Sunday, October 28, 2007

Scrambled Eggs and Brains

It’s been a long week. My heart is tired. My head is tired. My jaw aches, but not as bad as it was (TMJ). My ear surrendered, and no longer hurts down into my throat.

I am officially the Reentry Development Coordinator. I’m still working out my schedule and responsibilities. Two things were taken off my plate. I was informed this week that two county jails are not interested in my teaching classes in their facilities. I was disappointed, but it wasn’t the worst news I learned this week. I don’t know how to talk about the piece that had me closing my office door (something I rarely if ever do), turning on my CD player (really loud) and having a good hard cry. Here’s the bare bones: the Adam Walsh Act was signed into legislation in 2006 by our president. All states must comply by 2009. Ohio will begin complying on Jan.1, 2008. The legislation is retroactive. Instead of having 5 more years to register, I now must register for 10 more. I hope that makes someone feel safe that this 60 year old grandmother will continue to be punished. I have written an article in response to this, and perhaps I’ll post it later. I need my response to be more than a knee-jerk reaction.

Wednesday was a highpoint of the week. I joined 1200 women at a even to raise money for breast cancer research. I got to hear Karen Vadino again. She’s an extremely funny motivational speaker. This was held at a resort near Cedar Point. It was an amazing setup. The food was phenomenal—especially the desserts! One of the activities was a balloon sale. Curves is a corporate sponsor and so we “worked” a bit here selling the balloons. Each balloon cost $5 and held a chance to win $100. It was a chaotic blast!!! I don’t know what they raised, but I’m sure it was significant.

Asher continues to bring so much joy to my life. He’s learning so much every day. He mocks everything you say. He says please, thank you, and you’re welcome. He was the cutest little skunk for Beggars’ Night.

Today was a quiet day. I needed it. I slept until 8AM and then went to work out at Curves. I was ready to stay longer and help out, but the woman who had scheduled a tour never showed so I came home. One of the things I’m really excited about has to do with Curves. Our manager got a full-time teaching position. The assistant manager is moving into the manager’s position. I had considered applying for the opening, but opted instead to stay with what I was doing (knowing growth was on the horizon). Anyway…Beth (younger daughter) is applying for the position and has an interview on Monday. I just firmly believe that she will do an excellent job. It’s going to be weird to have her as my boss, but we decided I’ll probably be okay with it since she’s been bossing me around for 24 years now.

Sunday morning…I slept until 8AM again. This is not a good habit. Nelson is cooking egg scramblers for breakfast so the house smells quite yummy.

I dreamt a lot last night and while I can’t remember all the specifics, many of them contained people from high school. I think the reason for that, primarily, is that one of my classmates died on Thursday. I knew her but she wasn’t in my close circle. She was diagnosed with liver cancer last year. And now she’s gone. I feel a sadness I had not anticipated.

I feel lonely, too. This week had much to celebrate and much to grieve and it would have been nice to do it with a friend over coffee or even the phone. On Wednesday, as much fun as it was, I spent most of the evening wandering through the exhibits by myself. I’m good company so I was sort of okay with it, but…

Well, the eggs are ready. TTFN.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Well, it’s Monday morning at 5:30. I didn’t go work out this morning. I’ll go later. I’m just a little slow on the uptake. I felt sub-par all weekend—like I just wasn’t running on all cylinders. Nelson worked on the back yard on Saturday and I am so impressed: it looks like someone else’s back yard!

Today is the first day of my new job. Not really, but kinda sorta. My boss has been working for weeks on a restructuring plan for the ministry. The more he worked on it, and let some of his ideas leak a wee bit, the more I got the impression that my position was going to be changing. I lived in limbo all that time—a place or state I don’t do well in. The one thing that became more and more sure in my mind was that I was no longer going to be responsible for the packaging program. That program has been my baby for three years now. Dan asked me what I thought one of my biggest accomplishments was over the past year, and I said helping to get the program moved to the new building and getting the new supervisor established. So I’ve been grieving the anticipated “loss” a bit the past week.

In my meeting with Dan I learned for sure that I would not be supervising packaging any more. I will occasionally consult, but my plate going to be otherwise filled! My new title is going to be Re-entry Program Coordinator. I will continue my present responsibilities in Huron and Erie counties and at our new work in Crawford and Wayne counties. I will be responsible for the participants from orientation through job-readiness to job placement and then add the aftercare. I sat down on Friday (I had met with Dan late on Thursday afternoon) and began mapping out how I would do all that was going to be required of me. In addition, I will be doing the TNet3 class in Erie and Wayne County Jails. It looks like Thursday will be my only time in the office and I will be pulling a couple of Saturday trainings in Crawford County. My contacts with employers is going to increase also as I take that responsibility from both Dan and Bob.

It’s a lot, but I’m terribly excited about it. The even bigger news is that there could possibly be a position shaping up for Nelson. We were both sitting at computers last night (he on Beth’s and me on ours) researching our new possibilities and talking across the hall to each other about what we found. It was comical, but fun.

Now that I know what’s coming, I think that’s why I got ick over the weekend. I had been stressing over the unknown and the potential possibilities. I tried not to, but it’s just the way I’m wired. Once I knew what I could expect my systems relaxed and bingo: earache. Here’s the other thing I believe factored into that. I’ve been reading about inflammation and how what we eat impacts that. Chocolate, while having some good things is also on the bad list for it’s high fat content. What I found interesting was that one of the symptoms I read about was itchy and sometimes painful ears. What was my comfort food this past week? I indulged in two chocolate bars (extra large). The only improvement there was that I ate them slowly over the course of several days—something I never would have been able to do before, but something I need to not do at all. I’m back on track with better eating and flushing my system with plenty of water. I know what to do—I just need to do it!

One of the challenges that my new position brings will be eating while on the road so much. I’ve preached to others that it can be done, now I just need to do it. One of the positives that came out of planning out my days for the next three months is that I can show Nelson which days I have to have “eat on the run” meals and when I’ll have access to a microwave to eat something heated. I’m also going to check into a good thermos for my coffee, and while I’m at it a thermos for other “hot stuff.” I bought Nelson one several years ago, I just need to relocate it?????

I’m also going to have to think about what I’m going to do about Curves. But I’ll save that for another entry.

Have a marvelous Monday!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ten Years From Now

So, my last post was a challenge to remember. One noter asked a very interesting question: (I guess they really asked two.) Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What are some of your goals you are working on??

A. Where do I see myself in 10 years?
In 10 years I will be 60. First of all, just let me make this perfectly clear: I want to be 60. In some respects it feels totally foreign to even say the number, but then again I couldn’t imagine being 50 either.

So, in 10 years I want to have completed a Ph.D. in Organizational Culture. I want to be consulting with counties and businesses about the best way to meet the needs of those who are difficult to place and keep in jobs. I also want to be teaching those folks how to adapt so as to be able to find and keep work.

I also want to have written a book. There are so many in my head. I want—no wait. I want more than one book published by the time I’m 60.

I want to have the freedom to live in Arizona part of the year with my mom and the rest of the year near my grandbabies—who won’t be babies in 10 years.

Can I see myself doing all that? On good days, yes I can.

B. What are some of the goals I’m working on?
-I’ve been gathering information about various Ph.D programs and trying to figure out how in the world we could take on that kind of debt.
-I’ve started gathering some of my favorite pieces and articles to show someone who could help me get things rolling toward something being published.
-I’m eating healthier and continuing to exercise. My mammogram and bone density test both came back good, so hopefully health won’t be a deterrent to seeing and enjoying 60.
-I keep putting one foot in front of the other daily—even when it would be more fun to pull the covers back over my head.

I’m sure I’ll think of more things, but this will do for now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

10, 20, 30

This came as a challenge from another blogger...These were my quick responses...Give it a try!

10 Years Ago
That would be 1997. We lived in West Liberty. We owned our own house (or were paying an enormous debt to do that). Our daughters were 14 and 15. Ann had just left for Brazil as a foreign exchange student with Rotary. Beth was liking not being in her sister’s shadow. We had just gotten out of foster care and were trying to figure out how to just be a family again. I was a full-time counselor at an agency that worked with kids in out of home placement and did some community counseling as well. I honestly can’t remember what job Nelson was doing right then.

20 Years Ago
That would be 1987. The girls and I had just moved to Kansas City for me to go to seminary at Nazarene Theological Seminary. I was pursuing an M.Div there to meet requirements for military chaplaincy. I soon learned that’s not what I wanted to do. I accepted a pastorate of a struggling church (Rainbow Blvd. Church of the Nazarene). I was told at that time I had the largest church any woman had in that denomination. I was also told to keep my nose clean because the future for all women in that denomination lay on my shoulders. A very unfair pronouncement that never should have been taken seriously, but I’m me and I couldn’t help it. Nelson was still in Ohio building a house with some very dear friends of ours—an opportunity we felt was too important for him to pass up. The girls were little and started school for the very first time. They attended a Christian School.

30 Years Ago
Wow, 1977. I was attending college at then Mount Vernon Nazarene College. I met Nelson fall of this year and was instantly repulsed and then madly in love with him. We were both in the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” He was Bud Frump and I was Smitty. We had our first date on October 8. He sent me flowers on 10/8 this year to commemorate the occasion.

That was a fun sort of trip…

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bigger Barns

(Here's the piece I wrote for our newspaper recently.)

Bigger Barns
Scripture Text: Luke 12:16-21

Last week I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina with a group from church. While there we toured the Biltmore Estate. What an amazing place! Two hundred fifty rooms. Forty-three bathrooms. Four floors. It’s nearly four miles from the front gate to the front door. Now that’s a long way to go to pick up the mail!

Walking through the house and around the grounds I found so many moments when the beauty and attention to detail nearly took my breath away. What I didn’t understand while I moved from one incredible room to another was why I had such an empty ache inside. Oddly enough, I felt the same kind of ache as we toured a Cherokee village where we learned not only of their culture, but also of the devastating Trail of Tears.

Further reflection has given me some words to explain my ache. Experiencing the extravagance of Biltmore and the devastation of the Cherokee reminded me of Jesus’ story of the man who decided to build bigger barns. It was all about greed and our inability to be satisfied.

This is not a new phenomenon. I find it astounding that in the Garden, where Adam and Eve had everything that they needed Satan was able to hook their greed and lack of satisfaction by telling them if they ate of the fruit they would be like God. Before that moment, did they know they were different? Did they long for more? They had everything, but realized in that moment it wasn’t enough. And it hasn’t been ever since.

This battle with greed and lack of satisfaction poses some challenges as we seek to motivate people to better themselves. For me it is akin to the difference between striving for success and seeking excellence. When I read scriptures I don’t get the sense that God wants His children to simply accumulate more and more, but He does admonish us to seek to add character enhancing qualities that will build up the Kingdom. The things we are to add to our life to keep them from being fruitless and ineffective include: knowledge of God; self-control; patient endurance; godliness; and love for our brothers and sisters (see 2 Peter 1:5-9).

In the story of the rich fool who built his bigger barns, he talked and reasoned with himself. Jesus is quite clear that his life would be required of him because he thought more of storing up earthly treasure than developing a rich relationship with God (Luke 12:21, NLT). Perhaps this would be the best place for us to start dealing with our lack of satisfaction. Peter must have thought so too, as he put knowledge of God at the top of his list. Communicating our needs and wants to God instead of harboring dissatisfaction that festers into greed is what needs to happen.

Setting the stage for the barn story, Jesus clearly lays this foundation: real life is not measured by how much we own. What he doesn’t say is that if we let possessions be our standard than we never will feel like we have enough. Peter’s list moves from relationship with God to relationship with others. That’s where our focus needs to be.

So will you be building bigger barns or cultivating a deeper relationship with God and others? Focus on the latter might result in a lot less struggle, greed, and dissatisfaction. Oh, and you probably won’t have forty-three bathrooms to clean or as far to go for the mail, but what you will have will last for eternity.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


The clouds were amazing driving to work today. I drive across three counties to get to where I start work on Wednesdays. Many times the sky forewarns of stormy changes, with it's dark, ominous cloud line stretching out ahead.

Today the darkness was dueling with the sunrise and the result was a panorama of different kinds, colors, and layers of clouds. It was so glorious and powerful.

On the way here, I was stopped by a State Highway Patrol officer. I knew I wasn't speeding so I was quite confused as I spied him turning around behind me.

I have only been stopped twice in my life. Both times I just got warnings. The first time we were traveling to my in-laws on Christmas morning. I was going 61mph in a 55 zone--out in the middle of nowhere where everyone else just flies. He let me off with a warning. Today, the very nice and young patrolman stopped me because I don't have a front tag. Well, I have it. It's sitting in the back end of the car. When Nelson had his accident last winter (rear ended someone at a stop sign when he hit black ice) the plate was knocked off. I left a rather heated message on Nelson's phone while I waited for the patrolman to come back with my warning. The almost humorous thing was that Monday evening Nelson and I were looking at the front of the car and he commented on how he needed to get that tag back on there. Day late...

Recently Asher has taken up a new pastime. He brings his little step stool to you and the game is that he counts and then jumps at you. We taught him that it's important to count when you intend to jump so that the receiver is aware and ready for their role. It's no fun and sometimes painful to jump and not be caught. So, now when Asher goes to get his step he begins counting, but he doesn't start with one. He says, "Twwwwwwoooooo." It's sort of sung with a southern elongating drawl. It's so adorable. Then when he jumps he looks up with absolute glee and announces, "Again!" Currently it's my favorite game.

The other night he put a variation to the game. He climbed up on his little step and turned around. He very gingerly inched his way precariously to the edge so that he was hanging on with just his toes looking like a miniature Greg Luganis. He announced, "Twwwwwwooooo." and "jumped" off. His pride at landing on his feet was incredible and he immediately climbed back on to the step.

Watching him brought back a very vivid memory for me of a time when I stood perched on the edge getting ready to jump.

In the summer of 1980 (eons ago) I agreed to be a counselor at junior high camp. I agreed, asked no questions, and showed up on Sunday afternoon well before the campers were to arrive. After the counselors all assembled we were marched into the woods to a ravine. We were busy commenting on the beauty of the location when some folks walked up and began to unload gear: ropes, clips, and gloves. No one seemed to question them so I kept quiet. Then the leaders informed us that during the week the campers were going to repel off the edge into the ravine some thirty feet below. I began to feel sorry for the kids. The next statements changed my feelings completely. In order to be encouragers and modelers the counselors were going to go first. What? No one had checked with me about this. The leader who invited me to be a counselor had failed to mention this little tidbit.

The next thing that followed was a teaching session to show us how completely safe this whole process was. The instructors must have stated two dozen times in their presentation how safe this process was and that they could be trusted. That might be comforting to the average person, but those reassurances never reached my quivering heart.

I had always maintained that I was afraid of heights. This lesson quickly taught me that I'm not nearly as frightened of heights as I am of crash landings.

I'm still not sure to this day how it was that I got into the harness and made my way to the edge of the ravine. It's quite possible that I experienced a dissociative moment. All I do know and remember is standing on the edge with a death grip on the ropes. One of the other counselors decided to tell me I was whiter than a ghost. I needed to know that? Another felt compelled to tell me that she could see my heart beating in my chest. I was sure she wrong because it was lodged somewhere between my throat and my ears.

I hung at that edge for what seemed like forever. I don't know how I mustered the courage to push off but somehow I did. The first movement caused my ropes to twist a bit and I crashed against the rocky side, leaving me scuffed and bruised. I righted myself and tested my brake. It seemed to be holding. I released and tested it again. Still working. Then I just let go and before I knew it I was standing at the bottom of the ravine. And I looked up at the instructor and in total Asherlikeness announced: Again!

I used this illustration when I taught the WINGS class on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday morning at the worksite. We were talking about whether our fears motivate us or cause us to shut down. The image works when we think about anything that we fearing to do. I was thinking it also applies to ability to trust God as well.

In Hebrews 13 we find the promise of God: I will never fail you or forsake you. It's a reminder of His promise from Psalm 118:6. It's like He's standing with the ropes in His hands, trying to assure us that we can trust Him, that He won't let us splat. Sometimes we can get turned around but that's usually because we're working against him. If we'll get it straightened around we'll land right.

It's good to be reminded that He holds the ropes. And we don't even have to announce the warning "Twwwwwooooo" before we jump--He already knows we're thinking about it. Now that's who I want to trust. How about you?