A nest, by any other name…

Found a bird’s nest the other day.  Unfortunately, it was not in its conventional place—it was on the ground instead of up a tree.  In my yard, this is sign that something has gone awry.  Whether from an overactive squirrel or a prowling cat, or maybe just the typical Midwestern spring winds, the nest was no longer functioning as, you know,… a nest. 

A small piece was missing from one side, and there was a hole in the lower end, maybe where it had been anchored to a branch.  But, oh, how I marveled at the beauty of it.  Those intricately woven twigs, something I could barely do with two hands and two opposable thumbs, much less using just my mouth!!  A veritable piece of art, and nothing less.  So beautiful to me, in fact, that I have a small nest that sits in my Christmas tree each year; carefully wrapped and tucked away with the other family ornaments that are so much a part of our tradition.

This one also was probably no longer destined to function as a nest.  At least not in that tree.  It was broken, forsaken by its original maker, and abandoned on the ground.  End of story…(not!).

Just because it’s no longer functional as a nest, doesn’t mean it’s no longer functional.

Scooping it up in my hands, I let it rest safely on my porch step out of the way of my lawn mower.  When my two little neighbor boys to came to visit and play with our dog Buckley, I gave the nest to them to show their mom.  A great piece of wonder for a child is a bird’s nest.   

And I realize that brokenness to us is not what it is to God.  That which I have so carefully tried to construct around me: a loving marriage, a stable family, a good reputation, a healthy church, blah, blah, blah…can fall out of the tree with one good gust of life, and lay seemingly abandoned.  Forsaken.  Forgotten.  End of story….(not!)

Thank God that my Maker is not One to forsake or abandon!  My life, even in a broken state, is still a testimony to His wonder.  It may not have the same function as I originally imagined or planned for, but that doesn’t mean there is no function for me at all.  As He holds my brokenness in His hands, He still sees me as beautiful, useable, and most of all—lovable!

I just went next door to see if the boys would let me take a picture of “their” nest.  They were excited to show me into the back yard where they had hidden it into a small bush.  Who knows?  Maybe a homeless bird will come by…

…or maybe it’ll end up in their next Christmas tree…

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The problem with a leaky pen is……

spot

So interesting how language changes, even in one’s own lifetime.   A surfboard was something of a status symbol at the beach in the 60’s.  Now that fine word has been sliced up: Typing has morphed into keyboarding, and surf is something one does on the internet.spot

Either way, there’s still no comparison to putting pen to paper.  I’m a bit picky with my pens; maybe it’s just a sign of age.  I prefer ball point, fine line.  I remember using the old cartridge pens, and when they sprung a leak, you knew it.  Ball points not quite as much, but
they can still get gooey and cause some literary angst, especially when…

  1. …it smudges and makes a mess on the paper. This must be particular frustrating to left-handed writers, as they drag their dominate hand across the paper, leaving a black trail in its wake. spot (I’m right handed, and have grown to realize how discriminated against they are!)  
  2. …the smudginess is distracting to the reader, and can even garble up the communication if they are left to interpret the ink when it looks like Chinese characters or a Rorschach test.
  3. …it wastes ink and paper, which costs money (and trees).
  4. …it’s hard to get out of clothes, especially when you wash and dry one hidden in a pocket. (You wonder how I know this???  Yes, white nursing uniform.)

Warning: Such a pen tends to be put aside for a more efficient writing tool.

This may not be a perfect analogy to my life, but a few points may be worthy of note:spot

  1. Life generally just gets messy sometimes, or many times, even without my help. Someone comes along and drags their crud through my lane leaving some ink smudges while they trek merrily along.  Or worse, I’m the leaky one.  Whether through offenses retained from someone else’s ink, or decisions of my own, I’m blotching up my own personal timeline hitting the publish button whether I know it or not.
  2. This causes distractions to those reading my life. And they are there, for all of us, usually when we are least aware of it, watching and learning from how we react and respond. 
  3. The grudge-holding blemishes are some of the worst emotion-absorbers of all time, to name but one among many. As a Christian in particular, this one wastes the abundant life that is intended to flow through me to others.  
  4. Sometimes even when the offense is resolved and forgiven, there still is that emotional or relational stain that needs to be dealt with. And this takes time, effort, and an expert Laundryman. 

Me, I tend to throw leaky pens away.  Thank God for amazing grace, that He doesn’t do that with us!  But the warning remains, that if I CHOOSE to remain leaky and continue to cause smudges, He might put me up for a while in favor of a more efficient tool.  That would be sad…

Because the best thing for a pen is to be held in the hand of the Writer!

A Flash What?

(full read at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com)  At this writing, I am 54 years old, soon to be 55 in fact—old enough to remember when 55 was the national speed limit on the interstate, yes, indeed!  Google was a semi-mathematical term that had lots of zeroes behind it, a mouse was something you would set a trap for, and a text was required reading from a book.  You remember…a book, a rectangular collection of paper pages held between two hard or soft covers, generally with a title on the front and a copyright date on the inside, and sometimes you had to lick your index finger to advance to the next page when they would stick together.  And they smelled good, too, when you stuck your nose into the center binding—they just had that “bookish” fragrance. 

Well, anyway, now I read most of my “books” on a screen, I write most of what I write on a screen, I communicate more frequently on a screen.  I wonder if that’s an indication that we, as a society, are “screening” ourselves from real life and from each other.  Bad pun, I know, just a thought.

Several years ago, my brother, the Purdue engineer, introduced me to an amazing advance in computer technology called the “flash drive”, yet another compound word that didn’t exist when I was in school.  I believe it was over the phone (phone: n– a hand-held device plugged into the wall enabling a person to give and receive audio-only transmission) that he guided me on how to plug it in and pull it up for use.  You mean no more floppy discs (those went the way of 8-track tapes, and I won’t even try to define that one…)?  So now all my writing is on a flash drive, but unfortunately I had been neglecting to do something called a back-up.  This brings me up to date in my missive.

Yesterday, after a small yet significant time of putting some thoughts on, er …paper/screen, I pulled out the desk drawer where I ALWAYS keep my flash drive.  Always.  I tend not to be like my husband, meticulous in where he keeps his things.  In fact, in describing my organizational style, Bob parodies the old saying in that I have places for everything and everything in their places.  I have not yet fully conquered this challenge, but since I am still breathing, there is hope.

Usually, I simply need to pull out the drawer and, without even looking in, put my hand in and bring out the flash drive, since it is connected to a lanyard.  This time, however, my fingers did not immediately find its prize, so I stood up to look inside, and, incredulously, it was missing.  Oh rat!  Of course, the realization hit me that much, if not most, of the contents had not been backed up, due to my procrastination.

A quick investigation throughout the house revealed no familiar flash drive.  Good grief!  I even emptied out the vacuum cleaner in the hopes I had swept it up the day before!  I checked the patio where I like to repose and compose at the same time.  I did a double-take into the same drawer somewhat irrationally thinking I may have overlooked it. (It also came to mind that I had found the Parmesan cheese dispenser in the microwave the other day, so who knows where I might have put the flash drive!)  

Probably the two words that come most to mind from that experience are “neglect” and “test”.

  • I felt I had neglected to honor what God had given me. My writing may never be read by another person, never hit the stands or be sold in a store.  That is not the point.  God does not assess value the way so-called rational mankind does.  I felt one time, many years ago, that He told something like this: “If what I say is important to you, write it down.”    I think that perhaps that was more than an invitation.  We are to do whatever the thing in front of us is being revealed for us to do.  The outcome is in God’s hands, and is frequently not what we had anticipated anyway.  God does not call us to the world’s definition of success, but to His, which is faithfulness.  I had not been faithful with what I had been given.  Then I wonder what other things we so easily neglect, things given for which we literally show contempt to God for these great and useful gifts—of friendship, family, health, time, and all the other resources which are readily taken for granted and/or misused for our own purposes. OUCH.

 

  • I was in the midst of a test—how was I going to respond to this disappointment, not only of losing what was so valuable to me, but also to my own fallibility? And sometimes the latter is more difficult than the former.  Repentance was first.  Repentance is ALWAYS first.  It’s one of those “don’t leave home without it” activities.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that repentance is actually one of the most important gifts of God that we neglect—it takes humility and change, neither of which necessarily come cheap.  Secondly, I was being asked to trust.  God knew this was going to happen (He always does….) and the outcome was in His most capable hand.  This is where the rubber of Romans 8:28 hits my personal road.

I’m happy to report that it wasn’t long after that, only maybe half an hour, that the thought came to me from “somewhere” (yeah, right) that I had been wearing a coat that morning when I was writing outside.  I have a real habit of leaving important items in my coat pockets.  And sure enough, there was my flash drive on its lanyard, along with some other important hand-written notes (yes, written, with an old-fashioned implement called a pen, on white stuff made from a tree, called paper) that I hadn’t even noticed was missing yet.  Needless to say, in keeping with my repentance, I bought a new flash drive that day and backed everything up. 

Admittedly, it took longer than for a Purdue engineer, but I eventually got it figured out

–dawnlizjones

Who reads YOUR blog??

My labcoat, but adorned with my father's old RCA pocket protector, circa 1960's.
My lab coat, but adorned with my father’s old RCA pocket protector, circa 1960’s.

My parents called to wish me a happy birthday.  It’s no fun living as far away as I do from the family that I love.  Hurray for all the modern available communications modes like wireless calling (we used to have to pay extra for “long distance”), and video chatting (something from the old cartoon “the Jetsons”), all part of this ubiquitous thing called The Internet.  Mom and Dad bought my book, and then they actually read it.  I flat out don’t deserve parents this good. 

Then I found out they are reading my blog.  All of it.  Each and every page.    

Before anyone snickers, I hasten to add that I’m really okay with that.  In fact, I’m more than okay—I’m thrilled!  If there are two people who have earned the right to correct me, disagree with me, and speak into my life, it’s Mom and Dad.  (I repeat, I don’t deserve parents this good….)  Here’s the thing: I’ve been reading their lives for many years.  I know the pain, well…some of it anyway.  I’ve seen the triumphs.  I’ve heard the regrets (not all well-founded, in my not-so-humble opinion, but certainly sincere).  And overarching it all, I see the love; I am a product of the love, the love that
“believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” like Paul talks about in his letter to the Corinthian church back in the day. 

And I am then very pointedly reminded that others read my life also. Others that I’m not even aware of.  In fact, everyone has a hidden congregation of sorts, ones we’re not cognizant of who are reading the blogging in our lives and deciding whether to click the star, tap on the retweet button, or most importantly, hit the follow widget. 

And God reads our lives. Dad likes to tell the story of a few years back when he and his brother,  Gene, each independently  found a $20 bill laying loose in a grocery store.  Separate incidents, separate cities, same reaction: both Dad and Uncle Gene walked up to the counter and turned it in.  When they heard about each other’s encounters with a little extra cash, Dad said it was like my grandmother was watching from heaven to see whether her two boys were going to remember what they had been taught so many years ago.  I can only imagine her smile, and God’s.

Today is a new day, or as they say, a blank page.  Okay, so maybe mine has a few smudges and ink spots from past mistakes, but it’s still a new page.  What I choose to write on it is ultimately up to me. 

And may I choose my words carefully—Mom and Dad are reading!!

The Blue Screen of Death…so now what??

YIKES!!
YIKES!!

(full post at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com)  l am told that one of the names for this ominous and very frustrating apparition is “The Blue Screen of Death”.   I’m sure there have been other endearing epithets, not all printable.   And since I am only marginally computer literate, if that, I am 90% dependent on the powers that be to define the problem and get me back on board surfing the web.

Therefore, I have an Ace in my pocket.  When all my interventions fail (a process that doesn’t take long) I call the Help Line.  It’s paid for, and they know a whole lot more than I do about what’s going on and what to do about it.  They are available 24/7, can dumb it down enough to speak my language, and sometimes I can even understand through the thick very non-American accent.  Regardless of what part of the world I’m actually connected to, can I say the person on the other end has a “global view” about the inner workings of my computer, whereas I somehow can’t get past the frustration of staring at this blue screen??

Pretty good analogy with life, certainly with mine.  Sometimes I get surprised, no, blindsided by circumstances that come from “out of the blue”.  Not only do I need clarity as to what is actually going on here, but I also need wisdom to know how to handle it.  I need my Help Line, and His name is Jesus.  He is available 24/7, totally speaks my language, definitely has an eternal view, and what’s best—it’s paid for, in full, by Him. 

God had a similar idea when times were changing for the early Jewish people:

“This is my command— be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) *

Commands, not suggestions.  Kind of like when the Geek Squad rescues my laptop from the creepy blue screen, and puts it back under my command so I can get on with…well, my life.

*Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt) (Kindle Locations 12076-12077). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.