Starry-eyed

superman-3417853_1920My culture is one of American idols.  By that I mean Americans are prone to having heroes.  Just look at the resurgence of the Marvel and DC franchises on the silver screen, and the explosion of comicons and cosplay.  (I had to look up what cosplay was—that’s the adult version of what you used to do as a kid by clothes-pinning one of Mom’s towels around your neck and pretending you were Superman.) Continue reading “Starry-eyed”

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Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

rake-24250_1280I was out raking up the sweet gums balls in the yard…again.  I never realized what an arboreous pain sweet gum trees are; beautiful, yes, but there’s nothing sweet about stepping on one of those blasted seed balls that drop in the spring and fall.  The little buggers can be downright treacherous! 

Try to mow the yard with them hiding in the grass, and they go flying like so many high-velocity projectiles.  You’d better hope you have shoes on or your foot can be impaled by the hard spikes on this leftover seed casing.  Even with shoes on, the little sphere doesn’t politely crush when stepped on; oh no, when it rolls underfoot, it can send the unsuspecting bi-ped flying, giving the same effect as slipping on a banana peel.  Continue reading “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…”

What’s in YOUR toolbox?

carpenters-toolbox-1466467_1920My dad had a shop in the basement, a couple of rooms of the basement in fact. It was pretty awe-inspiring.  His big engineer’s drafting table, from which hung the triangle and T-square, dominated one room, the one in which he built in all the new cabinets himself.  I think that was before he designed and built the beautiful screened-in back porch. 

The actual shop was in an adjacent room.  This housed a myriad of baby food jars filled with screws and washers and all types and sizes of things.  His lathe was in there, and the circle saw, and undoubtedly a host of other things I would have no idea how to use.  (What’s a router??)

Continue reading “What’s in YOUR toolbox?”

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!”

Welcome to Crete

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I have opinions.  Some are strong ones, like Purdue should win the NCAA tournament this year, (just kidding, but that would be nice.)  Some a bit more ambivalent, you know, mashed potatoes with or without gravy, (unless, of course, it’s Thanksgiving.)

And, like everyone else, I also have my own sense of timing.  I’ve come to the opinion that this faculty is a product of both nature and nurture.  I have recently decided there must be a part of the brain that controls one’s awareness of time, and since Bob’s very nurturing family typically ran late, perhaps this furthers my DNA connection.

I also have opinions about how I like to spend my time.  Actually, the word I should italicize is “my”, which, as a Christian, is usually a theological typo.  As obsessive as I can be about getting out the door “on time”, when it comes to God’s plans, I have a tendency to either drag my feet or ring my hands impatiently, both of which waste His time!

Enter one of the intriguing characters of the New Testament, Titus.  In Heaven, I want to talk with this guy; he’s kind of a personal hero of mine.  A non-Jewish convert to the new religion of Christianity, Titus became a trusted friend and faithful co-worker of Paul.  We read of him overseeing financial transactions, going on missionary excursions with the apostle, as well as being sent into a sticky situation in one of the churches in Corinth.

But my personal favorite is his assignment in Crete.  Paul himself writes this to his younger cohort:

“I left you on the island of Crete…”

Wow!  Paul had intentionally chosen Titus for the task—now that’s an impressive project!  Not bad in one’s C.V. for future ministry options; that is, until we read a bit further down the page with Paul’s travel guide description:

“Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, ‘The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.’”

And then, as if to underline that statement, Paul adds: 

“This is true.” 

Great.  Just great.  Not exactly a K-LOVE cruise with your favorite artists.  Even though Titus was himself a Greek, he had been with Paul, a very learned scholar with high standards of moral living.  Perhaps not a good initial fit for the younger man.  Why did Paul leave Titus there?  To complain?  To despair?

“…so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you.” 

Titus was not without resources.  He had been instructed, prepared, and now the Holy Spirit was strategically placing him for reasons of His own choosing which, I can only surmise, had to do with Paul’s earlier statement:

“…at just the right time he has revealed this message…”

Not only had God now revealed his reconciling message of Jesus to the world, but the time was right for those “lying and lazy” Cretans to hear it also.  God had been working.  Preparing hearts.  Using circumstances.  Arranging and developing and “calling those things that are not as though they were.”  (I love that one.) 

Thankfully, God is still working.  Preparing hearts and using circumstances.  In loved ones, in the government, in the most unlikely and personally uncomfortable situations and scenarios.  We all have our own “Cretian calling”, (sometimes within our own hearts.)

And God is not obligated to ask me about my opinion or sense of timing. 

Titus 1:12,13, 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.

Proper use of the bulldozer.

wood 2Bulldozer—now there’s a fun word!  I did a little digging (pun intended), and evidently bulldozer is a very American term, no surprise that.  Its origin is summarily inelegant, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the helpful heavy machinery we count on today.

Not long after the American Civil War and Honest Abe’s Emancipation Proclamation, racial prejudice continued (duh) in the form of intimidation tactics, which included administering a “bull’s dose” with a whip on the backs of black Americans who would not vote for a certain party.  The thugs eventually were referred to as “bull dosers” or “bull dozers”, those who cleared a path for their own ideology. (1) Continue reading “Proper use of the bulldozer.”

The closing

wood 2In January of this year, the gavel at Wall Street fell for the first time on 20,000.  20,000 what, I’m not quite sure; I just know that it was the historic high water mark of the Dow Exchange to that point. 

Now, I have lived through more than one recession, and my parents through “the” Depression.  Our personal investments are modest, but I suppose we have done our middle-income capitalist part of moving the American economy forward through our adult years.  One thing I do know is that once you invest, at least wisely and conservatively, it is important to leave it there; that is, it will need to weather some ups and downs.  Constantly pulling it out and plugging it in somewhere else, similar to the relationships showcased in the grocery store tabloids, is not typically considered wise investing.

Alright, I know this is not a perfect analogy, but it does help me to understand this other concept that comes from the Old Testament prophet, Malachi.  God is lamenting over His people (again) concerning their unfaithfulness, and since at this juncture they don’t even recognize how they have been disloyal, which is even scarier, God has to spell it out for them:

 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands…?’”

It’s those words, “what have we gained” that really get me.  They (like me) miss the whole point when I look at my temporal ledger sheet instead of my eternal one.  OUCH.  Our culture’s mantra “he who dies with the most stuff wins” tries to infiltrate my thinking in very pernicious ways, and I’m not just talking about material stuff here.  In other words, I’ll be the first in line to protect my reputation, my relationships, my home, hearth, job, etc.  But, (and here’s the rub) what if God calls me to an act of obedience that puts even those things in direct opposition to His expressed purpose?

In the first century church, Paul puts it this way:

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” 

Those are tough, tough words.  But intelligent investing can be costly and takes sacrifice.  It takes diligence and wisdom and counsel and (here’s a fun one) patience persistence in the face of those who choose to buy on credit and go into moral debt.  And our culture is deep, deep into moral debt.  Just turn on the news.  

The same Old Testament prophet goes on to say this… 

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”

newspaper-1834656_1920And when it comes to smart investing, it’s the end result that counts.

Malachi 3:14; Philippians 3:8; Malachi 4:2   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.

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”

I made a meme!

Look!  I made a meme!

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Ask me how I know this!  And since 99% of the time I play a 12-string, where most guitar-players have one indentation per fingertip, I get to have two! 

So, right, forget the diamonds; for me, calluses are a girl’s best friend, at least they have been since I was about 15 years old, when I semi-attached myself to my dad’s 12-string guitar.  And I can sure tell when I haven’t been giving enough attention to “toughening up the tips”.  It takes pretty consistent Continue reading “I made a meme!”

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

This is a combine:

harvest-1523791_1920

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.