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!
Writing in bed, and Beka editing by ear. Really. The ear typed some letters. Really.

Monday, February 28, 2011

New Things

So, there's a couple of new things going on with this posting...

First, I'm writing this in Pages, instead of my beloved MacJournal. Why? Not sure - some sort of need to be able to do more things and have more options right on the screen. So I'm trying it out. The issue will be how this goes from Pages to my blog (and from there to FB, although the delay from blog to FB sometimes takes days...). But if all works (or can be figured out easily), I'll be able to add pictures and such right from the entry, instead of adding them later, which means never, since once I fling the thing out there I tend to go, "ah, good enough" and leave it.

So for you, dear reader, I try and improve your reading experience. After all, if you're kind enough to wade through all this poopy, the least I can do is to try and make the scenery pretty. Pretty poopy. PRETTY poopy. Pretty POOPY.

Ah, how meanings can change with a different emphasis. Fun with words 101.

New thing #2... I'm typing this directly on the iPad screen, instead of using my beloved, thrice-worthy and totally best money I've spent for an accessory, wireless keyboard. I wish I could say this was by choice or decision, but alas... It's a result of rushing out de doh this morning, and leaving the writing bag behind.

"Writing bag? WRITING BAG?? Wait a minute, sparky - aren't you the dude who was going on and on, ad infinitum, ad nausium, world without end, amen, about not being a writer? And now you have a writing bag? Oi?"

Ya got me. Yes, I'm the dude.

I discovered that my Watson the Cat bag (the man purse, as Herself calls it) while cavernous, wonderful, and a good argument for women telling men to carry their own darn bags and quit saying, "honey, is there room in your purse for this?" (which never seems to stop me from jabbing her about the size and weight of her suitcase - oddly ironic, don't ya think?)...

Where the heck was I going with that? Oh yeah...

The Watson bag seems to get a little ponderous when adding the keyboard, the extension cord, and on occasion, a wire music stand to hold the iPad while I hold the keyboard on my lap.

On. My. Lap. There's a phrase I didn't think I'd ever be using. It was a cool day when Vicki took a picture of me using a laptop as a LAPtop.
But I digress...

So putting all the extras into the Watson bag makes it heavy, and makes me reluctant to lug everything around when I may or may not find time to sit down and write. If writing is important to me, I have to get over my semi-lazy nature and make it easy to do. (The mechanics of it, that is - the writing itself? Not so much.) Thus, the writing bag. Happy now?

"Thrilled." (Yes, that is a quote. I'll even tell you what it's from - The 5th Element. You'll have to research the rest on your own.)

So I sit, typing on the screen. Doesn't work well for a serious writer or someone who actually knows what they're doing when typing, but using the non-patented Olson method of two or three fingers on each hand, and whoever is in the neighborhood gets the job, it works pretty well.

Yes, you would cringe to watch me type. The cringing would turn to confusion when you notice that I can type without watching my fingers. Auto-correct sometimes changes my meaning drastically, but the job gets done. I'm more accurate on the wireless keyboard than the screen, but typing happens in either case.

I are weird.

Semi-new thing #3 - I've actually become comfortable calling myself a writer.

"Wait a minute, sparky - aren't you the dude who was going on and on, ad infinitum, ad nausium, world without end, amen, about not being a writer?"

I was afraid you'd mention that again. *sigh* Yes, I am the dude. Or, as the prophet said to King David, "Thou are the man." Uff da.

In the wild ride these last 10, almost 11 months has been, a lot of things have shifted and changed...

I couldn't eat eggs, then they came back. And I'm glad - I love eggs. "The greatest thing in the woild is a nice E.B.C. - egg on bagel with cheese, where the egg is nice and lean. They're so perky. I love that." (modified quote - when you've been playing the game as long as Herself and I, you do things to change it up.)

I loved pinto beans. Now, they taste bitter to me.

Used to think music was my primary expression. For the first time, I'm thinking it may not be.

Things have so much less importance. There are other concerns that mean much more to me.

I ride my trike, miles at a time, and am grinning at the end.

I scrape the car off while Herself is inside. She doesn't like that, since she'd rather be moving than sitting, but she allows me to serve her every now and again.

And so on. Many changes, refocusing, learning new and casting aside old. Along the way, writing became not just something to do once in a while in a sad attempt to make people laugh or think on my blog (sad, because making people laugh and telling stories was a way for me to try and compensate for being obese... the stereotypical jolly fat man, playing the buffoon in public to hide the hated reality inside), but something I needed. I've written this before, but it's so true - writing is where I trot out some of the things floating around in my head, take a look at them in the full light of day, learn which are lies so I can recognize them and reject them when they come around again, polish some of the others to become part of how I see my world, and admittedly, throw some of them out there just to make people laugh, smile and think. To see where the Lord wants to use my voice to encourage someone else or to challenge them in a non-threatening way. To hear from Him about things in my life that need to be polished or removed.

Writing is a place where God refines me and lets me share the process with you. It's confusing sometimes, which is why I ramble into random thoughts and chase rabbit trails, it has me laughing out loud sometimes, because He knows that laughter is a great gift, it leaves me quiet and introspective sometimes, because He's doing some tough work on my prideful heart, and it's thrilling sometimes, because He uses my little words and wanderings to speak truth and encouragement into other lives. That's the best part.

Yes, I art the dude. I'm a writer, a storyteller, a musician, a maker of jewelry, a loom knitter, and a jack of a few trades. I'm a husband, a son, an uncle (Weird Uncle, thank you very much...), a daddy to a doggie, a friend, a co-worker, a former fat man (Fat Mon, to those who've been to Jamaica), a recipient of abundant grace, a witness to miracles...

A child of God.

So yeah, I'm a writer. Good? No - not yet. Blessed? Indeed - more than I can express.

** And, for the record, getting from Pages to the blog all on the iPad seems to be difficult... Rather than holding this up, I'm back in MacJournal and flinging it out there. No italics, no pictures. Sheeesh... **

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Sacred Balance

Seems like the word "balance" has become my mantra of late. Balance in what I eat, in how I move, in what is allowed in my life and what must go. Balance in material acquisitions, not allowing my "I gotta have that!" nature to rule the roost.

An "I gotta have that!" nature with a "are you nuts? We're flat broke!" reality. Not the greatest mix, really.

And yet, there is a time to put forth, and a time to restrain from putting forth. For example, I went shopping for a tripod recently, to use for both video and still photography.

In case you didn't know, my wife takes excellent pictures, some of which I am determined to sell prints of in our Etsy store, which exists but hasn't actually started up yet because I haven't taken the time to set up business policies, and I have no head for that sort of thing so I'm sure if I do it, I'll end up making a policy that will, in fact, make sure that anything we ever create will be the total property of someone in a far country that I can't even pronounce the name of, and they will end up getting my vital organs shipped to them before I'm done using them (the organs, not the person or the Etsy store, although that would be pretty funny) because, legally, my butt is theirs.

Can you tell I have some unresolved anxiety issues? Yeah. Anyway, the tripod...

We had kind of a number in mind to spend on the tripod, so I went with that number in mind, and a list of requirements for the tripod. It must have a video head, to allow for smooth movement, since a sticky tripod results in mutterings from and frustration for my beloved. She argues with inanimate objects. Loudly. With great passion and depth. But usually when Ezri and I are the only ones in the room. And we're not telling. What happens with Vicki, stays in us.

It must be sturdy, to resist the occasional tap or biff of a stray something just when the shot of the century is within grasp. But it must not be so sturdy that he who will most likely be carrying it around for she who must be honored like the Proverbs 31 kind of gal she is, will not be bearing Stonehenge to and fro.

It must be tall, to shoot over the melon heads of concertgoers, (of whom I am chief, chief of melons that is) but be able to become short, to shoot the cuteness of Ezzie the Wonder Dog, doing those canine things that cause us to forgive her for various and sundry canine "indiscretions."

So the extremely helpful and kind salesperson joined me as I embarked on my quest to find The One Tripod to bring them all and in the darkness bind them, or at least shoot them. Photograph them, I mean.

The lovely and patient salesperson began with my ideal number, taking my list of necessary and good features to avoid the displeasure of she who must be loved and pampered for all the crapola she's had to put up with for the last 28 years, and showing me the possibilities of tripodage.

While there were some good candidates in that group, none of them shone with a golden light, signifying to all present that this was The One.

And so, I had a decision to make. A time to hold back, a time to put forth. Two levels up from my original number, The One Tripod was waiting for me. Us. Vicki. Because I certainly won't ever be strapping this puppy to my trike and taking it along for some trail photos on my daily ride. No, certainly not. Nope.


The One Tripod to rule them all is tall, but can be made short, is sturdy, but will not throw out the back of he who will probably toting the tripod for she who must be cherished and adored, and has, most importantly of all, Parameters. The kind worth waiting 63 weeks for.

(That was a Jungle Jam quote, since most of you probably didn't recognize it. It'll make Vicki laugh when she reads it. Or, as I so frequently call her, she who must be made to laugh, or at least I keep trying to make her laugh - audibly, not internally)

It has a smooth moving head, the gentle gliding of which makes strong men weep just to behold it. (and even brings a tear to the eye of GirlyMen like me) It has twisty handles, allowing each movement of the tripod head to be accessed without having to unscrew this, adjust that, tweak the other thing, offer a plushy goat sacrifice that it might hear you and grant your request, or any other cumbersome nonsense.

It offers mutter-free, frustration-free operation, that the artist might become one with the tripod. See the tripod, BE the tripod. Ezri and I will have no new tales to tell in the course of this tripod's life with us.

It is sturdy, but elicited no groans or pain as he who will be toting the thing all over tarnation brought it out to the sleigh. And Gracie (the sleigh) did not drop in dismay or bottom out her springs when the tripod was lovingly placed in her rear compartment. And yet it is sturdy enough that a stray wind, a tiny dog, an ill-timed leaf, or an errant toddler won't knock it over.

A determined toddler, on the other hand, will take this puppy out, being as they are, a force of nature that rivals Revelation-size wrath in destructive power. Hopefully we won't encounter too many Mach 5 toddlers...

There is a time to put forth, and a time to hold back. It was time to stretch a little, to buy The One Tripod, ponying up more scratch than we initially were hoping to, and getting much more One Tripod than we were expecting, up to the challenge of ruling them all, finding them, bringing them all and in the darkness binding them.

So goes the Sacred Balance, learning that even in a piddly little thing like choosing a tripod, it's alright to put forth - not in all things but on occasion. It's also good to hold back, with careful thought, prayer and contemplation. While I don't think it's necessary to fast and meditate for 40 days to pick out a new shirt, it is good to mindfully consider where it fits into what you already have.

Unless you're at the Goodwill store, that is. All rules are suspended at the door of the Goodwill store.

Give and take. Put forth and hold back. Living life aware, mindfully, intentionally. In large and small things, in material things, physical things, mental things, and spiritual things. Balance and mindfulness, trying not to allow the mundane mud of everyday life to reduce all to a dull grey. Seeing color and pattern and purpose in every day, every hour, every moment.

To have life, and have it abundantly. The Sacred Balance.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Question I've Needed To Ask

Sunday morning, 8:05 arrival at church, and the question I've been seeking an answer to is being asked: Why? Why do I come here each week? When my obligation as a part of the worship team or the compulsion to play music is laid aside, what is there that draws me here? Or, is obedience to duty enough? Is that sufficient to bring me here? Is there a deeper connection, or does the deeper connection come because I took the first step - obedience to come where I know I should be?

Or am I just full of hooey and need to get over myself? Hmmm... Might have just hit on it after all...

Let me back up a bit... January has been a month of thinking and writing for me - a time to step away from some distractions and take a look at where the past nine months have brought me. I'm almost half the size I was in January 2009, have lost 163 pounds since March 30th, and there are some days where I have no idea who that man is looking back at me in the mirror.

So I'm seeking the eye of the hurricane, to sit in a calm place for a bit and let the dust settle.

The service begins, and I'm listening...

"with a thankful heart I bring my offering" ...
"I will not forget you are my God my king..."

I do forget. In the rush of getting here, getting the bass hooked up, running down the set list - I do forget.

"be the fire in my heart, be the wind in these sails, be the reason that I live - Jesus."

Lost in the busyness. Lost in the routine. Perhaps the desire was still there all along - just got a bit buried.

Josh makes a good point as we talk before the service. Maybe the desire to come to church is just a myth. I mean, who in his right mind wants to get up way, way early, get dressed, shuffle out to a cold car, drive to church, and by the time you get there, be all smiley and happy and joyful?

Perhaps the point IS obedience. The act of getting up and out to church is one of will - an active decision to go and be a part of something that we KNOW we should be a part of. To acknowledge God's reign over our lives by submitting and obeying. He tells us to be in fellowship with other believers, to gather together.

For some, the desire to come to church might be an eager anticipation of the blessings to come. For others, and I'm finding this means me, the day begins with an act of obedience and duty, and blessings follow because we're exactly where we should be.

Is there anything wrong with that? I don't think so. Both are valid and alright. Being eager to come to the house of God and filled with anticipation - wonderful. Making yourself get up and out, not out of joy but an acceptance that this is what you SHOULD do in obedience to Him - wonderful. In either case, you're here. God shows up, as He always does and meets us here.

Jeremy just said, "we've all got our stuff to deal with." True dat. We are encouraged to come, to lay those burdens aside, and to enter into His presence to be renewed. If it takes an act of will and obedience to bring us here, so be it. Whatever it takes.

Something equally important? Making sure this isn't the only such encounter with God we have for the week. This is only one time to meet with Him - something that should be happening daily, hourly, minute by minute. Perhaps the desire and anticipation to meet Him here is deadened if it's the only time we spend with Him all week. The eager anticipation comes from once again meeting a dear friend and spending time with them.

And I'm not talking about our church families. They are dear and loved and we should want to be with them.

But the less intimate we are with our Father, the less we "feel." No wonder we fall further and further into "numb" - losing the eager anticipation of worship. Maybe we lose joy and gain guilt - we really should be spending time with Him all through the week, but here we are, having ignored Him since the last time we sat in these chairs. No wonder we kind of drag our feet when we shuffle through the door.

Jeremy just asked, "do you crave God? He is the one we should be desiring more than anything else." God is narrating this writing, guiding it through the service. What is it that gets in the way of desiring God? What do we (or I) keep putting in His place? What gets in the way? What blocks the desire to meet with Him here?

Maybe it's this way... we allow clutter to come between us and God, it builds and builds through the tumult of a busy week, so by the time we reach the Sabbath, the mountain of mundane we have to climb over to come and meet with Him is overwhelming. And that certainly can kill any sense of anticipation or desire.

What compels me to meet God here, in His house? Obedience, but not obligation. Responsibility, but not duty. Love, not debt. The sure and certain knowledge that when I show up at His house, He meets me here. As I give Him my time and gifts, He responds with the joyful heart of a Father, watching his kids play just for Him.

Thanks Lord, for January. For time away to really see what You see all along, and to be reminded that it's easy to let the mechanics of playing music get in the way of the act of worship. Help me to be mindful - to see the meaning in the songs, to be a part of something living and real, to not be a leader in worship but just one who worships with a bass in his hands. Thanks for giving all of us opportunities to participate, to use our gifts just the way You intended and to bring them and lay them at Your feet. May they be a sweet offering to You, our King, our Father, our Redeemer.

See You Sunday, Father. And all the days between now and then.