Thursday, July 31, 2008

eMoTiOnAl sChIzOpHrEnIa

When did it happen? The change, I mean. The transformation from singularity to multiplicity Really, life was simpler when something inside of me took a barometer reading of all my emotions and awarded "control" to the strongest one. 

If I was happy, happy, happy, then that feeling served to override minor set backs and other disturbances in the universe. When my heart was broken, the hurt or the anger (depending on who did the breaking and how, usually) kept me from rejoicing over the daily miracles all around me, including those in my life who would do just about anything to help me mend and grow.

Somewhere along the way, things changed. I started feeling (deeply) conflicting emotions and instead of battling for supremacy, they found ways to co-exist.  My heart can be breaking over a terrifying diagnosis and doing the happy dance with a friend who has just seen the ultra sound of their first grand baby. Neither emotion diminishing the other. 

I used to think that adults were insincere or in denial of reality when they demonstrated what I perceived as a kind of emotional schizophrenia. And I suspect, really, that sometimes they were. But not always.

Where did I confirm this?  Did I call Oprah to find out the flavor of the day opinion on this topic? (Yeah, like I have her phone number.) No. I read the Psalms. "How long, O Lord, will you hide you face from me forever?!" and "I trust in your unfailing love..." are about 2 sentences apart in Psalm 13. I have heard some say that David  had a change of heart. I don't think so. In fact, I'm pretty confident that his heart held both of those emotions at once. 

So, life may have been simpler then -- living one emotion at a time. But it's better now.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mississippi Caviar

I had an appointment on the west side of town Monday afternoon and when I exited the highway I practically ran smack dab into a brand new Whole Foods. After my appointment (got there early, got out early), I took the time to stop in for a look around.

If you have never been to a Whole Food Store, it may help you to know that it's a lot like (but not exactly) Wild Oats.  It is less like Trader Joe's, but they are more alike than any of them are like Kroger/Publix/Marsh in general. 

The whole experience is almost decadent.  No kidding -- everything is "perfect."  The produce is fresh and colorful and arranged with precision. The meats/poultry/seafood is too. I could hardly take my eyes off the Atlantic salmon and the tuna steaks (wild caught).  

I skipped the aisles with tall shelves (all well-faced and filled with all sorts of specialty products, many organic). 

The next section that caught my fancy was the olive bar ($9.99 lb.) and the cheese section. I did have a nibble sample of one cheese that was delicious. 

Next are coffees and teas -- both bulk for purchase and a bar for immediate consumption. Nestled next to that: bakery and desserts, of course. I looked away quickly.

Finally, deli which included beautiful sandwich meats (I sampled some snobby salami, super thin sliced and thought for a moment I was on the Food Network with one of the Italian chefs...) and miles and miles of salads and hot dishes from all over the world. The curries... The hummus... WOW.

I brought home just a few things: some huge & beautiful raspberries, a pineapple, and two deli containers with just a bit of yum in them. One is called Babylonian something -- it is a couple different grains with dried fruit and nuts and a "dressing" made of juice and a little oil and spices.   The other (picture above) is called Mississippi Caviar. It is black eyed peas, onion, tomato, sweet pepper, jalapeno, vinegar and some spices including cumin and herbs including cilantro. I'm taking that to work for my lunch today. 

I found myself thinking that I could love shopping there every day for just what I needed for the day -- and also how I felt self-conscious in there. Like all the staff and all the other shoppers knew more about the foods and had more of a "right" to be there. Funny how "high end" stores can do that. I was glad I'd worn my 3- strands of pearls, no matter how "fake" they might be. 

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stories that motivate...or don't...

This morning at Northland, Joel Hunter illustrated a point he was making about effective and ineffective methods of influencing people (specifically how fathers influence their children to live godly, productive lives) which I found fascinating.

He'd been weaving in and out of talking about ways that fathers make their kids deep-down angry -- that one way is to not set boundaries and not be in control and that another way is to say and do things that make your kids feel like they can never satisfy you or meet your expectations. There are weeks worth of unpacking that could be done on those topics alone. From my 11 years as a high school teacher I can give many examples to illustrate those points

Anyhow, he was encouraging fathers to respond to their kids' achievements with affirmation and expressions of pride and celebration. He didn't imply that there is never room to have the "you can do better" discussion -- but that it should come later.  

An interesting study he'd read brought this all home.

A study was done of kids who were known to lie with some consistency. The question the study wanted to answer was "what kind of story will make a kid lie less?"  One group of kids was told the story of the boy who cried wolf which illustrates the horrid consequences of telling lies. Though very attentive to the story and "shocked" by the outcome (the boy is eaten by the wolves in the version they told), they showed no measurable difference in their lying as a result of having heard the story.

The second group was told the story (the fable) of George Washington cutting down his father's beloved cherry tree and then confessing that action when asked. His father's response that his honesty in owning his actions was more valuable to him than an orchard full of cherry trees captured the attention of the listeners. However, this group was impacted beyond the moment. They showed a marked decline in lying instances after hearing that story.

What might we learn from this?  

We may learn about the power of stories to change behavior, and that's a good thing. And learning this may help us to tell the stories of Scripture better -- to not "moralize" them all the time -- a pretty common tendency and one which admittedly drives me batty.  

Beyond that, I think I'm learning more about the power of love and affirmation expressed clearly and consistently. And that makes we wonder how I can get better at it. So much to learn...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lessons from the Summer of '71

When I was in the 3rd grade, we moved from Lakewood (Denver suburb) to Oak Lawn (Chicago suburb). While in transition to a home my parents purchased, we lived in a rental for 9 months or so on 79th Street South, west of Cicero Avenue (those familiar with Chicago are the only ones who will care about that detail -- and I Google.mapped it and discovered that the house and lot where I lived are now a parking lot) in Burbank. 

There are many stories to be told from that rental (whose former tenants had been a stripper and her drummer boyfriend) and that neighborhood.  I'll limit myself to one of those today.

One of my fond memories is of the neighbors who were on the other side of the empty lot across the street. I cannot remember their names, but they were really kind and fun.  Two girls -- both a good bit older than I -- took me under their wing and taught me some important lessons. 

First, they introduced me to softball -- and for that the empty lot came in quite handy.

Second, they introduced me to jump rope. Oh, I'd learned to jump in gym class, but not double dutch. We weren't really that good (I've seen really good) but we had fun with the sing-song rhymes and the teamwork. I loved that the point was not to trip up the jumper, but to keep that jumper hopping as long as possible. We were forever trying to break our own records. The goal that superseded any sense of competition was that we'd all be successful. 

What I remember from learning this skill, however, is more indicative of my temperament than I would have understood at the time. 

First, I was sure at the beginning that I probably couldn't do it, but I really wanted to and I was influenced to try by the encouragement of those girls. 

Once I started to get the hang of it, my respect for those who could do it well increased and my desire to be innovative grew. I more readily celebrated the creativity of others -- even in their failure.  

Even when I was pretty confident in what I could and couldn't do, I still hesitated more than others just before jumping into the action.  While others would just barely get the rhythm and jump right in, I held back to make sure. Sometimes I needed a kick in the seat of the proverbial pants. However, once I jumped in, I always wondered why it had taken me so long to do so. 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

QUOTE: G.K. Chesterton on Fairy Tales

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." — G. K. Chesterton

Monday, July 21, 2008

Healing. Wholeness. Forgiveness.

(Note to parents: This video is not for young children. Note to kids: If you are not old enough to go to high school, get permission to watch this from your parent before you watch this.)

It is the Word of God in the heart languaged that brings healing -- yes, by the power of the Holy Spirit. THe Word - living and active, like a double edged sword, able to divide bone from marrow. This is the tool that God uses to cut out the cancer of hate and the infection that is a grudge so that healing can begin. This is a story for all of us.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


For my whole life I've listened to conversations (sometimes arguments) about worship. When I was a kid, one particular Christmas musical program we did used drums and that about split the church. Or so it seemed.  At the very least, it made some people really cranky.

I've seen this issue split churches. I've also seen it turn otherwise relatively sane human beings into crazy people at times. I sat in a church business meeting where someone was making their point about the leadership's bias toward one style of worship over another by noting the number of minutes in each worship service which were given to those different styles. (Great use of the digital watch's stop watch feature, wouldn't you say?)

I'm afraid I've gotten caught up in some of what I think now are the silly around this topic. In the heat of the moment, I've made some pretty ridiculous statements. I own the fact that I used to think more about worship style as it would potentially impact visitors (calling them "seekers" did make it sound more spiritual in the midst of the discussion). Now I wonder how much of that was my Boomer need to appear "cool" or to be accepted. 

Worship is an intimate expression of adoration and submission and celebration from the Bride (the Church) to the Bridegroom (Christ) and so what guests think or feel about it shouldn't ultimately matter. In fact, it is likely that they won't understand it all. And while that doesn't mean we should use that as an excuse for making our worship inaccessible to those who truly are seeking God and beginning a relationship with him through his church, it does change the way I think.

Lately I've been thinking more and more about what we should pay attention to when "evaluating" worship and realized that the primary question to ask is whether God accepts it as worship and is himself pleased.  He has given us some clear direction on that matter in His Word.

Then I consider whether the worship is a thoughtful and meaningful expression by the worshipper (Scripture tells us to worship in Spirit and in Truth, with a clear mind and an engaged heart.) What does that look like (And doesn't it all look different?)

And then those things are somewhat complicated by the reality that corporate worship is different than private worship.  Somehow when a group comes together to worship, there is value in harmonizing our voices -- yes, literally, but even more so figuratively. 

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bob's Lanai

Bob often speaks fondly of the time he spends on his lanai in his Facebook status. People have noticed. This week, one of the guys at Wycliffe created a "Bob's Lanai" Group of Facebook so we can all enjoy this paradise.

Of course I couldn't resist and have created a bit of a logo for "Bob's Lanai" and, from that, have created Flair (available upon request -- of course, if you are not aware of what Flair is and you don't have or want to have a Facebook page, don't ask for it).

Then there is this photo of Bob...not really on his lanai, but with a "fake" background (from a photo a friend shared with me from their vacation to some island in the Caribbean) and, of course, Bob is wearing the "Bob's Lanai" button that looks like the Flair.

So, what is it about all of this that amuses me so much?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Happy Birthday, Uncle Cam

Today would have been William Cameron Townsend's 112th birthday.

When young Townsend tried to sell Spanish Bibles in Guatemala in 1917-18, he discovered that the majority of the people he met did not understand Spanish. Neither did they have a written form of their own language, Cakchiquel. Townsend abandoned his attempts to sell Bibles and began living among the Cakchiquels. He learned their language, created an alphabet for it, analyzed the grammar, and translated the New Testament in only ten years.

Concerned about other minority language groups, Townsend opened Camp Wycliffe in Arkansas in the summer of 1934. Named for the first translator of the entire English New Testament, the camp was designed to train young people in basic linguistics and translation methods. Two students enrolled.

The following year, after a training session with five men in attendance, Townsend took the five to Mexico to begin field work. From this small beginning has grown a global Bible translation movement that birthed a number of organizatins including SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Cestrum Nocturnum

I was headed to bed an hour ago when I stepped outside to move the cushions from the patio furniture in case of rain. 

It was quiet and I couldn't resist. 

Sitting for a while, I watch lightening and enjoyed the breeze both for its coolness and it aroma. My night blooming jasmine (cestrum nocturnum) is blooming right now. Amazing. Such little blooms and such a powerful, delicious scent. 

"What do you want me to bring you?"

When friends are traveling and they ask this question (not all do, and that's a good think -'cuz really, how much stuff do any of us need or even want?) my first internal response is A ROCK! A big, cool, meaningful rock. But I resist that urge, knowing how ridiculous it would be to expect people to be hauling stones of any size in their luggage. Especially in a day when the weight limit is shrinking and luggage fees are being charged left and right.

The second internal response is CASH MONEY. That usually gets a laugh, but I'm serious. I have a jar of coins from all over and from different eras. No, not like a "collector" in the technical sense -- but yes, a collection. I have Italian coins from when my uncle was there in WWII. I have coins from almost all of the places I've visited and a lot of places my friends have visited or lived. Those coins are kept in a glass cube on my desk at home.

In a hand-carved wooden box I also keep a collection of paper money from many of these same places and friends. I love the variety of images and color and even sizes of the money. Often things about the nation and it's cultures are revealed or represented on the bills. I think that one or two of the bills i have may be worth a couple of bucks, but most of them are valued at less.

So yeah, if you ask me what you should bring me when you come from where ever you live in the world or from some globe-hopping of your own, the answer is easy. Cash money. No gift wrap required.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Lokpa are Celebrating!!

Rob and Lois moved from their home in the UK to the African nation of Benin where they serve in the Bible translation movment. Rob is an ethnomusichologist. Their blog is really engaging. I've linked the title above to it so you can see for yourself. The photos are worth the "journey" and time.

The photo at the right is of a man playing a traditional 2-string Ncam guitar.

The blog entry you'll be taken to by clicking on the title is about the Lokpa's recent Scripture celebration. It includes photos and video.

Happy Birthday, Sandy

If you've been reading my blog this Spring, you've been introduced to Sandy in some pretty fun ways -- not the least of which is a video she made for me of her eating a Chicago Dog "for me" when she was recently in the Windy City.

Sandy barely remembers when we first met -- and I really am okay with that -- in Kuala Lumpur at an International Communications gathering back in...a few years ago. We at lunch together (as you do when there is a conference and a buffet line and many tables) one day. I remember thinking that I would like to know her, but at the time she lived in ASIA and I lived in the STATES and our jobs were not ones that would cause our paths cross. You know how that stuff goes.

Last year at the Wycliffe USA Delegate Conference we met again -- and this time we had a few conversations. I thought the same thing, though with a bit more "hope" as she'd recently moved to Dallas for a while and that meant our paths could cross more easily. Finally we did have lunch one time when I was over there for other meetings... Then my Spring 2008 travels and her Spring 2008 travels put us in two places at the same time with some time between things to let a friendship have a chance to start. It did.

Sandy loves to laugh. She can make me laugh (always good) and laughs at me when I think I'm funny (also good...for me, anyhow) and even laughs at me when I'm too serious about myself and really need to laugh too.

She is up for an adventure most of the time. She can even goad me into joining the fun -- for an example of that, I refer you to the balut video.

She is a coffee snob (I'm okay with that). I'm sort of one of those too...

While we seem to have a lot in common in our "wiring" -- similar Meyers Briggs profiles and dIsc profiles (and we both have short blond hair), we are also different in ways that have helped us to understand each other's "stuff" pretty quickly and still have another perspective to share.

What inspires me most about Sandy? Her desire to follow hard after God -- and her willingness to struggle toward that when it's not easy. Her abiding love for Christ that shows even when she's having a hard time hearing his voice in the clutter of life. Yes, those things. Those and the laughter...I love that too.

Happy Birthday, Sandy! I'm glad our paths finally paused in their crossing long enough for us to become friends.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Today's blog post is a "link" to a post on Eddie's blog about the mixing of languages that naturally happens when various language communities live together. Fun word stuff here -- and some insight into another of the values of the linguistic work Wycliffe and our strategic partners do as part of the Bible translation process.  

(Oh, to follow the link, simply click on the title of this blog entry and off you'll go.)