Sunday, December 23, 2007

Off to a warmer climate and family awaits...



Merry Christmas to all-


May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door.

-An Irish blessing

Sunday, December 09, 2007

MEDITATION


Relax, it is not up to you.
When the time is right, all will be as it should.
In the meantime, stare down Despair-- look her in the eyes.
She’s not so strong as she would like you to think.
Hope defiantly. Live in expectation and thankfulness.
And every step, every word, every gesture: a prayer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

THE CASE OF THE MISSING LATENT-IMAGE PEN

So some of you may already know I'm taking a test next week, a licensure exam that involves diagnosing mental illness and treatment plans... they start with a little story about a person with issues and then ask questions such as : pick all the good choices below (and list 12 options) and then when you select your answers, choose-your-own-adventure-style, they will uncover clues of where to go next, so that as the pieces unfold for 10 little case studies, you've taken your test, and either passed or failed. That would be Thursday.

Well, it's such a weird test format (and such and expensive test to take!) I ordered a pricey study guide from the makers of the test- and they sent it to me. Problem: it did not include the promised, and necessary latent-image pen. What is a latent image pen? I'm so glad you asked! See, I'm not quite clear on it either, except that where the answers turn up there are little hash marks, kind of like something you need to have 3-d glasses to see through, and I tried scratching at them with a quarter to reveal the answer beneath, but I guess that isn't sufficient. So my practice test is useless without this little tool.

Well, I emailed the helpful folks in the testing business (they ask you to contact in writing as they get several hundred calls a day) and heard nothing. So I sent them a vaguely threatening email saying if I didn't hear back soon I would be forced to return the test and stop payment on my credit card and I got back a very sweet phone call, apparently they had sent out a pen already at my first request and she was calling to check the address.

The address was right. Hmmm. I went home, and checked the mailbox. Nope. I investigated my front step. The front step of my apartment building tends to be a piling place for junk mail- like grocery store ads and coupons. No latent-image pen. However, buried in the pile, I did find a credit card statement for the guy at the address next door. Hmmm. Went over and checked that apartment front step. (Left him his bill, hopefully not too late.) The step was a little neater than mine, but no latent-image pen. Where did it go? Lost in USPS limbo? I suppose I'll call the sweet lady back tomorrow and ask them to try one more time. I think it will get here soon enough that all will be well.

I'm very curious to, at last, see this elusive latent-image pen. Until then, this mystery remains unsolved...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream...

I dreamed of a beautiful, towering tree- strong and leafy-green. On closer inspection, I saw that someone had carved away a ring of bark around the circumference of the trunk. I was sad because I knew disease and parasites would enter, and I knew the tree would die. I was sad.

Why would someone do this? And how little it took to topple the mighty oak.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Help from a Stranger

I had a thought-provoking conversation with Anne M. and Tanya the other day, about helping strangers who approach for money, bus tickets, etc. I’m not trying to raise the question here of what/whether to give. But Anne said, “If it were me asking, I would want someone to give.” Simple, but to the point. I think sometimes my work, that is so “giving,” can make me hardened. I see the needs over and over, I know the background stories, which are real, and sometimes I know the scams. It’s easy to become distrustful and to assume the worst. Especially because I know some of the resources available, I become skeptical of people who don’t appear to be using them. That’s kind of sad because I, of all people, should know that sometimes the resources are complicated to access. I don’t know why we go that way, but I know I’m not the only person at my workplace who fights that mentality at times.

I wanted to think about times I have been helped by a stranger. There have been many, many, to the extent that my hope and expectation when asking for help, is that a stranger will be kind and will not abuse or take advantage of my vulnerability.

One time that stands out in my mind, was back in Texas. It was a flash flood, and I was stranded in the car with my mom and a friend. The road ahead of us was covered in a deluge of water, and a car that had tried to pass through the intersection ahead was stalled in water up to the side mirrors. Flashing lights of a police blockade were ahead, and cars boxed us in, front and behind. So we waited in traffic, stranded, as the rain continued to pound around us. After waiting an hour or so, we needed to use the bathroom and my mom decided to knock on a door in the neighborhood to ask if we could park the car on their lawn and walk to her friend Ruby’s house, who lived less than a mile away. The woman was so kind. She said, “Certainly park the car! But don’t walk in this rain! Come in!” She gave us warm blankets and gingersnaps and we waited out the rain in her cozy home. I always think of that time when I eat gingersnaps, even now.

I wonder if anyone else has a story of a stranger helping them, that they are willing to share?

Monday, November 05, 2007

"LUCKY ME"

This morning I awoke at 4:30 am. Call it aftereffects of daylight savings (though I never get up this early). I drifted in and out of consciousness until six, and decided to get up, and get in an early morning run. I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful morning. By 6:30 it was already in the mid-fifties outside. The trees hung with red leaves against a crystal, blue sky. The air was still and humid.

I ran, surrounded by misty, morning air and sunbeams. By 10 am, it all crashed down around me in shards. I was sooooo tired all day. “That’s why I don’t do this everyday,” I reminded myself, even though my tri-athlete friend was “proud of me.” She was also supportive, walking for a mid-afternoon break down to the local bread company from work, to get a spot of coffee. To spare the environment, I always bring my mug for a refill. The worker couldn’t find the “refill” button on the cash-register, and gave me my drink for free. Was it my lucky day?

By mid afternoon, a cold-front had swept in with northwesterly winds, and my clients arrived. I met with them, focused my energies, and as soon as they left, departed. I took an hour of sick time to leave early at the end of the day- drove home, exhausted, only to find an email that my early meeting for tomorrow morning has been postponed. Is it my lucky day?

I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store so I ate frozen pizza, freshly sliced mango and some garden tomatoes in olive oil. (Thanks mom!) I watched t.v. till I could stomach it no longer. I imagined myself working on a painting and dawdled and made a couple phone calls instead. It’s ok. I think life is so much better when I’m not compelled to “earn my keep” by doing enough or being enough. I am accepted by God, as is, frozen pizza and all. Is it my lucky day? Nah. Everyday is. Thank you, God.

Monday, October 22, 2007

MOMMA's BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA

Well, my trip to Indiana was a lovely one! It was so fun to see family and friends. I got some good nephew time and twin-time and it was great that both of the twins were home! No, the nephews are not twins. I also got to see my college-roomie and her cute little girl! Oh, did I mention we celebrated my mom's birthday?

Nephew # 1 makes his favorite silly face!

Nephew # 2, intent upon his cheese.


I hit the state at the peak of it's fall color! On my way home, I was snapping blurry shots of gorgeous leaves through raindrops on the windshield, and I thought, rather than veer into a semi, I should get off the main drag for a bit. I wandered down some country roads in Putnam County and took pictures to my heart's content! Then back onto the main drag because I wanted to get home before Tuesday.

I feel festive for the season now, even if we get two yellow leaves and ten-thousand brown ones here. But maybe "the change" will come soon.

And now for another week...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

THE WAY THINGS ARE

The air is starting to hang with the sweet scent of decaying leaves. The weather outside is mild and dry. To celebrate fall, I hiked on a limestone trail for miles and miles today. (And it felt like a few more miles than it was, perhaps). The conversation was good. We stopped for pizza and ice cream on the way back...some much-needed victuals for the journey!

I look back on the last week. I made my little speech at the conference. We threw in lots of activities to break up the time, and it seemed to go over well for the majority, (though a few walked out towards the beginning... not what they were expecting?) We got some positive comments, made a few positive contacts, and most happily, completed the task. I’m so grateful to be done with it- and I felt that the gracious prayers of friends and family prevented me from having a panicky or nervous feeling the whole day, even up in front of the audience. So, thank you!

I feel like I’ve been getting into conflict with friends and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just that the time is ripe, or maybe I’m just opening my big mouth too much lately. I don’t know. I don’t think any of it is fatal though, so if you are a part of it- hopefully we are on better footing again!

Maybe I just need to get away and clear my head. I’m heading home and the highway is definitely calling me. I’m looking forward to taking my little car on an extended journey. I’m looking forward to my homecoming. That is, coming home. It is actually the weekend for my college homecoming and I plan not to attend one activity, no not one! I will see plenty of folks as is.

Work is feeling a bit hopeful... administrators are making steps, noting what is happening around there, action is being taken at last, long after I had given up. It shows me that I gave up too soon, and that I must continue to pray. It’s a hard task not to get drawn into large-scale venting sessions and the general attitude of “burnout” that can prevail. It’s easier and at the moment can seem more fun to just complain with others, complete with impersonations and stories of everything WRONG with the place. In some ways, to be positive is to be isolated. But I must stay focused on my reason for being there.

Lately I have felt lacking in focus- like my time is a series of disjointed conversations, each flowing into the other but not connecting and not leading anywhere. It will be good to go home. Home, with my thoughts escaping; home, with my music playing...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

GLOSSOPHOBIA... a.k.a. The Fear of Public Speaking

Oh, I do hate public speaking... How did I get roped into this? Next Tuesday a colleague and I are presenting before an audience of professionals "in the field" (maximum of 150 people) on "Activities for Building Self Esteem!" In Kids! The only speeches I can remember that went really well both happened while I was a student.

Both times I had pulled an all-nighter to finish the project I was doing. Both times I was too tired to be nervous, and in a sleepy delirium, got up front and started telling my stories with the fervency of a true believer.

Part of the problem this time, is I’m already skeptical before I even start. No activity in and of itself is going to “build a kid’s self-esteem!” It’s a process over time, and maybe, just maybe if you build a relationship with a kid, you might help build their self-confidence. The relationship is really important, though. If they don’t believe you, it doesn’t matter what you say. Well, I guess I have to say that when I’m up there... on stage, at the podium, adjust the mike, ahem... ha ha- just trying to psych myself out.

Well, in no particular order, here some of the things that may go wrong:

Word-Stoppage: While reading a line from the notes, I start a sentence. Suddenly, my voice catches in my throat. It’s like Ariel against the Sea Witch, or one of those dreams where your legs don't work... I’m speechless. Milder versions are All-Choked-Up and Freudian Slip.

The Lone Dissenter: Things might be going along fairly well, and this person stands with a question. Usually the question attacks the entire premise of the speech. Maybe he would say “Kids need lower self-esteems. They are spoiled. That’s their problem. (I hate kids.)” and I find myself explaining why the topic is a topic at all, which everyone else thought was important enough to come to learn more about and now are bored as I repeat what they already know.

The Equipment Malfunction: Everyone gets silent as I cue the video, lights, music, whatever and nothing happens. Awkward silence. Five-minute delay and the crowd is getting antsy. Someone on staff has to be called and they aren’t in the room. I start telling stand-up comedy jokes and get a pie thrown at me. (All this is likely except for the pie).

The Rambler: Another attack disguised as a question. This person raises their hand. You call on them and they stand up and launch into a fifteen-minute rambling soliloquy about some strange incident that happened with a kid at their workplace, with, their speculations about why it happened and a hidden sermon on the dangers of {whatever}. At the front, we stand with smiles frozen on our faces and many listeners, after shifting awkwardly in their chairs awhile, take the opportunity to leave the room for a smoke break. The Rambler may disguise a sermonette with a fake-question,"What do you think about that?" at the end.

The Visibly Sweaty Armpit: My face, calm, smiley. My armpits, leaky faucets. Drip. Drip. Drip.

And the one that already happened:

Wrong handout printed up and put in the notebooks printed by the official printers and already on site. Oops, that was my rough draft. Definitely not the notes. heh heh heh. Oh, well, as least we caught it before we got there. "Class, rip out the papers in your notebook and replace them with these. Moving on..."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In Anticipation...

Looking forward to the season opener of the only TV show I admit to watching! Here's a little quiz to pass the time...

What NBC "The Office" character are you?
Your Result: Pam Beesly

You are the person everyone considers a friend, you are sweet and a good listener, but you also creative and love to have fun and are always up for a good practical joke. You work at a job you hate but don�t leave because you don�t really know what you want out of life. You have spent too much time following the opinions of others and are beginning to learn how to think for yourself.

Did I wake up this morning thinking I'd be throwing together a bird funeral? You never can tell what your day here is gonna turn into

Toby Flenderson
Jim Halpert
Kelly Kapoor
Michael Scott
Ryan Howard
Dwight Kurt Schrute
Angela Martin
What NBC "The Office" character are you?
See All Our Quizzes

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"And often enough, when we think we are protecting ourselves, we are struggling against our rescuer."

-from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (p. 154)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ramblings from the World of Fitness:
Forcast: Hold ups, delays, the usual.

Sunday, in a burst of enthusiasm, I went for my first little run since July 1st. I was scared of re-injury, (plantar faciitis) but it felt so free and wonderful... just to move unhampered by exercise equipment, and quicker than a walking pace. I had that "3:55 p.m. on a school-day feeling." My heart thudded in a "I haven't worked so hard in a while and it feels great" kind of way. I wanted to keep going and going, but I stopped after a mile and a half, expecting my foot to cramp up afterwards a bit, which it did. I responded with ice and stretching.

Alright, but enough about that. It bothered me all day on Monday, even after doing everything "right," so that bothered me even more. (Happily the next day it was back to normal). Today (what is it Tuesday, Wednesday?) I decided a safer way to enjoy the outdoors would be my crummy, old rollerblades. I don't mean any disrespect but I got the inexpensive, off-brand version back in, what, 1993?, so the plastic is starting to wear. I replaced the wheels and bearings a month or so ago (out of desperation for an "outlet"), and it made a world of difference in moveability, but the plastic clasps that hold the entire things on my foot are starting to give, and the left middle clasp is completely broken and dangles like a useless limb, that I tuck in so it doesn't trip me.

And actually, all of that is fine by me, fairly-functional is "functional enough" for my third string workout equipment. I never quite understand people that buy professional grade, top of the line stuff for hobbies they spend about five minutes a year on. (I'm not thinking of anyone in particular- and I'm not talking about You!- that's different! heh heh) On the other hand, other people have raised the point that I don't really like to plunk down money for anything, I consider a "big purchase" -over $50- even things I will use for years, such as a TV. There is probably a balance there.

Ha ha, so random rollerblading side note: My 7th grade math teacher, caught up in the rollerblading frenzy that was sweeping the nation at the time, quit teaching a month into the school year to start her own business. Her business would bring rollerblades, pads and helmets to schools to rent out to gym classes so the gym teachers could build this exciting, cutting-edge new sport into the curriculum (Guess the year!!!) Well, she even came back for a visit con rollerblades, to our middle school gym class. Two factors she didn't calculate into the equation: ~1. How disgusting and sweaty junior high boys get in her nice equipment, that by 5th period gym class, all the pads and skates are really unsavory- can't imagine a whole year of use~ and ~2. How short-lived trendy fads usually are.~ I don't know what happened to her business, but I imagine it was rather short-lived as well.


But I digress. I was making my way on my rollerblades, working the knots out of my muscles and enjoying the breeze. I looked down in irritation at my left skate, wondering why it was being so sluggish. I realized the bearing on the top wheel was loosening, so I hunkered down in the grass to tighten things up, a couple miles away from my car. Then I realized, that somewhere along the bike path, I had deposited an entire wheel, bearings and all!!! Huh! That was sad! I tightened the nut on the first wheel with my fingernail and determined that I will go ahead and put a couple dollars, not into new wheels, but into an entire new pair of skates. (I was feeling a little disgruntled at the thought of spending the money, when I thought, where better to get archaic exercise equipment that has never been used than... Ebay! Ha! HA! Pay full price? ME? NOT IF I CAN HELP IT!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

NOW ENTERING... my favorite time of year.

I love this cool snap. I had coffee with a friend in the morning and a walk in warm, crisp air, framed by the brilliant blue of the sky.

I came home this evening to a note on my door from a considerate construction worker- my water will be shut off tomorrow morning from 8 - 10 am +. I must say, the forewarning was a kindness. I feel as if I'm getting to know the "Missouri Water" folks, as I drive past them working on a demolition site down the road, everyday. Good people.

I guess that means I will shower tonight rather than in the morning. I guess that means I will prep my coffee pot with water tonight as well. Thank you Missouri Water. You are good people.

I'm excited- I think my foot injury (plantar fasciitus) is healing, which means running ~coming soon to a neighborhood near me~ again. That means I need to go buy new running shoes, because the doc informed me my last pair will not do. Something about overpronation and stability, blah blah blah. Ah well! I'll give it a week before I try.

Last night, I painted. Something about the cool air and open windows says "PAINT!" It felt great, after a late-ish day at work.

Books I am currently reading: "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson, "Painting in the Dark" by Paul Thorson, and "Hidden Art" by Edith Schaeffer. I'm pretty sure I used to know Paul Thorson's son. Now how often do you pick up a book and recognize the characters in it as people you used to know? It's a small, small world.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

WHAT IS YOUR PATRONUS?

I finally finished reading Harry Potter 7 (at midnight last night). Here's a fun little quiz to celebrate! Post your result- (warning- my first try got me a creepy destroying dragon that I didn't want so I 'doctored' my results a bit!) I guess if you haven't been reading Harry Potter this won't make much sense to you. Bear with me! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Contemporary society preaches this ideal of individualized equality because it needs human atoms, each one the same to make them function in a mass aggregation, smoothly, without friction, all obeying the same commands, yet everybody being convinced he is following his own desires. Just as modern mass production requires the standardization of commodities, so the social process requires the standardization of humans, and this standardization is called 'equality...' Equality today means sameness rather than oneness."
- Erich Fromm


"Beneath the surface of my life I think maybe a kind of purposefulness was working itself out in spite of me. So much of who all of us are seems to go on down there- the dreams we have, the impulses, the hunches, the changes of mood. Often the decisions we think we make on the spur of the moment have been years in the making and plans that we suddenly change were plans that we secretly abandoned long before."
-Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

CHICAGO, IN SO MANY WORDS...


When I found out the interstate was going to be shut down over the weekend in my neighborhood, I decided to skip town. Tanya and I headed for Chicago.

We stayed with some hospitable friends of Tanya's (DJ and family), which really cut down on costs. Here's a picture of the two of us, delighted, after our land-locked existence, to see a waterfront!



The seagulls kind of reminded me of "The Birds."


Tanya was thrilled to see the "Dog Beach."

Neil was headed south from his vacation in the Upper Penninsula and met up with us in the Windy City for some Chicago Style pizza and hang-out. We were walking towards the "Air and Boat Show" over lake Michigan, (and caught glimpses) when we got caught in a downpour, which necessitated a shopping trip for a jacket for me. We hit some fun thrift stores and played around.

Wet!


Neil, in the middle of saying something, I can't remember what:


The famous air show- its a bird, it's a plane, no it's...


A Nalgene bottle?!

Great catch Tanya.We also wandered around the Indian district and got some food.


Sunday we met up with Lana,

former roommate, and ate excellent Thai food at "Thai Classic Restaurant." Yummy.


The weather was abnormally cool and rainy, which was pretty refreshing after the St. Louis heat and humidity.


We had lots of fun and did lots of stuff the whole time which I'm not going to get into because it's too monotonous to make a list. But it did involve two cups of coffee a day and finding free parking everyday. Whoo-hoo!


The Cardinals and Cubs game was rained out. Not that we had tickets or anything.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

OUT WITH THE OLD...


how the '96 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme looked prior to damage



The other side... ewww, not pretty.



CRUNCH~



IN WITH THE NEW!


a 2002 Nissan Altima...


leather interior, moon-roof, AIR CONDITIONING, YAH!
Definitely an upgrade!





Monday, July 30, 2007

YAY! I TOTALLED MY CAR!

No sarcasm, I'm serious! This is good news. It's good news because over the last few weeks I've become convinced that my old Cutlass Supreme was coming to the end of it's glory days.

In little ways she started to let me know, "I'm tired." It was in the squeal of the belt as I parallel parked, in the air conditioner that suddenly stopped working (after being recharged) in the gas mileage that was gradually drifting lower and lower, and in the odometer that read 171,774.

Well, God bless the kind gentleman who thought he could make a blind left turn, and didn't wait for the green arrow. I couldn't see him, he couldn't see me- but in the end it comes down to his fault.

So the good news: my lovely Oldsmobile goes out with a bang, no painful decisions about life support and repairs, no drawn-out attempts to sell her, and a'car shopping we will go!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"PENNIES FROM HEAVEN"

...Is my favorite card game. It's a form of canasta. My friends from college, Heather and Tom came to visit this weekend. They were two original members of "The Euchre Group" in college but "Pennies" has far outranked Euchre for thrills and sheer complexity (as much as cards can thrill).

It starts off with taking a pile of cards off the top of the deck (made from four decks shuffled together) for the person to your left. If you happen to pick up the correct number of cards (24), you get 100 bonus points! My favorite moment is later in the game, when you get to pick up your "pennies," a mysterious, reserve stack waiting in front of you. In my mind, I hear the sound of a slot machine or a Mario brothers game, when you find a coin, {Bling! Bling! Bling!} as you leaf through the cards and find wilds, sevens, and red threes awaiting.

Problem: we needed a fourth. That's shorthand for, "This is a four-person game and we have three players." I don't have many card-playing friends around here. Maybe this is in part, because there is much more to do around here than in rural Indiana. (In large part!)

Well, I was pondering what to do about it. I thought about many people I knew. I racked my brain to think of people who mentioned enjoying card games. (Not many). I knew several folks who seemed like possibilities, but all were busy or didn't really want to play some complex, new card game with people they had never met. Saturday afternoon, I prayed for a fourth. I know, there are certainly more worthy things to pray about. But I asked God to provide a fourth.

Well, Sunday, we went to church and ran into Jen. Jen is a good card player, and she has the right balance of competitiveness and just-for-fun-ness. Saturday, Jen was busy. Sunday she was not. Not to mention she's played a lot of cards so she can catch on to new games pretty quickly. I invited Jen to join us, and she agreed. As we talked about the game, (a very complicated thing; a full game takes 2-3 hours as you earn 20,000 points!) Jen said, "It sounds a lot like "Hand and Foot." (or is that hoof and mouth?)

"Pennies" and "Hand and Foot" turned out to be two variations on the same game. Last weekend, while Jen was vacationing with her in-laws, her mother-in-law taught Jen and Cliff, her husband, "Hand and Foot" or essentially, the game we were playing. Apparently the women in the retirement community in Arizona enjoy a good game of cards as much as I do. God did provide a fourth. How about that?

(And Heather, Tom and I had a great visit catching up and hanging out! We did a lot more than just sit around and play cards. But we sure liked sitting around playing cards.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A CELEBRATION OF BEING A GROWN-UP

Well, sometimes it seems like adolescence is such a glorified state in our society that we forget the joy and honor in being an adult. God forbid we ever grow up or grow old. Maybe these statements won't reflect on your younger days, but thinking of a younger me, and other teens that continue to be in my life, here's a compilation of a few happy truths I have stumbled into and hope to live in my adulthood.

In honor of an email about my ten-year high school reunion:

Let the reign of EGOCENTRISM end!
Inside every head is an exisitence every bit as intricate and complex as my own.

It can be gratifying and rewarding to serve others, and not just to receive.

I can know my limits and I don't have to push them in order to prove myself.

I can talk to others without being wrapped up in my image or trying to control what they think of me. I don't need to be preoccupied with fitting in or standing out.

I don't have to surround myself with people who look, think and act just like me. Variety is good.

For most drama, I can sleep on it and may have more perspective tomorrow. It probably isn't the end of the world.

Some of those risks I kind of want to take can be deeply destructive. It's not the end of the world to be a little cautious.

This probably isn't "the last chance I will ever have to..." whatever.

Everyone feels like a freak sometimes.

It's ok to tell people "no."

I can give myself a chance to grow and learn new things. I don't need to let fear prevent me from enjoying activities and situations in which I'm not skilled. (Because I don't have to be the best, or even very good, to be fine.)

Any other thoughts?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

MANY HANDS, ONE BODY

I asked you if you cared...

...and you called me and invited me to go hiking.
You met me for breakfast and lingered over coffee, even missing your class, just because you wanted to stay.

I asked you if you cared and you showed me a magnificent mansion with a stone pool, with fountains cascading, and you said, let's swim by the light of the moon. Then we danced until our feet curled up and could dance no more.

We talked and you stammered, and it was awkward in a nice way, because I knew it mattered to you.

I asked if you cared and you took me to the fireworks. You drove me down a street for a front seat view across a glistening river. The road shuddered beneath us as the grand finale exploded, and you gave me a wink and asked me how I liked it.

You gave me a basket for the kids at the shelter, with cupcakes, string cheese and sparklers. We celebrated freedom and I pushed you on the swing, and you told me you loved me. Then you asked me to push you higher. And because I cared, I did.

Monday, June 25, 2007

"OPERATION 'FALSE ALARM'

OBJECTIVES: To succeed where others have failed-- plan the operation in advance--'like a murder.'

PREPARATION: Scope out the facilities. We must know where each possible target is located! Upstairs is preferable to downstairs-- fewer potential witnesses to the actual deed.

Is there a cashier-free zone?

...unless downstairs out of sight is possible...

This week, begin observing for possible locations.

I spoke with (name deleted)- she will be here Sunday and Monday."

-Hand scrawled note found in old journal, dating from sometime mid-summer, 1998
"Trends and anti-conformity trends;
show me purity...

and I'm sure we can capitalize on it." -August 2, 1998

I hate using friends as a marketing tool. In my opinion, to do things like host a "party" and have people over, only to guilt them into buying expensive things they don't want or need... totally reprehensible.

(Now some who would differ in opinion on this topic, include my lovely sister, who points out, it's fun to buy things you don't need, and maybe you do want them. Plus you earn money and get free gifts, and maybe the quality is such that you can't find it in the mall.) Fine. But it's not my thing.

I guess, growing up in our lovely, commercial society, I have grown skeptical of all the endless marketing. In fact, the main reason I do the work I do now, is that I didn't want to go into the art world and end up in advertising, as it is the most common way to make a buck with an art degree. I hate the idea of using creativity to sell people one more thing they don't want or need. Well, this is my anti-PPP post. That's pay-per-post, to those unfamiliar with it. I looked into it out of curiosity.

They will pay you, per post, if you use your personal blog to promote products *(maximum of three per day, please). I scanned the list of products to see if there were any I'd be able to promote in good conscience, (i.e. I actually love the product). I thought, oh, If I'd ever been there, I would certainly promote the cafes and shops of Melbourne, Australia! But it turns out that before you can promote any of the "opportunities" on the list, you have to promote the service, PPP. That's seven dollars in your pocket, man! A small price for my soul, thank you very much!

Heh, heh, heh, I guess I'm being a little melodramatic here. But friends, I have opted out of subjecting you to you random advertisements interjected between postings- I think we have to deal with enough of that in a day as is.

I guess, if you would like to use your writing to promote products and make some cash, feel free. It's your soul. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Which Animal Are You?

Find out with this simple quiz!
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ASK OF ME?

I know the calling, but I wrestle.

I know what I must do.

Surrender.

Sacrifice.

Yield.

How can I say no? After all you have done (everything) how can I withhold?

I want this one thing for myself. Maybe in a year or so, I will be ready to relinquish, after I am bored and welcome change. (Maybe it will be easy then.)

How can I hold back from YOU?

But you gave it to me, so why can’t I just keep it awhile. Why do you take me to difficult places?

How can I possibly protest given the circumstances? In my mind, I want it your way. It is so clearly good. But my heart is not ready. Pride. My labor (in vain?). My ideas.

And what if nothing as good ever comes again? What if the well is all dried up? What proof will I have? Can’t I build something up first, and give from that? Why the firstfruits?

Yet of course it must be the first and best that is given. Of course you have all the power in the universe and the power to replenish my meager wells of resource. Of course I can trust you as the one who has provided all that I have.

I know the calling, but I wrestle.

Monday, June 04, 2007


WEBS of WORDS


Well, if you think the English language is tangled enough before we "first practice to deceive" check out this thesaurus, that organizes words in webs- if you are a visual-type, you might like it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

WILD-CARD WEDNESDAY: To which future will I wake up tomorrow?

Great trip, but I felt like I was exhausted the whole time. Part of it may have been that I engineered about three weekend trips into five days. (One in Indy, one at home, and the other at the lakehouse, up north).

After my visits and the long car-drive back to STL, just as I was pulling off the interstate into my familiar neighborhood, I started to hear a squealing noise that seemed related to the motion of my car. The squeal was strangely familiar, yet distinctly horrific. What was it? Too tired to figure it out, I stumbled inside with the only luggage necessary to brush my teeth and hop into bed, and vowed to look into it, come morning.

In the morning, I drove my car around the block. Yep, still that awful screeching. A neighbor walking his dog did a double-take at my car, and then covered his ears. The pup began to howl. This was not good. I couldn’t come to any action plan, my brain was still too foggy from the drive.

After some staring at the ceiling, thinking about thinking about it, I called my faithful shop. Love those guys. They told me, “Not likely we’ll get it in today.” I said, “I’ll drop it off tomorrow.”(I was already running late and my carpool would be there any minute.) At work, it dawned on me: power-steering fluid. The sound was that of a car with low power-steering fluid.

The next morning (today) I hopped out of bed and made my way over to my friendly, neighborhood AutoZone. I purchased the fluid and filled ‘er up. All is well, right?
I called the shop, “Nevermind!”
I called my carpool. “See you in 20 minutes,” I said, “I can drive today.”

I picked up my colleague and hopped onto the interstate. As soon as I merge left, I feel something change in my car: suddenly, a quick shimmy left has become a slow and laborious yanking of the steering wheel. This is not so good. I get off the interstate and take my coworker back home. He picks up his car and meets me at the shop. I drop my car off. Sigh.

They tell me, we may not get it in today, but we’ll do our best.
If they do, all is well, I go to work, get stuff done, meet with kids and call it a day.
If they don’t, I get a free-day off work tomorrow.
What does the future hold?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

GETTING BACK TO MY HOOSIER ROOTS!

Well, I'm gearing up for a little Memorial Day travel. That's right, going back home to Indiana, to see relatives and friends. Now Indiana friends who read this, you may find this hard to believe, but here in STL, hoosier is actually a mildly derogatory term, similar in spirit to "white trash." (Not to offend anyone!)

My brother, Doug, surprised my
parents last night by driving in from Arizona, and he will be there too. That is always fun. Plus, I'll get plenty of nephew-time, and will have fun hanging with my sister at her place, and joke around with my B-I-L (that's brother-in-law).


The photo is from the Indy 500, where a couple family members will be going, for the first time in our family history. I won't be going, though I tried to win a radio station contest here for four complimentary tickets.
I guess I'll just have to console myself on the jet-ski at Scott's lakehouse.

It makes it hard to go to work today... in my heart, I'm halfway out the door already.
Hopefully I won't get a speeding ticket on my way there!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

WHAT IS THE CAPITAL OF VERMONT?


FACT: I thought the season finale for "The Office" was pretty good...


Honestly I think I usually like it when things don't work out perfectly for "key" players, romantic tension and frustration seems more interesting and, alas, more typical, in my experience! But I felt it was handled well...

I like the new hire. I think they've stirred up enough drama, by the way things were handled, to cover another season.

And now reruns, so that Thursday evenings can again be spent in the great outdoors! Yes!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

OPPOSITE DAY IS EVERYDAY!

"Dear Christian:

Everything that feels good is bad, and everything that feels bad is good! Ha! Sort that out!

Love, God"

Just because I don't want to do something (even good somethings) doesn't mean I should do them in some sort of twisted, game of opposites. All desire is not evil.

I think that's how confused Satan wants us to be. The truth is God has good at heart for us. The things he calls us to make it possible for us to have some semblance of healthy, loving relationships with a degree of honesty, care, justice and faithfulness that is just not natural to humans.

Even his restrictions are to spare us from evil and destruction. If you don't believe it, ask God to show you.

Many people get bogged down in false guilt about not taking on more and more responsibilities. The truth is, this is often more about not wanting to disappoint other people and the mistaken belief that "I am personally responsible to meet every need presented to me."

God evidently thought that the amount of time, resources, and energy he gave us was sufficient. I guess God thought that 24 hours in a day would be enough time for me to get done all that he has "called" me to do. Now maybe I'm wasting my time on piddly things, like updating blogs. :)

We have to remember that God has many people in his kingdom. Maybe a few of you folks with a Messiah-complex are doing too much, so that slackers like me can get away with not doing enough! (That's how it usually works; remember group projects in school?)

I don’t want to slip into the kind of thinking that is so self-indulgent that I just follow my feelings in the moment all the time.

I also don’t want to assume that all my desires are evil and feel guilt for listening to my body saying, “I’m exhausted! Need rest!”

Discernment and prayer go hand in hand. Ask and you shall recieve. Knock and the door shall be opened to you. Seek and you shall find.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

"37,000 RAPISTS CAN’T BE WRONG!"

Well, I was reading an interesting article on a blog about the challenges single, African-American women face in the evangelical church. As I read the comments, I was appalled to hear one man try to claim that the issue was one of black women not being "beautiful" enough, and claiming that the entire race just lacked attractiveness, and this was the problem.

I made the mistake of arguing with him, and quickly it became apparent to me that he wasn’t just defensive and clueless, but was speaking from an ideology of separationist, white-supremecy. He even used rape stats as proof that white women are more "worthy" objects of lust. It made me so angry to see him claim his "science" of beauty using random statistics and to tout his views, claiming "it’s a fact!"

I wanted to continue the argument saying something about aesthetics, and the quality of beauty existing, but being nearly impossible to define or measure (except some studies about symmetrical features), and that measures of beauty dependent on your philosophy of aesthetics, and blah blah blah! But beauty isn’t even the issue! He lost the fact that these are human beings, created in God’s image that he is objectifying (and objectify ALL WOMEN, he does).

But what is the point? When I encounter arrogance and evil, I want to fight, fight, fight! But it isn’t as if my words were going to have any impact on this man. All he wants is a forum to tout his views and the more fuel I give him, the longer and more repetitive his replies will be.
I think of Jesus and how he handled injustice. I’m a lot more like his disciples so often- I just want God to "wage war,"to establish his kingdom and snuff out evil once and for all. I guess I have to remember that good does triumph in the end, and that the battle was already won on the cross. It’s just hard to wait in the meantime. Any thoughts? How ought we respond when we hear someone speaking evil? Should it be different for those (such as this man) who claim Christianity?

Friday, May 04, 2007

I've Got a Roommate!

But not for long... I've had Lana staying here for the last week... she is moving up to Chicago on Saturday. We've had some fun. Larry has even gotten semi-happy about her being here. Here is a picture of Lana with a sombrero.




Tonight we will have one last girl's night at Chevy's (local Mexican chain). The taquitos are my absolute fave item on their menu. The "jalapeno honey" dipping sauce = tasty. The sombrero pic is from "Chimichanga's," my FAVORITE local Mexican restaurant, and a much more authentic Mexican food experience, I might add.

Oh and I'm ditching work today for a dental appointment. Brush 'em, brush 'em, brush 'em!

BYE LANA, WE WILL MISS YOU!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

COLD SPRING & LATE FROST


We were off to such a promising start, Spring. What happened?



I never really knew the meaning of the term "sitting duck" before. I've developed a great fondness for ducks this year.



Close up of the same duck (did you see him?) from the last picture.

Friday, April 13, 2007

QUICK, SHE's KICKING!

Brace yourself: It's another post about work. I got a call from a mom yesterday. A five-year-old girl I have worked with for awhile now has lost her kindergarten teacher. It seems her teacher died in her sleep. My little client isn't taking it too well, and has been storming the hallways of her school, yelling, "You're not my teacher!" at the substitute. My client's mother tried to comfort her that her teacher was in heaven, and the girl exclaimed, "Well I'm gonna go get her!"

Of course the entire school is grieving over this loss. Someone talked with the class earlier this week and explained to them that though their teacher isn't with them anymore, she lives on in their hearts. Now, my little client (whose mother is pregnant) says, "Mommy, quick, feel my heart! Mrs. Teacher is kicking!"

Agh! Telling a fifth-grader that their teacher lives in their heart might be comforting and kind, but this very literal five-year old is convinced her heart is as pregnant as mommy's tummy.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

HAPPY EASTER



What follows is the story of God’s faithfulness in my life. It’s a lengthy little essay, but it’s my story, growing up, and it’s the tip of the iceberg. It begins before I was even born.

My parents, in the seventies, were living quite nicely. I guess we would have called them YUPPIES. My dad was an officer in military and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Of course, home was a military base in Rota, Spain. My parents put in a few years there, and then as my dad continued to learn, he felt he was being called to teach. Not just to teach, but to teach about the Bible, and faith, on a college level. With one small child and one on the way, my parents decided to leave their comfortable life because my dad knew to fulfill this calling, he would need to go to seminary.

Grandpa and Grandma at first urged my parents not to do this- what about providing for your family? They had lived through The Depression and thought it sounded foolish to go back to school when raising a family and in your thirties. Dad was convinced this was something he couldn’t just let go- his heart wasn’t in the military. Finally Grandpa gave his blessing, and told Dad that he had felt the same way about moving to Arizona back in the 1950s, when my dad was a small child, even though my Great-Grandparents hadn’t understood why he was moving away.

My mom and dad completed their time in the military, and moved to Dallas in 1976 for seminary. My father continued in the Naval Reserve for smaller pay and "duties"- trips he took for a weekend or a month at a time, doing military operations on aircraft carriers and Navy bases around the world. While home in the Dallas area, he worked as a waiter at a steakhouse to make ends meet.

I was born into this life- I remember that when tips were particularly good from waiting tables, I wake up to fresh Dunkin’ Donuts that Dad had picked up on his way home from Bryan’s Steakhouse, or later, Steak and Ale. My parents stored them in the oven to keep them fresh. Every morning when I came for breakfast, I would peek through the clear glass of the oven door, looking for that orange and pink box that meant sugary treats awaited. Dad completed his Master’s program in 1980 and knew he really needed to go on for doctoral level if he wanted to get a tenured teaching position. So against all common sense, (with three children now) he went back to school again, for the doctorate degree.

It took a long time to complete that nagging dissertation, when leaving the country every few months for military duties and working part time, parenting small children and keeping up the house where everything seemed to break and fall apart- mostly when dad was out of the country. I remember playing in the living room, and being told, "You kids need to quiet down. Dad’s trying to work on his dissertation." He and his second reader on his dissertation didn’t see eye to eye, so the reader would make recommendations to basically redo the entire thing. Dad completed the revisions yet at the last minute, the dissertation was not approved, which meant a-whole-nother year in seminary.

On and on it went. I remember my brother made a cute little letter to Santa for first grade, and it said something like this: "Dear Santa, For Cristmas our family nedes some more finances! Love DOUg." It was one of those bittersweet things kids say. Obviously his young ears had been picking up on the financial strain upon the family, hearing parents say, "We just don’t have the finances right now."

Finally, sweetly, in the spring of 1988, my father graduated with his doctoral degree. We thought our trials and years of barely getting by and struggle were over. Now at last, the "Full Time Teaching Job" would come along because God provides and he was the one we did all this for, right?

My dad put out applications and picked up more extended stints with the military to earn the money to keep our family afloat. My mom got a job as a secretary at a mortgage company. The atmosphere there was "Money, money, money" and daily she felt assaulted by the materialistic messages she received at work, in stark contrast to the lean, "beggars-can’t-be-choosers" lifestyle at home.

While on his trips away from home, my dad was reading through the classics of English literature. He figured he might as well be getting credit for his learning, so he decided to take a correspondence course in English literature. One class turned into two, and three and four, until he had earned a Master’s degree in English literature as well.

Unfortunately, at the time he got his doctorate in Theological Studies, the recession of the 80s was in full force. Higher Education was in a bit of a financial crisis- which meant that no one was really hiring- especially because like with judges, professors are in it for life once they are tenured, and stay in the same positions until retirement. My dad ended up picking up some teaching classes at a community college, teaching English, of all things, to get experience at teaching and to earn some extra money for the family.

I remember my dad was offered a position at a very conservative, legalistic school in Florida, and he prayed about it, but just couldn’t take the job. He shared that it went against his mission to be teaching in an atmosphere that went so much against what he perceived as his mission: to guide college students to apply their intellects to their faith. No need to throw thinking out the window, just because it is a matter of faith, God also created our minds!

Finally, in Spring of 1993, (five years later after getting the teaching degree, and seventeen years! since my dad had left his full time position in the military) my mom said to my dad "Michael, are you sure that this was God’s will for us? Why don’t you just get a job in business, and give up on this ministry thing? It’s been years since we’ve had financial comfort! Let’s abandon this dream! I don’t think I can wait any longer."

My dad paused, and thought for a moment. He told my mother, "We could, but if we do, I’ll lose my faith." Had they struggled for nothing all these years? Was it all just based on a whim, and not from God at all? Did God even care?

My mom quickly responded, "Oh, well, I don’t want that! Never mind, I guess I can wait a little longer."

One week later, (one week!) the letter came from Taylor University in Indiana. They were interested in interviewing my father for an Old Testament teaching position. My dad flew to Indiana, and the interviews went well. An old friend from seminary was in the Bible department, who also put in a good word for my father. A position was offered: a full time teaching job!

We rejoiced and celebrated. One problem: the position was an adjunct position, only offered for one year, as another professor was taking a sabbatical. Was it worth moving a family, uprooting the kids from an excellent public school district to move to rural Indiana for a one-year position? My older sister, a senior in high school, had already accepted a military N-ROTC scholarship at the University of Texas.

My dad took the job. My sister changed her mind and moved with the family, going to Taylor, a small Christian liberal arts college (at that time with tuition at $18,000 a year), tuition-free. The following year, policy was changed that you had to work at the school for four years to get tuition-free status. But my sister got in the final year of that deal.

Each spring for the next four years it was a big question what would happen. My dad would send out further applications to other schools, but somehow, something always opened up in the Bible department at Taylor, so that there was a full time position for my father. My senior year of high school in particular, I remember a friend offering to let me move in to their spare bedroom, to finish school in my familiar setting, when it looked as if we would be moving to Tennessee, and my dad teaching at King College. But again, teaching position opened up at Taylor in the Bible Department, and we stayed.

In the long term, my dad is now in a tenured position, the chair of the Bible Department at Taylor, and helping to develop a Master’s Program in World Religions that they are starting soon. Though my parents were unable to save one penny for college educations for us three children, they were able to provide all three of us with a strong, tuition-free college education, at a school ranked by US News and World Reports as one of the top five regional liberal-arts schools for the last decade.

God is faithful and God provides. God teaches us through the lean years, that though it seems we will be snuffed out entirely, he is there, he is working, and not always in the way we imagine. This is why we need not fear.

If you struggle with anxiety, I encourage you to ask God to show you how he provided for you in your life. Ask him where he was in those lean times. Wait for an answer. Perhaps you are not to the end of the story yet, if it seems that he is leaving you on your own. I think the key is that God works in a way that makes it clear we did not provide for ourselves. He works in a way that we have to give all the credit to him, because if it were up to us, we would have abandoned ship long ago.

If you struggle with trusting God, ask him if there is a point in your past, in the deepest place in your heart, where you believed he abandoned you? Ask him to show you where he was in that time. I believe you will find he was right there, and that his people were around you, a source of strength when you didn’t have anything left. This is just the beginning of the story of God’s faithfulness in my life.

After I left the nest of my parents, God didn’t walk out on me. He is with me, even now. He provided me with a job doing Art Therapy, for crying out loud! Do such jobs even exist? I guess so! I could go on and on. There are so many ways God has been there, even in my darkest hour, he was there. Praise him! He lives, and he is faithful!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

FLOWERS EVERYWHERE!



The past weekend I got sick suddenly on Friday afternoon and was sick till midday Saturday. Although it might sound great to get to leave work early due to a stomach ache, it really isn't if you spend the next 16 hours feverish in bed. Especially if it is the kick-off to a beautiful springy weekend.


Well, I called my mama, as I am prone to do when looking for that kind of sympathetic pity that only a mama can muster up, with just the right tone. And she came through (as usual). I mentioned to her that I was heading to the farmer's market when I was feeling better, and would buy some flowers for a friend's birthday, and she told me to buy some for me, and she'd send me a check for them.




We named an amount (double what I would have thought to spend) and off I went to Soulard. When I went to the market, the girl at the flower stall threw in almost two dozen fresh pink tulips, gratis! Now my apartment is bursting with spring!


The air outside is ominous with thunderstorm clouds right now, and I love a good storm. I just got back from my run in the park. I'm thinking to myself "Its a good thing we have things like storms and gloomy weather because otherwise I'd never want to go to work." Now I think a grilled cheese sandwich would be just the thing. Mmmmm, sharp cheddar, perhaps.