Blog Archive

9.30.2011

NOW THAT'S FUNNY

I love to laugh.  Is there something past love?  I mean, if someone asked me what is something I love to do I would answer, "Laugh".  I love to make people laugh by saying witty and sarcastic things or by my sometimes irreverent way of approaching things.   My most favorite way to feel next to loved, is caught up in pure in-the-moment laughter.   I think I'm funny.  But maybe I'm like a bad "American Idol" contestant in the preliminary rounds who when asked if they are good says, "I am destined to be a star!  People love my voice."  It's those people who rarely measure up to their own standard:)  But really, I am funny.  My sisters think I am funny.  I would say my nieces do too.  Big D of course thinks every word out of my mouth is worthy of her emphysemic laughter.  She is very, very wise.  Random strangers have laughed at comments I have made while in line in stores, government offices or in the intimate apparel section of Kohls.  Clients have laughed at my banter and stated, "You are so funny!".   I love to make my husband laugh.  I mean I LOVE to make him laugh.  When I accomplish it, I feel pure delight.  My daughter is another story.  Deep down she knows I am hysterical.  But since we continue our family contest vying for the place of top honor as The Funniest Person In The Family, she cannot freely admit it.  But I see it in her eyes:)  She has broke down a time or two and admitted how funny I am stopping short of placing the humor crown on me.    Hannah, I hope when I am dead and gone and you eulogize me you will then admit that I made you laugh!  And please, make a notation on my headstone of me finally winning The Funniest Person In The Family award albeit posthumously.  I love looking at life in an honest, irreverent, sarcastic kind of way.  Life is funny.  Even yucky stuff has some bit of humor in it if we can separate ourselves from it.  My preference for movies is always comedies.  Life is serious enough in the flesh so I why would I want my pretend escape world of movies to be serious too!   When I die I really don't want people to spend time mourning in the traditional heavy hearted crying sort of way.  I want them to spend time remembering how I made them smile, brought them joy, delivered a unique way of looking at life, and gave them cause to just laugh.  My husband and I went to see comedian Brian Regan last night.  If you've never seen any of his comedy routines, go to YouTube and you will find plenty.  I laughed until I had tears in my eyes and my stomach muscles were burning (way better than the crunches I do!).   I truly believe God created laughter as a diversion.  Frequently I like to be diverted and I LOVE to divert others.  Just ask Hannah, she'll tell you how funny I am! 

9.29.2011

AN ODE TO TP

There are certain things that everyone on the planet does.  Wiping our butts is in the universal behavior category.  It's a private sort of thing, and yet common and base all at the same time.  Unless you are a junior high kid, someone over the age of 80 or Amish (they are mesmerized with talking about their bowels!) this subject matter is not a regular part of your world.  Just this morning in the bathroom while my husband was taking a shower he said, "Honey, I love that you and I respect each other's privacy when the bathroom door is shut."  We are literally open and free and constantly together, but that is the one arena we wall off.  Personally there is absolutely nothing sexy about seeing your mate on the toilet even though it is a common experience for all of humanity. How about going to the bathroom on an airplane?  Who loves to walk down the aisle toward the only thing that you would be walking to on a plane, as everyone in their head goes, "they are going to the bathroom:)"!  Then when you get there you usually have to wait outside the door that says OCCUPIED, further declaring to everyone that your digestive track needs to release itself.  Who loves to go the bathroom on a plane when the only thing between you and others is a very thin aluminum door:(   Someone said to me recently (my son in law I think), that he hates to spend money on stuff that disappears - groceries.  Toilet paper is one of those disappearing items.  In my house, it disappears a great deal.  It's amazing how much toilet paper 2 people who have some digestive issues can go through!!  Toilet paper is funny really.  What a great innovation!   Who discovered that!!  Now I would venture to say that 2 ply toilet paper is a much great invention than the 1 ply stuff.  You know the kind I am referring to you - used in Target, Walmart, Lowes, public restrooms across America.  How do they think they are saving money when you end up having to use 2 times the amount just to keep a safe barrier between your hand and what you are wiping!!  My ex-mother-in-law used one ply Scotts that came individually wrapped.  I felt it was really more like fine sandpaper on a cardboard roll than toilet paper.  I don't know if she bought it by the case like businesses do from Staples or what!  I buy double rolls, 12 at time, double-ply only.  Usually when I get down to 3 or 4 rolls I buy more as you can never know (trust me it is a regular part of my life) when diarrhea will abound!  My grandmother was a stocker of all things.  Toilet paper being one of them.  She had package after package of toilet paper in her house.  She was a bit of a disorganized messy.  When we cleaned out her house for the auction after her death, we found so much toilet paper it was actually a source of laughter.  None of it was together either.  She did have a bit of Alzheimer's which would help explain quantity - she would forget she bought it, and having it in all different places-she couldn't remember where she had put it so she bought more!  My mom keeps a fair share of toilet paper in her house.  Usually two to three 12 packs.  The need to keep huge amounts of toilet paper in my house skipped my generation and went straight to my daughter.  She freely admits, along with her husband teasing her relentlessly, that she feels vulnerable without several 12 packs in the house unopened!  I am laughing as I am typing this thinking about an episode of the show Hoarders" I saw once.  This woman had a fetish about stocking up on bathroom products.  So much so that one of her bathrooms, bathtub included, could not be used as it was stacked floor to ceiling with toilet paper, kleenex, shampoo, etc.  I once knew a family that rationed the amount of toilet paper members of their family could use.  The rule went something akin to this; pee=2 squares, poop=4 squares.  They obviously didn't have digestive problems:)

9.28.2011

GRACELAND

There are tough days in life.  Yesterday was one of them - a culmination of some struggles over the past week.  I have been on a grace journey most of my life (as we probably all are).  But, have been in serious grace training the past year and a half.  God keeps literally calling me to Graceland in situations that keep coming into my life.  I sensed God's voice in my spirit yesterday morning early - "There is more coming. I am asking you to go to Graceland again."  To be honest, I didn't like what I sensed from God - that He was going to ask me to give grace yet again.  It had been costly to travel to Graceland.  I wondered what God meant, "there is more coming"?  What would I be asked to lay down?  What right to express and be satisfied or justified would I need to walk away from?  What forgiveness would I need to give even if not asked for or undeserved?  The hurt came later in the day.  It was deep, rattling, devastating - taking me to a place of deep sobs.   I have heard God's voice (yes and James Earl Jones' voice is not what I hear!) in my head, heart and spirit with each circumstance that has been hard, hurtful, confusing or devastating over this past year and half journey of divorce and discovery.  He has continued to ask me to let Him have it and give grace.  Grace when I don't understand people's actions or words or silence or judgmental spirits or calculated chess moves in life.  As I dealt with a hurt yesterday that compounded an already open wound, I drove to see the daughter of a dear friend's cross country meet.  I prayed as I turned on the radio that God would speak to me - give me words through music.  If God had told me I would be asked again to visit Graceland, then I had to believe He would speak to me as I tried to get there.  The radio landed on a song I really was not familiar with musically, but lyrically looked and felt like my backyard.  "I will trust you even when I feel deserted..." the song said.  It captured at that very second, with a magnifying glass, what I felt and what my heart wanted to do - trust God.  I've said before that there is a 3 second television delay in what our head can know and choose, and what our heart feels and can't quite process.  I was there yet again.  I weighed all my options for reacting.  None of them were good.  None of them provided a grace solution to the hurt.  I called my sister in tears.  I spoke freely and openly about the hurt, the pain.  I told her about my call from God to Graceland again.  Then I said it out loud.... "I hate grace today!"   As I let it out my mind whirled with Jesus.  He could relate to Graceland.  He created that place at a deep cost to Himself.  He knew what it was to not retaliate, not get bitter, not seek revenge, not try to defend Himself.  He knew the cost of grace.  I didn't have to pay the Graceland cost alone.  He was there with me.  With that I knew eventually I could move on.  Eventually my head and heart would line up with one another.  I knew too that when I was in His Graceland I wouldn't leave empty.  God would seal the leaks, ease the weariness of laying down my rights and fill me up with grace.  Graceland wasn't just a place where I gave up my right to be justified, angry, reactive.  It was were Jesus resided - where I could get closest to the One who knew all about grace. 

9.27.2011

AGE MONIKERS

Culture is interesting.  It has no doubt changed over the years.  My grandfather used to say, "The good old days weren't always good!".  In that statement he meant that many times progress is good, not bad.  I wasn't raised in the south.  I'm a Yankee by birth.  I lived in the south for only a very brief time.  It was there that I saw first hand the differences culturally in addressing people. "Yes sir" and "Yes ma'am" are cultural norms as monikers for those older - both people known and strangers.  It seems very formal to a northerner. In fact, it makes me feel old and on a pedestal.  It goes against my grain of informality and connecting to people where they are.  There are times in the north where people will address someone as "sir" or "ma'am" - usually someone in the service industry addressing a customer.  I can't say I love it even though I understand the respect behind it.  Also I realize a stranger doesn't know someone's first name to address them with thus the use of those monikers in place of a known name.  Ma'am and sir are the proper terms for those we deem worthy of honor from age.  What then are the younger monikers that are used for both genders?  My husband and I were in the mall recently shopping in a store.  We were idly looking around the racks of clothes fairly close to each other.  The clerk, a male, was nearby and asked me, "Miss, is there anything I can help you with?"  "No, not now," I responded.   I smiled inside that at least he hadn't referred to me as ma'am which always makes me feel old!  Instead he used the younger moniker - smart man:)  He then asked my husband, "Sir, is there anything I can help you with?"   I started giggling immediately!  "No thanks!" Doug answered.   Feeling a bit smug in the fact that I had gotten a "miss" when Doug had gotten a "sir", I rubbed it in a bit:)  That led to a discussion that if miss is the young version of ma'am, what is the proper way to address a younger male short of using sir?  "Dude, of course.  Dude," I said as we both melted into laughter. Women have several title choices in being addressed formally; Mrs., Ms., Miss.  Men, well they are stuck with only Mr.  Which brings me back to "sir" - seemingly the only moniker choice.  Unless that is, if dude would catch on by store clerks nationwide:)

9.26.2011

FASHION WEEK FOR THE ABNORMAL

Last week was Fashion Week in New York City.  I am not a follower of it, but it was plastered all over the news - like it or not!  Pictures of models that appeared to need a hit of makeup, a hairstyle, and possibly a Krispy Kreme donut or two were photographed walking the runway.  Now, I don't claim to be a fashion icon (except to Big D who marvels at my finds at Goodwill!), and I live in Middle America - salt of the earth people, views and practicality.  But, who are they really debutting those styles for I ask?  I mean come on, who in this part of the country or maybe most places, is going to wear what appears to be silky brief underpants with a flowie shirt.  Really who?  I perused the styles for entertainment value.  Now I must say, if the designers are trying to be creative, they are.  If they are expressing the need to create wildly - using the right brained abilities they were given, I applaude their free thinking.  But, if the goal is to change what people wear this season to these outfits - it ain't happening on this girl, and no one that I personally know either!!  I have a creative bone in me too.  I get the need to let it loose.  I understand passion for expressing that creativity, how fulfilling it is, how freeing it is.  It was time for new running shoes yesterday.  My legs have been hurting like hell lately, sometimes a symptom of needing a new shoe.  My husband has been a marathon runner.  14 marathons to be exact.  I run to experience nature and stay fit, but don't run marathons.  I would deep down love to run a marathon, but some chronic physical restrictions would make that very difficult and a bit risky.  I don't believe I need every gizmo, gadget or special outfit to help me run.  I just need to run.  Doug has a well of knowledge and experience in distance running and running shoes.  Three things determine my buying of running shoes in this order; need for new ones, comfort/lightweightness, color.  He was with me in the Spring when I bought my last pair of running shoes.  I tried several pairs and brands on and ran a few laps in the running store deciding on a pair of Brooks stability shoes - very lightweight, grayish with some blue in color.  They've been great shoes in comfort and not obnoxious to the eye in color.  Yesterday Doug picked a few pair out for me to try.  I tried them all on - without socks as that is how I run:)  One rode too far up my ankle bone.  One was just not natural feeling.  I wanted to try a different shoe than I was currently running in to see if less arch support would help my leg issue.  As I looked at all the brands of shoes, the styles, the color schemes I saw a pattern.  Gaudiness.  Did those designers from Fashion Week in New York also come up  with the color patterns for running shoes??!! If you have followed this blog, or if you know me in person, you know that flash is not me.  I love tan, white, black, brown, gray.  Hate pink.  Don't do patterns.  And abhor shiny anything, including faucets, doorknobs, etc...:)  I saw really, barring one or two, no normal colors in shoes.  The combinations were bright orange, make you puke purple, too shiny red, and pink so pink it reminded me of my room at 10 years old!  This was what I had to choose from!!!  Ugh:(  I had to quickly remember my three criteria for runnings shoes; need, comfort, then looks.   Doug picked up an Asics black ultra lightweight shoe trimmed out and accented in a hot pink.  My first words were, "NO!".   But, after trying on several other pairs I didn't feel comfortable in, I succumbed to his recommendation.   I willed myself to look past the colors, the pinkness that defied all that I am.  I slipped them on my sockless foot and ran back and forth.  Damn it, they felt like a dream!  Ok, two out of my three criteria were now met.  The two most important ones!  Comfort is essential when you run.  Color, well it's more of an option:)  I felt like Muhammad Ali once said, "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee" in them despite their shocking hot pinkness!  It will just cause me to look ahead more and not down at my feet - ever!  I believe people all over the U.S. would prefer basic simple colors for running shoes.  I am not a gangsta, don't wear my pants below my underwear line (ok once in awhile they fall down a bit if I don't have a belt on but not purposefully!) or cock my ball cap a bit off center.  My demographic prefers neutral colors!

9.25.2011

TIME KEEPS ON SLIPPIN'

I woke up at 44.  Literally.  I began to be honest with myself, wrestle with my views of who God really was, looked ahead and realized there was more time behind me than was probably ahead of me.  I stopped the cycle of taking care of someone and carrying the weight of responsibility, grappled with grace and what that really meant-what it looked like lived out.  I dealt with deep anger at myself for subjecting myself to harm and hurt and a loveless life because of guilt and a sense of deep responsibility.  When I could no longer do that without a deep cost to myself any more, I woke up.  There is probably not a day that has elapsed since my divorce last year, that I am not aware of its ramifications.  No doubt, that probably will never ever totally go away.  I am acutely aware of how it affected people closest to me - my daughter, sisters, brother-in-laws, parents and nieces.  I still am.  It's a strange sensation to know how that pain and hurt was so destructive to live in and yet hate that to leave that pain it caused pain for those I love deeply.  Ultimately for health reasons both emotionally & physically, I had to separate from that world I had known for 25 years.  There are times where I do feel like a failure.  That is an effect of divorce.  There are times I still feel like I let the world down.  There are times that I am still angry that I just couldn't do it any more - that my steely resolve that sustained me 25 years melted away and yet amazed I did it that long.  There are times when I look at my daughter and feel sorrow deep inside that I altered her world, her life, her view.    I try to understand that part of what I feel is normal - other divorced people have told me feeling similarly.  I also try to know that part of what I feel comes from a lifetime of trying to live a life for others - what I knew they wanted, needed, could emotionally handle or expected from me.   A congregant from the last church my ex-husband and I pastored died this past week.  He and his wife were dear friends of ours.  Even after leaving the pastorate, we would have dinner with them from time to time.  When I heard some months ago that he had terminal cancer, my heart broke.  I loved this couple and wanted to visit.  But I knew how hard it would be for them to understand the divorce and did not want to bring that upon them while they were dealing with death issues.  I mourned the loss of Don this week.  I mourned too the loss of those relationships - that I could not show up at the viewing or funeral without gossip, drawing attention to myself or making that family's hard week more difficult by my presence.  I cried over it.  To be honest, I cried alot over it.  I wrestled to the ground what I should or shouldn't do in this situation - talking to a friend about it, talking to Doug about it, talking to God about it, having a dream over it.   Ultimately, I knew that God was asking me to let Him handle their grief and even my own in not being able to go.  That I needed to move forward in this life - that God had plans for this life He had given me.  That looking back would keep me from moving forward.  My friend was right, Doug was right and ultimately God's voice rang true and clear. I thought about the lyrics to a song from Steve Miller - Fly Like An Eagle, "time keeps on slipping, into the future..."   It has moved on.  I am so grateful to God for His goodness to me.  For His spirit's presence that ministered to my loss and sorrow on so many levels over this past year and half and continues to when I have those times still.  I am humbled by God's presence in this heartache and change and ultimately, love that He gave me in Doug.  I am renewed by God's gift of a life now that I deeply love - that flourishes me.  Deep sorrow eventually gives way to deep contentment and joy.  Joy does come in the morning I am finding. 

9.24.2011

THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE

I watched the movie, "Stand By Me" last night.  I think junior high kids are hysterical to begin with.  They are raw, in the moment and still caught between being a kid and growing up.  It is a magical place really despite the awkwardness of their bodies and puberty dawning.  The movie highlights junior high boy behavior.  Ah yes, it has some language - ok, a lot of language.  I laughed a lot and yet felt their pain, struggle, passing through time and living in the moment ways.  Boys love an adventure don't they.  Boys adventures are maybe a bit different than girls, but girls love an adventure too.  But boys LOVE LOVE LOVE adventure.  And, at the heart of all males - kid through last breath stage, is the hunger, the drive, the quest for an adventure.   They are most content when they can operate in adventureland.   It comes in all forms doesn't it.  To a kid sometimes it's risk taking, buddy building and bonding stuff that can encompass extreme sports, camp experiences, dares, cemeteries, school pranks, etc.  To an adult man, adventure can be had in many avenues - work, play, decisions in life, relationships with women.  They still hunger for it.  I truly believe that God just wired males with the genitalia that supports and implies toughness in our culture - balls!   Quit giggling at the use of the word balls - see you have some junior high in you too:)  My husband's dad is 85.  He has lived an interesting life somewhat full of adventuring - living different places in the US and several countries overseas.  That I think is how he lived out his quest for adventure.  I am finding out, and so is my husband, that at 85 years of age that isn't waning.  When he announced to us, post decision, that he had bought a trailer in Mission, Texas and was moving there from Iowa, we were a bit shocked.  I'm not sure there are alot of 85 year olds who are making moves across the country, changing their scenery by choice at that age.  As would anyone, we all fretted some.  The sons sat down with their dad to let him know they were concerned about this move and the gravity of it should death occur there.  They said their peace and then asked their dad if he just wanted one last great adventure?  His answer, "Yes!".  He left for Mission, Texas a couple of days ago.  My husband called his dad en route and left him a message...."Dad, this is Doug.  Just wanted to wish you well on your last great adventure.  Know that I love you."   Yesterday his dad left him a message, "Douglas, this is your dad.  All is well and we are having a great trip.  The adventure begins.  Give my love to Lynn and I love you."   In all regards I pray to be kept young in my spirit and mind.  And yes, I like Ray, love an adventure!

9.23.2011

DEM BONES, DEM BONES, DEM DRY BONES

There are two kinds of people; those that believe in chiropractors, and those who think they are quacks.  My dad belongs to the second category.  My mom, the first.   I'm kind of a health nut, a self-proclaimed guru of sorts.  Not a full nut'n'berry kind of granola person, but close:)  Health, food, our body's systems-pathways are of great interest to me.  How all that plays together toward health, vitality, and ultimately maximizing feeling well daily is a bit of a passion of mine.  My maternal grandmother couldn't say a smathering of words quite right.  Chiropractor was one of them:)  It came out as, choirpractor.  In my young mind, I used to envision the literal combination of those two words; choir-a group that sings and practors-those who practice something.  Thus my head would see choirs practicing.  Not just choir practice, but they were perfecting their craft with perpetual practicing.  They had mastered the art of practicing as a choir.  I won't get into the technical belief behind chiropractic care.  But to suffice and summarize - our spinal cord houses all the nerves that feed every organ and system in our bodies.  Correlation being that if something is subluxated (out of alignment) as a vertebra and is even slightly askew, it will affect other systems in our bodies.  Do I believe it heals all things - NO!  But, I do believe it is a path to better health even with chronic health conditions.  I am case in point.  I managed a chiropractic office almost 15 years ago.  It was a great job and one that I was passionate about.  To see something you do greatly influence people's health, pain level, or ability to function is very, very rewarding.  I miss adjustments weekly that were free!!!!   Some people say they don't want to be "cracked".  Or, that chiropractors are "wanna be real doctors". Those comments come from not maybe totally understanding the role of chiropractic care - the adjunct it can be to our overall health. I once crawled around in the attic of a house I owned for the better part of half a day.  In that tight position, laying cock-eyed and jimmying around for hours, I wound up with muscle spasms so great it pulled my entire neck toward my left shoulder.  The pain so severe it came in waves - like labor - and caused me to pace the floor the entire night with not one wink of sleep or even the ability to lay down.  The next day, completely exhausted and crying in agony and pain, I went to the chiropractor.  With several adjustments I was restored to normal function.  I don't want to take pain pills to mask the symptom.  Ultimately my goal is to eliminate or reduce as much as possible the underlying problem.  I went to the chiropractor today, the second time this week, after a hip and neck issue.  My problems increased and got aggravated when I failed to stay on my normal chiropractic visit schedule - every 3 to 4 weeks.  Life got busy and I didn't carve out the time.  My body is paying for it!  I kind of felt like the guy in the story in the Bible when Jesus told him to be totally clean all he needed was to wash his hands.  The man replied, "Don't just wash my hands, Lord.  Wash all of me".  Please crack my neck, my vertebra, my hip, adjust my feet or any other body part that isn't 100%.   I want every avenue I can to be utilized to have as good of health as I can even with chronic illness.  So to all the choirpractors:) out there, hats off to your role in my health!!  My chiro usually hugs me and kisses my check.  Today, he actually adjusted me for free.  "....the knee bone's connected to the.... thigh bone....the thigh bone's connected to the... hip bone...the hip bone's connected to the tail bone....the tail bone's connected to the....spinal column:)" (paraphrased lyrics to the song: Dry Bones).

9.22.2011

DOG EARS AND BOOKMARKS

I am somewhat embarrassed to tell you that my profound love, deep seated passion, and almost veracious appetite for devouring books has all but come to a halt in the past 10 months.  Oh I have had other periods of waxing and waning in my reading of books over the years.  Sometimes it has depended on the amount of free time I have had, whether illness ruled, if projects or work dominated or just simply if the hunger was there for it.  This though, has been the longest stretch of not reading a book in its entirety in my life.  I have started several over these months, read some chapters, soaked in some poetry from time to time, read parts of several writing books but not like my normal consumption.  Until, this past week.  I finally finished a book.  A great one too I might add.  It was a shine-the-light-in-the-cracks-of-my-thinking sort of book to kick off my reading comeback.  It was a book given me by a dear friend for my birthday.  Thank you:)  I have wondered if I have dumbed myself down a few IQ points over these months by not picking up a book.  But then, I remember I have been on a love fest for the past 10 months  That in and of itself has probably extended my life by some years and refreshed my intelligence more than books could have ever done.  None-the-less, I need to re-tool my mind, be reminded of things bigger than myself, view thoughts and concepts that take me out of my way of thinking, feel deeply through amazing combinations of words and the pictures they paint, laugh, and see human nature displayed both good and bad.  If you are a lover of books, know of a great one to recommend for my reading pleasure, please leave me a comment with its name.  Please note; I do not like sci-fi.  I go easy on fiction.  I love autobiographies, biographies, non-fiction, and some history.  I hate trite, contrived, predictable fiction, including authors who pump books out like smoke from a chimney.  If you know of an obscure author, a book that left you moved or wanting more, I want to know it too.  I found my bookmark again:)

9.21.2011

EMILY POST WHERE ARE YOU?

I would like to take this opportunity with a captive audience to step on the band wagon about an issue.  My first parenthesis is this; I know we live in a very informal culture presently.  Which is evidenced in many ways - less business attire, more casual ways of dressing, the emergence of urban words and phrases, the rise of social media sites, gaming, fast food, Walmart:), and technology which allows everything and everyone instanteously at our fingertips (knowledge, people, products & pleasures).   My ending parenthesis is this; Culture should not change people etiquette - relationships.  It should not trump attentiveness, being present, people skills.  The other morning while getting ready for work my husband asked me, "If you are at work and a client is standing in front of you talking to you, and the phone rings what would you do?"  Without skipping a beat I said, "I would continue talking to the client who was in my physical presence even if I saw on caller id who the caller was - even if I really needed to talk to the caller.  I would call the person back immediately after the other client left."   Who of you, by leaving me a comment, can say you have been in a store, a doctor's office, etc... in the flesh somewhere in the middle of a transaction with a clerk, a nurse and the phone rings and you are dumped/ignored while they answer the phone?  I have taken the time to - in the flesh - drive there to transact business and am trumped by a phone call!   I really think Emily Post, from the grave, (famous author 1872-1960 who wrote on etiquette) needs to comment on this rash of inconsiderate communication in our culture.  The worst culprit of inter personal skills etiquette would be the invention of texting and emails on cell phones.  When cell phones were invented they were that - mobile PHONES which allowed you to call and receive telephone/verbal calls away from a land line.  That was Pandora's box in terms of what they have done to our social skills.  I have sat with people in a restaurant, at a family gathering, around my own table that cannot put their phone down.  They are either constantly checking it or it is constantly buzzing with emails and texts.  At first I thought it was just a younger generation thing as my own daughter and nieces are more apt to conversationate with that gadget than be present at the table in conversation:)  But lately, I have noticed it has sucked in older generations.  Last night we had company over.  Purposefully we invited this person over, made a meal, and wanted to spend some time with them.  As the evening wore on I found myself getting angry.  The gentleman laid his IPhone on the table, leaving it on vibrate facing up.  He proceeded to answer a call, have a lengthy conversation while sitting at our table with the person on the phone.  That I passed off as possibly he had needed to get in touch with this person and they were finally calling back (though I would not lay my phone on the table of someone who had invited me to dinner...it would be in my purse on silent).  He began to get other calls, which he did not take but that he would look at the phone as it was ringing to see who it was.  Texts were pouring in and he responded to a few while we were talking or while he was talking to us.  I felt that everything was more important than what was in front of him.  To be honest, it offended me greatly.  I thought his behavior was rude, disrespectful, and ungrateful.  Have we really ended up in a culture that devalues manners when in people's presence because we have access to so much at one time?   It smacks of "the grass is greener on the other side" syndrome.  Technology can, without us evening realizing it, take center stage of real relationships which involve presence and conversation and more than 20 words typed on a screen.  I wanted to be a police officer last night in a hostage situation picking up my bull horn and screaming, "PUT DOWN YOUR CELL PHONE.  SLIDE IT ACROSS THE TABLE TO ME AND BE PRESENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

9.20.2011

AROUND THE TABLE

I have a beautiful dining room table.  Bought a few years back from one of my favorite stores, World Market.  It is 7' feet long and 38' wide with 6 chairs that fit around it.  It was produced in South America and is made of a wood native to that part of the world.  Its crowning glory is its rough hammered table top surface which gives it a very free spirited look and feel.  Big solid rounded legs grace the four corners causing it to weigh a ton!  I am fairly convinced that two or three people could stand on it - like a bar, do some dancing and it would hold.  Though I have never tried it - yet:)  There have been many instances where people have gathered around this table - neighbors, friends, family.  It has seen many a meal, many bottles of wine, cups of coffee, pieces of pie.  It has doubled as a huge desk around tax time when my stacks of receipts are spread out.  It has been used for roll out sugar cookies with sprinkles adorning it and frosting everywhere.  It has at times, been a bit of a catch-all for mail, things that need to be processed the next couple of days, things I am too tired to put in their proper place occasionally.  My favorite thing to do with the table is to have it full of those I love dearly.  My husband brought a picture into our marriage and it hangs in the dining room.  I love what it says,

"Around this table we are grateful for the dedicated & diligent hands which labor over our food.  Around this table we acknowledge that why we are eating is as important as what we are eating.  Around this table we recognize the value of our choices and take our food with joy and pleasure.  We celebrate the health and memories which are built around this table.  Life is a mysterious meal:  consume it with wonder."

There is something very intimate about eating around a table with someone.  I suppose in some regard, it is a way of inviting someone into this very common, everyday thing we do - eat.  It's a connecting point.  On the other hand, it is also very intimate being invited to share food with someone - a sign of affection, care, love, grace, etc.   How many dates have been had over a meal?  My first date with my now husband was at a restaurant for dinner.  We closed the restaurant down at 11:15 p.m.:)   My side of the family have their fair share of family gatherings; birthdays, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, just for anyhow meals.  Most of those in my extended family are on the personality chart, R's (relational), so the volume can get loud around the table.  Loudness, multiple conversations and much laughter dominate the table.  The first time my husband Doug was at my parents for a family function, I think the volume amazed him.  He commented later that he couldn't believe the amount of different conversations that were all going on at the same time.  I've had business lunches, meetings that take place over a meal.  On some level I think that meal helps relieve the pressure, adds a dimension of informality, humanness to the person-the meeting-the business relationship.  I have always found it interesting that when Jesus rose from the grave one of the avenues that He chose to present himself to his disciples was on a shoreline cooking fish waiting on them to return from fishing.  He used that meal, post resurrection, to restore the disciple Peter with love after he denied He knew Christ during the crucifixion.  Just like Jesus used the last supper - the Passover meal - with His disciples before his ultimate arrest and crucifixion to speak truth and love and show grace.  Christ used the medium of a "table and a meal" to show love, to connect to those He loved.  It appears that meals and tables are still used in our culture much the same way.   What are you doing Thursday night?  Want to come to dinner?

9.19.2011

A SPIN AT WHEEL OF FORTUNE

I stopped at Goodwill today not really looking for one thing in particular as that is sometimes hard to do in that store.  It's more like the Wheel of Fortune wheel there.  You might find something and you might not.  You really have to go in with no expectations whatsoever.  I quickly riffled through the racks that I had some sort of interest in - sweaters as winter was fast approaching.  In particular, a long sleeved button up white sweater.  There it was.  Miracle really.  I snatched it up, inspecting it carefully to be sure there were no rips or stains and that all the buttons were there.  It was in great shape.  With my one item, I stood in line behind a big man somewhere around the age of 25-30.  To be honest, he didn't smell good at all.  I needed some fresh air!   I glanced at what he held in his hand; a tie and a dress shirt.  It appeared that possibly he had a job interview or maybe a date.  I smiled at him and he smiled back.  The line moved forward and this man who had body odor so bad it took your breath away, laid his two items on the counter.  He wore a pair of shorts and a hooded pull over sweatshirt that seemed to hold the stench of his body which was quite ripe and pugnant.  He had a pleasant demeanor though despite his odor and I began to wonder about his life, what he needed a tie and dress shirt for, whether he would wash himself or that shirt before he wore it.  Both of his items were on sale.  The total together came to $5 and some odd change.  He paid in cash and as he handed the cashier the money he turned to me and asked, "Do you know how to tie a tie?"  I replied "Yes", knowing that would mean I would have to get much closer to him, to that smell.   He, without hesitation, handed me the tie and got down on his knees to make it easier for me to reach his neck as he was over 6' tall.  The cashier smiled knowingly at me.  He asked me how I knew how to tie a tie, explaining that he had tried and tried but just had never gotten the hang of it.  I told him my dad wore a tie to work when I was growing up, and that I had been married to someone who wore ties.  I tried to adjust the length of the tie to hit where I thought his belt would be, even though with his big hooded sweatshirt on I couldn't see his belt line.  After tying it and checking the length, I retied it again, making it a bit longer.  His neck was so sweaty that the tie would not slide back and forth as I tried to adjust it.  I had to physically use my fingers underneath the tie to move it to the right location on his neck - to straighten it.  Satisfied that I had gotten the tie as close to the right length as I could, I loosened it enough that he could pull it over his head.  I told him how to re tighten and straighten it when he was ready to wear it again.  Getting up off his knees he smiled and reached both his arms around me without touching me, hugging the air around me in an excited way as he thanked me for the twentieth time.   I asked him if he had a job interview or a date:)  "Both," he said as he went on, "I am hoping the shirt and tie will make a great impression at work."  As I left the store with my Goodwill white sweater, I wished him well in his new shirt and tie. I had come in for a spin at Wheel of Fortune in Goodwill - looking for that article of clothing, that bargain.  I left with not only the sweater but the bonus prize - an interaction with a man and his tie enroute to better things in his life.

9.18.2011

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY (gentleman start your engines)

It's Sunday morning and all is quiet.  I laid in bed for an hour and half listening to the rhythmic breathing of my husband as he snuggled up to the crook in my neck with his leg slung over me.  I could see out the corner of the blind as the sun made its appearance.  I listened to the quiet.  I heard no cars.  No one stirring.  Nobody really having to be somewhere at a certain time.  Sunday is a unique day of the week.  I think we as humans like to think we have created this system of work and rest.  We really can't take credit as it was ordained, laid out for us thousands of years ago, by God himself when He brought into existence everything from nothing.  Each day of the week has a different feel or flow to it.  Sunday does too.  I grew up in church.  Born into it actually.  Then, making a relationship to Christ my own choice, and eventually being married to a pastor for 25 years.  I have a lot of Sundays under my belt.  Sundays as a child were absolute.  They were patterned, concrete, ritualistic.  Part of that is comforting to a kid - knowing something is always the same, consistent.  My mom would prepare Saturday for Sunday - doing the baking of pies, or some dessert, prep work for oven fried chicken or pot roast, possibly creamed chicken over homemade biscuits.  Whatever it was, our Sunday meal was delicious and the kind you would usually serve company.  And company we had on Sundays - sometimes family and other times, the pastor or missionaries visiting our church or my parents friends.  Sundays were always church.  Always.  There was no teenage revolting over whether you were going to church.  When Dad got in the car in the garage and honked (also another Sunday ritual), you grabbed your Bible and shoes and ran to the car.   Naps, reading, watching football, playing outside or long bike rides usually followed the big meal and clean up.  We then went back to church for an evening service.  That was the part of Sunday I grew to hate.  I questioned the need for double duty church on Sunday.  I had gotten through to God earlier in the day and had felt Him on my bike in the afternoon.  I didn't need another sermon or more hymns to know God loved me or to show Him my love.   As I got older and was married to a pastor, Sunday morphed into a day of giving all I had away to people.  It was a rewarding day, moving and exciting (the culmination of much of what you do hurtles you towards Sunday morning in the pastorate).  And at times, it was highly frustrating, disappointing, overwhelming, and exhausting.  I constantly had to ask God to give me the right perspective on what church was about -  to not be sucked into administration, people's bad attitudes, and many times, my own humanness.  I wanted church for me, and all those that walked through the door, to be about God.  To be about experiencing, seeing, feeling God - who He is, His grace, His love.   My life took me out of the ministry and eventually out of a marriage to a pastor.  It has been strange, hard, and sometimes hurtful but ultimately a very freeing and cathartic journey leaving "Sundays" in the way I have mostly only known them to be. God continues to heal some hurts and deep, deep disappointment with people from my ministry past.  Two and a half years out of the ministry I am surfacing back to the light and hungering for what Sundays are intended to be, what I have always wanted them to be - about experiencing God through this ordained, corporate, flawed by humans sort of mechanism - church.   

9.17.2011

SUBTLE SIGNS

There it was. The signs were slight, but they were there. It started about a week ago or so with the tree down the block.  That maple turns red and the leaves start falling before most of the other trees are half done. The leaves were turning red on that tree, dropping lazily to the ground as if taunting and teasing me daily of what was to come. I saw the home owner raking them to the curb. I sighed and felt a sense of contentment and warmth mixed with a hint of sorrow to see summer pass the baton to fall.  I do though love fall. I saw it running one evening after work - low heavy grayish clouds and sky indicative of fall in the Midwest. They remind me a big quilt that wants to settle over the earth bringing with it cooler temps but causing us to turn to our houses for warmth and comfort. You might be familiar with how I feel about fall from a post called 'November Sky" in November 2010. I saw it this morning driving to work - the corn in the fields was drying out, turning from summer green to crunchy pale cream stalks. I chuckled to my husband as we walked the other evening after seeing a v-formation of geese flying south, "Do they know something we don't!" I have watched the squirrels with great curiosity as their impetuous behavior has ratcheted up in intensity making me feel like I need to stockpile groceries, get all my outside projects buttoned up and buy that snow blower that I put off buying every year. Does nature somehow know when fall fades to winter?  Does God let His world of creation in on the secret that only He knows? The air even smells different - a coolness, a changing of the guard. The cool nights make great sleeping weather but highlight once again the growing difference between daylight and nighttime temperatures. The hostas and tall ornamental grass have begun to look like they are tired and are preparing for a long slumber buried under snow. My craving for homemade soup has increased ten-fold, my hankering for watermelon has all but gone, and the desire to create baked goods that warm the kitchen and fill the air with their aroma has begun. There will be days of late Indian summer warmth, but they will now be peppered in among the ever cooling days of fall. The light is fading. Mornings stay dark later and the sun slips away much to early now. It's hard to know how to transition your clothes during this intermediate weather period. So, sometimes shorts and a sweatshirt are the clothes of choice which shows clearly my desire to not want to totally let go of summer! I ran this past week for the first time in 4 or 5 months in a short sleeve shirt and not a tank top. Fall is here. Candy corn is gracing the shelves and pumpkins for sale line the area farm houses. Instead of trying to figure out how to wear less and be age appropriate in 90 degree temps, I am now looking for my .99 cent Target gloves and sitting in front of the open oven door to get warm (you don't turn the furnace on till absolutely necessary!). My winter boots still sit unused in the hall closet waiting for the first snowfall. The snow shovel is waiting for what it was designed for - snow, instead of me using it as a huge dustpan after sweeping the sidewalks post mowing. I looked for an extra furnace filter so to be ready for firing up the furnace for the first time. And, I wondered if either of the cars needed new tires for winter. I made a pumpkin pie last night from a pumpkin my parents grew in their garden. As I sat on my stool in the kitchen with the oven on and the door open, putting a warm bite of pie in my mouth, I thought about what each season brings.  Each season brings something different, has a unique feel, conjures up different emotions, causes a shift in thoughts and activities, creating a sort of new or renewed routine.  That can be a great thing.  Change is good right.  Movement makes us alive.  Even if it moves us toward winter:)   

9.16.2011

CORRUPTED DISK SPACE

Have you ever run disk defrag on your computer?  It's a utility program that defragments (what does that even mean!).  I checked in HELP on my computer about disk defragmentation and it says this:
  
Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer.  Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your disks and drives can work more efficiently

I wish I had that program in my brain:)  Today, like other moments in other days, I was talking to someone at work.  Whatever I was saying I knew like the back of my hand.  In mid sentence the screen in my head went completely blank.  I had no idea what I was trying to say.  I couldn't find the word on the Google in my brain.  There was also no way to hide it.  Mid sentence, mid thought I paused.  A rather large pause, and finally said, "Well, I have no idea where that information went in my head.  It is completely gone!".  The person, who happened to be about 20 years older than me, laughed and said, "That happens more and more as you age!  It's a daily occurrence for me."   Deep down inside I knew she was right - that age brought on subtle mind changes.  Or should I say, fragmentations of thoughts!   In fact, what prompted this post was me sitting down to compose one based on a thought, an idea that I had earlier today.  As I pulled up the editing program to pen the thought from my head to the page, there was nothing.  This grand train of thought that I had earlier today was gone.  Not a trace of it in my recall.  I wondered, asking my husband next to me his thoughts, "What happens to all those things we were going to say and can't remember?  Where do they go in our brains?".   Somehow I picture my brain somewhat like a hard drive in a computer.  Most of the time it whizzes without any thought - very involuntary.  I don't have to purposefully think through each word I say (ok, maybe sometimes but that is not for functioning reasons, but how to say it well).   If my skin is aging - changing, collagen flaying as I type, then why not my brain too.  Both my maternal grandmother and maternal great-grandfather had Alzheimer's.  I saw first hand what happens with a disease that steals your mind, your memory, your ability to think, communicate, to know.  My grandmother developed a key obsession as her disease progressed.  She was always worrying about locks and keys.  My great grandfather had a fixation with making electricity with tons of extension cords.  Both eventually lost their recall totally, and if they didn't, they at least couldn't communicate it.  I used to teach adult classes while in the pastorate.  It happened a time or two while teaching a class.  I would have a thought, a progression and it would be gone - poof (that happens when you speak with only a 3x5 card of words)!   It's one thing to have that happen in one-on-one conversation.  It is a totally different thing to be in front of a crowd when your thoughts disappear.  I always found honesty best.  Confession of my mind's blank screen to the crowd would usually bring some laughter.  How can you be that inspired and it be lost in mid stream? :)   Sometimes it is just a simple word that escapes me like; disassemble, navigate, instigate, heirloom, or what is that other word - I can't remember!  My disk needs to be defragmented.  Or like the dirt on my garage floor, it needs to be swept into a pile and then brushed together onto a dust pan.  All my lost thoughts, forgetting words, mid stream losses need to be compressed together.  Don't you hate when you lose something and someone says, "Where did you put it?".  That's how I feel with my missing words and thoughts!

9.15.2011

WHY I CAN'T BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Let me premise this post by saying a disclaimer:  I have not been contacted by the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian or Green parties for consideration to have my name formally or hand written on the ballot for the next Presidential election.  And, if they did, I am ready with a list of reasons on why I cannot be President of the United States.  The reasons go something like this:

I can't explain totally my questionable conduct remarks from teachers while in school.

I am a realist.

I don't particularly like business skirts & jackets - it's not my style.

I love anonymity.

Privacy and alone time recharge my batteries.

Meetings without purpose or movement forward drive me crazy.

I would just as soon eat a pb sandwich with my husband than be at a State Dinner.

I don't like to wear a bra most days.

I like to get things done - whatever it takes, however that looks.

I quite enjoy driving a car.

I love to be most anywhere and not be recognized other than by the occasional friend.

I hate entourages and big to-do's made over me.

I love unbridled freedom of speech.

I want to trust people.

I don't want a small dog.

I don't look good in formal evening dresses - I don't have the proper jewelry and accessories.

I like privacy in the bedroom and freedom to be a bit loud.

I love running my miles completely alone.

I love Saturdays for coffee on the porch, some quiet time with my husband, not showering till afternoon, and taking a nap if desired.

I am not into power struggles nor am I heady with a love of power.

I hate when simple things are made complicated by too many hands in the sink.

I don't really like Christmas decorations and holidays craps.

I don't like cameras taking pictures of me or my reactions at varying events.

I don't want the entire world scrutinizing my wardrobe.

I like to shop at Goodwill.

I don't want to live in Washington, D.C.

I love interacting with normal, everyday, living the real life kind of people.

I get way too cold to be in a fancy dress standing in the harsh January wind and cold to be inaugurated. 

I love to ride my bike and go for nightly walks just my husband and I.

I love that my family can drop by whenever they want.

I don't have an affinity for historical furnishings.

I don't want to live in a house where the bedrooms have names.

I like to touch people while talking and that would probably offend many heads of State.

I don't want to age in warp speed in four years time.

I don't want to live where I work.

9.14.2011

"C IS FOR COOKIE AND IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME!"

I don't love chocolate. By that I mean, like much of the female population, the vast majority of those under the age of 13, and a speckling of the male contingency, I don't crave it. It's just not my thing. Not normally do I NEED a piece or bite of chocolate. That though is my daughter, my one sister, and most of my nieces! What I love is dough - pie, cookie or cake dough that is baked into something yummy!  And, not Oreos or anything store boughtish:(  You might ask if I like chocolate chip cookies. They really aren't one of my favorites. The chocolate dries the cookie out and they go stale faster than other types of cookies. Both of my grandmothers made delicious cookies of varying sorts - rolled and frosted molasses cookies, drop orange sugar cookies with a glaze, Amish cookies made with ground up raisins and peanuts.  All of which are some of my favorites.  I perused some old cookbooks a few weeks back finding a recipe that appeared to be close to my grandmother's drop orange sugar cookies. As they came from the oven I spread a thin glaze consisting of powdered sugar, butter and orange juice on top. I waited for one to cool and took a bite. It was both big and puffy and soft and chewy. Grandma would have been proud!  My daughter Hannah's favorite cookie is molasses. They are heavily spiced with molasses and ginger, thin and soft and go great dunked in milk or while drinking coffee. They have a crinkly appearance and a sprinkling of sugar on top!  My newlywed husband never had a molasses cookie. You either love molasses (rather strong) or you hate it.  He loved them!  He fit perfectly in the Cherry family and now would have to fight my daughter for his fair share of them! In fact, he took a bite of a cookie, put it in a Ziploc sandwich bag and drove to my daughter's work the next day - taunting her that he had eaten all but one of her favorite cookies:) Once while in high school, I thought I would help my mom by making the traditional roll out frosted sugar cookies she makes every year during the holidays. Deciding that a double batch was never enough (I mean once you taste those rolled out soft frosted and sprinkled holiday shaped cookies more was ALWAYS a good idea), I made a triple batch. I began the cookie process around 4 p.m. and at 9 p.m. was so overwhelmed with cookies I called my now brother-in-law to come and help!  There were cookies all over the counters, the kitchen table and most of the dining room table.  Baking, frosting and clean up finished up around midnight.   My parents arrived home from a Christmas party and I can still hear my mom softly giggling at the massive amount of cookies that had overrun the house!  Yesterday I ate two molasses cookies - with coffee.  Nothing better except possibly a great scone or biscotti.  Beats chocolate for me every time!   My husband took Hannah a dozen molasses cookies last week.  She confessed she ate all 12 without sharing any with her husband.  I'm not sure if she needed to cleanse her soul or was proud of it.  I also don't necessarily love cookies while they are still warm from the oven - preferring my cookie room temperature or taken from the freezer.  The state of Maine has it correct.  I read today they are trying to get the Whoopie Pie Cookie adopted as their state cookie:)  Go Maine!

9.13.2011

NOW THAT'S FULL SERVICE!

My grandparents had a small country store when I was growing up.  It was long before the days of "convenience" stores/gas stations. It was still the era where everything was full service - gas was pumped for you.  Their small store sold gas - leaded of course:), a small array of groceries, cold meats and cheeses, toiletry items, pop, snacks, cigarettes, and a large display cabinet of chocolates.  You could get a flat tire repaired, request to have furnace fuel oil delivered to your house (gramps had a gas route) or just chew the fat with the regulars who liked to hang out drinking a cold glass bottle of soda pop (ah!).  It was a neighborhood gathering place.  Before there were big chain grocery stores their country store serviced that small rural area.  I still meet people from time to time who have fond memories of that store.  I was driving to work today by a Phillips 66 gas station.  Like most gas stations presently, it housed a convenience store where you could buy a can of pop, a bottle of Tylenol, a lotto ticket, fishing worms, and a gallon of ice cream.  Their sign near the road, just above the price per gallon, read....
 EBT HERE    HAIRCUTS $9 
I am not lying.  I looked twice and then not only shook my head, but laughed at the visual that played in my head.   I pictured a collision of sorts between something reminiscent of Mayberry and, the bad style and cheap cost of Super Cuts!!   Who goes to the Phillips 66 gas station and says to their mate, "Honey, I'm going to fill up the truck and get a haircut at the Phillips 66 station."  What gas station business owner, after much thought about how to grow their business, offer more products, declares, "I think there is a need that people have out there.  They need their hair cut, and we need to provide that service."  Do they really, really think that people who frequent gas stations automatically think "haircut" when pumping gasoline??  If I were looking through the Yellow Pages for hairstylists, barbers, beauticians and the name Phillips 66 came up (at least to a generation of us who truly know what Phillips 66 is), there is no way in hell I would call to make an appointment.  Come to think of it, I wonder if you even need to make an appointment.  Gramp's and Gram's store didn't offer haircuts, but Gramps could patch a flat tire faster than anyone I've ever seen.  Logical though, it was a gas station:)

9.11.2011

SURVEYING THE RANCH

Nearly every day I survey our property.  I say "property" loosely.  It's not as if we own acreage, or cattle.  We sit on a corner lot two blocks from a river that runs through our mid-sized Midwestern town.  In fact, as many times as I have walked this double lot you would think I have every blade of grass memorized, every weed located, and every crabapple numberered.  Pretty much:)  We finished our patio project a couple of weeks ago by placing a patio table, chairs, umbrella and two very comfortable chaise loungers on the newly christened cement.  I now have a new area to survey daily.  I landscaped and planted plants and bushes inside and outside the perimeter of the fence we installed around the patio.  Part of my surveillance now includes checking the status, health, and growth of the new planted flora - to look for any signs of struggle. I took great care to put fertilizer in the hole when I planted them and dosed them with a sprinkling can of Miracle Grow after mounding the earth up around the base of each plant.  Every day I inspect them, looking for signs of shock that can happen when you transplant a plant from a nursery pot to its ultimate destination - the real earth.  Why do I do that?  I suppose because I want to create a botanical wonderland, a retreat, a respite of sorts in and around this patio oasis.  I want to stave off any signs of destruction to these plants that I hand picked for their beauty, their color, their size and role I had in mind for this garden extraordinaire.  Caring about my ultimate goal of developing an oasis in my back yard where I can find peace and rest, enjoy company on a summer night, sip a glass of wine, take a nap in the sun, read a book, type a blog post or just think, I check on the plants constantly.  I want to provide the plant life with the things it needs to flourish, to grow, to become full grown - mature.  Really I want them to succeed because they highlight the the stamped cement, the fence, the curve of the landscaping, the furniture.   They showcase this patio.  God must feel similar.  He hawks over us, desiring we flourish, grow to maturity, highlighting His creation in us.  I picture Him "surveying" His property - His ranch - ME, constantly.  The creator loving His creation - having a purpose of beauty for it. 

9.10.2011

IN SLEEPING COLOR

Dreams are interesting to me.  Both the ones that we hold inside - the hopes and wishes we so desire, and the ones that can play in technicolor on our mind's screens while we are in a sleeping state.  Research says that sleep cycles bring us in and out of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep on average 3-5 times a night.  Sleep stages on a chart are similar to a heart beat - up and down, up and down.  REM sleep is when we dream and if woken during it, can more easily remember the dream.  So it is likely we all dream every night, but just do not consciously remember them many times.  I know people who dream very vividly nightly.  Their dreams involve color, emotion, movement, voice, etc....  I remember my dreams rarely.  My sisters and I were talking about re-occurring dreams we all had as kids - telling each other what they were and then laughing at the hilarity of some of them.  My reoccurring childhood dream had, what my daughter and I have dubbed, displaced histology (it is a made up term), which means things from different periods of history were intermingled.  It involved the shed behind my parent's house which in the 1800's was a butcher/smokehouse.  It was a small, white, clapboard, one roomed building with a dirt floor we used as a playhouse of sorts growing up.  In my dream, the butcher would be inside the building trimming meat and hanging it up to smoke  - set in the 1800's.  In his butcher shop was a modern day 4 drawer black filing cabinet with a priceless collection of 45's (those are records for you young people!).  An Indian would quietly sneak into the building barefooted and try to open the filing cabinet without the butcher, who would be a few feet away, hearing him.  The same thing would ensue; the butcher would hear him, turn and chase him out of the building where the remainder of the dream was the Indian holding in his hand a record being chased by the butcher with a large butcher knife.  The chase would go around and around and around the building with the butcher never catching the Indian.  It was never-ending and always the same in every dream. I also dreamed as a kid that I could fly down our staircase in the farmhouse I grew up in - making the curve with no effort.  That dream was exhilarating!  We all commented that as we grew up we quit having those particular re-occurring dreams.  I'm not sure why we sometimes dream some of the things we do.  Is it things that happen during the day, some of the last thoughts we think while conscious, subconscious hidden thoughts surfacing, God's way of speaking to us, that bowl of ice cream we ate an hour before bed?  This week I had a horrible dream which woke me up in full emotion crying.  Everything was so vivid, so real.  I felt all the powerful emotions in the dream and when I woke, it stayed heavy on me for part of the day.  I tried to figure out how I had placed all those people, places and events together.  I tried to figure out if it had some significant meaning that I needed to glean from it.  Still when typing this post, and recounting that dream, those emotions are brought back up.  I've had a few dreams where people close to me have died and I am at their viewing or funeral.  Those always rattle my cage.  My husband says that I laugh in my sleep and just the other day, that I cried - not lightly but cried.  He asked if I was ok, but without verbal response he knew I was dreaming.  Occasionally I am told that I appear frightened in my sleep and when that happens he says I move very quickly to him and wrap myself around him with a tight grip as though I want to be protected or comforted.  It bothers me that I don't know what I have laughed, cried or been scared about during my sleep.  My sister says my brother-in-law talks full sentences in his sleep like, "I told you to do that this way, etc..."  I was glad to hear that I laugh sometimes during sleep as laughter is such a big part of who I am.  Good to know that holds true in my uncontrollable unconscious dream state!  God used dreams a lot in the Bible to say something, to speak something profound in a hidden way.  Maybe He still does.  I am curious about dreams.

9.08.2011

CAN'T GET ENOUGH AND YET CAN'T STOP

I watched Primetime Nightline last night about food addictions, both over and under eaters.  It clearly showed the power of addiction - those things in our lives that seek to take full control, to dictate our every move and, sometimes even destroy us.  Addictions that our humanity alone can't seem to stand down.  I thought about what makes certain things addictive and what makes certain people more prone to addictive behaviors than others.  There are so many variables in life; environment, genetics, circumstances, experiences, personality.  They may all play a role, a place in what makes us seek addictiveness - coffee, diet Coke, overeating, exercising, not eating, alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, etc.  Let's level the playing field.  We all have something.  Meaning, we all struggle with something or various things in our lives.  Just because you don't battle some sort of addictiveness does not mean you don't have a hot button, an issue.  Maybe you are overly vain, hold grudges, or wear polyester as though it is in style:)  As I watched the show I was struck by the words of an 18 year old young man who, at 5'9", weighed 400 pounds.  When the interviewer asked him what he assumed other people thought of him, he replied, "Lazy.  No good.  Monster.  With a big emphasis on lazy."  It made me think what our view, what my view is, of people with addictions.  Is lazy a word that comes to mind?  Pain and bondage were words that came to my mind.   I have to think that no one lays in bed dreaming of being addicted to anything, to having that something rule their thoughts, actions and possibly destroy their lives, relationships, health, or finances.  No one seeks that purposefully.  Why do we have addictions?  Distractions, hiding, satisfying extreme pleasure, the result of extreme pain, fear, sorrow, we only know bondage...  I have witnessed the power of addiction up close.  I have witnessed it in friends.  A friend of mine after having a great job, building a beautiful house, having two great kids, got hooked on cocaine.  It eventually cost him his marriage, his job, his health and ultimately his life early.  He didn't purposefully choose it, but once in the addiction could not get out.  There is crippling power in it.  I have little will power compared to addiction power even though I am relatively steely in resolve.  Which takes me to God and the song, "Anything you can do I can do better..."  originally penned by God:)  Now there is some power..

9.07.2011

BREAK NECK SPEED

Daily it is pointed out to me how speed varies with people. Yes, on the road definitely. Driving to Iowa last weekend on I-80 clearly showed the fast and slow lane people. Even and including the ones who think they are fast and venture into the fast lane - much to my consternation! But, they are not really as fast as the REAL fast people. Sunday's sermon at the church we visited with family also reminded me we all have different and varied speeds of communicating. This pastor spoke with the speed of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood:) To a speedster such as I, it was painful, frustrating, and caused me to have a very hard time focusing on God. I wanted to literally kick the words out of his mouth. It's my curse of speed and all things fast - communication obviously not-withstanding. How about walkers in stores, malls, sidewalks, etc.? Now just because I prefer speed does not mean I am necessarily in a hurry. It's just my natural pace of most things - walking especially. If the mall is crowded and I am stuck in a flow of slow moving walkers meandering at negative one mile per hour, I struggle. But, if they are walking negative one mile per hour AND they are spread out side by side across all walking lanes, I fight down the desire to shove them to the right lane! I have found that speedsters are acutely aware of slowness around them. But, I am not convinced that slow walkers, talkers, thinkers (doesn't mean you are not smart or that I am better) are even remotely aware of the world of speedsters. Slowness seems to bring on a condition of obliviousness to others. Sometimes even a sort of self-righteousness, or a condemning air to those who prefer all things speedy.  Misunderstanding speed for impatience not pace choice. Some years ago, my then husband and I had a job offer on the big island of Hawaii. Hilo to be exact. We turned it down for a myriad of reasons.  I was struck with something while on the island that I knew flew directly in the face of my personality.  No one moves fast - there is no where to go and only a few roads to get there and they mostly run in circles.  Speed max on the highway around the island was 45 mph.  No doubt I would have contracted "island fever" of sorts coupled with "speed fever".  My neighbors commented to me last week, "Do you ever stop?"  Probably not for long I don't.  My mind and body go at an accelerated speed.  It's just my pace.

9.06.2011

WAITING IN THE QUEUE

Some years ago there was a British comedy that aired on PBS called, "Waiting For God".  It was a set in a retirement home in England and followed the lives of several residents, their quirkiness, their agedness - thus the title, "Waiting For God".  I love most British comedies, that one included.  I was thinking while driving a long distance recently - just free falling with thoughts as the landscape whizzed by the window as I waited to get to our destination.  Waiting.  I was waiting for the 400 mile trip to end as my tailbone and legs were killing me from riding in the car!  I was in essence, waiting in the queue, waiting for the time to be up - for the next thing to come in front of me...the end of the drive.  The destination.  Much of life is about waiting in the queue.  In fact, I would venture to say, all of life is about queue waiting.  Ultimately we are waiting in a human line to come to the end of each of our physical lives.  I was keenly reminded of that yesterday as I stood in line for a funeral viewing.  No matter what we do, the line shuffles forward toward finiteness.  There were two gentleman standing behind me in line for the 45 minute wait at the funeral viewing.  They appeared to be around 60 and I was struck with the one man's words as he spoke to his friend, "You know this will be us in 20 years."  That was a poignant perspective about queue waiting.  So the thought, the question, the mission is what to do while we are in the queue line waiting.  How do we live to have purpose, passion, focus, right perspective, love, and balance it all with living not just for ourselves but God, eternity, and others?  There have been events in my life that I knew I was on the brink of - change or loss.  The thing about waiting knowing those things are coming down the pike is that you can try to prepare mentally but mostly it is futile.  I often think of bull riders.  That mental image of them in the gate where the bull is quadranted off and there is little room for movement - just waiting for the gate to be flung open.  That bull rider no doubt is thinking about his form, the ride to come - preparing as best he can.  But, the variables that come once that gate is opened are endless.  I still, at times, get frustrated over all of life being a huge waiting line - like standing in a deli with that little slip of paper that shows what number you are in line.  I am beginning to realize that waiting is not a detour, but really all of life.  I am getting that life is made to be richly lived while we wait in the queue for all sorts of things.  My perspective is not the line, but the landscape around the line.  Waiting in the queue is the vehicle not the destination.

9.05.2011

NOT SUSAN ANTON

Nearing home today after a long weekend trip to Iowa, we stopped to get some groceries.  In our refrigerator when we left was; expired milk, water, a partial bottle of wine, one swig of orange juice, a single apple that was starting to get puckery skin from age, celery, lettuce, a sweet potato, carrots and condiments to your heart's content.  Oh yes, and some lard for making pie crusts (don't think about lard when eating pie, but how great a crust is from it!).  We made our way through the store picking up mostly fresh fruit and veggies, a loaf of bread, juice, bagels, turkey, toilet paper and some mint chip ice cream.  It was Labor Day mid afternoon and there were, surprisingly enough, lines in the checkout lanes.  We picked the one that appeared to have the shortest amount of people and those with the least amount of items in their carts.  As the cashier was scanning our items I stood waiting, not really paying attention as my husband stood ready to scan his debit card.  From behind me I heard a man say, "Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Susan Anton?"  I turned and looked trying to figure out who he was speaking to.  He had those kind of eyes that one appears to be looking one way while the other eye is going in the complete polar opposite direction.  I couldn't tell who he was looking at or speaking to.  Again he said, "Did anyone ever tell you that you like Susan Anton?  I mean, the shape of your face, your bone structure looks like her."  He was a tad loud as he kept repeating his words.  I looked around once again for who in the world he was talking to.  He started to say it again, "Your bone structure is like Susan Anton..."  Finally, dazed, confused and somewhat embarrassed at how many times he had said it and how loud he was, I asked, "Are you talking to me?".  "Yes," he said louder than I wanted as I felt like people were starting to stare!  I was caught off guard by his words - extremely self conscious as he was rather loud with his declaration of who I looked like.  "No," I said to him, "never."  Susan Anton has never ever been someone who I have been compared to.   I have gotten Kim Novack, Jodie Foster and Diane from the sitcom "Cheers".  Never have I thought any of those three were even remotely accurate in looks comparisons.  And, I have often laughed at people's boldness in saying  to me - like what this man had said in the grocery store.  Upon exiting the store, my husband and I googled pictures of Susan Anton.  In all the shots we perused there was not one that he nor I thought I resembled in the least.  To be honest, it made me highly uncomfortable and I did not like everyone turning to look at me to see if he was accurate in his comparison of me to Susan Anton.  Why people feel so comfortable saying things or approaching me, I will never totally figure out!    I told my husband that I don't resemble anything remotely close to Susan Anton any more than I look like Ed Asner from the "Mary Tyler Moore" show! 

9.01.2011

TO PUT DOWN A HORSE

Medicine affects people radically differently.  For instance, some people can take a simple Benadryl and be knocked out.  It doesn't do that to me.  I had poison ivy for a solid 3 months one summer - the result of burning it :)  To quell the itch, the massive outbreak and in combination with an arsenal of cremes, sprays and harsh soaps, I took Benadryl.  And, I took it for 3 months - daily.  It didn't wipe me out.  Maybe just the opposite or at the least, a neutral body response to its drowsy side effect.  I looked on the box for the max you could take in a day and took it.  Really I was looking for directions for putting a horse down with it as that is the dose required to probably cause any effect on me.  During a very ill period of my life, with pain that was chronic and severe, my doctor, after blowing through nearly a whole class of drugs that didn't touch the pain, prescribed Oxycontin.  That's a powerful drug more than able to leave you feeling out of it a bit.  Not me.  At a very high dose it did not cut the pain or bring the desired side effect of sleepiness to at least help me momentarily forget the volume of pain I had daily.   Alcohol does a similar thing to me.  For some people, my middle sister in particular, alcohol consumption makes them relaxed, sleepy.  My sisters and I went away for a couple days last summer.  I took a good bottle of wine to share with them.  My sister had one glass and got so tired she had to go to bed!  Not me.  I can drink a martini and then look forward to a night of being wide awake.  It doesn't take the edge off, create a slowing of anything.  It does the complete opposite of that - I am wired, eyes wide open and raring to go!  My pain tolerance is extremely high and I surmise so is my tolerance to medicines both prescribed or recreational.  I weigh 114 pounds so you would likely imagine with a lower body weight less dosages would be required - that I would be affected by a very little dose of anything.  Not really.  When I had 3 hand surgeries I am fairly confident they had to use a horse tranquilizer mixed in with the anesthetic just to get me unconscious and stay that way for a time.  I woke up with a new love for the Kentucky Derby.