Sunday, May 31, 2009

Titanic Raised

From the bottom of the Atlantic to Hollywood, my faith in human goodness and brotherly love has been raised. In Quick Takes - Take 2 , I (ahem)"bemoaned" the fact that the last survivor of the Titanic was financially destitute and suggested some of the people who made so much money on the movie, might bring it upon themselves to help.

Tonight, Millvina who was 9 weeks old at the sinking passed away. This was included in the news report.

"Among the donors to the Millvina Fund were Hollywood actors Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, who starred in the 1997 "Titanic" film. The pair and the film's director, James Cameron, reportedly donated 30,000 US dollars in total."

I stand correct and I humbly apologize for my unfair assumptions. Thank you, Kate, Leo and James.

Friday, May 29, 2009


When my daughter was little we often ended the day with storytelling. She would give me a story starter then off I'd go weaving the most interesting tale I could imagine. We had a lot of fun with Percy and Penelope. Penguins who kept finding themselves in very unpenguin like places. One time they got off a plane and were in Hawaii. "What is this grainy stuff scratching my flippers? A beach!?!" "Percy Dear, I'm afraid I might be terrible ill. I'm oozing wetness from my forehead." As they tried to find their way back home, they kept landing in odd and challenging situations. Each place they had to figure out where they were, how to adapt and how to get back home.

I have had times in my life when I felt like Penelope. Places I landed and knew something was off kilter. I always had the best of intentions, but I wasn't intentional about my life. People, things and life in general carried me away. Plan A didn't work out as I hoped and I ended up unintentionally with Plan B. Yes, I have been Penelope on the beach.

What about when we are in the wrong place? Places not suited for who we thought God made us to be. There are a lot of ways to be there, good ways and bad, some of our own doing and some not. When we are misplaced, can we live up to God’s full potential?

Take Ruth as an example. Life dumped some lousy, hard problems on her and ended up in a foreign land. A widow. Lower than low. Most certainly misplaced. How did Ruth respond? She didn’t give up. She didn’t become bitter or make excuses. She worked and gleaned and stayed faithful where she was. Intentionally, pursuing Plan B.

What was her character? Ruth 2:11 gives us the picture from the viewpoint of Boaz. "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. "

I didn't lose a husband to physical death. But the death of a marraige is a painful way to get misplaced. Untentionally, I was thrown into Plan B. I felt like I was starting from scratch trying to figure out who I am and how God made me. I'm getting there. Figuring it out I mean. I was once misplaced. Now I'm intentionally pursuing Plan B. It has opened the door to getting acquainted with the person God knit together called Linda. His Linda. I can't see much of her back in my Plan A.

The misplaced life Ruth lived in Moab trying to provide for herself and Naomi (now called Mara) must have been hard. I think she felt a kindred Penelope on the beach spirit. She was in a strange country, with different ways and she had to adapt. I wonder what Ruth thought while she was breaking her back in the heat of the day picking bits of grain from the parched ground. Just enough to get by. Well, for that day at least. Did she grieve getting misplaced? How long was it before Boaz noticed her? Even while adapting, Ruth never let go of her faithfulness to God and what He placed in her life.

So what did God provide Ruth when she was misplaced? She didn't have to go it alone. He gave her a mother-in-law to guide her and a redeemer. Boaz saw her character and faithfulness. God honored Ruth through Boaz. He brought her back from being misplaced to a place of fulfillment. God provided her relationships. Naomi a mentor and Boaz a redeemer.

Was her Plan B really God's plan A? What about my plan B or yours? I know God doesn't make a habit of bringing hurt and pain into our lives, but we can't deny the good He creates from it.

When I am misplaced, I know now that I have to be intentional about pursuing God's Plan A. I don't have to go it alone. He provides not only Himself, but relationships I need to guide and sustain me through the misplaced times. When I look and open myself to them, I find that being Penelope on the beach can actually be faith building and fun.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thinking is a Dangerous Sport

I'm thinking about thinking. I know, a deep subject. But, not to fear, I don't have that kind of energy tonight. I have had the evening to myself and all night I kept thinking, what should I be thinking about?

My evening started with a run. Podding along was more like it. There are times when running feels fantastic. Tonight was not one of them. I'm trying to get off some recently gained weight and every step felt - wrong and frankly it hurt. I think a new machine at the club is doing a number on my hamstrings and gluts.

I like to think when I jog so I plotted my course and turn around point, checked the time and took off. What did I think about? Too much thought was processing the work day, resolving situations and making to do lists. I should think about writing. People came to mind for prayer. A friend just diagnosed with cancer, another getting married soon, my brother. I should think about developing that character. But it seems so easy not to think about all that writing stuff.

I passed one of my distance markers, Why is my time off with my distance? Realization hit with a breathless gasp. I set the wrong turn around point and ran a mile farther than I wanted and I was still a mile from home! I was NOT pleased. By then I'm really sore. Something is just weird and more than my hamstrings were aggravated. Ok, there is only one way home. I gotta do this. Think about something and take your mind off running. Think about what? I'm hot, tired, in pain. Think about. . . plot. Is my right foot tingling? I can't think about anything but surviving.

I made it home. I survived!

Now, I'm trying to find something of value out of all that torture. And I'm thinking. My thoughts are mine right? Or is that really what I want - my thoughts? Verses jump to mind. Set your mind on things above. Take every thought captive. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. How can I make my thoughts more valuable? More productive? More intentional? More creative? More INSPIRED!

Ah, that's what I want. Inspiration.
The easy path instead of the long, torturous, only-one-way-to-get-there run.

I set out tonight with a goal. It was way harder to reach than I wanted it to be. Truthfully, I still have pain shooting up the back of my right leg. The course was farther than I planned and once committed, there was no turning back to make it easier. I'm thinking I didn't really want a life lesson tonight. But thinking got me one.

Now I'm thinking about validation and confirmation. Like hoping that tomorrow will bring a lower number on the scale. Hey, all that agony should produce some positive results. That's only fair! When we set a goal, confirmation is a reasonable expectation isn't it? I think so.

How does a person maximize thoughts? I would love to maximize observation, understanding, creativity, INSPIRATION. I think I need to study thinking verses. I bet there's more to it. After all, our thoughts are not His thoughts.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Choice

My Mother's Day weekend seems to have a theme. Every once in a while I will get on a kick about something and then everything seems to relate to, or if it is a sad theme, compound the issue.

Friday night my daughter was honored at school for being in the top 10% of her class. Amazing! I'm so proud of her. There was a nice dinner and then a program where the awards were presented to the students by their parents and each family had their picture taken. The seventh grade started and I listened to announcements of the parents names and watched the proud smiles for the camera. Eight grade came then ninth. Parents and student, parents and student. Time for tenth grade to line up. More proud parents and student. Then my daughter was called and I was announced as her parent. Out of nearly 50 students, I think there was only one other student who had Dad, Stepmom and Mom. I was the only single parent.

It was a bittersweet evening. On one hand, my heart was bursting with pride at seeing my daughter excel and thrive in school. She is becoming the most amazing, beautiful young lady who really has a heart for God. Nothing gets better than that!

On the other, I couldn't help but think about loss. Does she ever feel it too? She has never known what it is like to have a father close by and consistently be here. Because he lives several states away, she sees him about two weeks a year.

As a small child, she would try to figure out who her dad was and whether any friends of mine might become her dad. It was all too confusing for her and heartbreaking for me. Consistency and stability were more important so I decided men were going to have to go. A dozen years later and edging closer to sending her out into the world, I pause. There are moments when the ach of that decision can pierce a tired heart.

Last night I watched Becoming Jane. A lovely movie based on the real life of the famous author Jane Austin. Jane was poor, without class distinction and without connection in a society where money and connection were everything. She also had the unfortunate lot of being a woman of skill in a society when skill was reserved for men and scorned in women. Her story leaves me haunted, mournful. Jane made a choice.

Financial salvation of her family was the burden forced upon Jane through the marraige proposal of a rich, but unloved suiter. Jane and a man of questionable character, who was controlled by the need to inherit his uncle's estate and an allowance to support his family fell in love. Denied permission by all, they chose to elope. Scandalous and a sure ruin of all future hopes through connection.

Not long into their journey, Jane comes to a moment of truth. Their denial of duty to family and neglecting the reality of social expectations would eventually overcome even their intense love and bring death without hope. Jane chose for both of them. She forsook the rightness of love given and chose the rightness of faithful duty. It was still a choice of love.

She never married. The man she loved did and went on to become the highest ranking judge in Ireland. He named his first daughter Jane.

Jane Austin wrote six novels that changed literature and story craft forever. Her choice became an exquisite legacy.

My choice is a choice of love. I am watching the legacy of that choice develop before me. If I get nothing else in my life than to be a part of bringing a beautiful woman of God to full maturity, I will still know I made the right choice.

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. Psalm 25:12