Reason to Believe, Uncategorized

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It is a wonderful question!  Too bad I don’t seem to have an answer.

One of the advantages of some life experience is being able to look back.  Not for the reasons many people do–regret, remembering loss or injury, wishing things could go back to what they were.  We all do that sometimes.  Some of us do it most times.  My reason for looking back is to marvel at the quality of the thrill ride that we call life.

Just when we think we have a bead on things, we feel the bottom drop away like a roller rollercoaster-156027_1280coaster plunging downhill.  That is the way life is for me anyway.  One of the problems with that is I’ve always been the one sitting on the park bench waving at the family members doing “the up and down and all around”.  We don’t have that choice when we aren’t at the amusement park and it’s life that is caring us along.

I have always admired folks who chose a profession or calling and then pursue it for their entire careers.  Not sure if it is luck, fate, wise planning, passion or you name it but there’s some real comfort in knowing what you want to be and then actually being that person.  However, the surprise of unwrapping each new day is very exciting. I like it despite the flaws that I encounter.  Most of those flaws are mine anyway…..

So I’m back to the question of what do I want to be when I grow up!   The dilemma is NOT from the desire to be forever young or trying to recapture the “flower-power” past, I have no desire to re-live the experiences back there.  I just feel an openness to experience whatever the next bend in the road is.

I have a calm sense of confidence that was very hard to achieve and has really helped to make the ups and downs easier. I have a deep feeling of gratitude for this awesome ride that life is.  I’m in a class this month studying spiritual gifts.  Fascinating.

I took a quiz to help identify the gifts I have awhile back.  I can’t say that the results were surprising.  I could see what others see in me pretty clearly.  The idea that hit home for me most starkly is the “gift”.  We don’t choose the gifts that we receive.  Gifts are freely given or they tend not to be gifts at all.  Like tools in the toolbox, it helps to know what you have to work with, but it’s exciting to combine and re-combine the items so as to use them in new ways.

When we do this, wonderful things happen.  It is the way we serve God and the world.

Life wouldn’t be better if I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up–just different.  Because our gifts are not all the same, we need each other for the best outcome.  I need the folks that have always known and pursued their call.  They need the roller coaster riders like me.  None of us can do it all alone–we have to take all the gifts and combine them for the best outcome.

Thanks be to God!

Just Because, Reason to Believe, Uncategorized

With Hearts and Hands and Voices!

We all know what to do.  For many children these are among the first words. Mommy taught us when we were barely able to talk:

“Say Please.”


“What do you say?”

Thank You!”

These fundamental sentences are very often accompanied by the directive:  “Share!”

As big, grown up, sophisticated adults, we go about our business not thinking most of the time to employ these fundamentals.  We seem to think that it takes too much time or that it really doesn’t fit with the OMG, WTF, LOL world.  As we move about we leave a trail of dust and resentment and a crumbling civilization in our wake.

I am not here today to play Ms Manners.  I just want to suggest that we engage our hearts, our hands and our voices to do what we know is right.  To ask instead of take, to share instead of grasp, to thank instead of  ignore.  Basic acknowledgement of others as fellow human beings together right here, right now.

When I was a manager of people I distributed paychecks and thanked each person for their work.  The reaction was mildly suspicious surprise.  Guess that everyone wanted to be sure I was sincere.  They kind of waited for a “punchline”.   When they realized that it was real, you should have seen their faces!  Everyone got a sense of pride and smiled.  Sure, just payment for service rendered is a transaction.  Saying “Thank you for your work!” is like putting the cherry on top of the sundae.

As miraculous as our lives are (and I do believe they are miraculous!) we are all here by the grace and care of others.  God, family, friends, community.  Today at dinner–no matter what you’re eating and who you are eating it with–make sure to remember what Mommy taught us.  Love the folks that surround you, help those who need it without being asked, say thank you for the sheer miraculous nature of life.  Put that cherry on top of the sundae, be grateful, live grateful and sing!

Now Thank We All Our God   Martin Rinkart 1586-1649

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And guard us through all ills in this world, till the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore

Current Events, Reason to Believe

Climbing Smooth

“If the mountain was smooth, you couldn’t even climb it!” unknown

I was watching a YouTube video about the hymn Amazing Grace with Wintley Phipps yesterday.  What an inspiring bit of film and song!  But I was struck by the proverb above that Wintley quoted in the beginning of  the clip.  How profound 10 ordinary words can be!

What are the mountains in your life?

Webster says:  “Adversity: (noun) a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty or adverse fortune (see adverse).                  Synonyms:misfortune, ill, knock, misadventure, mischance, mishap, tragedy Antonyms: fortune, luck, serendipity”

Did you ever try to climb up the slide at the playground?  I have.  Tough.  I remember a group of us kids daring each other to make it to the top.  There were dozens of attempts without touching the sides.  All unsuccessful.  It wasn’t until we used our hands to grip the edges of the slide that anyone made it to the top.  A smooth mountain would be like that.  Think of trying to climb the perfect triangle, we would crash every time.

Real mountains are not smooth.  Craggy, rocky, difficult, dangerous, murderous, majestic, beautiful, lofty and huge are words we use to describe them.  Rock climbers know that it requires the gear, the skill, the perseverance,  and the courage to undertake it all.  The climbers that tackle the big ones–K2, Everest, McKinley all know it takes planning and serious preparation to accomplish the task.  Most will also tell you it takes teamwork.  Your climbing partners and your base camp support folks they all have to be committed to the effort and work together.

K2 in summer.
Image via Wikipedia

Watching the news the other night I felt like the kid in the playground, surrounded by the “Super Committee”  trying in vain to climb the slide.  No one was successful.  No one worked together.  Everyone wanted to blame someone–someone else.  It was discouraging!

My own mountain right now has many sharp obstacles.  Kind of like the picture of K2 in Summer to the right.   After a long career of sitting in an office, I am doing retail sales and my body is revolting big time!  My bank account and my retirement account and my real estate are like team mates that are pulling the ropes that keep us together in all different directions.  How can we reach the summit with problems like these?

That’s when it hit me that the craggy bits and the sharp outcroppings and the difficulties with sore tired muscles and stiff joints are part of what makes reaching the summit the true achievement that it is.  The base camp team is vital–family and friends–cheering you on and making the assent possible.  If the way was smooth, how could you climb?

The other thing that hit me is that if you don’t work together, you can’t work at all when it comes to climbing.  The climbers that reach the summit know they did not get there on their own.  The guy at the peak had to have faith in the team, each one contributing their part and all contributing to the achievement.

So what then is the problem–how do we plan to achieve the summit here?  How can we get the team to work together so we’re not climbing smooth?  What can we do to conquer that adversity mountain that our country confronts?  The mountain that represents all the debt and loss of confidence in government and in ourselves?  How do we gain the courage to climb despite the partisan fear and destructive mistrust and being pulled in every direction by special interests?


Current Events, Reason to Believe

Tin Foil Hat

Did you ever know anyone that took up the “tin foil hat“?  You know, that is the thing you construct for yourself out of abject fear–just like in the old black & white science fiction movies to protect yourself against the “rays”.  I heard about two things today to make me think of it.

1.  A state representative from OK confirmed bizarre comments about homosexuality being more dangerous than terrorism.  This is something she first said late in April and again during an interview last week. (I think the timing is right).  And it’s not the first time that she has been unkind and hurtful in public.  She also made racist remarks that caused a tearful apology days later.  Maybe the representative is wearing a tin foil hat.

2.  The “sacred” posts of the International Monetary Fund (traditionally headed by a  European) and the World Bank (traditionally headed by an American) will probably go to emerging and growing economy countries within 5 years.  I heard this on NPR while driving to the office.  The economists that study these things believe that the future of the global economy is a bit bumpy but will eventually lead us to more economic equality.

Tin foil hat 2
Image via Wikipedia

To me, with my mind on my problems, this sounded like excellent news for the emerging markets (China, India, Africa, Mexico etc.)  and time for the USA and Europe to start making tin foil hats.

I feel a bit “challenged” by the current environment and it is clear that

I am not alone.  How’s by you?

The long and the short of it is that trust and confidence is NOT in the tin foil hat, the IMF, WB, developed market economies, emerging market economies, a “good” job, saving money, spending money or anything else.  There is “no ground under our feet” which is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that Martin Marty used in his blog today.  Great blog! That is to say that the things in this realm are not the things we can count on.

When we revile and objectify the other most of the time that comes from the most primal of fears.  The kind of fear that encourages us to put on tin foil hats.  It is this same blind fear that is so very dangerous to civilization.  Instead of seeing ourselves as part of something, we see ourselves threatened by something and as history tells us that can lead to horrible consequences.

What are we to do?  Trust and dependence on the things that change with time and circumstance is misleading.  Trust and dependence on the God who transcends time and circumstance is the way to put some “ground under our feet”.  Do not be afraid, is the message I hear from the God of Love.

Guess I’ll take off the tin foil hat!

Reason to Believe

Big John Forever!

Today Big John B. will go into the ground.  I do feel sad, but I know that he really had a great 90 year life, and I know that he was a man of strong faith.  So I know that this is not the end for Big John B. this is really the beginning of his forever!

Last night at the funeral home we laughed and visited with his vigorous family.  Wife June, sons John and James and daughter Judy.  My husband grew up with the kids.  Big John’s great-granddaughter was born on his birthday a few short months ago.  A family filled with love and joy and trials and woe–just like us.  A family committed to faith and strong by holding tight to that faith and to each other.

We often take for granted such wonderful people around us.  The best legacy Big John could leave is the one he actually did leave and that is witnessed to by the faith, family and friends that surrounded him all his life and even after his life here.

This is a good day to thank God for letting me know Big John B and his hearty laugh, bear hugs and positive approach to the good and the bad that life has to offer.  And this is a good day to grab hold of that faith, those wonderful family members and loving friends in our own lives.

See you when we get to forever John!


Reason to Believe

Holding On

Have you ever wanted to just let go and give up?  Tempting I know—we sometimes look for the smallest of excuses.  It’s too hot to do that now.  I have a headache.  It isn’t my job.  Who cares anyway?  What difference does it make?

Usually the work, the task, the stuff is still there when I return from my little rebellious tizzy.  The pity party for one.  So usually it doesn’t really matter if I do it now or later.  But sometimes it does.  Sometimes it’s not just you involved, it’s the people who are watching you.  As most of us learned when we were children, someone is usually noticing and watching just at the time we wish they weren’t.

Last Friday when I got in the car to drive home from work, exhausted, hot, crabby and ready to give up I noticed a katydid on my hood.  His or her bright green body and white dot eyes were hard not to notice.     I wondered when he would get off the car.  I touched him very lightly to see if he would fly away.  With a bit of a hop away from my finger, he turned his back on me.  I got in and drove away.

Imagine my surprise when I merged onto the toll way and the little guy is still there.  I drove the normal pace which is 5-8 miles over the posted limit with other cars whizzing and big trucks whining past me.  And still he held on.

You guessed it—he was still there when I arrived at home half an hour later!  When I got out of the car, I lightly touched him again.  He didn’t turn his back on me—he seemed to look right at me—but he didn’t fly away.   He wasn’t ready to give up.  The steady wind of the car and the turbulence of the other vehicles were much tougher than my finger.  He didn’t give up then either.  Despite myself, I had to smile.  “Thanks!” I said and went inside the house.  Oh I was still hot, exhausted and crabby but I was no longer ready to give up.  Someone is noticing and watching you.

What is it that you want to just give up?  Who is noticing and watching you?

Don’t give up!

Current Events, Reason to Believe

Pblilius Syrus

Pubilius Syrus

The ancients are often overlooked today.  No, I’m not talking about grandma and grandpa!  I’m talking about the first century BC.  There was a young slave–captured in Syria and brought to Italy.  This young man’s obvious gift for wit and his quick intelligence made him so popular that he gained his freedom and won a prize from Caesar in 46 BC

Syrus is best known today as the author of some 600 +/- sayings.  Some of which are quoted often—even now .  The sayings were like the punchline of the small vignettes called mimes (not silent) that were performed before thousands of adoring fans in competitions like the pop star contests we are used to today.  The purpose of these mimes was to instruct in an entertaining way.

boat in calm water
North Sea

Perhaps my favorite of all his sayings is this one:  “Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” Pblilius Syrus

I have family members who make a living on the water.  It is an outdoor life, an active life, a hard life but a rewarding one.  This current situation probably mirrors our ancestors who lived in Scandinavia and spent years exploring the seas and we like to think they found the land of North America 500+ years before Columbus.

When you are on the water, there are things you can control.  And there are very big things you cannot control.  Wind, waves and weather are those really big things.  My son on the Great Lakes likes to say “most people enjoy the gentle rocking of Lake Michigan” and adds a bit of a secret smile.  My daughter on the blue water always reassures that she has her survival suit–the one that inflates when it hits the water–always at hand.

Dealing with those really big things can be very hard but heading into the wind and keeping the tiller still so the vessel continues into the wind is required to ride out the storm.  That will take courage and strength, knowledge and skill.  I guess that is what we all have to do when the big trouble comes.  Head her into the wind and keep her there.

Our founding fathers knew this important truth too.  They built-in ways for the tiller to be attended to and the ship to be kept afloat.  Over time we have had to demonstrate our courage, strength, skill, knowledge repeatedly.  Today is not really any different.

Today is our time, our turn to step up to the challenge.  The big trouble, so much out of our direct control, demands us to make a choice.  We can curl into a ball and hope the disaster will disappear or we can take the tiller and head into the wind.  Muster the courage, strength, skill and knowledge that each of us has to offer.  Face the big trouble enjoy the “gentle rocking” with a secret smile–remember the ancients and steer  the course into the wind!