Puzzled

puzzle1I had no idea how much my middle adult daughter loves jigsaw puzzles!  We rarely did any when she was growing up, just not my thing, you know.  She says it’s a stress buster, and just plain fun. 

Now that I know this little tidbit of info this one who lives half a continent away, I’ve decided to give her a year-long birthday present of a puzzle a month.  Only with a little twist: Bob and I will build the puzzle first, turning it over when completed and writing a message on the back. 

She’s all in!

But wait, there’s more.  I’ve sent out an APB to family to get them involved.  Now, when the hub and I finish a puzzle, I (carefully) wrap it up and mail it to different family members for THEM to write/color/draw on the back, send it back to me (postage pre-paid) and then I break it up and send it off to its new coastal home.

They’re all in!

Okay, yeah, this is getting expensive.  Hopefully I’ll have some ready and rolled up when we travel to actually be with family and get a few done in advance that way.  It’ll be worth it though, helping my middle child connect with family in a unique way, dontchaknow?! Continue reading “Puzzled”

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Calvin, meet Job.

calvin-hobbes-low-self-esteem
From Calvin and Hobbes (my FAVORITE!!) by Watterson

Ever have “one of those days…”?  Of course, you have!  I don’t even need to explain that phrase, “one of those days”.  Your descriptive list could probably rival mine. 

However, many times (more than I care to admit), “one of those days” originates in my own perspective, or possibly a consequence of my own past decisions.  (Ouch.) 

But then there are those days when what life throws at me has nothing to do with anything I’ve done, and I tend to feel “victimized”.  It tends to sound like this: Continue reading “Calvin, meet Job.”

MINE!

volleyball-1568154_1920Back in the Dark Ages when I was in high school, I played volleyball.  Not well, but I tried.  In the 1970’s, girls’ athletics was not quite as competitive as it is today and being 5’12” (as I used to call myself) didn’t hurt my chances of making the cut either.

Generally on any team, you have to communicate with each other.  Specifically in volleyball, if you don’t communicate with your teammates, you might plow into each other, which would defeat the purpose of getting the ball over the net.  When the ball comes your way, you have to send the message, “I’ve got this, so you don’t have to, but be ready because it might be coming your way next.”

As that tends to be a bit wordy, it is condensed into simply:

“MINE!” Continue reading “MINE!”

Where’s a screen writer when you need one?

Have you noticed that it seems like quite a few flicks coming out of southern Cal studios are based on true events?  Maybe the “Industry” kingpins (holding the purse strings) have realized that it’s profitable for art to imitate life rather than the other way around.

Clearly, there’s enough drama, intrigue, and corresponding courage in life and history to keep the screen writers busy.  Here’s one I haven’t seen written yet. Continue reading “Where’s a screen writer when you need one?”

In other words…

shepherds-1-1024x768-e1512197226319

The words of the wise are like prodding goads, and firmly fixed [in the mind] like nails are the collected sayings which are given [as proceeding] from one Shepherd.

Ecclesiastes 12:11Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)  Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Photo credit: Biblical Faith – WordPress.com

Neuroplasticity, (and other foreign languages).

swedish-flag-2432445_1920I’m trying to learn Swedish.  My son-in-law, the family Swede, says that such a project is not terribly practical since only an impressive minority of people on the planet speak his native tongue. 

Since when is the grandmother of the most precious one-year-old in the universe expected to be practical??  So, Duolingo gives me updates on how I’m doing.  Currently, it says I’m around 34% fluent in Swedish.

Clearly, they define “fluency” differently than I do.  For example, if I wanted to say something like, “your dinosaur has a funny nose”, I would be woefully lost for words.

And Duolingo doesn’t teach you any expletives, which probably a good thing when you’re a 58-year-old trying to learn a new language…. Continue reading “Neuroplasticity, (and other foreign languages).”

Fishing–no catch limit

man-1291607_1920Rarely do Bob and I have to concern ourselves with the catch limit if we go fishing.  Even in Minnesota, where you can use a paperclip to pull a lunker bass out of a mud puddle, posting a catch limit for us was unnecessary.  Such is our fishing prowess.  Good thing we don’t have to fish to eat.

Unlike Peter.  A professional fisherman, his life depended on it.  In Peter’s first encounter with Jesus, they had fished all night and caught nothing.  (Not dissimilar to some of my husband’s angling adventures, I might add.) Jesus tells them to cast on the other side of the boat, to which Peter makes some disparaging remark, but does it anyway.  And the nets become so full that they rip apart. Continue reading “Fishing–no catch limit”

It was a set-up!

chess-2489553_1920I don’t play Chess.  That is to say, I know the basic rules, but like football, there are more intricacies than I care to ponder.  What little I know, however, helps me to appreciate those that really are quite adept at the game. 

As I understand it, the goal is to capture the opponent’s king.  Period.  That’s the goal.  It doesn’t matter how many pieces you have left when that king bows to your strategic prowess.  It doesn’t matter which piece gets the king; even a pawn can do that!  Every piece has a specific function and, yes, there are sacrifices to be made along the way.  It’s all a challenge, not of chance, but of resiliently setting up the next move, anticipating each opportunity, and patiently allowing the plan to unfold. 

I imagine true chess masters can also recognize the strategy of their opponent.  They’ve seen this move before, and won’t allow the trap to entangle them. 

A comment that I’ve not quite been able to live down from one of our family reunions was when I asked if anyone would like to play a “quick game of Chess”, not wholly unlike asking for a quick game of Monopoly.  Such a thing does not exist, (unless you’re playing with me, I suppose.)

Hmmmm….

Patience in life is not one of our culturally intrinsic qualities.  Spiritually, however, it is a must.  I love God’s “suddenlies”, His intervening grace when what I’ve been praying for happens “above and beyond all I can ask or imagine”.  Like when Peter was miraculously released from prison and was left standing to knock on the door of the praying disciples.  Or when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles as the same Peter was in the middle of his discourse to them about Jesus.  Or the initial “Light, be!” in Genesis chapter one.

Yeah, those are nice.

Unfortunately, I’m not quite so great concerning God’s “set ups”.  I want to mentally and emotionally check things off my prayer list a little faster than seems to be happening in my very linear timeline and limited perspective.  There are relationships I desperately want restored.  There are needs I don’t see being met.

Then I remember: the goal is the king.  And I’m not a mere pawn, but a servant, with moves in the game that are assigned to me specifically.  I cannot do what a knight or a rook or a queen can do, but I can be part of the set up for the end result, protecting my King and going after the opponent’s. 

And, importantly, allowing myself to be moved, empowered, guided by the Master, regardless of personal sacrifice in the interest of the Goal, will require learning to hear Him more acutely.  That is my foremost strategy.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

My second is tenacity.  As much as I would love a sudden “checkmate” on my formidable enemy, my Master has other things in mind that by necessity must be set up.  I may not (probably won’t) see or understand what He is doing in the present tense, but that does not preclude my responsibility to hang in there. 

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

chess-2776289_1920The game isn’t over yet.

Your move.

John 10:27; Galatians 6:9 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.

A friend indeed

I don’t quite know what male-bonding looks like, but sister love can go something like this:

A true girlfriend will tell you when something’s amiss that is not showing up in the mirror.

A true girlfriend gives you her last Shout wipe when you spill grape juice on the front of your blouse.

A true girlfriend doesn’t mind (too much) that you snore at the lady’s weekend retreat.

And so it goes…

I like finding true comradeship in the most unlikely places—it’s actually something easily taken for granted. True friends don’t grow on trees; they grow in compost, in the refuse and throw-away parts of our lives.  When it all hits the fan, true friends are at their best.

Here are a few of my favorite examples: Continue reading “A friend indeed”

Your turf, or mine?

I love the description of the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem under Nehemiah’s close eye.  We read phrases like “next to him”, and “beside him” throughout the narrative as each family group takes responsibility for a part of the reconstruction.

Obviously, Nehemiah couldn’t accomplish the project on his own; it may have been his vision, but the people’s participation was not only expected, but necessary.  There’s a lesson for the church right there—pastors can’t do it all; in fact, not even most of the work in building God’s kingdom. Continue reading “Your turf, or mine?”