would seem I really wasn't there even when I was. 

11.20.2010

RUNNING IN THE DARK

There is something special about darkness. . . a quietness, a stillness.  I love to run after the sun sets for the day or before it appears in the morning.  It's a spiritual experience for me daily.  The thing I notice too is that as winter approaches the darkness is blacker, heavier like a blanket.  Running along the streets in the dark I see people snuggled in their houses where it is safe and warm.  The funny thing is I feel that same warmth and security while running in the dark alone.  

Running in the dark poses some issues though.  You literally can't see as far ahead as you can in the light, nor can you see things around you as sharply.  What that does is make my senses sharp for what's right in front of me - the next step.  Because of the darkness, I have to pay attention to my steps.  There are some obstacles that arise quickly since I can't see ahead very far; a pile of leaves in the road, sticks, a pot hole, uneven pavement.  For me that's part of what I love about the whole experience - living in that step, that moment as it comes.  In fact, it's funny that anyone would even run in the dark.  That really doesn't make sense, running when you can't see everything clearly.  It's sort of like running with scissors.

I thought about running in the dark and how it relates to trusting and following God.  If I am following God's leading in my life it is exactly like running in the dark.  I say RUNNING because to follow God with surety and faith we have to abandon comfortable (walking), and trust Him for the next step (to see the pile of leaves).   There is to me an anticipation, a warmth, a security in running in the dark with God for things in my life.  He gives me glimpses of things just enough to keep me running toward what I know.  There is a focus in running with God in the dark - a singleness of purpose that I don't get when all the lights are on.  I love how God, who is LIGHT and all it means, loves to get me to RUN in the darkness to focus on Him and not everything around me.   

11.18.2010

GIVE ME EIGHT

I taught my daughter well. She is a bit of a smart ass at times.  It's the part of her that brings me great delight really.  Every once in awhile when I am leaving her after spending time with her shopping, visiting her when she was still in college, helping her with a project of some kind or eating with her she will say "Give me eight mom!".   It's her way of being funny.  It's also all I can give her.  She is referring to my inability to give her a full high ten with both hands.  In 1996 I was working in our small bathroom doing some drywall repair behind the 1950 big heavy porcelain toilet.  The bathroom was small - maybe five by seven feet.  I removed the toilet from the floor but wasn't strong enough alone to carry it out of the bathroom so I just picked it up enough to move it from the bolts in the floor to repair behind it.  I then sanded and primed and painted the walls in the bathroom.  There was no room in the bathroom for both the ladder and the toilet that I had moved.  I proceeded to use that toilet as a ladder of sorts to trim out my paint job around the ceiling.  Not standing on the seat, but rather standing, much like a surfer, posed on the tank of an unbolted to the floor 1950's toilet.  It would slightly move and tip when I moved to reach a new spot with paint from my paint brush.  I did what all good toilet surfers do, readjusted my center of gravity to regain balance.  I was literally on the last several brush strokes to have the remodel job completed when I did not regain my balance fast enough as the toilet tipped.  The odd thing was I was falling but it seemed to take forever.  I had a conversation with myself as it was occurring, "I have less than a two foot location to fall in between the cast iron tub, sink and the two bolts sticking up from the floor.  This porcelain will break when it hits the concrete slab floor.  I will impale myself on something and might not live through this."   How I thought all those things in a split second I don't know.  I remember putting up my right arm and hand to shield myself from whatever I knew I would hit.  I don't recall hitting or feeling the impact but I no doubt did. Honestly I think someone cushioned my fall and then picked me up.  I went from all those thoughts in my head and falling, to standing upright with no memory in between.  As I stood there amazed that I had lived I immediately looked at my right hand.  I knew I had done some serious damage to my hand - my pinkie and ring finger were completely folded down to my palm and I could not feel the right half of my entire hand.  I tried with my mind to tell them to move but they would not move.  Also, with every beat of my heart blood sprayed from the center of my hand like a hose.  Arteries, tendons and nerves were severed.  Again in those seconds as I was taking stock of what was happening I had a myriad of thoughts, "What if I can not play the piano again?  What will I do?  What if I bleed to death from this artery bleed?  Who picked me up off the floor?  Where were they?  Why did I not feel extreme pain?"  As I looked around briefly it appeared that a murder had just occurred in the bathroom I was finishing the closing strokes on to complete a remodel job.  Blood literally sprayed everything and continued to I as stood there.   It ran down my legs on my feet, pooled on the tile floor as I reached for a bath towel to wrap it in.  It soaked through the first normal sized bath towel in a matter of a couple of minutes so I wrapped another around the current one hoping to slow down the bleed.  I felt an odd sensation in my right foreman like it was on fire.  Turning my arm that was attached to my now cut hand I saw a laceration from my wrist bone nearly to my elbow.  The laceration curled the skin back and laid my arm open to the bone.  I stopped to view the layers of skin, muscle, veins and exposed bone.  It was much like the surgery channel.  Our small town hospital did not have the capability to deal with the surgery and injuries so I was transported to a larger hospital.  While waiting in the emergency room a doctor finally came to take a look at what surgery would be needed.  The man who was looking at my hand arm just happened to be in the hospital on a Sunday afternoon and happened to be a hand surgeon, the best in the area.  He liked my spunk and I liked his matter of factness and wit.   I asked him a ton of questions mostly about whether I would ever play the piano again.  He hedged.  I reasked.  He hedged again.  I asked again explaining that part of my life to him.  He said it had been now several hours since the tendons and nerves had been cut.  The longer it goes the further they retract into your wrist making it more and more difficult to get them reattached properly.  He would do the best he could do but that he was equally concerned that they couldn't get a handle on the bleed from the artery.  I remember feeling grateful that God himself or one of His angels had literally cushioned my fall and then picked me up but was also struggling with how a moment would change something I loved forever.  They took me into surgery for 5 or 6 hours.  Going home several days later I was told it would be awhile to know the outcome of success of reattachment both with nerves and tendons.  Eventually rehab started, scar tissue built up and surgery had to be done again.  Then rehab started again.  Scar tissue built up again over top of the tendons shortening them and continuing to pull my fingers down.  The focus for a year and half was my right hand.  I desperately wanted full use of it.  I longed to play an octave again with the reach of my thumb and pinkie.  My wrist wouldn't cooperate in the octave reach either as the tendons were caught at the base of my hand too.  Every Sunday as I sat in church I would listen to the sermon and massage the scar tissue in my hand and fingers - stretching it out.  Almost immediately upon stopping the massage I could feel it retighten and retract.  I had yet a third surgery for scar tissue to try to get more flexibility.  Nothing seemed to work.  Driving to Indianapolis one day alone for a consult with another hand surgeon I was talking to God about it once again.  Why did I desperately need this to be normal again?  What if it would never be normal again?  Could I go on with my life and not make it my focus?  So what if I had to do things differently or if music playing would be less in quality than it once was - I needed to move on.  I talked to the surgeon who said he would do the surgery but felt that really all that could be done had been done and what I was left with was really about the best I could ever expect.  Opening my hand up for the 4th time would get rid of some scar tissue but would re-create more.  That day I decided to move on the best I could.  It probably took several years of playing the piano before I didn't cry afterward because I had to play using the muscles in my forearm and literally will part of hand through my forearm to work.  It was just painful both physically and mentally.  By the time I would get through playing my neck, shoulder and arm screamed in pain.  I also couldn't feel two of the five fingers on my right hand so tactile playing was a challenge.  I couldn't peel anything or hold a knife or much of anything tightly in that hand.  And, because my hand would longer go flat my middle knuckle stuck out so far I was constantly scraping it on walls or doors.  My normal way of doing a push up had to be altered as my hand could not go flat nor my wrist bend at the much needed 90 degree angle.  It's been almost 15 years since then.  People will ask me if I have short sleeves on what happened to my arm.  My answer is "toilet surfing accident".  My hand surgeon said he had repaired lots of injuries but never someone who had a toilet surfing accident.  He told everyone he knew and the orthopedic office staff and I had a great time of laughing over my stupidity.  There are many events of that day that are God moments from how I fell, to being cushioned and picked up by some heavenly being, to that hand surgeon happening to be in the hospital on a Sunday afternoon.  My hand still hurts when I grip anything too long - shovels, paint brushes, the sprayer on a hose.  I still can't play octaves like I used to.  I can't feel things in those two fingers.  There are though two blessings I have found; life goes on altered but it goes on and you find a new way to live - even joyfully in spite of what you lost and, I finally aged into the old looking right hand I have.      

11.17.2010

BAKED GOODS, POTLUCKS, BUFFETS AND OCD

Unless I know you fairly well, feel comfortable that you are a good cook, have exemplary kitchen cleanliness conduct and have three references who will vouch for all the above statements, I will not eat your baked goods you bring me at Christmas.  I will take them from you as you stand on my doorstep, politely thanking you for the thoughtfulness and that they look delicious, but will close to immediately throw them away.  After a proper amount of time that I think it might take to have actually eaten whatever candied bread, sprinkled cookies that have been over baked, dried out fudge, dipped pretzels and some small round balls dipped in I think, powdered sugar, I will return the plate or pen a thank you.  But I will do that without ever having eaten anything on the plate or a bite from your "13th Day Of Christmas Bread".  Really I have become quite gifted at creating thank you notes that directly thank the kindness while indirectly skirting the goodie, the taste or falsely encouraging the giver that I love it so much I want to eat some more of it.  I have what you call baked goods, potluck and buffet OCD - that is obsessive compulsive disorder.    Just typing these words and strolling through my mind of various and assorted baked goods that have been bestowed on me over the years, while thinking of all the church potlucks and buffets I have endured over my life, I am saying "ew" and shaking my head at the same time.  Church potlucks and buffets are another food form that I just can't stomach very easily.  25 years of church potlucks while in church ministry have caused a deep and wide dislike and abhorrence of them.  If I cannot eat baked goods given me by folks I don't have close and intimate relationships with, how readily do you think I can eat off a church potluck table or restaurant buffet!  Potlucks are interesting.  People bring whatever they want in whatever proportion they choose to be shared by others.  There is usually 20 bags of chips, 6 salads of varying A,B,C,D & F quality.  Some poor soul who made bologna sandwiches and cut them in fourths triangularly, someone else who made a large pot of Kraft macaroni and cheese now thick and clumpy from sitting out for an hour and the small dish of something pink and fluffy with what appears to be grains of rice or small mealy worms in it.   If you are unfortunate enough to be the last through the potluck line, then beware.  This is where you will find only dishes that were so unappealing to those in line earlier, left with little or nothing removed from them.  There will be nothing resembling the four main food groups left - only chips, a cereal bowl size serving dish of cole slaw, black olives and few cheese cubes now soaked in the black olive juice and one small scoop of spaghetti casserole that was cooked in the church oven nearly 3 hours ago.  These delights, to be eaten, will have to be washed down with that wonderful watery lemonade that is served in huge orange drink coolers just for the occasion.  As a cook, if you take any or all of your dish you brought to the potluck home with you it is a direct statement saying, "You are a bad cook!"  Buffets also gross me out!  People leering and leaning over vats of food that relatively all taste close to the same as they have been cooked in the same vat.  I once was in line in a buffet behind a woman who was breastfeeding as she pushed her plate down the buffet line casually ladling items on her plate while cradling her child who was securely latched onto a breast.  I was greatly disturbed on so many levels.  It further solidified my view of how wrong buffets are in general.  So, if you feel the need to bake a holiday goodie tray for me, please also include a Polaroid snapshot of the kitchen, leave the small balls dipped in powdered sugar off my tray and write on the inside of the Christmas card 3 references who can attest to the range and scope of your baking skills and kitchen conditions.  And whatever you do, please do not bring a crock pot of beans and weenies to the next church potluck!     

11.16.2010

PARTS ARE RELATIVE

Bodies are strange when you think about them.  I mean, we have all these delicate inner organs (much like the inner workings of a fine Swiss watch) that are connected, suspended, somewhat dependant on each other and they are merely covered by yet another organ - skin.   You have to think that if what we can see on the outside of each other is so varied, our internal organs might have slight unique variations also.  I mean, maybe my spleen if laid out on a table next to yours, would be slightly crafted a bit different in size, shape or hue - that is if still connected to the blood supply :)  Skin color variations are amazing too.  Different measures of pigment create different shades of skin.  That's not even addressing eye color or hair color!  I once had an MRI of the brain.  The report read something like this; patient noted to have larger than normal sinus cavities.  Polyp noted on left side sinus cavity.   So now I know that I have ginormous sinus cavities and taking up space in one of them, a polyp.  I suppose my larger than normal sinus cavities sit in radical size contrast to other body parts I possess.  For instance my grand four-lane highway for breasts highlight my near child-like upper body where you can actually see ribs. Yes, ribs and not the meat kind slathered in BBQ sauce.  If you don't believe me, there are a few people who can verify the above sentence.  E-mail me for their contact information :)   At the doctor last week I was bent over the examining table, pants down, awaiting the nurse's antibiotic shot.  She said she was using a pediatric needle to administer this ADULT does of medicine.  I jokingly asked if she was using that kid's needle because she thought my butt was small.  "Yes!" she replied.   Then there is the issue of the size of my head.  I'm not sure if proportionally it fits on my body.  My oldest sister has this little tiny head while my middle sister and I have in comparison to hers, monstrous heads.  You know I've never been measured for a hat size.  That would be interesting!  If the three of us sisters take a picture together it's quite humorous.  We now always place our tiny headed oldest sister in the middle of the two big headed younger sisters.  It balances out the picture like two candlesticks on a fireplace mantle.  I am 5'5' and nearly 3' of that height is my torso.  Sitting next to people who are inches and inches taller than me I tower over them.  My ex-husband was one of them.  He hated that.  If I could move that long waistedness to my legs, well modeling world beware.  Do you think Vogue or Cosmo is in need of a big headed, large sinus cavity, small breasted, ribs showing, no butt, long waisted, estrogen and collagen waning woman in her mid-forties?

11.14.2010

SEASONS AND SEASONINGS

I have this organic seasoning I use called, "Herbamare".  It is comprised of sea salt, celery leaves, leek, watercress, onion, chive, parsley, lovage, garlic, basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme and kelp.  Sounds strange, like it just couldn't or shouldn't be even remotely good.  But, it is.  It is marvelous,  flavorful, and perfect for the right dish added at just the right time.  My brother-in-law and sister were over tonight to help me narrow down my paint combinations for my living room and dining room.  My sister was stretched out in my trendy little leaf upholstered recliner where it was taking all the remaining energy she had to just be there.  She's been sick with bronchitis and working more hours over the last month than her normal work schedule.  She commented that she is too tired to exercise and feels "doughy" from not doing it.  Between finishing out a temporarily long work month and then getting sick, she has not been able to have the motivation needed to conquer her waning energy level.   I love what her husband lovingly said to her, "Just let it be for now.  It's not the season."   It's not the season.  I thought about those words and meandered mentally through my life and its seasons.  Oh the seasons I have had in my living.  Seasons of young children and raising them while wanting to do things that held passion and creativity but knowing now was not the season to do that.  To just let it be.  Seasons of illness that stretched on for years - wanting it to end but having to to just let it be till it left like it came, on its own.   Seasons of jobs and geographic locations - some of which I hated and some of which I loved.  Seasons of drive, energy, accomplishment, forward movement.  Seasons of seemingly treading water just surviving.  Seasons of disharmony with my ex husband that came and went with different levels of intensity, pain and realization but were always there on some level.  Seasons of trying harder, buying into the philosophy of doing the right thing brings right results.   Seasons of sweet times of pleasure.  Seasons of friendships purposed just for then, for where I was.  Seasons of epiphany and great clarity about myself, about God and about marriage.  Seasons of courage mixed with deep heartache in realization of choices in my past, where they took me and what I needed to do to live differently with purpose, design and passion.  Seasons of releasing what I thought was truth to really find truth, to go on a quest.  Seasons of forgiveness and moving on.  Just like real weather seasons, there is a progression in our lives.  Ecclesiastes is correct - there is a time and a season for every activity under heaven.  I am either just letting it be or moving to the next season.  How to know which to do is the key.  Just like the natural seasons, I have to look at the signs around me. 

11.12.2010

GEE WHIZ!

My joy and my problem is I love words.  I love the look of them, the sound of them rolling off your tongue and how to use them truly highlighting their meaning.  When you hit on the right word to describe something perfectly, I would guess it's like a major league baseball player connecting to the ball in the exact right way that it flies out of the park.  Or, when a basketball player nets a 3 point shot, you eclipse your best time of running or biking or get the highest score you've ever gotten in bowling.  I was intent upon looking up the word generous in my Webster's dictionary, preparing to write about having a generous spirit.  When leafing through the g's to get to generous, I got side-tracked and began reading (I read the dictionary much like others read a book).  On the left side of one page sprang the words; geek, gee and gee whiz.  The column next to it, explaining Gemini and geminate.  Do you know the way in which we use the word geek is not exactly the real definition of it which reads; "a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake."  I immediately think that definition of geek is more clearly a picture of Ozzy Osborne in his early years than what we might view a geek as.  We have scaled that definition back - our geek is not a performer of sorts, but would be though a bit eccentric, not quite in the popular group so to speak, and, having tendencies of strangeness.  We removed "wild" as part of our definition and exchanged "peculiar" instead.  Yes, believe it or not gee, not the definition for a thousand dollars or as a verb meaning to turn directions to the left or right or move ahead as spoken to a horse, is in the dictionary.  Gee, in the "what in the world" declaration is defined specifically as, "an expletive to express surprise or enthusiasm."   I'm wondering if the horses know in which context we are saying "gee" to them:)  Who doesn't love the 1950's hit show "Leave It To Beaver"!  Beaver, the younger brother, is known in the show for his catch phrase of "Golly gee whiz Wally!", spoken to his older brother Wally multiple times in every episode.  Adding the whiz to gee creates a definition that says, "arousing wonder , to amplify the merits or significance of something, wide-eyed enthusiasm."  Gee whiz holds a depth that we never have fully utilized in our era.  Maybe it's time to bring that phrase back to popularity:)  Gemini is the third zodiacal constellation representing in Greek mythology the twins Castor and Pollux.  Castor is immortal and Pollux mortal (Don't get lost in the illogicalness of that.  Thus the word mythology.)  When Pollus died Castor begs Zeus to let them both become immortal.  They are placed in the sky as a constellation.  I love the word geminate which means, "to become double or paired - arranged in pairs".  The story behind that word makes the definition more rich and it paints a story when used.  That's why I love words.  I never did make it to "generous".

11.11.2010

STRANGE AND SILLY

I, compared to most people, can appreciate unique, trail blazing kinds of people, personalities, thoughts, names, designs, creativity, all foods, opinions and even the political leanings of most.  Appreciation does not mean I would want it, believe it, eat it, or even hold to that train of thought.  It does though mean I'm ok if you do and can usually see, based on the person, that they are operating in who they are.  I relish that in people - being true to who you are.  There are though, a few things in life though that I don't get.  And although again, most everything in life is subjective, I believe these fashion trends are notYesterday I was talking to someone regarding our mutual dislike of the following; skinny jeans and those strange drappie flowing tops that women wear.  To that list I am going to add; ballet shoes (not the actual ones worn by the ballerinas in "The Nutcracker") and those horrific rubber clogs which appear to be made in only loud, bright colors.  Skinny jeans make no sense to me in the culture and overweight society we live in.  Thankfully I haven't seen too many overweight people wearing them (they are way smarter than that!).  My daughter who is 23, weighs 100 pounds and tops the height chart at maybe 5'1', wears them all the time.  They make me laugh.  It's bad enough when women/girls wear them.  But, when I see a guy/man in them I turn immediately ridiculously hysterical.  No one, even thin people, look right in pants that are painted on ever so tightly and then dramatically hug your calves coming to tight closure at the ankle much like a Ziploc bag.  They make everything appear to be balanced on a pin point.  Not subjective, just wrong period.  The wonderful array of flowing and drappie shirts for women made of some strange fabric sewn into a formless wad of material that does nothing to flatter a shape, are another thing that really need to be removed from all stores - FOR ALL ETERNITY!  Shopping with my daughter we were trying on clothes together in the dressing room.  She, of course, was trying on stacks of those "shirts" that I loathe.  Being very sincere, she suggested I try on the tops she had just taken off.  Oh, I didn't want to, but thought I would appease her and create some laughter.  I donned that drappie crazy ass length and fabric no shape shirt - with a pattern on it and all.  I turned to her while looking in the mirror.  She said, "Mom, you look great in that shirt.  Really."  I took one look at my 44 year old self and said, "You are lying out your ass that I look good in this.  And, there is no way in hell I would ever wear this!"  She busted a gut in laughter:)   I have great issue also with two types of shoes (well really more, but I will focus all my hatred on these two); the ballerina style flat and the colorful rubber clog.  I don't get either and believe (deep seated by the way) they make people look out of balance once again.  The ballerina style flat (again my daughter wears them all the time - combined with those stupid skinny jeans) gives no balance or depth to the ending of a person's body.  It's like ankle, then floor - making most outfits look not finished and that the person was just too lazy to get real shoes.  I can see possibly where giants would want to wear them, to appear a bit shorter.  But, short people.... don't you want to appear a bit taller!  Then there are the oh so popular rubber slip on clogs that were all the rage for quite some time and still are (at least in this part of the country).  They typically do the opposite of the ballerina shoe.  They make the person's foot appear to be 10 times as wide and long as it really is.  I take issue with wearing only rubber, not lined with anything, that has been engineered with air holes in it because wearing ONLY rubber on your foot would most definitely cause an odor problem.  The other day while out running I ran by a man and woman walking their small dogs.  No joke, they both had pink rubber clogs on - matching each other.  Once out of their line of vision I laughed out loud.  That poor man.  Pink.  Rubber.  Clogs!  What in the hell!! 

11.10.2010

MOMENTARILY DERAILED

When I was a kid we had this huge outdoor wooden spool.  It was like a spool of thread, but life size.  Big enough when turned upright, to be a round table.  How it came to reside with us I'm not sure.  I think it came from the phone company where it had been wound with huge expanses of telephone cable.  Many times we would roll it on its side (like a hamster wheel) on a smooth surface and much like a log roll in water, try to balance while wheeling it at the same time.  There were times where just the right balance and speed allowed you to stay on the spool for a longer period of time without falling off - those rides were awesome.  Other times, the ride was short and the fall came fast.  Life is a bit like that rolling spool.  There are times where I can balance fears, frustrations, longings, heartache better than others.  Then, like riding the spool, I get momentarily derailed.  I can remember balancing on that spool.  There was an art to balancing, creating momentum and moving the spool forward.  My thoughts are the same.  I love the movie, "What About Bob".  There is a scene in the movie where Bob has allowed all his fears and phobias to control his behavior, his choices and his rich enjoyment of the present.  How easily it is for me to get myself mentally and momentarily derailed by circumstances and thoughts.  Yesterday my boss and I were talking.  He asked me how I was doing emotionally with the two issues in my life that are my tough ones.  I asked him how he was doing emotionally with the three issues I know he battles.  Then he asked if I couldn't please get another issue to tie him in number of things that weigh heavily - it would make him feel better!  We both laughed with comfort and knowledge that we all have thoughts and things that we struggle with.   I'm always aspiring, even times battling, for balance and forward momentum.  And, when I get derailed momentarily by thoughts, acknowledging the struggle, but not letting it keep me off the spool of life.   It's an art form.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

11.09.2010

SCRAPS, POST-ITS AND LEGAL PADS

I have an office at home.  Barren as it is with only a desk, lamp, chair, filing cabinet, shredder, my clothes hamper (why is that in there anyway!), the ironing board and iron, and a picture.  I have a great desk, a padded chair that still hurts my butt if I sit on it too long, but it's a great place to sit and write.  For whatever reason though, many days, I gravitate to the kitchen counter with my laptop and a stool.  It's where you'll find my dictionary laying most of the time and a file folder.  It's a place to keep things I am working on, thoughts,  ideas, etc.  One of my sisters was over recently and commented on my hoards of sticky notes, scraps of paper, corners of restaurant table paper that had a few words or sentences on laying willy nilly everywhere.  She suggested (she is more orderly than am I) a tablet to keep thoughts or writing ideas more organized.  I told her it was a great idea, and it is.  I knew I would never do it though.  I like my system, if that's what I can liberally call it.  Each of those scraps of paper denotes a time when I thought that thought.  A corner of the restaurant table paper was when I was eating with a friend.  The post-it note with a book title on it came from the suggestion of a friend on a book that I should read.  On the blue sticky note I have had for years, is written one of things I want my life to look like, "To fully use the crayons God has given me to express and influence."  I even have a couple of steps I created for the 12 Step Recovery Program For Mennonites written on a corner of a piece of paper towel (not sure where I was when I wrote them down).   Then there is the issue of my legal pad.  It originated when I was not near my laptop and wanted to write a length of something that wouldn't fit on a scrap, post-it or corner of paper towel.  I have pages and pages in it written in continuation of prayers, dialogue and questions I need to discuss with someone, parts of blog posts written over lunch while at work.  But, then I have pages and pages of strange things randomly scribbled together; job postings to research, something I need to remind myself of, a song title to look up on ITunes, 4 things I needed to pick up at Lowes, two words that I don't know why I wrote-momentarily derailed (I think that is what I am), a thought to tie into this post, other post ideas, a few thoughts I had in my head regarding a conversation I had recently had.  They are not written in order or grouped by likeness.  What I have done is create pages of scraps, post-its and corners of paper towels written on a yellow legal pad.  I was thinking how valuable those scraps are to me.  So much so, that I put them in my file folder because they are important to me and I know, because of their value, I will use the thought, read the book, ask the question to the person.  I am aware they are there and re-read them frequently to see if I can use one of them presently.  My thoughts scribbled on scraps of paper led me to the wailing wall in Jerusalem.  It is actually part of the western wall of the temple - where the Jews believed God resided on earth.  People from all backgrounds make the journey there for its spiritual significance and to pray about something that is important to them.  Many times, the prayer or need or cry to God is written on a scrap of paper, rolled up and stuck in the cracks in the remaining stone wall.  What a great visual!  Scraps of paper, post-its so to speak, carrying someones heart in written form to God.  I wondered about God needing a more organized system, say a big spiral bound tablet with category of pages for certain requests.  What I love about my God is that disorder means nothing to him.  Scraps written for hundreds of years and tucked in the small crevices are a language of importance to Him.  He doesn't get hung up on the system, or the delivery of the cry or need to him, just that it is important to Him.  I like to think of God as a God of our post-its, scraps of paper and corners of paper towels.  The thing is He saves them all.  The Bible says that God keeps track of our prayers and tears in a bowl, they are valuable to Him.  Isn't that cool!  A bowl is way more classy than a file folder. 

11.07.2010

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

What time is it right now, today, at this minute?  You say 8:01 p.m. eastern standard time.  Really, because yesterday at this same time it was 9:01 p.m. eastern standard time.  Daylight savings time occurred at 2:00 a.m. today.  We fell behind an hour.  I don't know about you, but I am totally messed up for a couple of weeks.  Ok, there are other things that mess me up too, but I am focusing on the time change in this post:)   For someone who struggles to get a full five hours of sleep a night and wakes up nearly every morning at 4 a.m., lays there falling back asleep until 5 a.m. or thereafter, this is a killer.  Today I woke up at 3 a.m. laid there, looked at the clock and said, "Well, it says 3:00 a.m. but really it is 4:00 a.m."  So, like most other mornings I laid there for another hour or so and then got up.  The clock read 4:00 a.m.  What to do at 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning; coffee, read, flick through a few channels till boredom took over, empty the dishwasher, refill the dishwasher, check the dryer, make the bed, play some music, pray, my friend texted me at 6:00 a.m., text conversations with Big D and my oldest sister simultaneously, my body feels profoundly old today and I walk 5 miles instead of run in 30 degree temps, clean entire house except the basement and it's only 9:30 a.m., take a shower, go to church.   11:00 a.m. church is where my day ends or should have since being up since 4:00 a.m.  Sitting in the balcony to stay warm as my church is frigidly cold, I slip in the pew a couple minutes late.  I am now exhausted having been awake since 3, no 4 a.m.  There are three rows in the balcony.  I sit in the middle row on the end.  Behind me is a junior high boy sitting alone.  Well, I am now sitting still and quiet and soon begin fighting falling asleep.  I do all the tricks - moving around, reading the bulletin, crossing my leg one direction and then another, leaning forward, turning sideways with my arm on the back of the pew, looking for my pen in my purse as I want to write something down.  Oh no, prayer time.  I am in trouble.  Hang in there Lynn.  Jesus deserves your full awake attention.  I am jolted from sleep when the congregation joins together in closing out prayer time by saying the Lord's Prayer out loud.  I make it through the children's moment, the announcements and head into the sermon on shaky sleep ground.  In one huge swaying jerk I wake myself up and giggle inside wondering how much entertainment I gave the junior high boy behind me.  Now it's not that Jesus is not exciting.  It's not that the sermon wasn't good - in fact during my awake moments I was taking some notes.  It's not that I didn't want to be there.  It's just that damned daylight savings time.  The only thing it's saving me is from getting sleep.  Right now I am wanting to go to bed but the clock says 8:50 p.m.  My body though says 9:50 p.m.  In about another week I will only keep track of one set of time, and will let loose of BDST (before daylight savings time).  If life isn't already taxing enough on all of us, we have to subject our bodies to altering their internal clocks twice a year.  Believe it or not, I actually nodded off typing this - you should have seen the sentence I created:)

11.06.2010

SUBJECTIVE STUFF

I don't like Spam. The e-mail kind. Never open it.  Always delete it.  Always.  Obviously it's the email version of snail mail junk mail.  Since it's very easy to assume that all people think exactly like me, I automatically think everyone hates it too.  But then I remembered my mom.  This is the woman who reads obituaries word for word out loud, also all the police reports, court news, editorials, marriage announcements, sale flyers stuck in the newspaper and every piece of junk mail that piles in her mailbox.  I lived with them last year when moving back home to the area.  Now when I get my mail, I go through it at that moment, sifting to the shredder or trash that which is crap, opening bills and putting them where they belong (delaying paying them as long as humanly possible!).  Not my mother.  No, the mail is belabored, strung out, savored even.  Things lay on the kitchen counter by the 2 foot stack of phone books.  Junk mail is lovingly handled and some of it saved.  I mean you never know when you will need a toilet riser, something from "Blair" catalog (fashions for the elderly fashioned impaired), address labels, coins from around the world, china dolls perched on a stand, or a free vacation if you call 1-800-vacationstocheatyou.  I giggled over it many times while living there and fought the urge to scoop it all up and throw it away :)   But, then I realized - everything and I do mean everything, is subjective in life.  Everything, including spam mail - both the email and mail carrier versions.  Speaking of Spam - the other kind of SPAM, the 1940's canned potted meat by-product.  I have a very good friend and his wife who absolutely love SPAM.  It is mind blowing that there are those SPAM lovers out there who perpetuate the ongoing manufacturing of a WWII staple.  One year for Christmas I got them a SPAM cookbook.  I know can you barely believe they still mass produce SPAM, let alone publish a cookbook about ways to cook with it as well.  We live in an amazingly strange world!  The most disturbing recipe in it was a green Jello mold with chunks of SPAM congealed in it.  Now wouldn't that just festive up your holiday table!  My friends love SPAM so much they have created new and exciting other worldly recipes; fried for sandwiches, casseroles, even sliced thin with seasoning and dried in the oven creating a tasty treat named by them called, "Sperky".  I have tried all their creations over the years.  Now mind you they aren't horrible and, the "sperky" was even borderline good, but SPAM, well no thanks.  Again, how subjective is potted meat products, email spam, and junk mail!  Life is very subjective isn't it?  What do you think:)

11.04.2010

I HATE WALLY WORLD

I went to the grocery store tonight because I had been procrastinating doing it.  Going to the grocery store (and pretty much all shopping in general) is neck and neck to win first prize with putting gas in my car for activities that I despise.  No really, I don't like to shop for groceries and I hate putting gas in my car.  I figured out tonight why I don't like either of those things; time.  It would appear to me that they are both time wasters, that is for me anyway.  So, what I do is two things; I wait at least 30 miles past when my empty fuel light in my car comes on (it has now begun to also be a game of risk, gambling and thrill seeking), and, only when prompted by either having company over or there is virtually no food to eat in the house, do I go to the grocery store.  There are some stores that I can put up with more than others.  Walmart is not one of those stores.  I hate Walmart!  Oh don't get me wrong Sam Walton was no doubt a business genius.  And much like the crew at Apple computers, he knew how to get ahead of the curve of what's the next up and coming shopping phenom.  There are a myriad of reasons why I hate Walmart; the yellow smiley face indicating prices have been rolled back, the fact that virtually every item says 'made in China', the blue smocks employees wear, the gray painted cement floor, the old men who greet you just inside the door along with the lady who always wants to give you a cart, the 2nd string fruits and vegetables whose refrigeration life span once purchased is about 2 days, the circular wheel that holds all the plastic shopping bags that the cashier spins - lovingly named "Wheel O' Bags" that is by me, that I can eat Subway, get my hair cut, and buy moon pies too cause me to hate this All-American sensation of Walmart.  Those are reasons a plenty!   I also don't like Walmart because it feels plastic, cheap, mass produced and very contrived.  And, well frankly, I just get a funky vibe in there.  Why do I need my product, as its brand name, to be called GREAT VALUE - am I unable to see that on its own!     ...."Thanks for shopping at Walmart, come again!" (btw, I didn't go to Walmart tonight for groceries.)

11.03.2010

DEFINITIONS

Someone today said, among others things, in defining me that I was "relentless".  Now I have a love affair of words to begin with so it is not unusual that I ponderate on a word, dissecting it, trying it on for size and appropriateness.  What did I think about the word relentless?  Did I want to be defined as relentless?  Is that a positive or negative, or a more cross genderish word that is subjective to the eye or ear of the receiver?  My initial reaction was to feel it was a negative with a positive spin.  I looked it up.  My dictionary sits right on my kitchen counter most days.  I typically use it more than most of the dishes in my kitchen.  My Webster's says this of unrelenting;  showing or promising no abatement of severity or intensity.   Ok, then what is abatement...to reduce, moderate, decrease in force or intensity.  Did I like this definition of who I was?  Was I relentless?  If I was, what was I relentless over and did I always need be relentless?  Oh the over thinking that word has caused me.  The introspection that has occurred.  So, on the positive side of the word relentless, how does it play itself out in me - extreme purpose, dogged determination of what I think and feel and know, questing for understanding and knowing about people and things and processes and viewpoints and choices and God and how to get from here to there, wanting to know relevance and why of most everything.  But that word implies there is an intensity to approaching those things.  I hope that intensity doesn't mean an imbalance.  With that much relentlessness I want equilibration though also in my life.  Does relentless imply though out of balance?  No, I don't think so.  Why do I view it as negative?  Is it?  Or can it be a negative depending on how or what you are relentless about?  Does it mean I am unbending, not able to look at things around me with wonder because I am hell bent on whatever with such intensity that I can't see the forest for the trees?  I think part of my relentless spirit comes from figuring out things and then knowing them to such depth that it propels me in them.  There are pursuits in my life that I am relentless with.  Passion is one of them.  Passion is so many things really.  It is a manner of living, an act of intensity connected to love and how that plays itself out, a quest to experience and fulfill our God given design, exuberance and excitement over the simple-good-genuine stuff in life.  Passion is connection with our soul to another's soul, with creativity, with pursuits, with seizing the day, with giving it all away to others, feeling the fullness of all things in the present tense-in the moment fully.  It's taking the small and making it grand.  It's releasing and living fully who God created us to be.  Well, so I guess I am pretty relentless.  I'm hoping tomorrow that person might be able to tell me if they meant it in a good or bad or combination sort of way and how me being that way affects others.  I want my intensity to spark good things in people, to free them, to give them confidence that I know what I know and that's why I pursue with such intensity, to drive me to learn.  You don't think that person meant unrelenting the adult word for naughty or strong-willed, do you?

A REMASTERED VERSION

Over the years teaching classes at churches, and using a dialogue style approach, I would get some very interesting responses to questions posed by me.  The toughest thing to do was to judiciously and graciously tell someone they were biblically not correct without them feeling put down and belittled, to make it clear what truth was because you did not want other class participants to take what they said as what the Bible really was saying, and to creatively  find a way to get the class dominator to stop hogging the floor in sharing and responses so others could freely and verbally open up their thoughts to the class too.  I've had people say the funniest, most off base biblical statements to me over the years.  My dear friend is one of them.  I think it may have been the first week I met her.  She is telling me that she had read the Bible that morning and did I know that Peter drowned jumping out of a boat to see Jesus.  Well, I thought as she is joyfully recounting this biblical event and the fact that she felt like was reading it for the first time and never knew that...what was I going to say? (buzzer goes off indicating wrong answer in the show, "Name These Bible Story Events Correctly for 400)  "Well, " I say, "That is interesting.  Was Jesus on the shore cooking fish on a fire showing up after the resurrection?"  She smiles with confidence, "Yes, I think that was the rest of the story."  I told her, "Peter did in fact die, but it was some years after that day that he jumped out of the boat.  In fact, he did not drown that day or as the cause for his death in years to come.  That day he lived and swam to shore where Jesus asked him three times if he would feed his sheep/lambs?"  She sheepishly said, "Are you sure?"  "Yes," I say with gentle love for her off the beaten path biblical interpretation.  The next day she informs me she read it again, but this time not while sitting on the toilet early in the morning.  With a small sigh and smile she said,  "You were right, Peter did not drown and Jesus was waiting on the shore for him."  I told her though that I liked her creative though Biblically off version:)  In one of my former husband's first sermons he mixed up the story of the arrest of Jesus in the garden to say something like this, " ...and in anger Peter's ear was cut off by a sword."  I fought back laughing out loud and looked around at a few puzzled faces.  Corrected version reads, "And one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear."   This phrase has been repeated as an actual Bible verse over the years many times, "God helps those who help themselves."    No where is that quote found in the Bible, but people from all different backgrounds claim its in there.  One day my friend's adult daughter was telling me about Jesus and said, "Jesus sinned while on earth."  I was a bit puzzled over that one, but decided to see where it went, "Heidi, you do know it is recorded in the Bible that Jesus though man, was God too and he did not sin?"  She said, "Well, I heard that somewhere.  Sunday School as a kid or something." Her mom, in the room with us as I answered, "Well, I can clearly see there is a genetic link here with both of your Biblical interpretations!"   Whenever i would teach a class that involved active discussion I would tell the class that if they wanted to share, or answer a question but weren't sure of the correct answer that they could always say "God" or "Jesus" as there was a 50/50 chance one of those would be in the ballpark of right.  So, if I asked a question and there was a long pause and no one seemed to answer, one borderline irreverent man would always yell out, "Jesus?" I loved it!

11.01.2010

PARALLEL LINES

Parallel; extending in the same direction, everywhere equidistant, and not meeting.  I hold to a life of parallel lines whole heartedly.  By that I mean, I can on one hand have some very difficult issue, situation, heartache, illness, confounding and overwhelming circumstance and, in my life at the same time have another line of good running rich and deep.  I came to know of parallel lines many years ago from personal experience of living with struggle day after day, year after year.  If I were to be able to find joy in living in spite of situations, disappointments, actual heartbreak there had to be a way to know that heavy struggle could be in my life, but that I could have another part of my life, another parallel line, of God's goodness and joy found through a myriad of sources.  It took me a few years of struggle to come to understand life is not peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys.  There are both, together, running clearly through our lives at the same time.  It's a strange relationship really.  You make friends of your enemies and bring the good things along on the tracks.  When I finally understood that God's presence could both minister to my rough and tragic line and at the same time God's joy could rest on my other track in life, I began to see how sorrow and joy can co-exist and actually make joy sweeter.  The other thing I learned was that peak and valley living is an emotional rollercoaster ride - thrilled and living high for seasons, and crashing and struggling - calling out to God to be rescued the next.  What I came to know of God was that he resides in all things, at all times, both through heartache - to bring me closer to Him, and through blessings - to make me see the giver of the gifts of goodness.  Whenever I sit at a railroad crossing waiting for a train my mind thinks of my life and God.  I think the fact that there is a resemblance in parallel lines is exactly what God shows me.  Both of those lines take me somewhere.  God is taking me somewhere through pain and struggle, and taking me somewhere through blessings and joy.  My sister highlighted that fact tonight on the phone.  How through events in her life over the past week she has felt much pain and struggle, but conversely has felt great presence of God and comfort.  That's why I love the book of Psalms.  The writer can at one moment lament, struggle, ask God where He is in the heartache, but also in the next verse speak of the goodness and presence of God and what he knows to be true.   He seemed to understand parallel lines way of living.  I told my sister over the weekend, "Hold onto what you know, not what you fear."  That is parallel line living.  It's a way of life for me.