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!
Standing in the sunshine... preparing to dig an escape tunnel.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Remarkable

Riding around Mackinac Island. Pretty remarkable...

I've allowed my life to become unremarkable.

*insert cricket sounds, as most of my 4.78 readers think, "I never really thought of his life as 'remarkable,' so really, nothing lost there...*

And yet, my peeps, there was a time when I thought my life was indeed remarkable. When the potential seemed endless, the possibilities boundless, and the future was so bright, I had to wear...

Something.

It was remarkable. And I allowed it to slip away.

"Oh great - it's going to be another one of those 'I'm so sad, I've let everything slip away, oh poor sad miserable me' posts. Lovely. Time to click over to some puppy videos..."

Hang with me, puppy peeps...

This isn't a "I'm so sad, so miserable, so wretched" post, but rather a "Hey - wait one crab kickin' minute! What happened? The awesome was right here just a little while ago - where the heck did it go? I'm gonna saddle up, ride that awesomeness down, hogtie it and drag its sorry hiney back here, dadgumit!" post. 

Now you're excited, aren't you?

Meesa too.

So, a little background comin' at ya, to help y'all understand why I suddenly seem to be waking up from a deep, awesome-free slumber.

I owe it all to The Animal.

As usual here on this little collection of fluffy goodness known as The Whistler's Wonderings, I make up fanciful names to refer to real honest-to-goodness folks roaming around in my odd existence. Probably not necessary - since I have 4.78 readers, I'm pretty aware of who they all are, and that none of them are members of the Creepy Stalker or Those Who Know Them club, so anybody I mention on this thing has little to worry about from paparazzi or other lower life forms...

Except for spiders. And you're on your own with them, my peeps. *shudder*

Anyway, I change the names just on the odd chance that a member of the CSoTWKT club does sneak into our merry readership, and then engage in the aformentioned-but-not-really-mentioned stalking thing.

Where was I?

Oh, right - The Animal, who has a remarkable life. How do I know that?

Stalking.

Just kidding. Really. No need for any sort of legal action or anything. Nope. Nothing creepy here.

Anyway, The Animal is a friend of mine, and looking through their images/videos/media on *insert name of social media site* is like watching a National Geographic documentary on high speed in your own personal IMAX theater with the volume on "11."

Wow. The Remarkable hath been brung.

Not to reveal details, but the list of images/video/media may or may not include: Dogs, water, a chrome gazing ball, snow, horses, bonfires, smiling personbeings, Smurfs, fish, selfies, tans, inspirational scenery, twins, whooping bottom and taking names, pineapples, shellfish, trees, Oompa Loompas, things being eaten, babies, cardboard, distant places, more selfies, outrageous stunts, random personbeings, energy drinks, cans of *processed meat product*, strange facial expressions, more fish, and a guy named Lars.

Note: that list began with the phrase "may or may not." Take that to heart, my peeps.

"Wow," sayeth I once again. Strong in the awesome is The Animal.

Now, exposure to that kind of remarkable can propel a personbeing in one of two directions:

1) Absolute despair at the mundane, useless level of your existence.

2) Absolute indignation at the amount of awesome sauce you've allowed to get flushed down the biffy of your existence.

Or, put another way, you either get depressed or fierce.

I've tried depressed - it rots.

So I think I'll take fierce for a spin, and see how it rides.

When I was in the first year after my surgery, when the weight was dropping off at the rate of around 6-8 pounds a week and I was seeing the light outside of my prison cell for the first time in my life, I decided to pursue some things that could be called "remarkable."

Like...

- Traveling Route 66

- Riding the lakeshore trail in Chicago, or at least the trail that crosses the drawbridge in Grand Haven

- Playing mini golf

- Taking Tai Chi classes, and becoming a "practicer" of Tai Chi, doing it long enough and well enough that I could justify someday owning an "official" Tai Chi outfit - probably in silky blue

- Riding long distances on my trike, perhaps even doing a half century or (*gasp*) a full century, getting fit and fast enough to justify getting a fast road trike, to really haul tushy down the trail

- Walking around the Museum of Science and Industry under my own power, instead of in a wheelchair
- ...Or the Shedd Aquarium
- ...Or the Field Museum
- ...Or just about anyplace else in Chi-Town

- Going to Disney World / EPCOT / whatever-else-the-heck-they-got-going-on-down-there

- Walking around Festival in Grand Rapids... haven't been back since June 2010, when I still had to use the wheelchair. After that day, it went down into the basement and hasn't been out since.

- Taking walks, playing outside, and just generally doing adventurous stuff with my Beloved
- ... And with my dog
- ... And with both random and not-so-random personbeings all over the place

- Working out, maybe lifting some weights, and getting fit... a little... sort of... at least, as fit as a saggy 50-something can achieve without extensive plastic surgery...

- Snowshoes, and the legs to use them

- Doing the DalMac bike ride, from Lansing to Mackinaw City, including riding across the Mighty Mac!

The list goes on, but note - thats a decent amount of remarkable right there, dagnabit. And honestly, if you look through my images/videos/media on *insert name of social media site*, you definitely will see a little of the remarkable.

Really, if you look at my "Before March 30, 2010" pictures and my "After March 30, 2010" pictures, there is an abundance of remarkable.

-But-

It's not enough. Not nearly enough.

I've allowed a couple of years of "remarkable" to turn into "unremarkable," and slide toward "pretty mundane," landing squarely in the land of "meh."

As I said, I'm going for "fierce" this time around, instead of "depressed." And the last thing I want to do with my ReBorn life is to let it all flush away into the land of "meh."

Or Ohio.

So this remarkable list of stalled awesomeness is challenging me to get off my formerly-huge-now-primarily-saggy hiney and get back to chasing the remarkable.

So, I shall chase. I shall pursue. I shall generate my own list that may or may not include a guy named Lars. And all it took was a nudge from The Animal, delivered via *insert name of social media site.*

Of course, if The Animal delivered that nudge in person, it would leave a mark. And bruises. And perhaps a need for triage...

'cause The Animal is fancy like that...

And remarkable.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A Lesson From 106

Sunrise over Lake Huron. Magnificent.

As in, Psalm 106...

"They traded the Glory for a cheap piece of sculpture—a grass-chewing bull! They forgot God, their very own Savior, who turned things around in Egypt..."
Psalms 106:20-21 (MSG)

"They worshiped their idols, were caught in the trap of idols. They sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altars of demon gods."
Psalms 106:36-37 (MSG)

I am ridiculously short-sighted.

Not nearsighted - ok, a little in my right eye, but mostly astigmatism is how I roll - but definitely short-sighted.

I can't seem to keep the bigger picture, the long view, in sight. I almost always choose the smaller, the immediate, the "right here in front of me, right now," instead of choosing those things that don't make me feel all fuzzy and happy right now, but have great rewards in the near, distant, or way-the-heck-out-there future.

Short-sighted.

Dave Ramsey says that being an adult is having the ability to delay gratification toward a long-term goal.

Anybody who knows me knows that I are a child. Totally.

I'm getting better, especially here in Life 2.0. I'm learning that the long-term is so much better than the "now," making for a more joyful life and reducing the amount of whining about the widgets, doo-dads, and other crapola that I've surrounded myself with over the years.

*sigh*

So yeah, I have no finger to point at those who threw over the glory of God for some dumb cow statue. The ones who denied the power of God that brought them out of Egypt and through the sea, and instead set their eyes on the golden widget, doo-dad, thingie that was right in front of them.

How much wonder have I thrown over at the altar (cash register) of a big ol' electronics store, craft store, music store, or *insert name of your favorite consumer house of worship here,* totally forgetting the glory of the One who wants to lead me onward to a greater goal, a deeper walk with Him?

How many widgets, doo-dads, thingies, or crapola have I allowed to blind my eyes, to eclipse the glory?

Really, it's not just stuff that can blind us, making us trade the glory for some dumb cow... It can be relationships, media, or desires for what others seem to have that we don't - anything can become cow fodder, if it comes between us and the glory of God.

(Cow fodder, not cow exhaust, just to be clear. Two different ends, two different sets of problems.

You're welcome.)

What is there in your life that can cause a total eclipse of the glory?

("Turn around, bright eyes...")

(What? You didn't get that? You are dead to me, and to tons of '80s music video fans. Look up "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - Bonnie Tyler. Absolutely weird and cheesy video that was cool and captivating back in the decade where MTV stood for MUSIC tv, instead of "angst, reality-not!, and programming via shock value." I miss the 80's...

A little.)

Anyway...

Note the way Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message: "They traded the Glory for a cheap piece of sculpture..."

Traded. Not neglected, ignored, forgot about like a bunch of dumb sheep, or had a brain fart of epic proportions - but TRADED.

As in, willingly exchanging one thing for another.

Kind of like when the kid next to you offers to trade their sandwich for your cupcake, and only after the deal is done and they've already swallowed the cupcake whole, do you discover that you now have a pickle loaf sandwich. WithOUT catsup.

Pickle loaf - not offensive necessarily, but compared to a cupcake? Fuhgeddaboutit.

On the other hand, pickle loaf rolled around a baby dill pickle with cream cheese? Mmmm. Ok - I've only had this as ham wrapped around a pickle with cream cheese, but I'm guessing pickle loaf would only enhance the picklessence of the dish.

Dang - I've really got to remember not to write when I'm hungry. In other words, every three hours.

It's fun being me.

So, it's kind of like "They willfully, knowing exactly what they were about, exchanged the Glory of God for a piece of cheap sculpture."

It's like me trading a Lake Huron sunrise for a garden gnome. *shudder* They're cute, but the beauty of the sunrise over Lake Huron is some deep dish beauty right there.

And a garden gnome is NOT a gift that keeps on giving. Nope. Not even a little.

So, saddlepals - look around. Got any doo-dads, widgets, thingies, media, diversions, or crapola that has eclipsed the Glory? I know I do.

It's never too late to de-clutter. And just like the sunrise hiding behind the clouds, God is there, patiently waiting for us to put down the distractions...

And turn around. ("Bright eyes... Turn around, briiiiiiiiight eyyyyyyyyyyyyes."

The 80's. Miss them I do. A little.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Undistracted



"Sanballat and Geshem sent this message: 'Come and meet with us at Kephirim in the valley of Ono.'  I knew they were scheming to hurt me so I sent messengers back with this: 'I'm doing a great work; I can't come down. Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you?' "
Nehemiah 6:2-3 (MSG)

Why should the work stop just so I can get distracted?

*Typing away... W-h-y... s-h-o-u-l-d... t-h-e... w-o-r-k... s-t-o...*

Hmm - wonder if there's anything I need to know about in the ol' email?

Nope. Nada.

*W-h-y... s-h-o-u-l-d... t-h-e... w-o-r-k... s-t-o...*

Oh - I haven't Tweeted that I'm working. Better keep that social media flood alive and well, lest my efforts in building a "tribe" and a "following" all collapse and I have to start building my media empire all over again.

*W-h-y... s-h-o-u-l-d... t-h-e... w-o-r-k... s-t-o...*

Wonder if anybody Liked that picture of the pickle relish we were canning last night? I think I'll check. After all, that status isn't going to update itself.

What's this?

FUNNY DOG VIDEO!!!

- time passes... and passes... and passes... -

*W-h-y... s-h-o-u-l-d... t-h-e... w-o-r-k... s-t-o...*

Technically, crochet is one of the things I do, right? Part of the whole "Jack of a FEW Trades" gig, right? So it counts, right?

*W-h-y... s-h-o-u-l-d... t-h-e... w-o-r-k... s-t-o...*

So is paracord braiding, for that matter. Or wire wrapping jewelry. Or messing around with music, right?

*W-h-y... s-h-o-u-l-d... t-h-e... w-o-r-k... s-t-o...*

Maybe somebody needs to narrow down the ol' job description... And by somebody, of course, I mean ME.

*W-h-y... s-h-o-u-l-d... t-h-e... w-o-r-k... s-t-o...*

YouTube is NOT in the job description, however - even when supposedly doing "research" on the aforementioned crochet, paracord, wire jewelry, or music.

But it IS entertaining. And hey, everybody needs a brain break, right?

Right?

*W-h-y... s-h-o-u-l-d... t-h-e... w-o-r-k... s-t-o...*

Sigh...

You may wonder, are these scenarios from collected experiences, gathered over time from my struggles as a self-employed but under-motivated humanperson, one with all the drive and self-discipline of oh, a rutabaga?

(No - come to think of it, a rutabaga has the discipline to get its head up out of the dirt eventually. Me? More like "happy as a clam buried in the sand."

Without most of the happy, for the record.)

Anyway, the truth is that all of these aforementioned scenarios were gathered from one writing session. THIS writing session.

Yeah.

My focus, concentration, and attention span are pretty much a piƱata. Hanging from a 50 foot tree. In a gale-force wind. And I'm down below, blindfolded, with a broken yardstick.

Whee.

Hang on a minute - let me finish that row of half-double crochet edging, then we'll carry on.

*insert famous "waiting" music from well-known and much watched (by the elder Niecelet) quiz show where the answer must ALWAYS be in the form of a question...*

There. Didn't even split the yarn OR drop a stitch. Yay me.

What was I saying?

*W-h-y... s-h-o-u-l-d... t-h-e... w-o-r-k... s-t-o...*

Oh. That.

"The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul. It had taken fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard the news and all the surrounding nations saw it, our enemies totally lost their nerve. They knew that God was behind this work."
Nehemiah 6:15-16 (MSG)

Fifty-two days.

Fifty-two. That's a five and a two. Together.

Wow.

Evidently, undistracted work is productive work. Who knew?

Did I say "undistracted?" That's not really accurate, is it? If you read the whole story, you see that the work was hardly "undistracted." Working with one hand, holding a weapon in the other doesn't really qualify as "working without distraction." Not even close.

And yet, with the efforts of priests, goldsmiths, and all sorts of people, working and defending their families all at the same time, the wall was completed.

In fifty-two days.

*insert sound of various and sundry excuses for not writing, not posting to the blog, and not working on the book being flushed down the biffy with extreme prejudice*

Maybe the key, if there is one, is the what their enemies realized when the work was completed:

"When all our enemies heard the news and all the surrounding nations saw it, our enemies totally lost their nerve. They knew that God was behind this work."
Nehemiah 6:16 (MSG)

They knew that God was behind this work.

Now, I may believe that God wants me to write. I may acknowledge that it doesn't really matter if anyone else reads these words, because He's the one who compels me to work through things with writing. And though I really try not to pay attention to how many (if any) read, comment, or "like" my ramblings, it really is true that the words are His, to do with as He wants, and to put them where He wants them to go.

-But-

Do I believe, do I acknowledge, do I KNOW that God is behind this work?

And if I do, if I really go "all in" and believe that He is doing a great work through my efforts at this keyboard, with these words and thoughts...

Then how can I let little things like email, tweets, status updates, or even funny dog videos take me away from this great work?

Perhaps I don't believe, I don't acknowledge, and I don't really KNOW that God is behind it. Or can't bring myself to believe that He would do a great work through a rutabaga like me.

So, maybe it's time to believe, to acknowledge, and to KNOW that God is at work. Right here, right now...

Through a rutabaga like me.

Or a rutabaga like you.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

TBT: The Forgetful Mirror

"Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like."

James 1:23-24 - The Message

There are a few podcasts that are part of my routine - I check them out regularly, load 'em to my iPod ('cause it's a little tough taking an iPad on my trike), and listen to them either during the day or at night before bed.

One in particular usually starts my day, and sometimes ends it: the Daily Audio Bible with Brian Hardin. I usually listen as soon in the morning as my schedule allows - on my morning trike ride, while knitting in the living room, or at a coffee shop or bookstore preparing to write.

At first, I thought "well, this is just for those who want to take the 'easy' way - being spoon-fed scripture instead of reading it for themselves. Not really studying - not 'real' devotions, just an electronic fix that doesn't really change a life."

And I was wrong. At least for me. For others, your mileage may vary.

What this has done is help me establish a morning routine - a regular path that I follow. Beginning my day focusing on God and His word, and that starts to penetrate the rest of the day. A particular verse, or a section of the story coming back to mind, giving me time to reflect and apply.

Which brings us to Solomon and James. (wouldn't that be a great name for a folk singing duo?)

We're in First Kings, watching the reign pass from David to Solomon. We approach the apex of glory for Israel - the building of the Temple and the rule of the wisest king ever... and then we watch it all fall downhill from there. From David, with a whole heart for God, to Solomon, half-hearted.

And it makes me wonder, which one am I?

I (like so many other kids raised in Sunday School) do a bit of sneering at the Hebrew children - watching the Red Sea part, then hang out with the gold cow. God provides bread, and they whine. God delivers, they turn to idols. "What, are they idiots?" I hear myself ask.

Solomon - given wisdom from God, along with long life and riches. And after an amazing start, down he goes. Just like the rest of his people's history.

Or mine.

For I'm the guy who has received such abundant grace from God's hand that it staggers the mind. I've seen my entire life and history re-written in just over a year. Chains have been shattered, my story made new, and God's goodness shown so hugely that I have no words to describe it.

And 5 minutes after hearing His word, I get irritated with the person who just cut me off on the highway. I get peeved when the piece of bread I just buttered falls on the floor. (buttered side down, of course) I sit in front of the TV or the computer and allow my brain to turn to mush. I wander through my world and wonder why I feel so alone. Through conscious or unconscious choice, I turn away.

Half-hearted.

I look in the mirror, walk away and forget what I look like. Probably there's a little dot in my Bible next to James 1:23 and an arrow that says, "you are here." I cry for God's word to illumine my path, then I tie a blindfold over my eyes. I plead for His voice to sing over me, and then I plug my ears. (no matter that they're Bose earbuds - they're still earplugs at times)

I'm Solomon, without the wisdom or the riches. Only one wife, but she is a hottie, so we've got that in common.

What listening to the Word each day is doing is keeping the mirror in front of me. In fact, when I'm being a boogerhead, you'll sometimes hear me mutter, "mirror" or "Solomon." The mental health professionals call that self-talk. I call it giving myself a private butt whooping. Or semi-public - I have no shame. Usually. Sometimes.

Father, give me this day what I need for this day. Keep the mirror in front of me Lord - don't let me turn away and forget who I am in You. Remind me when I turn away, catch me when I close my eyes or plug my ears, and lead me in Your way. What I need today, for today. Each step, each hour, each minute. Thanks for the gift of Your word - help me stay grounded in it, and close to You.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Becoming

This is me, doing my own "becoming..."
To my friend the Poetess, with whom a three-hour conversation seems way too short...

Mid-fifties seems to be an interesting age. Or so it seems to me, having been perched in the absolute center of mid-fifties for a few months now.

There's the obvious stuff: Only 10 years to Social Security (which, more and more, seems to mean "the all you can eat cat food bar..."), you now have to be on the lookout for the places that start offering the senior discount for us youngsters on the senior set, and you really do start to wonder if *insert name of whichever drug is being mentioned on whichever commercial* is right for you.

My doctor, the Zena (Warrior Princess) of the medical world, albeit a whole heck of a lot taller, would say, "No. No, it's not right for you. Stop watching those commercials, and DO NOT go to their website for more information. Now get up on that exam table before I bring the hurt."

I love my doc.

Anyway, the ski lift of life has dropped you at the top of the hill, slammed the door behind you, and is preparing to deliver a swift kick, sending you flying down the slope with only one ski, no poles, and all the grace and poise of a young Jerry Lewis...

Without the talent, comic timing, or mad skilz.

But it's not all bad...

A good friend and I sat down for a short three-hour conversation. We graduated in '77, from the well-loved Oscoda High School, where the mighty Owls pelt the opposition with the fury of their droppings.

Let's see YOUR school mascot bring that kind of punishment. HAH!

And we were talking about how many folks from school have connected with us on Facebook, and what a strange but cool thing that is at this stage of our lives. To our surprise, (Mine, anyway... the Poetess is a much kinder soul than I...) we seem to desire those connections, even welcome them, where perhaps we wouldn't have years earlier.

And those connections aren't just about shared experiences, but go beyond - where people we know are now, where life has taken them, and the kind of things they have learned along the way.

We're all becoming.

"Huh?"

I, in typical Calbert style, mentioned that maybe the reason we all seem more open to connecting with each other, is that we've had a lot of the dumb knocked off of us over the years, a lot of the pretense, and a whole heap of the attitude, leaving us a little wiser, more aware of grace received, and more willing to extend that grace and love to others.

We're all becoming.

"Ah... Um... Wait - what?"

We're more able to connect with others, because we've become more open in these years. Some of us have been through deep and horrid waters, bringing their lessons of wisdom and endurance, and some of us are right in the middle of those currents. Some of us, one very recently, have fallen from our number, and are missed. And some of us have learned that the regrets we've been carrying all these years are useless weight, so we finally get rid of them and find freedom in the process, freeing us to share that light with others.

We are becoming.

And really, isn't that just a small glimpse of the life of faith and trust Jesus calls us to, when He says, "Follow me?"

(Especially the bit about having the dumb knocked off us... I speak for myself here...)

I was thinking (and the Poetess mentioned this too) that it's sad this place in our lives didn't arrive sooner - the openness, the freedom, the grace and caring. But, we both admit, the view from the age of "double nickels" is not really possible back in your thirties or forties. Maybe it's a fifties thing, or perhaps it's different for each one of us. Some of us arrive at this place a little sooner, some a little later, and sadly, some might miss it altogether.

You have to drop a lot of stuff to have your hands free and open.

I do think in our walk of faith, though, that it can arrive a lot sooner. The Word of God can do a lot to "knock the dumb off," and fill that empty space with wisdom, love, mercy, and grace. If we open the Bible, really get into it and pay attention, that is.

Me? I'm a slow learner. It's all pretty much arriving right here in the exact middle of my fifties.

I'm becoming.

And by God's grace, so are you.