Sunday, February 28, 2010

Et tu, Brute?

Day 12 speaks of the Betraying Tongue.

This person does more than gossip -- this person spills a confidence and does it with a malevolent purpose.

I've not been around many people who do this, probably because I am not in the workplace.  The only place I've experienced it was when I was in the law business.  I don't miss either being on the receiving end or being tempted to join in ascribing it to being "part of the game."

One of the guiding principles of our Community Bible Study group is that it is a safe place for people to share their concerns and worries, and that information is kept confidential. The joy of that is that people can be transparent and open and really start to heal from some pretty icky things. It only works because we all agree to that. This is the most unique group I've ever been involved with in this way. And it all revolves around prayer.

If you know someone like this, you should be praying for them.  But keep your distance as well.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Meddling Tongue

I'm beginning to think that many of these overlap.  The chapter describes the meddling tongue as the one attached to the nosy person. I see meddling as not just asking impertinent questions, but also going the next step and attempting to do or fix a situation.

I know people, even extended family members, who are so sensitive to this issue that they absolutely do not share information about what is going on in their lives. With the extended family member, I learned early on if we inquired, we got the cold shoulder. As a result, even though they are close relatives and live in the same town, we know very little about what is going on in their lives, their children's lives, etc.  I wonder what will occur when those kids reach the wedding stage!  Will we even know?

Early in our relationship many years ago, we were motivated by wanting to get to know the person better. We weren't even egregious in our questions -- it was 'normal' conversation for us.  After years of the situation, we finally gave up and now just gratefully receive any scrap that they give us. People who behave this way were probably raised this way -- or worse, lived in the middle of a fishbowl and developed this defense mechanism -- but we are not going to be able to change it.

Because of this situation, I am VERY hesitant to ask questions, afraid people will see it as nosiness or untoward curiosity and take offense.  That often leaves me looking like I am not concerned about someone's need or that I don't care.  Ai-yi-yi -- where do we draw the line?  Prayer.  Prayer. Prayer.

Lord, help me to see needs, to follow your lead in asking questions when they are of you. Temper my tongue and help me resist the urge to fix things for other people.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Three Word - Er - Thursday

Better late than never. I finally thought up something for Three Word Thursday…okay, so it’s Friday. I’ve been busy.  But since Quilly is discombobulated too, I figure I'm in good company.  As to the words this week, I think the second word in the form given here is a noun.  I think the verb would be assectate.  At any rate, that's how I'm using it.

  amarulence, n. — bitterness, spite
 assectation , v. — to bear a heavy burden
 defedate, v, — to defile, to pollute

Trisha gazed at Michael longingly while he worked on the paper. The way his hair flopped down over his eyes, the way his shoulders filled his jacket. The way when he sat in a chair his muscles stayed taut.  Sigh.  He was oblivious to her adoration of his finer attributes. Heck, he was oblivious to her completely unless he needed homework help. He was an athlete and she was . . . not.  He looked up and asked, “what are you staring at?” She immediately snapped into defensive mode and retorted, “trying to see if the wheels actually turn inside your head when you’re writing your name on a paper.” He laughed uncertainly, not sure whether he’d been complimented or insulted. Instead he turned the paper he'd been working on toward her. It was covered with scratch outs and and mark-throughs. There were places where an eraser had torn through the paper in his attempt to restart a problem. In short, it was a disaster. And that was before she even started looking at whether any of the answers were even close.

“Look,” she began. “It is my assectation to tutor you. I do this without amarulence and without remuneration. It is your responsibility to not defedate my efforts to get you off of academic probation.”

Michael leaned over toward her. Trisha leaned forward as well, thinking he was about to fulfill her fantasy. She parted her lips expectantly. He parted his and then asked, “huh?”

Trisha leaned back and muttered, "expectations, yes. Fantasies, not even close."

Busybody No More

Day 10 
The Gossiping Tongue

This one is easy to identify and unfortunately, easy to slip into. I find it in Christian circles as women try to negotiate the line between "we need to pray for them" vs. wanting to be the person who shares the "news."

Many years ago when my children were in private school I was chatting with another mother. We lived in the same town and she was asking if I wanted to carpool. I was trying to figure out a gracious way to say no. I didn't like carpooling because the time in the car with my children on the way to and from school was very precious 'captive' time, and having another child in the car messed up the dynamic. In order to illustrate the point, I told her about when we tried carpooling with a different family in the school and how it just didn't work. I could have stopped there, but I didn't. I told her how difficult that child was. She agreed and then told me about some incidences between that child and hers.

Later that evening my telephone rang.  It was the woman I had gossiped with. She said, "I want to apologize to you. This afternoon I engaged in gossip and I know that displeases the Lord. I ask your forgiveness."  I stammered out something along the lines of, "I was very wrong too, and I ask yours as well."  In truth I was stunned, and learned VOLUMES from the encounter. How difficult it must have been for her to make that phone call! How liberating it was for me to also acknowledge my sin and to get it cleared up between us. From that day forward my relationship with this mom was on a more mature level than almost any other parent in the school and what a blessing that was.

When women gather, tongues often wag and it's not always to the glory of the Lord. One of the reasons I love that we have chosen to be TV-less is that there's a whole lot of social and pop culture junk that I don't know enough about to care about. So when women are talking about it, I don't feel a need to engage. I am far from 'arrived' on this issue, but the Holy Spirit makes me very aware of it when I do participate in gossip.

My question to you is, what is the appropriate response when other people around you are engaged in a gossipfest? The minimum is to not join in. But should we be doing something more affirmative than that? What does that look like?

Father, may the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be pleasing to you, O Lord. (Psalm 19:14)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Congratulations Quilly!

Our dear Quilly (Quintessentially Quilly) is the winner of The Peacemakers (student edition) book.  I sure hope this means that she'll be blessing children with her teaching soon!  I'll get it in the mail this weekend!

Speaking Ill of the Accomplished

Day 9
The Slandering Tongue
Because I live in the Washington, D.C. area, and national politics are local politics, I get very tired of the constant stream of people denigrating one another's ideas, person and beliefs. So when I first read the title of this chapter I thought, "oh that's not one I do."

Then I read the rest of the chapter. Instead of focusing on "them" it encouraged me to focus on my sin in the area of slander. And oh so ouch.

Since I was a small child I have struggled with feeling inadequate, which produced jealousy of others' successes. If my mother complimented another person's child, I believed the subtext was, "you should be more like her." If my teacher held up someone else's paper, I thought to myself, "oh, that's not so great." If my brother excelled in something that I had struggled with, I attributed it to him receiving more love and attention from my parents.  And so on.  Unfortunately, this continued through school and into adulthood.

What is sad is that I have a very quick mind and regrettably, a quicker tongue. I have often been the opposite of James 1:19 (My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry)   I have been slow to listen (if at all) and quick to speak, usually in a way that tried to diminish that other person so that I made myself feel better. Even as I admonished my children to not speak ill of classmates, I found myself speaking ill of those classmates' parents.

It is only in the last few years, after painful and searching conversations with my spouse and God, that I have started to grow in this area. There are times that I almost physically feel God's hand over my mouth.

Last night I had a board meeting for a local group I'm involved with. One member of the group was very intent on projecting and revisiting his opinion. I found myself a couple of times trying to interject but he raised his voice and ran me over. He wasn't denigrating a particular person, but we were all very intent on defining the "enemy" -- in this case the county officials who are slashing the budget of the libraries to nothing. What he wanted to say needed to be said (although once would have been sufficient) and this morning as I reflect on it, I am so grateful. God showed me exactly what I do to others when I head out "full steam ahead" without regard to the contents of my speech. 

Search me Lord. Show me where the gift of a quick mind you gave me has been ill used and has brought you the opposite of glory. Forgive me for my hasty speech and thoughtless prattle. Help me today, one hour at a time, to say only positive, kind, and true things about other people, and only if they are words that you would have me speak. Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sensational Haiku Wednesday

Lots going on around here on Wednesdays so I don't always get to do this..but here's one for this week. Thanks to Jenn at You Know . . . That Blog? for hosting!

The theme this week: Vision

God shows me loved ones
Flawed, but blessed by loving grace
My vision is fine

Trash Talking Yourself

Okay, I admit it. I do this one. I try to be self-deprecating. This reading today says that our self-deprecation displeases God. It gives the example of when Moses told God he couldn't lead the Israelites out of Egypt because he wasn't a good speaker. God replied, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say" (Exodus 4:11-12).

So the point here is that when we cut ourselves down, we are rejecting the Word of God. We are also second guessing His wisdom in His making us. Sure, we mess up what He intended for good. We are not always good stewards of our bodies that He blessed us with. But the original creation, as designed by Him, is very good.  So for us to think of ourselves "unworthy" flies in the face of how God views us! He knew us before we were born and cares about every hair on our heads! And if we've accepted His son as our Savior, God sees us in our PERFECTED state! So for us to run ourselves down is ungrateful and dishonors Him.

I do think we have to balance this with understanding the gifts God has given us though! No amount of surgery or prayer can turn a 5'4" 48 year old non-athletic woman into an NBA star. However, He can use her to encourage the future NBA stars that come across her path!

People often say to me, "you ran a marathon? I could never do that!"  Really?  Can't?  Or not willing to try?  Check out this video before you give that answer.

I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) 

Random Dozen

1. Have you ever fired a gun or shot a bow and arrow? Yes, I got fire at an archery range when I was a 13-year old girl scout.  I also had to qualify on a firearm when I was in the Air Force.  All I can say is that it's a good thing we don't rely on the lawyers (I was a JAG) to defend us with firearms.
2. Do you know where your childhood best friends are? Nope. 
3. Do you usually arrive early, late, or on time? Early.
4. Are you more of a New York or California type? Neither.
5. Do you have a special ring tone? Yes, Live Out Loud, by Steven Curtis Chapman
6. What is your favorite type of chip? Sun Chips
7. Best comedy you've ever seen is .... The old "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" show
8. Have you ever cut your own hair? To quote Dr. Phil, "How'd that work for ya?" I regularly trim up my bangs, but the "CUT" has to be done by Tyler.
9. If you were going to have an extreme makeover, would you rather it be about your house or your personal self? My personal self - I'd love to have someone give me fashion/make-up advice, but I probably wouldn't stick with it, so never mind.
10. Are you allergic to anything? Yep, apples and strawberries unless they've been baked thoroughly.
11. Why is it so hard to change?  Because change involves self-control and we are powerless to do that for any length of time absent help from the Holy Spirit.
12. One last question dedicated to February love: CS Lewis said, "To love is to be vulnerable." Please share one example of that assertion or share any thought you'd like to about this topic. See my post on the "Self-Deprecating Tongue".

To celebrate Lent, I am offering a giveaway of The Peacemaker book. This is the student edition of The Peacemaker: Handling Conflict without Fighting Back or Running Away by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson.  If you would like to be in the drawing for this book, please leave me a note in the comments. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday, February 24, at 8:00 p.m. I will select a winner by pulling a name out of a hat. I'll post it here and you'll have 24 hours from that posting to e-mail me to tell me your mailing address.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Unpleasant Boasting

Day 7 of the Taming the Tongue book deals with the Boasting Tongue.

When we are small, boasting is a way of making us feel bigger. The classic playground claim, "my dad is bigger than your dad" gives way to boasting about our own accomplishments and achievements. Somewhere along the line as an adult we come full circle and become less inclined to boast about our own successes and shift to boasting about accomplishments of those close to us once more.

For those of us with children this becomes a huge struggle to control. A man I know tells a story about when he was a child that he received some kind of award or something in school. Because his mother was a typical mom, she told everyone she knew about it. They lived in a small expatriate community overseas and it seemed that everyone he knew had heard about the award from his mom. He vowed to never tell her anything like that again. When his parents showed up to celebrate his college graduation years later they had no idea, until he received it, that he was the recipient of a BIG DEAL award, because he had kept his vow.

As a mom, I can understand how his mother felt and why she told everyone about her son. We want to share our joy in our children's accomplishments. Yet, here in Northern Virginia where education is one of our gods, the push to make children into high achievers is relentless. I wonder whether we are sharing joy in our children's accomplishments or showing what great parents we are? Are we taking credit for what God has gifted our children with?

I struggle sometimes with this admonishment to not engage in such behavior. Fortunately, two of my friends at our Bible Study Leaders Group have modeled God's admonishment for me.  They both have incredibly gifted children.  One child swam in the summer Olympics last year. The other scored so high on standardized tests as a small child that the likes of MIT and Rensselaer pursued him from a very early age. Both of these mothers have mastered the ability to share what's going on in these kids' lives only when asked. They both model grace and humility and an understanding that although their children have worked very hard with what God gave them, God did give them the talents. Good genetics and encouraging backgrounds enhance, but the meat of it comes from God. They've also shared how that level of gift can create difficulties as well.

Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
 1 Corinthian 1:31

This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, Jeremiah 9:23

Monday, February 22, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Susan, at Stony River, hosts Microfiction Monday. The premise is simple -- using the illustration Susan provides, write a story in 140 characters or fewer. The application is more difficult but fun! That 140 characters includes all spaces and punctuation, so join us to hone your 'briefing' skills.

Today's illustration:

My 140:

Mr. Bun, appropriately undressed, couldn’t understand why affirmative action did not help his Playboy bunny application.

Argument For No Purpose

Day 6 - The Argumentative Tongue

The person described in today's passage does not much describe me anymore. While I got paid to argue in my former life as a litigator, it was argument from facts and law, prepared to the last word, and not intended to be contentious or emotional. I could do that because I had time before trial to carefully marshal my resources. In my early years as an advocate though, I was just as obnoxious as the next lawyer as I embraced every position with passion. I had trouble letting it go after a trial, still wanting to go to the other side and convince them I was right. God has a funny sense of humor though.

Now He has me living in the Washington, D.C. region where it seems like everyone is a zealot about SOMETHING. Since I live in a fairly liberal part of the area, but am very conservative, I often feel my values are attacked. (It is interesting how people 'assume' that I share their values because of where we have chosen to live. They also assume it is okay to denigrate the other side of a question or issue and because they are not schooled in polite disagreement, any opposite opinion just earns scathing character attacks.) Despite the Lord having provided me with the education and training to argue effectively, He has me living someplace where there's no GAIN for Him if I do!

When people are zealots, there's no arguing with them. It is just a waste of energy and time. I learned from a master of deflection that when someone trumpets a declaration with which I disagree to say, "it might appear that way" and then smile and DO NOT ENGAGE. It usually stops them for a moment. This is particularly helpful at church and then of course with believers in Christ I can suggest that we should all be praying about what God's will is for whatever the situation is.

But, my argumentative nature is usually going on inside my head these days, so while other people don't have to listen to it, I'm sure God gets tired of it!

The very last paragraph in today's reading says, "If you have a tendency to be contentious or argumentative, remember that it costs you absolutely nothing to respect someone's opinion -- especially on matters that have no eternal consequences." That last part is where I often have difficulty now though. I am surrounded by so many people who have really distorted ideas about Jesus (sometimes within the church even) that I DO want to argue with them. But I'm reminded that no one ever 'argued' anyone else into the kingdom. I need to live my life in a way that makes the argument for me.

That's hard.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chili Time

During our most recent blizzard we had a pot-luck at one neighbor's house. She made the most awesome chili and graciously shared her recipe (since she had gotten it from a magazine years back).  Today our church was having a pot-luck chili dinner and there were probably 8 different pots of chili (along with LOTS and LOTS of fixin's).  This chili was in a bigger crock pot than most, and every scrap of it was gone! So people must have really liked it.

I think you could make it without the turkey if you wanted to go all veg - but I think if doing so you might want to put in another can of kidney beans, or mix in some small bits of tofu with the sauted vegetables.

Pumpkin Chili Mexicana

2 Tbsp vegetable oil               
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell peppers
1 clove garlic
1 lb ground turkey
2 (14.5 oz) cans canned, peeled and diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15.25 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles
½ cup whole kernel corn
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper

1.   Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium high heat.  Sauté onions, peppers, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender.  Add turkey; cook until browned.  Drain.

2.    ADD tomatoes with juice, pumpkin, tomato sauce, beans, chiles, corn chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

Serve with cornbread, of course!

Sowing Peace

Today's reading is about the Divisive Tongue.  It begins by asking us to consider people who deliberately sow dissension. As I read that I felt a tiny bit okay, because I didn't think I deliberately did it.

But then I turned the page and read where it tells us about the goals of the Enemy. "He will cause us to become offended over a harmless statement, to read more meaning into a comment than the speaker intended, to ascribe impure motives to someone's behavior, or to believe a lie."  And I find that when I am being offended in this way, I in turn become more divisive.  Ouch!

At the same time, my Bible study lesson this morning was about Jonah. Many people know about Jonah being swallowed by a whale. But the whole story is that the reason Jonah was in the ocean at all was because he was running away from God! God had told him to go preach to some people in Ninevah and he didn't want to. He didn't like those people. They weren't like him and they weren't NICE!  So he jumped aboard a ship, a big storm blew up, he told the sailors to save themselves by throwing him in the sea, so there he was.  And wouldn't you know that God wouldn't let him die and AVOID the mission! God sent a big fish to rescue Jonah. But he let Jonah stew in fish juice for three days until Jonah worked out what was really at the heart of the issue.

Even then, after Jonah went and preached to the people and they repented and started worshiping the Lord Jonah was miffed! He still didn't like those people! And God asked Jonah what right Jonah had to say who would and would not be saved.

In my Bible study lesson, one of the questions was whether there was a "Ninevah" mission in my life that God keeps sending me on and that I would prefer to run away from.  Double barreled ouch! There are two people in my life that I can't help but be around and who I KNOW are my Ninevah mission. Like Jonah, I don't like them and they aren't like me. And over the years they've been often unkind or indifferent.

A mission to people who are unwilling, unwelcoming and unloving is difficult. After years and years of this, I am tempted to do a Jonah and jump a ship for Tarshish. Or worse, have an attitude of grudging obedience. Do I really look forward to these people coming to know the Lord? Do I really want to share the "goodies."  Don't I want God to like me better because I knew Him and obeyed Him first?

Ouch, ouch and ouch.

Lord help me love them the way you do, and passionately desire their hearts to yield to you. Help me not to be divisive when my feelings are hurt.  And if I'm not feeling particularly energetic in loving them, at least help me not be a stumbling block, and kindle in me a desire to serve more enthusiastically in this area.

Because it is God's preference for us to sow peace, I would like to offer a giveaway of The Peacemaker book. This is the student edition of The Peacemaker: Handling Conflict without Fighting Back or Running Away by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson.  If you would like this book, please leave me a note in the comments. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In a Hurry

I cannot remember a time as a child when some adult (usually my mother, but often a teacher) was not saying to me, "think before you speak."  I was a precocious reader and I thought that everyone needed to know as much as I had learned and was very eager to share it.  The affirmation of my cleverness by others just spurred me on to more.

While my childhood enthusiasm to share indiscriminately calmed a bit as I got older, the habit to speak without thinking first was firmly in place.  I still struggle with it, especially in awkward social situations. I try to fill the empty space with empty words.

Today's Lent reading is about "The Hasty Tongue" and addresses this issue.  We have all heard the expression, "speak in haste, repent at leisure" (although it is usually remodeled as Marry in Haste, Repent at leisure).  The Proverb it comes from says "He who answers before listening -- that is his folly and his shame (18:13)."

I participate in Random Dozen, a meme hosted by Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee.  On January 6, 2010, this was one of the questions and my response:

2. When someone else is talking, do you listen, or are you thinking about what you're going to say in response? Regrettably, I'm often thinking about my next line. Especially if it's funny...or they're having trouble getting to the point.

So yes, this is a continuing problem for me.  I have learned to NOT commit to things until I've thought about them, prayed about them and talked with my husband, and I've learned to say that to people who ask me to do things, especially connected with church. But I still fill in silences with how 'clever' I am – whether it’s comments on a blog or conversation in a hall.  And that often leads to people being annoyed, irritated or offended.  I apologize to those who have felt bothered by my hasty speech.

Lord, help me realize that I'm much more likely to dishonor you and blemish my testimony of serving you if I jump in without praying first.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 3 of Learning in Lent

Today's reading is about the Manipulating Tongue.  The passage refers to Delilah, the manipulative woman who was the downfall of Samson.  The writer says, "while manipulators are subtle and make every attempt to cloak their self-serving motives . . . "

I don't think I intentionally try to manipulate people When I was practicing law that was such a part of the 'game' that it was exhausting to try to keep up with it.

However, today I am asking the Lord to show me where I might be less-consciously trying to manipulate people or situations. 

  • Do I cook a favorite meal in order to curry favor with another person or because I genuinely want to love that person?
  • Do I offer help because I really want to help or because I want to be closer to 'the action"?
  • Do I join a conversation because I really have something useful and God-honoring to add or am I just trying to show how smart I am?
  • Do I remind my children to do things because I think it will do any good or because I want them to know how annoyed I am with their forgetfulness?
Trying to manipulate situations and people is ultimately a failure of trust in the Lord to handle it. And His word is clear, 
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 
Lean not on your own understanding,
 In all your ways acknowledge HIM, 
and He will make your path straight." 
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

The writer concludes with this affirmation, "Because I am in right standing with God, He surrounds me with favor.  Therefore, I have no need to manipulate anyone for personal gain or advantage."

Told you this would be a challenge...stay tuned.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Lent Journey

When I was a kid I knew other kids that 'gave up' something for Lent, but we never did because our denomination just didn't practice that.  We didn't "do" Ash Wednesday either.  I never understood the smudges on other kids' foreheads but I was envious that they got to come to school late!

I knew about Palm Sunday and Good Friday (really bad Friday), and that Easter celebrated the Resurrection of God's son, but the Lenten period was a mystery.  But this year I've been wondering whether God is calling me to a period of reflection and meditation during Lent.

Yesterday (first day of Lent) I was reminded of a book a friend gave me recently.  I had left it in my backpack because I really didn't want to deal with it.  It stayed in there throughout the snowstorms and recovery period.  I told myself I wasn't going to look at it until I had paid her for it. (She didn't insist on that, but she'd gotten them for our entire study group so I wanted to do my part)  On Tuesday I paid her. No more excuses.

As I said, I'd been wondering whether this should be the year I should try to 'observe' Lent by giving something up.  I wanted it to be sacrificial and I wasn't quite sure what would FEEL most sacrificial to me.  BUT GOD has a funny sense of humor and I very clearly felt him place this book on my mind. It's a 30-day book, so it fits.  Each day, one passage, one prayer. Sounds doable right?  Did I tell you the title?

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue.
Yeah. Ouch.

So I started yesterday with Day 1 - the Lying Tongue.  So notice is served here and now, if I ain't tellin' the truth, I ain't sayin' nothin' at all . . . for the next 30 days I'm going to try very hard to make this happen.  Out and out lying isn't my problem -- it's exaggeration that gets me because I LOVE to get a laugh.  So...stay tuned on that one and if you pray, please keep me in your prayers!

Day 2 today -- the Flattering Tongue.  I tend not to do this one because I live in Washington DC where flattering words are usually clear attempts to manipulate people.  But still, I'm grateful that I read this piece this morning. I know it's going to get more difficult.

**and by the way, I consider my typing-fingers an extension of my tongue, so . . . that's the part where for me, it is sacrificial. You'll understand as the journey goes on and you see the other passages.

Three Word Thursday

Taking a break from my chef story, this morning I will do a little non-fiction for Three Word Thursday. Why? Because this morning I had to go to my annual mammogram. And who knew that these words would lend themselves so beautiful for such a FUN time!

Because my mother is a breast cancer survivor, I'm diligent about having the annuals. The technician was very kind, but she still had to do her job thoroughly. If there had been an odynometer attached to the machine, it would have shown intense spikes!

I always try to be extremely cooperative because the worst thing they can say after they do the 'first check' of the image is "we have to do another one (or more)".  When that happens, I am tempted to morph into a brephophagist -- and I love children! (not in the edible crunchy way, of course)

The second image they take always makes me feel like I should come out of the office with olympic level sagittipotent skills. With that arm held up and out for the duration of the image capture, everything from the triceps to the ribs is in perfect position to let the arrow fly...right into the backside of whoever designed these machines.  There's gotta be a better way.

For the few guys who read my blog, sorry.  This is probably TMI for you guys.  Just imagine if the only way doctors had to examine your squishiest most sensitive parts for health was to flatten them, tell you to hold your breath while they take an imagine, and then do it again from a different angle.  Yeah, you'd be spitting out baby parts too.

However, I know my female readers are nodding their heads and saying, "yeah, and you know what happened when I had my last one ? ? ?"  Feel free ladies to vent it in my comments, but promise me that you'll get the screenings regularly. Having lost one blog friend this month, I don't want to be losing any more any time soon!

If you don't have health insurance, there are free programs to cover mammogram screening.  If you do have good health insurance and you want to help other women who don't, take a look at this site.

Blessings and love, K

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Random Dozen

It's that time again, and Linda at 2nd cup has given us 11 random questions and a fill in your own question.  If you haven't joined in before, that 'fill in your own question' might just push you over the edge . . . so jump in with both feet!

1. If you could compete in one Olympic event (not necessarily winter sports) what would it be? None.  One marathon just about killed me.
2. Do remember a specific Olympic moment from the past? Nadia when she was cute and little and scored the first 10 of her career.
3. Have you ever known anyone who competed in the Olympics? Yes, my friend's daughter went to the summer olympics in Beijing to compete in swimming.
4. If everyday activities were Olympic-worthy, which activity would you have a gold medal in? This is why I couldn't be an olympian.  I'm a generalist, not a specialist.  I do lots of things well, but nothing particular that I can say would require the focus of olympic stature.
5. Do you know anything about your ethnic heritage? Yes. Lots of English/Welsh/Scot but everyone in this country by late 1600's.
6. Do you enjoy sleeping late? I adore the idea but when I get the chance I tend to go ahead and get up.
7. Have you ever performed CPR on anyone? Do you know how? (Yes, that's two, I know. Whatevs.) No. Yes.
8. Name one country you'd like to visit and explain why. Can I choose a region?  I'd like to travel the Holy Land -- all of it -- without being harrassed.  Sigh.  I know, it's a dream.
9. Have you ever fixed up a couple romantically? Yes, I fixed my hair dresser up with a runner I did the marathon with.  Three years later they were married!
10. What is the last book you read? Drive by Daniel Pink.
11. Do you enjoy sleeping late? NO, YOU write the question! How's that for random??  Question: Do you like listening to church bells ringing from the steeple?
12. What is your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant?  It used to be Chicken Cashew at Thai Towne, but Thai Towne closed so I haven't found a good substitute yet.

And finally, a big THANK YOU to Lidna, for the great John 3:16 T-shirt!  I love to wear "proclaim it" T-shirts to the gym so this is one to add to the collection.  People ALWAYS read T-Shirts at the gym (mostly to see if they've competed in the same races).  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lidna! You and your blog are a blessing in my life!

Monday, February 15, 2010

For My Fencer

My daughter has never traveled the road that other kids do. She likes to do things on her own terms and in her own time. Never a trend follower, never a trend leader. But quietly strong-willed. It didn't show up much when she was little because what I was asking her to do was largely within the realm of things she wanted to do. But as she got older, she found her own drummer to follow. So while I am an organizer, she is a 'messy'. While I tend to give time schedules and posted ETA's a healthy respect, she races out to the bus stop at the last possible moment and smiles all the way to school.  We're learning to negotiate these differences without tears and anger and it is a learning process for both of us.

One of her different drummer moments has been her attraction to the sport of fencing.  Her interest started with Historical Fencing because she loves to make films. And all great films have a duel in them. Some are light saber duels, some are Highlander swords, some are the foppish (yet secretly steely) Musketeer-type duels of the 18th century.  She loved that class and all of the techniques she learned. It helped her film making and gave her a whole 'nother set of resources for her writing.

Then she decided to switch to Olympic style fencing. Electric Olympic style fencing. And she has blossomed.  She LOVES to go and is now talking about joining the Masters class so she can compete regularly. The only heartache I have with this is that the Fencing Academy is at least a 30 minute drive, and on school evenings, more like 45 minutes to an hour.  And while she'll be driving soon, rush hour traffic is NOT how I want her to cut her teeth. So I'll be doing more car time.

But, she is my daughter and I love her. If she really wants to commit to fencing, I'll support it.  Besides, my desire for her in fencing is perfectly illustrated in this comic which ran on 12 February 2010.

Dancing with the Angels

I have a selfishly sad heart today because Dr. John, author of Dr. John's Fortress, and Dragon's Lair, passed away this morning.  Dr. John was a true gentleman, a wonderful sometimes-curmudgeon, an encourager and a blog-friend.

I also know from his writings that Dr. John was a firm believer in Jesus, so I know he is dancing with the angels today, free of any pain or any labors to breathe.

May the many who were touched by his kind words pause a moment to reflect on the sanctity of life and the joy in celebrating it while we're here. Some might believe that Dr. John's dragons are sad, but I disagree.  I believe they are delighted that he can fly with them now.

Deepest condolences to his family. It was so apparent in his writings that after Jesus, they were the most important treasures to him. I know he will be missed. And to his family, thank you for sharing him with the rest of us through supporting his blogging. He brought a lot of laughter and light to us all.

Several weeks ago I had a dream in which several of us who blogged with Dr. John met at his house to have a party of some kind.  Susan was there from Ireland, Thom was there from Hawaii, I came in from Virginia and we were all waiting for Quilly to show up. I looked over to where Dr. John was seated with his lovely Betty and there was a veritable FEAST awaiting us.  So, Dr. John has gone on to prepare the feast for the rest of us.  Save us some good hot dish, Pastor.

Vaya con Dios, mi amigo.

Microfiction Monday

Susan, at Stony River, very kindly hosts this meme. It's short, sometimes sweet, and usually quite provocative. You look at the photo or illustration she provides and then write a story in 140 characters or fewer (including punctuation and spaces). It is a challenge to make something succinct and interesting. Most of us go for funny or what we think is funny. Join us!

This week's challenge:

God: I gave you specific instructions.

Noah: I got creative.

God: It works better my way.

Noah:  Can I keep the figurehead?

God: NO!

Noah: ARGHH!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sunday Stealing

It seems a bit irreverent to promote theft, especially on Sunday, but in the spirit of the internet's free exchange of information, I'll try it.  The thieves explain that Sunday Stealing originated on WTIT: The Blog authored by Bud Weiser. Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes. You may have heard of the expression, “honor amongst thieves”. In that age-old tradition, we also have our rules. First, we always credit the blog that we stole it from and we will “fess up” to the blog owner where we stole the meme. We also provide a link to the victim's post. (It's our way of saying "Thanks!") To join in, go to

1. How old will you be in five years? My current age +5.

2. Who did you spend at least two hours with today? My adorable daughter.

3. How tall are you? The shortest in my house now. :-(

4. What do you look forward to most in the next six weeks? My kids going BACK TO SCHOOL!

5. What’s the last movie you saw? We watched Rocky (the original) last night.

6. Who was the last person you called? My son when I was out yesterday.

7. Who was the last person to call you? My friend who runs a catering business.

8. What was the last text message you received? A reminder that my cell-phone bill was now ready.

9. Who was the last person to leave you a voicemail?  My son's orthodontist.

10. Do you prefer to call or text? call

11. What were you doing at 12am last night? sleeping

12. Are your parents married/separated/divorced? married

13. When is the last time you saw your mom? Christmas time

14. What color are your eyes? Blue

15. What time did you wake up today? 0640

16. What are you wearing right now? Clothes

17. What is your favorite christmas song? He is Born

18. Where is your favorite place to be? My home

19. Where is your least favorite place to be? In line anywhere

20. Where would you go if you could go anywhere? Depends on whether I'd be able to alone all expenses paid

21. Where do you think you’ll be in 10 years? Broke - 2 kids through college by then

22. Do you tan or burn? Burn

23. What did you fear was going to get you at night as a child? Mosquitos

24. What was the last thing that really made you laugh? An e-mail a friend sent

25. How many TVs do you have in your house? one

26. How big is your bed? Big enough

27. Do you have a laptop or desktop computer? yes

29. What color are your sheets? sage green

30. How many pillows do you sleep with? two

31. What is your favorite season? it used to be winter but right now I'm pretty sick of it

32. What do you like about Autumn? the crisp days and the colors

33. What do you like about winter? soup


I hate to sound curmudgeonly, because I'm really not, but I do not like the new Buzz.

I don't twitter and don't text and RARELY chat, so when Buzz popped up in my google account it was at best, annoying.  What really gets me is that they built this system on my e-mail contacts, assumed I wanted to follow people and people wanted to follow me, and did it peremptorily, rather than asking if I wanted to opt-in.  Even an "opt-out" button would have been nice.  Instead, to get it to turn off one has to jump through a few hoops.

In most other respects, I LOVE Google.  I even have stock in the company!  I believe very strongly in their corporate structure and goals.  But this is a bit creepy and paternalistic to assume that everyone wants to do things their way.

Here's a good article on how to get rid of it if you want to do so.  KILL BUZZ

Friday, February 12, 2010

Heavenly Storehouses of Snow

I don't know, but God might be a little short on the snow right now since so much of it spilled in this area over the last two weeks!  But, He is God and He can make more, right? And they say it will be coming again on Tuesday, but nothing like what we just experienced.

I walked around our house today looking for damage along the roof line. As I trudged around the back yard I tried to step in the footprints left by the teen boys who were out there playing yesterday. Not only were their footsteps farther apart than mine, but when I didn't step exactly in the center of each, my foot sank about another six inches deeper.  Once I lost my balance and was hip-deep in snow.  Truly amazing.

I've been thinking about that line in Job about the storehouses of snow. What a beautiful image of how God has all weather at His fingertips. And the same God who can summon the hurricane winds and the blizzards of snow cares about every sparrow that falls and every hair on a person's head. And nothing gives Him more pleasure than to love us. What a humbling thought.

Here's the scripture:

Job 37:5-7
5 God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; 
he does great things beyond our understanding. 
6 He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' 
and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.' 
7 So that all men he has made may know his work, 
he stops every man from his labor.   

Boy, he sure stopped every man from his labor this past week (except the snow plow drivers, emergency workers and electric linemen) with the snow we had. And why? So that we might all know HIS work.

Please enjoy this awesome visual to go along with Chris Tomlin's song, Indescribable.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Three Word Thursday

I missed Three Word Thursday last week as my muse was frozen.  I don't think it is completely thawed this week but working on it.  Quilly's words are engaging, so come play along!

The words:  facinorous, extirpate, hebodomadal

The detective walked into the commercial kitchen and sniffed appreciatively.  His trim figure belied his love of all things fresh-baked. He turned to the chef and inquired, “scones?”  Chef Charles bobbed his head in a restrained assent. “Yes, but they’re for an event.  Back off.”

Hanging his head, the cop ambled over to the crime scene where the technicians were almost finished. He turned on his heel to face Selma. “Are you Selma Rodridguez?” he asked.  She nodded.  “You are under arrest for the murder of Theodore Deum. You have the right to remain silent.” The Detective finished reading her her rights and asked if she understood them. Selma said “yes” and then added, “but I didn’t kill him.”

She looked at the name tag on the cop’s chest and said, “Detective Sims, this arrest will extirpate what little remains of my career as a chef. On what evidence are you arresting me?”  The officer replied, “your prints are all over the murder weapon.”  Selma’s eyes widened as she responded, “it’s a kitchen! My prints are all over all the knives here!  Weren’t there any others as well?”

Sims looked uncomfortable and admitted, “well, yes, but we understand that you had more reason to hate this guy than most. He’s been blackmailing you hebdomadally for the last six months.”

Selma shook her head slowly. “No. I will not let that facinorous man continue to ruin my life. Yes, he was blackmailing me. I had been involved in a Ponzi scheme back in New York that claimed many victims. But I was a small cog in a really big scheme. I paid back my share and had started a new life.”

Chef Charles had moved closer to the pair. “So why did you pay him, Selma?”  She looked at Charles and offered, “because I was doing so poorly here that I thought you’d use it as the final reason to get rid of me.  I was finally making a life here in Peoria and I didn’t want it to end. But I didn’t kill him.”

The officer put his arm out to her and asked, “do I need to put cuffs on you or will you come quietly?”  She squared her shoulders and said, “I’ll come with you.  Charles, will you call my father please? Tell him I won’t be home for dinner this evening but he’s not to worry.”

World's Best Mom

I know many people think they have the world's best mom, but I'm sure I do. Today is her birthday and I want her, and everyone who visits my blog, to know how much I love her.

Today could easily be a sad day of remembering my mom. In 1986 she was in a terrible car accident. Her seat belt held her for the first impact and then gave way, allowing her to slip down into the protective space created by the dash board crumbling.  She miraculously survived, and while she was in and out of the hospital for the various therapies, someone suggested that she should have a mammogram while she was there (it had been a while).  They discovered cancer and in the months that followed she had a lot of time to reflect on priorities.

I didn't get married until 1989, and we didn't have our first child until 1994. Her first grandchild. And as she helped this new-mom turn into the mom I am today, my mom was patient, kind, loving, supportive and always available. If there's anything good about my mothering, it is because she has always led by example.

She has led us in other ways. She grew up in a town in Arkansas during the days of Jim Crow and segregation. The first time she experienced any kind of integration was as a young Army wife. It wasn't always comfortable, and it wasn't always easy being an Army wife in the 60's, but she always modeled patience and kindness. Any biases she had grown up with were NOT conveyed to us, and as she experience more of the world, she allowed the Lord to open her eyes about people just being people.

She was tremendously athletic and unfortunately for her, born before Title IX, so her opportunities to play sports at a higher level were cut short in school. But in her 30's, she discovered tennis in a big way, and that has been one of the guiding forces of her life. Not the "tennis club" kind of player who is all about the cute outfits and the social ranking. She plays for real and takes no prisoners. Long before Lance Armstrong, my mom's motto was "Go strong or go home."

She led in other ways. I can't remember a time that my mom wasn't volunteering for something. When we were little she was active with our schools, girl scouts, Red Cross and Army Community Service. She took us to church (chapel on base) where she sang in the choir. She was always involved with Vacation Bible School and even during our difficult high school years, she was the force that held the family together.

She is now over seventy but you wouldn't know it.  Several years ago she decided that one of the ways in which she wanted to bless others was to start a wheelchair tennis team.  Now mind you, my mom is able bodied. She doesn't use a wheelchair. There was no personal gain in her doing this. And she was in El Paso, Texas, not exactly a hotbed of activism in valuing the disabled. Since she didn't know that 'people don't do this kind of thing', she did it anyway. She recruited players and cadged court time and put together a program that has made El Paso, Texas KNOWN among wheelchair tennis players. She does it on a shoestring, often using her own funds, and encourages all of the athletes to be more than just tennis players, but to play life like they mean it. She also coaches Special Olympics tennis in El Paso.

With some of her Special Olympics players
Mom is on the far right, standing.

I could go on and on and tell you fabulous things about my mom. Like she was the best scary storyteller around campfires at Girl Scout Camp, like she used to stand at the door and watch the weather move across the Kansas sky -- while the tornado sirens were blaring, like she has gone into the Public Schools in El Paso to teach tennis to kids other people had given up on. She has been recognized by her peers in the tennis world, which you can see here.

She inspires me, she awes me, she loves me, she ferociously loves my kids, and if I can ever be one tenth the woman my mom is, I will feel I have accomplished something great.

So Happy Birthday Linda Cobbs. You're an extraordinary woman. May you live many more years to inspire more young women to reach for their dreams.