I know, lousy photo. Late night, terrible lighting, iPhone operator refusing to use flash. Ansel Adams I ain’t.
But look at him. All curled up in his little bed, all 14 POUNDS of him because the once 12-pound wuss dog is getting a little tubby. Guess having nine bad teeth pulled gave him a renewed appetite. He is particularly fond of cat food. He also licks his bed.
I know he looks all sweet and cozy, tucked into a little ball like that. But do not be deceived. Jake the Jerk-Faced Dog is suffocating in a cloud of his own pfffft!
How do I know? That little bed is three feet away from where I am sitting and typing right now, and I have decent hearing.
I also had a decent sense of smell until about five minutes ago.
I just found a sad thing in my clothes dryer: two pairs of my socks.
It isn’t sad to find Mr. Sparky’s socks in the dryer because he goes though 1-3 pairs a day on average, depending on what he’s doing. Work socks, cycling socks, soccer refereeing socks, be-bopping around socks…lotsa socks. I’m used to it.
But me? This is Florida. I am in sandals or flip flops as much of the year as possible. I tend to be warm-natured, and when my feet are hot, I feel miserable all over. So except for the socks I wear while working out, I am sock-free for much of the year. And if possible, I’m shoe-free too.
Shoes and socks are straight-jackets for the feet, I tell ya.
But this past week my feet were actually in my purple boots twice, hence the two pairs of socks. And if my feet were in my purple boots, that is a clear sign of a major seasonal change. The boots don’t come out until the weather has started to turn, and boots also usually mean long leggings, tunics, and maybe even jackets.
More/heavier clothing + boots = winter is coming.
If only all seasonal shifts were that easy to discern.
As I begin to write this it is a little past midnight and I am feeling exceedingly whiny.
You see…I hab a code id by ndoze.
Actually, it’s bothering my throat more than my nose. And I haven’t had a cold in a really long time—at least, not one of any significance. A day or two of stuffiness, sure, or maybe a slightly scratchy throat that goes away in a couple of days. But this?
Scratchy throat, fighting a cough, sinus pressure and stuffiness, and I can feel my eustachian tubes.
You’re not supposed to be able to feel your eustachian tubes, y’all.
It started a couple of days ago and I refused to be convinced it would develop into anything truly bothersome. And it’s really only that: bothersome. I’m not going to die from it. I’ll probably feel a lot better in just a day or two.
In the meanwhile I’m grateful for essential oils, Afrin, lots of safe drinking water and hot tea, and a nice rainy evening, because it somehow feels better to be pitiful to the sound of rain. Oh, and tomorrow for the first time in about six weeks, my phone calendar doesn’t have a little dot on it telling me I have to go do something. So other than the laundry which can’t be put off any longer, I get to rest and let my immune system rise up and do what God designed it to do.
So my brain is calculating all the stuff I have to be grateful for, which is a ton. Probably two tons.
Bud my ndoze an throwd are all sduffy an cranky, and they’re campaigning for grape gatorade because, you know, sick, but I said no because, you know, sugar. So they said “just you wait until 3am” and I said “don’t even think about it”. But just to be safe I’d probably better slip myself some melatonin, since I think I’m out of bigger guns of Benedryl.
Earth suits can be so demanding.
With one hand on the doorknob
to give the room
one last glance.
Echoes of laughter and
whispers of tears
and were just as real
to her heart as they were
when they were
from the hearts of the daughters
She noted the changes
she’d brought to the room,
to leave it richer than she found it.
The brief smile that
flashed across her face
as she turned the knob
quickly shifted as
she set her jaw in
and stepped into
and began to move
with the wind
into the unknown.
There’s a design studio in my head.
This wouldn’t be so strange if I actually had any proven skill at planning and design, but I really don’t. Nevertheless, I am constantly thinking about designing and redesigning a few things. Just in case. Because you never know.
For instance, I frequently design my dream kitchen. Of all the things that lurk in a file in my Mental Studio, this is the only one that actually currently exists. Once upon a time I did most of the cooking and so it made sense that I would want to tweak the design of the kitchen to better suit me. But now Mr. Sparky does most of the cooking. He loves it, and I’m over it, and so it all works out well. But I’ve still not stopped designing our dream kitchen in my mind.
Then there’s the creative studio. Oh, it would be glorious. Lots of light, plenty of work space and storage, lots of outlets, a big sink, and a ginormous flat work table. It would be flexible in both form and function so that a variety of projects could take shape in there, and it would be well-ventilated because creativity often stinks, literally, and sometimes you need to blow out some of the fumes. And did I mention lots of light?
The other 2.5 things that take up space in the Mental Studio are more challenging to define. They are a freedom and wholeness center and a supernatural life training center.
I believe freedom and wholeness usually happen from the inside out. Our western culture often tries to tackle our ills from a medical standpoint, but much of what happens to us physically begins in our souls: our mind, will, and emotions. God intended for us to be strong and well in every way, and not bound to thinking or behavior that opposes being truly healthy and whole. A freedom and wholeness center would be about all the non-medical things we can do to support ourselves and move towards freedom and wholeness in body, soul, and spirit. It would be faith-based, operated by non-religious Jesus Freaks passionate about people being freed to live their lives in strength and vitality. Isaiah 61 in action.
A supernatural life training center would be just that: teaching people what it really means to be sons and daughters of God, to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth, to live in the yes and amen of God in the middle of the tension of life in the earth suit. When the children of God learn who they are and what that means, they are then positioned to become brokers of kingdom realities in their lives and across the seven mountains of cultural influence: arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion. Christians often forget that although we aren’t supposed to be of the world, we are supposed to be in it, actively influencing it, shaping it, offering supernatural creativity to the natural problems of the world. Heavenly solutions to earth’s problems. I spend a lot of time thinking about what that would look like and how it could be done. A ridiculous amount, actually.
One of the sub-centers of a supernatural life training center would be a creativity center where the supernatural creativity in every believer could be affirmed, stirred up, and practiced. I’m not just talking about artists. Creativity is so much more than that. There are dreamers and seers and idea people in every field, every area of life, and most of them will tell you they can’t draw a stick figure or carry a tune in a bucket. But they can program…they can organize…they can govern…they can build…they can do all kinds of things that could go to a whole new level with some time, attention, and practice…and some encounters with Holy Spirit. I really believe He wants to do that.
These things have existed in the privacy of my own mind for a long time. I rarely even admit they’re there, but over the past year or so the latter 2.5 have gotten louder and more persistent about demanding time and space amongst the folds of the gray matter. And I’ve found them slipping out, asking for air time. It’s entirely possible (probable) that there are people gifted and called to the very things that are in my heart to establish, but they haven’t yet found the vision they feel called to partner with. I want those people to have a place where their gifts are honored and honed and put to use. I want to amass a company of culture-shifters and world-changers.
There are plenty of reasons why all of these design projects are laughable. But…they exist in my mind and my heart. Maybe I made them up, but I don’t think I’m that creative. I believe it’s more likely they exist in God’s mind and heart, and He somehow dropped them into mine.
I have to wonder what He wants to do about that.
There’s that scripture about how God uses what we call foolishness to confound the wisdom of the world. Foolishness would probably look like giving dreams like these to someone who is administratively challenged, low on funding, and sometimes totally unequipped in areas that are in my heart to be addressed and built up in others.
But according to how God thinks, maybe I’m qualified because I’m unqualified? All I know is if any of these things ever actually happen, it will be very obvious that it was His doing.
After all, I’m the person who can’t get popcorn to her mouth without dropping it down her shirt.
noun: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
verb: have an influence on.
Influence is weird stuff. Like…how do you get it? And once you have it, what keeps you between the ditches so you don’t use influence for terrible purposes?
A number of years ago I had a bunch of little people underfoot around the house. By virtue of being a mom, I had a level of influence in the lives of the Jr. Spark and the Sparkettes. Sometimes I was shocked by the amount of influence I both had and didn’t have. My influence never seemed to overcome gravity. Towels, shoes, socks, books, bits of paper, toys, CDs, yesterday’s clothes, the day-before-that’s clothes, the clothes they tried on but never wore…once it hit the floor, gravity took over and no amount of influence (or threatening) seemed to hold any significant power over it.
And then there’s the job. I influence women all day long at da panty sto’. I try very hard to influence them in positive ways there, but some will have none of it. They speak ugliness and rejection over themselves and won’t be swayed otherwise. But then there are the ones who are convinced they can’t choose a pair of panties without my focused attention and influence in the process. I’m not sure how they handle getting dressed in the morning, because it’s not like I’m going to show up and riffle through their panty drawer with them. Although I now know that there may actually be a market for such a job…
Those are places I have influence because of a role I have. But I recognize that at times I also have influence simply because of who I am. And that’s sobering.
It was Leif Hetland I first heard say “You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are”.
The truth is, I don’t much care what you know if it’s not also who you are.
I’m not saying that there’s not room for grace or mistakes, because that is very far from the truth. But if you teach grace because you know about it but then hide your shortcomings, refusing to live in authenticity because true grace isn’t part of the framework of who you are, then I’m pretty skeptical that you’ve got a full revelation of grace. I’m equally skeptical if you’ve been confessing the same shortcoming for the past twelve years. Grace truly is a “get out of jail free” card, but if you find after an extended time that you’re still in jail, then maybe you’ve not understood or appropriated the power of grace.
And if that’s the case, I don’t really want you to have a lot of influence over me. I can’t afford it, frankly. And if it’s true of me, I don’t want to have a lot of influence over you. The last thing I want to do is reproduce fear, captivity and bondage, inauthenticity, passiveness, judgment, or any other un-Jesus trait or habit. You’ve got plenty of other places you can get that.
I don’t know what kind of roles or positions are coming down the pike for me. I do know, however, that I want to bring my best to whatever is in front of me, for however long I’m called to it. I want who I am to ultimately be more valuable than what I do or the role I have. And when it’s time for me to move on I want my influence to reverberate long after I’m gone.
May we all leave trails of fire, light, and love.
It’s a curious conundrum.
At times I understand why Daniel Boone cried “elbow room!” I am frequently far off the beaten path, looking for what’s new…what’s interesting…what’s attention-worthy. When I find it I am filled with delight…until everyone else finds it too. When folks start hopping on the bandwagon, I hop off.
Let’s face it: I couldn’t be one of the cool kids if I tried.
The flip side is that even forerunners get lonely. A little company while we bushwhack would be nice, at least for a little while. Someone with whom to share knock-knock jokes. Or at least someone with whom to agree to not share knock-knock jokes.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but most folks don’t want to hang all that closely with someone who’s so handy with a machete. People who spend a lot of time alone thinking about things most other people never think about are weird. Not only are they weird, but they think not being weird is boring.
Of course, I may be projecting.