“What we have here is a failure to communicate…”

Ever know someone with “a chip on their shoulder”?  One story has that phrase originating from the idea of two boys picking a fight with each other, the one putting a wood chip on his shoulder and daring the other to knock the chip off, thus initiating the knock-down-drag-out. 

The problem with chips on shoulders is that they tend to fall off on their own, starting fights when none were intended.  For example: Continue reading ““What we have here is a failure to communicate…””

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Who turned off the light?

wood 2Bob keeps turning the lights off.  I can always tell if he’s been through a room after me when I walk back in and the room is now dark.  He’s even turned off the light with me still in the room, (conditioned response—“oops, sorry, honey!”)

Ostensibly, this is to save power, which means to save money, and my husband definitely loves to save money.  Not that he’s not generous, some might say to a fault, but when it comes to getting the monthly bills, yeah, our house is pretty dark.  One of our girls bought him this gift one year: Continue reading “Who turned off the light?”

Scissors, please

IWAA7A gruesome site greeted me when tending the garden after being gone for a week of family vacation.  Sure, there were the typical weeds and such, no big deal, just hands and knees stuff.  But what gave me a drop-shoulder-roll-eyes kind of pause was the leftover feathered carcass of a bird that had obviously been trying to pilfer my blackberries, but had gotten entangled in the netting.

Not a pretty site.  Not a happy ending.  (I will spare any readers a photo.)  I mean, he was, after all, just trying to get something to eat, doing what birds do naturally.  It’s sign1not like I could put up a “No Trespassing” sign, although my dad suggested I could hang up some brightly colored ribbons.  That could help them at least see the netting, but the berries are just so inviting, I’m not sure it would divert them enough. Continue reading “Scissors, please”

Good fences make for good gardens

garden lastThis place is a wreck.  Sitting out here on the patio in the early morning Missouri summer humidity, I’m looking at the weeds resolutely poking through the already treated pave stones.  There’s some unwanted green stuff growing amongst the begonia pots, and the garden hoses are in dire need of mending.  On top of all of this, a brown leaf just now floated gently down (to meet the weeds on the pave stones, I suppose.) 

Now wait a minute!  It’s only July!  I’m not ready for Autumn yet!  Besides, no fair, since I’ve been out of town for a week, which gave the weeds and their comrades free reign.   Continue reading “Good fences make for good gardens”

You’re going out like THAT?!

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I’ve used this picture before, but it’s just too darn good to not use again.  This is my husband Bob and our middle daughter on our visit to Woodstock, the (in)famous place of musical rowdiness back in the 60’s.  Bob and I married in the late 70’s, imposingbobandrobin2 brown tuxes with peach ruffle-collared shirts on the groomsmen.  My wedding dress looked like a formal Little Miss Bo Peep.  So clearly I’m not a fashionista, but after a few years of marriage, even I took the liberty to eradicate a few items from Bob’s pre-marriage wardrobe: the mauve colored polyester slacks with the brown elevator shoes with white marshmallow soles, and the slick acetate shirt…he said he was trying on a new image during that phase.

What exactly that image was is probably best left to the imagination.

For you young ‘uns, feast your eyes on Continue reading “You’re going out like THAT?!”

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.

“Combining” us together (excuse me, couldn’t help it…)

This is a combine:

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This is a header:

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Actually, that’s only one kind of header; different headers are needed for different jobs.  It’s a far cry from the old back-breaking scythe of past centuries.  Not that modern farming is a walk in the park, since I’m talking about the folks that put in 14-16 hour days to put bread on our tables. 

My friend (who farms) told me recently of a little 2-year-old boy whose mom (another farming family) picked up a toy combine at a garage sale.  Obviously, it was used, and was missing the header, but the boy was so young, mom didn’t think this would be a problem.  Kids that age have great imaginations anyway, right?

Until she gave it to her son, and he remarked, “Where’s the header?  How do you expect me to get any work done without the header?!?”

In my defense, I’m from the ‘burbs, and my milk and bread came from the grocery store.  So evidently, a combine is not as effective (like, at all?) without its header.  Missing pieces in farming equipment mean no more bread on my table, and imaginary bread doesn’t fill the stomach very well.

All this brings to my mind what the Apostle Paul talks about when he compares the Body of Christ to an actual human body.  It’s that crucial idea that we need each other to be fully productive.  If the hand says to the foot “I don’t need you”, then the hand probably isn’t going anywhere!  Finally, Paul makes this simple but essential conclusion:

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

That word, together, is highlighted in my brain.  Even if I’m just a little screw that helps hold the header in place, when I take my part away, (perhaps due to offense, neglect of my health, complacency, whatever), the harvest is at risk.  Of course, this also applies to those around me, the one in the next pew whose part seems dirty and squeaky and maybe even a little rusty.  I need—no, I am accountable, to allow the Lord of the Harvest to put my piece in place with all the other pieces.

So we can get some actual work done, without just pretending.  Even a two-year-old could tell the difference.

1 Corinthians 12:27  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.

In other words…

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“We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.”

[This puts a different spin on loving the church: I love God’s people by obeying Him, which brings up the idea that the BEST thing I can do to love others is to draw closer to the Lord myself.  So, what does that say about my love for the church when I neglect my time with God and His Word?]

1 John 5:2 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.

Let’s be offended. 

wood 2Yes, let’s.  At least, most of us would be after reading this in a letter, even from a beloved teacher: Continue reading “Let’s be offended. “

In other words…

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A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.”

Ephesians 6:10-13  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.