Ain’t nuthin’ like the real thing, baby…

wood 2

I am not an artist, which perhaps makes me appreciate those who are, like my bloggish buddy at A Time To Share and her husband.  Our baby girl is an artist, as is one of our sons-in-law, and all three of my siblings and our dad.  Even Bob has taken up the pen and pencil! 

But me?  Nope.  I must have been like a flat rock that went skipping over that part of the gene pool.  I can sort of draw a tree…

tree
Tree. By dawnlizjones All rights reserved, no part of this artwork can be reproduced, blah, blah, blah…but why would you want to???

Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate art…well, some of it.  Admittedly, I’m more a Rembrandt to Rockwell fan than, say, Pablo P.  I’m a bit of a realist in that sense.  I’m a nurse, and I like body parts to be where they are supposed to be.  Is that so wrong?

But then, I would also make a lousy existentialist; I’ve been ruined by day-to-day living and breathing and working to give too much heed to alternate universes, virtual or otherwise.  In my profession, what I do either causes my Continue reading “Ain’t nuthin’ like the real thing, baby…”

Where’d THAT come from?

IMG_20150103_172451138Today our sweet 2-year-old granddaughter turns THREE!!  I continue to store up memories that only grandchildren can bestow.  Her memory, however, is a bit different:

For example, our dear one won’t remember the day she received her wonderful cartoon bed as a gift from her parents.  Her dad found it especially for Christmas, modeled after a favorite anime character, and it is as soft and comfortable and cute as can be.  At two and a half, however, her brain is so busy forming a gazillion neuro-pathways that it’s a little Continue reading “Where’d THAT come from?”

Call your folks

wood 2There’s a story in the book of Joshua where God holds back the sun so the Hebrews could have more time to fight on and subdue their enemies. 

More time.  Man, I wish.  Of course, most of us would just blow it.  But somewhere in our collective psyche where “deep calls unto deep” is that gnawing feeling that time is something we can’t grasp or control.  A cursory glimpse at even modern entertainment is informative—sci-fi time travel flicks abound, even the humor of “Ground Hog’s Day” maybe-I-can-get-it-right-this-time wistful thinking is not far below the surface for most of us. 

So somewhere thousands of feet over Midwest farmlands, I was in a jet heading home from seeing my parents for a few days at their retirement village.  Dad was recovering from a knee problem across the street from where mom was preparing for their new digs in the apartment complex. 

After sharing my dad’s breakfast table with a 93-year-old WW2 veteran, after hearing of one of their friends who skipped her chemo so she could go hiking in Colorado (“just give me a little extra medicine this time, will ya?”), and after meeting some of the other indomitable souls in their neighborhood, it kind of makes me think twice before complaining about…anything. 

We went to church together that Pentecost Sunday morning huddled around his computer at the foot of his hospital bed watching the live-stream from their Methodist Church with mom and one of their neighbors (a retired world-traveled physician who can now only see peripherally due to a degenerative eye problem—but walks everywhere anyway.)  I’m kicking myself for not providing some grape juice and flat bread for communion.  (“The good Lord knows our hearts, honey.”)

One of my parents’ good friends from W-A-Y back, (meaning my teenage years, okay, no wise-cracks necessary), is now in his 90’s and just returned home to the same complex from visiting family from the west coast.  I am informed he is of the polar-opposite political party than my father, which in this day and age could mean, well, we all know the vitriol that implies.  Evidently, they are both “old school”, which means that they can discuss politics without interference in their relationship. 

Would that we had such maturity these days.

Dad’s the one who taught me to “ask for the moon” but won’t ask for a bag of ice when he bumps his bad ankle on the wheelchair.  When I mention a plan to call for something, it’s “oh, no, don’t bother them…”  So I have dubbed myself “the wicked witch of the West” and I can imagine the nurses in report saying, “she called again.” (One of my main consolations is all the heavy lifting my local siblings do when it needs to be done.  This long distance thing STINKS.)

Dad says that as the light streams through his window in the morning, he gives thanks to the Lord for another day of life.  My folks have a perspective that my culture has largely lost, or missed altogether—gratitude.  Fortitude.  Resilience. 

Gray hair is a crown of glory;
    it is gained by living a godly life.

Now, let’s see, who shall the witch bother today?  

(Call your folks!)

Proverbs 16:31 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Pass the DNA, I mean pancakes.

garden lastCulinary art is not my forte.  Before we were married, I made it clear to Bob that I didn’t know how to cook, to which he replied, “you have to be better than me!”  Clearly, at least one of us had to make some effort if we were to survive on our (very) limited budget.

Guess who stepped up to that plate.

To this day, if I slyly ask him what he wants to make for supper, he simply asks me what kind of cold cereal I would like…?  (And since I buy only one kind at the grocery store, that would limit my options…)

Through the 30+ years of matrimony, I have had my fair share of gastronomic lapses, to put it kindly, but considering his Continue reading “Pass the DNA, I mean pancakes.”

Hoosier yer folks?

IMG_20150103_172451138When I was “back home again in Indiana”, (and, if you’re a native Hoosier, you’re probably familiar with that song, even though no one seems to know where “Hoosier” itself comes from)…anyway, when I was back home again in Indiana just last weekend to see the folks, I was helping them consolidate to move into their new apartment. 

Both of them are your typical Builder-Gen—responsible, frugal, forward-thinking, hard-working.  Nothing is to be assumed, (Dad taught me how to spell “assume”—it makes an “ass out of u and me”), and nothing is to be taken for granted.  Gratitude is a chosen attitude, and God’s will and wisdom are superior to mine. 

Yes, I know not to put my folks a pedestal, and I don’t.  But let’s be real; not everyone has had parents like mine.

So while I’m helping Dad recuperate from a knee problem across the street in a separate facility, Mom and my sis (who is local—thank God!) are sorting, organizing, and packing and sweating, with Dad and I out of the way. 

Mom did request, bless her heart, that my brother and I go through Dad’s old financial records (V-E-R-Y old) before she takes them to the shredder, not because Continue reading “Hoosier yer folks?”

Leavin’ on a jet plane

IMG_20150314_102847650_HDR
A reasonable facsimile of the driver, only through a thick thunderstorm. Gotta love ‘im!

At this writing (just after Memorial Day), Bob has braved getting up at 4AM, driving me through an impressive Midwest lightening storm and torrential downpour two hours north to the Kansas City International Airport, dropping me off so I could catch a flight to see my dear parents a few states away.  I informed him that I’m a big girl and would be perfectly fine doing this on my own.  But no, chivalry is not dead in my household, and I’m not nearly “progressive” enough to rock that boat.  Add to that the fact that my husband is nocturnal by nature, and getting up at 4AM is generally only a few hours after when he might be coming to bed anyway.

Yeah, I pick a good one.

But he is a cautious animal at that, which means here I sit with a couple hours to spare. Even the airport isn’t quite fully awake, which is honestly one of the things I like about the Midwest.  

 

I’m not really much of a people-watcher, but it’s kinda hard not to do it in an airport.  We’re all just squished together in one mass of humanity, hoping that no bombs get though on anyone’s shoes or hairspray bottles, hoping that the toddler sitting behind us sleeps the whole time, wondering if “they” will be there to meet us at the other end. 

Or if the peanuts will be too salty this time.  Whatever.

As I sip my tea and read my Bible, and look out on, oh, so many people, I connect with these words of Jesus:

airport 3a

At first, these words may seem intimidating.  Actually, as a disciple of Jesus, they are meant to be comforting.  Bob said, just this morning on the way to the airport in fact, that I was probably quite introspective as a child.  The challenge was, as my father told me back then, philosophically “you’re trying to do calculus before you understand algebra!”  (You can see where I get my penchant for analogous reasoning….)

Because I have a deep seated need to understand, that is, to understand myself.  Similarly, there are secret places—some treasures, some not so much—buried in each of us, all of which need to be exposed—some to be utilized, some to be healed.  However, and this is important, none of this can be accomplished without the proper exposure first.

Which comes to the next part of Jesus’ comment: 

airport3b

I find this intriguing.  He’s not so interested in how we are informed; no, that comes in all sorts of ways, many of them unpleasant, (can I get a witness?)  It’s not the the mode of information that’s critical, it’s how I process it, how I “hear” it:

Okay, my dad is a retired Purdue mechanical engineer, and my brother is a chip off the old block. Jim has spent many years specializing in industrial containment, and could talk ad infinitum about filtering and micro-particles, et. al.  Not my area, but suffice it to say that how you filter something is critical to the purity and usefulness of the final product. 

Easy segway: only through the infinite love of our Creator Father can we proper “hear” the secrets of our hearts—the good and bad—so that we can process and produce all that we have been created to be.  Not only for ourselves, but for others.  Not only for now, but for eternity.

Okay.  Time to go catch my flight and see my folks!  (How much you wanna bet Bob takes a nap today?)

Luke 8:16-18  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Old machine, new instructions

IMG_20150103_172451138I like to innovate.  That’s a nice way of saying that I’m not really good at reading the directions.  At first, that is.  Now, after the fabric is cut, or too much flour has been mixed in, or the nail has been hammered where there is no stud, then I tend to take a look at the instructions a little more closely…maybe.

So I decided to try my hand and my old sewing machine at making some “Boppy” covers for our upcoming visit with our new granddaughter.  For the uninitiated, “Boppy” is the brand name given to a convenient donut-shaped pillow for nursing mothers, one of which our daughter ordered and which we were packing to bring out to her.  So I thought I would get some cute little covers to go with it.  Being the “frugal” (that’s a nice word, I’ll leave it at that) grandmother that I am, I decided to make the covers myself rather than spend part of the kid’s future college fund by purchasing them online. 

Never mind the fact that Continue reading “Old machine, new instructions”

Superheroes loading the dishwasher

wood 2By now, some of my readers know that my husband’s blog, Pneumythology, (the name of which I came up with, BTW, just sayin’…or I guess you can blame me, whichever), has much to do with equating mythology with everyday life.  As such, he writes and reviews about graphic novels, superhero movies, and so the upcoming Wonder Wonder flick is high on the summer watch list in my house.  I’m sure there will plenty of pyrotechnics and the zinging of bullets and explosions of unrealistic proportions. pow-158867_1280

Then there’s real life.  He really does clean the bathroom and load the dishwasher.  (#he’smineyoucan’thavehim)

However, in the midst of the mundane, we both actually believe in a mythology, not in the sense of make-believe fairy tales, as in Greek and Roman trying-to-make-sense-of-nature stories.  I mean the epic, the there’s-got-to-be-more-than-I-see life, a reality the supersedes my sensate tangibles and my abilities to understand.  And, occasionally, “it” pokes through the fabric of even our ordinary humanity…

Evidently, this happened more than occasionally to Moses.

 “But when you heard the voice from the heart of the darkness, while the mountain was blazing with fire, all your tribal leaders and elders came to me. They said, ‘Look, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the heart of the fire. Today we have seen that God can speak to us humans, and yet we live! But now, why should we risk death again? If the LORD our God speaks to us again, we will certainly die and be consumed by this awesome fire. Can any living thing hear the voice of the living God from the heart of the fire as we did and yet survive?  Go yourself and listen to what the LORD our God says. Then come and tell us everything he tells you, and we will listen and obey.’

And if you’ve read the rest of the story, we all know how long that lasted. 

Yet, God seemed okay with this plan.  Unfortunately, the people’s historic track record with this kind of communication/obedience pattern fell pretty short.  Second-party information can sometimes be just that—information.  Head knowledge instead of heart knowledge.  “What”, instead of “how” and “why”.  Information bereft of application.  Experience without wisdom.  And all that boils down to legalism or license, both of which are deadly as poison.

Enter the new covenant, with the Holy Spirit, A.K.A., the Paraclete, translated for us as Helper.  And, boy, do we need help, especially with the application part.  At least the Hebrew people, quaking in their sandals at the foot of the mountain, had a glimpse of the power and awesomeness that they were dealing with (and probably more than a few had to clean themselves off when arriving back at their tents.)  We, unfortunately, are generally not graced with that sense of awe, but instead with a smug arrogance of self-sufficiency, even without our Christian context. Got the marching orders, thanks Lord, I’ll take it from here! (Ouch.)

We really don’t know What (Who) we’re dealing with here.  But part of the good news is—we can.

“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

And part of the important news is, as a disciple of Jesus—I must. 

Because as Peter Parker’s uncle told the young and upcoming superhero Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Not bad wisdom for a myth.

Deuteronomy 5: 23-27; John 14:21 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Seatbelts, check.

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Our youngest was only school age when she sat on her father’s lap in the driver’s seat of the car in the (empty) school parking lot while he let her “drive” for a few minutes.  Her feet couldn’t even reach the pedals, but as she clutched the steering wheel, she confidently said, “I got it, Dad!”

Typical.  Not just of her, but of humanity in general, right?  Now, Bob and I hope that we have been reasonably responsible parents, and as such had our three children take drivers’ ed while in high school as well as teaching them our own white-knuckled version just like our sweet parents did for us back in the day.  There was Continue reading “Seatbelts, check.”

The Shack Out Back

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Heeding the call to stop concentrating exclusively on their own interests and start looking after God’s, the tide begins to change beneficially for the returning Hebrew exiles.  But there must have been a discouraging note for some of the old-timers who remembered the good ole’ days of their beloved Solomon’s Temple, now summarily destroyed.  As always, God realized this bent in our human psyche:

“Does anyone remember this house— this Temple— in its former splendor? How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all!  

But now the LORD says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.  My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.”

All this began to happen when the people obeyed God in the very tangible way of laying the foundation to the new temple.   Here’s what I glean from it:

  1. God still speaks to me, and tells me to be strong.
  2. I am not the only one “left in the land”, and I am not alone in this struggle. Granted, I may have to work to see who else is under the rock and rubble with me, but I am most certainly not alone.
  3. I have a directive—get to work.
  4. I can do this because God is with me, and He is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, a formidable ally indeed.
  5. I have the power of God’s Spirit.
  6. God is the same God—He’s brought me “out of Egypt” before, and He’ll do it again. His character and calling do not change.  (Yessss!)

In this life, things tend to crumble, and not merely bank accounts.  Relationships and families, dreams and plans, health and vitality,…and churches.  There’s just no sense sitting around pining over the dust of Solomon’s Temple when God’s calling me to build something new.  Stop comparing.  Stop waiting.  And above all, stop whining.

jackhammerAnd get to work.

Haggai 2:3-5  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.