Archive for June, 2009

“If you had to choose between colors and diameters, which would you choose?”  My friend Jon posed this question in response to my last post, written with the purpose of soliciting some ideas and thoughts to stir the brain a bit.

Jon’s question–definitely apples and oranges…at first blush.

“Of course, I’d choose colors,” was my first thought.  Exotic, stimulating, relaxing, expressive, beautifying, clarifying–colors can be all these. I’ve mentioned here before that a trip to the fabric store or the paint chip rack leaves me nearly giddy from the delight of all those colors.  Peacocks and rainbows have the same impact.   I don’t think of boundaries when I think of color.  I think of expanse.

Diameters on the other hand–who chooses diameters, Jon?  Who thinks about diameters, Jon?  Ah…but then I think about my friend Jon.

Sometimes his ideas are just a little bit random and off the wall.  (He won’t mind me saying that; I think he will agree.)  Sometimes they start there, but a second look, a second think, takes you farther.  (He will nod his head, I think.)

So–I have a second think about diameters.

What is the nature of a diameter?  It connects two points on a circle–the two points that are directly opposite each other on that circle.  I like circles–the family circle, circles of friends.  Social networking is kind of about diameters–lots of criss-crossing diameters connecting various points on the same circle…or on circles which intersect, as in a Venn diagram.

Hmmm…I’m beginning to think I might choose diameters…sometimes.  Truth be told, I think life would be lacking without both.

(And, Jon, here’s one for you:  If you had to choose between Venn diagrams and thumb tacks, which would choose?) 🙂


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Brain Stir

If you check in here very often, you know I haven’t been posting very regularly. You also know that we’re in the job-hunt mode in our family. I think that has diverted some of my creative and observational juices to a different kind of focus.

So…stir my brain.

If YOUR creative juices are flowing or your synapses are firing overtime and you need to do a little offload, feel free to leave a question, topic, or starter sentence. It just might be the jump start that helps my brain take off down the road to another post. Thanks!

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Maybe whoever said not to talk about politics or religion in social conversation was on to something.

Twice in as many days, I have read a string of comments and counter-comments on Facebook that have, in my estimation, amounted to a verbal spat. In both cases, the precipitating issue was political.   I must confess that I have, on occasion, “vented” in my own Facebook status or in this blog about things political.  I have also from time to time raised a question about someone’s strongly expressed opinion, just to pose another possibility. Mostly, though, I appreciate the uplifting and encouraging comments that I regularly read on Facebook–and I feel that a few minutes have been well-spent if I can be on the giving as well as receiving end of some each day.   So, I was quite surprised at the vehemence bordering on meanness that came through in the “conversations” I observed. And I was grieved.

In both cases, the “Facebook fights” I encountered appeared to have erupted over either a) a difference of opinion or b) a misunderstanding of what someone said.  What do we do in face-to-face conversations when either of those situations occurs?  If the goal is to be diplomatic or gracious or really to understand, we ask a question.  In the news feed eruptions, instead of being asked a question, the commenter was jumped on verbally, and, most surprisingly to me, was the object of name-calling.

I grieve because the “fights” were started and perpetuated by Christ-followers.  I have no way of knowing if those to whom the counter-comments were directed were also Christ followers.  But, I’m pretty sure Facebook fights are not an application of the Golden Rule or the command to love our neighbors.  And, if it matters if we are winsome in matters political, we will never get there by ugly argumentation with our fellow travelers.  Even in perilous times when the truth seems to be a rare commodity, we stand to gain more ground by speaking the truth in love to those who disagree with us than by screaming the truth at them in high-pitched voices.

We live in troubled and troubling times.  It’s putting people on edge.  It’s sending some people over the edge.  Some are lining up on the edge.  Many are lining up on opposing edges.  But, we need to seek not to let it make us edgy with each other.

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man….” (Colossians 4:6)

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From the Mouths of Babes

Here are some funnies from 20-month-old Melanie when we spent part of last Saturday together (If you know Melanie, these will make you smile more than if not, I think):

At breakfast:  Before starting  in on her pancakes, the request comes, “Read a poem.”  (This has been done in the past when just Melanie and I share the breakfast table.)  I ask her, “What poem would you like?”  Her answer:  “Little Orphant Annie” (James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier Poet)  (I think when she’s old enough to really understand all the words–right now, I’m pretty sure the rhythm is the hook–I’ll have to set this one aside.  Too scary!)

At the zoo:  We were rounding the part of the African exhibit where the next thing we would see was the hyena.  Having been told this by the Grandparents, Melanie was ready when the lady next to her, looking at the mammal with her little boy, asked him, “What is that?”  Without missing a beat, Melanie answered, “Hyena.”  I think the lady was surprised.

At home:  Gramma is getting lunch things put on the table.  Seeing this, Melanie asks, “Are you ready to eat, Guys?”  The Grandparents look at each other and can’t help but laugh.

Later at home:  Playing with the Fisher-Price barn animals, walking the dog down the arm of the couch to the floor, Melanie explains, “The dog is scampering down the couch.”

Did I mention we enjoy being grandparents?

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Today is my birthday.  I have, as of 6:55 AM today, sojourned this earth for 54 years.  They have been blessed and rich years in ways too many to count.  If you’re reading this, you are part of  the treasure and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So far, celebrations have included breakfast with 2/3 of my guys at McDonald’s, a chocolate cream pie brought by Gayla to our graduation open house planning meeting (which of course we had to sample in order to be fortified for our work), cards that have arrived in the mail or in person the past couple of days that I saved to open today (I’m so proud of myself!), and lots of birthday wishes from Facebook friends.

I was thinking of things in my life that have changed since my last birthday:

  • I can now carry on conversations with my granddaughter, who turned 20 months old yesterday.
  • Michael is no longer an employee of Taylor University and we are in the job-hunting mode.
  • I have definitely decided that gray is okay…no longer on the color? no color? fence.
  • I am no longer homeschooling and Zach has successfully completed a year in public high school.
  • Some dear people I know who were here last year are in Heaven now.
  • Everybody who reads this is a year older today than they were a year ago today.

We tend to measure our lives by a couple of things, I think–at least I do:  change and milestone events.  One–marking the milestones–almost always forces a measure of the other–change.  It is probably good to reflect along those lines now and then, and birthdays are as good a time as any.

But, here’s a different twist, and I think maybe I’d like to make this a bigger part of my regular reflection on life in the coming year.  We are almost at the end of our year of reading through Chuck Swindoll’s little devotional book Bedside Blessings, to which I’ve referred here more than once.  This one from the other day has stuck with me this week:

God’s hand is not so short that it cannot save, nor is His ear so heavy that He cannot hear.  Whether you see Him or not, He is at work in your life this very moment.  God specializes in turning the mundane into the meaningful.  God not only moves in unusual ways, He also moves on uneventful days.  He is just as involved in the mundane events as He is in the miraculous.  One of my longtime friends…often says with a smile, “God moves among the casseroles.”

I like that.  And I will be watching for Him more often there, as I move from this celebration day into a new year of everyday.

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Michael and I were making the bed together the other morning.  I realized and spoke the realization aloud:  “I bet we can count on one hand the number of times we’ve done this in 27 years of marriage.”  He agreed.

It’s not that we don’t make our bed everyday.  (We do–sometimes it’s probably still warm from night sleep when that happens.)  It’s not that we can’t stand to do the job together.  If you must know, however, for the last number of years, I have been the one to make the bed in the morning.  It just works out that way in our morning getting-up schedule.  However, if I recall correctly, there was a time when that was flip-flopped and Michael made the bed in the morning.  And, for as long as I can remember, if it is clean sheet day, Michael has made the bed.  I can’t tell you the last time I was the one to change the bedsheets.  (I am blessed–he is much better at that than I am; a better tucker-in and puller-tight of the bedclothes.  If he’d been in the military, I’m sure they could have bounced a coin on his bed or whatever it is they do to test the skillfully made bed of the soldier.)

There are some jobs that we have always done together in our marriage.  Before we had aluminum storm windows, we had big, heavy (much better at keeping the cold out) wooden ones.  Every spring and again every fall, we teamed up for the window washing ritual and either took down or put up those windows.  And, no matter what other arrangements we’ve had for washing dishes throughout our marriage, we have done the Sunday dinner dishes together (I wash, he dries). (I think I am telling the truth about that;  there may have been a short season when Gabe and Ellen had that assignment…not sure.)  This past week, anyone going by our house on Thursday?  Wednesday?  would have laughed to see us cleaning out the gutters–but, we did it together, and it made a yucky job into a bearable one.

So, Dear Reader, if you care to say, what job(s) do you regularly do in tandem with a spouse or roommate or some other person?  What are the joys/frustrations of doing so?  Or, as an alternative question of the day, what job could you never do with someone else–or, put another way, what one would you always prefer to do alone if given the choice?

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I guess that’s an allusion to westerns, eh?  (I’m a Jane Austen kind of gal.)  But I think I know what it means–removing myself from the location for a reason, hiding away for refuge or safety or a break from the action.

That’s what we did on Friday, Michael and I.  Friday morning was the final period punctuating nearly eight months of knowing that the job was coming to an end.  After his exit interview at TUFW, we made our way northward to Potawatomi Inn in Pokagon State Park,  about a 45-minute drive from home.  We took advantage of  gorgeous weather to hike, read outdoors, and watching hummingbirds.  We accepted the invitation of the board and pieces lying out in a commons room and played two games of after-breakfast checkers on Saturday morning.  (If our kids read this, I”m sure it will conjure up pictures of Grampa and Granny playing late-night Yahtzee together at their kitchen table.)  We talked—lots.  Our time away renewed our hearts for one another, refreshed our spirits, cleared our vision.

Rejuvenation, relaxation–those are my best words for the weekend getaway.

And I have learned something about myself over the last few years, relative to those things truly happening in my life.

I need a blank slate.  No agenda, no schedule, no kids, no computer.  There is something about having the wide open circle without the boundaries of those things that keep us on track on a normal day that allows for the freeing of my heart, soul, and body that I desperately need from time to time–and usually don’t realize until the opportunity is there.

Funny thing is, in the past probably ten years or so, I can only pinpoint about five times that that has really happened—-Or, maybe that’s not funny.

But the point is not to debate it.  The point is to recognize the need for rejuvenation and the conditions that make it happen.  And then, to seek those out.  (My blogger friend Jim Hughes talks about this from time to time at his place Difficult Seasons…someday I will learn how to publish a link in my posts with out Zach being here to help me; meanwhile, just go there and find Jim’s posts in the past couple of weeks that deal well with this topic.)  I think we need to do it on a way more regular basis than once every year or two.

(I should add here that I have learned, over the years, how to take mini-vacations throughout my days.  I no longer feel guilty about stopping in the middle of a day for a planned break–or even sometimes the serendipitous one (serendipity is a hard one for me)–just to refresh and recharge.  But, just as you can’t exist forever on power snacks, so you can’t go on indefinitely on the mini-recharges either.)

Do you need to “get out of Dodge”?

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