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Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Word About My Newly Organized Cabinets

First, we are no longer annoying each other in our efforts to get dinner on the table. So, I correctly imagined a functional arrangement. However, I can’t always remember where I relocated every thing. So, I have spent the past few days searching for glasses and silverware in the wrong places.

 Morever, I can’t remember where I put the meat platters to conserve storage. Maybe that’s why I still leave my kitchen cupboard doors open rather than shutting them?

Oh wait – I put all the serving pieces in the dining room side board.

Well, leaving doors and drawers open is a habit that’s starting to drive me nuts – it’s driven my family nuts for years.

Why do I do this? I hope I discover it’s a more compelling reason than laziness.

I like the word "indolence." It makes my laziness seem classy.  ~Bern Williams

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hanging with the Hurting . . . Feeling the Burn

Ok – the Rangers are not having a good second World Series night – the pitchers are walking in runs! It looks bad . . . 9-0 Giants in the eighth inning. And the Rangers went down in the ninth – game over.

Wow . . . A second big loss!

Our baseball team is struggling to perform - to be as good as they have been and we know they can be – a snapshot of life.

Ball games, like baseball or softball, show how groups of talented people work together to reach goals. They are put together by other people who can spot talent, develop it and use it to great advantage and  entertainment.

Technology has changed how we watch a baseball game. Years ago, the only way I knew what players looked like was by checking their  baseball cards. Now I see them close up on TV and know who shaved and who didn’t. Sometimes what I see is too much information! Close-up shots show the emotions the players experience as they play. I see faces of players in the dugouts – and the litter underneath their feet as they await their turn at bat. I  see how pitchers respond to the catchers’ signals; instant replays from many different angles; freeze frames capture the sheer force of a strike-out as the bat is nowhere near the pitch.

Our recent return to being baseball fans reconnected me to a paralyzing childhood fear. The words, “It’s your turn up at bat,” or “Batter up!” panicked me when I was in school. Facing any kind of pitcher, quickly showed my athletic limitations; a strike-out, or a foul-out substantiated them. If I connected with the ball, alas, I was an easy out at first. The shame and fear of striking out, fouling out, or being tagged out was real – so was failing the team.

So our return to baseball – albeit on a couch –  has been an unexpected  goad, reminding me that I don’t go through life alone – I am on several teams: my family;  our business; my community – state and nation, and the church. In each of these arenas, it isn’t just about my individual game – which always needs improvement, no matter the venue.  It’s about how I am helping my team, even from a position of limitations.

 I see people I love who are struggling; they are up at plate, or playing a base or outfield in the games of their lives, and for all the times they are stellar players, other time they fail. What am I doing? Am I so hung up on myself – my very real failures and selfish ambitions  – that I can’t see fellow teammates are struggling too?

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth – a bustling city which had many of the same sins that stumble  21st century Christians –  and said he ran his race to win – and he urged the church to do likewise. (1 Cor. 9:24-25) He was quite a competitor (Philippians 3:4-6) He had his eyes on the prize – and yet he saw those who stumbled – felt a deep compassion. “Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” (2 Cor. 11:28-29)

I want the Rangers to win – but I can’t help them.

I want my family to win. Not just success in the world’s eyes – but success in God’s eyes. I can help them. I want all of them to wear a victor’s wreathe – my husband and children, and their children; for my brother and his family; for aunts and uncles, in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews – everyone I know! For my church – for the pastors and teachers, choir and servants, I want them to be lights that can’t be extinguished or hidden.  And if I and those closest to me  “win” the races set before us, perhaps my nation will one day love the Lord.

The starting point is  knowing and caring how other people are doing – and considering their welfare as important as mine. 

Impossible? Well,  look how the Rangers have come together, and how far they have come. Despite reversals, uncertainties and failures, they kept showing up, they kept playing ball and they got beyond their past! It’s an example I can practice; it’s an example I recommend – whether or not they win the World Series.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kitchen Reorganization – One Year Late

The kitchen in our “new” home is rectangular, with an L-shaped workspace. The sink sits below a cheery window; a small set of drawers is on the left, and a larger drawer is to the right of the sink. Similarly sized upper cabinets flank the window. The stove and fridge are to the right of the sink. Across from the fridge, a window overlooks a small table and chairs. To the left of the window, a modest bank of upper and lower cabinets houses canned good, extra dishes, and some small appliances – the whole space is adequate for two or three folks moving about.  

When we moved in, I tried to organize the kitchen to reflect how I prepared and served food; the larger drawer seemed perfect for flatware, the upper right cabinets held all our cups and glasses; dishes went on the left sided cabinets. I did not, however, factor in what Doug would be doing while I served dinner. He graciously helps set the table:  while I am ladling out the chow, he was close by, trying to get the silverware and glasses. We were constantly in each others' way. I occasionally lost my charm.

Now, good help is hard to find; so an “aha” moment dawned finally. After enduring this congestion for almost a year, I rethought the layout, and switched the knives and forks, freed up the big drawer for cooking utensils – heretofore jammed into the small lower left  bank of drawers. I kept the plates on the left, out of range of the stove, but  moved the glasses from the right to the left. Doug had space to do his thing, and I no longer have to stand aside while he rummages for forks or glasses. The switch took maybe 30 minutes after making a run to get some small cutlery trays, and a few drawer organizers.

It took hundreds of collisions before I thought through how to make it easier for Doug to keep helping me. Preparing dinner is important – but so is serving it with a minimal fuss.  My first layout made sense for me, but not for anyone trying to help me.

Next I thought I’d cull the canned goods for anything expired: I found a dozen plus dead canned goods – and some spices that were fours years past their prime. No, I didn’t check the dates when I unpacked from the recent move.  Everything still seemed fine.

Didn’t we  just get here, anyway?

Actually, it will it was five years this AUGUST that we have been in Texas, four, since we set up housekeeping in a garage apartment. Then I recycled kitchen stuff I haven’t used, sometimes in three years.

Is there a wider application here?

  • If I want help, make it easy for others to help by thinking through what might work better for them.
  • If I don’t want to get sick, or make Doug sick, get rid of stale food. And inventory those habits, hurts and hang-ups more conscientiously  than I did the canned stuff. Keep what is good. Get rid of what is not working for me!  

When you blame others, you give up your power to change.  ~Author Unknown http://www.quotegarden.com/responsibility.html

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Checking my Pulse:

Reflections Upon John Chapter 2

Autumnal vision can be skewed by memories and emotions. And I am worried and discouraged about many things – my own failures and limitations,  those of the church, and enemies who want to destroy America, and the church, literally. Reading through John’s account of the wedding and the Temple purging, I gleaned comfort when I saw an application for my changing age and stage. In this account, I see God in Christ drawing very close to His people privately to meet a highly personal need, and publicly to restore right worship.

Circumstances can rob me of joy. John endured many worrisome and discouraging circumstances. However, John believed God was faithful, and since he had a pulse, he had a purpose in a situation that the world might judge as a supreme failure.

  • The Romans still controlled Jerusalem.
  • He had been exiled, cut off from the churches he shepherded.
  • Tradition says his face was plunged in hot oil.
  • He had seen the Temple torn down, and the Jews dispersed.
  • He knew many were persecuted for the Lord’s sake.

So,  John stayed focused on his mission – making Christ known so others might believe and have life in His name.  John wanted others to know that happened when Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, lived with His people as His hour came. John described when and why he and the others put their faith in Jesus of Nazareth, and why many did not.

Christ’s first miracle connected an Old Testament promise of fine wine, restoration and revival to a literal occurrence. “The beginning points to the end.” (Pastor Skip Ryan) Next, the Lord did something that took John and the disciples many years to understand. It was not a miracle; it was Christ’s  job. (Malachi  3:2-4) Nothing escaped His notice – including the heart of man. 

At my age, I can feel myself running out of many things I took for granted. At my age, I also know I can’t know all the sins that impede my prayers – and I can’t turn a blind eye to my failures and those of the church. (Psalm 130:3-6 )  How reassuring it is to read John’s account of the Lord doing what He came to do,  quietly, personally, and then publicly  – perfectly.

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Evidence of Recovery

 When I get a cold, I know the morning that my black, steaming java tastes like warned sludge, the bug will not go quickly or quietly.  Coffee lost its charm for me about a week ago, just  five days into something I picked up somewhere. This cold so outwitted my home-remedies and over the counter meds, I went to the doctor Monday when my voice left me. No fever, no lung gunk meant we agreed this was just a nasty virus: stick with home remedies.

But I could not sleep for coughing. It didn’t help that Sunday I watched an engrossing mystery whose villains suffered from a rare genetic disease called fatal familial insomnia. Maybe this wasn’t just a cold? Ten nights, awaking every hour with  an eruptive coughing spasm made for  a fuzzier brain than usual.

So, I trundled back to doctor, who said, sympathetically, he was not happy to see me. He gave me drugs that seem to be working. I know I am coming out of the viral fog that has robbed me of so much charm, and too many days. Coffee again tastes like its good old self. 

Thank you, the much maligned pharmaceutical industry!  

As you helped me, may you quickly develop and produce the drugs for my loved ones whose battles are longer, fiercer and more painful than any I faced. I pray God restores to them health and joy in simple pleasures.

 Also praying that we see and enjoy, deeply enjoy the simple pleasures God has granted even as we are walking through dark, scary valleys.