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March first. I have been waiting for this day. My team at work has been gearing up for a move to another office space. We thought we would be moving in early January. But because southern Michigan has been under snow cover with wind and sub-zero temperatures, the "moving" staff at the Physical Plant has been busy doing other stuff: like shoveling, scraping, salting, repairing pipe bursts, frozen drainage systems, and more. They kept putting us off. The newest move date was February 30th. And because I didn't think that was funny, I translated it to March 1. Right?
Shoes. A first-world staple. Not just one pair, but many. Shoes for school, basketball, running, the pool, the snow, work, church, a wedding, because they are on sale, leather, flats, heels, especially for heel pain, to wear only once, and don't forget: shoes that make me happy. Shoes. It's a first-world problem when I need some to go with the new outfit, to fit better, to match a color, have just the right heel, last several seasons, cost less than $20 and look classy -- and I can't seem to find the pair that I want/need/want. Right?
Looking out I see snow on top of snow. Sun on top of that. Ice crystals shimmering. Shadows making snow blue and gray. Angles and edges rounded and smooth. Clumps in trees and bushes. The picnic table and chairs buried. Only a single bird in sight -- too early to get busy. Temperature is low. Trees are dark, still, and bare. Waiting for the right moment to start the new season. Who tells them to begin? Who turns up the temp? Who invites more birds and more busy-ness? Who empowers the sun's rays to melt the snow -- in my backyard?
Lately I've noticed that a lot of talk is about things that might happen. If we get the weather that is forecast, then we might lose power. Or if we don't make 95 percent on the assignment we might have to take the course over. If we do this then that might happen. Next to talking about what might happen, is what could have happened. When we were unemployed we could have lost our house. When our car broke down on our trip, we could have been stranded. I've been thinking that we talk a lot. A lot about nothing.
My doctor is one of the good ones left. You need to watch your good cholesterol figure -- it's a bit low. Scanning all my "figures" on his computer screen ("I hate the computer," he says), he pulls out a tattered chart from the cupboard top shelf. "According to so-and-so's scale..." I'm captivated. He tells me that I have a 9-10% chance that something will go wrong with my health in the next ten years. Every bit makes a difference. Exercise and make better food choices. He gives me a "handout" to look over. Next? Denny's for breakfast.
I know what spring looks like. The plump bluebird just perched on the deck railing only a few feet from his summer home. This makes the seventh year he's come back. I don't understand why he is so fabulously beautiful. He just is. And I am utterly overwhelmed. Just seeing him reminds me of hope, of warmth, of promise, of new, of precious life. Something sacred. My heart leaps slowly, steady -- hoping not to frighten him from the window. He fluffs his wings, and turns around, circles the deck and perches again to look at me. Hello Spring Bluebird. Welcome.
Communication is one thing that everything depends on. We always value being understood and want to know that we understand. The need comes from within and drives us to sometimes do hard things, uncomfortable things. To be understood sometimes takes careful choice of words, sometimes it's tone of voice, sometimes it's no words at all, sometimes it's a gesture, sometimes it's a written word. Communicating is an art requiring practice, patience, and creativity. So many factors are involved, and so much is at stake. We all strive to communicate and we all expect success. Communication takes practice, patience, creativity, skill.
I'm thinking about completing a Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design. It will be a year-long commitment to read, discuss, study, and create and will result in a credential that should complete the foundation I have for this career. I could pursue a Master of Science degree in Instructional Design, but honestly, I find the Master of Arts in Communication degree that I have, to be the most important aspect of instructional design. This work seems to be so much about communication and clarity; understanding and insight; excellent writing and conversation skills. I think Degree+Work Experience+Certificate=Solid Foundation.
Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. God, my father, who is all and above all and is everything to me. I give praise to you mighty God! Do your work and let me be a part of it. Have your way in everything. I trust you to provide for my needs this day. Thank you for giving me the courage, the food, the health, the strength, the love and peace that I need today. Amen
Kind and soft spoken words are so refreshing. Sharp and quick wit brings on drought. Feeling safe and accepted brings peace. Standing on guard to defend myself produces turmoil. The culture that my teens live in, is rampant with quick wit and challenging tweets. Who can 'up the other' and get the most likes is the game. I don't live in this culture, but its effect on our home is destroying our peace. The best words give life. Harsh words may seem clever, but ping and pang and ping and pang til we respond in like to survive the moment.
"Live in the fullness of the joy in the Lord by finding something to be glad about besides your current circumstances." Good advice. I can probably do that. If I remember to. "Decide you will not fret or have anxiety about anything but will give thanks and praise to God, rejoicing in Him always." Decide? Do I have a choice to not worry or be anxious? Really? I guess I thought worry and anxiety just happened to me. Making a choice to be thankful and praise God instead of entertaining fret and anxious thoughts sounds simple enough. Maybe I can.
A very young Jewish boy and girl, about 15 years old, heading home from Boarding School for Purim Break, sat beside me on the 3-hour flight. They were typical "teens" hovering over their smartphones and telling stories about school and friends. Each time our eyes met, they were polite and sweet -- she giving a warm smile, and he nervously adjusting his kippot. They listened to music, took selfies, and told stories of the Rabbis and fellow students who didn't like them. But the most animated conversation was about their "annoying" parents. Teenagers are a universal category of human beings.
From winter wonderland to desert in an afternoon. Travel amazes me. This transport from culture, context, routine, and weather creates excitement and possibilities. My first travel experience came at age 5. My parents and brother left a home in Colorado to start a life (and ministry) in Korat, Thailand. From then until age 17, my life revolved around travel and travelling friends. This is a culture in itself. Awareness, upheaval, new experiences, and new expectations lead the daily experience. Saying hello and saying goodbye. You are a visitor, never fully belonging, forever seeking the next move. This keeps me alive.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day hanging out with my Mom. We started with haircuts, then clothes shopping, then soup and salad at Olive Garden. That was so nice and relaxing. Then we walked through Hobby Lobby and tried on a zillion outfits at CATO. Next an ice cold Coke and pedicures. So nice to hang out with someone who knows me so well! I remember when I realized for the first time (I'm embarrassed to admit it was in high school) that when Mom and I went shopping she never bought anything for herself. She was always spending for me.
Today marks 54 years of marriage for my parents. This is a blessing for our family! It just happened that my visit coincided with this day and I am so happy to be able to celebrate with them! Tonight we went to dinner together: Bruce, Lois, Caroline, Josiah, Anneliese, Mom and Dad, and me. The overflow room in the new IHOP in Sierra Vista was the perfect place. Low-key and quiet; without the stress of high-priced dinner plates, is what Dad appreciates the most. We laughed and listened to stories about their wedding and honeymoon adventures. Happy 54th!
It's been 16 days, and I've begun to feel the need to sit and write my 100 words for the day. Three times today I was tempted to sit down with words. But for some reason, it has felt best to wait til the day's close, once all that was going to happen, had happened. I've been waiting for something more "write-worthy" to happen. I don't want to write summaries though; I want to write thoughts and expression. Tomorrow I'll write when I feel the need to choose words and create meaning. I want my words to becoming something.
Monday in southwestern Arizona. Beautiful sunshine and light breeze. The project after breakfast was to coach my Dad on creating a listing on craigslist. My 82 year old Dad is a good learner! He listed his International 350 tractor -- and within 2 hours had a call on it. Dad enjoyed getting the photos of the tractor; and penning the description. He wanted an attention-getter at the top: READY FOR WORK!! Dad has been searching and buying on craigslist for several years. Now I hope he enjoys offering items for sale. They say it's time to "downsize" at thier house.
Another beautiful day in southwestern Arizona. The project today was helping Mom clean out her office. She agreed to "do it my way," although I had to get firm with her a few times to stay on track! After a few hours she was in the groove; sorting into "keep," "give away," and "throw away" piles. We started with her computer desk, then cabinet #1, then cabinet #2, then another desk. Four garbage bags and four boxes to give away later, the room looks much better. Mom and Dad spent several hours in the office enjoying the new uncluttered space!
Traveling today. Going home to my work, family, and cold weather. It's been a joy staying with my parents and intersecting with their lives. The "routine" at their house is comforting and relaxing. Breakfast is always oatmeal and juice and fruit. Reading scripture and devotional thoughts on the passage comes next. Prayer time and then wash the dishes. Get showered and ready for the day. The phone rings once a day, and sometimes email gets checked and sometimes not. Lunch is always sandwich stuff and supper is trying to use up what's in the fridge. Then Fox news after. Routine.
Nice to be back. It was late when I came in, but home is so warm and comfy. Especially enjoyed the new mudroom space and I was pleasantly surprised that the family has been using it well (shoes where they belong, etc.) Climbing into a comfy bed and sliding in close to my love. Home is sweet. It took my mind a little while to unwind. The man seated to my left on the plane talked for the entire 3 hour journey from Stapleton! It was enjoyable at first, but soon became exhausting. Small talk wears me out for sure.
Writing is life to me. It brings to light the underlying thoughts and ideas, feelings and reflections, hopes and dreams. As I write 100 words I wonder about who will read it and I try not to tailor my words for that unknown soul. This is me. This is what I need to do to understand me. This is why I write 100 words every day. I'm enjoying the new "habit" and wishing I would have started much sooner. Envious of those with 72 batches complete! I'll be there someday. Someday soon. Writing is life 100 words at a time.
Saturday! Usually this day seems worth the work-week-wait. Invariably I make too many plans for Saturday to really work out. But just imagining the things that are possible is a part of what makes Saturday so appealing and wait-worthy. How does one sleep in and get up early and get things done on the same day, for instance? How does one make an hour drive to the best shopping spot and bake that cake and special dinner all in one day? The nice thing about this problem, is that there's always Sunday. Sunday is the spillover day.
The message today was about Christ and His Living Water. As we sang "Let the River Flow" that song finally made sense to me. The river, the water, is the Holy Spirit. Let it flow---let the Holy Spirit move and fill us. In the story of the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus, he asks for a drink of water and begins an awkward conversation. He tells her about herself--something he could not possibly know on human terms. The conversation ends when she believes that He is the Messiah. Running back to her village she has hope.
So many deadlines were piled up on this day. And by the end, they had been met. I love this feeling! Accomplishment. End. Story over. Well done. Working on projects and realizing their completion is enjoyment. Something matters. There is progress. The world continues on. And is a better place. Tomorrow will begin the next round of projects looming toward another deadline-stacked-day. It's not mundane; it's meaningful. Each project represents cultivated relationships, communication lines, new insights and ideas, a taste of learning something new and the satisfaction of doing something that matters to so many. Bring it on.
I will be honest. My life is full and blessed. I am privileged and should remember that. I have a vehicle to drive--and it's even the one I picked out. I have a wonderful work team that respects me and listens to my ideas. At work I am expected to be creative and make new stuff. Wow. I have bills to pay and a paycheck that covers that. When I am hungry for something I can go and get it. When I am tired at night, I can go to bed. And my bed is big, soft, and comfy.
I am thinking today about the power of relationships. I think that when we interact with another person, we are on the brink of entering into a spiritual relationship because the act of communicating is exercising a gift that all of us possess because we are created in the image of God. Communicating is the essence of who God is and we are equipped with the gifts and tools to communicate just as he is. God yearns to communicate with us and in turn, we have the need to communicate with others. Interacting with another person involves communicating with them.
Interacting with another person is a spiritual thing, yes, but also an emotional one. When ideas are shared, new information and learning is gleaned, and emotions are engaged without exception (I think). When one communicates about themselves, or describes a situation, or articulate an idea, the words they choose and the manner in which they share those words impact emotions. Not just the emotions of whom they are communicating with, but their own as well. Words conjure up feeling and building words together creates even more opportunity for emotions to engage. We are story-tellers and story-lovers. I think.
The Muppets arenít as great as I remember. They were pizzazz and hilarity. Sweet and gentle humor. Fun and frolicking adventure. Green and gentlemanly. But that was 1980. A frog riding a bike was a cinematic feat then. The real Jim Henson was the voice, the story, the creative genius. No cinematic feats now. Pizzazz has fizzed out. The humor is stale and not-so-easily-digested. We watch critically, rather than with open arms. Miss Piggy is no longer funnyóshe is in the cubicle next to me at work. Not cool. It's time to archive the Muppets.
I have a brother-in-law that doesnít listen to anyone. He believes that a conversation is his voice. He uses more words and more volume than any person at any gathering Iíve been to. He seems satisfied when he has completed a story and no one can top it. Come to find out, it goes deeper than words. Itís the way he is. His ideas are ideas. Others are not. Bigger versus smaller. Important versus insignificant. Prominent versus trailer-park. White versus Black. Smart versus dumb. Rich versus poor. Good versus bad. His world is himself.
A day of worship and family time. Sun is streaming in the house and itís warmer than itís been for a long time. Dinner is easy today: scalloped potatoes and ham in the oven. When we walk in, itís just right. A nap is in order, and it catches me off guard. I sleep in one position, cozy in the leather chair. Arizona loses, MSU loses, and then Michigan. We now know the Final Four. Mom calls and we talk about things that matteróDad sold his tractor, company is gone, next weekend they visit my brother.
Team 13. We have a new spaceódrenched with natural light and open air (even though itís a bit stuffy and warm). My creativity is welcome, and just being here makes me happy. This is a new conceptóopen officeócubicle walls removed. Others stop by to look. Oh I like it. Oh I couldnít work like this. Oh this is different. Iím reminded of how important it is to be in a place where creativity is welcome. Just next door the air is thick. Walls separate glares and annoyed hearts. Tradition pretends perfection. Give me space!
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