Monday, April 30, 2012

The Letter Series: Dear CIA

Dear CIA,

I understand that you think you have the market cornered on this whole "psychological warfare" dealy, but I think you are largely missing what it means to screw with someone's head.  I mean, sure, water boarding can definitely lead to an outbreak of crazy, but doesn't the beauty of screwing with someone lie in the ability to deny any sense of mea culpa in the incident?  Clearly, taking a towel and a pitcher every where you go screams, "Stuff is going to hit the fan and I'm going to be in the middle of it", no?

With that in mind, I'd like to introduce you to the more subtle sensibilities of Favorite, my husband, who is turning psychological warfare into an art.  Here, I will recount a recent story that documents his creative genius, and you can determine if his strategies are more effective than the routes you currently prefer.

Favorite's current employment does little in the way of encouraging employees.  Often that means the employees find their own sources of entertainment.  That fact alone should be enough to explain the reason Sasquatch shows up in more conversations than the state of our economy.  Many people believe discussions over his arguable existence are a waste of time, but not Favorite.  Favorite is willing to entertain the fantastic possibilities often ignored by regular people--like the Loch Ness monster, Area 51, and, of course, Sasquatch.

Really, though, Favorite's willingness is mild compared to those of his coworkers.  One man was so convinced of Sasquatch's existence, he made sightings and footprints regular conversation topics.  He referred to the beast as "Samscratch" and whole-heartedly believed someone, someday, would catch it, and the world would be privy to something he knew all along.

Favorite decided to make that happen.

In the name of science (or psychology, if you prefer), he set out to make this man believe he experienced a real Samscratch sighting.

For weeks, Favorite attempted to procure a Samscratch suit but was unsuccessful.  After randomly sharing his endeavors with a family member, he discovered a man who had purchased a gorilla costume at a yard sale because "it was a good price."  Believing there were similarities between Samscratch and a gorilla, and knowing the dark and the woods would make up for any discrepancies, Favorite took a chance.

He gathered his crack team of professionals and set out on the aptly named Samscratch adventure.

Three grown men (all over the age of 25) called a partner in crime to determine when the Believer left work and would be taking his usual route home.  Then, they set up camp off the side of the road, dressed in the gorilla suit and waited for the magic to happen.

Ten minutes into their wait, the Believer turned down his road.  Since the boys were aware of his headlights, they cued Samscratch who ran across the road--from one wooded area to another wooded area.  Then, they waited.

The Believer, who normally drove 30 mph, sped up to 60 mph, found a drive way and quickly turned around.  He slowly drove back to the area of the sighting carefully looking for the alleged Bigfoot.  The Partner in Crime, who was behind the Believer and also witnessed the "sighting", slowly drove past on his way home.  Eventually, the Believer left the scene of the crime and, we assume, made his way home.

The next day at work, the Partner in Crime asked the Believer about what he saw.  The Believer commented, "Well, that's something you just don't talk about unless you have a body."  He refused to discuss the incident with anyone else, and, according to Partner in Crime, freaked out about the whole ordeal.  And, honestly?  Who wouldn't?  It's not every day Samscratch ambles into the woods right before your very eyes.

I naively believed the experiment would end at this point.  The boys would share their story, everyone would get a laugh and we would finally move beyond the adventures of Samscratch.

But Favorite wasn't done.

He let the story marinate.  Every day, the Believer became a little more jumpy.  Every day, Favorite giggled a little more.

Finally, on the day of the Believer's retirement, Favorite gave him a card that included a picture of Samscratch...except, this time, Samscratch wasn't wearing a mask and he was standing with the rest of the crew who made the impossible a little more believable.

You'd think an experience like this would force the Believer to abandon any belief in the existence of BigFoot, but apparently it reinforced his faith in the mythical creature.

That said, I'm pretty sure this story is just one example of how your agency could create mental disturbance for its own use without all that "Ack, I'm drowning" nonsense.

Think it over.  Favorite is available to strategize to help central intelligence reach its full potential.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Gorilla Samscratch

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Consistency of Thought

Memories come to me in colors, smells and flavors.  I easily remember bright flashes of emotion tempered with the textures of clothing and skin.  One simple rendezvous with a benign item and I can close my eyes and see simple tableaus complicated by the stories that accompany them.

Sometimes, I'm jealous of people who can forget when quick encounters trigger vibrant, real recollections that tap my emotions. 

But those recollections draw me to the details.  I rarely miss an engagement ring or a new haircut.  I almost always notice girls who experiment with make-up for the first time and I love a new pair of shoes.  I'm drawn to personalities indicated through regular conversation or quiet expressions.  And I see a lot of them.  People show an awful lot of themselves if they know someone is willing to look.

The colors, smells, flavors come in waves--steady and unpredictable--that ask to be seen and shared.  Lately, I've had a hard time putting words to the current of scenes that steadily flash in front of my eyes minute by minute.

Favorite, as he makes tea and fills my water bottles in the morning.
The red fox who visits my basement weekly.
My students who furrow eyebrows and stare in frustration at computer screens that don't quite capture the depth of their intelligence.
My mother, as she laughs into the phone over a funny story.
My father who shakes his head in amusing frustration over a silly dog who has already stolen his heart.
The trees, planted by hands I never saw, painted against the pinks of a smoky spring sky.

My heart is taken captive by the music that accompanies every image.  Every color.  Every smell and flavor. 

Woven in all the intricacies of life, I can see Christ's hand.  Sometimes, the clouds catch the light just right and I smell eternity for one brief second before everything shifts.  When that happens, things taste a bit brighter; my eyes aren't quite as foggy.

I can exhale with the relaxed understanding that He gives and He takes away.  Blessed be His name (Job 1:21).

And when the picture isn't perfect and the smells aren't inviting and the colors aren't so bright?  I'm learning to bless His name anyway.  Even when things are in a constant, repetitive loop.

Seeing the same scenery and circling the same emotions isn't something I'm trying to overcome.  Working through doesn't really seem to imply working out.  Instead, He's working to create consistency in me--to worship and thankfulness.

The flavors are the same--bitter, sweet, salty, sour.  So are the smells.  But the details are a little different when I am displaced for Him.  I'm not the heroine.

So instead of circling Me when I'm overwhelmed with sensory experience, I'm learning to bend a knee to Him. 

Not to change where I am or where I have been, but to change who I am.



Monday, April 23, 2012

Day in the Life

Antihistamines and decongestants are awesome medicines.  They help clear up allergies and save a lot of people a lot of distress, but they make me act drunk.

So when my allergies get ridiculously bad, I have two options:
1.  Take the medicine and know that I will be out of commission for a minimum of 20 hours.
2.  Don't take the medicine and take my chances with the pollen.

So work?  Was a no-go today.  (I tried number two first and then defaulted to number one.)  And mostly, that got me to thinking about how much I lack when it comes to being a farm wife.

I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to get up at 5 am, cook a huge breakfast, do all the laundry, keep my pantry/fridge stocked and knit all the farm hands their own underwear.  Isn't that what Ree does on a daily basis?  (Sure, if you add homeschooling, taking amazing photographs and cooking three more meals to that schedule...and all looking gorgeous, younger than she is and happy.)

But who can fill this space on the couch beside a furry, little (questionably) shih tzu who demands attention?

My old, sick butt.

Aren't you jealous?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thankful Thursdays: Mom and Dad

When I was doing my student teaching, my cooperating teacher asked me, "How did you become a good disciplinarian?"

Her question caught me off-guard because:
1.  I didn't realize I was a good disciplinarian.
2.  I didn't remember receiving any training regarding discipline.

She shared that it was one of the things she struggled with the most so I promised I would honestly consider her question so I could answer her.  The next day, I told her, "My discipline strategies are a natural reaction to the actions of the students.  I learned that from my parents; they were great disciplinarians."

It's a true statement.  Active model discipline was alive and well in my house when I was growing up, and I suppose I internalized more than I thought.  I learned to respect authority and honor the position of the person in authority over me.  (*ahem* That doesn't mean I never tried to flex my verbal muscle at the authority figure.  But I definitely knew what was right.  And when I forgot?  I was clearly reminded.)

But now that I consider some of the things for which I'm most thankful, I realize how much I internalized from my parents' example.  As I discussed the concept of fluency with my grad class, I realized I am a fluent reader because my parents valued reading and education.  My mom constantly read to us and made us view the regular book fairs with as much anticipation as our own birthdays.

They expected from me--not just in matters of education, but also in social situations.  I can clearly remember a circumstance from jr. high in which several of my classmates and I mercilessly played a cruel joke on another girl in the class.  When my mom heard about the situation, she called the girl's mother, asked for an address, put me in the car and drove me to her house.  The entire way there, I got a lecture on appropriate ways to treat others.  When we arrived at our destination, I wasn't just expected to apologize to my classmate.  I was expected to share the story with her mother and apologize to her also. 

That story is just one in a long string of incidents that taught me what it means to see and value other people.  (My brothers have their own stories.)  While I can promise that I wasn't a quick learner on that front, I can also guarantee my parents' consistency in teaching me what it means to appreciate others.  The fact that I can observe and understand people decently is a testament to their dedication.

Mom and Dad painted a beautiful portrait of marriage.  When I make that statement, I don't mean their marriage was always perfect.  But they made the relationship look enticing.  I knew early on that marriage is never perfect, but it can be completely fulfilling.  Mom and Dad showed us the necessity of the unified front.  It was a rare event if Ronnie, Tim or I were ever able to "divide and conquer" in order to get what we wanted.

Dad and Mom taught me that parents fulfill a lot of different roles over the course of a child's life.  When I got married, they rarely offered opinions and encouraged me to make decisions with Favorite.  But when I was 15?  They weren't just a part of the decision making process--they were the Supreme Court of decisions.

Mostly, I think I want to be a parent because of the way they value their relationships with me and my brothers.  If I can be a tenth of what they were to me, I would consider myself an awesome success.

I am thankful to have them around because they are teaching to navigate some of the rockier parts of life.  They encourage me to do it with my eyes on Christ, but they don't have delusions of grandeur about their own downfalls.  Instead, they are a realistic example of the refinement process. 

I've been blessed to have them.  To learn from them.  To laugh with them.  Now that I'm an adult (*sigh*), I realize that I need parents less than I need friends--but they've been exemplary in that position, too.

I've got a lot to learn about patience, consistency and encouragment.  But I have some pretty solid examples who are taking the modeling process fairly seriously.  By now, they probably realize their job as role model is never really over.

And I'm so grateful.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Letter Series: A Few Randoms

Dear Admiral Criticism,

I'm learning to avoid things that just aren't my business, but allow me to share an observation that has been a long time coming:  she's your kid, not your project.

Develop your relationships any way you want, but know that you have a limited amount of time to truly get to know someone.  I promise there is more to her than her dress size or her outer appearance.  In fact, you are largely missing out on influencing some of the most important decisions she'll ever make because of your constant focus on her weight or current insufficiencies (according to you).

While you're really looking at her, don't miss all of the amazing things that are happening in her life.  She's becoming an adult--one who is really learning to make her own decisions and becoming responsible for her own stuff.  Really, this is something you'd notice if you spent more time looking at how far she's come instead of how far she has to go.  (And by the way, she gets it.  I promise she already sees the obstacles ahead.  You don't need to point them out.  Constantly.)
She's still looking for your approval.  Don't take that lightly, because there is going to come a day--probably in the very near future--that your negativity will lead her to avoid your opinion at all costs.  Instead, she'll shrug her shoulders and comment that you aren't on board, because you never have been.  Oh, and open your eyes so you know how much she is doing to please you.  Some of those decisions were for your benefit--not hers.

She's never going to be perfect.  OK?  But she's still pretty great.  I hope you figure that out before it's too little too late.  Recognizing those things doesn't mean you completely ignore her flaws, but it can't hurt to balance all of your snarky comments with a bit of verbal affirmation, can it?

--A Concerned Observer


Dear Students,

English is hard--especially when we need to address what literature is meant to do for us as readers.  Unfortunately, group work in class doesn't mean the requirements are going to be easier.  In fact, because you have the benefit of other opinions/help, it's probably going to be more difficult.  But I feel obligated to push you to discovery in the classroom, and, often, that means pushing your thinking processes beyond normal parameters.

I feel like it's my job to ensure you are capable of thinking for yourselves.  How could that be possible without a ton of practice opportunities?

You're Welcome.

Your Teacher

Monday, April 16, 2012

Random Questions: Why Are You in Grad School?

Sometimes I'm a little vocal about the fact that grad school hasn't been the *best* experience for me.  In fact, I'm usually a little jealous of friends and colleagues who seem to be gleaning interesting material from their classes.  After all, the classroom discussion was one of the major reasons I entertained the idea of grad school at all.

After a few frustrated statements to the members of my small group, one man looked and me and asked, sincerely, "So why are you in grad school?"

I gave a couple of mostly honest answers:  I do feel that educators should constantly pursue learning.  It would allow me the opportunity to teach dual-credit classes.  I could apply to work at a community college if the requirements for secondary educators hit rock bottom.  (Or maybe it's to develop enough intelligence to avoid products like Jergens Natural Glow?  Orange is a beautiful color, but it was never meant to be a skin color.)

Then, people remind me that I'll make more money, and I try to pretend like that's something I value.  But let's be honest (since that's a major goal of mine here):  I just don't care that much about the money.  Favorite and I aren't getting independently wealthy, but we don't do without either. 

If I were being completely honest about grad school,though, I'd tell people that it's a way of moving forward with my life.  Because, let's do a little more of that honest thing here, there hasn't been a lot of progress on just about every other front.  And lack of progress can lead dry, dusty people to do crazy things--almost anything for a little refreshment.

Honestly, I thought a class or two might help the bike feel a little less stationary.  Instead, it's been a repetitive reminder of what I would've ignored had things been a little less stagnant.  More recently, it has spawned prayers that God will make an oasis on arid, forgotten soil (Isaiah 44).

So why am I in grad school?

Because I'm pursing the only opportunities available for me right now.  But I'm praying that won't always be the case.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Little More Conversation

I write for the sake of conversation.  For me, a period has never been the end of the story and one blog post can't be the end of the discussion.  Books and sermons are just a jumping off point.  News stories give us a direction.  Magazine articles hit the refresh button on forgotten topics. 

In my classroom, no subject is off limits.  I'm careful to steer the direction of a few of those conversations (like the one about pornography, for example), but I rarely put out a fire if there are willing participants and viable topics--even if it goes beyond the boundaries of the lesson plan that day.

But the older we get, the shorter the conversations get.  Most of them become a practice in defending an opinion and less about really listening to someone else.  How is is possible for us to "get" people if we aren't even willing to allow them to be a part of the discussion?

In his sermon today, PastorJosh discussed the ridiculous things we say to hurting people.  I've been at the wrong end of most of those comments.  Likely, none of you have been exempt either.  But the most ridiculous thing we do to a hurting person is ignore him/her.

See, the easiest way to deal with something is to pretend it doesn't exist.  So if we close our eyes, turn our heads or keep ourselves fairly isolated, we never have to address another person's hurt at all.

I'm not sure why we do that.  (And by "we," I mean *ahem* me...)  Maybe it's because we don't know what to say or how to react.  But I loved PastorJosh's initial advice to the congregation today:  Shut up and listen.

Listening is really the most vital part of talking, and it's mostly ignored.  There is a world of people out there who are just waiting for their turns to talk.  You ever been in that kind of conversation?  There's a lot of words being thrown around, but you aren't even heard?

(What's the purpose of that kind of conversation anyway?  It rarely changes opinions.  It almost never helps someone make a decision.  And, for me, it usually results in spending less time with the person who just likes to hear the sound of his/her own voice...  Or giving myself another speech about shutting my mouth already...)

It doesn't mean we become mute head nodders.  (Doesn't that sound like a church name?  The Evangelical Gospel Church of the Mute Head Nodders.)  But in order for an exchange to happen, we have to understand that we are only part of the equation.  We can't just be heard; we have to hear, too. 

And after we hear, wouldn't it be great if we really wanted the conversation to continue?  Let down the defensiveness?  Opened our hearts to really "listening" to the other people--not just what they are saying, but what they are saying?

It wouldn't just change our relationships.  It would revolutionize all of our interactions. 

I'll warn you, though:  it's a commitment.  I'm learning that investments, or pouring in, is exhausting, overwhelming and demanding.

But it's also a little exhilirating--Christ in me, the hope of glory (Thank Him that He's willing to reveal the mystery.  Col. 1:27).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thankful Thursdays

Link-ups haven't been my thing.  I follow several, and really appreciate a few of them.  (Hey, who doesn't enjoy reading everyone's answers to the Wednesday Hodgepodge?) 

When I read Thankful Thursdays, however, I realized how I need to spend more time practicing gratitude (instead of constantly complaining about grad school).

I really am thankful for a ton of things--most of which revolve around God's provision in my life.  I've always been drawn to His identification as Jehovah Jireh.  I can't tell you why specificially, but the picture of God as provider is a deeply intimate image.

When BigBro and SILSheena moved, I grieved.  It's difficult to find friends; it's even more difficult to find couple friends--especially ones that don't require a trial period in which you dance around what you really are in hopes of sucking them in before they finally get to know you.  But without much difficulty, God pushed us through the doors of our church and directly into the laps of PastorJosh and Courtney.  They haven't been a replacement for BigBro and SILSheena (how would that even be possible?!), but they've filled a hole in our lives.  I'm so grateful for their easy personalities and tendencies to laughter.

And this has been an interesting time of re-learning things I had known and pushed to the back of my consciousness--like that God desires intimacy with us.  Like that God will give wisdom to any to ask and believe He will provide.  Like I really enjoy spending time in the Word and singing as loud as possible in my car. 

In the James:  Mercy Triumphs study, Beth Moore reminded us (quickly, it wasn't the point of the lesson) that her mind was so broken she had to rehabilitate it with scripture.  Clearly, this is something I've been lacking--but God is tenderly reminding me of things I know and pushing me beyond the the track I tend to circle to a new understanding of who He is.  Every Sunday sermon has been another lesson in bending my knee to His authority.  This season of waiting has been a reminder that God will redeem anything to bring glory to Himself.

In addition, I'm thankful God has given me Favorite (even when I don't deserve him) and has given us time to spend together.  And since I don't want to waste it, I'll check in with you tomorrow :)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Elusive Curtains, Now With Actual Curtains

When Favorite and I built our house, I had certain requirements for a master suite.

1.  All of our clothes will go in the closet (possibly with the exception of underwear).
2.  There will be no dressers or chests of drawers in our bedroom.
3.  Our room will be as clutter-free as possible.
4.  We will paint the walls a dark color to make it as conducive to sleep as possible.
5.  I will be able to enter the closet from the master bathroom.

To date, we've really mastered all of those things.  The addition of curtains has brought a sense of coziness the room was really missing (not that it wasn't beautiful before).

Picture from the door before curtains--ignore those ugly, U-G-L-Y, curtains on the french doors.


Another shot of the ugly, mismatched curtains and the dog's corner.  I actually spray painted that desk with a stone-looking spray paint.  It works well for the room right now, but it's a temporary fix.
I know I've pointed out those ugly curtains, but Wow.  I mean, just wow.  They are hideous.  In my defense, I picked them up at Walmart praying they would match, but knowing that I just needed something to cover those french doors so I didn't imagine all sorts of things staring in my windows at night.  (You know, I'm quite the looker...)

Also, those curtains kept me from waking up completely freaked out because Barky (Hogamedes) spotted some deer/turkey/birds/foxes/etc. walking in the backyard and went absolutely crazy--barking, running into the glass.

We made do with the uncovered windows.  It was bright when there was a full moon, but it wasn't such a huge deal.  At least, I didn't think so until we finally put curtains up.


They actually match! (Ignore the spotty picture.  Not a photographer.  It's amazing I can work a camera at all.)


Isn't this a huge improvement from the blue, suede curtains?!
We're not entirely done.  And if you think I'm crazy because I'm excited over this much progress, you clearly don't know my decorative inabilities.  First of all, I'm shocked I finally found curtains to match ($86 for all four panels--did I mention that?!)  Secondly, I'm a little surprised we actually got them up.  I have had an entire collection of pictures laying on the rug in the front room since December.  I still can't commit to any sort of arrangement.

But I digress.

There are a few more things to do...like...


That empty space over my bed needs something.  I found a great mosaic-type picture in Kohl's.  It was a tree in various blues and grays.  While I think it would be perfect, I'm not willing to give $150 for it.  I've also considered doing something with the verse from our wedding:  "Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away" (Song of Songs 8:7).  Or we could even do six frames with various patterns or pictures.  I'm just not sure yet.

In addition, I eventually plan to move the dog's space and put a small chair and lamp in this corner of the room.  Favorite also wants to get rid of the desk, buy a small flat screen and mount it to the wall.  I'm not against that, but I like that I can hide cords in the drawer of the desk so I can charge things like my Nook. 

It's nothing I'll have to worry about in the near future, because we have other areas of the house (*ahem* sidewalk) that will require some attention before I can justify spending money on another flat screen television--especially since the only time we watch television in the bedroom is in the morning.

So there you have it--my bedroom curtains.  I'll keep you updated with more pictures from the house as we upgrade...slowly.  Very, very slowly.  (And likely with panic.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

From Friday to Sunday: Hopeful Expectation

Good Friday was filled with torture, hatred and death.

Easter Sunday is joy, love and Resurrection.

And Saturday?  I've heard few things said about the Saturday that sits in between those days.

I'm not a Bible scholar.  I've never taken a seminary class (though I've entertained the idea), and I have no formal training when it comes to the life of Christ.  But I can tell you that the idea of Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday sits heavy with me.

Saturday was the day of enduring loss.

The Disciples had placed their faith in a Jesus who was dead.  They didn't even stick around to watch Him die.  Instead, they scattered--presumably to avoid association with the "criminal" who was beaten beyond recognition.

I don't know what they did in those hours (with the exception of Peter).  I don't know where they went.  I can only imagine how they reacted when everything they had believed was torn down.

I don't know those men.  But I do know despair; it is the complete loss of hope.  And in that day that Jesus was taken off the cross and in the tomb, I imagine despair hit all of them.

But Sunday.

This morning, Beth Moore posted that Jesus was up before the first sun rays met the horizon.  I cried when I read her words, because she completely understood the absence of hope in Mary's heart when she went to the tomb.  Jesus was dead.  Hope was gone.  The world was a different place than it had been the week before.

And yet, that tomb had already been changed.  The stone was rolled away.  Christ renewed hope--first in the life of Mary Magadalene, then in the hearts of all those who heard about the miracle.

We've seen Friday.  And I'd venture to say a lot of us live in Saturday.  We don't know what to do with ourselves when hope has been decimated--often before our eyes. 

Like the disciples, I abandon what I know.  I crumble in a heap, cry bitter tears and attempt to put the pieces back together--even when I don't know the pattern.

And just when it seems like things can't get any darker, I find myself at an empty tomb and hear the quiet statement, "Wait for Me with hopeful expectation.  I AM alive."

Today, we have the privilege to know that Friday will bring Sunday.  We know that Christ wins.  But the difficulty comes in remembering Easter is the answer to every Friday.  Every Saturday.  Every waiting period in which hope seems to have disappeared entirely.

We look to the cross--not to see Him hanging there, but to know that love didn't pull a vanishing act on that hill.  His sacrifice became our answer--the hope that fills despair to bursting.



Friday, April 6, 2012

An Amusing Easter Story

I think I've mentioned once, or nine-thousand times, that I'm a bit of a dweller.  When I get something in my head, I have a lot of difficulty thinking about something else until I've worked that "something" out.  So while my head has been running the same race track, my head managed to forget that I see and experience a hundred funny things a day. 

And who doesn't want to see (or read) something hilarious?  (And honestly?  I would rather laugh with people than just about anything in the world.)

So let's take for example the man Chris and I met when we drove to Target today to purchase curtain rods for the impending bedroom makeover (pictures to come--of my bedroom...of COURSE I have pictures of this situation).


I know you can't see a ton in this picture, so I got close ups.  But first I would like to point out a few things:

1.  I am not a photographer (nor do I care to be).
2.  Those are toy, fabric flowers attached to his hood with a handpainted "Easter" sign.
3.  Yes, that is an Easter Bunny in a "car" set bungeed to his hood.

Don't believe me?


You'd think that's about as wacky as it could get, right?  I mean, who would go any further than to bungee an Easter bunny to the top of a car?

Probably the same guy who decorates the back of his car with Easter eggs.

(Seriously.)

(They were strung together with twine.)

(In varying colors.)

(You can't make this crap up.)

(And as if it didn't get any more bizarre...)

He's U.S. Air Force retired.

Which I, for some reason, found amusing hilariously entertaining.

I guess the point of this story is that the world is a pretty funny place...

If you can open your eyes enough to see it (behind the lens of a camera, especially!).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Elusive Curtains

I finally found curtains for my master bedroom (and it only took a year). They are the perfect color (I think), the perfect size (here's hoping) and they were the perfect price (thermal, blackout curtains for $25 a panel!). Favorite and I will be hanging them on Saturday so stay tuned for some before/after action. (And feel free to make suggestions for impending artwork or furniture. I'd like to finish one room in my house before the end of summer.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

They Call Him PORK...

My dog has gotten a little...substantial.  His name is Archimedes, but my dad has recently insisted on calling him Hogamedes or Porkimedes so maybe substantial isn't really the word I'm looking for.

He's gotten tubby.

And I didn't notice because he's also fluffy and I think his tubbiness has happened over the course of a year or so.

When my dad pointed it out, I got all insulted because my dog?  Isn't fat!  He's happy.  Very happy.  And cute.  And fluffy.  And holy-cow-he's-the-size-of-a-bassett-hound.  (Even though he's only supposed to a 20 lb shih tzu.)

I noticed it when I saw him waddling from the back.  Trust me, here.  Waddling is what he does.  He can't even run without his backend sashaying all over the place.

So I started trying to account for his extra girth.

We weren't feeding him extra.  He wasn't getting extra biscuits.  Was Favorite feeding him off the table?

I confronted him and implied that is exactly what was happening.  Favorite informed me that outside of the occasional apple, Porky wasn't getting extras.

Then it hit me.

Favorite dumps our leftover food outside in order to keep our trash from smelling horrific.  When we let our little fluffball outside to do his "business," he was making his way to the dumped food and gladly helping himself.

Needless to say, we are no longer dumping food, and he's being deprived of his 7,000 calorie-a-day diet.

A few biscuits and one scoop of food a day.  That's all he gets now.  He can forage all he wants.

Maybe soon we'll call him Barky again.

The Wisdom of Words

Why do people always think they're being so wise when they say things like "God may not provide for you the way you want Him to."  Or "He may not answer your prayers the way you're hoping He will."

For the record, you're not being wise.  You're being cryptic.  And those are two different things entirely.

James says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (3:17).

Maybe the best wisdom is a word "fitly spoken" instead of one that attempts to show wisdom that isn't necessarily true or beneficial (Prov. 25:11).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

June Bugs, Guests Posts and the Art of Giving Up

I'm jealous because the Pioneer Woman never writes about blog slumps.  Young House Love always has some cool, new project to share with the world.  And I?  Struggle to write anything interesting, but all I have is the story about how a june bug crawled up my pant leg while I was driving home last night and I had to hold my pant leg with one hand while I tried to fish him out with the other and what hand was I using to steer, you ask?  That would be my chin.  Because I CAN.NOT.DRIVE.WITH.A.BUG.IN.MY.PANTS.  Ew. Gross. Andwhateverexpletiveisappropriateforjunebugscrawlingupyourpants.

Through my slump, though, I've been wondering when it's good or appropriate to toss in the towel.  The last few months of my life have been proof that God doesn't ask us to soldier through everything, and I've just been wondering where the line is drawn?

I keep trying to strike this weird balance between hopeful and realistic and one doesn't necessarily support the other--which is a strange balance to navigate.  Realism says that some things will never change while hope keeps pointing out all the strange surprises that have infiltrated the lives of others.

I have a good life.  Favorite believes it is his job to provide above and beyond for us.  I have a beautiful home.  (It still doesn't have pictures on the wall.  Anyone want to come help hang the pictures?  I'm terrified I'm going to ruin the drywall, because I have to rearrange them so many times.)  I have plenty of clothes.  We eat well, and I have enjoyed cooking.  (I wish I didn't enjoy eating nearly as much...)  I have a tightly knit family unit that is inclusive and appreciative of the people we've been given.  (Even though I'm pretty sure PastorJosh is my dad's new-best-girlfriend...it's an amusing dynamic.)

All of those things are really fantastic things.  Things that make a lot of people envious.  And I really look like I've been custom planted in the middle of a fantastic garden.

But sometimes I find it difficult to focus on those things.  Instead,
*  I want to quit writing because it never turns out the way I had envisioned.
*  I want to scream, "OK, PCOS, you win.  I'll stay fat and it will be Favorite and I and no one else."
*  I want to make all of the snarky comments I manage to withhold from regular conversation.

Anyway...

In the near future, I'd like to start a series of guest posts--maybe one a week or so.  I've asked BigBro to participate.  (He's an engineer, but wait until you read his clean, neat prose.)  I'm also open to including anyone else without a blog who has something that may work on A Life in Ordinary (which means the door is pretty open since no topic has been off-limits here).

Email me if you're interested.  I'll be in the field shooting the horse so I don't have to get on it again, but I promise to get back to you.

  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Introducing: Atley Black

I doubt I'm the first person to discover her, but that doesn't keep me from really loving her voice.  (And honestly wishing she had a thousand albums on itunes.)

(On a side note, she's from St. Joe, MO--so if my family out there meets her, please tell her I'm a huge fan, and I'd love to sing backup for her some day!)

Just wanted to share something I'm lovin' at the moment.  I have a thing for singer/songwriters, but this girl reminded me exactly why I love simple voices and acoustic guitars:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

For Eyes to See

Earlier this week, PastorJosh posted this article

I fully believe we have the obligation to forward it to every Pastor, layman and Christian we know.  Bob Merritt reminded me, today, of the necessity of humility.  It's a lesson that bears repeating.  And repeating.  And repeating.

Merritt states, "Bill Hybels once said, 'The way I was doing God's work was destroying the work of God in me.'"  Who can't relate to that sentiment? 

Merritt continues, "When you hear the same themes repeated over and over again from a variety of people who've experienced what it's like to be on the other side of you, it gets your attention. You can hear the same themes from your kids or spouse, but you tend to blow it off, because you assume they're just ticked off at something or they are being hyper critical. You hear it, but you dismiss it."

I'm grateful for those people in my life--the ones who were willing to realign my sight when the bigger picture wasn't clear.  The ones who wouldn't allow me to dismiss vital information that changed me and changed the direction I was headed.  And I pray that we are all open to those words when they come, because I know how easy it is to push them aside and pretend the people offering the clear picture are walking outside God's will.

Sometimes the ugly truth is just that--ugly.  But it doesn't mean it's any less true.  When I've seen it staring at me from my mirror, it was a difficult reality to confront.   Unfortunately, it's impossible to cure a problem when we aren't treating the root of that problem. 

And the treatment begins with a willingness to see.