Saturday, May 31, 2008

Grey Cat

This crazy cat does not like it when I'm sitting at my desk and not hugging on him. He stands on the couch and makes a lot of noise at me when I have books spread out across the desk. The moment I gather them into a pile, he leaps on to the desk and snuggles into my arms. I've found out how to type around his body, but I have yet to figure out how to write in books or even flip through pages of my Bible while he is taking up 80% of the desktop. He is not a small cat!

Ichabod does not want to be relegated to a space beside me, he wants to be surrounded by my arms and then wants to be able to tuck his face between my chin and neck. He demands that I love him and that I share my body warmth with him.

It's hard for me to say no to him. When all he wants is love, how can I refuse that? I know that at some point he'll get over stimulated by my presence and he'll jump down from the desk and curl up in his chair. If that doesn't happen quickly enough I'll start messing with him until I annoy him and he leaves me.

How much more so is our Father in heaven? If I want to crawl in His lap for attention, He has infinite amounts of patience with me. He won't try to annoy me so that I leave Him. But, my poor mind will get over stimulated by His presence and I'll jump down from His lap and enter the uncomfortable world that I recognize and am familiar with.

Oh, God ... I want to be more comfortable and familiar with your presence than I am in this world. Remind me moment by moment that this is alien to me and that you are calling to me from a place that is greater than anything I can imagine.

Twitter vs. Blogger

One or the other will always win. But, both can not win at the same time. I have absolutely no idea why, but it seems to be my reality. If I'm blogging well, then I find that I have twittered only once during the day. If I'm having fun on Twitter, then ... blogging doesn't occur. These two are not at all similar, except for the fact that they both require me to type words. Twitter is a 140 character maximum thought that should be random occurrences during the day. Blogger ... well, you know what that is.

I'm going through another of those 'life-crises' right now. Extreme frustration with my job and trying to pray through where God wants me to be. I know that my greatest desire is to be writing and making a living by doing that. Is that what God wants from me? Well ... it doesn't seem obvious yet.

Alison has taken the challenge of holding me accountable to some writing deadlines. If I'm going to be published, I suppose I need to have things to publish. If I'm ever going to have the freedom to write and actually make money doing that, I need to get off my lazy butt and get busy. (the best part about that sentence? I get to sit on my lazy butt to write! What a conundrum!)

Today is a great day. Max is in Kansas City with Leonard - doing all sorts of weird touristy things and going to baseball games. They'll have a blast. And the house is quiet. I have no responsibilities to him. I just have to take the dog outside every once in awhile. Oh, and my stomach is growling like crazy. I'm going to have to forage for food.

I just turned my music on (Alan Parsons Project - I, Robot). It is playing as loudly as I can make it. I love to listen to 70's / 80's ROCK (not pop). If I have to get dressed to go out and hunt down food, I'll be glad to do that, but otherwise ... I'm tucked into my rocking chair with fingers on the keyboard, or flipping through the pages of my Bible.

THIS is the life that I want... full-time. Anyone know any good publishers of Christian stuff?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I got home and checked my twitter posts. I saw a quick one from Wil Wheaton that said Harvey Korman had died. My heart was shocked. I quickly went to and read that yes, Harvey Korman died today.

So, I cried a little bit. This man has made me laugh until I hurt. I loved watching him on the Carol Burnett Show. I love "Blazing Saddles."

One of his most endearing qualities was his absolutely inability to hold back laughter when Tim Conway was hamming it up. Check this out:

I know that I am at the age when the people that I have watched on television and heard on the radio and seen in movies are beginning to die. I don't like it. But, tonight ... I'm sad because Harvey Korman is gone.

Where Everyone Knows Your Name

I always wanted to have a local bar ... where I was comfortable and people knew me. Where I could walk in and say hello ... grab some food and stay as long as I wanted without feeling like I was being rushed through dinner.

Now, over the years, I've become a familiar face in several restaurants throughout Omaha, but tonight I experienced something akin to what I've been looking for.

Fran & Leonard, Carol, Max and I went to a brand new joint called "Jimi D's." It's on Center Street - right around 63rd - where the old McDonald's was. Lots of open space, contemporary decor and an Italian casual menu. We sat down at a table and began one of the best evenings ever. Amazing food, great staff, comfortable chairs, reasonable prices, family owned (read: local, not a franchise), interesting looking clientele (obviously students and family of the owners). We got there about 6:45 and left at 9:45. We paid our bill and then decided to have dessert later. We fell in love with our waitress, who was genuinely happy to take care of us.

I tried a few new things - have you ever had pickled celery, carrots and cauliflower? Wow ... they've got it. I had an orange cream canoli for dessert. Their cheesecake? Pass out and die. We couldn't stand it - all of us just started sharing our food around the table. We wanted to try everything. Homemade cream of mushroom soup with a wine base. Sausage and navy bean soup. I can't begin to tell you how terrific the food was.

The best part? They have Pepsi products and I can have a mountain dew. Whee!!!

As we walked out, Fran said, "I think we just found our local bar." Leonard, who was walking out with Max and didn't hear that said on the way out, "I think I just found our local bar." Ummm ... yup. We will be welcomed back the next time we walk in. They will remember us. But, whether or not they do, I'm absolutely certain that we will receive the same awesome service. And we will feel like we are hanging out with family.

So, if you want to eat out with me ... come on in to central Omaha - we'll hang out at Jimi D's and I'll introduce you to some excellent food and a comfortable home. I can't wait to get to know all of their names!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Words: Misery

Yes, I'm still reading. No, I haven't gone to bed yet. I got caught up in the book while sitting at my desk and didn't want to stop to deal with preparing for bed!

I have one more quote for you from "Into the Depths of God." This is from the chapter (I'm only at chapter 2 - yikes!)

"The most miserable people are those who are possessed by materialism. The etymology of the world "miserable" is formed of the same stem as "miser." Miser-y is really misery."

Process on that for awhile.

The other book that I'm enjoying right now is "The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two" by Anu Garg. It tells of 'the hidden lives and strange origins of common and not-so-common words.' Yup, I love words.

Words Thrill Me

This is why I love to read. Words allow my mind to create images ... images that are all mine ... yet inspired by the writer. When I read a horror novel, I find that I am much more frightened than when I see a horror movie. The images in my mind can be worse than a film maker can create. But, I will allow myself to read horror novels and I refuse to watch most horror films. Explain that? I can't.

There are a few authors that write in such a way that thrills my mind. Calvin Miller is one of those writers. I am reading "Into the Depths of God" right now and I can only read a few pages before my mind is taken away and I am no longer reading words on a page, but am experiencing a moment between me and God.

" huge, so beautiful, so vast. It is what I feel each time I encounter God. I lie down to sleep, but do not pray "the Lord my soul to keep." Instead, I stalk a greater immensity in a near nightly ritual of euphoria. His blessings swarm about me in a wonderful lightness of being. It is an odd insomnia sponsored by sheer joy. My mind at first begins splashing through some tiny rivulet of God's grace. Gradually the stream grows ... and Gloria in excelsis! I am in an ocean too wide to measure, too deep to fathom. I am deliriously adrift on the sea of his endless being. Yet I always step out into this ocean from the tiny beachhead of my heart. I am amazed that in the center of my shallow tidal soul I have such immediate access to the vast oceans of his presence." (pg. 14-15)

I have probably read that paragraph 8 times. Each time I get lost in it and I go no further. I shut my eyes and allow myself to be set adrift in that endless sea. God is so big and yet He invites me to come close to Him.

Tonight the television is silenced and I'm crawling under the covers with words ... words that thrill my soul and inspire my heart. I am tempted to take a highlighter with me because I want to be able to find my favorite words again someday, but I think that I shall simply read and worship tonight. The vastness of the God who is found within the depths of my soul.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Relationship or Rules

Well, I made it through "The Shack" by William P. Young again. It pretty much affected me the same way that it did the first time: wiped me out. This time I was reading it with pencil and highlighter in hand. I'm hoping to write a study around this book. At one point in the book, the main character, Mack, admits that his brain is having a hard time comprehending the complexity and simplicity of the relationship that God has with the world and says that as he tries to process on it, his brain turns to mush. Well ... yup ... mush.

As Paul tries to explain to his readers, the Law points out our sin. Oh ... this is going to take some thinking and processing as I try to translate it into words, images and thoughts that I can teach. Religion is about enforcing rules ... God is about building a relationship.

A few other thoughts that Young puts into words better than I could ...

God first? No, that's not what He wants. He doesn't want to be first among a list of values. God wants to be at the center of everything. He doesn't want just a piece of us and a piece of our lives. Even the biggest piece. God wants all of us and all of every part of us and our day. (pg. 207 - my paraphrase)

"Emotions are responses to perception - what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too. ... Just because you believe something firmly doesn't make it true." (pg. 197)

One of the criticisms of this book comes from Christians who think that Young embraces the paradigm that all roads (all religions) lead to God. These obviously have come from people who didn't actually read the book. It's all about relationship. Jesus tells Mack, "Most roads don't lead anywhere. ... I will travel any road to find you." (pg. 182)

I am in love with a God that has crossed every barrier to draw me to Himself. Wherever I am, He will look for me. He became human so that I could relate to Him. The only barriers to a full and complete relationship are those that I build myself and God is even willing to help me in tearing those down.

Unforgiveness - a pit that I create. God teaches me what true forgiveness is and is patient as I wade through my fury.

Life is all about the relationship that God wanted to have with His creation from the very beginning of time. Our independence creates separation from that daily co-existence with Him.

I am so thankful for the chance to be in relationship with the Creator ... with God.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Too much napping

Yup ... I was afraid of this. I'm still awake and I do have to go to work tomorrow. Whoops! Too much napping today followed by a bottle of Diet Mt. Dew.

You know, I have the best family. We have so much fun together. It's nice to hang out with Jim's kids. They are growing into terrific young people. And their personalities are so wildly different, yet they are really very loving. Janet obsessed over getting the meadow mowed. She didn't quit until she was done. Carol obsessed over basic cleanup. She'll never quit. (Relax girlfriend!) Emma was proud of her incredible texting capabilities. I've never seen someone spend that much time texting friends. Good heavenly days! Jim taught Max to grill (it's about time someone did - I've been trying for years and the man has resisted). Jake worked on killing a willow tree stump. He and Jim beat the heck out of it and one of these days, it WILL be gone. Jim and his boys put an immense cedar log into the cabin to act as a support for the roof - it's gorgeous and now things are quite stable.

We have no hot water or shower in the place. Jim took out the main part of the bathroom months ago in preparation for renovation. The only thing left is the toilet - and now it has a curtain around it. It's a good thing we're all family.

Emma and Matt love driving - every time Carol drove into town, there was a discussion about who was driving back. Max and I rented a hotel room - Sunday afternoon meant that everyone finally got a shower ... in our hotel room. The kids swam in the pool and Carol got 20 minutes of peace and quiet in the room.

Leica is exhausted. She hasn't moved off the couch all day long and has barely raised her head to look at me when I call her name. She played with two young dogs for two long days - chasing all over the property. She had to tell the youngest (Jim's new vizsla - Jackson) that he did not get to sniff her butt every time she walked. He's quite cute, but rather dumb and didn't get it the first time she yelled at him. It really is fun for me to let her run free and not worry about her getting hit by a car.

The park across the road was packed with holiday travelers. That meant that we kept the gate at the end of the road closed all weekend - which is weird for us. But, people have no sense of other people's property anymore and consider that they can simply wander wherever they want to wander. Our neighbors up there are polite and considerate, but the travelers are strange.

I had thought that I would get lots of quiet time to read and write. I was wrong. Every moment I was at Bell's Dell I was with someone. Nope, I am NOT complaining. I can't imagine anything better than hanging out with my kids. I watched Star Wars (Episode IV & V) movies with Matthew, worked on a puzzle with Jake, made plans for the future of Bell's Dell with Janet and Jim, cooked, and cleaned. We watched episodes of Lost (that family is still on Season 2! They're killing me.) and laid around relaxing and sleeping (because that's what you do at Bell's Dell). I think I'm going to have to go up there alone if I'm going to do any writing or reading.

Even though we left early ... we left knowing that we will soon return. See, that's the thing about Bell's Dell. No matter how often we go, we always know that we will return. It's our home. I am in love with that place. It's filled with memories and is filling with new ones every time we are there.

How Can I Not Believe?

God doesn't have to do this, but He seems to find ways to prove His existence over and over again to me.

I opened a piece of mail from Priscilla (dad's wife) on Friday when I got home from work. In it was an article by Charles Humeston of the Iowa DNR. He was the warden who investigated my father's accident last May. It was an amazing article and it was fascinating to see the process with which they actually found the accident and then processed through it.

After reading the article, I tried to find a copy of it online and was unsuccessful. But, I did discover that I could email him, so I did. I wanted him to know how I appreciated the work that he had put into the investigation and I wanted him to know a little more about dad. During the course of the investigation, he had spoken to my cousin several times.

But, the paragraph that wiped me out was this:

The investigation of the accident was the product of many law enforcement officers from other departments, and of the staff of Brushy Creek Recreation Area. I want you to know we made every possible effort to find your father and uncle as soon as possible. I only wish the outcome had been different. I hope it gives you a measure of comfort to know that once we found them we stood vigil until the paramedics removed them from the area, and your father and uncle were never left alone. A few years ago I trusted Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior, and it is my hope that influences how I do my job. I prayed over both your father and uncle and for all of you. It is my prayer you all felt His love and comfort through that difficult time.

From the moment this man discovered that there was a problem, he began praying. And God put the families of those two men on his heart immediately and he was praying for us as we discovered what the reality of the news was.

In my original email to him, I didn't say the one thing that I needed to tell him. And that was how Dad had lived his life and the fact that I am sure that Dad's last words were, "Thank you Jesus." So, I wrote to him once more, to tell him of Dad's impact on the hundreds of people that he brought to Jesus.

God draws us together through His Son, Jesus. How can I not believe in a God who reminds me over and over of us love for me?

Home Early

Carol, Max and I took off early Saturday morning for an extended weekend at Bell's Dell. What a terrific time we had! Jim and Janet and the kids had gotten up there Friday evening and when we arrived after noon, they had begun mowing and cleaning up the area.

We had a terrific time with them and we spent a lot of time dreaming and planning to bring Bell's Dell back to it's former glory so that future generations could enjoy the place as much as we did as children. Watching Matthew, Emma and Jacob enjoy being on the land was pure pleasure for me. The dogs had a blast! Leica doesn't get a chance to run free very often and I just let her go up there. She finally figured out the homemade doggie door into the cabin and I didn't have to do anything to help her have fun. There were enough scents to keep any dog happy for a lifetime. This morning ... she's not moving very fast. She's exhausted.

Jim had yanked out the shower and water heater late last year because ... well ... things were falling apart. It was ok. Max and I got a hotel room in Webster City so everyone got a chance for a shower. We boiled cold water (very cold water) for washing dishes and hey, the toilet still worked.

...Until last night. Carol turned on the water at the kitchen sink and ... nothing! No water anywhere. What? We were running short of daylight to figure this out, so Jim started moving quickly. He went to the electricity pole and, hmmm ... no idea. But, it didn't look good. All sorts of messing around brought no water back to the house. Now what? We tried thinking as quickly as three Greenwood kids + family can think and well ... by 9:15 we were all on the road coming home. We packed that place up faster than I remember packing anything. Ever.

There are a lot of things we can live without, but living without a toilet is simply unacceptable. All Jim could see was a miserable wife and daughter and two miserable sisters. The decision was made.

It was good to get back to our own beds, even though it was 1:15 am by the time we puolled in. Now the decision to do some renovation takes on a sense of urgency and immediacy. The good news is that it will only make Bell's Dell better and it will be fun to have a great place to take friends and family for years to come!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Positive Day

Today was "Positive Day" at work.

We have been under a lot of stress lately and when that happens, it is so easy to spend more time sniping and complaining than getting work done. Since I had to be at work at 7 am, I decided to declare the day "Positive Day." I sent out an email to the staff and I made up signs to hang on everyone's door.

Pastor Craig's comment: "If you're not a positive person, it's difficult to have a 'positive day.'" Hmmm ... was he talking about himself or someone else. Whatever, he was told to be positive. I heard people mentioning it all day long. Some emailed me back telling me how much it meant to them. Others tried to find ways around it so that we could have some normal conversations.

Me? I am the worst of the worst. And I'm not just saying that. I continually had to stop myself from saying snarky comments. But, I kept telling Cody that. So, it really wasn't much better. I figure that as many times as I had to stop my mouth, I am terrible! I am making snide commentary all day long and I need to work on this. Because I'm a little ashamed.

The book of James is not my favorite book of the Bible. Why? Because he yells at me! Chapter 3 (in my Bible) is entitled "Taming the Tongue." All I can say is 'Whatever!'

3:7 says, "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

3:10, "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be."

Yup, James yells at me and reminds me that I can not keep my tongue in check - without God.

James 1:26 "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."

I don't want anyone to see me and consider the Christ that I serve to be worthless because I am a gossiping witch.

Today was a good exercise and reminder for me. I'm going to pray that tomorrow I don't forget to be positive.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Twitter is killing me ...

Ok ... you have to know that it's late. I'm tired and my brain isn't fully engaged. So ... as I was in the middle of writing this blog, I wanted to click to a different tab in my browser - and instead, I clicked 'publish post.' Whoops! I wasn't anywhere near ready to publish the stupid thing.

It was inane and silly - more of the same kind of garbage I always whine and chat about. I figured I would be completely safe because most of my friends and family are already in bed. But, no ... someone commented before I could get the silly thing deleted. Whoops!

So, now I'm editing and writing as quickly as possible.

The last few weeks have been really busy and really intense for my poor brain. I'm trying desperately to figure out how we are going to 'brand' the church. What is it that we want to communicate to the world, to the community, to the congregation at both campuses. So, I've been asking the question: "What do you love about Faith-Westwood?"

You see, this is weird for me. I've been a Christian for such a long time (not telling - but, the year was 1974. Are you kidding me?) and I've been an active participant in the church for longer than that. My life has always revolved around the local church. Now I'm in charge of finding ways to encourage people that have never participated in the life of the church to check it out, enjoy it, stay and become involved.

I was jolted out of my little box about 10 years ago. I had just been to a florist picking up palm branches for the Palm Sunday celebration. They were in the trunk of my car and I stopped at the grocery store. A young man was helping me with my groceries. When I opened the trunk and began adjusting things for space, he looked at the palm branches and asked what they were. It stopped me in my tracks. I said, "Palm branches." He still looked confused. I kept going, hoping that he would make a connection quickly. I continued to explain that they were for a celebration at church. He still had a blank look on his face. So, I explained about Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem the week before Easter and the crucifixion. He didn't know what Easter was!

That experience is always in the back of my mind when I think about trying to tell the world and the community about my church. There are obviously too many people out there that have absolutely no concept of what we are talking about when we talk about Jesus Christ. We are in the middle of the Information Age and have more opportunities than ever before to tell the world about the one thing that will offer them eternity and yet we have young people growing up having never heard about Jesus.

What am I going to do about it? Right now, I'm praying a lot and trying to think through this. I'm reading books and I'm reading scripture. I'm asking questions and I'm trying to keep my mind clear. We'll see what happens. Got any ideas?

And the title of this post? Well, that was the original part that I wanted to 'kill.' I love twitter. It's such a great way for me to blather my thoughts and insane ramblings.

Tonight I'm boiling noodles - lots of them - for Chicken and Noodle casserole for a couple of potluck luncheons tomorrow. I need to sleep soon though. Good night!