Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stealing Home

I was watching ESPN's Sports Center this morning before heading out to work. One of the top plays was something I had never seen before: a guy stole home. I just stood in the living room, my mouth hanging open. It was an awesome play!

Nelson laughed at me a bit because I just kept repeating how amazing I thought it was. That takes a lot of guts to steal home. The pitcher is closer to home plate than the runner. He starts to run and the catcher hops up to let the pitcher know. The throw is close.. The ump in his animated fashion signals the runner safe. The catcher is incensed. The runner trots off to the dugout like it was no big thing. I'm standing in my living room with my mouth hanging open.

It didn't take long for me to start to see multiple spiritual implications to this outstanding baseball feat. Stealing home takes absolute fearlessness. You have to run quick and hard. You have to be ready for a horrible crash with the catcher, which most like result in more than one bruise (or at least it would for me). Isn't this the type of determination that is required to live by faith? John writes that perfect love leaves no room for fear.

I was so moved by this story that I used it in my devotions this morning with the packaging crew. I linked it with Philippians 4:4-9: Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is near. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.

I read those verses and I picture the runner with his head down running full out for home. Every move infused with intensity and determination. There is no hint of fear. There is looking to the left or right. That runner received the instruction from the coach and went for it with his entire being. Can we do any less?

Well, of course we can...and we often do. The almost laughable thing then is that we wonder why we are so easily thrown out of the game. Perhaps it has something to do with our stinkin' thinkin'. Perhaps it has something to do with our enormous worry and need to be in control. Perhaps it something to do with stubborn independent streak that keeps us from bringing our needs to our loving heavenly Father. Simply put, our choices will trip us up as we run the bases of life. The only thing we can control is the way we choose to run.

I'm going flat out. How about you?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Telling Stories

Coming to love your own life requires you to believe that the past is God's will...ultimately written for both his glory and your participation in his redemption...He uses pain and brokenness, just as he uses shalom. (To Be Told, p. 126)

A good editor draws out what is not said in order to give life to what was aborted before it saw the light of day. We need friends who will name what is unnamed in our story, so that the truth is told. A good editor also helps to ensure that we don't edit out the truth. And a good editor helps us consider the implications of what our story tells us about ourselves. (To Be Told, p. 133)

My story will compel me to plead, shout, and cry at God's injustice, lethargy, and disregard. But in the mddle of my rage, I can't help but wonder at what kind of God would bear my contempt and not retaliate. How could he dure my haggling, let alone alter his plan to coincide with mine? In the face of such inconceivable grace, I can't help but fall at his feet with incredulity. The Almighty, Sovereign, Cator God is also the most humble Being we will ever know. And engaging in naked prayer with our humble God humbles us. But what hubles us most is the enormity of his love for us.
It is in surrendered silence that God speaks love. It is when I have brought to him the shredded strands of my story--when I am ashamed, angry, defiant, and afraid--that he calls me to hear what can be written but can't be explained. He speaks love. (To Be Told, p. 180, 181)

When I think of fasting, I would define it as abstaining from anything that fills the space inside us that God longs to occupy. Any idols can fodder for fasting: TV, e-mail, food. The heart of a fast is stepping back from life as it is and conceiving life as it could be. Heather Webb (To Be Told, p. 183)

I just finished reading Dan Allender's book, "To Be Told." I have quoted it a couple of times in earlier posts. I pulled the book back off my shelf to finish it in an attempt to get back on track with writing my story.

I sat with my fingers poised on the keyboard for several minutes, waiting for something to come out. I listened to my family, playing downstairs with Asher. I heard Nelson talking with Ron about the basketball and baseball game and wanted to rush down and add a tidbit to the conversation that I had heard on ESPN. Beth was trying to fix supper and Asher was growing impatient. I could rush down and rescue her...and him from her wrath. But I glued my butt to the chair. I need to be here.

Telling my story. That reminded me of the early days of June 1989. I had completed an introductory course in CPO (Clinical Pastoral Orientation) at seminary in Kansas City. I loved it. I decided that I needed to go further and applied for the summer CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) unit being offered at the same hospital. I was accepted--chosen. I was really excited.

One of the first things the group of chaplains did was meet at the SIT (supervisor in training) house for a get acquainted session. Our first task was to tell our story, as a way of introducing ourselves and getting our "stuff" out there. In typical Daisymarie fashion: I offered to go first. I told my story chronologically, plodding through the many moves I made during my childhood and early adulthood. I lifted out the salient lessons of each place. I thought I did I okay. Oddly, the group pointed out that there were very few pieces of my childhood and that there was a real disconnection. Later I likened it to beads on a string: they were connected by a thread that was unseen, but separated from each other--barely touching each other.

I listened as the others (there were six of us in the group) told there stories. In my mind I graded them. I felt good about my presentation until the last young woman presented her story. She was a violinist. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do in ministry, wasn't really sure why she was in seminary at all. She was quite thin and petite. She seemed to totally captivate the SIT. I was totally jealous of her ease and grace. She told her story in third person. It was so connected, but somehow separated from her, as if it was something she looked at but not who she was. She held it like a fine porceline doll, that you could admire but never play with for fear of breaking it. I envied her style. I envied her story. I knew we would never be friends. She represented so many things I wanted to be, but knew I couldn't be.

That was my first experience telling my story. Or so I thought. Not long ago, I was going through old files and I found a paper I had written for a college psychology course. It was crude and poorly written, but it was again a retelling my story. I had forgotten all about it. The thing that jumped out at me the most was how much that telling was repeated in the later CPE experience. So in a paper written when I was about 19 I lifted up themes and feelings that were echoed in the story of a a 32 year old. I grieved, and I grieve the wasted opportunity to reflect and grow. I grieved the lost connections.

Now here I sit at 50 and I realize that I'm needing to understand that story. My story needs understood and shared because what I have experienced has a purpose. I need to learn how to tell it, because it is not just my story, but God's story, too.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Write Now

I need to write. I sat in the office today and tried to write and it just didn't work.

RIght now I'm on the porch with my Palm TX and portable keyboard. It is so nice to be outside. My brain feels so much freer than sittng at the desk in the office.

This morning in Sunday School our teacher, one of my favoritest in the universe professors, concluded his series on the great theologians with Henri Nouwen. Wow! I was so moved--tears flowed freely during the closing prayer.

Several things jumped out at me. First, Nouwen wrote at least 40 books. Interestingly, they're all small. If you're unfamiliar with Nouwen, he was a Catholic priest who studied psychology at Menninger in Kansas and was the first to teach abnormal psychology at Notre Dame University. He also taught at Yale and Harvard. He resigned from each position. That in itself is unheard of! He was amazingly learned, degreed, and highly respected, but his books present extremely deep thoughts in ways that the average person can grasp and not in overwhelming volumes or tomes. That spoke volumes to me about some of the "blocks" I've thrown up for writing: I could never write anything substantial (aka long). Nouwen worked from the Greek philosophical principle that big books are boring.

Another thing that moved from the life of Nouwen was the whole "wounded healer" concept. Nouwen was so beloved by his students and friends, but he was extremely wounded and he ministered out of his woundedness. It was his time at Daybreak where he rerally appears to have found his niche. This is something I need to dig more deeply on, especially as it applies to my current ministry setting.

Finally, Dr. Flora brought a copy of Rembrandt's "Return of the Prodigal" and told us about Nouwen's experience in Russia with the painting. I want the book. I want the painting. I want to be able to look so deeply into things. What has kept me from depth? I feel like I have lived my life in the shallow end of the pool. I look at the people that I admire and respect the most and they are the people who think deeply, live deeply, love deeply. Perhaps that is why I am so drawn to people of passioon. But why not me?

At the point when Dr. Flora mentiooned that Nouwen wrote 40 books before he died Nelson leaned over to me and told me I better get started. He really believes that I have something to say. I think I believe it, too. So why don't I?

I tried to blame not writing on not having enough time. Lame. I waste so much time. That's why I came out on the porch to write now. I'm sick of watching TV. I don't want to read more of what other people write--I want to write!

I have tried to usse the excuse that I don't have enough to say. Lamer. I write two devotional guides and a couple blog/journal entries a week. I teach several classes a week. I coach people daily and encourage them in their faith and their work. Nelson would be the first to tell you that I have a lot to say. So why not write it? And I can't hide behind the can't wrrite a big enough book excuse either--say it, say it well, and move on. Big books are good door stops.

I am without excuse. I am also without direction. I am without guidance. Do I need a mentor? Do I need to take a class? Do I just need a swift kick in the seat?

A couple years ago I bought a copy of that year's "Writer's Market Guide." It might even have been a Christian Writers version. At the time I just wanted to try my hand at getting a few of my devotions published. I wonder where that is? I should probably check a more recent copy out of the library.

I need to write. I want to write. At Curves when we're signing up a new member we ask them how long they've been thinking about starting with Curves. Then on their form we write (it's actually part of the script): It's time to stop thinking and get started!

It really is!

Lunch in the Park

I'm just having the absolute best lunch I could imagine. I'm sitting at a picnic table, under a grove of pine trees, beside a lake, with birds singing all around me. Nelson grilled salmon last night and packed some for me for lunch along with a yunmmy salad and white chocolate raspberry flavored light and fit yogurt.

As if the food and surroundings weren't glorious enough to my soul, then I'm able to pull out this handheld and portable keyboard and write down the experience to share. Right now: life is very sweet and good.

Drat...reality just burst in. I had to take my car to get new brakes. Of course it wasn't going to be an inexpensive brake job. No, not for me. I needed new pads and rotors on all four wheels--to the tune of $542. But even that had some goodness.. I called last night and they were able to get me right in this morning and furnished me with a loner car (which I left in Atown with Nelson since today is my out of county travel day). And the car is ready to be picked up.

Meanwhile back to serenity. This park where I'm resting is one I went to often in my youth and then again the first few years of married life.

Reflecting on the fun times spent here, I was reminded of some thoughts I had this morning while driving. I was captured for a moment thinking about age and the passing of time. I"m fifty. I say that often. I wonder if I say it too much? My dad died when he was only 53. I have a whole lot of things I want to do before die. I think it's definitely going to take more than 3 years.

Tonight I'm going to do something responsible, grown up like, if you will. I want to take better care of this body I have. I'm eating better and exercising regularly. I take a good multiple vitamin and extra calcium/vitamin D. I have scheduled an appointment with a OB/GYN for my PAP (which I haven't had since 03). I was going to talk to her about a baseline bone density exam--since my mom has so much trouble and it appears to be something that has touched several women in my family. So what am I doing? I read in the paper that there was a free bone density exam happening at one of the nursing home/retirment communities here in town tonight--so I'm going.

It was terribly hard to leave the tranquility of the park for the sterile, chopped-up confines of cubicle world. But I did it.

(Just a follow up note: My bone density was a -0.02, which is very much in the good range. I'm still going to ask the doc if I need more.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Plug: AKA appeal

How many of you use google or one of the other major search engines on a daily basis? Great!

Here's what I would like to ask you to consider: there is a search engine (powered by google) that makes a donation to non-profit agencies each time it's used. Pretty cool!

The search engine is found at goodsearch.comI would like to ask you to consider putting Transformation Network down as the charity/non-profit that you would like your penny to go to.

We're a great cause, a worthy ministry, and would be deeply appreciative of your gesture.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Drama

I’m starting to not like Monday mornings. That’s not completely true, but lately, or at least the last two Mondays make me wonder what next Monday might hold.

On Friday, one of my work crew members came to me and apologized for not being honest when confronted last Monday. He did, in fact, not start work until 7:00am. He stated that he had been instructed by the Team Production Leader to stick to the story that everyone started at 6:00. I called Dan on Saturday and shared the new information with him. We both felt that we needed to let the Team Leader go.

We are a ministry that majors in second chances. Many people who work for us have messed up, but been given opportunity to keep their job and start over. This situation seemed different. This leader lied, influenced others to lie (coerced is a strong term), and stole from the company. Dan and I both felt that it would confusing for the team to have this person step down to a line crew position. She’s going to start back at our office with the prep classes and maybe we’ll be able to find her something else. We haven’t written her off, we want to help her be successful—we just can’t have her on this job.

The whole thing makes me sad. But that’s not the end of the sadness. I divvied up the leadership positions between three people: production, office, and shipping and receiving. Part of the reason that they supposedly felt the need to lie about their start time was to cover for the S/R TL coming in to work a half hour late. They couldn’t start on time without him there and then covered up his tardiness by fudging the time and leaving an hour early. I had to meet with him and give him a day off without pay. It didn’t make him happy. I have a feeling that he might quit. I’ve already started praying about that one.

It was interesting when we were confronting people about the newly discovered information about the lie and theft. The consistent reason given for “why” was that they didn’t want to “snitch.” Somehow, in their minds it was more important to not be a snitch than it was to be honest and not steal from the company. The trust they felt more loyal to was that of their peers, who would stab them in the back in a heartbeat, over their employer who demonstrates grace upon grace with them. The thinking is mind-boggling.

As we talked about it, we came up with this analogy: they would rather choose a momentary reduction of pain which results in long-term negative over momentary pain and long-term positive. They were so focused on the moment that there was no consideration for the future.

The whole thing just makes me want to go home and make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and devour the batter before it ever leaves the bowl…but know the long-term consequences of that, I think I’ll grab a bottle of water instead.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What I'm holding on to...

On Sunday night I wrote: Feeling Foolish
It's been a rough weekend for me. It appears that my entire crew decided to decieve me. They all signed in, or had someone sign in for them, saying they worked from 6AM until 2:30PM on Saturday. The problem is that Nelson called me from work at 6:22AM to tell me the air compressor wasn't working. The tow motor wasn't picked up until 7:15AM and one guy signed in at 7, but it was crossed out and 6 was written in instead: in someone else's handwriting. I called one of the guys who worked. He was helping us out. He was hired by the factory last month. I trusted him. I wanted...want to believe he wouldn't lie to me. He says everyone was there at 6 and working.

I called Dan when I started trying to put the pieces together. I was livid. I wanted...want to fire them all. I want to report them all to their probation officers for lying, falsifying records, and stealing from the company. The problem is I can't prove anything. I'm just sick. I have to go in tomorrow morning with a plan. Firing them all is probably not the way to go. Neither is going off half-cocked.

It's Sunday night.I don't know what to do. Maybe I'll go in with no plan and play it by ear. This is probably the worst time for me: I don't want to be me. I don't want to work with these people. I HATE being lied to. I HATE thinking I've been lied to. I HATE looking and feeling this foolish.

I wonder if I could get a job at McDonalds? (Don't worry...I'm not going to quit my job...I"m just ranting a bit tonight so that maybe I'll have a little control tomorrow.)

On Monday I wrote:
I confronted the work crew. I was, of course, completed mistaken. I was, of course, totally in the wrong. Well, except they did sort of own that they didn’t meander into the work place until nearly a quarter past 6. They are not going to be happy with me. I decided that they are not getting paid until 6:30. And if they have a problem with that, I guess they’ll have to figure out what they want to do about it.

Mothers Day was nice. Nelson took me out for dinner at a marvelous restaurant here in town. We ranked the meal up there in our top five of all time eating out experiences. Beth got me a very sweet arrangement of gerbera daisies. Ann called. I spent the day trying to figure out why Asher is all out of sorts. I’ve come to the conclusion that there must be teeth coming in, but I’m not sticking my finger in there to find out. And also, he is learning words. He jabbers non-stop. He thinks he’s saying something and if you don’t get it, he gets extremely frustrated with you. If he spots his jacket, that means he wants to go somewhere NOW! If he brings you his shoes, he wants to go outside---and now is not soon enough and he doesn’t care what time of the day it is or what the temperature is or how tired you might be!

But yesterday he said “mema” twice so it doesn’t matter how fussy he was!

Right now I’m on the phone trying to fix a mess up in an order. It came to the office building and that address is nowhere on the purchase order. I ordered eight rolls of labels and they sent 8 boxes with 4 rolls each. And I ordered ribbons and none of those came. (Picture me shaking my head.) I just got off the phone. They’re still researching the problem. They will get back to me. Meanwhile, I have enough white labels to print on until Jesus comes back—but I won’t be able to because I don’t have the necessary ribbon for the printer. (Insert me, rolling my eyes.)

When I met with the crew this morning, I started off by reading scripture—it was, after all, our devotion time. I read Romans 12:6-18:
6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection,[e] and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.[f] 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

I started my confrontation by saying that I am not like Dan (my boss). He tends to work from a position of non-trust. I work from a position of trust—and this is sometimes to my detriment.

I don’t want to become the kind of person who operates out of distrust or no trust. What ever became of honor? There doesn’t seem to be much loyalty going around either. And that which would present itself most commonly as honor, or loyalty, or trustworthiness, is merely a masquerade for something much more self-serving.

I wear a bracelet that I got when Nelson were on our anniversary weekend getaway. It is inscribed with verses from 1 Corinthians 13: Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

That’s what I chose to hold on to…it’s what’s holding on to me.

Friday, May 04, 2007


It’s Friday. And right now I have about 40 things I should be doing. Ok, maybe half that many—but I shouldn’t be writing this. Funny, I typically can find scads of things to keep me from writing anything of importance, but I then choose to resort to writing to avoid doing what I should…oh the irony of it all!
This has been a rich week. I taught our WINGS class in E County. It was a lot of fun. The participants were getting it. They were putting things together left and right. I love that. Some groups never quite get what we are offering them and it’s an agonizing time trying to teach. It’s as if my words hit the wall they have up and just slide off. (Sigh) Fortunately, that was not the case this week. I was so energized yesterday that I had to remind myself to keep an eye on the clock so we didn’t run over.

One of the coolest things that someone said as they were leaving the class was: You sure keep things interesting. In my opinion, there is nothing worse (in the field of information transmission) than poorly presented material. You can be brilliant but not be able to disseminate information through the means of public speaking—then write and have a good editor! Teachers or preachers, who are boring, lack any interest in being interesting, need to find another profession.

I have realized over the years that I have a scoonch of ADD. As a result, I get bored easily, and that’s probably a gross understatement. I determined that I would never be a boring teacher or preacher. So far, I think I’m living up to that goal.

So from the great to the painfully good: Annie and the kids are moving home tomorrow. I know it’s the right thing. I know it’s a good thing. I know that it’s best for the kids. I know that there will be difficult days that we will walk through with them in the future. I’m not sad about them moving home. I’m just aching because they’re leaving—again.

I love coming home from work and being greeted by Penelope’s exuberant: Mema’s home!!! I will miss that more than I know how to even begin to put into words.

I will not miss Destructo Boy—but I’m going to miss the cherub grin and willing kisses from Caden.

I won’t miss the unneeded baked goods that Annie makes when she gets stressed, but I will miss our talks and time together. She truly has become a friend. Can you ask more from your daughter?

Oh, great…now I’m at work…should be working…and instead I’m all teary and sniffy. Better quit this for now and try and look productive. TTFN.