When I am not so warm and fuzzy

You know how sometimes a specific event triggers a realization in your head? Had one of those things. I want to install a peephole in my front door. The realization was not about installing a peephole but more that I don’t have to open the door to anyone, if I don’t want to.

This matches the moment I realized I don’t have to answer the phone every time it rings. I’m not a doctor on call, nor do I hold office hours in my home. My front door is for my convenience, just like my phone. Nor do I need to sneak around, pretending I’m not home when the random person demands my attention.

Yeah, I know, it sounds and feels rude to ignore the bing-bong, the jangle or the snippet from a song bursting forth. The conversation or game, or fun moment I’m enjoying with my grandkids, husband or anyone I actually invited over is worth more than the imperious demand of whoever wonders by my house. And yet.

And yet, I fall for it most of the time. Did the other day and it still rankles me. Am I such a slave to other people I don’t even know that I let them jump into my life, hold my attention, and interrupt moments I will never regain? Apparently so.

It feels like I’m ignoring, dishonoring, thumbing my nose at that person on the other side of the door who just Might Need My Help. Ah ha. Not so much about them but more about me and that crazy savior button getting pushed, again. And again. And again.

Once upon a time, in the not so long ago, people did not lock their front doors. Ever. Neighbors knew who lived around them, making note of strangers walking around. Kids played in (gasp)the front yard. Along with drinking from the hose, climbing trees and generally running from yard to yard in a pack.

Now we mow our lawns for looks, not use, decorate the front path to impress instead of invite, ignoring the front porch wavers. And the idea is great, romantic and homey. Since I grew up in the country, outside of town my images of town life included all the stuff I watched on Leave It to Beaver. And other forgotten shows. But you know, the Cleavers were not front porch people either.

Hmmm.

Have to re-examine my childhood images more. June Cleaver did open her front door from time to time and she never seemed to be in the middle of anything important, family related or otherwise. Come to think of it, she probably ignored the front door bell all the time. It simply never made it into the script for us to see. And I just bet Ward installed a security camera right after Wally and the Beaver went off to college. In case Eddie Haskell dropped by.

 

 

Advertisements

Worship=Warfare.

I had an epiphany last night (I love fancy words. It’s like hanging pretty baubles on the conversation tree-ahem-back to topic) about what it means to worship. I realized what worship really is. It is to see God as He actually is, recognize Him, accept Him as He is.

Suddenly, all those verses about seeing God, working with Him, fully, completely aware of Him and living in that awareness; all those verses now make sense.

I’ve always (and I do mean always ‘cause I’m not talking in fancy, exaggeration terms) had trouble with the idea that God needs me to brag on Him, that I must laud Him all the time, no matter what.

Makes God out to be some needy, self-focused creature that has to have His ego stroked or there will be Hell to pay. Sort of a cosmic Caligula. And if He is that, then He is not God.

In one of those half-awake, half-asleep moments, while thinking about what it means to speak plain words, I caught a thought. Worship means being worthy of adoration, praise, in a clear sense, as to see into the truth of something and recognizing the fullness.

Deceit means to present a false image, cloud truth with conjecture or pretense. A deliberate act of prevarication. An active lie.

Wow.

So, if worship is to be worthy of recognized, being of extreme value, then it must reflect what really is. And if deceit is the clouding of truth, the question to Eve in Eden (did God really say…?) was meant to question the character, value and worth of God. Making it difficult, if not impossible, to worship God.

Hmmm.

Making it easier for all hell to break loose inside Eve. Touching into the very essence of her being. Tainting her self-image, her assurance of who and what she was. Character assignation at a personal level, shattering everything.

Wow.

Sounds like Cosmic war. Or more precisely, a first strike of universal magnitude.

The words ‘Do you not know that you are the pinnacle of creation, do you not know that God loves you, do you not know that He would die for you’ ring inside me as I think about this. I can hear the anguish of Paul of Tarsus in his letter to the Romans, the sorrow of Jesus as he looked at Jerusalem, the stricken voice of God when he asked Adam “Who told you that you were naked?”

Worship. To be worthy, the state of worth above all worth. The beyond of the beyond.

To suddenly realize deceit meant to steal that awareness from me. Personally. To strike me at the core of myself so that I would be blind, cut off, incapable.

But God…

But God trains my hands for war, teaches me to bend the bow of bronze, and He delights in me. Because He is God and I am me.

And we win. Always. Can you hear my sword singing?

Details and ingredients

Working on a new short story right now and it’s providing me a chance to dig deeper in character development. Yeah, yeah, talking about all that writer stuff again. It keeps rising like yeast in a warm kitchen, so I best pat this dough down so I can get on with setting the loaf in the oven.

Small tee-hee at my baking analogy. I promise, it is the last one. For a few minutes any way.

Heard or read somewhere that every villain is the hero of his/her own story. Considering that perspective gives me a chance to develop villains with more flavor. Short stories, my personal fav, make every word count. The scenes, lines, set-ups are all truncated so that only the necessary is left. They can and should surprise but the result must satisfy the reader.

Life is kinda like that. Details matter but it’s all in the perspective. Some details aren’t really details, merely spurious data while some details reveal the heart.

Still patting.

 

What was I born to do?

Ever wonder what you were born for? I did and sometimes still do. All the whining about not knowing, all the grousing. What is God’s will from me?!

Wasting all that time being jealous of the apostle Paul.

Sure, God, you told him he was the apostle to the Gentiles. He could ignore other stuff and focus. What about me?

Well, turns out, once I shut up and stopped pouting, I noticed some details that eluded me. Naw, not eluded, more like honking, flashing big road signs I chose to overlook.

Stuff that sure didn’t seem like what I thought a call from God would look like. Like reading. Everything. All kinds of topics about all kinds of things. Biology, biographies, history and science/quasi-science. Finding out the difference and why it matters.

Asking questions, about everything. When was knitting developed, why human behavior is tied to culture, what kind of organizational patterns emerge in start-ups and why do they peter out? Wondering why I think in a particular way, and discovering other people don’t think like me. And that it’s okay that they don’t. Why music impacts thought patterns and color choices in décor. That general health is more than body function. The difference between people and objects.

The list goes on and on. I think about stuff all the time. I like it.

And God enjoys that. He called me to do that. What?!?

A person can be called to ask questions? Check out Proverbs 25:2.

Go figure.

But what about my husband, kids, grandkids, friends, Romans, countrymen? Sorry, extraneous details fly past my mental eyes. Where I have no windshield wipers. Forget the Romans, countrymen stuff. Shakespearian lines emerge at the craziest moments.

But shouldn’t the people in my life be part of my call?

Yeah, and they are because God put them in my life. And He, God, guards all that He gives me. (Ps 16:5) My job is to steward all that He gives me. No concerns about keeping things (or people) safe, that’s His job. And developing plans, procedures that grow, develop and prosper all He puts in front of me is my job. Knowing my office and my gifting helps me keep my attention on my responsibilities to share what I know to the best of my ability.

Kind of a nice delineation of tasks. With no worry about stuff I can’t control anyway. Hmmm.

Turns out I function as a Teacher. Not in a classroom, but in life. I ask questions, cast idea seeds, pray for rain and move on. God uses what I thought were distractions to show people mysteries and delights. And because I am all about Fulfillment, especially in people, I ask people questions. For their benefit. And sometimes puts wrinkles in their socks.

Part of the job is developing a sense of what to ask when, then shut up so other people can process what is going on. Kindness goes a long way.

I don’t guard the questions or protect the ideas. God does that. Part of what I have to learn is to trust His husbanding of people, His direction of what ideas to present and nurture, as well as which rabbits to chase another day. He knows what He’s doing. Kind been at it a long time. Me, I’m the new kid to this. It’s gonna be fun. Kind of scary, but fun.

 

 

 

.

Pleasure? Reward?

A few posts ago 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 noisy party.

Or 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-happiness. And of course, like any good grandma, I want them strong in who they 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.

Words are wild and crazy things.

They sound like one thing, mean another and often have different original meanings from how we use them today. I see you two passing knowing glances in the back ground. If what you’re communicating to each other is so important, why don’t you tell everyone else?

What? It’s not relevant?

Let us be the judge of that. After all, we all speak the same language here. Except when we speak Texan, which is not necessarily American English, at all. All of which raises the question, what is judging?

No. No. Not the topic for today. You can’t get me sidetracked. I’m unto you and your tricks.

See what I mean.

I bet everyone followed that little diatribe, before some of you fell asleep and hit the delete button. Yeah, yeah, yeah, me too. More coffee, please.

After reading over of my past blog posts, I saw a tragic but common grammar error. So all those hours spent watching Perry Mason was wasted?

AAArrrggghhhhh! Was and were, my own personal bugaboo. Should have been were wasted. Now posted for all the world to see. Or not. I’m really not all that popular. Thank goodness.

The truth is, I put something out there without going through editing. Please wait while I beat myself. I shall return momentarily. Or long-a-tarily if necessary. Basic grammar and I do not always meet in the same sentence.

Time to pay the piper.

What’s that mean anyway? Who pays pipers, whatever they are? Turns out, that phrase has been updated to the Texan saying of: Gotta to dance with them what brung ya. Also ungrammatical but oh so colorful. Several similar sayings cover the same territory.

Payin’ for yer raisin’. How you were taught to act will have future consequences, no matter how you try to escape. Similar to the mother’s curse: May you have children just like you. That one is only funny to grandparents, or people who plan to be grandparents. Kids do not find it quaint or charming, because they know it just might come true. Usually does.

I heard you judging me. Or rather I caught that eye-roll.

See?

Again. You did it again. And yes, I am talking about judging. Because I did get sidetracked.

Again.

What does sidetracked mean? It’s an old railroad term, meaning to be diverted from the main line or railroad track. But as we all know, the hero perseveres by stick-to-itiveness and courage, and because the scriptwriters arrange the details. Since I am the scriptwriter, I plot.

All these words, scribbling across the page. Or actually, appearing with each key stroke. Computers are magic. And words do mean something or I wouldn’t write them. I use words to explore my own ideas, investigate concepts, play inside the sense of humor that filters my experiences.

So words are wild and crazy. Fun and tricky. Makes life complicated sometimes, easy sometimes. One of these days I’ll take you on a side trip to where I think words appeared.

But not today. There’s this knitting thing that keeps tapping on my window. Wants me to come out and play. If I lift the latch on the window, no one will even know I’ve gone…

About Me, really?

Ever wonder what you were born for? I did and sometimes still do. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All the whining about not knowing, all the grousing, complaining. Just bet you know the drill too. What is God’s will from me?!

Wasting all that time being jealous of the apostle Paul.

Sure, God, you told him he was the apostle to the Gentiles. He could ignore other stuff and focus. What about me?

Well, turns out, once I shut up and stopped pouting, I noticed some details that eluded me. Naw, not eluded, more like honking, flashing big road signs I chose to overlook.

Stuff that sure didn’t seem like what I thought a call from God would look like. Like reading. Everything. All kinds of topics about all kinds of things. Biology, biographies, history and science/quasi-science. Finding out the difference and why it matters.

Asking questions, about everything. When was knitting developed, why human behavior is tied to culture, what kind of organizational patterns emerge in start-ups and why do they peter out? Wondering why I think in a particular way, and discovering other people don’t think like me. And that it’s okay that they don’t. Why music impacts thought patterns and color choices in décor. That general health is more than body function. The difference between people and objects.

The list goes on and on. I think about stuff all the time. I like it.

And God enjoys that. He called me to do that. What?!?

A person can be called to ask questions? Check out Proverbs 25:2.

Go figure.

But what about my husband, kids, grandkids, friends, Romans, countrymen? Sorry, extraneous details fly past my mental eyes. And I have no windshield wipers. Forget the Romans, countrymen stuff. Shakespearian lines emerge at the craziest moments.

But shouldn’t the people in my life be part of my call?

Yeah, and they are because God put them in my life. And He, God, guards all that He gives me. (Ps 16:5) My job is to steward all that He gives me. No concerns about keeping things (or people) safe, that’s His job. And developing plans, procedures that grow, develop and prosper all He puts in front of me is my job. Knowing my office and my gifting helps me keep my attention on my responsibilities to share what I know to the best of my ability.

Kind of a nice delineation of tasks. With no worry about stuff I can’t control anyway. Hmmm.

Turns out I function as a Teacher. Not in a classroom, but in life. I ask questions, cast idea seeds, pray for rain and move on. God uses what I thought were distractions to show people mysteries and delights. And because I am all about Fulfillment, especially in people, I ask people questions. For their benefit. And sometimes puts wrinkles in their socks.

Part of the job is developing a sense of what to ask when, then shut up so other people can process what is going on. Kindness goes a long way.

I don’t guard the questions or protect the ideas. God does that. Part of what I have to learn is to trust His husbanding of people, His direction of what ideas to present and nurture, as well as which rabbits to chase another day. He knows what He’s doing. Kind been at it a long time. Me, I’m the new kid to this. It’s gonna be fun. Kind of scary, but fun.

Fact or Truth?

Example: in the courtroom attorneys from both sides present facts, evidence that proves their case. So is one side lying? Not particularly. Both sides present information they want known, so Truth may or may not be revealed.

Whoa. So all those hours spent watching Perry Mason was wasted? Oh, wait that was tv, not real life. How about YouTube? I mean they spend a lot of time showing how to do stuff, how to win games, how to knit, sharpen knives, how easy it is to repair your car and not have to pay some ‘expert’. Oh, well, yeah, there is the YouTube and Pinterest fail factor. Which doesn’t have anything to do with my own un-expert understanding of details. Maybe.

But if they don’t lie, they must be telling or showing Truth. They have too.

Turns out, not really. A video is a video and can’t replace actually doing the real thing. Or grasping the whole concept of whatever it is I want to understand.

Just like telling is not showing, and imagining is not doing, facts are not Truthing. That’s a word my daughter uses a lot, along with Truthiness. She has teenagers and has to explain lots of things about life to some adorable people who think they know life because they are breathing. Like her at that age. Ah, me.

Because like it or not Truth is more than a concept, more than an ideal. A solid platform to stand on, useful for growth and not always attractive. Especially when I want it to be different from what it is. Because Truth reveals.

I love facts, research, word plays, plots and puzzles, all that in my head stuff. I love discussing ideas, building conversations in person and on paper. It’s magnificent tennis or energetic verbal football. It’s fun, and feeds part of me, so I spend time thinking, writing stuff down, rearranging the bits for the understand-ability factor. I can know the absolutely right stuff but it must be in a form so people want to read or talk about it. If not, those facts become leaves in the wind, blowing against locked doors. And someone will to shove them out of the way, frowning.

So, Fact or Truth. Rummaging, rummaging.

 

Passive. Active. What’s the diff?

Been thinking about how writer stuff impacts physical life. Like the old thing of Passive/Active verbs. Wait! This will be interesting, I promise.

Or rather interesting to me. ‘Cause my mind does go off on tangents. Or is that targets? I forget. Did you see that passive or active verb? Snuck up on ya, didn’t it? (tiny giggle. I do love this stuff)

Seems as how in order to Show, Not Tell, modern writers must work in active verbs. Here’s what it looks like:

Before

John was angry. [ As my writing coach Lisa would say, What does that look like?] Rewriting the same line:

Now

A red flush washed up John’s neck. His eyebrows jumped, now two angry caterpillars peaking above glaring eyes. A snarl ripped between writhing lips as spittle shot between clenched teeth.

See? I impress myself sometimes. Or not.

Okay, that’s great for writers but a funny thing happens when I consciously choose to write a clearer description. My own thinking or imagining sharpens, even when I’m writing notes to myself or a blog entry. Turns out, working to drop passive verbs makes other communication clearer.

What’s a passive verb? All those being verbs: is, was, am, have; stuff like that. Making a conscious choice to write without them slows the initial writing but creates more exact or colorful images.

End of the writer stuff, I promise.

When I talk (which is a lot), I want people to listen and so I train my mind to hear/recognize passive statements that force me to speak more clearly. One fun side bit, I see plot holes in movies now, or realize why some movies, shows or any entertainment uses fill-ins to hold attention. Endless car chases, repetitive explosions or useless cuss words, repeated over and over. Whole scenes existing without advancing or adding to the plot or the characters.

Boring.

And I detest boring. Especially when it’s me causing me to yawn. Heavy sigh.

Had to rewrite that last line in order to kill a passive verb.

I understand the thrill of the hunt, that drive to seek and destroy anything that gets in my way. Oh, wait, did that slip out of an unguarded mouth? I mean all this in the very nicest way. Or not.

Because now I am deep into plotting the next novel. Working title: Blood and Bones/Knight gift. A quiet little tale of vengeance, redemption with a bit of humor on the side.

Happy sigh.

Finally getting my desk clear enough to find a flat surface. I know, I know. Finders keepers. Fat chance. I clear it off, find a smooth empty space, turn around and poof, it’s filled! Never happens to you? Hmmm.

Gotta learn how to beat back the debris pile. What? Put stuff away? But…but…that takes disci—discip—nope, the word escapes even as I attempt to write it. And the meaning? Skitters away like bugs exposed to light.

Oh, wait, you’re suggesting I develop some self-disciple. Crazy talk. I have plenty of self-disciple. See right there on the far shelf, in a tightly shut box so it won’t escape. Can’t have that stuff running around loose. People might notice. Besides it smells suspiciously like effort. It’s good for me? Really?

Sorry, that cough jumped right out of me. The dust got stirred up when I was shoving things around. Ahem. Throat cleared now.

You were saying something about effort. I feel a nap coming on, or a fever, or maybe it’s the ice cream in the freezer. Chocolate brownie morsels in vanilla. What? Oh, yes, must stay on topic. Blowing out a deep breath, pulling in fresh air through the nose, out through the mouth. Ahhh.

***

Now you see some of the stuff that goes through my head. And the internal arguments coming with all those ideas.

Like what does it mean to make disciples, to be self-disciplined? How do we do that? And horror of horrors, what is supposed to happen? In church especially, we toss around concepts as if they were solid objects, which anyone can see, smell, touch, taste, hear. So how do those concepts become real?

For me, it starts with thinking about what the concept looks like. For example, making disciples. In the physical world, we mentor, spend time with, talk to, have coffee with… people. A teacher spends time with students, a craftsman takes on an apprentice to develop a few craftsman, students vie for positions as interns in organizations to grow their experience and try out different career paths.

That’s discipling. And that creates real results. Even in the church.

I like results. I’m a nuts and bolts person. The guts of the work fascinate me, whether it’s construction or programming, writing or prayer. How the end result comes about matters to me. The more I study Jesus and what He did, the more I find spiritual actions or results to be concrete, dependable and necessary. And it’s fun. God has got to be the best party guy ever. He created a calendar with a party every month, He constantly tells us to invite others in on the good stuff and He loves everyone who come. So this disciplining stuff, real nuts and boltsy.

The perfect Host, the perfect Event Planner. Gotta love Him.