Thursday, June 22, 2017

Best By Date



Are you past your best by date? Or expiration date? Or whatever you want to call it?

I actually know a little something something about determining expiration dates, and there’s usually a decent fudge factor involved. But botulism is botulism, so hey.

I was talking with a friend the other day about their dissatisfaction with the status quo. I have my own complaints about the status quo, so in preaching to both of us I recommended changing up something. The scenery. What you’re doing for self-care. What you’re reading. What you’re praying.

Or, you know, clean out the pantry.

The further down this road I get the more astonished I get at all the things and people that have fallen off the back of the truck. Some I thought would be riding shotgun … or at least backseat driving … hmm.



I general avoid haunted houses, and that’s where ghosts live, so …


Onward.

I skipped posting last week because I had nothing new to say. I’m working on self-care and self-reflection. I pondered this piece of paper I keep tucked in my calendar. Yes, I keep a paper calendar. Life is better that way.



If you’re familiar with Marcus Buckingham and his “strength” books, these are my top five. Most are self-explanatory. Maximizer means I prefer to take things from good to great, as opposed to handling train wrecks and lost causes. Interesting.

I had to laugh at a meme I saw this week. Rather than copy and paste, I’ll quote the edited version here.

“I have a pretty big a**, so when I half a** something, you’re still getting something impressive.”

Word.

And perhaps some insight into why I have angst lately … I’ve not had much choice but to half a** several things with my hands (and my mouth?) tied behind my back. I don’t mind the opportunity to unravel the occasional train wreck or to address the needs of a lost cause that in reality has potential. Forever the optimist, I like the challenge.

But the lack of … well, there’s a long list. Best summed up by ...

Ugh.

I’ll have a convo with Juan Valdez about it. And keep searching for my joy.

And eat some avocado enchiladas. Self care.
  
And keep moving down the road.
  


And keep looking up.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Summer of My Discontent




Okay, I’m not really that discontented.

And it’s not officially summer yet.

I have been saying I’m struggling with exhaustion and schtuff. Allergies have a lot to do with that … hello grass pollen. I am discontented with pollen. I met a friend for lunch the other day, and the first thing she said was that I looked like I didn’t feel good. Indeed. Congestion, sore/scratchy throat, brain fog.

I’m schlepping through the best I can. Just a couple or three more weeks and I should be able to tolerate the outdoors a little. I’m working on extra self-care in the meantime.

This week thanks to the aforementioned brain fog, and because I snapped a lot of photos … also because I'm multitasking by listening to a Jimmy Abegg interview while I type ... I’m going heavy on the pics, light on the words. Enjoy.


When babies want to take selfies.

Let there be light. And let it be pretty.

La Marseilles, la marseill-e-e-e-es, da da da da, da da da …

The blurriness is perhaps a metaphor for why I need coffee at eight o’clock at night.

French crème brulee to go with the French fleur de lis.

Don't lick that.

A metaphor for my train of thought.
  
The asymmetry is assaulting my sense of feng shui.

It's healthy 'cause it has fruit on it.



Sometimes you’re the bird, sometimes you’re the light post?

Tune me.



Suburban blight.

Rural blight.



A metaphor for my sinuses. Take two chile relleno and call me in the morning

Keep looking up.





Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kerfuffle



The word “kerfuffle” has been in the news and on my brain.

Go ahead. Say it five times fast.

Kerfuffle

It’s a good word.

So is shrubbery, at which I am staring, hoping perhaps for some inspiration.



There are daily kerfuffles reported in the media and happening on the social media. Now the broadcast media reports on the social media. Oy vey. Do you ever chuckle at a reporter telling us what someone posted or tweeted? This is news now? How much our world has changed in the last ten or twenty years.

Let us all chuckle at the kerfuffles on the six o’clock news.

Another tongue twister for you to utter five times fast.

:-)

Do you have friends on your feed who seem to have a kerfuffle obsession? Many have observed with a shaking of the head and a face palm the current state of social media interaction, particularly as it relates to, but not limited to political discussions. Some display their obsession with likes and shares, and some jump right in with comments that often are as combative as those they seek to, I don’t know, debunk? Beat into submission? Occasionally a healthy debate breaks out, but it seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

You catch more flies with honey.

Sept d’un coup.

Along those same lines, it’s been said “consider the source” and “choose your battles wisely”. A recent kerfuffle in the social media had me shaking my head yet again. Often we have different perceptions of situations … and what ought to be done or said … and whether we are the ones who should do or say things. Our personalities, our relationships, the experiences we have, and the information we’re operating with can inform whether we jump in at all. Whilst I was privately trying to ascertain more information, this particular kerfuffle started to get a little disrespectful in the public arena. My experience on this one told me first not to have a cow – everything is probably not as it seems – and second not to touch the discussion with a ten foot pole.

I felt a slight passing sense of vindication when I was proven right before too long.

Sigh.

Sometimes the words don’t mean what you think they mean.


Kerfuffle.
Schmerfuffle.
Hasenpfeffer incorporated.


Perspective, man.

I don’t know, do you think she’s secretly flipping the bird with her right hand? Perspective. She doesn’t look happy, but without all the facts, how do we know for sure?

Murphy once said junk will accumulate to fill the available space. This is perhaps an accurate description of our SoMe feeds these days. I did start using a plugin for Chrome that curates my Facebook feed in truly beautiful ways. No more so-and-so liked or commented on this thing you could not care about less. Always in most recent order. I’m still evaluating, but so far so good. The sad part is there is no such thing for the phone app. But overall it is doing great things for my sanity and my blood pressure.

How much time are we all wasting on useless kerfuffles? Are there kerfuffles that are useful? Why are we not discussing faith, hope, love, truth, and beauty? Why are we calling out those we think oppose us, more or less calling them the devil incarnate, instead of praying for the discernment and wisdom to recognize what he’s really doing?

Why am I not currently on a beach somewhere in the coffee belt???

Perplexing times and perplexing questions.

Kerfuffle schmerfuffle.


Keep looking up.






Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mood




“Here, take a picture.”

“Okay. You want me to put it on the blog this week?”

“Yeah!”

Friends come to the family farm to pet the goats and chickens. We try to keep all members of the animal kingdom out of the pool area except for humans, cats, and dogs, but … there’s the occasional random frog … Chickie-poo, may she rest in peace in the big chicken coop in the sky, free of coyotes, hawks, and hungry pigs … Rufus the Pool Goat … and then sometimes children come walking up from the barn, each one carrying a chicken.

You get a chicken … and you get a chicken … everyone gets a chicken!

I really need to get on with writing a series of children’s books. Chickie-poo’s tale needs a fictional ending, as the reality of her demise is too violent for a G rating.

#farmlife

Things don’t always go the way we would like. Some would even say rarely. As a general rule in life I hate surprises, but I do like putting my music on shuffle. You end up with gems like this …



I think the official title is “Belgian Frenzy”? I’m grateful to the artist, who burned a copy of an out of print CD for my sister, complete with bonus material, to replace her aging cassette tape. Eighties Christian rap. It’s stellar.

The surprising thing lately I suppose is that there haven’t really been any surprises. I told a friend the other day I’m profoundly bored. There are stories behind that statement not for public consumption, but the phrase accurately describes my current mood.

Or, as the college girls are apparently saying these days …

“I’m profoundly bored.”

“Mood.”

And no, I don’t want to join your network marketing company. I’m happy with the one I’m with.

I don’t particularly need anyone to fix me by knowing what I need or what I need to be doing either. I’m good.

I’m pretty sure God can handle me saying I’m profoundly bored. I mean, in this season he’s provided a big stack of books for me to read, family to look after, and interesting skies to stare at.







Also culinary skills..



And a little girl at the farm – just the other day, at a surprise party of all things – enthralled by my stories of playing in the pasture as a child.

“The electric fence was higher then, so we would scoot under it and go play. We’d pick daisies and Queen Anne’s lace for our moms. And we’d collect hickory nuts that fell off a tree up that direction. And when a tornado blew a huge tree over by the creek – and it still lived for a couple years – we’d play in there like we were in the middle of a forest. When you’re in the pasture, though, you have to watch out for the bull and you have to watch out for cow patties. Do you know what a cow patty is?”

“No.”

“It’s cow poop.”

There are few things better than children’s laughter.

That book series probably needs to have a volume about the cow pasture.

For now I have more skies to stare at …

Keep looking up



.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Aggressive Forgiveness



Eugene Peterson hits it out of the park again. Well, Eugene Peterson and the Apostle Paul. As I am prone to do, I flipped over to the Message version of the passage being discussed amongst ourselves at each table last night.

“But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.”
~ Romans 5:20-21 MSG

Aggressive forgiveness! Who uses words like that!?!

Aggressive forgiveness = grace.

Some purists raise their eyebrows (or have a spazz attack) over the Message translation, reminding us all that it’s a paraphrase, not a literal translation of the original text. Okay, so it was translated phrase by phrase, passage by passage. That doesn’t turn the whole shebang into some gnostic gospel.

Here’s the deal. I was raised on King James in a small-to-medium size country church, transitioning into New International Version in my later teen years. The church’s graduation gift to all the high school seniors was a parallel KJV-NIV bible. I wore the spine out of that thing.

Today with apps on our phones we can flip at will between the five hundred kazillion English translations. And lots of non-English. I can flip over to the Toma bible friends have been working on for decades. Which I did of course, except Romans doesn’t exist yet in written form per my app, so I chose a different book just for kicks. I don’t have a clue. I doubt I’ll ever learn Toma, but you never know.

In the bible translation world and in the sphere of world missions, we talk about unreached people needing a bible translation in their “heart language”. Heart language. So maybe there’s a national standardized language, the language of commerce and higher education. In a lot of places you might not expect, that might even be English, just from colonial and/or global economy influences. But there might be many local dialects much more comfortably spoken and understood by those who grew up with them.

How are people supposed to have a fighting chance at hearing and responding to the gospel if it doesn’t exist in a form they can understand? I don’t have the stats handy, but they’re out there on how many languages have no written or even oral translation of the bible. There are many. Cell phones and sim cards have done great things for oral translations. If your tribe speaks a language that doesn’t even have a written form (oh it’s a thing), not having to create that written form and then establish a literacy program can shave years off the translation process.

So back to the Message. All translations have their issues. Ask me sometime about my favorite pet peeve in the KJV versus NIV. If you prefer the Queen’s English, have at it. NIV was a vast improvement in many ways. Much more understandable for the everyman. I feel like the Message gets at our heart language, though. That was Eugene Peterson’s intent – to make the language and the idioms and such more meaningful in today’s English.

The choo-choo of Romans 5. Our table passed the test.

Imagine if the Apostle Paul got off a plane at LAX. Do you think maybe he’d profess the gospel while speaking fluent Valley Girl?

All things to all people. While preserving the truth.

You can say the words, but are they meaningful to the audience?

We talk about grace, but I wonder if we really get it.

Or if the word “grace” is code for “Religious nut speaking. Please ignore.”

Aggressive forgiveness.

Willingly suffering a gruesome death on a cross so you don’t have to.

So you can be forgiven.

For anything and everything.

That’s pretty aggressive.


Keep looking up.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sigh



Behold the sky today. And perhaps my mood. I told a friend the other day I had a bad attitude about something. They told me I was wrong. Perhaps. Or perhaps ... in my best Jon Lovitz voice … acting!

Speaking of bad attitudes, I’ve already unfollowed one friend this week based solely on the number of shrieky, rabid political articles popped into my newsfeed by their liking and reacting to them. Sorry, sweetheart, I couldn’t take it anymore.

The biggest surprise might be that it’s only been one friend.

Wow, people are hot.

And not in a good, Chris Evans way hot.

Maybe I should start a duct tape ministry. You know, distribute the solution to everything so people can wrap their heads in it … to keep their heads from exploding. Or at least contain the fallout. ‘Cause heads are exploding all over the place.

Such hatred. Such targeting of anyone who dares express an opposing opinion. All by people who think they know. They are just so sure they know. They know everything about everything. And they just know that anyone who doesn’t think exactly the same as them is full of hatred.

Oops, we have an update. Breaking news! The unfollows are up to two. Honestly, people, take a breath or three or eighteen and think for a minute. Is it true? Is it worth your time? Is it worth the relationships you risk by hanging your hat on it? Is it worth the rise in your blood pressure? Not everyone wants to be around Angry Chicken Little, duct-taped head or not.

I’ve seen those who claim to have a corner on the market when it comes to tolerance use the ugliest of language and tactics to attack those who disagree with them on a political issue. Sure, policy matters and ultimately can affect our daily lives. Slippery slopes are slippery. But maybe actually read things, drill down to original research instead of having a conniption over someone’s flimsy report on it, and for the love of all that is holy rewatch Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” before you declare the sky is falling.

I challenge you to step back and check your social media. Look at what you have shared. Go to your activity log (from your Facebook timeline) and see what you liked and commented on – for public posts, all your friends can see your reactions and comments. You might even be popping those articles into their newsfeeds with all your clicking. Consider the message you’re sending. For those who consider themselves followers of Jesus … do you love God and love people? All people? Do you look and sound like it?

Now on to far more important matters. Disclaimer  -- I have not drilled down to the original research article on this one, so I’m not staking my scientific credentials on it. Seriously, it is so important to check your sources because sometimes the original research article reveals something ridiculous like grand scientific conclusions based on seventeen subjects with no control group. Please. Come back when you understand scientific method. The amount of bogus science out there is disturbing and often seems to be multiplying like something in a petri dish.

But I digress.

My people, I have found the ultimate workout plan that is going to take your results up a few notches and solve all of your problems. It was reported this week that swearing may make you stronger! Just think of it … we could set up a whole chain of gyms based on the concept. Perhaps even contract with the local priest to set up a confessional at the exit. Oh the possibilities.

Perhaps the current societal climate can be summed up in one phrase. In the tradition of the artist formerly (and then again later) known as Prince, a symbol even. We’ve been digging into the book of Romans on Wednesday nights, and as we review each week, I hear the description of chapter 1 in a loud, booming movie trailer voice …



The … downward … spiral … of … human … depravity!

Human depravity!

Downward spiral!

We’re so oblivious.

In so many ways.

It all looks hopeless.

Except in light of heaven.

I think I need to read some Ecclesiastes.


Keep looking up.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Zombie Apocalypse





Zombies. Zombies everywhere.

I’ve always said in the event of a zombie apocalypse that I’m hiding behind my nephew. He read some book about zombie survival techniques, plus he is trained in the ways of tae kwon do and o-line.

Given the scale of these zombies I probably have nothing to worry about.


My three-year-old cousin overpowering zombies during the Sunday sermon.

Artist's zombie rendition. And a random limb.






Along the lines of zombies … lemmings. All humans have lemming tendencies at times. It’s true. Social media makes it super obvious. Everyone please remember to check your snopes. If we would all do this, we could be informed before we post things like asking for prayer for the US Darkhorse dealio, the toddler who nailed himself with a brad nailer, and Brad Comer’s cancer battle. Far be it from me ever to discourage anyone from praying – have at it, I’m highly in favor of prayer and practice it all the time – but, kids, all of these events occurred several years ago. Years. Brad Comer succumbed to his cancer in February 2011. It’s 2017.

Ooooh. What would zombie lemmings be like?

We interrupt our normally scheduled post for a game of …

Duck …



Duck …



Oh! Sorry, no goose. Just ducks. Well one duck I caught on camera.
  
Speaking of uncooperative wildlife and entities … the Sync lady! Whilst on shuffle, my aged iPod played me “Try” by Asher Book, from the movie musical “Fame”. Wanting to relive the experience a week or two later, I asked Sync lady to, “Play track Try.” She obstinately keeps playing “Thrive” by Switchfoot. Fine, “Play artist Asher Book.” She played Usher. Which is not a bad thing, except when you want to hear Asher Book. “Play album Fame” resulted in Michael W. Smith’s “The Stand”. Also not a bad thing,

EXCEPT WHEN YOU WANT TO HEAR “TRY” BY ASHER BOOK FROM "FAME"!

Showtunes, people! And scrolling through to cue that baby up manually isn’t particularly safe while driving.

Sigh.

These rail cars are epic. Zoom in. You'll see.

As we continue to hurtle around the sun at whatever ridiculous speed, sometimes things get out of control. Sometimes the proverbial cliché door closes and an equally cliché window opens. Earlier this week I had a door close kind of curiously. A couple of possible reasons come to mind. Lesser mortals might be offended, but silver lining! There’s no major divine intervention here beyond the usual … and it’s not some life changing thing … let’s just call it a deux d’un coup that freed up some time and allowed me to do a Pontius Pilate washing of my hands for a bit. With a Mona Lisa smile. While I Sabbath a little.

Keep looking up.