Saturday, November 22, 2008


Since I was little I wanted to have the home that invited people. I wanted to have the party house, you know. I wanted to have a house full of people. Do you remember "Grandma's Feather Bed"? John Denver sang it years ago and that was what I wanted. I wanted a house filled with cousins and aunts and uncles, friends, brothers and sisters and people whose relationships are of the hard to trace kind. Are they a third cousin once removed or a fourth cousin? Is that Uncle Jason's third wife's son from a previous marriage or is that Danny, Aunt Ethel's son by Uncle Daniel who died in the war?

I don't know quite why, but I am too boring or sedate of something, not at all the person I wanted to be, because when I invite people over they rarely come. My kids back out of holidays, and even my parent's bail. That's pretty bad when your own parent's bail on you.

So...I have decided that perhaps I don't have true friends. Perhaps I do not have people that will show up. We don't get invited to join people very often and no one wants to join us. I don't know why.

That's not true. I do know why. We aren't fun. Well, that's going to change. I've spent too many years being overwhelmed by life circumstances. Too many years just this side of depressed. It's too easy for me to slip into that.

I thought my kids would want to come home to be with us no matter what we were doing. Oh well. Not true. Okay.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What's all this about a beaver?

I was talking to a good friend at lunch yesterday about the different ways we do things. She laughed when I told her I carefully measure my pictures, include the length to the hanger and then carefully and precisely hang them, ensuring the same amount of distance between them, but only after looking at them for several weeks laid out on the floor in front of the wall they are going on, changing the order until I am certain it is exactly as I want it. I told her that it drives me nuts when people move things after I have carefully arranged them (I didn't mention how it bothers me when other people hang things in my home without the same attention to detail.)

She said I am a beaver. Well I looked it up online and many of those characteristics apply to me, but many of the lion characteristics do too. I am decisive and stubborn, but I also like things very precise. I will have a picture in my mind of what I want and nothing else will do. I line up pictures with a level and measuring tape so that they are evenly spaced and level, looking at them sometimes for weeks prior to hanging them.

Apparently that type level of perfectionism (which does not advance to the level of OCD or mean that I actually complete things with any predefined level of perfectionism, but the attempt and drive to do so is what makes one a beaver.

Perhaps she simply meant my body type.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

There's Something About Mary...

I have a friend who I will call Mary. Mary's life is a series of mostly good stories. Good times. Noodle salad. Her children have fairly good strong marriages, her grandchildren all seem to be doing well and are embracing the faith of their fathers, walking after God in a great way. Family comes for the holidays and they have grand celebrations with 15-20 family members cooking, talking, laughing, playing games and having a great time. I love her life. It reminds me of the Shire, before the Ringwraiths come. They work hard, save their money, spend time with friends and family, and are happy people. At a certain point, they retire and live a somewhat comfortable existence. All is as it should be.

Then there's folks like me. An uneventful, unremarkable life is not what I live. I can look back to certain choices that have added to the turmoil, but many things have been out of my control. The flood was out of my control. Often family members make decisions that affect you in ways you could not imagine. There are the calls, "My car was stolen." "About your son..." So many, many things that I had no control over, and things I did not instigate. "We decided to cancel your contract." So many things.

My friend calls me if we haven't seen each other for over a week just to find out what's new. In her life what's new is that she finished a blanket for the mission, she canned a carton of peaches, she had this family or that over for dinner, she cleaned out the garden beds, shampooed the carpet, etc. I love that about her. I love the normalcy of it all. I love that when I call they are out "trimming the bushes" and soon there will be neatly cut bundles of branches from the shrubs, tied neatly with twine. They attend ballgames of their grandkids, entertain others in their home, visit family and friends. They are terrific.

When she calls me the conversation goes something like this: "Did I tell you Steve came home?" "No, you didn't." "He just showed up early last Saturday morning. He got laid off and so he grabbed his stuff and drove all night." "How wonderful to have him here, but he doesn't have a job?" "He's supposed to have started one yesterday, but the plans aren't ready, so it will probably be next week. But, they did finally hook up the stove and we started on the dining room walls, finally." "Oh my. So much goes on in your life." Then I go on to tell her the rest of the story.

See the thing is, I know she does not long for the craziness of my life, but she loves me in the middle of it and wants to hear what's happening. Sometimes she may think that she is boring, but I don't see it that way at all. She works so hard to maintain a good home and to prepare good nourishing food and making the budget stretch so that their retirement allows them to enjoy some of the things they like to do. She is a wonderful hostess, in part because her life runs a bit like clockwork. Her home is peaceful and inviting.

Welcome to my home...or rather, I should say welcome to my construction zone. There is always something undone. Some project in some stage less than complete, and usually involving a mess. It drives me up a tree. In the middle of that craziness, I enjoy the respite of being in her home, in that peaceful spot in the middle of the Shire with good Shirefolk.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oz, the Great and Terrible

We all know what happened when the curtain was drawn back on the great and mighty Oz. He was revealed to be a sham. A great showman, but a sham. He gave everyone what they already had. I find so much of religious talk, secular motivators, psychology, etc. is to tell folks that they already have the answers inside themselves. I just read a quote about becoming aware of our true self that is one with God.

Scripture tells me there is only one way to become united with God, and yet none of these sham wizards are willing to tell the truth. You don't have the answers within yourself. You don't have the strength within yourself. Oh, you may have been shown some truth, you may know some of the answers, but you are not the source of truth. You know that you can lie to yourself. There are pills or lozenges that can alter your tastebuds 'til lemons taste like candy. Women convince themselves that their man will never do it again. Men convince themselves that those moments of bitchiness they see in their girlfriends are an anomaly that will go away after the wedding day.

We convince ourselves that lies are truth all the time. Even when confronted with truth, we often only accept a part of that truth. We like verses like Deuteronomy 7:9
"Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping
his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and
keep his commands."

We make plaques out of it, put it on the calendar, and meditate on it. Nothing wrong with that. But we don't make plaques out of the next verse:
"But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not
be slow to repay to their face those who hate him."

We don't like to look at the fullness of God. He is both great and terrible. He is both gentle and wild, loving and just. Even as his mercy is adored, we don't like to face the fact of his wrath.

I don't like to look at it either. I don't understand the fullness of God. I'm still that little kid running into daddy's throne room with my hurts and fears, climbing into the lap of the Almighty, not understanding his glory or the weight of his majesty. When the curtain is pulled back on God, there is no sham pretense, making us believe he is doing things that we have done for ourselves. We will see glory and holiness that cannot help but throw us to our knees in worship.

If I hide myself from his glory and his greatness, chosing only to see the sweet, fuzzy, loveable grandfather or daddy that I want, I miss so much of who my daddy is. In that I also miss part of who he has made me to be. I fail to be grateful for him bringing such a sinfull soul into his presence; I fail to understand the wonder of what Jesus the Messiah did for me in making me acceptable in the sight of God and allowing me to come boldly to the throne as his child.

O God, make me more aware of the awfulness and terrible weight of your righteousness and holiness. Make me more aware of the price you paid for me and make me ever more grateful for the price you paid for me. Make me ever more aware of the fullness of yourself. Oh, let me know you more. You are a gracious and forgiving God to allow me to run in without a true understanding of your nature, of your glory and majesty. I am humbled and exalted in your presence. You have my heart and my worship. You deserve every bit and every moment. Forgive me for my whining when things don't go my way and when things get hard. Why should I long for a road that is so much easier than the one you have set for me?
A layoff is a scary thing. I wonder where my next job will come from. The news all looks so scary. The negative news stories are seeming more ominous than they probably are. I forget the fact that people are still being hired, that jobs are still being filled and that better than 93% of the people who want to work are working.

I am amazed when other people take my upcoming layoff so casually. Makes me wonder how many times I have casually dealt with devastating events in someone else's life. Knowing this has been coming does not really make it easier, although there is some consolation to not being handed a box and escorted out the door without finishing projects, putting everything in order and calmly collecting your effects.

I have seen people escorted from the building upon giving their notice. It was my first concrete indicator that the company I was working for at the time was not who they claimed to be. Their darling, (and truly one of the sweetest and most competent people on the project) who had moved around the country from project to project for them, had been offered a position where she could go home and not move around. Their reaction was instant removal from the premises. She was humiliated and left the office in tears in front of 200 or so of her co-workers, clients and sub-contractors. It was horrible.

Anyway, for some reason, this feels like a death to me. I want to close my door and bawl like a baby, even while I reach for and cling to hope. I KNOW that my redeemer lives. I know that I am not abandoned or forsaken. Yet I run to him as a frightened child. Outwardly I am calm, inwardly I am in turmoil. During these last few weeks I have gone from calm to upset, to peaceful, to sad, to sad and peaceful, to scared and weak and devastated.

I alternately dread and look forward to the future. Yet another adventure where I must run out and hope that I have remembered my kerchief and my pipe. Yet another road to travel where no one has provided a map. I get to a guidepost but none of the choices seem better than the other, no path looks clear.

I am seeking an open door through which I may walk. Sometimes my courage is real, based on who I know holds me, and sometimes it seems more like whistling in the dark to show a courage I have yet to find. The hope is in this--I need not worry. My God will never leave me. He has not abandoned me, nor does he stand back and ask me to let him know what I work out. He has already prepared the way before me, even though I cannot see. It has been wild and crazy so far, I wonder what he has next?