Random thought bubbles on a Wednesday night

In the last 24 hours, I have had deep conversations with 5 different people, and intriguing online interactions with 3 more. Deeply grateful.

Not that anyone asked, or that I have any qualifications to make such decisions, but if I were the Newberg High track coach, I would put Maddie and MK in the 400, Emily and MK in the 800, Emily and Talli in the 1500, and Talli and Anna in the 3000.

I have yet to figure out why my most hectic and tiring days are sometimes also the days with the most explosions of ideas.

Compartmentalization. We do too much of it.

How might I do a better job of naming where each individual “thing” at church fits into the overarching whole, without becoming hugely guilty of the aforementioned compartmentalization?

I did not model good self talk tonight at one particular point, and I was overheard. Drat.

My respect for a particular college student grew today.

Maybe tomorrow I will tackle writing prompt #2. But now to bed.

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Writing Prompt 1

They were doing it again, chugging down the same track they had a thousand times before. Not really a train track… more like the track worn in their avocado green shag carpet, the path beaten down between the bedroom and the couch in the living room. Flattened by repeated use.

He had opened the first salvo, triggered by her bags of stuff on the kitchen table. First, his sigh; then her indignant “What?”; then his exasperated “Nothing.” And now…now it was her turn to say, “Well it must be something…”

But somehow, she just wasn’t in the mood today. Not in the mood for him to blast her “free-spending shopaholism”, not in the mood to hit back about his cheapskate ways that were the reason they still had worn out shag carpet, among other things. Who else still had a microwave with a dial instead of a keypad? How many other wives started their car with a screwdriver, and prayed that there wouldn’t be rain, since the windshield wiper was held on with twist ties?

No wonder she found comfort at the mall.

Breaking away from their well-worn script brought interesting results this time. His face lost its exasperation and softened with a smile. “I took care of dinner tonight,” he said.

Intriguing. She could see he thought of this as a grand gesture, prepared perhaps as his crowning argument against his perpetual penny-pinching. As he never cooked, this surprisingly must have meant he was going to take her to dinner. But wait. He hadn’t said, “I’m taking you to dinner;” he’d said, “I took care of dinner tonight.” What exactly did that

Ding Dong.

Unbelievable. Delivery. What a man she had married, a real sweep-you-off-your-feet Romeo. Chinese, she guessed, or…

“Pasquale’s Pizza. Here’s your order.”

“Just a minute,” he said, “let me get the coupon.”

Of course he has a coupon, she thought.

He grinned at her as he passed, grabbed the coupon for a $13.99 large pizza, and handed the delivery girl a $10 and a $5. She rolled her eyes and turned to go.

My husband, she thought; last of the big tippers.

“Ahem,” he said. The delivery girl turned, her nose ring glinting in the porch light. “My change?” he said.

“You…you actually want the dollar back?”

“My change is $1.01, with the coupon.”

The delivery girl looked at him, looked at his wife, first in shock, then, yes, there’s no other word for it…she looked at his wife with pity. A crisp one dollar bill changed hands, and the delivery girl left. She texted three people before she left the driveway… “ur nt gonna believe dis”.

The train was leaving the station after all.

“You couldn’t let her keep one dollar? One dollar? You stiff her completely on a tip for one dollar?!? I cannot fathom what in the world you think in that head of yours. I have never met ANYONE like-“

“That’s what’s wrong with you! You throw money around like no one I’ve ever seen. Do these bags of crap really make you feel better? Do they?”

“WHO IS SO CHEAP THEY ASK SOME PIERCED TEENAGE DELIVERY DRIVER FOR A DOLLAR IN CHANGE? How can you do that and live with yourself?”

He grabbed the ends of the dollar bill, pulling them apart quickly, making a snapping sound. “It’s MY dollar! I’m careful with my money! Once you get your hands on it, it’ll be gone.”

And now that you have YOUR hands on it, she thought, who knows if it will ever see the light of day again?

Political humility

Last night, Clint Baldwin invited me to be on a panel at the Peace & Justice Symposium that the Peace Center puts on once a month at George Fox University. I had one of those moments during the Q&A afterward where I heard words coming out of my mouth that actually were pretty good!

“What do you do,” the questioner asked us, “when someone says ‘I love this candidate’s stand on X, but on Y, he’s against everything I believe. And I really support THAT candidate on A, but what he thinks on B is practically heresy.'”

Us three local pastors each gave it our best shot. Then I had the flash of inspiration. “You know, I wish I got that question more often, because it betrays a sense of humility. Most often, I get people coming to me saying, ‘OF COURSE candidate A is the CHRISTIAN candidate. Why aren’t we doing more as a church to support him?'”

I think a little more humility (for all of us) would help us have more of the important conversations we need to have. Obama is not the messiah, nor will McCain save us from moral or literal Armaggeddon. This IS an important election; and there is no candidate or party whose platform matches my holistic life stance. We need to wrestle through that with humility, not the blustery certainty we too often have. And I include me in the we.

Advice

I can’t help but notice…

Amidst the failure of Lehman brothers, the Merrill Lynch buyout, AIG danger, Bear Stearns; right at the root, here is the common denominator:

The financial titans on Wall Street put all their eggs into a basket of mortgaged-back securities and other complex derivatives that depend on home interest payments for income flows.

Which means all these financial counselors didn’t follow the number one rule they seem to preach to all of us: diversify.

Rapid Recap

Hey there, hi there, and ho there! I haven’t forgotten this blog, it just looks like I have. Our church has experienced a corporate fast, we’ve been preparing for vacation, I’ve been exploring writing a dialogue with an agnostic friend of mine, and the blog has been sadly neglected.

Daughter numero uno hit catorce a few days ago. Remembering that my dad first let me drive a car when I was 14 (I got to move it in the parking lot at Carver when we were fishing on the Clackamas River), my birthday present to her was teaching her how to drive a stick. She did great!

Talli's 14th birthday

Two summers ago, we looked into adding on another bedroom to our house. Verdict? Too expensive. So we bought a used RV to serve as a guest house, and began dreaming of a big trip together. The previous owners had a problem with the roof; everything was replaced, a new roof was put on, and things looked good. However, I didn’t know the seams on the roof had to be caulked every year. Long story short, the bed area over the cab had a lot of water leakage and was smelling quite mildewy. We could have had someone do it right for $4,000 to $6,000. Yeah right. So, for the last couple months, I’ve been ripping it out and rebuilding it. I spent about $300, and it turned out ok. But it’s made the last several weeks a tad on the stressful side.

But now? Now it’s all worth it. We’re on an almost three week excursion to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and interesting spots in between. As we have wifi spots, I’ll update you on our progress.

Today's update

Well, gang, I did real good there for awhile, didn’t I? The commitment to Barclay Press helped me blog more, and it carried over for a good 2 or 3 days. It’s tough finding time to blog.

A week ago Sunday, I had an interesting experience preparing for worship. On Friday, my leading was to deviate from my normal pattern and NOT prepare a manuscript for what I was going to stay. Instead, I felt like I should be prayerfully prepared to share as God led in the moment on Sunday. Our focus was Psalm 51, and the open door that forgiveness and repentance is to life with God and real life. I chickened out some on Saturday night and scripted some, but I was obedient enough to not take it with me when it was time on Sunday. I think it was important for me to do that, and I felt like I was faithful. But it means I don’t have anything to post on the blog.

This past Sunday, Johan and Judy Maurer shared, very helpfully, about their call to Russia. It’s the first of four Sundays where I am not the one bringing the message. My plan and hope for this time has been to get out of the office and out of the regular routine to think and pray and dream about our next steps at NFC. Unfortunately, my plan hasn’t been realized well yet. We’ve had several deaths and health emergencies in our church family that have caused me to change the plan. That’s been mostly ok…except for yesterday. So if you think about it, you might pray that I deal with it well if my expectations aren’t met.

Finally, happy 40th to friend Robin! I’m honored to call you my friend, and hope the years ahead offer you continued opportunities to minister in the many ways you already do.

Catch up

Well, with the death of my computer and a heavy work load, the blog has suffered recently. Right now I’m with our team of pastors and other staff at the coast for our annual retreat. It’s been good for us to laugh and cry and get to know each other more deeply, good to sing and rest and worship as well. I’ve taken some time to finally finish posting my journals from our India trip; so, if you didn’t notice in your feed reader, you might want to scroll way down and read them.

This past Sunday night, our team shared about our trip with the congregation, which was really good in so many ways. I was so grateful for each member of the team, and for how they shared so well what we saw God doing in India. I was moved by how moved many of the people attending were by our presentation, and it’s great to know that many of the girls and workers that we met and love now have prayer partners here in the United States.

I have some messages to upload when I’m back home, but right now, it’s time to go do some reading. Peace!

:(

Thoughts I’ve had recently that I wish I had NOT acted on:

1. “I should go get some MORE ice cream.”
2. “I know I’m tired, but I should relax a little. Hey, is that Frasier on tv?”

But mostly:

“These are really good instructions. I think I could swap out my laptop hard drive myself.”

Glimpses into my headspace today

I’ve been thinking about masculinity and femininity lately, how they relate and don’t relate to personhood, how they relate and don’t relate to sexuality, and wondering why in Christian circles there seems to be a sharp upswing in the need to prescribe and define more strict gender roles than I am comfortable with.

I’m wondering how Lent and symbols and other “high church” things can prove helpful in a real pursuit of God without the trappings of ritualism.

I’m thinking about India.

And I’m marveling at how quickly culture spreads; in particular, how quickly a daughter who has never really cared for the computer or e-mail becomes fluent in txt speak. (knO wot i mean? way kewl stuff)