The Whistler's Dream

Everybody needs a dream...
Mine is to go to Oklahoma and play whistles for The Pioneer Woman. (Having been invited, not in a "creepy stalker" kind of way, for the record.) Heck, I'd play in a pup tent in the backyard for the joy of the cows and critters. What can I say? I'm a fan.
Everybody needs a dream...

Random Fluffy Foto!

Random Fluffy Foto!
Just hangin' out... Over... Whatever.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Looking Through Their Eyes



This is dedicated to friends who have taken the call to go into the world literally, either full-time or short-term, including such folks as our dear Hannah, the Z's, Baby Sister, Madman and his family, the Guatemala team from First Cov, the Barbers, Bubba and his bride, Mr. Z, Wally and the amazing folks from Compassion Int'l, and the whole host of others who have left home to see the world through God's economy.

Also to that great group of friends, the Living Witnesses, who traveled to Jamaica for 21 days of concerts, and having our eyes opened in ways that stay with us, 30-some years later.

Thank you.

"Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; But he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
Proverbs 29:18 (ASV)

We need you.

We need what you've seen and heard.

We need to be reminded that the Kingdom comes, not just to folks who look like us, who live near us, or who have the stuff we have, but to folks who don't look like us, who live far away from us, and haven't even heard of some of the stuff we "can't live without."

Some of them don't speak our language, or they speak our language in ways that we don't recognize or understand.

("Hey, mon - take it easy!" - a phrase we heard a lot in Jamaica. I also heard the phrase "Hey fat mon - how much you weigh? Four, five hundred pounds?" I was closer to three than four back then, thank you very much. But, to those folks, I was a sumo. Good times indeed.)

When you get back (or got back, whichever applies...), you'll be dazed. Then spilling over with sights, sounds, tales, and challenges. Perhaps some of us who haven't been where you've been, haven't seen what you've seen, might get a little impatient with you.

(Dare I use the word "snitty?" Is "snitty" an official word? Is there some dangerous potential for an epic typo in using the word "snitty?" Am I eternally thankful that the Lord chose a proofreading ninja to be my beloved spouse? Oh heavens and great gravy bones, yes...

And so are you. Trust me.)

Truthfully, you'll probably get a little impatient with us too. Having been through what you've been through, you'll come back to us and our "first world problems," and you'll want to yell at us and smack us upside the head, because you've seen reality, and returned to the plastic, pretend world that we think is "real," and you'll want to scream.

And that's alright. If you don't want to yell at us, you need to go back and spend more time in the "real" world, so that you come back ready to be all up in our grills about all the piddly poopy we hold so dear.

See, that produces a couple of good things, that kind of indignation at how "our" world is...

In YOU, it produces patience, as you learn how to communicate the urgency and passion of what you've seen, without the head slapping and yelling.

(Right, Baby Sister? Love ya, little one... *insert hand hug here*)

In US, (As in the group of people you return to, not the U.S.A. - though the country I live in could certainly use a big dose of your vision..) it slowly opens our eyes, helps us begin to see God's world through God's economy (Thank you Wally, for teaching me that phrase!), and gives us a gentle (or not-so-gentle) butt-kicking into what Kingdom life looks like, right here, right now.

And we need that vision. Just as much as you need the patience to share it with us.

If you think about it, it's a symbiotic relationship. Not in a gross, parasitic kind of way. Or even a "bird living on the rhino's back, getting rid of bugs and such" kind of way. Nobody's chowing down on anybody else's bugs here.

Unless that's how they roll where you went / are going / are preparing to go. *whew* Tenses are... well...

... tense.

(Did you hear about the fire at the circus? It was "IN TENTS!"

Get it? In TENTS?

Say it out loud...

There ya go. Now you're groaning. You're welcome. Dumb jokes are always a shout-out to Elder Niecelet and Neffypooh. Always.)

Anyway, back to the parasites...

"If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed."
Proverbs 29:18-19 (MSG)

When we don't see what you've seen, we stumble all over ourselves. We're tripping over furniture in the dark, stepping on Lego bricks, and muttering choice words, keeping them well below hearing threshold, lest they fall upon sleeping ears. We're fancy like that.

- BUT -

If we who were "left behind" (Note: NOT capitalized, lest the pileup of copyright lawyers be nigh unto deafening...) hear the stories of God at work all over the world, then slowly our eyes open, our hearts open as well, and the body of Christ becomes aware of just how far His hands and feet need to reach.

And every time you encourage us, challenge us, remind us and enlarge our vision, you do the same for yourselves. After all, if we don't raise the stones, if we don't tell the stories again and again of how God has moved, how He showed up in marvelous, real, tangible ways, we quickly forget.

"WHAT?" I hear you cry... "After all I've been through / am going through / am about to go through, how could I possibly forget how I saw Him at work / see Him at work / will see Him at work?"

*whew*

Well kids, it's been 4 years since God totally rewrote my whole story, changed me from the outside in, and reversed my history...

And I forget that on a daily basis.

The phrase he put in my heart right after surgery, "My chains are gone, I've been set free," becomes a dim part of my past, a memorable phrase in a song long-forgotten. Those promises, the ReBirth, becoming Tabula Rasa, all the stones that I HAVE raised... gone with the next flush of the biffy.

Only when I re-tell the stories, only when I dwell in the places He has led me, only when I remember that "the old is gone, the new has come," only then do I live in the "real" world, right here, right now.

Your mileage may vary. But, if I might put my reputation as Cal the Questionable Prophet on the line here, I don't think it will.

If we don't remember the stories and tell the stories, we fail to live the stories.

To those who remain, listen. Drink deep the vision of our loved ones who've seen things we can only imagine or see on social media. And see the world through God's economy.

To those who return, tell and live the stories. It's for your benefit, as much as it is for ours. We all need to tell, we all need to hear, we all need to live the truth of the Kingdom...

God at work. Right here, right now.

"All believers, come here and listen,
let me tell you what God did for me."
Psalms 66:16 (MSG)

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Breathe On Me


"Breathe on me, when you're not strong.
And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on..."

What?

It's "LEAN on me?"

Well... That was awkward...

But mangled song lyrics have never stopped me before, and they shall NOT stop me now...

You have to know somebody pretty well for them to breathe on you. Pretty darn well. Pretty amazingly darn well.

And if they did breathe on you, by accident or on purpose, you'd have to trust them an awful lot to not respond by freaking out, shuddering, or otherwise giving loud body language indicators that you are totally and completely creeped out.

Ewww...

And I haven't even brought up the whole "morning -or-otherwise breath" issue. You're welcome.

(For the record, breathe all you want around me - without a sense of smell, it's pretty much impossible to knock me over, even with dragon breath.)

(But breathing on my face is still creepy. Just sayin'...)

So let's go to the reason for all this pondering, and then I'll inject the usual Calberti level of fluffy and weird into it...

"He spoke to them again and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.""
John 20:21-22 (NLT)

Cue the fluffy and weird..

Beka the dog can put me right to sleep by breathing on me.

Yup - fluffy AND weird. Well played, Calbert - well played.

Thank ya... thank ya very muchhhhh. Uh-HUH!

(You know, Elvis impersonations don't translate well to the written page. Good to know.)

And although it's weird, it's still true - Beka can put me right out by breathing on me. No, my dog doesn't convert oxygen to knockout gas. (Although that would be a cool super power.) I think it's more the rhythm of her breathing, and the closeness.

Um... you're still flatlining the weird-o-meter, big boy.

Let me explain. Or at least make lighthearted commentary to accompany the weird.

Beka usually sleeps with me, since if she sleeps with me, she keeps me on my side, and I don't have sleep apnea episodes. There are other tricks one can use to achieve this, but the only one that seems to work for me is the accidental one - when Beka sleeps with me, I stay on my side and keep breathing.

Have I mentioned I love my dog?

Anyway, besides the side benefit of having a medium-sized but very long-legged beastie putting out the heat of a small sun next to you on a freezing winter night, the other major thing I've noticed is that when Beka breathes on me, I go right to sleep.

Why? Well...

Perhaps the rhythm of it, the cool, warm, cool, warm cycle of inhale and exhale, contributes to my journey off to snoozieland.

Perhaps the sense of peace and relaxation that comes from knowing that this loving, fluffy medium-sized but very long-legged beastie is sleeping comfortably and soundly right next to me encourages me to do the same.

Or perhaps all this specualtion is a load of Calbert-flavored hooey. You be the judge.

What isn't hooey, I think, is the fact that feeling the breath of another living creature is a personal, intimate thing.

(Especially if it's the breath of a bear, 'cause you're about to be an intimate part of it's digestive operation. Yikes.)

(There's a meme I saw on Facebook that makes me laugh - it's a picture of a bear, and it says "I don't always kill and eat things, but when it do, it's because they are things and I'm a bear.")

Anyway, getting back to breathing...

Jesus breathed on the disciples, and said "Receive the Holy Spirit." I suppose you could see that as the Spirit being breathed into them, or God's spirit coming in like a breath, or something like that...

But in usual Calberti fashion, I've got a tilted view on it...

What if Jesus was speaking to those He loved in close proximity, so close that they could feel His breath? What if these words weren't spoken, but whispered - "Receive the Holy Spirit." 

After loss, after despair, and after restoration, what if the Disciples just couldn't get close enough to the One they loved? Close enough to feel His breath as they spent time together?

Like I said, my view is probably a little tilted. All I know is that feeling the breath of another living creature is a personal, intimate thing. 

And Jesus was and always is personal and intimate. We're the ones who draw away.

Stuff worth thinking about, eh wot?

Meanwhile, I'll be over here, snuggled next to the medium-sized but very long-legged furball, feeling her breathe as I fall asleep.

"You just call on me, brother, when you need a friend. We all need, some-bod-y to breathe on..."

"Cal?"

Yes?

"Get away from me."

Sorry. My bad.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Invitation

This is my iPad. There are many like it, but this one is mine...
A thought occurred to me this morning, as I put out my bits and bobs to do my writing thing at my beloved North Office. (That's CalbertSpeak for Biggby - the one near Celebration Cinema, and my favorite upon all the earth.)

The drill usually goes like this: Get out the writing stuff - keyboard, iPad, stand, extension cord, etc. Then plug stuff in, connect the keyboard, etc. Go get my beverage of choice. (A muffin or goodie is optional, but highly not recommended - they're delicious, but not Calbert approved...

But once in a great while...

Well, let's just leave it at that, shall we?)

Anyway, all the bits are bitted, the bobs are bobbing, and the event is ready to begin...

And that's when I done thunk the thought -

"When do I take the time to invite God to this little wordfest?"

*insert sound of foam-wrapped brick bouncing off of Cal's noggin*

Ow...

Maybe this is just me, but maybe you can relate to this, especially if you're a "first thing in the morning doing my devo thing" person:

First thing that happens in my day (Usually - sometimes there are exceptions.) is some quiet time with coffee / protein cocoa, and listening to the Daily Audio Bible. Throw in some crochet, and that's when God has the most of my undivided attention that anybody's ever gonna git.

It all goes downhill from there...

But what I'm wondering is, if that morning time makes me think that it kind of opens a "God Umbrella" over the whole day. Since I started the day focused on Him, that kind of means that He's involved for the rest of the day, right? No need to stop, refocus, and specifically invite Him into whatever I'm messing around with at the moment, right? Automatic God inclusion in everything, kind of like Deus ex Autopilot.

(No, not really. Not even close. Forget I said that. Forget you heard that. *waves hand in mystical mind control gesture* That was not the phrase you were looking for. Totally.)

The wiser and slightly less patient ones out there would probably be gently but yet sternly calling out to me (In their less-than-indoor voices...), "Well, DUH! Everybody knows that's messed up! Of course you have to refocus, invite, include - all that there stuff! What is this - Devos for Dummies??"

Actually...

Nope. Not gonna say it, lest the ire of the Proofreader be invoked. She already reminds me in her totally-indoor voice that there's way too much Calbert-bashing going on in that little noggin of mine. So, not gonna go there.

You are welcome, my Proofreader Peep.

So am I the only one that tends to forget that little thing - I need to actively refocus, to invite, to include Him in what's going on right now, this moment, this specific activity, those wayward thoughts, that distracting vision across the room or on the screen?

Or do I see others meekly nod their heads in affirmation of getting gollywhomped by the grind of a day, and forgetting the One who wants to hold our hands through it all?

Honestly, peeps, it's something I "know," but don't "remember." I understand the need, but almost never put it into practice. 

And so, I sit down to write what He wants me to write, while utterly forgetting that in order to write what He wants me to write, I probably should invite Him to sit down at this table with me, ask Him to get involved, and thank Him for His presence, even when I forget or ignore Him.

How do I expect to write His words, when I don't make it a point to be listening?

In His faithfulness, He usually shows up, takes an active role, and jumps into my wandering thoughts. He gently guides the words, the ideas, the expression, and as my beloved says, "the maintenance gets done." My mind becomes a tiny bit clearer, the truth and the lies are separated a bit farther apart, and I become a bit more of what He intends me to be.

But what if I turn to Him, right from the start? What if I extend the invitation?

I know this - He'll always accept.

So, here's the keyboard and the iPad. Here's the table, the place, the time, and me. Please - join me, Lord. Hang out with me, as we laugh, think, consider, and as I learn a little more about You in the process.

Thanks for the times you put up with me opening a God umbrella, and for Your faithfulness in walking with me, even when I'm a bit of a dufus and ignore you. Forgive that rudeness, Lord - I'm sorry.

Thanks for your patience as I try to remember to turn to You, not just in the morning, but at all the crossroads of this day. Help me remember that though spending the very first moments of my day with You is great, spending every moment of my day with you is amazing.

Welcome to the table, Lord. Please - speak. I'm listening.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Erosion of Belief



The erosion of belief: when doubt about one area of giftedness or ability begins to erode others.

Erosion doesn't discriminate - It simply erodes.

Wow - that was profound. Yay me...

Also, it's not real choosy - once it starts in, it doesn't just smack down its favorite parts but leave the stuff it doesn't care for alone, unlike the whole "white meat / dark meat" chicken negotiations that happen in our home. Fortunately, my beloved and I are pretty divided on our chicken preferences, so no diplomacy or intervention is needed.

And Beka doesn't really care either, as long as there's hope of something hitting the floor.

Anyway, back to erosion...

If one part of something starts to erode, the rest of it usually follows. Erosion isn't really selective - once it starts in, it tends to go for the whole enchilada.

Although I'm really not an enchilada fan - I'm more into tacos, or a nice taco salad.

Good gravy bones, I'm wandering all over today, aren't I? Yikes...

Where the rubber meets the road, or where the mudslide meets the bank, if you will...

(And if you won't, well, we're still going there...)

...is this:

When a humanbean of the person persuasion gets clobbered in one part of that collection of stuff we call our "gifts," that can be the opening salvo in the erosion tango. If that humanbean gets clobbered again in that same area, then things shift to more of a swing dance.

Another clobber, and it turns into the kind of stuff that makes my back ache and my knees crunch.

Ouch.

But here's the thang... once that mudslide gets some momentum, the site of the original clobber isn't the only thing that gets swept away. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, other parts of how we see ourselves become erosion fodder.

Would you like a real-life example? Of course you would! We're only 300 words into this puppy, so we got time to burn...

There was a part of my life, at one time called my "career," that got majorly clobbered. I'd been working in this area for 19 years and some change, had moved a bit within that area, and finally seemed to settle in my "calling," a purpose that seemed to use all my gifts and interests. It was amazing, and I thought my "nomadic career path" had finally settled on one zip code.

And I was oh so very wrong.

The budget monster reared its ugly head, and I was launched out a porthole.

Cue the erosion.

So I become a vocational nomad once again, trying to find a path, a purpose, something to call "mine," and only seeing more wandering. I'm on shifting sand, looking for a path where there is none.

But my "calling" in this one area wasn't the only thing that took a hit - I just didn't know it yet.

To keep this thrilling tale from turning into a bumbling blimp of blah, let me sum up - I racked up a few more "clobbers" in the same area, none of which were my own doing, and wound up wondering how I ever stumbled into that work in the first place. If I was that awful at it, why didn't anybody tell me to just hang it up?

Belief in any giftedness I might have possessed in that area? Eroded.

-But-

That's not the only area that got swept away...

If I'm that lame in _________, and I just keep getting clobbered, how can I believe that I'm actually worth anything in ________? How can I believe anyone who says, "You have a real gift for ________?"

How can I believe that I have any gifts or abilities at all?

The erosion of belief: when doubt about one area of giftedness or ability begins to erode others.

Can I throw a rather unique wrench into the works here?

("You CAN...")

Sorry... MAY I throw a rather unique wrench into the works here?

("Yes. Yes you may.")

Sheesh. Tough room.

For the past four years, I've had the added upheaval of seeing my entire being changed, both physically and mentally. And though you'd think that losing over 200 pounds and being ReBorn would make everything shiny and happy, truthfully, you'd be full of flying beanie weenies.

I know I am. Full of the aforementioned beanie weenies, that is.

Talk about erosion of belief... What happens when you don't recognize yourself in the mirror? When your body doesn't move the same way it has for the previous 50 years? When everything changes?

How can you believe anything about yourself, when you aren't sure who you are?

The erosion of belief: when doubt about one area of giftedness or ability begins to erode others.

Another example, recent but equally tasty...

I met with a friend early this year about a music project - taking some songs she had written, filling them out with instrumentation, helping with style, etc., and getting them ready to be recorded and produced into a CD. I agreed to get on board, excited for the project...

On the surface, anyway. But, honestly, down below, the doubts were flowing...

And, I did nothing. I made a few attempts to begin the work, played with some ideas, but down deep, I really didn't think I was up to the task.

After all, if I stink at _________, what makes me think I can do ________?

So, I did nothing. And, my friend moved on. She has someone who will actually do the work, will actually produce the end product, and will deliver...

Like I didn't.

She kindly asked me if I'd be willing to come and record the bass parts for the project, and I really appreciated being asked.

But, I declined.

I recommended someone who is a "real" bass player, who could actually deliver an inspired, decent performance, instead of flailing and fumble-fingering, which is what I major in. I honestly doubted that I'd be able to bring creative, decent bass parts to the session, even though I play bass almost every week at church. I doubt my creative abilities, especially when the red RECORDING light is on.

I also don't know if I could have done that session, knowing that I had the opportunity to do that project, and just let it lie there. I let down a friend, by doing nothing...

Because, somewhere inside, I didn't believe I could actually pull it off.

Getting clobbered a few times created doubt about one area of ability, and that's created doubt about other abilities, and now I pretty much don't do anything...

Because deep down, I really don't believe I can do anything. I doubt my gifts and abilities.

Now, others will try and encourage me, telling me to get out there and do it, to put on the big boy pants and get moving, and to just suck it up, buttercup. They'll tell me how gifted I am, how much God has blessed me with, and how thankful I should be.

For the record, all those things are true.

-But-

Others, no matter how much they love me or how sincere they are, can't talk away the erosion. Encouragement, while heard and accepted on one level, really can't stop the doubt.

And, for the record, I appreciate those who love me and want to speak words of grace and encouragement over me.

-But-

The erosion can only be healed from the inside out. And I'm not sure how that works.

This is potentially where some pithy phrases about how "God meets us in the dark places" and "makes a way for us" and "is a refuge in times of trouble" and "never gives us more than we can bear" and "will continue the good work He began" and stuff like that would pop up. But if you've read my blog at all, you may know how I feel about pithy phrases that can fit so nicely on the changeable letter sign out front.

To sum it up for those who don't know how I feel about pithy phrases:

Ewww.

I have to slowly, quietly walk with my Father. And listen to Him alone. So for now, I won't be pushing ahead, blazing new trails, or grabbing all the gusto I can...

'cause frankly, I can't. Grab gusto, that is. My gusto grabbing abilities are pretty much zip at this time.

So I probably won't be taking on new challenges, other than trying to justify my existence and not run us into more debt. (And that's a lot right there...) And try not to pick up any new hobbies, vocations, or interests, 'cause ain't nobody got time for that schizzle bajizzle.

Word to yo rockin' chair.

I'll be quiet, I'll do what I do, and I'll listen...

And that's enough, for now.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Gotcha Day, 2014

This...


Came into our lives 2 years ago today, June 16, 2012.

And this...


Pretty much stole our hearts the minute she walked through the door.

This...


Began leaving puppyhood behind far faster than we might have liked.

But, this...


Was fast becoming the friend, packmate, and companion we were hoping for.

And so this...


Was her one year anniversary. Gotcha day, 2013. She'd grown tall and beautiful, but still...

This...


Is the apple of her daddy's eye.

Just like this...


Will always be.


Yeah, even that.

Happy Gotcha Day, Beka Valentine Olson. We love you.


Hugs and doggie bacon strips, Momma & Daddy