Where’s the window?

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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.

Pardon our #dust

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(full read at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com)  The work on the house is progressing.  Isn’t being a property owner just loads of, um…fun?

The ceiling in the dining room is now finished, and the new crown molding looks great, matching the rest of the downstairs which was done last summer.  Our wonderful contractor even patched up many of the cracks in the plaster, even though that wasn’t part of the “work order”.  (Gotta love IMG_20150410_191810206contractors who see what needs to be done, and just fixes it!)  I haven’t cleaned all the dust out of the kitchen, or moved the furniture back into the room, but it’s going to happen, I can just feel it…Haven’t gotten around to painting it all yet either—that’s my job for a later time.

The new bathroom is moving along also.  We managed just fine with seven people in the house over Easter weekend and only one functional commode and shower (we Americans are just so spoiled.)  Just today they replaced the old window with a new privacy opaque IMG_20150401_154857189_HDRone.  Now you can’t see how badly the window needs cleaning.  I wonder if that’s one of the draws of an “earth” home…??

I’ll admit, it’s all moving a little slower than I had hoped, but that’s only because I don’t have really any idea how long these things take.  Thoughts:

  • God sometimes has to move everything out of the way to get the job done. Schedules, toxic relationships, modern-day idols.  It makes the rest of our lives look a bit “undone” for a bit while the work is going on.  The nice thing is that when I do move the furniture back in, I can be choosey about what I put back into the space, perhaps a bit wiser than before.  This takes some planning and muscle on my part, a.k.a. diligence.
  • God fixes things beyond what we thought we needed fixed. Like my contractor who mended the cracked plaster in the walls—something that I had learned to “live with” as just part of my old house—so also God isn’t content to leave the cracked and peeling places in my life either.  After all, my life isn’t just my life, it ultimately belongs to Him, and He doesn’t settle for what seems to us to be “good enough”.  It takes humility to admit that there is more to the restoration process than I first admitted.
  • Sometimes things just take longer than we had hoped, doggone it! Of course, I could stop the upgrading project in the bathroom today if I so choose, but then the plumbing wouldn’t be very functional, negating the whole reason for the bathroom in the first place.  What God starts, He finishes, unless I choose to stop the program.  Patience is part of the grace He gives during the dust of construction in my life.

So during the upgrade, we have lived with the dining room table in the front room, a confused dog wondering who these people are and why they were rearranging his “cage”, and oh yeah, a short love note to my husband  written in the dust.

Who knows?  After moving the furniture back in, maybe I’ll even clean a few windows.  (Not….)

What’s that smell??

(full post at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com)  I love fresh scents—the sun-warmed honeysuckle that dominates my fence in the summer, or the whole grain bread baking in my kitchen at wintertime, it’s all great!  Evidently, our sense of smell not only brings pleasure or distaste, it also evokes memories from recent or far away past. I can barely stand the taste of coffee, but absolutely love to smell it in the morning at work or walking into a specialty store at a shopping mall.  I’m sure this olfactory phenomenon has something to do with my dearly loved parents drinking coffee at home when I was coffeegrowing up.  And the musty odor of our basement when we moved into this old house many years ago immediately took me back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, a delightful and comforting thought.

Interesting creatures, we humans are.  While we are quite proficient at compartmentalizing our human “pieces” to study and understand them, (things like our five senses of taste, touch, vision, hearing, and, oh yeah, smelling), we are not necessarily equally adept at reconstructing the pieces back into a whole to understand the impact of each piece on the other.  We are, after all, created for synergy, not for isolation.  Just ask anyone who has ever come in close personal contact with a skunk—the assault on the nose, in particular, has great impact on the feet, as a whole.  (One might wonder how I know this…)skunk

Thus I have entered the world of infusing my home with fragrances.  I find this particularly helpful still living as we do in the same old house with the musty basement, and with the addition of a large dog who has full-home access.  Through the years I’ve tried several experiments to make my home fragrantly acceptable: warm potpourri (both solid and liquid), various plug-ins, sprays, candles, wax warmers, et. al.  There is, I have learned, an inherent problem with most of these arrangements in that they tend to have other chemical ingredients to which some people are terribly allergic.  These extra ingredients, then, are not only a mere impediment to the enjoyment of the whole, they can actually be a danger to the part—not real conductive to an inviting atmosphere. (I have since found out that my own mother had had some trouble in our house because of my zealousness to home fragrances; I think she would have preferred the dog smell, having had household hunting dogs in her past homes.)

Which brings me to the present.  I now use (almost entirely) 100% pure “essential oils” in my home.  No special additives, just the oil.  They pack a punch, and so must be used properly.  I think there must be some credence to the idea that one can become accustom to an odor (good or bad) when around it consistently.  I notice this when I have had my oil diffuser on, not considering it to be very strong or even noticing it much at all, until someone comes in from outside and comments, “Ooo, it smells soOO00oo good in here!” 

Now, in addition to the “pleasant-ness” of the home, and the warm fuzzies that the fragrances evoke, some people are also inclined to believe that certain combinations of aromas can help produce certain beneficial effects on us humans.  Granted, I’m not a sold-out disciple of all the current homeopathic trends, but seeing ourselves in an integrated way, as God originally designed us, makes some of the thinking about how our sense of smell affects us seem, well,… plausibly interesting.

There are a few notable parallels here when considering our mental, emotional, and most importantly, our spiritual environment:

  • To begin with, when we try to add anything to what the Holy Spirit is trying to infuse into our lives, it becomes not only an impediment to what He wants to do in us and through us, but these additives can become downright destructive to those around Legalism or license, both are spiritually bloodthirsty. Whether we add to or subtract from His 100% pure oil (an age-old symbol of the Holy Spirit), anything but the real thing is dangerous. 
  • When we do allow only His pure oil – and it diffuses through our thoughts, words, responses, use of time, talent, and resources, etc – we often times are not even aware of the beneficial effect it is having on others. This comes with a consistently attentive walk with God regardless of, and many times deepened by, the sharp corners of our current existence.
  • Our daily inward environment has an important, but many times hidden, impact on the rest of what is happening in our hearts and minds, as well as our physical bodies. Just as how certain aromas can evoke memories and feelings, so also our spiritual sensitivity has massive influence on our perspective, insight, and purpose. And yet this area of the spirit is sorely neglected, or even completed discounted, by our sophisticated (or sophomoric) culture.  Jesus said that “the kingdom of God is within you.”

It would behoove us to pay attention, since He should know…