Reality Trip

I sometimes think of myself as a pragmatic realist. And, to a large that degree that is true. Yet there is a part of me that loves to take on windmills ala Don Quixote. Dream the Impossible Dream. What I have found is that truth lies someplace in between reality and world of dreams. If we focus too much on either we can become cynics or space cadets.

Perhaps the best way to pursue our dreams is to first know who we are. What gives us joy and what things are pure drudgery. We are then able to dream with our feet planted in the pure reality of who we are and what we want. On the flipside, dreaming does require embracing a different reality. Difficult but not as painful as charging at windmills. ツ

The Scary Deep End

I came across this newspaper article from the spring of 2006 [click on the image to read the story - a bit fuzzy but sort of readable]. Not sure who the old guy in the picture is ... whoever it is ... it is a very unflattering picture. ツ

I once wrote about this experience and said:
Forty-five years ago a lifeguard jumped into the deep end of a YMCA pool in New York and rescued me from drowning - I was learning to swim and couldn't make it across the deep end of the pool. Fear embraced me that day and being in deep water has been scary ever since that traumatic experience. I've taken water classes over the years and never have been able to get past my fear of the deep end. Then last Friday came. Good Friday. It was a Very Good Friday!!

Three times a week my wife Ann and I take a midday water aerobics class at our local YMCA. I was in that class on Friday. I was in the deep end. I was wearing a buoyancy belt to keep me afloat as I exercised. Then at about 11:40am, with 10 minutes left in class, something happened. The voice of my inner man rose up within me and spoke to me. This is what he said: “Take off the belt!” The voice was so clear. I hesitated momentarily. Then courage took hold of me. I took off the buoyancy belt in the middle of the deep end and swam to the side of the pool. I was free at last of the fear that had bound me for so long. With utter incredulity I told Ann of this amazing experience – in awe she rejoiced with me.
Life is all about the deep end - that place where our minds are held hostage to fear, anxiety, anger and sadness. Sometimes it takes a moment of grace to connect with that brave place in our hearts and find the courage to break free.

Have you ever conquered a life long fear, found yourself unstuck and free of it?

a Boss is not always a Leader

A few observations from this image that I have found true:

    •  Workers usually carry the boss;
    •  Bosses are not always capable of doing the work;
    •  Leaders usually get their hands dirty;
    •  The workers' load is lighter when the boss leads;
    •  Leaders create an atmosphere of inspiration.

Generally speaking, a boss is a positional title. A leader may not have a formal title.

Times and Seasons

There are two Greek words in the New Testament that are interpreted as 'time'. Kairos is translated as 'time' 64 times. 13 other places, it is translated 'seasons'. Chronos occurs 33 times and is mostly rendered as 'time'.

Two interesting words with different nuances of meaning. Chronos is the root of our English word chronology and denotes the passage of minutes. Kairos seems to focus not on the passage of minutes but on the value of them.

When I consider kairos, I remember that life is all about making time count. There are seasons of our life that pass and never come again. The clock still ticks but seasons of young children and youthful bliss pass on to new things.

It reminds me to make this season of my life count because it will never come again. Instead of counting the minutes I am encouraged to live fully into, and get the most out of, each hour. It is what Jesus did when he entered earth's time.

... excerpted from my series on words in the bible at With Devotion

Being not Going

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile. -Billy Sunday

It is common for those that are farthest from God, to boast themselves most of their being near to the Church. -Matthew Henry

True faith in God that demands selflessness is being replaced by trendy religion that serves the selfish. -Billy Graham

We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. -Pope Francis

The Crazy Quest for News Accuracy

I chuckled when I saw this image this morning. The underlying premise of it is that there is a single "source" of "news" that is accurate. This notion is a somewhat amusing one. In reality every human being has a built in bias. So why would anyone think that any source (i.e. news person/network) would always be unbiased.

Herein is the rub. If we really want accurate sources of news then we must do the hard work of listening to different sources of it. If we do then perhaps we will find a sense of accuracy in midst of disparate views? But not so much if we are lazy and stick to one source of "news". The choice is really ours if we want accuracy in news.

Fast-Acting Relief

Even if I don't want to slow down, I'm slowing down. -Eli Wallach

For fast-acting relief try slowing down. -Lily Tomlin

My children teach me to slow down and enjoy life. -Gena Lee Nolin

The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit. -Moliere

When someone screams at me to hurry up, I slow down. -Mario Lemieux

As you get older, time speeds up but life slows down. -John C. Maxwell

Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them. ~Dion Boucicault

On the giving of grace ...

I remember sitting with my brother-in-law at his home in New Jersey. His wife, my sister, had just died. We were grieving together. I had just officiated at the funeral.
As we were speaking he said something like this to me.
Bob, I want you to know that I will always be happy to hear your voice if you call me. If I do not hear from you for a year, I will be happy to hear your voice. I will not be mad if you do not call. And if you call me I will always be happy to talk.You and I will always be brothers.
His words were so filled with grace and I felt so free when he spoke them. So different from folks who act offended when others do not meet their expectations. Perhaps his words might help you to give a bit of grace today?

And interestingly, we regularly talk on the phone. I mean really, who would not want a brother like this in their life?

Why TV is Doomed

Yes, I know that some have been predicting the demise of television for years [albeit not for technical reasons] but now the geeks at ZDNet are saying it too - TV is Doomed. Here are a few thoughts from the article:
The entire old-school television distribution system has been rocked by a quake of epic magnitude. And, as has been the case for the past decade or so, this seismic shift is all about high-speed broadband, the Internet, and the cloud.
Until now, if you wanted to watch Game of Thrones or any of the other excellent HBO series, you had to have a cable or satellite TV subscription. You had to be tied to a monthly fee consisting of a suite of services you didn't want, just to watch a few things you did. In fact, that was a lot of how the world worked before the Internet.
And that's why I found myself staring at a cornucopia of entertainment options this morning. Rather than the same programs sitting on my old TiVo, I had the entire Internet of video to choose from. Rather than being forced to watch what comes down from my cable provider on their schedule (with their blackouts and whacked-out DRM that won't let me watch a show I recorded in the living room on my bedroom TV), I can watch whatever I want.

I can watch whatever I want and save more than $2,000 a year at the same time. The old-school television model is doomed. Content producers and distributors better come up to speed quickly on the new world order or they will be decimated by the price/performance benefit of the now available substitute solutions.
You can read more of the article here. Do you see yourself dumping TV for cheaper internet solutions? Maybe later for me but not now. Google Fiber TV gives me a lot of reasons to stay but they need to keep up if they want me to stay.

Justice vs Revenge

I think that this is an interesting comparison made by Leon F. Seltzer at Psychology Today [read more here].
  1. Revenge is predominantly emotional; justice primarily rational.
  2. Revenge is, by nature, personal; justice is impersonal, impartial,
    and both a social and legal phenomenon.
  3. Revenge is an act of vindictiveness; justice, of vindication.
  4. Revenge is about cycles; justice about closure.
  5. Revenge is about retaliation; justice about restoring balance.
I think that the heart of justice is restoration and reconcilation. Consider these passages from the bible.
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

This is what the LORD says: “Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed.” (Jeremiah 21:12)

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Administer true justice: show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. ( Isaiah 30:18)
I love the way that these verses paint a picture of justice that is restorative in nature.

A Song for Good Friday

Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day
The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street
But the crowd pressed in to see
A Man condemned to die on Calvary

He was bleeding from a beating, there were stripes upon His back
And He wore a crown of thorns upon His head
And He bore with every step
The scorn of those who cried out for His death

Down the Via Dolorosa, called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King,
But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me.
Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary.

The blood that would cleanse the souls of all men
Made its way to the heart of Jerusalem.
He walked that road for you and me … to Calvary

... from the song written by Billy Sprague and Niles Borop

Letting Go of a Dream

Following is an inspiring post from my friend Letiah Fraser ...

It was a year ago today that I had to let go of a dream. If I were honest I really should have prepared myself to relinquish this dream two years previous to this day last year. However I have fierce hope. Fierce hope for my dreams and this dream was no different. Fierce hope in a God who heals. The doctors did everything medically possible (and I hate being a patient) and yet on this day last year I was on my way to the hospital filled with anxiety and disappointment that my dream would die.

I am grateful for those who walked alongside me the best way they could. Those who had many conversations and listened to me as my hope diminished and reality sunk in. I am grateful to those who visited me in the hospital and stayed with me overnight (Vicky Walker, I am missing you a lot today), I am grateful to those who opened their home to me while I was recovering, brought delicious meals to me or took me out to eat when I was getting a little stir crazy, and those who sent cards and gifts. I am also certain that the prayers of those who knew; (the cancer scare) leading up to the surgery, during the surgery (which took longer than expected) and as I recovered, carried me through those dark and uncertain moments in ways known and unknown. Thank You.

How does one mourn the death of children that will never be? There is no Hallmark sympathy card for those who are having a hysterectomy. No ceremony or funeral. No adequate words. How does one re-write the childhood song, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage?” How does one answer the annoying question that usually comes after an equally annoying one? Do you have kids? Are you married? How does one respond to the comment, “but you can adopt a kid? I support adoption. I always have. I think most foster kids do. However what does one have to do with the other? (Side note: adoption is a difficult process for anyone. It is even more difficult for people that have disabilities because of the stigma regarding parents with disabilities). How does one respond to friends who get pregnant? Baby showers and the numerous Facebook Prego pictures and baby photos?

On my good days, I rejoice with them because someone was able to see their dream of parenthood come true. Baby showers give me a chance to go into the baby clothes section of a store and participate in the joyous season of a friend. On my bad days, I stay off Facebook and social media and decline baby shower invites. Not because I’m not happy for you, but because it is a very visible reminder for me of my dream; my dead dream.

I am also very aware that this is Holy week. Easter is coming. Three years ago on Easter I was in the hospital soon to discover that my journey toward the death of my dream would begin. Good Friday is supposed to be about death and Sunday we are to celebrate Resurrection. Part of me would prefer to “Pass Over” Easter this year. To seclude myself from the many children in their pretty dresses and handsome suits. I still might choose that. But because I have fierce hope; hope in the God who defeats death; even the death of dreams, I may not choose to hide, but instead to fully enter the celebration of the Resurrection with my many, many questions. Because of my fierce hope I choose not to hide under the blanket of shame that sometimes covers me because I am a single woman in her thirties who cannot have children. I know, I am not alone. And if being married and having children are what makes one a woman or a good Christian woman …well, I have never fit the mold before, why start now? My goal is not to be good, but to be faithful.

So, what have I learned during this year since my surgery? Life goes on. I do that well. Pick myself and continue. However “anniversaries” like this one cause me to slow down, to reflect, to be angry, to be sad, for a little while and then to be fierce about finding hope once more. To realize that this experience has changed me in ways that I know: I am stronger than I thought and yet sadness emerges; no matter how hard I try to ignore that emotion.

So, this week I may be a little edgy and today a little sad because such an ambiguous death feels and is very final. No bunny, No colored egg or Easter basket can Band-Aid such a loss. Yes, I know this is Holy Week. I will join my voice with many saints around the world and say “Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed. I put my fierce hope in Jesus. But today what feels more real, more honest, more true as I give space to name this seemingly ambiguous loss is “Lord, I believe, help me unbelief.”

What happens to a dream deferred? (Or rather a dead dream)
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
“A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes

Letiah is a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene Seminary, a hospital chaplain, a director of the Love Wins LGBT ministry and serves on the pastoral staff of Trinity Family Midtown Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City.