“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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What’s in YOUR cupboard?

wood 2We had some funnies while visiting our youngest daughter and her family in Norway this Spring when we were talking about some of her new Swedish family’s idioms that she is learning.  Translating them into English can be more than mildly hilarious!  I took the liberty (a fun waste of time, actually) to look up a few from other cultures as well.  For example:

“Stop hanging spaghetti on them ears” is a Russian expression asking somebody to stop lying.

“I think my pig whistles” is a German exclamation of surprise.

And my daughter sends me this one with love from Sweden:

“Now you’ve gone and [defecated] in the blue cupboard”.  (I think that one needs no explanation, although I don’t know what the color of the cupboard has to do with anything…)

Of course, we have our own.  I personally like the one about not putting the cart before the horse: 

cart-1445429_1920

Which probably made more sense to my grandparents than to the middle-schoolers I serve now in the 21st century who rarely even see a horse, much less a horse-drawn cart.  Nonetheless, the wisdom remains, and, unfortunately, so does the human tendency to ignore it.

This makes me appreciate the very orderly and systematic way that God establishes for His people to serve Him~~

 “In this way, you will set the Levites apart from the rest of the people of Israel, and the Levites will belong to me.”

See, first, there were sacrifices, blood and guts and a total mess that needed to happen.  It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t cheap, but God said it was necessary to cleanse, consecrate (that’s a really good word study, BTW), and prepare his priests for the next step, which was~~

“After this, they may go into the Tabernacle to do their work, because you have purified them and presented them as a special offering.”

Now the priest could get to the real work of why they were made priest to begin with!  First the purification, THEN the service.

Hmm.  So why do we think we have to clean up our act before we come to God??  Why do we think we can work our way into God’s favor?  Clearly, we simply can’t clean up our own act; they couldn’t even do that in the Old Testament!  (That’s why they had to keep killing off all those poor cattle.) And Jesus came into our very messy world to die on a very excruciating cross to provide us with this purity of Relationship with God—FIRST.

In fact, that’s the horse part.  That redeemed Relationship is what provides the “horse-power” for every other service, every other sacrifice, and every other thing that goes into the cart that follows—BEHIND.   

The interesting part of this Relationship is that purity doesn’t mean perfection, it means process.  Because the horse never comes by itself; no, it always comes with a cart.  Always.  In other words, there are no perfect Christians, only serving ones who are in process of becoming perfected in the service of their King.

Which means He’s not intimidated by what might be in your blue cupboard…or mine.

Numbers 8:14,15  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.

Still Water Reflections

quillA great idea (in the form a beautiful poem) from Enthusiastically, Dawn, (yes!  another Dawn to BLESS the blogosphere, just sayin’!!)  If you haven’t seen her site, definitely stroll over (her Instagram is fun also).  Here’s a thinker for us all today:

Still Water Reflections by Dawn Paoletta

I have an idea…

for you

to keep you from judging your peers,

to help you not criticize your neighbor –

the one who brings out your fears…

that person you just don’t get

yet.

Am I judging my peers,  criticizing my neighbor?

Do I? Am I?

I have an idea, for you-

to keep you from logs in your eyes,

to keep you from tripping over them

to guard against compromise,

to help you listen, really listen to another

not just think your thoughts

while they talk

and you supposedly listen,

waiting to interject- and inject your

poison.

Do I listen, really listen?

Does my compassion and empathy rise

or do I just wait to stop pretending

I’m listening?

Do I listen? Do I lie?

I have an idea for you,

to keep you from corrupt

communication

to help you not discuss with others,

what was never meant for discussion.

To keep you from speaking lies, disguised

as truth,  masquerading as prayer

but lacking the one thing that matters

before words are ever spoken about another :

love.

Is grace my motive to speak?

Do I love that which I speak of?

Am I guilty of slander or gossip?

Do I hate?

Do I? Am I?

I have an idea, for you-

one to keep you shining like gold,

one to help you reign in your tongue

whether you’re young or old:

Do you grumble under your breath,

murder others with your speech,

excusing your comments and conversation

before you begin to preach?

The words that flow from your mouth,

may seem wise in light of today,

but if you don’t stop the flow,

how can you ever pray?

Decisions, decisions!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Moses, what a guy.  Talk about job stress—the perks were pretty great but so were the occupational hazards.  (And I think I have tough days!)  At least there was clear communication with the Boss; no lost email trails or intra-office misinterpretation of body language, all that.  God’s instructions were always unmistakably clear, right down to what colors of decorative embroidery thread to use for the big church tent!

One year into their miraculous escape/rescue from centuries of Egyptian slavery, God now has them positioned to pull up the stakes and start their journey in earnest to the Promised Land.  He has also promised to be their Guide, a cloud by day and something that looks like a pillar of fire by night.  Again, fairly distinctive, even for someone directionally challenged, like me.  When Continue reading “Decisions, decisions!”

NOT for the birds, definitely not.

IWAA7I’m in the second year of my small berry crop.  Here’s what I was anticipating by springtime:

raspberries

Makes your mouth water, don’t it?

Especially for me, the non-gardener.  I’m pretty proud of this little piece of earth, and all the sore muscles along the way.  Bob has been very patient with the big Sutherlands Home and Garden truck pulling up unexpectedly (for him, that is), or the time(s) I have inadvertently left the hose on after watering, (okay, so I get distracted.)

His tastes buds do reap the benefits, however, except for that year I had an over-abundance of cucumbers—he still requests no cukes in the smoothies… Currently, our favorite taste treat is the fresh raspberries and blackberries coming in from the second-year plants. YESssss!!

Unfortunately, this year the birds have likewise found them.  Especially the blackberries.  I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the ripened fruit day after day, and here’s evidence (it’s not for the faint of heart)—

ARRUGHH@#!!*@#!!!! (delete-delete-delete)

Now, I love birds.  They serenade me in the morning.  But that doesn’t mean they get paid by my hard worked-for berries.  So off to Sutherlands I go (didn’t need their truck for this one) to get some equipment, and concocted this:

Not only was it not pretty, it was also not entirely functional.  It didn’t fit, which meant there were gaps in the netting, and my attempts to cut and paste (well, zip-tie) left much to be desired.  Birds aren’t quite as dumb as I gave them credit, at least not when they’re hungry.  They know a good berry crop when they see it!

Learn from my mistakes, call my Dad for a little review in mathematic calculations, and a little ingenuity from Pinterest, and here is my current barricade:

netting3

Already I have seen a feathered kamikaze bounce off in bewilderment!

Inspecting my handiwork that next morning, I notice a few gaps, but also some nicely ripening blackberries.  I easily reposition and secure the netting, and let the fruit do its thing, unmolested and secure.

“Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

I like that “guard AND keep”.  It’s one thing to set up a protective fence but it’s another to make sure it’s still effectively working.  And when it comes to protection, one size definitely does not fit all.

My precious berries were already protected from the ground forces of bunnies by the wire fencing—I learned that one the hard way a long time ago.  But just having put in the berries last year, I hadn’t counted on the air strikes (although, I confess, I had heard of them from the past…oh, if only I had paid attention to experienced gardeners!!)

After losing some of the crop, I went into action—better late than never.  But unfortunately, I “reacted” rather than “researched” properly, which left gaps and wasted time and money.

Finally, sacrificing some time (allocating that precious resource to a perceived priority—my berries!!) and relying on the experience of others, I have a tailor-made plan to “guard and keep” for a fruitful harvest.

When it comes to relationships, whether it’s in the family, or even in the Body of Christ:

  • Protection must be intentional. (And it’s rewarding to see Satan just bounce off, not that he won’t try again.)
  • We are given a template, but each “fence” will be unique; to force one on another will cause gaps and allow the enemy in to eat the “fruit”. (Ask me how I know…)
  • Research is better than reacting. Humbly asking for help if more effective than wasting time and emotion on crisis management.
  • Protection is ongoing: frequent inspections and adjustments must be anticipated. It’s called communication and resilience.  Forgiveness and grace. 

ripeberryFruit takes time (and effort) to produce.  But its reward is sooooOOO000ooo sweet.

Ephesians 4:3 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Whoa!  (Or is it, Woe?!?)

wood 2Perhaps it’s both.  Haven’t heard much about road rage lately, but I’m wondering if that’s because it’s just become so commonly a part of our culture that it’s no longer considered news-worthy.  Anger is a powerful human emotion, and one of the destructively deceptive things about anger is that we feel like we’re in control (in many ways akin to alcohol).  But usually, 9 times out of 10, we probably are not. 

There was an occasion in my job when I had an encounter with a parent in which I had decided ahead of time to attempt to communicate in the way she chose to communicate with me.  Up to that point, her mode of interaction had Continue reading “Whoa!  (Or is it, Woe?!?)”

So it doesn’t get lost in translation…

wood 2If you’re older than, say, 15, you may have realized that what you mean to communicate is not always the message that is received.  Now, when my dog wants to go outside for some biological necessity, he is fairly clear in his insistence; there’s just not a lot of ambiguity to his request.  And a similar scenario happens in the afternoon when he thinks it’s time for me to put his premium brown crud into his food bowl.

Oh!  That it were so easy with humans!  Alas!  The ability to clearly transfer (I do like that word) what I’m thinking, wanting, needing to someone else is a skill that takes a lifetime to master, if then. 

And if it can be that difficult to communicate what’s really going on inside of me to another human, I can only speculate how my Continue reading “So it doesn’t get lost in translation…”

Are we there yet?

wood 2Bob and I saw the movie, Arrival, on the big screen when it, well, arrived (…smile).  He’s a real heady sci-fi fan; that is, explosions in space are fine, but he prefers the more cerebral plots, and this flick definitely filled the bill.  If you haven’t seen it, no spoiler here.  Suffice it to say that the Earthlings must be very intentional and persistent in learning to communicate with this obviously advanced race of beings, even in the face of fear, opposition, and unrecognized danger from outside sources who misunderstand.

Bob loved it; I walked out with a migraine, but that wasn’t the movie’s fault. Despite the headache, I was still thinking about the Continue reading “Are we there yet?”

In other words…

yelling-35825_1280

Fools have no interest in understanding;
    they only want to air their own opinions.

Proverbs 18:2  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.

“Will you please just listen…?!?”

IMG_20150103_172451138I’m an old-fashioned XX and my husband is an old-fashioned XY, which is genetic code for female and male (exclusively).  After more than 35 years of matrimony, it is obvious that, as our chromosomes are not changing, neither are our styles of communication. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn NEW methods of getting our needs/desires/ideas across to each other, however.  Old dogs can still learn new tricks.  One of mine is that, since Bob reads my blog, I know he’ll see this one….and laugh out loud.  Well, I might laugh out loud; Bob will probably smile, maybe giggle.  You know, certain things just hit us differently, since we are different….v-e-r-y different.

Come to think of it, I could even use this moment to remind him that our anniversary is NEXT WEEK.

For years earlier on in our wedded bliss, I wanted him to send me flowers.  I think to him it just seemed like an impractical gift, especially given our precarious financial lifestyle at the time.  So one day, imagine my reaction when he brought to me a real live red rose!  I mean, a real LIVE rose, not cut…no, something I would need to take care of–on top of three small children in a tight married-student campus apartment, and a part time job as a nurse (night shift or weekends).  And what did I know about taking care of roses??!?

As always, it’s the thought that counts.

I’m at a better place now, communicatively speaking I mean.  How can I expect the poor man to have any idea what his companion is thinking without telling him?  The Y in his X doesn’t exactly give him telepathic powers (thankfully).  And, yes, he tends to have that typical “let’s fix it” mentality (again, quite practical) when I have a teary-eyed frustration or concern.

On that note, I received this from blogger Rusty Foerger at More Enigma Than Dogma.

(BWaH-hahahahaha!!!)  Message received LOUD AND CLEAR.  

Now, honestly, how many of us do this to God?  Right, here’s how I’m feeling, just listen (which God is really quite good at), but then when He gives us the solution, we choose to keep the nail in place instead.  DUH!

He does have specific strategies for our specific areas of concern.  He is not capricious, and He is not ambiguous.  And everything He does is out of love (even removing the nail, as painful as it may be at the time!)

  “He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.”

And, oh yeah, Happy Anniversary, Honey!  That is, almost.  Y’know, next Thursday.  Six days from now.  August 18th, 1979.  Flowers optional.  (Pssst…make sure you read the tags.)

Psalm 23:3  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.