Monday, July 25, 2011

I Have Funny Grandchildren

I have funny grandchildren. Beyond how exceptional they are (as most grandparents believe) mine are really funny. The three that are two years old have very sharp little minds. I never knew you could be witty and two.

Bella discovers funny connections in words. Her mom was serving edamame the other night. So she began to call her mom edamommy and her dad edadaddy.

Emma sings. She began singing very low and loudly. Her mom told her to sing pretty. She went high and soft. One day she put her fingers in her ears and began to sing. She pulled them out and said, “I like this.”

Reeve had no swimming pool at their house so he found a cooler and filled it with water. He climbed in and had his own swimming pool.

Emma loves fairies. Her grandmother put some fairy wings on her, she turned and said, “I can’t fly.”

Bella makes up songs. When she was younger, she’d hear words that fit with songs she’d listen to on Classical Babies. Her favorite was Mozart. Though he intended no lyrics, her versions had the words he left out.

Emma was asked at church what her name was. She said, “I Emma like to go shopping.”

Reeve’s grandmother was watching him “swim” in his cooler. She wouldn’t swim with him so he came over to where she was sitting, picked up her leather sandals and put them in his “pool”, all the while laughing.

Bella was singing to her parents at dinner the other night and chose to do a medley of favorites. She sang: “Twinkle, twinkle little star, H I J K L M N O P, up above the world so high, W X Y and Z…”

Emma was at our house getting ready to go swimming. Her grandmother told her to go show her mom and dad. She went into the living room, stood in the middle of the room and said, “Look at me.”

Yes, they are exceptional children, being raised by exceptional parents, loved by exceptional grandparents. But, honestly, they are really funny.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Haven't We Already Done This?

My dad was ahead of his time. Before remotes were even invented he had one—me. To keep from getting up out of his recliner, whenever the channel needed changing, he’d yell out for me to come in there and turn the knob for him. I’d then have to wait to make sure the sound was suitable before I could go on back into my room and resume what I was doing. It was a menial task but at least we had those few seconds of interaction.

Menial tasks have never bothered me. It’s repetition that I really don’t like. I tried to work at a turkey packing plant stuffing dead turkeys into plastic bags. I made it a whole hour until I walked off the job. It was either that or get in one of those bags myself. My mind got overwhelmed with the sameness of this unending process.

Routine is okay. I shower the same way each morning that I have since I started taking showers: left arm first, right leg last, face, hair and I’m done. I comb my hair the same way I have all my life. I get dressed the same way. Routine is okay. Without routine I’d probably forget something important.

The difference between routine and repetition is: even with routine there is variation. I might change soap or shampoo; I might shave before I get dressed or after; I get to select from a whole rack of clothes. With repetition, I must repeat the same actions each time, expecting the same results.

I can eat the same cereal for several weeks but eventually I’ll hit the wall. Not another bite. I have to change. I can drive the same way to work each day for a month but then I have to find a new route. I need a change.

Some folks resist change. I look for it. I need to see what I haven’t seen before, to notice stuff I’ve missed, to take in something fresh. I need variety. Fortunately, it’s there. I just have to force my mind to engage it. To look for something different.

When I used to run a printing press, the mundane drone of the wheels turning and paper slapping into the tray would become the syncopation for some song. My eyes would watch the process but my mind became an I-pod. I’d see how many songs fit the pattern of the rhythm. It helped me survive the repetition of the job.

Our Christian disciplines can become repetition—mindless, meaningless actions. Or they can become routine. Routine helps me not forget things that are important. I don’t want to read my Bible just to get it done. I don’t want to pray just to ease my guilt. I don’t want to worship just to know I’ve been there and done that. I want to connect with the God who loves me. So, I must protect that time with Him from becoming repetition. After all, who wants assembly line faith?  Faith is too big to stuff into a bag and call it good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Johnny Depp Freaked Me Out

I tried to watch Alice in Wonderland last night but Johnny Depp freaked me out. I don’t recall the original being so dark. Which brings me to my thought today: are these writers looking for the dark side in a story or simply creating the evil to make a buck?
The big word in publishing today, particularly in Young Adult (Junior High through High School) literature is dysphoria. It’s the angst-shrouded life of people facing destruction and possible extinction. Whereas past generations longed for happy endings, in these stories the endings project a future of misery and collapse. Even though the good guys may win, the planet or their city or their family is a pile of debris. They’ve won but only barely and with little to show for it. Bruised and beaten, but they manage a faint smile as ending credits roll.
I don’t understand the delight in such horror. My mind doesn’t have room for such darkness. I have enough trouble with the darkness of my own sin to add world-wide collapse.
Where is the banner of the humanist movement that touted mankind was getting better and better as it evolved into a more civilized society? That was the propaganda we were fed growing up. Or do these books and movies reveal the greater reality of where life is heading by continuing to oppose a righteous God? Maybe they sense God’s displeasure and express it through aliens, machines or dysfunctional psychotics.
Star Wars showed us the power and appeal of the dark side. We watched Anakin change from a cute little boy to a monster of omnipotent extreme. The invitation was always there, just on the other side of anger. We knew he’d get there. We just had to watch three episodes to see it happen.
Is dysphoria a real dimension? There is a darkness that hovers just on the other side of light bent on stealing, killing and destroying, so are writers sensing the battle that exists within the spiritual realm? Do they believe more in a biblical Armageddon than they want to admit?
 Harry Potter has to be a dark story. You can’t deal with the issue of the ultimate battle with good and evil as you might a water balloon fight in the back yard. In K.P.’s mind the raging that goes on within that realm just beyond our view is powerfully destructive. Even in its imaginary world you sense this dark reality.
If there is any hope at all in these stories it is a glimmer reserved for the final battle, a slight chance that beyond all odds good might win. I prefer an abiding sense of an on-going belief that there is a God working out His plans, plans for our welfare, our future, our hope. Instead I find people who have to do the best they can to fight for the preservation of life, mere survival, and the life they have left is virtually destroyed. The promise Jesus made of an abundant life doesn’t have a chance within dysphoria.
I cannot live in anticipation of that misery. I live with absolute confidence that we can find joy within a God who works all things together for good and accomplishes what concerns us. He is beyond the shattered hopelessness of that darkness. In Him is light and that light is the hope of man.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Can Fly, I Can Fly, I Can Fly

In Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue, the little girl is trying to get her dad to fly. She tells him to find his happy thought. Once he connects with this illusive treasure, his feet leave the ground and up he goes.

Not sure why pixie dust requires a happy thought but the idea intrigues me. Is there a place within our minds where we store images that can transform an ordinary moment into something incredible? Can I, by thinking about one of those images, be lifted beyond the heaviness that keeps me in my lower state?

Isaiah said we were to mount up with wings like eagles. What does it mean to mount up and where do we do the mounting up? It must be in that storage room within our minds where the treasures are kept, things so valuable they lighten our lives when we think about them. Lot’s of stuff is there—really important stuff—but the treasure of all treasures must be that picture there on the wall that reminds us of the goodness of God. Looking at that picture lifts me.

By God’s goodness I know He will accomplish all that concerns me. That goodness raises me up.

Fairy dust seems useful to a cartoon character, but God’s goodness works much better in real life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go look at that picture again and soar.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My One-hundredth Blog!

I made it to 100 today! This is my one hundredth blog post. That calls for celebration, or at least an acknowledgement. One hundred thoughts, musings, stories is like a milestone. How many more are just wandering around in my imagination waiting to settle out on a page?

Writing is a scary preoccupation. You’re letting people into recesses in your head where usually only dust mites and roach droppings linger. You’re giving glimpses into a reality no one knows even exists. They see you and believe they know you but have no idea what’s brewing within your cranium. It’s risky. Without exposure there’s no judgment.

I have a body that requires covering. It sags and pooches where it used to be taunt and tight. It’s pale where it used to be brown. I’d rather keep those sights in the privacy of my own bedroom. I’m not necessarily ashamed, just a bit embarrassed.

Laying down words for all to read is a delight, a service, a challenge. But all the while it’s a gamble that maybe they won’t get it, or if they get it they won’t like it, or if they  like it they won’t tell me. It’s like sending a space probe deep into the unknown, just hoping you get the response you sent it out for.

But, even if there is no response, or the response isn’t what you’d like, a writer can’t stop writing any more than a puppy can stop peeing on the floor. You just get so filled with a thought or concept or the excitement of a story and it just has to come out.

So, 100 down and infinity to go. But who’s counting. Thanks for sharing space in my mind. Please wipe your feet next time you come in.

Monday, July 11, 2011

When You Can't Squat

Life becomes difficult when you can’t squat. Blasted knees. When I can get down, it becomes almost impossible to get back up without grabbing onto something. It didn’t use to be this way. I was once so agile I could squat with my spurs on and never poke myself. But now, I don’t know if I can make it down or if I do if I can get back up.

If it were not for the tasks that require squatting, I could simply approach life differently. Bending over is always an option. But sometimes bending over doesn’t give you the perspective that squatting does. And when you’re used to successfully looking at a situation from a squat, a bend just messes you up. Like finding slacks on the lower rod in the closet. I can’t tell the color from just the portion of the material that is hanging across the hanger. Sometimes I need to pull it out and see if it’s blue or black. That necessitates squatting.

So, short of having my knees replaced, which I don’t really know how that would affect how low I could go, I must either: press on through the pain, bend, or seek another alternative. I’m still deliberating. Sometimes it’s just not comfortable being in my skin.

But what I’m discovering is: life is going to change us. Acceptance of that inevitable bit of insight is not as easy as we might think it should be. My brain and my body are not aging at the same time. As a guy, my brain is much younger. And when it says I can do it, I’m all gung-ho. But then my body expresses itself. It has final say, you know. My body is much more negative than my brain.

Though it’s still a battle, I think my brain is learning that the body needs to be consulted before we attempt some things we used to do without even thinking. It’s not giving in to limitations as much as it is in being responsible for the equipment.

Spiritually, I’ve got a flesh and a spirit at work within me, each giving input as to how my life should go. Since the equipment has been committed to the Lord, I’m faced, not with limitations for living, but responsibilities. I am a temple not barn. I live in the kingdom not the projects. I am the caretaker not the tenant. So how I live within the Temple of the Holy Spirit requires me to adjust myself to what makes Him most comfortably at home.

Of course, I still have difficulty squatting, but much more contentment in the rest of my life.