Monday afternoon musings…

This morning I observed the normal hustle & bustle of our start to the week – thePastyGangster dropped Mason on his way to work so that Auntie Weezie could take him to preschool. He entered the kitchen in a whirlwind of energy & didn’t slow down. Frank came bounding down the stairs so theBean could take him to school… then rushed back upstairs at least 2 more times because he forgot something. (For such a little guy he sure makes a lot of noise.) iDoey was up & at ’em making breakfast… everyone was headed in different directions at 100 m.p.h. Still, it was a good morning.

The flurry of activity common to our weekday mornings stands in stark contrast to our Sunday afternoons/evenings.  The afternoons are peaceful, quiet, & restful, with only the occasional football game related noise (cries of anguish for 49er fans like me,) breaking the silence It’s a time for rest, catching up on a good book, eating a favorite snack, or just hanging out. The evenings we gather around the dinner table (or counter,) usually with family & friends for a good meal, even better discussion, & time together to be savored. I love it.

I’m really enjoying our current series, “The Jesus Way,” a study through the gospel of John. The thing that really stands out to me is Jesus’ use of the words/imagery of LIGHT & LIFE in describing what He came to bring for any/all who would put their trust in & follow Him. In my studies, I came across the Didache(a.k.a. the teachings of the 12 Apostles,) a document most likely put together in the 2nd century. Like its name suggests, it shares teachings of the early church on topics such as water baptism, communion/the Eucharist, prayer & fasting, etc…

An area that really jumped out to me was the section called “the 2 ways.” In a nutshell, it says there are 2 Ways – one that leads to LIFE (trusting & following Christ) & one that leads to DEATH (anything else.)  It reminds me of Jesus’ declaration from Matthew 7:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide & the way is easy that leads to destruction, & those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow & the way is hard that leads to life, & those who find it are few.

I have been on a ‘soup’ kick for the last few months. Seems like I just can’t get enough. My current favorite is made with grilled onions & garlic, cumin, green chiles, diced jalapenos, black & white beans, chicken stock, & the meat of a Costco rotisserie chicken. Lots of flavor & a little bit of spice. I think I’ve been eating it an average of 2x/day.

In the mornings when Mason comes over, I’ll hear him call out, “Hey Grammy.” And I look, expecting to see a grandmother… & I see theBean. Sometimes this doesn’t quite feel like real life, like somehow I have been transported into a future that isn’t my own. And then I look around for my little kids & instead I see 3 adults… 2 grown men with grown man jobs, & a grown woman who’s working really hard & setting herself up for the next chapter of her life. And I wonder, “Is this real life?”

And then Mason says, “Whatcha doing Poppy? Can I have a doughnut?”

And I remember, “Ah, yes. This is real life.”

Just signed up to be a part of a spiritual direction program for the next 9 months. It’s a 1x/month meeting via Skype & I have no idea what to expect, except that I am expecting good things.


I’m convinced that whatever you look for in somebody, you’ll find.  If you’re looking for the good, for the areas that God is at work in & through, you’ll be able to uncover it, even if it’s small. And if you look for the negative, the bad, the ugly part of us that everyone has, you’ll find that too.

On that note, there’s always something in life to be complaining about, but really? Why? Why complain about life circumstances, another person who isn’t meeting your expectations about how they’re living their life, etc… ? It doesn’t help, & it makes it not very fun to be around you. Trust me. I’ve been that guy – & one of the best days of my life was when someone told me, “You are SO negative, & you complain about SO many things. It’s tiresome.” I was forced to look in the mirror of my soul & I found a lot of discontent – stuff that was for me to address about myself… & the complaining & negativity were just symptoms, a distraction maybe, that oriented me towards living as a pessimist/realist/negative Nancy. a real downer who was very critical of myself & others. No fun. Don’t want to go back to that.

Here’s to a great day.




memory & smell

For the last semester, one of our Sunday p.m. small groups has been studying the Book of Enoch in conjunction with Genesis & Revelation- we’ve gotten through Enoch’s 1st vision (Chapters 1-36.)

One of the things that has stood out the most to me is the mention of how things smell – specifically of incense & other rich, deep, good smells, esp. associated with the presence & throne-room of God. We had quite the discussion about how smell is very closely tied to memory… & Michael O passed on the tidbit that the sense of smell is the only sense that bypasses the normal ‘central processing relay-stuff’ & goes straight to the brain. Which, in turn, makes for some very vivid & clear memory making… & at the next ‘smell’ of that scent, a person can be ‘taken back’ in memory to when they’ve smelled it before.

This drove me to the Scriptures & their mention of incense & fragrance in the context of the Tabernacle, the presence of God, & of royalty (more on that later.) What I found really blew me away – in the instructions that the LORD Adonai gave to Moses for worship were included an altar from which incense was to be burned all the time – (Exodus 30). And the incense burned on the holy altar was to be made of a special blend that was not for private use – only for the presence of God.

Another sweet smelling perfume was mixed in with the anointing oil applied to kings…

If you’re interested in finding out more, click HERE to be taken to Bible Gateway…

At the same time as I’ve been studying incense & fragrance in the Scriptures, I’ve been reading a book called Sitting At the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Its a book that brings understanding to what living as a disciple (talmid) of Jesus would have been like within the culture of 1st century Judaism – with the nuances of Hebrew culture, language, belief, & practice. Good book.

One of the chapters talks about fragrance as well – referring to the John 12 account of Mary from Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet with “an expensive perfume” made of “pure nard” (which I’d recommend you reading about HERE )

The authors mentioned that this anointing event, using this potent & sweet smelling perfume, would have caused the sweet smell to linger around Jesus for a long time – & would have been very apparent even during His betrayal, trial, scourging & crucifixion.

This has made me even more curious – & I am in the process of doing some ‘experiments’ with smell, fragrance, & incense… theBean is not nearly as excited about this as I am…

In my attempts to experiment with incense & the like, I have found through my searching locally that that the only places that I’ve been able to find incense (cone or sticks) or oil for burning have been in the ‘head’ shops, &/or shops that are catering to a pagan, wiccan, or new age clientele… Hmmm. Interesting.

So, resourceful me went to eBay & purchased some incense cones & a little tiny censer to burn the incense in. My package arrived & I wasted no time lighting my first cone of incense… in the kitchen. Ooops.

My experiment was quickly relegated to the garage… turns out that a reason that theBean wasn’t as excited as me about the incense is that she had a negative experience with it – where as a youngster, she & her family went to dinner at someone’s house – & the house was filled with an ‘incense’ smell (you know the smell – no matter what flavor or scent of incense you get, its a smell common to burning the cones…) I asked her about it & she described in minute detail what the house looked like inside, the people, & even what they ate for dinner. How’s that for a 30 year old memory?

I got excited about that… & told theBean that she just proved what I was trying to discover & describe about smells, incense, & fragrance. I must say, though, that theBean remains not amused.

But I am. :)

A Life In Review…

I really enjoyed our trip to Virginia, especially looking in the rear-view mirror… & in light of the breakneck pace at which the school year has begun (for at least the older two) has been matched by a growing weariness that I know is not unique to me & mine…

At the same time, rather than just put my proverbial nose to the grindstone & push through, I’m trying to examine life & see what can be changed about it – the things that I’m committed to do, be a part of, oversee, carry on, etc. Instead of doing it all, I’m trying to evaluate self & remove that which can be removed, or at the least, shelve what can be shelved. (Removing is permanent; shelving is putting something up until later.) I’m finding that I, too, am a notoriously poor self-evaluator, or that I am incredibly optimistic about all that I can do in a week’s time. Or a days. And butting up against the ‘doing feelings’ that cry & whine whenever I try to balance my life by leaving a task undone, nagging for just “15 more minutes.” Especially when it’s not a ‘want to do’ but a ‘need to do.’

A couple of things have happened in the last week that have gotten my attention, & have prompted a more introspective house cleaning of the scoey machine…

  • Last week, in a classic heart to heart, theBean brought to my attention the fact that I seem to have the same issue that Zay has (you can read about it here…) – yes, its that I must think that I have superpowers with what I had committed myself to.

    And the problem, it seems, is that I don’t see a problem… & this time, rather than try to bluster my way past theBean, or dance around it, or try to use the remote to “mute” her (BTW: I don’t recommend this. The sheer act of pointing a remote at one’s spouse has proved, multiple times, to be ill-advised…) So, instead of doing those things, l listened. And I asked her advice. And some of what she said made sense to me… while other things seemed so, so wrong. But, going on the premise that I may not see stuff as accurately for my emotional, physical, & mental well-being & health, I asked Jesus about what she’d said. And got a peace about it. Sigh. The times, they are a-changin’. (Thanks to Robert Zimmerman for that.)

  • Second, I heard from my brother, Moe – seems he’s been diagnosed with some version & degree of HCM, which is a fancy way of saying that something in the heart doesn’t work & the results of that can be catastrophic… It was his birthday & I had called him to talk about the kind of things that brothers talk about on birthdays as we age… & to hear this was a shock.

    More shock, though not alarm – this HCM can be hereditary, so Brother & I are both trying to get appointments for our own EKG… only to find that the next opening with the next available doctor in the Greater Reno/Sparks metropolitan area is 29 September. Sigh again.

    No panic, no frustration, just ‘meaning of life’ type introspection, couched in the fact that priorities & responsibilities are shifting… from without & from within. And that’s ok.

  • a great summer night…

    At long last… the day has arrived. Or will. Tomorrow. The Bean & I, along with our fam & some great friends, are off to Sand Harbor for the day – sand, cold water, sun, lounging. A cooler full of refreshments. A book or 10. Ahhhh.

    As if that wasn’t enough, about 5:30, we’ll meander over to the Pseudo-amphitheatre to take our seats… for the Shakespeare festival… we’re going to be seeing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The play starts around 7:30. It’s supposed to be a full-moon. We’re bringing the salami, cheese, & vino.

    Can’t wait.

    What goes around…

    Mr H’s post sums up my last 24 hours as well. It seems that there is a bug on the loose, & it stopped to chill with me for a bit. In retrospect, I look back to a rough Friday & Saturday night as well, & see that they were just a hint of what was to come. (I’ll leave the gory details to Dave to tell. But I will say that I feel his pain.)

    I know that Brother was battling on Sunday. Heard about Mr H. Matty. Now Aric. You get the theme… Makes me wonder… were there any adult women that got this bug? So far, all I’ve seen, heard, & experienced has been the men suffering, with the weemuns bravely soldiering on, caring for self, spouse, & family, with the wind blowing in their angelic, nay, saintly hair. Or something like that.

    I’m sure that woman aren’t immune to this bug, but my completely unscientific splanation is that I should wash me hands more. With soap even. 30 seconds. Maybe more.

    stubbornness as a character trait (or flaw)…

    Thursday, the Bean went in to the friendly neighborhood Cingular/ATT store in order to get an issue with Pasty’s phone taken care of… at least that’s the main reason. She happened to come out with a brand spanking new celly from Palm. Since we’re on the same plan, I was surprised to hear that she had been able to upgrade her now old phone already, as its usually at least 24 months between ‘free’ upgrades. (Don’t get me started.) BTW: it’s a Palm Centro that has just joined the family.

    Seems that the local neighborhood ATT guy helped her get around the little “24 month til you can upgrade for free” by using one of the other lines on the account that WAS NEWLY ELIGIBLE for the upgrade to get her a new phone for just $***, (after the 356 month rebate, of course.) Guess who’s newly eligible line was appropriated? If you guess anyone other than me, you’d be wrong.

    So what’s the rub? It’s not like I was looking to get a new phone – though I was enjoying my status of being “out of contract.” I have found ATT to be very willing to negotiate group rate & feature prices, as well as offering free stuff, good phone upgrades etc in order to “woo” you into signing over your life for Yet Another 24 month period of time.

    The catch in this process came when i was on my way home to the little woman, & thought I’d bless her with a warning call – one of those, “Hi Honey, I’ll be home in 20 minutes…” calls. My line went directly to ATT Customer Service where I was told that in order to use my phone, & as a part of the upgrade that I had just received, I would need to agree to surrender my long-awaited “out of service” status to be once again, enslaved by the corporate giant that is ATT. And, until I did, my phone privileges were suspended.

    I arrived home to find only Cubby (the nickname I’ve given to the 13 year old after a recent bout of In-School Discipline for something that Wasn’t His Fault.) I used Cubby’s phone to call ATT & talk to a live person. 2 different people took 30 minutes to describe the WHY behind my line suspension. Why MY line suspension? Because “i” had recently upgraded my phone. I tried to explain that no, I hadn’t upgraded my phone, but someone in their retail store had pulled a switcheroo. As you can probably imagine, they don’t care.

    So now – I have a cell phone that is suspended until I agree to the 24 month contract extension. And, to me, it makes perfect sense that I will not agree to that contract extension. On principle.

    If you’ve tried to reach me by cell, it’s not that I am “not taking calls” as the nice lady with the psycho-recording voice stated – its that unbeknownst to me, my right to freedom from a celly contract was violated in the name of getting the Bean an upgraded phone. And my line is suspended until I do agree. Which might be a while…

    is it a social disorder? or am I just anti-social?

    Tonight is the Big Dinner – its a low-key event at our church building where people get together to eat dinner. Not a pot-luck – it’s BYOF – everyone brings their own food – what they’d be eating for dinner. We’re sitting “hof-brau” style at long tables, & just interacting with our family & with the others that are around us. My wife has been excited about this for, oh, a jillion years. The opportunity to eat, drink, & be merry with friends is exactly the sort of thing that floats her proverbial boat.

    But me, well, that’s a different story. The idea of sitting down & eating together scares me. Why? you might ask… I’m not quite sure.

    I’m not much for crowds – standing in line – getting stuck anywhere; I’ve been known to get a bit claustrophobic. I like to sit at the end of the table, because then I have at least one right/90degree angle in front of me. Somehow, that is comforting. I was trying to explain what my emotions & thoughts are on this topic to the Bean, theMoses, & Brother. I really like the idea of the Big Dinner & eating my own food. Of seeing friends. Making new ones… but the practical working out of it makes me feel a bit reclusive.

    However, in spite of the fear, I will be there. At the Big Dinner. Hopefully sitting on an end.

    The sounds of silence…

    Sunday, I overdid it.

    The week prior, I had been battling with the run-down, blah feeling of one battling a cold; I battled – took the Vitamins like Hulk Hogan always tells us Hulkamaniacs to take, tried to get enough sleep, eat well, & take care of me… all to give the immune system a fighting chance. And then came Sunday.

    Led worship, did the teaching for Learning Community, regular teaching, & then the DNA class after church. Tried to rest in the afternoon, but it didn’t really work out. College Bible Study ended up going a bit long. And it was on.

    Monday & Tuesday, I dragged – my voice, which had taken a beating from the cold weather & cold bug, in addition to massive amounts of use, began to disappear in “Peter Brady” episodes (obscure pop-culture reference to when the Peter character went through his voice changing – alternating sounding like a baritone & Mickey Mouse on helium…) Blah, blah.

    Stayed home Wednesday to try to rest the bug away – slept a good chunk of the day… but what went away was my voice.

    I have a whisper. Yesterday, went to work & entertained theMoses & theBrother with my inability to raise my voice to be heard. At least they’re enjoying it.

    Can’t hold a decent conversation. Can’t talk on the phone. So I’m spending most of my time in silence…

    I’m sucking down Earl Grey Tea, hot because it feels nice on my froat… Hmmm.

    Ringing it in…

    What does that mean? To “Ring in” the New Year? Does one need a bell to “Ring it in?” Hmm.

    Reminds me of a time, two or ten that I spent “praying in” the New Year – the splanation being that it was a great way to start the year off. Perhaps, but it always felt contrived & forced to make the prayer happen, esp. if/when it required getting others to shut up from their deep ‘meaning of life’ conversations that they were having, & making them stop their games, loud happy interactions in order to join the somber prayer group (usually a circle) that would take turns trying to out “our Father,” each other. I tried so hard to make God happy… & to do what I thought a good Christian should do…

    Looking back, I have regrets – I know that everyone does, but mine usually center on:

  • -things I’ve done that kept me at a distance from really knowing God, & from being myself
  • -things I’ve done, regardless of how well meaning I was, that ended up putting blockades between people being able to see Jesus as He is, replacing Him instead with religious verbiage, activities, & the like… I work hard & try intentionally not to do that…
  • -my relationship with my family – esp. my brother Moe – my talking too much, listening too little, & trying to make life & relationships fit into nice boxes. That one keeps me awake at night.
  • -pain caused to the Bean because of my desire (need? control issues?) to work my way into peace…

    I pray for the redemption of relationship with Moe – & that those that I violated, tripped up, put an obstacle course in front of would find their way through all the junk to the Real Thing that is the Word.

  • End of the year stuff…

    And the latest sign that December is here, that the year is just about to end…

    Two weeks ago, I got my notification from my wonderful insurance company – they’ve been purchased by a company known as HealthNet, which means that the premium gets to be ‘adjusted’ to meet the new boss’ bottom line… welcome to the world where the privilege of having a $5000 deductible has gone to $850/month.

    Had the insurance rep do some checking around – looks like I personally am uninsurable for anything less than this price because I’ve had surgery 2x in the last 10 years – both to fix hinges that had broken. So, now I’m trying to find an insurance plan that will cover the wife & kids for something less that the proverbial arm & leg & go with that… & then bank on the wonderful government of the USA to take care of my issues should I go Scarecrow from Oz…

    Come Lord.