This ain’t Missouri

IWAA7We are visiting my husband’s family, all of us on the edge of the continent known as the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Only a few rows of houses from the beach, we can hear the roar of the ocean waves and feel the breeze off the Atlantic.  Right now, though, I am on the other side of the house, on the patio (of course) in the morning.  Not much breeze on this side, except for the fan, and the morning dew is so thick that it’s dripping off the roof. 

The view here, on both sides of the house is considerable different from Missouri, definitely “not home”. These are not the same people jogging, walking and riding bikes along the street and sidewalk.  Back home I see Sherry as she strolls up Central Street on her way to work.  Back home I see waving prairie grasses and bison, not cresting waves and beachcombers.  In my county I see bass and catfish and perch jumping out of the lakes, not dolphins arching up from the ocean.  At our local park I see turtles sunning themselves on the logs, instead of jellyfish remains drying up on the white sand.

Then I hear it—the call of the catbird, that unmistakable feline sound, easily identified even by my untrained ear.  And I am reminded that, though I may not be in my familiar territory, God is still here.  And everywhere, His voice is the same, immutable, unmistakable.

We are told that we go through seasons of life, rites of passage, some of which are culturally induced although some are admittedly universal.  Personally, I feel almost that my “seasons” have been more like “spasms”—can anyone relate?  Nevertheless, we move from one set of experiences inexorably into another.  Not only do we have to navigate from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood—emotionally as well as physically—but we also have other times of joy and struggle:

  • School—most of us in the United States have been blessed with the availability of public education, and many of us are still impacted by memories and experiences of those infamous junior high years.
  • Moves—more and more frequently in the past several decades of our society have we seen the increase in the mobility of families. In the past, if you were a military family, that was a given. Now, however, it may seem quite unusual in many places for any child to start kindergarten and graduate from high school in the same place.
  • Relationships—marriage, child-rearing, child-releasing. You just have to “be there” to really understand this one…
  • Collateral damage—it is also becoming somewhat unusual to see family members that all have the same last name. Blended families, whether from death or divorce, bring special challenges all their own.

Certainly there are many, many more examples that could added to this list, times when being resilient and flexible can be most helpful.  While resiliency is an essential quality to cultivate so as to survive and thrive this side of Heaven, true resiliency can only happen when there remains a stable reference point.  Elastic is very resilient, but to retain that characteristic, it must have a place to snap back to.  Flexibility is a good thing, but flexibility cannot even be defined unless there is a starting point from which to measure it.  (At least, that’s what it seems like when my daughters try to teach me some yoga or Palate moves!  Ouch!)

In a world of changes and challenges, of unfamiliar circumstances and scary possibilities, God has said that even though the heavens and the earth pass away, His word would never do so. (1)  He also says that He, as God of the Universe, does not change. (2)  He promises that He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. (3)  Only with God can we find the perfect interconnection with resiliency and immutability, between flexibility and stability. Only in relationship with Him can we properly define our starting point and make it safely to the end.

Another one of these “seasons” is yet upon me, and although its unrelenting hold has become more gentle, I am aware that the hold of the Father has never changed.  He is aware of this time in my life, anticipated it for me, knew the particulars would be unfamiliar, and sometimes unfriendly, to me.

 And He sent me His catbird to remind me of His unchanging and unfailing presence, no matter where I am on earth, or in life.

  • Luke 21:33
  • Malachi 3:6
  • Hebrews 13:8

(Excerpt from God Loves Birds, by Dawn Jones)

#morningperson vs. #nightperson !!

Perhaps there was something prophetic in the fact that my parents named me “Dawn”, since clearly I am not a night person.  Unlike my husband, Bob, and our eldest daughter, Jessica, both of whom are summarily nocturnal, I tend to rise with the sun and start winding down at dusk (if not before).  This fact was recently re-confirmed when I attempted to stay up at night waiting for Jessie availability to video-chat regarding plans and arrangements for her upcoming wedding.  However, there was one important glitch concerning our e-date: she lives in California and we are in Missouri, which is a two-hour time differential not in my favor. 

Even though I downed yet another cup of black tea late in the evening, and watched mindless television, (since reading at night rapidly puts me to sleep), finally my brain and body reneged on our plans.  After texting Jessie my apologies and need for a rain check, my head hit the pillow.  Unfortunately, I had unsettling dreams—was it the TV, the extra caffeine, or just being off-schedule?  Either way, I didn’t pull myself out of the sack until after 7AM in the morning, which was definitely sleeping in for me, and being the morning person that I am, meant that a fair chunk of the best time of the day was already gone!

So there I was, then, sitting at my desk, just too tired to arrange myself on the patio as usual.  The bike ride I had planned with my husband for later that day was tanked also.  In fact, after a lovely and productive time the day before, I was having some motivational difficulty as this particular one wore on. 

Jessie and Bob are night owls…I love to see the sunrise.  Jessie and Bob love to celebrate her home visits with late night chats and cheesy monster movies…I love to serve them surprise breakfast in their beds the next morning.  My eldest daughter and her father can discuss a topic in great detail to its utter encyclopedic conclusion…I tend to prefer synopsis, just the crib-note version, if you don’t mind.

There are many ways in which our differences can be considerably inconvenient, even downright irritating—that’s a given.  Several times when my husband has (finally) come to bed, he inadvertently wakes me up, but rather than quietly getting under the covers, it seems like his brain tells him, “Oh, good, she’s awake!” and he proceeds to pontificate on some deep personal revelation or travail.  Of course, loving him as I do, my brain says, “You need to listen; he needs you,”  like I should somehow allow myself to be drawn into this conversation lest he be left alone with his thoughts.  My body, on the other hand, disagrees.  Naturally, if I listen to my brain rather than my body, chances are by the time the conversation is over and we are both lying in bed, and I be wide awake as I hear my Beloved breathing sonorously and peacefully next to me…sound asleep.  And my work alarm goes off at 5AM. 

So, in this sense really, where is Jessie when I need her?

As I write this, I am sitting, as usual, on the patio, having had an unusually warm and early spring.  It is only late March, and the trees are already leafing, the daffodils are already done, and I have plants poking through the soil by several inches.  My gardening friends and I are holding our breath hoping the frost won’t reappear!  I’m realizing yet again the marvel of my garden’s diversity, as I’m rethinking some of my planting designs (using the term “design” loosely).  I might put the tomatoes in a different place where they will get more sun, and enjoy deeper more fertile soil.  I might plant more salad greens where the tomatoes were last year—I want to try the Swiss Chard somebody suggested.  Not sure if the new hostas got enough shade last year so I may need to revisit that plan.

I am re-reading a beautiful book by Linda Dillow entitled Calm My Anxious Heart, and I’m in the chapter on being content to be me. Mrs. Dillow comments wisely regarding a favorite Old Testament song, Psalm 139.  In this Psalm, King David was expounding on the uniqueness of our birth and plan for our lives, among many other fascinating truths regarding God’s design and intent for putting me here, in this body, this place, and this time. 

Just as I am thankful that God created so many different plants for all types of gardens, whether for sun or shade, whether for cool, spring temperatures or hot mid-summer Missouri Julys, so also He has wisely and lovingly provided a massive diversity of traits in people. 

  • Some of us are up front, on stage, and in the spotlight; some are hidden in seeming obscurity. One is tempted to covet the other’s quiet and anonymity, while the other may pine away for what she perceives is a lack of appreciation.
  • Some of us are bold and outspoken, completely un-intimidated by what others may think or feel; their counterpart is diplomatic, a person of few words, and sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other. The first tends to regret speaking rashly, while the second longs for the courage to speak out more.
  • Some of us have physical disabilities that prevent us from doing the things that come so easily to others—they feel they are missing out on so much fun! Others of us have perfectly functioning bodies, but struggle daily with emotionally or mentally crippling disorders such that, to be rid of, we would gladly give our right arm.

The grass is always greener…I know it’s not an original thought, but still one that’s all too true.  Like our garden plants, God makes His people all different to fit us into His grand design.  In one of his letters to the early church at Corinth, Paul writes that we are to no longer look at people from a worldly point of view, but from God’s point of view.  Regardless of whatever “defect” at which the rest of society points their finger in regards to someone’s personality or property, or their body, or  their bank account, God sees them differently, and His opinion is really the only one that counts. 

So also am I to see myself. Paul encourages the church at Corinth to “lead the life which the Lord has allotted and imparted to him and to which God has invited and summoned him.” (2) We can rightfully infer from that truth that God has “allotted, imparted, invited and summoned” us all to a life of service in Jesus within our circumstances, our personalities, and even with what the rest of society might think of as defects.   After all, God is the One Who is capable of turning our “defects” into delights. 

The NCAA basketball tournament is in full swing, and March Madness has once again infected my husband. I wonder what time he’ll be to bed tonight?  No matter. The garden will still be here tomorrow when the sun comes up, and so will I.

(Excerpt from God Loves Gardens by Dawn Jones)

  • 2 Corinthians 5:16
  • 1 Corinthians 7:17 (Amplified)

Hi!

rocker

Dear Audience,

I guess I could address this “To Whom It May Concern”, but that’s just too impersonal and business-like, and I’ve been at work all day anyway, so who want’s that?

Or I could say “Dear Sir”, but if someone is actually reading this, that someone might not be a sir.  Same thing for “Dear Madam”, and of course, now there’s a third option, but I don’t even want to go there…at least not right now.

Dearest Audience is w-a-a-a-y too familiar.

Hey, Gang!…too cheeky.

Wazup….definitely not my style, whatever that is.

Hmmm….

How about…..hello.  It isn’t catchy, or original, certainly not sophisticated.  It is, nonetheless, heartfelt, down-to-earth, and, well, me.  Now, the professional me, the one that wears a lab coat and takes temperatures spends too much precious time dispensing the collective wisdom of health and wellness to people who may or may not already know what they should do but don’t plan to do it.  The wife/mother me tries to be encouraging, listening, and probably over-compensating.  The facebook me is careful to not offend my “friends”, some of whom I don’t even know. 

Those are all part of me, to some degree.  But the blogger me, that’s just me.  Not worried about offending, not trying to keep the peace, or even put food on the table.  I write me.  And therefore, “my” audience is anyone who might find themselves interested in, um, … me.  Not my face, nor my resume, not my personal issues or political affiliations, educational degrees and certifications. 

Just me. 

And sooooo…..for anyone who might think anything coming from me might be something that they might be interested in…

….hello.

#Carpediem — #Thursday is #Chocolate Day!

Starts innocently enough like this....
Starts innocently enough like this….

Made it to Thursday?  Of course you did!  If so far you’ve celebrated your profession (Monday), counted the ways to be thankful that it’s Tuesday, honored your fave bohemian—person and/or idea—(Wednesday), then you certainly deserve Thursday’s gig, which is…wait for it….

*****CHOCOLATE DAY!*****

IMG_20150205_134722806

One of my friends, knowing my penchant for celebrating the days of the work week by my choice of clothing in keeping with the day’s theme, asked if I wear brown on Thursday.  

“No”, said I, “I eat chocolate.”

(Granted, any reason for eating chocolate seems like a good reason.)

ENDS LIKE THIS....
ENDS LIKE THIS….

So celebrate it any way you like, but Thursday is the day to remember all those people/things/events that SWEETEN your life.   Who and/or what are you remembering today, in honor of Chocolate Day, that is…!! —-dawnlizjones

#carpediem — #Wednesday is #Bohemian Day!

Yea!  It’s Bohemian Day!

Wednesday isn’t just “hey-we-got-over-the-hump” day.  It’s a day to celebrate all those people that march to the beat of a different djembe.  Or to take time and relish those off the wall dreams and ideas, you know, like Orville and Wilbur’s flying machine.  A day to contemplate where we’d be without the courage of Tiananman Square or the creativity of a moving, talking, whistling mouse on the big silver screen.  Or that stupid idiot that stood out in the thunder and lightning flying a kite with a key attached (don’t try that one at home).

Here’s one.  For a Christmas present this year, my daughter Robin enrolled me in a really crazy idea dreamed up and administrated by a pretty fun person.  The crazy idea is called Hobby Club and is made up of an internet community of people who are introduced to a new hobby to try out every month.  The fun person in charge is the visionary of the project, Tyler Riewer, who chooses these new challenges each week to match the theme of the month.  February is deemed “The Old Fashioned Way”, and so far we’ve tried our hands to homemade butter, next is some way-out homemade brew that rivals a cure to the common cold (at least in taste, I expect),  and we will crown the month with backyard moonshine.  Knowing my less than stellar success with fermentation experiments, I probably should check the batteries in the smoke alarms….

Bohemians abound throughout history: people who imagined little bugs that couldn’t be seen, so they invented a microscope to prove their existance.  Or the guys who challenged the accepted, scientific “fact”  that if you sailed far enough you drop off the planet. Then, of course, there were those dreamer Orville and Wilbur–would you believe that originally they owned a bicycle repair shop?  So, thank you once again, Mr. Riewer, and I salute you as my bohemian this week!  My butter tasted, well, not quite entirely like butter, more like a palatable paste, but yummy nonetheless.

And equal salute to all the dreamers and visionaries and creative thinkers and doers.  You are worth celebrating every week!    ———-dawnlizjones

#Carpediem — #Monday is #Professional Day!

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

Alarm goes off, hit the snooze button a half dozen times, pry the eyes open, and dump your dragging self into the shower.  Those of us who live out of two separate buckets (as explained in the Carpe Diem intro) know the routine.  Waking up after the second cup of java, we arrive at work feeling like there’s a mountain ahead of us and today is just the first step.  Whether the day planner is full or empty isn’t the point.  The point is that we would definitely prefer to be somewhere else.

This is where you have to grab the Monday-monster by the neck (to use a socially acceptable metaphor) by celebrating your profession—some way, any way! Creatively let the world know what you do and that what you do is of worth to the world.  And it helps to give yourself permission to be a little (or a lot) off the wall in the way you do it. 

Currently, I’m a public school nurse at a small town middle school.  I love my kids, my faculty, and it’s the best job I’ve EVER had, hands down.  But I still have emotional challenges—like if I had to choose between being in my office, or holding my new granddaughter,… c’mon.  So on Mondays I decided to wear a real nursing uniform instead of regular “non-medical” threads.  Not the white polyester we had back in 70’s with a little white cap (oh, puhLEEZE!!), but good old scrubs, and a white lab coat to complete the ensemble.  Interestingly, one of my students remarked, “Hey! You look like a nurse!”  (Why didn’t I think of this sooner??) 

Little things will do, too, even something that’s a bit of a secret just with you.  Employed at Mickie D’s? Tip your hat to every customer on Monday. (THAT will get your supervisor’s attention.)  A dentist?  Let your adult customers pick something out of the children’s “treasure chest”, just like when they were kids.  Stay-at-home mom (arguably one of the most challenging professions in the universe)?  Make Monday your “visit the nursing home day”.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t know anyone there; you soon will, and so will your children.  (Trust me on that one.)

When you hit the snooze button the last time, remember to celebrate Monday as “Professional Day”, and stir in a little fun  with the work bucket.

—dawnlizjones