Friday, December 30, 2011

Who are the trusted?

In 1978, Danny Olsen turned me onto a cool new artist, Elvis Costello. I was cautious at first as Elvis Presley had died the summer before. As a junior in high school, I really, really wasn't interested in an Elvis impersonator.

And yet, Danny was incredible hip. An urbane high school senior with a dynamite smile and the ability to wear Jewish heritage like a crown, he was like catnip to the junior girls. I felt privileged that he would include this shiksa in his group of friends.

Elvis was just breaking big with "Alison," from his first album, "My Aim is True." His music was a big departure from the disco and hair bands that filled the airwaves. After all, "Saturday Night Fever" had taken the radio by storm in 1977 and young adults were doing the hustle in discotheques from Danceteria in New York to Osco's in Los Angeles.

And yet, Elvis rocked our world when he played our Millikan High School auditorium. It was my first taste of New Wave and I wanted more. Instead of the glib, glitziness of the hair bands and overprocessed techno grind of disco, Elvis' music had a raw energy that summed up the cynicism and angst of teenagers who had grown up a steady diet of Vietnam War casualty lists and the Watergate scandal. The strong men of our generation were sent to die by the politicians whom we trusted.

Although my favorite Elvis Costello album is Get Happy, one of my favorite songs, "What's so Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding" came from his third album, "Armed Forces."



As Elvis asked, "Where are the strong? Who are the trusted?" I only wished then that I'd known that answer was Jesus because I was wrong in many of the people whom I trusted in my 20's and 30's.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Should auld acquaintance be forgot?

Some vacation time has allowed me to sort through 30+ years of memorabilia--photos, concert ticket stubs, cards, and letters. The hard part is that I'm finding a lot of people whom I loved that have passed out of my life.  Some of them passed out of my life because that's the way life is.  At key junctures, like high school graduation, you take divergent paths and loose touch.

The hardest things to look at are the people I let go from my life because of disappointment or anger...where I purposely severed the relationship.  In some cases, it was unavoidable.  In other cases, I feel like a fool and there's a sense of loss.

As I look at these people from 5, 10, 20, or even 30 years ago, the bad feelings that caused our friendship or romance to hit the rocks is gone.  In the images I see people whom I've loved and who love me.  I realize that I may have cut them out of my life, but I cannot cut them out of my heart--ever.

Do I wish all of them back into my life?  Not really.  Only a couple of them.  But, for the first time ever, I'm willing to let their faces inhabit my walls and my daily life rather than being relegated to a box in my closet. 

I would never regard myself as a sentimental person, and yet, the first present a boy ever gave me--a framed pane of glass etched with flowers--still hangs in my window 33 years later.  Yeah, it's my laundry room window but, still, if I was a bag lady, I'd carry it around in my cart with me. 

I think I cherish these things because I never made a family for myself.  Somehow, I missed that class in college.  So all of this "stuff" is evidence that I've loved and been loved in my life.

My goal this past year has been to work towards getting rid of stuff that I don't use or don't love.  This means that a lot of the photos and cards are getting thrown away.  Some, I'll scan and then toss.  Only the special ones will remain...the people who have changed my life just by passing through it.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Perhaps

Perhaps, if I am very lucky, the feeble efforts of my lifetime wil someday be noticed, and maybe, in some small way, they will be acknowledged as the greatest works of genius ever created by man. - Jack Handey

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rockin' Rythym





Redeeming Corrupted Perfection

As I was scrubbing my kitchen floor today, I was singing worship music when suddenly, a dart hit me right in the heart.  I wept because my tiny Dad experienced physical death. 
As Parkinson's Disease chipped away at his body and mind, I know he prayed for the release of death.  But he'd always hoped that the rapture would come before his body gave out.

I chose not to see my Dad's body after he died.  Parkinson's Disease robbed Dad of his easy smile, quick puns, and baritone laughter.  I truly did not want to see his body without his personality inhabiting it.

Today I grieved, not for the loss of Dad himself, but that he had to experience physical death.  I wonder what it was like for God when his beloved children rebelled and turned the universe inside out.  Did he feel grief like this times a billion billion?  Grief for every living thing that would now experience decay and death?

No wonder why we had to have a supernatural savior and champion!

My eyes are still leaking but I'm trying to remember that Dad is home and safe now.

What would it be like to live in a body that wasn't breaking down and decaying? I can't even imagine it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Yak!

Finished spinning and plying the yak.  Can't wait until it's dry so I can see how truly soft it is.  I doubt if I even got 50 yards from 1 ounce but it was worth it.

The yak fiber was incredibly soft and dense.  The staple length was almost non-existent--maybe 1 - 1 1/4 inches.  I had to really inch worm along as I drafted the fiber.

It's amazing at how satisfying it is to experiment with a new fiber...to come to the end with a beautiful hank of yarn spun by my own two hands.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spike's Fish House = DoublePlus YUM

Spike's Fish House has opened in the Marketplace at Laguna Niguel and it's total yum.  What's to love:  the focus is on informal dining which lets you can buy good quality seafood for rock bottom prices. 

The menu is fairly simple:  fish + rice + veggies in whatever incarnation you want:  salad, wrap, plate or bowl. Rounding out the menu  two tasty sides:  sweet potato fries, coleslaw.

I went with the soup & sandwich combo which included a good sized bowl of tasty seafood chowder and a half sandwich.  My seafood chowder had big, plentiful chunks of seafood, potatoes, and corn.  My sandwich had 4 ounces of grilled mahi mahi, field greens, and dressing on a toasted garlic roll.  At only $7, it seemed like a screamingly good deal.

If I was feeling a bit more spendy, I could get a seafood plate for ranging from $10 - $14.  At $17, swordfish is the most expensive item on the menu.

The staff was super friendly and my food was prepared very quickly.  This will easily become my go-to place for dinner on the run.

Things from my office wall: office supplies from hell

Saturday, November 19, 2011

all through the night

Late last night and early this morning was EPICFest 2--the all night lock in party for the junior high and high school kids at church. 
  • They drank sodas, ate candy and popcorn
  • We worship together and Eddie taught the Gospel
  • We went to cosmic bowling
  • We played broomball
  • We watched Soul Surfer
  • We ate pancakes 
It helped me see into some of the kids and love them more.

When I started working in the Junior High ministry, I promised myself I'd stick with it for 3 months and then decide to stay another 3 months or to throw in the towel.  I started on September 28th.  I wanted to quit on October 28th.  I'm tired today but starting to care about the kids.  I wonder what will happen by December 28th. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rattled and spun

Today I was a panelist for the crisis intervention training at the Orange County Sheriff's training facility. Normally I just tell my story and go but today was a majorly emotional day.

First, our presentation was recorded by Stephanie O'Neill for a story that will run on NPR. The goal of her story is to raise awareness of the crisis intervention training police officers receive. Second, I got to "reunite" with an officer who changed my life.

One of my storypoints is that, during a period of profound depression, I didn't take care of my truck the way I should--unregistered, uninsured, everything. A police officer stopped me, saw my truck was piled with trash, and he cut me a break. He didn't take my truck. He told me that, if he stopped me again, he would.

That traffic stop was a pivot point for me because I'd tried to walk the road of profound depression alone and it wasn't working. Because of the officer's toughness but fairness, I was forced to get help from my friends and family so I could live and function at a better level.

Even though the officer didn't remember me, I got a change to tell him he changed my life. Stephanie decided to interview him, too. I don't know what will become of it, but I got to tell Officer Toyer that he made a difference to me.

Still, the emotion of the presentation, the interview, and meeting has really left me rattled and spun. I feel like an overloaded circuit.  A piece of me is proud and thrilled.  Another piece of me is really scared that, through the radio show, I'll be much more "outed" than I intended to be.

2012 "Bucket" List

I love to make lists.  But, to me, making a true bucket list is daunting.  It's too much pressure to think of everything I want to do before I kick the bucket and then even more pressure to accomplish all of it.  I guess that, even if it was full of fun items, it would end up feeling like work.

I can make peace with a one year bucket list, but I'm NOT calling them resolutions.  Again, the idea of a resolution seems so formal (liked work) and doesn't allow for a sense of fun or play.

  • Learn to shear a sheep.  In 2012, I want either to go to on a shepherding retreat or learn to shear a sheep.  It's one of those things that take my interest in knitting and spinning to their extremes.


  • Learn to ride a motorcycle and buy a 250 street bike on or before June 14th.


  • SUP in the Standup for the Cure paddleboard event in May.


  • Learn to use my rigid heddle loom.  It's been sitting around my house since June.  Even though I took a class, I feel daunted in chosing the right supplies and getting the loom warped.


  • Become a certified scrum professional and become part of a coaching circle.


  • Play harmonica in front of people.  Maybe not on a stage, but to practice with actual musicians.


  • Take a road trip on my way to Portland to see Melinda.


  • Go to a workshop on how to be a better youth group leader.  I know I can improve my chops by praying for the kids, studying "ahead" of them, reading Christian living books, and just showing up.  I think I want to go to a workshop to hear other people's experiences...maybe just to hang out with people who share my interest in it (passion for it?).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Punk Rock Girl

Punk Rock Girl was one of the most mainstream punk songs of the 80's.  It's lyrics have stuck with me for decades. Whenever I'm in a truly brain-numbing meeting, I think of "jumping on the table and shouting 'anarchy!'"

Your position has been eliminated

Today I learned that one of my favorite people will be leaving the company at the end of this year.  It breaks my heart because she's always such an encouragement.  When I see her, I automatically smile because I know she'll have something good to say.

Her Dad died this time last year.  She took time off to grieve and to celebrate his life.  She had such a great attitude about it.  When my Dad died a few months later, she said all of the right things that offered true comfort and hope.  I could trust her because she'd already been there and done that.

Thoughout the years, she's been a champion for me.  She helped ensure that I got training to be a scrum master which moved my career ahead.  She is an awesome sounding board when I need to talk a problem through.  She oftens seems as proud of my successes as if they were her own.  She is a person I can confide in and whom I trust.

My grief at losing someone who is such a blessing from my daily life is profound.  It's like swapping a 75 watt bulb for a 40 watt.

It feels like a terrible mistake.

I'm trying my damnedest not to let sadness get me down.  I want to be an encouragement to my friend...to remember that God has a perfect plan for her...an adventure...something new for her to do or become.  Maybe other people need her "light."

It will mean that a lot of the rest of us will have to grow up and step up. 

Things from my office wall: Picasso's mom

Monday, November 14, 2011

Acts 8: Samaria responds to the gospel



Philip (who was one of the 7 Hellenistic Jews who served in the ministry with Stephen), went to Samaria. He taught people about Jesus, drove out demons, and healed people. And because of what he taught and did, people believed in Jesus, were baptized, and there was great joy in the city.

There was a guy in the city named Simon. He had previously amazed everyone with his sorcery. People gave him all sorts of attention and praise. When he saw what was going on with Philip, he believed, was baptized and started following Philip everywhere.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard what was going on in Samaria, they sent Peter and John to check it out. They laid hands on the new believers and prayed for them, and the new believers receive the Holy Spirit.

When Simon saw that, he offered Peter and John money so they could give him the authority of dispensing the Holy Spirit.

Peter said, “Get out of here! You can’t buy the Holy Spirit with money. You are bitter about not being the center of attention anymore. ”

Simon said, “Please pray to the Lord for me.”

Acts 8: Saul rips on the church in Jerusalem

Acts 8 shows that Saul is a hardcore Pharisee. He approved of Stephen’s execution by the High Council and began actively trying to destroy the church in Jerusalem. He dragged Christian men and women out of their houses and threw them in jail.

Christians had to take off because of the intense persecution. The good news is that, everywhere they went, they told people about Jesus.

This shows me how passionately anti-Christian Saul was. Unlike the High Council, he wasn’t just a defensive player. He didn’t stir up little pockets of trouble or threaten and beat the disciples. He went on the offense with executions and imprisonment.

But, the sovereignty at God is at play here. What Saul meant for evil, God used for good. God let the persecution come so Christians be scattered. They’d continue to break cultural boundaries and move the gospel to other cities and countries. Maybe it was the only way they’d leave the comfort of their homes and church. I know God would have to light a stick of dynamite under me to get me to move past my comfort zone, into another city or into another culture.

It also says how much these Christians loved Jesus. They didn’t abandon Jesus when persecution came and they had to leave their homes and friends. They were sold on the saving power of Christ.

Waves of Hope for Asia


TransWorld Radio is celebrating the installation of two transmitters in Guam with Waves of Hope for Asia

For those of you who, like me, have a barbarous lack of knowledge about geography, Guam is a tiny island in the middle of the Philipine Sea.  It's easily 1000 miles from Manila.  Replacing the two transmitters in Guam will produce a strong, clear signal that will allow people throughout China and eastern Asia to hear God’s Word better.
 So, join me in rocking the celebration of God's word reaching our Christian brothers and sisters throughout Asia. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

So who is this Stephen guy?

In Acts 6, Luke talks about a conflict in the early church where the Hellenistic (Greek) Christians complained to the Hebrew Christians that their widows weren’t being properly cared for. Stephen was one of seven men appointed by the disciples for the ministry.  To be chosen, Stephen was a guy who was filled with the Holy Spirit, had a good reputation and practical wisdom.
Through the Holy Spirit, Stephen did miracles amongst the Hellenistic Christian community in Jerusalem, in particular, the "Synagogue of the Freedmen."  This synagogue was composed of former Jewish slaves from Cyrene and Alexandria in North Africa and from provinces in Asia Minor—Cilicia and Asia.
These former slaves started fighting with Stephen.  They couldn’t dispute with him directly, because the Holy Spirit gave him great wisdom.  So they stirred up trouble behind the scenes to the point that the synagogue elders and scribes (professional interpreters of Jewish law) dragged him in front of the high council. 
This was the same high council who had sentenced Jesus to death.  The high council was comprised mostly of Sadducees, who were upper-class Jewish men whose lives were focused around the Jewish temple.  Any threat to the Jewish temple or Roman government jeopardized their position in society.
In Acts 7, Stephen preaches the gospel.  He begins with God’s call to Abraham, continues with Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, and ends with Israel’s continued rebellion.
When the council heard his sermon, they were cut to the heart—but not with grief, but with rebellion.  So they grabbed Stephen, threw him out of the city and stoned him until he “fell asleep.”
And so, Stephen became the first martyr of the Christian church.

Standup Paddleboarding!!

WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOO!  Took a paddleboard lesson with Eden in the Newport Back Bay today.

Rain was scheduled so I'd considered backing out.  I was afraid of my lesson being spoiled by being cold and soggy.  I thought, "What if I'm supposed to love this but end up hating it because I'm stubbornly clinging to a lesson happening today."  But I made a deal with myself and Eden:  I'd cancel only if it was actively raining at 10 a.m.

It rained overnight so I thought that I'd need to cancel for sure.  But I decided not be be a chicken or a wimp.  I hopped on Weather Underground to check out the satellite photos for Newport Beach.  To my surprise, although it was overcast at my place, it was clear in Newport Beach and would remain clear until 1 p.m.  So I threw on a sweatshirt, boardshorts and flip flops and headed to the beach.

When we started out, I was super nervous.  I was so afraid of falling that my legs shook. Eden took me back to shore and made me wobble the board and jump up and down on the board until I felt more in control.  Then, we set out again, moving southeast along the bay.

Although it's winter, I didn't see alot of migratory birds.  There were some pelicans making dramatic grabs for fish, a few terns squealing overhead in their quest for brunch, and the occasional grebe.  The tide was fairly high and strong so it took a good amount of effort to make progress.

I don't have great technique but I like it.  I admit that I love rowing more, but it's not something I can do on my own.  I can't rent a scull, the scull is too heavy to carry to the water on my own, and it's challenging to get good technique.  With paddleboarding, I can rent a board for $20 and be in the water in 5 minutes.  I can imagine cruising over to the Newport Aquatic Center at lunch for a quick cruise around the bay.

I decided to set a goal to particpate in Standup for the Cure next May.

Things from my office wall

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tommyside up

Tommie
Tommie has been my kitten for all of his life.  Back in 1999, Mommie showed up on my patio with five kittens:  two black and white polydactyls, two black polydactyls, and one tabby.  Although Mommie was tame, her kittens were quick and wild.

I remember the exact moment Tommie won my heart.  Because the kittens were wild, it was hard to even catch a glimpse of them.  After work, I'd crawl on my belly to the sliding patio doors, edge them open, and then nudge the screen open just a little.  I'd lay there on my belly, chin in my hands, watching the Kitten Show.

One evening, Tommie was playing just around the corner of the screen door.  Suddenly, he came dancing past the door and there we were, nose to nose. He puffed himself into 16 ounces of feline surprise, too shocked to hiss.  Somehow, in that moment of nose-to-nose surprise, I loved his little face and bold personality.  That moment is a jewel of delight--one of those forks in the road that changed my life--accepting the little companion animal God made for me. 

My boy is eleven now.  He's a senior cat but, in my heart, he'll always be my kitten.

Things from my office wall: runner

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Double-edged Sword

One of the great things about having a computer with a webcam, built in mic, and MovieMaker software is that you can record your progress in mastering a new skill.

This, of course, is also the downside. Some musical performances were never meant to be recorded.

And yet, I'll cherish this raggedy recording (by myself).  It reminds me of my first day of kung fu and that it was thousands of punches and kicks between that day and the day I earned my black belt.  No skill is mastered without a big bucket of persistence with a stiff chaser of humility.

Things from my office wall: someone mooned me

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Challenge your Imagination

I think than challenging one's imagination is an awesome habit for humans.  It usually burns bright in us as children but ebbs away as we get older, tethered to the practicalities of jobs and mortgages, frightened by past failures and, slowed the limitations of an aging body and mind.  It can also be darkened by misuse.

Our heroes are those who radically challenged their imaginations--Nobel prize winners who break boundaries in science and literature; adventurers who conquered continents, scale mountains, plumb the depths of the ocean, or rocket into space; artists who bring music, paintings and sculptures into being.

Our imaginations are one of the ways in which God made us in his image.  The ultimate artist, He created light, color, sound, texture, movement--brought into existence with His spoken word.

Imagination is a cool way to explore the Bible.  In Andy Deane's Learn to Study the Bible, one of the methods* he recommends is to "put yourself in the shoes of one of the characters" of a Bible study.  This can bring familiar Bible stories and characters to life as you stand in Moses' shoes as God parts the Red Sea, as you stand in Peter's shoes for the first time he sees Jesus after the crucifixion, as you stand in Joshua's shoes when he first sees the Promised Land.

It may mean you have to do some research to understand the situation, background, and customs of the time, but it's worth the time to "experience" the event.

*Method 28, "Vantage Point," page 153. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Torrance Fiber Festival 2011

The Torrance Fiber Festival wasn’t a giant turn-on for me this year.  There was nothing wrong with it:  three large rooms of fiber vendors, a fashion show, a silent auction and some food items.  The usual.  I think the deal is that this is my third year attending and I’m not seeing anything new or intriguing.  I know the event is a lot of work and I'm grateful that the South Coast Handweavers Guild sponsors it every year.
Merino X from Morro Fleeceworks is spinning nicely

I left with a pound of Merino X roving from MorroFleece Works and instructions for sending my fleeces from rare breeds to them for processing into roving.  It's always a pleasure to do business with Shari.  She sells beautifully drafted fiber and is an amazingly honest vendor, always careful to point out even the tiniest flaws in her fiber to potential buyers.  



Camel fiber from Yarn Place
I also picked up a pound of camel fiber from Yarn Place to experiment with in spinning.  After spending 2011 in spinning rare breeds, I plan to spend 2012  spinning non-wool fibers (llama, bison, bamboo, cotton, etc). 

It was very, very hard to leave behind aTakhli spindle and an ounce of buffalo fiber but I couldn’t justify unrestrained gorging on everything I wanted--especially with three unprocessed fleeces waiting for me at home.


The best part of the journey was hanging with Mary, one of the coolest humans I know.  She, too, was nonplussed by the event but, when you’ve got the right companion, the journey beats the destination every time.

By the time we finished our trip we were famished and cruised over to Bagels and Brew for burgers.  At some point during the meal, I told Mary how I became a Christian.  It was a big deal for me because it’s not something I’ve ever done before.  I felt afraid of offending her or freaking her out.  But, she just listened. 

Dad always told me that, to be a leader, you can’t ask anyone else to do something you wouldn’t.  In working with the Junior High kids at church, we’re always encouraging them to share their faith.  So, if I ask them to be willing to risk their friendships by broaching spiritual topics, I have to be willing to take the same risks.  Otherwise, I’m just a hypocrite with less courage than a Junior High school kid and I should just shut up and go home.

Chinese Proverb

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Martha















Are there any chicks who play harmonica?

As I'm diving deeper into harmonica, I find that there are a bunch of guys who play but are there any women I can look to for inspiration?  Today, I'm so stoked to discover an amazing jazz harmonica player, Hermine Deurloo.

Here, she plays an amazing set with Candy Dulfer.  Girl power!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Two dudes who know what a guitar was made for

YEE-HOO! 

California Concert Date announced: Feburary 14, 2012

Loudon Wainwright III


Leo Kottke

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Road Trip - > Portland!

Hoody-hoo!

It's been nearly a decade since I've seen my friend's face and she's coming to Portland next spring. 

The hubby has recently been certified as a coffee q grader by the Coffee Quality Institute so they're coming to a giant specialty coffee conference in April.

I'm kicking around the idea of meeting up with the J's and spiriting Melinda away to Artichoke to look at harmonicas and guitars, take a class at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival, maybe rent a kayak or do some paddleboarding, and go to Le Bistro Montage or Pine State Biscuits.

Fish, Peach, and Mem
Mostly I just want to see my friend's face.  Even though we we just co-workers for six months 15 years ago, we've been virtual friends for the thousands of days since then.  She's a person who accepts me the way I am and is endlessly fascinating.  She has a keen intellect, a good sense of curiosity, and an excellent wordsmith.  We're friends because, when something piques our interest, we have to follow it all the way through to its extreme conclusion. 

She's vaguely Luddite--growing veggies and raising chickens.  Through the years she's made soap and cheese, brewed beer, studied history, played clarinet, sewed, and knitted and made books.  I never get bored.  We're never at a loss for words.

I suspect that God allowed us to be virtual friends because he knew that she's someone I can't do without but, if we were in close proximity, my Christianity and her atheism would drive us apart.

And so, I can hardly wait for the spring.

Burn, baby, burn (a guilty pleasure)

After a one month break, Burn Notice hits the airwaves again tonight. Watching Burn Notice is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s not a guilty pleasure because it’s overtly sexy. It’s a guilty pleasure because, well, it’s not PBS. It’s a shoot-out, blow-‘em-up extravaganza. I ask myself, "would a person of serious intellect and refinement truly be caught dead watching it?"

Even more, the primary male lead, Jeffrey Donovan, has had a couple of roles playing an extremely unpleasant jerk. In Hitch, he plays the ever-smarmy, Vance Munson, whose primary goal is to score one night stands. In Crossing Jordan, he plays an oily but charming attorney whose interference wreaks havoc in two murder investigations. He plays the charming creep so well, it’s hard to believe that at least a little bit of true sliminess doesn’t inhabit the man himself. And yet, I’m still a fan.

To me, what appeals is that the leads are attractive 40-somethings. It means that, just because you clock over to 40 doesn’t mean you have to let yourself go. You can still be fit and attractive.  Woot! Just watching an episode makes me want to do a gnarly workout and dive into a cup of yogurt. It’s really hard to just lay on the sofa and watch Michael Westen scheming and fighting his way out of danger. It’s the kind of TV that’s meant to be watched on a treadmill or elliptical trainer.

The storyline has worn a little thin in the past season but it still beats reality TV. I guess I prefer to lose myself in a well-constructed story than watch acquired fame turn a normal person’s life inside out. There’s something horrible about reality TV—feasting on the emotion of a person’s lost dream or painful rejection. I just can’t do it.

So, tonight, I’ll be at the gym, eagerly awaiting the latest installment of Burn Notice.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Couldn't let it drop

So, one of the things I'd planned to give up to assuage my stress groove situation was Wednesday night with the Junior High people.  In fact, I was seriously thinking about giving up on the Junior High ministry completely.  I didn't feel like it was a good fit or that I was making a difference.  I thought I was wasting my time and just getting in the way.

But something shifted during Pumpkin Palooza.

At the end of the party, I was sitting near Anson. Two junior high girls came strolling up--not from our church. Anson struck up this conversation with them about what they thought about God and what happens when you die. I marvelled at the ease with which he spoke with them (not at them), gently getting them to consider eternity.  I was floored by his kind compassion for the girls. I know it's exactly what Jesus would have done and said.

It laid bare my shabby reasons for joining the Junior High ministry.  I'd wanted to be part of a ministry because something was missing in my spiritual life.  I've seen an exodus of leaders from my church and feel spooked.  And I think I wanted some "Bible points" with God.  It wasn't about how I could serve the kids at all.

I thought it would be easy, that I could hang out on the sidelines and do tasks.  I wanted to be a "Martha."

I hadn't planned to actually care about the kids and their lives and their futures.   My heart's been through the blender a couple of times too many so I prefer keeping people at arm's length.  It's safer that way.  But, I look at these kids and think, "They're making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives...and they're kind of crazy."

But when Anson talked with those girls, I thought, "Dang, I wish I could do that," and I realized, "Oh crap.  I've gotta either throw in the towel or let my guard down and care."

Tonight, when I was gonna bail on the Junior High ministry, I decided to show up and let my guard down.  And I had an awesome time.  I listened and learned and laughed.

Maybe God will use me to do something interesting in the Junior High ministry.  And maybe he'll knock the "arm's length" habit off of me.  All I know is that hearing that conversation sparked a revolution towards the ministry in my heart.

Spindling

0225111130a.jpg by andersox
0225111130a.jpg, a photo by andersox on Flickr.
So, I've got a serious spinning issue.  This photo shows just a bit of the obsession with spindles containing Gotland, BVM and Tunis wool.

The Gotland is a lovely, slick silver color.  It spins fast.The Tunis is shorter with more bounce.  The black Welsh Mountain isn't as slick as the Gotland, but it spins very quickly, too.  And I could easily get lost in the depths of it's chocolately browness.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Schedule Slam Stress Groove

Today was a stress groove day. 

It happens when certain aspects (flaws?) of my character shift into overdrive:  the desire to please the people I love,, optimism, mild impulsivity, and the avid belief that there's so many interesting things to do.

At work, my inbox was overflowing with meeting invitations and requests for information.  At home, my calendar was exploding with all the the things I have to do (pay bills, housework, car maintenance, haircuts) and all of the things I want to do (exercise, spin, knit with friends, hike, go to a fiber festival, go to Bible study, work with the Junior High kids at church, paddle board).

I am blessed with over abundance.

But, this over scheduling also crowds out God...the opportunity to be still, reflective, and to worship without distraction.  It makes me snappish and tired, a poor reflection of Jesus.

This over scheduling makes me feel greedy and grasping, as though if I don't do all, all, all of these things, I'm maybe less? will be left out?  will miss something interesting?

So, what's a girl to do?  Go back to "7 Habits."  What's important?  What's urgent?  Then, go back to "Franklin."  Prioritize stuff.  First things first.

  • Things that make my heart bounce for joy:  seeing Dirk and meeting with UCI about teaching an extension class
  • The things that are urgent/important to me:  exercise, paying bills, scheduling car maintenance, working with the junior high kids
  • Places where I need to keep a promise:  going to the fiber festival and knitting with a friend
 Everything else has to drop.  So that there's room to breathe and hang with God.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Christian Zombie Killers Handbook



What I love about Christian Zombie Killers Handbook is that its author’s voice is clear, direct, and passionate.  In the introduction, his words paint a graphic depiction of what the dark side of human nature truly looks like and how it functions in our lives.
Organized into 12 episodes—laying out the leading theories for explaining for zombieism (sin).

I was initially concerned about the wisdom of building an entire zombie mythology as a metaphor for sin; however, the author nicely balances each episode, first with a story based on the zombie metaphor immediately followed by relevant, Biblically/scripturally-based discussion questions.
What makes the discussion questions so good is that the author doesn’t pull any punches.  He uses extreme phrases and word pictures like “moral insanity, ” “soul-crimes,”  It’s this use of visceral language that will make it appealing to teenagers and young adults.  The questions are really appropriate for teenagers who are sifting through everything they’ve heard and read, beginning to firmly establish the beliefs and opinions they’ll carry into adulthood. 

Christian Zombie Killers Handbook was provided to me as an advanced reading copy by BookSneeze.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My salvation Psalm

Even though I was raised in a church-going home, it wasn't a Christian home as the church we went to didn't teach about salvation through Jesus.

When I was a teenager, my Mom was born again. I wasn't. I got really angry at God and left the church. I was mad because we switched churches and all of the kids at the new church acted all holy on Sunday but were crappy to me at high school during the week.  I had many friends who were Jewish and, if God didn't want them in Heaven, I didn't want anything to do with God.

Also, Mom was super zealous.  She came at me really hard with the Bible stuff.  Instead of building a bridge, it built a wall between us.

My 20's were moderately wild and I made most of the poor choices that a person can make. In my 30's, I tried Buddhism for a few years but found it to be empty--but, whenever I drove to the Buddhist temple, I passed a Calvary Church.  There were all these smiling people having coffee.  I was still mad at God so I felt like giving them the finger as I passed by.

When my Mom sensed any softening towards God in me, she'd push me towards Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.  But I didn't want to accept God because she'd come at me hard and smother me like she did when I was a teenager.

Still, I couldn't get that church out of my mind.  And, when I went to Barnes & Noble, I started picking up books by offbeat Christians (Anne Lamott and Kathleen Norris) and was intrigued by this Jesus. But, it wasn't me wanting the books. It's like I was drawn to these books in spite of myself. Now, I know it was the Holy Spirit.

Shortly after that, I moved to Aliso Viejo and decided I should get involved in a church. I let my fingers to the walking through the yellow pages and found Pacific Hills Church. Pastor Danny taught on Psalm 19 and it answered all of my teenage rebelliousness. Sitting in the back row of the church I prayed, "God I can't go another day without you." 

So I always think of Psalm 19 as my saving Psalm.  One other tiny thing that links me to this Psalm is my love for reggae.  "Rivers of Babylon" by Jimmy Cliff blends Psalm 137 and Psalm 19:14.  Even before Ibecame a Christian, I loved these BiblicIal references that pervades reggae.  No matter where it shows up, the word of God is sweet.

Dear Dad

I miss you today.  Your face smiles at me from a photo on my kitchen wall.  It's 15 years ago and you're in your late 60's.  It's some random family holiday and you're wearing one of my handmade basket on your head. 

You've got a fabulous smile that reaches all the way to your hazel eyes.  You're not just smiling for the camera--you're twinkling at the person behind the camera, probably Mom.  I compare it to a more recent photo and I see how much Parkinson's Disease robbed you over the years.  It stole your ability to laugh and smile and twinkle.

When I think, "I miss my Dad," I think I miss two things:  the man in the photo with the dynamite smile and the opportunity of sharing the little achievements of my life with you.  It's hard to know that I'll never make you proud ever again.

I would never wish you back.  You're in heaven now, the man God originally made you to be.  But I miss your face, Dad.

111 days

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Best Leadership Experience

In one of the courses for my project management certification, we're learning about leadership.  The teacher asked us to consider our best or worst leadership experiences.

I have a couple areas in my life where I’m a leader.  I lead a team of writers.  I lead a scrum team.  I’m a leader of the Junior High School kids at church.  I’m part of a panel of speakers who teach Orange County law enforcement officers about mental illness.

Short-term leadership experiences are much better than long term.  I’m not cut out to be a long haul leader.  I lose inspiration unless I’m doing something that really inspires me.
One of the best short-term leadership experiences is when I volunteered to help teach 1st and 2nd graders at my church’s family camp.  We had to come up with curriculum and crafts.  I chose the 23rd Psalm because it’s familiar and because it lends itself to easily dividable lessons.

As I researched the Psalm and broke it into lessons, I actually learned new things about it and God that I never knew.  I learned that, in nomadic culture, that if you were dining with someone and they were attacked by enemies, you'd defend your guest as if they were your own family.  God defends me against my enemies like I'm his own kid.  Very inspiring. 
I worked to create activities that would provide a sensory experience to really instill the lessons into the kids.  We planned a night hike with glow sticks when we studied “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I’ll fear no evil.”

But for the actual camp, I’d only signed up to help—not to actually teach.  And yet, when it came to the actual event, the lead teacher bailed and I was left to lead 20 young kids.  I had no experience.  I was terrified but I did it anyway.
The very first day, I was exhausted by lunch time.  All I wanted to do was to clean up the craft supplies and have lunch.  But, just as I finished picking up the supplies, two little girls came wandering back into the room, sat down and began to color.

I was irritated but I just kept cleaning another area of the room. I listened to the little girls talking.  One asked, “Do you live with your Mommy or Daddy?”  The other answered, “I live with them both.”  The first girl replied, “You’re lucky.  You don’t have to choose who you love better.”
Those last words just slayed me and my irritation evaporated.  This little 7-year-old had to face a world where she had to make an impossible choice.  It let me empty myself and enjoy serving the kids for the rest of the week.  And it gave me a love for Briana and Susana that endures to this day.

Why am I learning the harmonica?

Well...about a decade ago, my boyfriend learned to play the harmonica. We even went to jazz harmonica concerts (Toots Thielemans). It gave me a passing interest in learning to play but I held off because I only had a casual interest and didn’t want to push up on my boyfriend’s new hobby.

A few years later, my boyfriend and I parted ways. I took a one-evening class on learning to play the blues but I didn't learn enough for it to be useful so I gave up.

Last week, when I was doing some serious cleaning, I found my harmonica. I decided I needed to either learn to play or throw it out.

I searched YouTube for lessons. They helped me get started, but it was difficult to figure out a systematic way of learning.   As I ranged around the Internet, I found the Harmonica Academy. I liked it because it's structured.

The downside is that I want to skip all the beginning lessons, hurry ahead and play songs. I don’t want to take the time to learn technique. BUT, so far, I’m restraining myself and dutifully learning single notes and scales.  (Okay, I admit that I downloaded the tabs for "How Great is Our God" and practice it daily...and that I researched how to turn sheet music into harmonica tabs...but that's it.  I promise.)

I'm giving myself 30 minutes a day (or as many minutes as my lips will tolerate) for the next 30 days to see if I love it. So far, it's awesome! My hope is to be good enough that by next year I can play with the worship team at church.

I firmly believe that you've gotta try the things that pique your interest (within the bounds of legality/morality) because it opens a brave new world.  Makes life interesting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Creer

My friend, Randi, teaches fiber arts at Creer.  It's been a cool program where she has taught knitting, crochet, weaving, and dyeing to men and women in San Juan Capistrano.  Her desire has been to empower people and help them gain confidence through learning new skills and creative expression.

I am so proud to have had just a tiny part in this endeavor by contributing yarn to the students.  It's amazing and delightful at how the students "catch the fiber bug" in the same way it's caught me and Randi and all of the other knitters and weavers we know.

I look at the happy faces in these photos and it's a reflection of how I felt when I made my very first garter scarf.  I must have knitted and ripped and knitted and ripped the first 10 rows over a dozen times.  But when I was done, all of my frustration was forgotten because I had made something beautiful with just two sticks and a piece of string.

Woot!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dirk Hamilton

In college, my friend, Martha, turned me onto Public Radio and awesome music. We'd go to At My Place or the Sweetwater to catch rising stars. One of my enduring favorites is Dirk Hamilton.


He's got amazing charisma and raw sex appeal but what remains with me decades later is his ability to turn a phrase. To call him a musician barely does him justice. He sees into daily life as a poet does. He bends words until they paint the picture he wants you to see. He's been compared to Van Morrison and Bob Dylan, which is fitting because they're of the same age. This reviewer gives a great history of Dirk's career.


Dirk first captured me with "Meet me at the Crux." Somehow the suggestion to "explain to me in detail how your urine hits the sink" has remained in my brain for decades.


Dirk's raspy voice and acoustic guitar are the perfect vehicles for describing the angst of modern loneliness in "Billboard on the Moon."


I'm also intrigued because his lyrics contain many passing references to people or events of the Bible. In "How Do You Fight Fire?" he talks about how "one righteous man could save a city" and it brings to mind when Abraham bargained with God for the sake of Sodom and Gomorrah. I really hope Dirk has a saving knowledge of the Bible. I surely would love to hear him for 10,000 years in heaven.



If you ever get a chance, Dirk is worth a listen.

I'd planned to see him this Thursday at the Lounge in Hermosa Beach, but the venue has been cancelled.  It kinda solves my Stress Groove, but I'm kind of bummed.  I'll hafta make do with digital so I ordered a fresh copy of "Meet Me at the Crux."

Always every age I've ever been

Today when I was chatting with Melinda, I mentioned that it’s weird to be closer to retirement than I am to my graduation from college. It almost came as a shock at how close I am to being done with my career.

I think the shock comes from the fact that there’s a part of me that never ages. Sure, my face has wrinkles and my sable-colored hair is getting shot through with gray, but I’m always every age I’ve ever been.

In my mind, I can transport myself back to my high school graduation when I stood in the middle of campus and thought, “For 18 years, people have told me what to do, where to be, and how to act. Now what do I do?” I felt scared and excited all mixed together.

Thirty years later, as I walk towards the end of my career, I have that same sense of fear and wonder at what the future holds. For 25 years, I’ve had the structure of working in an office, having a boss and co-workers, and achieving steady professional goals. What will I do when I retire?

My soul still feels as wide-eyed, eager, and adventurous as I did when I was a kid. There’s so much more to learn and do. And I love this timeless part of my heart because it tells me that God is really there because he put this sense of eternity in my mind.

God had a plan for the 18-year-old girl I was. It’s faith that tells me he has good plans for the career woman I am now and the 65-year-old woman I will be.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Rowing!

Over the past month, I've become intrigued with rowing. After church today I went wild and had my first lesson. It was amazing. As I sat out there in the little boat on the big Newport Back Bay, I realized why the disciples woke Jesus up when they were out on the ocean and a storm came up. (If I was them, I would have screamed and shaken Jesus awake.)
Also, the most amazing thing happened. There was a flock of hundreds of tiny sandpipers skimming over the water. They broke formation and streamed around us. The sound of all of those wings beating in harmony was magical. It's the kind of awesome beauty that makes you hold your breath and feel everlastingly grateful to God just to be able to experience that moment.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

What Comes to the Surface


Assignment is to take 10 minutes of “quiet” and “see what comes to the surface.”  The meditation is “what should I be doing with my non-work time?”

Hanging out with friends and even expanding my group of friends.  This is hard because I’m not a very good friend.  I’m not useful to know.  I think I’m pretty guarded.  I don’t think of myself as reliable.  I think I can be kind.  I’m not really generous.  I’m funny and well-meaning.  I don’t know that I look for what I can give.  Mostly, I want people if they want me.  Not everyone is that way. 
I think I should expand my friendships because…I love that I can share bits of my life and bits of my heart with Jan and Mary and Melinda and Helene.  And yet, I’m not even out there with these people.  My thought is that, the last people I dropped my guard for were Bric and Sifu.  I got burned and even burned other people because of them.

I need support but can my friends rely on me for support?  Maybe.
I should be doing something enriching.  Learning a language (but for what purpose), learning how to invest my savings (boring).  I should pray but I feel false and unskilled and a little scared.  I should knit for charity but I don’t really, really care.

What would I do if I had no fear and had money, money, money?  This is a question I want to glide away from.
I think I want a fiber studio but I hold myself back from it sometimes.  It’s like I make the space but won’t take the risks because I don’t want to fail and be wrong.  That I’ll make something ugly.  That I’ll devote myself to something and it will be ugly.

Time’s up for today.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Remembering Homer Anderson




March 30, 1929 – July 11, 2011
Today, I come here not to mourn my Dad’s death, but to remember his life.
Dad was born March 30, 1929, in Burwell, Nebraska.  He always claimed that, instead of a pat on the bottom to get him to take his first breath, the doctor held him outside the window in the freezing winter air.   That’s enough to make anyone yell.  He also claimed that incident had something to do with him losing his hair, but I’m not sure how that works.
He grew up on a farm and took care of the livestock, starting at a very young age.  In the warm summer sun, he sometimes worked shirtless.  His Auntie Jum remarked that he got as brown as a berry.  After that, he carried the nickname of “Brownie” for many years.
He was a tailback for his high school football team and graduated from Burwell High School in 1948.
During the Korean War, he proudly served his country as a radio operator in the U.S. Army. The men he served with remember him as a quiet and dedicated soldier, fighting together with them in several battles on Heartbreak Ridge. For his service, he was awarded the Korean Service medal, United Nations Korea Medal, and two bronze service stars.
After leaving the Army in 1953, Homer worked as a mechanic and telephone linesman.  One day, after repairing a telephone line in the bitterly cold Nebraska winter, he climbed down the pole, immediately quit his job and moved to sunny Southern California.
In 1957, he began driving a bakery truck for Helms Bakery.  After work each Thursday afternoon, Homer would open his truck for the neighborhood kids so they could feast on leftover doughnuts and treats.
In 1961, he met his bride, Darlene Canny.  My sister, Pam, was their matchmaker, telling Homer that her Mom really, really wanted to see “Gone with the Wind.”  The rest is history.  They married on September 3, 1961, in Las Vegas, and lived happily ever after these past 50 years.  Even in his last days, he told his caregivers that “Darlene really lights up a room like sunshine.”
When Helms Bakery closed in 1966, Dad became a letter carrier for the Postal Service where he was known by his co-workers as “Andy.”  As a letter carrier, he walked 10 miles a day for 33 years, carrying a satchel over his shoulder and wearing polished shoes and a crisply pressed uniform.  He cared about having a professional appearance and shunned the shorts and knee socks letter carriers wear today claiming that they leave just enough knee exposed to encourage dogs to bite.
He loved to come home at lunchtime and have Mom make him a good meal.  During the evening meal, he told us stories about his co-workers and about all of the pets and people he met on his route.  He worked hard and his patrons always remarked that they could set their watches by the timeliness of his mail deliveries.
There were times when Dad would have to work a second job to provide for our family but he did so gladly because he loved us.  He wasn’t always a perfect Dad but he took his role as father and provider seriously and he did his very best.
He seldom took a sick day but he enjoyed taking vacations.  He has traveled extensively through the United States (including Hawaii and Alaska), to the Holy Land, Europe, Korea, and Japan.
Dad loved to work and loved talking with people, so, when he retired in 1999, he volunteered at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.  He was a service room volunteer for ten years.  He said the hardest task was taking little kids for tests when the kids had no one to be with them.  His very favorite task was to help discharge families with newborn babies.
Homer loved Jesus and was an active member of Grace Church where he had the privilege of serving as deacon and, more recently at First Baptist Church of Lakewood, where he served as an usher. Whenever he met someone new to the church, he would point them at Mom knowing she has a special way of making people feel welcome.
He was friendly and could approach anyone, anywhere. When I was 16, my parents and I went to Hawaii.  After we landed in Honolulu, Dad saw someone familiar in baggage claim.  He didn’t know the guy’s name but walked over and asked, “Do you go to such and such church?”  No.  “Do you square dance?”  No.  The man was the actor, Kurt Russell.  And I love this story about my Dad because it speaks to the sense that his heart was still small town where you know everyone and you greet your friends whenever you see them.
Many have said how Homer touched their lives.  He adopted many people into his life and heart and is thought of as a father and grandfather to so many more than his immediate family. His love for pancakes with real maple syrup and strawberry ice cream are legendary.  He had a funny sense of humor and often made us groan with his puns.  He was a simple man and lived his life without an ATM card, cell phone or computer.
If you want to memorialize my Dad in some way, he would tell you to keep your money.  Instead,
·         Be an usher at your church
·         Take your dog for a walk and enjoy the common things you see
·         Goof around with your kids and grandkids until you laugh
·         Be devoted to your spouse and always send a mushy, romantic card on special days
·         Continue to extend love and grace to family members even if they don’t love you back
·         Have a nice stack of pancakes or a big dish of strawberry ice cream
·         Fly the American flag
·         But mostly, ask Jesus into your heart. That way, you can be sure to see Dad again someday
Good-bye Poppy. I love you and I miss you.
Love KJ (Kelly Jean sweetheart, your tiny baby girl