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June 5, 2015

Today didn’t go as planned.  And by today, I mean Thursday, even though it’s after midnight and technically Friday.  It isn’t really “tomorrow” until I’ve either been to sleep or the sun comes up.

That is my story and I’m sticking to it.

It was graduation night for the Sparkette.  Most of our county high schools have to use outdoor football stadiums for these things because it’s the only place there’s space for 500 graduates and all their fans.  This is fine…unless there are storms.

It was much darker and more ominous than is evident in this photo.

It was much darker and more ominous than is evident in this photo.

And boy, were there storms.  An entire stadium full of spectators waited…and then were sent to overhangs and the cafeteria when the lightning got close…and were finally evacuated when the ceremonies were postponed until tomorrow evening.  The graduating class never even made it onto the field.

So our graduate isn’t quite graduated…yet.  And we’re bummed that some of the folks who came to see her graduate tonight won’t be able to return tomorrow night.

But…

-I was supposed to work tomorrow, but there was a backup plan in place and I’m grateful for an understanding and supportive team at work.

-The van spent the bulk of the day in the shop because we recently heard it making weird noises.  And while it’s something that needs to be dealt with, it’s not an emergency and I’m still free to take a planned road trip in it.  Which is good because the mechanic has to order the parts he needs to fix it and can’t get to it right away.

-The delayed-turned-to-postponed ceremony meant an impromptu gathering at our house for some of the Sparkette’s beautiful and delicious cuppycakes.

Dark chocolate cupcakes with blackberry buttercream frosting or vanilla gravy frosting.  Both remarkably delicious.

Dark chocolate cupcakes with blackberry buttercream frosting or vanilla gravy frosting. Both remarkably delicious. 

-Some of our guests had rushed to get to the ceremony and hadn’t had time for dinner.  But God provided so well for us earlier this week that we still had most of a big pot of chili that Mr. Sparky made, and that stuff tends to get better if sits a little anyway.  A few minutes on the stove while Mr. Sparky chopped up some fixin’s, and a modest meal was available.

Sometimes at the end of a disappointing day you have to stop and consider the non-disappointing parts.  And often, if you really look at it, the non-disappointing parts outweigh the disappointing parts if you set your heart and mind on gratitude and joy.

Then again, if you don’t set your heart and mind on gratitude and joy, it doesn’t much matter how many non-disappointing things happened.  It doesn’t even matter if there were actually no disappointments at all.  If your heart and mind aren’t set on gratitude and joy, you will find no shortage of reasons to be grumpy and depressed and pessimistic, because your lens has dirty fingerprints on it.

I don’t think I need to tell you who those yucky prints those are.

 

Coming and going

June 3, 2015

This is graduation week for the Sparkette, and tonight we went to the airport to pick up her cousins who are visiting in order to help us celebrate the Sparkette’s accomplishment.

Our little regional airport isn’t exactly a hub of activity at 9:00pm, but whenever there is an incoming flight, there will also be people waiting for the occupants of that plane, no matter what time it is.  Tonight was no exception.

Airports are great places for people-watching.  I love watching the faces of the people waiting.  I love watching the faces of those arriving.  I love the squeals and hugs and smiles of reunions.  I don’t have to know any of the people doing the squealing and hugging; it’s delightful just because it is.

I remember the days before 9/11, before airport security checks, when you could wait for arrivals and departures at the actual gates.  The straining and squinting to see a loved one walking up the ramp from the plane…the tearful long hugs and reluctant goodbyes between those who would rather not be parted…the gate areas were a hot mess of emotion.

And they were beautiful.

 

Something isn’t always better than nothing

May 31, 2015

I didn’t blog Friday.  I was a long day. It got late, I got tired, I had to get up super early on Saturday.  So I went to bed, and it was a quiet day here at Hey Sparky.

I didn’t blog Saturday.  It was an early morning, a long day, and a delightful evening spent outdoors on the beach at a bonfire with friends, and I arrived home late, tired, hungry, and smelling like wood smoke and salt air (it’s not as charming a combo as you might think).  So I went to bed, and it was another quiet day here at Hey Sparky.

Two days of failing Sparky’s Blog Challenge.

Today was much less activity-driven.  I never left the house, but since the Sparkette graduates high school this week and I have a very busy week with work, guests, and celebrations, I knew I needed to get some chores done today.  So I did that.

And then came the Evil Sinus Headache.

I took some Sudafed and some ibuprofen because I knew the combo would knock out the pain and pressure quickly.  From there I figured I’d shift to more natural remedies such as essential oils to  help maintain, but I didn’t feel like messing around with annoying pain all day trying to get over the discomfort hump.  The Sudafed combo worked nicely and fairly quickly.  Except…

Enter Decongestant Brain Fog.

I’m thrilled I can no longer feel tiny men with jack hammers deconstructing the inside of my face.  But now I am the walking catatonic, mumbling nonsense in my drug-induced stupor, and dodging my own drool strings.

I think this is better?

I was determined that I would not start out this week of the Blog Challenge in failure.  It’s bad enough that I ended last week like that.  But unfortunately that means the Sparky Nation is stuck listening to me ramble on through my own fog bank.

Lucky you.

Love isn’t a loophole

May 29, 2015

Sometime over the past couple of years I began hearing a churchy catch-phrase that was new to me. The first time I heard it I was puzzled.  Same response the second time I heard it, and the third.

In fact, it’s consistently been my response.

The phrase is “sloppy agape”.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with the word agape, it will help you to know it’s usually pronounced in a way that rhymes with sloppy.  Ah-gop-ee.  And it describes the type of love that is unconditional and not romantic or sexual.  It’s the kind of love God has for mankind, and the kind we’re urged to have for Him.

That’s where my puzzlement sets in.  God is perfect.  He loves perfectly, and according to scripture (1 John 4), He is love.  It is the essence of His nature.

And there’s nothing sloppy about Him.

When I’ve heard the phrase used, it has been disdainfully employed to imply that we expect grace and love to cover too much, and that we expect to be free to continue in sinful behaviors and habits because God won’t hold us accountable.

That sounds kind of right, doesn’t it?  And yet…it also sounds kind of wrong.

Leave it to religion to attempt to water down the good news so that it become mediocre news.  Way to turn prime rib into a bowl of oatmeal, folks.

See, here’s the deal.

Jesus died for us.  Not only that, but Jesus died as us.  Galatians 2:20 makes this statement clearly:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

What this means is that Jesus volunteered to be accountable for our sin—both the sin debt we inherited from our human ancestors, and our ongoing entangling sins that distort and pervert our original design as ones formed in the very image of God.  God poured out all His wrath over sin on Jesus when He was hanging on the cross.

Which means He doesn’t have any left for those who have been crucified with Him.

He’s not operating according to our messed-up sense of justice.  Jesus was punished fully, and as a result God is now free to pour out His pure, unfiltered, limitless, unconditional love on us.

It’s not sloppy.  It’s the passionate, outrageous nature of agape.  It’s His furious love for us.

You are loved like that, you know.  So am I.  And I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to stand a little taller, speak a little more kindly, be a little more gracious.  We’re not working our way towards being clean enough to be good with Him.  He already sees us as clean because He credits us with the payment Jesus made on our behalf.  And He’s not put off or intimidated by the areas in our lives where we don’t quite get it yet and we keep messing up.  He fully intends to hang with us and work with us until we are transformed and manifest the reality of who we are:  gloriously loved children who are citizens of a heavenly kingdom.

That’s a far cry from being a bunch of folks looking for loopholes to continue being the worst versions of themselves.  Agape isn’t a loophole; it’s a wide open gate to being clean and right with God, permanently.

Agape love will probably always look sloppy to those who haven’t fully felt the impact of it in their own lives and who haven’t understood the level of mercy and grace extended to them.

I sure wish that didn’t include so many believers.

He’s so much better than we realize.

 

Learning electro-tricks

May 28, 2015

So I got spurred by some bit of wildness today and decided I would attempt to learn some basic graphic design at Canva.com.

I am well aware that there is a sizable population of the Sparky Nation doubled over in laughter right about now.  And for good reason.  Every time I turn on my computer and it doesn’t blow up, I’m amazed.

Computer stuff doesn’t come easily to me.  There are things I can do, things I’ve learned, but for the most part I am easily confused and intimidated.  And you can show me how to do something eight times and I still won’t understand or remember how to do it.  But I can remember random facts I read in obscure places 30 years ago, easy.

You know, 30 BC.  Before computers.

I’ve been wanting to know how to do some simple graphic design projects.  This was driven home even more deeply after my recent and still unresolved search for business contact cards.  And this blog…holy smokes, I haven’t touched the layout for probably five years.  And why?  Because I don’t know how to make another header.  How pathetic is that?

So a friend told me about Canva and I made note and even signed up but didn’t touch it for about three weeks.  But today I decided to poke around a little

Lo and behold, they have beginner’s tutorials.

Now…it’s safe to assume that their idea of a beginner and my reality probably don’t match.  But I still hoped that I’d be able to navigate the tutorials.

By the time I was four lessons in, I’d only been on the verge of tears twice.  I figured that was probably pretty good, considering the raw material I was working with.  Namely, me.

I’ve now completed 9 out of 30 tutorials.  They’re short and simple, at least thus far.  One had me getting all worked up until I realized that the YouTube video they were using to show me what to do had to have been based on a different version of the program, because I simply didn’t have the button they used in the tutorial.  But I got around it, so I suppose either way I learned something.

Let me tell you…it is hard to be a creative and possess limited skills and proficiencies.  I can see possibilities but have no idea how to bring them to fruition.  I don’t know if learning this design program will help, but I’m going to give it a shot.

If you show up here to Hey Sparky one day and someone’s rearranged the furniture and hung new curtains, you’ll know I’m making progress.

 

Level Four Upgrade, please

May 27, 2015

I recently realized that I need to have some business cards made.

Problem #1:  I have no idea how to define my business.

Problem #2:  If I knew how to define my business, I’m not sure I’d put it on a card.

It’s more fun (and usually more fruitful) to let people figure out my business on their own.  The reality is that I am sent into the lives of others for varying reasons, and often not for the ones most obvious.  So defining my business could actually appear to be false advertising to someone who thinks they’re just going to lunch or just getting coffee.

So…that means what I really need is a contact card.  And I believe the design should be reflective of me. Nothing dull or boring.  Something with some color and quirk.

Ok, a lot of color and quirk.

Problem #3:  I can’t find a design that really feels like me.

Problem #4:  I have no graphic design skills to create one on my own.

I’ve looked at lots of nice designs.  Hundreds of them by now.  Pretty ones, professional ones, ones that do the job.  But nothing I want to represent me.  And I don’t think I want to settle until I find a YES! design.

One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years is that problems come with upgrades attached.  Every obstacle we face, large or small, is also an opportunity for growth and advancement.  So I’m asking Him about that, because I have this thing I need and I’m not able to make it happen without settling.  And He is not a settling kind of Person.  So I need some help up in here.

I’m not sure how that works with business contact cards, but when they finally arrive, I expect them to be all that and a bag of chips drowned in awesome sauce.

 

Non-words with Friends

May 26, 2015

I like to play Words with Friends on my phone.  It requires a few brain cells to play, which I like, but not so many that I begin to wheeze the moment I open the app.  Games are for fun and should not cause stress hives.  Just sayin’.

That said, I am dreadfully prone to tile collections that are nearly impossible to play.  Seriously…one I is good, but five?  How am I supposed to use that with the a and the u that complete my hand?  Or what about those hands that consist of J,L,K,B,V,X,Y?

Fortunately, I’m not too put off by losing.  For that matter, I usually forget to look at the score when I’m playing.  I just like to make words and get lots of points for it.  I tend to overlook that my opponents are doing the same and may be beating the pants off me.

Words with Friends has given my vocabulary quite a stretch.  I’m always shocked to find words that I didn’t know were actual words.

Rabbit trail:  I’m still disgruntled that the game doesn’t recognize shart.  Seriously…I can spell it, I can define it, I can use it in a sentence.  Everyone knows what it is, and everyone dreads that it might ever happen to them. How is this not a real word? Especially when the game does recognize shat? Ok, BANG! That rabbit’s dead, moving on.

One of the fun things the app does is provide a Word of the Day to help expand the vocab of those who play the game.  But today “fun” became weird.  When I opened the app, I saw this:

Word of the Day:  Tragis.

“Hmm,” I thought.  “I don’t know that word.  I’ve never even heard it before.”

So I clicked on it to get the definition and pronunciation.

Here is what it said.  You ready for this?

“This word is not recognized in Words with Friends.”

OH MY GOSH THEN WHY DID YOU BRING IT UP?!?

Seriously…why in tarnation would they put a fake word in the Word of the Day spot only to have you click on it to be told it’s a fake word?  Am I missing something here?

Tragis is not a word.  It does exist as an acronym (Transportation Routing Analysis Geographic Information System, TRAGIS), but that’s not something so commonly used that it would enter mainstream vocabulary.  Well, maybe if you were trying to sleep you might repeat it over and over like counting sheep.  Sounds like it would have the same effect.  So maybe it would be mainstream vocabulary for insomniacs and desperate parents of colicky infants.  But not the rest of us.

As far as I’m concerned this was just plain rude.  It was the word game equivalent to eating chocolate in front of a friend and not offering them any.

I’m sure there’s a word for that, and when I think of it I better get a good forty-five points for it.

 

 

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