World Travel on a budget. In Texas.

Took a short trip to Palestine. Went through Bethel to get there. Trip lasted two days with no jet lag. We thought about Paris and London, opted to skip Italy this time. While still speaking Texan. Ah, road trips.

Not sure if you can do this in other places but I bet ya can. People name towns for other towns and it creates a wonderful sense of Where Am I Really? In north-central Texas where I live, Midlothian is a 30 drive away, while Rhome is further north by a hour or so, give or take the traffic crunch. Corinth is a bit further, close to Hebron.

Not really sure of all the stories behind the names, but the one about Midlothian is most likely similar to several. Seems as how a homesick engineer, far from his native Scottish hill country worked as a surveyor, laying out routes and roads in early Texas. This particular section reminded him of the faraway place of his birth, and he named the small township, Midlothian.

In Scotland, Midlothian is a farming county, with rolling hills dotted with rocky outcroppings, a good place to raise cattle. Probably not much barbeque though. Steeped in history, lots of castles. In Texas, it’s a warmer version, most of the time, but when you squint, it could look like Scotland. Except we have barbeque.

And we went to Palestine to ride the steam train. Thoroughly enjoyed the town. True east Texas, piney woods and rolling hills with tons of history and pride of place. Did find a great place for barbeque, of course. Shep’s B-B-Q and Catering service. They haven’t changed the décor or the recipes in 30 to 40 years, smoker out back and lots of napkins. Always a good sign.

Sweet tea and marvelous potato salad took a back seat to perfect coleslaw. Not made with sugar, vinegar based to go with the spice in the barbeque sauce, my personal favorite. Husband’s choice, ribs, done exactly the way he likes.

When we go back, I get the ribs and he gets sausage. Hmmm. Best part? No need for a passport, no jet lag and no need to ask if they serve sweet tea. Ahhhh.

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Forgive? That?

Had a rough Sunday. Emotionally and mentally. So, like the sturdy introvert I am, I’ve been processing. A lot. Which led me into repentance and forgiveness. Actually, unforgiveness led to the repentance, which is hauling me to forgiveness.

Yeah.

The whole crazy thing.

Digging into it, I remembered a fight with forgiveness I thought I’d nailed down. Years ago, an event took place and I took up what I thought was an offense against someone I love. Carried that offense for weeks, a couple of months, nursing it, feeding it. Really enjoying the feeling of RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION. (All caps on purpose.)

But physically I felt awful, headachy, half queasy most of the time. And oh, so very grouchy. Nothing satisfied, felt comfy. I was Wronged. And other people were Wronged. And I was Right to feel wronged.

The guilty party? Not a smidgen of awareness or remorse. How dare they! The party I thought of as wounded? Not a smidgen of awareness of being wronged. They didn’t feel slighted or hurt.

Not really sure how it started but I decided I Would Forgive. Magnanimously, because I am a Christian and Christians do that, regardless of the Assault.

Yeah, by now, all of you are yawning.

So, by faith, I went to my bedroom once a day, said Father, I forgive. For weeks. Inside me nothing. Well, except the crazy Righteous Indignation started looking silly. It got to the point where I just started talking to God about the whole thing. One sentence. I shut up. Next sentence. I shut up and listened.

After a few weeks, it became a conversation.

Then one day, everything happened. I actually forgave. Without conditions, or criteria, I forgave. The slogging load in my gut fell off, the room literally brightened and I felt Peace.

The only solid memory I have is that moment. Light, joy, goodness around me. The carpet under my feet, soft, air around me like a soft breeze in a meadow. I felt alive once more.

The rest of it, all my self-righteousness, it’s in a journal somewhere. Remember writing the words but the details, fuzzy.

So, because I’ve done this before, I can do it again. With a bit more gold in the treasure. The word Repent, in Hebrew is related to the word, Spring. It means to turn from that which is cold and dead, winter, to that which is warm and alive, spring. And I’ve learned to repent at every opportunity. A gift of life in the midst of my own stubborn coldness.

Repent for even listening to the desire to strike back, allowing the whisper of Self Righteousness to curl into my heart. I do make mistakes, often when I speak first, think later. So, take the correction and apply it. God is good with mistakes. He wants mature kids and that means I’ve got a lot to learn.

Forgive the intended stab, forgive the angry glare.

Know that I was hurt, rejected, criticized and judged in anger.

Because when I forgive, all those emotions are recognized and validated. They are real. And forgiveness allows me to drop the chains someone else wanted me to carry. I forgive because I am free to forgive. The same way I am free to repent. The hurt, rejection, criticism and anger spoken to me weren’t from me. So I don’t have to carry them.

The one who meant me to feel all that still carries all that. And it’s awful. I am so sorry for them. I wish all the hurts, rejections, criticism they experienced didn’t happen. But it did and I can’t change that. So I forgive.

God, in His infinite Love and Wisdom, said for me to give Him all that stuff. He does take it. He doesn’t deny any of the pain or sorrow, isolation, rejection, abandonment. He sacrificed Himself for me and forgave me before I ever drew an earthly breath.

Because of Him, I can do this. The wound is there, but it will heal. Scars are signs of battle survived.

Right now, light, joy, goodness. Peace/Shalom. I am whole, one more time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking about Opposition

Kind of crazy since I don’t like opposition. Does anybody? I want my way, what I want, without regarding anyone else’s wants. Pause. Long pause. Realization sifts into awareness.

Because I also want to be at peace with those I love. And their wants, their needs sift into my wants, my needs. When I get to be part of bringing comfort, success or simple rest to someone else, that act gives me comfort, success or simple rest.

What I want is important to me. Sometimes.

Like this morning.

I hate yard work, the sweating, bending, weeding, hair in my eyes, grit under my nails yard work. My husband likes it, finds it satisfying, reassuring, peaceful. Husband’s cataract surgery two days ago meant no bending or picking up heavy objects for a week or more.

Yesterday, on cue, two dozen dandelions erupted in the front yard.

Those brilliant yellow faces taunted him. Each little flower means thousands more in a couple of weeks. Before surgery he cut down and pulled the stump of an errant tree in the side yard, making sure that section was ready for a new cover of grass. But dandelions pounced while he slept, eye patch taped in place.

So, this morning (this is me so it wasn’t before 10 or my coffee) when he asked for help, I pulled on garden gloves, took up my bucket and followed him outside. My grumbling stayed inside, mostly, and we got every dandelion we could find. I even pointed out a couple he didn’t see at first.

I still hate yard work, but I love that man. And in this instance, it’s his desire for a dandelion free yard that matters. His comfort matters more than my wants.

And setting my want aside for a moment gives me comfort. Crazy, huh?

Now if I could translate that small window of peace into strength for the bigger opposition in harder battles with people who matter much less. Still chewing on that.

 

‘cause I am the grandma

A few posts back I started talking about the distinction between reward and pleasure. BORING.

I heard that, or rather sensed the disruption in the force. Truth is, words and assumptions get all snarled up together. Result? That crazy tangled web Shakespeare mentioned in a sonnet, or a play, can’t remember which.

Pleasure is not reward and reward is not pleasure, although both of them smush together a lot. Both feel good. And I love to feel good. Oh, you too? Okay then, we are on the same page.

The big deal between pleasure and reward? Lasting impact. In my not so humble opinion. Both are positive, good results. No problem with pleasure or reward. That warm fuzzy that fills your brain when you smell your favorite perfume, being snuggy after a hot bath while you listen to great music, relishing the quiet after a busy day.

Or for extroverts in the world, that wonderful camaraderie surrounded by a dozen of your best friends, watching your favorite team win the Super Bowl. Sitting in the stands at NASCAR, whooping with everyone as the cars scream past you. Great conversations going on around you at a fun party, where everyone is laughing, as you bring in more food and drinks.

Pleasure. Pure and simple. Good. And it’s fantastic while it happens.

Reward? It is rewarding to feel that sensation, while it lasts. But simple pleasure is momentary. It dissipates, fading to a pleasant memory.

The thing we call reward has much longer threads, more legs to journey into the future. Reward is something earned, a return on action. I must do something to achieve it. The crazy thing about it? Reward causes me to feel good about myself. I did something that rewarded me with the pleasure of my own company. And I want to feel good about myself much more than enjoy a fleeting moment of a-a-a-h-h.

Pleasure occurs. Reward results.

Why in the world am I talking about this? Rhetorical question, but a good one.

My grandkids. The three older ones perch in mid-teen years, and our conversations tell me they have the tiniest sense of self-awareness. And of course, like any good grandma, I want them strong in who they really are, what they are and how to achieve their own sense of value.

Yeah, the let-me-leave-a-legacy thing. Which is a reward I want. And a pleasure to see it begin at the incremental level. ( I do so love big honkin’ words. As if you didn’t know.)

This whole reward thing came about when I began developing a character for a manuscript. He needed depth, pathos, resolution in the middle of a run of the mill mystery adventure. Wound up scraping the story, but kept the character because he became more fun as he dug into what made him feel good about himself as opposed to what made him feel good. It turned the story into something stronger and I realized this element of reward versus pleasure worked in real people too. Especially me.

When I find an acorn in the forest, I tell absolutely everyone. Ad nauseam.

Lucky you.

The cool thing is, when I say Pleasure? Reward? to one grandchild, he raises an eyebrow. The other two, not so sure they get it. Yet.

But I will keep talking, ‘cause I am the grandma.

This obedience thing is getting out of hand!

So obedience can get out of control? Is that even possible? In any good discussion, lots of talk rolls around the room, knocking over tables or firm convictions, willy-nilly, until one side or the other gets tired, lands a good blow or with one mighty leap, bounds out of the room, claiming victory from a safe distance. Then the spectators get the not so fun job of sorting out the debris. If any survive.

I opened this topic last time with a tiny attempt to make sense of what obedience is actually good for. I know, I know. That sentence is not good grammar, according to Latin, (a dead language by the by) but it works in American just fine, thank you very much.

Turns out obedience is one of those topics used to start fights or flatten the opposition, not actually committing discussion. A major missed point is the question: Obedience to whom?

Sounds very grammarian doesn’t it? The question still stands. Who wants to talk about obedience in the first place. Usually someone who feels dis-obeyed and Wants His Voice Heard. Not generally one interested in discussion. The issue of listening, comprehending is a big part of obedience. The action of agreement comes after the decision to obey.

And 1 Corinthians 15:24 infers something very different about the result of obedience. Power. As in the power to destroy opposition. How’s that for shocking? But ya know, in 1 Samuel 15:23 rebellion is equated with witchcraft and stubbornness with iniquity. Strong words for things we think of as small, regular emotions.

Power is in this whole thing, as well as control.

And I thought this would be an easy weekend mental jog. Yeah, right.

 

Obey? Are you serious?

Been chewing on something. What? Me, do that? Apparently. It sort of happens when I’m left alone with my thoughts. The toys get all jumbled together and stuff falls out. Go figure.

Back to the thought or more exactly, the word. Obedience. A tricky concept all gnarled up with emotional baggage. And yes, I can hear the strangled yelp inside myself. You too, if you’re brave enough to admit it. Obedience. What is it anyway?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, obedience is the quality or condition of being obedient, to obey. Here where it get’s fun, I promise. Okay for word geeks it’s fun. ‘Cause we speak English. Okay, truth is we speak American English. More specifically Texas American English. Not the same thing, but close enough.

To obey is to carry out, fulfill a command, order, instruction or request. The word obey comes from Old French from Old Latin. It involves perception, specifically hearing. In other words, you gotta hear it, then you gotta do it. Obey. The act is called obedience.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. What’s that got to do with the price of eggs?

As Americans we pride ourselves on our fabled Independence, freedom from interference in our pursuit of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Quoting now from something Tom Jefferson whipped up years ago. Which involves  obeying somebody or something to actually acquire the freedom to access those three items. And the ultimate independence hinges on individuals working together for more of the same.

And funny enough, this whole debate started long ago. In the beginning of the beginning, there was order, structure and the need for obedience to continue that order, that structure. Adam was placed in the Garden to tend and keep it. Because God said so. Yeah, I know, quoting a much older document.

So what’s this thing the Bible calls obedience? In Hebrew, it means to hear intelligently, understand, regard, receive; in Greek, attentive listening, compliance, conform to advice. So, pretty much the same thing. To obey is to hear, understand and do what is required. Most of the time to God.

Simple to say, until that old Me First voice starts yapping. Which is the problem. Oddly enough, obedience ties closely to power. As in the use of.

1 Corinthians 15:24 is the verse that started this particular trip for me.

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

Jesus, that guy who obeyed even to the point of death, gained the power to destroy all the work of the enemy.

Now that paints a completely different picture of what obedience is and what it does. Have to think about all that. A lot. ‘Cause, apparently, there is more to dig into.

 

To slug or not slug?

Ever wake up with the demands of the day whipping around in your head? No? Honestly, no? Egad, then once again, I’m in the minority. Wait, no. I see that timid hand barely below shoulder level.

Go ahead, admit to it. We are those who think. All the time. About everything. Heavy sigh.

Doesn’t mean I don’t sleep. As a point of order, I sleep very well. Most of the time. Unless the thought herd gets restless, meandering in and out of the files I keep in my brain. Which of course goes into another file.

And yes, at some point, I will have to organize those files. A bit.

Oh, all right, I confess. Organizing is not one of my stronger abilities. I tell the children they will get it later. When they have to back up the truck to dump the contents of my office. Or simply strike a match. But that means notifying the fire department before hand. So they can cordon off the neighborhood.

Or not. But I have warned them. Or was that in another file?

To get back to the point (because I noticed several of you slipping off for more coffee) the word slug came to my attention. Mostly because of editing an essay. Notice I am resisting the temptation to chase yet another rabbit. Back to slug. I wrote that outloud?

Back to point, how did that word develop so many meanings in English? As in, to slug or hit someone. Take a slug, a stiff drink. A slug nickel isn’t worth much, while a garden slug means disaster in roses. In the railroad industry, before they used pushers in rail yards, they used slugs to maneuver empty cars. When I am a slug, I lay around all day, goofing off.

Which I am not doing. Really.

The sense of the word hinges on context, because the root word for slug came from lots of places. Old English, old Norse, in the blacksmith trade in reverence to small bits of metal snipped or flung off, to another older German word for strong liquor, the slimy critter in the garden from old French referring to a specific fish, all the way to old Irish for a hard or killing blow. In newspaper lingo, a slug was a first line in a print article. And we do understand what’s being said by the context.

Unless the speaker has a lisp, which throws a monkey wrench into the process. I know that from personal experience. Don’t ask. S words give me fits when I’m tired.

Which I Am Not.

Much.

Most of the time, what we say relates to what we do. Describing those actions take words. Those little blasts of air explain, confuse, attract, repel, create images in our brains and muddy intentions all over the place. Which is why I think about them. And tell y’all all about it.

Tossed in that little plural singular for fun. ‘Cause I do talk that way.

One of these years the first part of some words will drop off, because of use or misuse (referencing that colloquial ‘cause I just did) and no one will be the wiser. Except for word geeks. Small sigh.

 

 

 

 

You’re not the Boss of Me!

Remember saying this to your sibs, or if you have kids, hearing them say this to each other? I do, both ways. Been thinking about what triggers the statement and the emotion behind it. Knowing that another person is not superior but acts like it, has no real power to make you do anything, but boy howdy, do they try.

This is a verbal standing up when slapped down, speaking when yelled at to be quiet! Feels good, sort of, and stirs up all kinds of anger, resistance, out-right rebellion, righteous as well as self-righteous indignation. ‘Cause some people set themselves up as An Authority, A Power. But what is authority? Seriously. What does that even mean?

According to my favorite dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, the word authority means the right and power to command, enforce laws and exact obedience or a public agency with administrative powers limited to a specific field, as well as an accepted source of information or advice in a given field, or arena of influence.

Kind of a mouthful, or more exacting, a mindful.

So an authority has the right and strength to make you do what is commanded, because they know stuff about the subject at hand? In kid talk (where most of us actually operate) if they are bigger and know more stuff, you gotta do what they say. Yucko.

In the classic television show, the Honeymooners, this situation is laid out crystal clear. The husband yells at the wife, “I’m the boss and you’re nothin’!”

“Yeah. Then you’re the boss of nothin’.”

Audience laughs.

Everybody wins that round. Everybody loses that round.

But there is another source to the meaning of Authority. The word authority (in English) is used over 30 times in the Bible, with 9 different definitions. Some refer to given authority, concerning positions, political and emotional, and in one case it really means to dominate. As in we aren’t permitted to do so. Most of the meanings have to do with strength, firmness and mastery.

So it sounds like the one in authority has a greater responsibility to help everyone else deal with life for everyone’s benefit. Hmmm. None of this, I’m the Boss and you’re Nothing, because when I do that, I actually prove I am nothing to speak of.

Ouch. Both ways.

What is a reward anyway?

I bet no one else experiences mental rumbles caused by all the stuff surrounding holidays. Reheard an old saying from my errant (lazy?) youth: Hard work is its own reward. Hmmm. I do not like sweating, or boredom. Hard work sounds like both.

One thought emerged from the morass, What is Reward/What is Pleasure? Are they the same, dressed in different clothes? I choose to ignore Work. For the moment.

Turns out Reward is rooted in old German meaning to regard or look at, watch over. Kind of like the word, tend; as in to tend a house or garden. Modern usage refers to Reward as a return or result from some behavior or action. It often infers monetary compensation for special services.

Let’s put all that in the word cauldron. Stir, while heating to a low boil. Simmer until a coherent idea glosses the top of the liquid. Pour into a shallow container and let sit until it congeals.

Wait, no, I’m mixing up images, again. One of these days, cooking will stay in cooking, knitting will stay in knitting and words, well, let’s just say, mental and oral vocalizations will Know Their Place. Or not. Rather like well rested toddlers, they imagine their place to be Out Here. See how they hijacked a perfectly reasonable discussion? Heavy, heavy sigh.

Back to the issue. It was here a moment ago, right in the middle of my desk. Once I move the Christmas cookies/candy/gift list…ah, ha. There it is.

Reward. A result of action. And most people see reward as a good thing. It gratifies, satisfies deeper than a momentary impulse. So the satisfaction I get from knitting a cap for a grandchild is a reward for me. Seeing the yarn go from a simple ball to something the kid desires is fun for both of us. And I get the pleasure of seeing him wear the cap.

Painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling had to be the biggest pain, physically and mentally for Michelangelo. But the end result, gratifying in a huge way. So even grand art, or composing or any of the art forms requires work. Hmmm.

What I think of as mundane, boring actions are only mundane in the moment or the result? I know that in knitting, reading, the stuff I enjoy but I learned to enjoy those things because I wanted the sweater or how the story ended or the information on how to do something.

Hmmm. There’s a funny little conflict arising. Sort of like raisins you thought were chocolate chips, in a cookie. Why does no one warn me of this? My tongue was set for chocolate and this was, aaauuuugggghhhhh, not chocolate!

So, work Can be its own reward? But, wait a minute, everything in my culture argues not so! Live for the weekend, do as little as possible, if it’s not fun, don’t do it. That other stuff isn’t my job anyway. I don’t do dishes or windows or vacuum. It’s boring.

Sorry. That last rant was a replay of an overheard conversation. Somewhere. Will have to chew on the Reward thing. Buried in this idea is how a Reward works internally so I feel good about myself. It nourishes rather than demands feeding. I feel a good bit of contemplation and experimentation coming on.

Or a nap. Whichever comes first.

 

New day, new way. EEEEEKKKK

There ought to be a different word than anxious about the crazy discomfort of wonderful, desired new things. That feeling just before you finish your driving test, and you know you passed, you’ll have that license and you’ll be free to go where you want, when you want and yet…And yet, it’s kind of nice to relax in the passenger seat, not have to watch for traffic, other drivers, approaching weather conditions, that looney insisting on texting while driving on the freeway ahead of me, now beside me, now speeding to catch a slot to exit, but wait, no. Not exiting, simply charging along, texting.

Could I just have a chauffeur? A professional driver to take me on errands on my schedule? Is that too much to ask? Actually, yes. And expensive. Cabs are not cheap either plus you have wait for them.

Already had all that drama about driving, years ago. And survived. But at different junctures of life, new stuff emerges. New pathways into foreign unknowns. Heavy sigh. And still, no really good descriptor of that uggy, excited, wonderful, scary awareness of new levels in life.

I did use my handy-dandy on-line thesaurus (spell checker is not always helpful. Took me several letters erased, repeated, erased to get anything close of correct on how to spell thesaurus) and it had suggestions. None of which I liked.

As a kid, I loved the excitement of Christmas morning, but I really loved the warm quiet of settling in with that long-wanted-new-smell book, surrounded by new clothes and other stuff I’ve long forgotten but so enjoyed then. The hustle, hustle was over and quiet appreciation covered everyone.

Quiet. Peace. Awareness and time to savor. That part I still love. And new routines usually work into good methods. Even as I write about how my insides wriggle and twist at new levels of life, I know the after time will slip in and it will be good. Writing about it works for me. And honestly, holds the anxiety at bay.

So new stuff on the horizon, I salute you. Welcome you. Anticipate the freshness you carry and look forward to a long and worthy partnership. It will be Good. After I stuff that last remaining fretting quiver back down in the back of the cabinet. Under the stairs. In the basement.