Saturday, January 26, 2008

Favorite Things

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things ..."

It's such great fun to hear from people what are their favorite things. They vary from one person to the next as myriad as grains of sand. Some are predictable; other not so much. I must say, "copper kettles" wouldn't be on my list, but apparently the songwriter likes them enough to include them with rainsdrops and whiskers.

Anyway, I like the song's premise even if I'm suspicious about the particular favorite things sited (you don't suppose they picked things that fit or rhyme over real stuff, do you?).

It's so easy to get side-tracked and lose sight of the really good things in life. It's often the simple things that are our favorite things. Where do you suppose they go when heartache comes calling, or when fierce fear rises up within, or when anger attempts to consume? I dare say my favorite things have all too often been dumped in favor of focusing on the not-so-favorite challenge dejour. Fact is, raindrops keep falling on roses and whiskers continue growing on kitteens. There are just some things that refuse to retreat - and my Lord is one of them.

Now you know how my list of favorite things is headed. Just beneath that heading are these ...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Troublesome Stuff

As I've navigated my way into these delightful senior years I have concluded that there is so much that is good and rich and precious about life. I attempt to live there - - on the high ground - - focusing as instructed in the Scriptures on the good stuff.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:8-9)

Occasionally I get a whiff of the other stuff, as if living downstream from a sewage treatment plant. The list of other stuff is much too long to embed in a weblog. Actually, the point I want to make is not so much about that stuff anyway. Mostly I want to emphasize how important it is that we don't focus on all the good & noble things in denial of the other stuff. In fact, it may just be that we relish life's beauties all the more because of them.

It's best to navigate straight, narrow paths with eyes wide open.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ipso Facto

Facts are odd little creatures. They intrude when they're unwanted; they're welcomed when they serve our purposes. Some even say facts, like truth, are relative. I don't buy that, which is why this term, ipso facto so intrigues me.

As we chatter along this dialogue or that, rarely do we select the word ipso facto to summarize a point. We use the concept; we may call it something else ... but I don't know too many of us that pull ipso facto from our vocabulary grab bag.

Even if we do use it, it's an oddity - both to our own lips and to the ears of the hearer. But perhaps we ought to use it more. There are, it is clear, some things that are true simply because they are true. Some ascribe terms like proof of the pudding, or the fruit of the tree as such. Merriam Webster says it's: an inevitable result.

What's ipso facto in your life?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Jigsaw Puzzles

I don't know about you, but working a jigsaw puzzle can be wonderfully cathartic (or agonizingly awful). My daughter used to love working on them, especially over the long Christmas holidays when school was out and spiced cider simmered most days.

For her sake - and eventually my own, I would purchase at least one new puzzle each year (how many windmills are there, anyway?), spread the umpty-umpty pieces across a designated work surface, and then come and go as we put our hand to the task of making something out of all those cardboard squiggles. We'd forge ahead with corner and border pieces, staking out a claim to this spot or that and then argue about who'd taken (stolen) or lost a piece the other needed. Over time the picture would begin to come into focus. Sky and water scenes often sat for days, the nuances of this blue or that nearly impossible to disintinquish.

Sometimes I sit back and look at life from that same perspective: lots of pieces, often too much alike to separate one from the other - or so diverse that nothing seems to connect or fit, frustrating at times - incredibly satisfying at others, scenes often difficult to decipher, some portions really tough to piece together, other portions fun or challenging, a great endeavor to share with loved ones - and overall a worthwhile pursuit when at last (often "long last") the finished result begins to come together in some comprehensible way.

Being that I'm a Granny, the spaces of my life that are left to fill appear to be those associated with the sky, or the profusion of flowers that carpet a field. Some days my eyesight isn't good enough to add any new pieces, but boy-oh-boy can I see the beauty of the near-completed picture coming together.

Wish I'd had that picture in my sights 30 or 40 years ago, I could have saved myself a bundle of trouble trying to jam this piece or that where it didn't belong.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Chuckle Break: Ponderisms

Isn't that a great word, "ponderisms"? Wish I had introduced it, but alas it wasn't meant to be. That said, here's a few ponderisms for we sassy seniors ...

You're asleep, but others worry that you're dead.
You have a party and the neighbors don't even realize it.
Your back goes out more than you do.
You finally got your head together, now your body is falling apart.
It takes twice as long to look half as good.
You buy a compass for the dash of your car.
You are proud of your lawn mower.
You sing along with the elevator music.
You would rather go to work than stay home sick.
You enjoy hearing about other people's operations.
You consider coffee one of the most important things in life.
You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.
People call at 9 pm and ask, "Did I wake you?"
You answer a question with "Because I said so!"
You send money to PBS.
You confuse having a clear conscience with having a bad memory.
The end of your tie doesn't come anywhere near the top of your pants.
You take a metal detector to the beach.
You wear black socks with sandals.
You know what the word equity means.
Your ears are hairier than your head.
Your idea of weight lifting is standing up.
You start video taping daytime game shows.
You get into a heated argument about pension plans.
You got cable for the weather channel.
There's nothing left to learn the hard way.

More ponderisms ...

Garden Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here and drink whatever comes out?"

Monday, January 7, 2008

In My Daughter's Eyes

It's been several years since I first heard the song and these lyrics by Martina McBride. No matter how often I hear them, they become a cherished prayer - not just for my own mother/daughter relationship, but for mothers everywhere. I would pray that each of us - grandmothers too - be worthy and highly esteemed role models ... in our daugther's eyes.

Katrina and Molly

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes
In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me gives me strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes
And when she wraps her hand around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about
It's hangin' on when your heart has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes
In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave, maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes
Click here to listen to the song:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Split Seconds

This week I heard from a young mother about to lose a much loved 12 year old son to cancer. The boy had successfully battled the illness since the age of one; but this week the doctors book-ended his battle, giving him but 90 days to live. Her pain and sorrow were as tangible as a steel girder, and every bit a heavy. One can hardly witness such palpable grief and not somehow be touched by it.

In a instant, all that was cheerful and hopeful turned dire. Life grew pale. The luster lacked; the jubilation silenced. In a split second, at least one person's perspective changed so dramatically that it would appear no good thing would ever again occur on this planet. Split seconds have a way of dashing the delights of life. Split seconds have a way of taking all that we know to be true and pummeling them onto a pile labeled confusion.

I have a satchelful of experience with split second turnarounds - in both directions. I've gone from light-to-darkness, and from darkness-to-light - sometimes in the same day ... but usually over time. When trouble comes calling, I am reminded that the space between the ears, coupled with the condition of the heart ahead of time has a lot to do with how well we navigate these often scarey patches of road. A much loved pastor once told me: "Decide before trouble (or illness, or financial ruin, or the death of a loved one, or .....) comes in Whom (not what) your confidence will rest."

Today my own heart hurts along with a family about to wage a battle like no other. I cannot imagine the loss of a beloved child or grandchild. It seems so out-of-order. Even so, the courage I heard coming from this young mother tells me, that while they may be dashed and daunted today, and they may have a momentarily obscured hope - they also have a confidence that keeps them moving forward. Their's is a God Who comforts - often in split seconds.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Joyless Search for Joy

That term, "The joyless search for joy" recently found my ears. It struck a chord that's still resonating. I'm mulling it over, thinking about how much of my own life may have been wasted in a joyless pursuit of something I didn't think I had but wanted (not even knowing at times what that something was). It's a thought that compounds. It also has the ability to confound.

The term "surprised by joy" (the title of C.S. Lewis' book by the same name) also comes into play here. Certainly for every intentional search maneuver there's room for an unplanned, unintentional discovery - be it for joy or any other thing.

There is no joy in the soul that has forgotten what God prizes. (Oswald Chambers)
In my years of living I have known and been known by a good many people. When I consider us (them and me) as individuals I must say that the joy equation in most lives is predicated largely on circumstances and not the inner condition of the heart. I'm thinking we might not comprehend joy's components at all, especially when we mistake happiness, joy's near kin, as the goal. The two live can reside in vastly different solar systems.

Merriam Webster has this to say about each:

Joy (noun) - the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires

Happiness (noun) - 1. good fortune (as in prosperity), 2a: a state of well-being and contentment : 2b: a pleasurable or satisfying experience

The definitions sound very similar, but I've concluded - rightly or wrongly - that joy has everything to do with our human-beingness. It's a gift, a blessing. I've further concluded that happiness is related to our human-havingness or getting-ness. We can have joy absent happiness, but happiness absent joy doesn't quite make it.

May our quest for joy be as joyful as that for which we seek.

John 15:11-12
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Here We Go

I learned to ski late in life. I was 40ish at the time, way beyond the living dangerously period of my teens. Navigating the slippery walk from the car to the lodge ought to have been a portent; it gave me apoplexy - not to mention the ski lift ride, or my first descent (mostly on my posterior body part), or the treacherous putting on of my skis when once they'd fallen off while traversing a sheer snow wall (I'm exaggerating a bit). I cannot say it was a good experience, nor can I claim it as a particularly fond memory. In retrospect, it was pure agony. Even so, I actually got pretty good at it over time and overcoming ...

I'm glad I ventured into that new realm even if I couldn't keep up with the 5 year olds whizzing past me - ever! Seems I've learned a lot late in life; certainly more so than in my early years. Those days on skis taught me a lot about tenacity, about courage, about enjoying the process even if painful. Sometimes, in spite of myself, I was overcome by the beauty in the midst of danger and daring. Sometimes I actually had fun.

I sort of feel that way about 2008. It's sizing up (day one) to be a year of slippery slopes and steep challenges. That's not to say there won't be easy, simple and heartwarming things that occur; things that don't require huge effort or muscled musings. But venture a guess at how the Presidential elections will turn out, or just try to move the Middle East chess pieces in such a way as to know who'll lob the first nuclear bomb ... and where. Place a few bets on the economy's trajectory if you're the betting kind; or get really brave and spend some time skiing the steep slopes of the Scriptures.

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm excited. I'll turn 60 in February, and while I've parked my snow skis for good I'm still inclined to plant my feet firmly as I navigate new heights, new slopes. The view from above is always amazing; well worth the effort. Besides, playing it safe has never had much appeal for me anyway. It's just not very sassy.