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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wasted Potential?

Potential. We like that word.

We like to affirm it in children - they have serious potential. We love to see it in a business prospect - those with great potential of lucrative results. We screen our relationships sometimes on it - does this have potential, or is this a dead-end street?

I've been clubbed over the head with potential for many years - told that I have SO much potential, but that I just waste it, I don't apply myself, I don't put in the effort to make something from it.

Somewhere along the way, I started believing it. That I am lazy, have no drive, waste my time on unimportant things and just generally toss all that potential down the biffy on a minute by minute basis. I never get stuff done, I start well but never finish things, I put things off to the last moment, so nothing ever gets my best efforts, and I spend so much time dreaming what I might do that I never actually do anything.

As with most everything I observe, there is both truth and lies mixed up in that mess. But this is not the place to work through 'em, because that's not really what I'm here to think about.


You heard me.

What I'm thinking about is the process of moving potential into reality. Regardless of how many self-help books you read, or blogs that tell you that you can totally remake your life and follow your dreams, the bitter truth is that most of us will never crawl out of the ruts we live in, nor are we necessarily supposed to. God has led us to settled lives - families, congregations, friends, careers or jobs, pursuits or education, just starting up and getting going, or winding down and looking toward the finish line - and if we're where He leads us, then we're good, perceived potential realized or not.

But what about all that potential?

My mom was going to write a book and tell the story of her and my dad - how they came together, how things fell apart and the amazing things God did in those years when it was just her and her two sons, as she headed back to college to become a teacher. And how things felt when after many, many years of silence, the man who she'd never stopped loving came back into our lives.

Did I ever tell you that my first real memories of my dad began when I turned 21? Or what it's like to get to know your parent when you're on the doorstep of being a young adult yourself? What it's like to see your dad (who you've just gotten to barely know) turn around and follow Jesus?

Or that I sang at my parent's wedding? And my brother was my dad's best man?

But my mom's potential, of telling all of her story, of writing and speaking more, and of traveling and ministering never came to be. After she retired, she (and my dear aunt) cared for my ailing grandmother. And after grams passed, it wasn't too long until we were the ones caring for my ailing mother, as she fought cancer.

So, do we look back and just see potential wasted, or do we simply see potential diverted in ways no one but God ever expected? Lives were touched, both in her career as a teacher and even in the throes of cancer as she remained a humble, faithful follower of Jesus. Speaking and writing became instead a gracious spirit in the midst of a terrible disease, and showing us all that God remains faithful, even when it looks like one is just marking time, waiting for the end.

Lots of potential - just worked out in unexpected ways.

Speaking of wasted potential...

What if all my potential that others so remarked on all my young years never produced anything?

I never became a band teacher like some expected, or a college professor. I never wrote a symphony, never toured for adoring fans, never found a steady gig in the arts. What others perceived as my potential apparently has never seen the light of day...

"Oh, he showed some possibilities, but he never had the drive to really make it in music. He tried doing magic and stuff - even was a clown if you can believe that! - but never really got anyplace with it, except for wasting a lot of money on equipment. Then he had that long gig in radio, which seemed to be working out, but after he was laid off, he never got another full-time job."

"He tried doing some stuff - recording a couple of CDs, playing some local gigs, messed around with making jewelry (but never had the skills to actually make anything sellable), and just kind of stalled instead of regrouping into a new career. Said they had decided that he wasn't going to go back to full-time work, so he'd be free for 'creative pursuits.' Wow."

"He just faded away - all that potential wasted. Now he hangs on the fringes, doing a little radio, gigging here and there, but nothing really worth mentioning. I hear he had surgery, lost a whole bunch of weight, and looks really good, but he never got his head screwed back on straight, and so even though he's healthier, he doesn't do anything with it."

"Scuttlebutt says he's even had some mental issues, has to take meds, and sees a psychiatrist for treatment. Probably something snapped when he got launched (after all, he'd been there for almost 20 years), and he just lost it. I mean, it's been since 2006, and he still doesn't have a job."

"Mostly he sits at the coffeehouse, writes stuff that nobody reads, and makes stuff out of yarn that nobody wants. Or he sits in his house while his wife is out making a living, doing nothing."

"He has some ideas - recording more CDs, editing more audio books, gigging as a magician or storyteller, or even (if you can imagine this!) writing a book. (Yeah, right. Hope that works out for ya...) Maybe, he says, he'll go back to school, finally finish that degree. Or he's gonna focus on being the "domestic engineer" - keeping house for his wife, that sort of stuff. Or all of the above at the same time! (*chuckle*)"

"He talks about a lot of stuff, but nothing ever comes of it. He talks a great game, but never makes it happen. Lots of chatter, but no action. No drive, no working hard, no pushing ahead - he just sits there, dreaming crap that'll never happen and hoping somebody drops something right in his lap so he doesn't have to find it himself."

"All that potential - what a waste."

The question is, how much of that have I actually heard, how much of that is stuff I imagine has been said, and how much of it is just plain lies?

That's the sort of stuff I need to sort through. And maybe we all need to sort through it, victims of perceived potential, wasted. Maybe potential puts a weight around our necks that we never really ever shrug off. Or maybe potential just provides fertile ground for the enemy to plant regret and get back a bumper crop every time.

After all, there's got to be a reason "Glory Days" remains a popular song. (Besides the Boss' righteous groove, of course.) Or why we all know the phrase, "I coulda been a contender." Somewhere following perceived potential (by loving family and well-meaning friends) and before melancholy introspection on wasted possibilities, something went seriously awry, leaving us with an empty box, a deflated balloon and a sad heart.

If we never realize it, we jump right from "The world's your oyster! Be all you can be! Live your dreams! Nothing's gonna stop us now!" into "Where did the time go? I always wanted to learn to paint or play the piano. I wish I'd spent more time with him or her. I wish I'd known what's really important back then."

Do you see the missing piece?

Potential and possibility are fine, even good. Dreams (as I've previously written WAY too much about) are light for the eyes and breath for the soul.

But the lens that focuses it all is sovereignty.

God's sovereignty - everything ultimately will be as He decides it will be. The steps are already laid out, the pieces are already in place, and the end is already written. Sovereignty can be a powerful tool to kill regret - if things are never out of His control, then there's no point allowing regret to flourish. To do so denies He is the One who decides it all - His vote is the only one that counts.

I'm where I am today because He knows I need to be here today.

I've come along this path because there was no other path that would bring me to this place right here, right now, where I needed to be.

Or to randomly misquote the over-quoted line from "Love Story": Sovereignty is never having to say... "oops."

Do I really believe that? Yup. Just a few days ago, I said thank you to the person who had to give me the news on a cold January morning that my life as I knew it was at an end. I thanked him for laying me off. And I really meant it with my whole heart.

No layoff, no wandering time. No wandering time, no refocus. No refocus, no stepping into Weigh To Wellness. No Weigh To Wellness, no gentle nudge to surgery.

No surgery, no rebirth.

Connect the dots all the way back to when God's wrecking ball made the first swing, and we get a direct path to today, looking back at a path that spells out Romans 8:28. I see it now, through eyes that God has refocused to His reality, and my heart is overwhelmed with His grace.

We are all born with almost unlimited potential, possibilities and dreams - after all, we bear the Image. Of course the road stretches out before us - we are creative because our Father is creative, we feel limitless at times because our Father is limitless, and we can imagine and dream vast landscapes, ideas and visions, because our Father imagined and spun worlds into existence by His word.

Then, He takes the wet clay of our lives, full of potential and possibility, and sculpts a masterpiece. Not one that we imagined for ourselves, not one that others would have predicted based on perceived potential, but the piece He had in mind before the clay was even created. No bits of clay wasted, no motion of His hands marring the piece, and all scars worked so beautifully into His vision that they don't seem to exist at all.

If we're to avoid the deep mud of regret at the end of the road, the journey from potential to completion must lead into His sovereign hands. Along the road, we release the "might have beens," the "if I had onlys," the "I wish I hads," and all the other weights that potential can hang around our necks, to submit to the hands of the Creator, to be molded as He designs.

By the way - accepting and acknowledging His sovereignty doesn't mean being fatalistic... "God's already decided everything, so nothing really matters because He already planned everything so I don't really have to even show up because He already knows what I'm going to do anyway, blah blah blah..." Nor is it an excuse for a sloppy and shoddy life, turning in less than our best efforts, or living with the words "it is what it is" tattooed on our foreheads...

Get this, kids - because I've never gotten it yet. But I'm starting to...

We get to be ACTIVE participants in God's sovereignty! We get to go along for the ride, not sitting in the back seat of the SUV watching a movie and stuffing our faces, but rather on the back of the tandem bike (mine's a trike, but I digress...), pedaling for all we're worth!

We get to show up, to work and dream and love, to plan and try and fail and succeed. We get to make refrigerator art and hand it to our Daddy and tell Him, "see what I made for you!" And then see Him smile and put it on display for all to see. We get to sing Him songs, to do hard work because He made us able to do it, to bless and encourage each other because that's the way it's supposed to work, and to live every day as if He's in control of the whole sheebang.

Because He IS in control of the whole sheebang.

We get to do, to be, to move and live and have our being in Him. Not mice in a maze, following the path and hopefully finding the cheese and not a trap. Not boxcars on a track, going where we're pulled or pushed without any voice of our own. And not lost in the darkness, with no hope or guide. Not fumbling our way along, hoping we don't screw it up. Not trying to precariously balance on the knife edge of God's will, fearing that tiny misstep that will plummet us down to a foreverland of regret because we missed God's best for our lives.

(And yes, I know that last sentence opens a 55 gallon drum of worms about God's will and how we follow it. We're not going to chase that bunny trail today, 'k?)

We get to live, we get to do, to be, to make, to laugh, to love, and to shine. We get to do it all in freedom and joy, knowing that He is in it all, He controls it all, and He loves His kids. Especially when they make Him goofy stuff He can hang on the fridge.

At the end of the day, the only perceived potential that matters is the potential He perceives in us.

And as I said, His is the only vote that counts.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So Much Death - Lent, 2012

If you've read my series on dreams, (and if you haven't, well you're in good company with the rest of the known universe) you might know that one of them is to live a much smaller life, perhaps on a bit of land, having room to raise some of our own food and make at least part of our lives self-sustaining.

There's a problem with that.

Reading magazines on urban farming or homesteading, often the subject of raising animals on the small farm comes up. Critters to provide a renewable stream of food (milk, eggs, etc.), to provide "output" to make for a greener garden, and to provide... um...


** My vegetarian friends are already loading their siege engines, calling for my head on a pike. I ask for restraint - this is not a philosophical or ethical discussion on one's eating habits, but heading another direction. What you choose to eat - be it animals or the output of the silent screams of vegetables, that's your gig. **

I'm notoriously tender-hearted when it comes to critters, especially dogs. If a movie includes a scene where the dog gets lost, displaced, harmed or killed, I simply can't watch it. I've had commercials bring me to tears.

Insects, on the other hand, are fair game, at least in the house. I won't go out of my way to stomp a spider outside, but when the multi-legged demon comes inside, it's on... "Not on my turf, Charlotte!"

("It's on," for Vicki, that is. I just sit mumbling in terror until she dispatches the arachnid. I'm a true card-carrying GirlyMan.)

So, although I like the idea of having chickens, and would enjoy a stream of fresh eggs, the idea that sooner or later the girls would need to be turned into tenders or nuggets kind of kills the notion. Same with a family cow - good with the idea of the milk, not so much if I'm the one who has to tell Bossie that it's time for her to move on to the entrée portion of her existence.

** HYPOCRITE!! I hear them scream... Go tour a meat packing plant! Really understand the inhumanity of how meat gets to your table, and you'll apply for that PETA membership before you get out the door!

I'll admit - I couldn't be a butcher - at least not one who has to dispatch the critter. But I'll munch their tasty bits after they're gone, understand the sacrifice of the animal and those that raised it, and appreciate what their life and death gave me. I hope the deed was done humanely, and I hope that they were cared for in a kind way before they became lunch, but most if not all of that is out of my control. Yes, I know I ought to be more concerned and proactive about where I get my meat and how it gets to me, but again, this isn't an ethical discussion. So just roll with me, ok kids? **

So, in a recent issue of Mother Earth News...


Yes, I do read Mother Earth News. I even read it in electronic form on my iPad so that I save a tree in the process.

Quit snickering at me - I never claimed to be consistent.

Anyway, in a recent issue of Mother Earth News, there was an article about the pros and cons of raising rabbits.

Awww! Cute fluffy bunnies!

And if you get the right kind, their fur can be spun into yarn and made into all sorts of great things.

(*page turn*)

Oh, and bunnies... are... a great source... of protein... and one humane way... to dispatch them... is...


The Rabbit Wringer.

"I've got a bad feeling about this."

Billed as a quick and humane way to dispatch... um... harvest... um... cause to shuffle off this mortal coil... um... kill... rabbits.

(I am SO fighting the urge right here to break into a chorus of "Kill the waa-bit! Kill the waa-bit!")

(Hmmm... didn't fight quite hard enough.)

There's even a picture. How helpful. *gulp*

Put bunny's neck into the wringer, give a forceful downward tug, snap the neck and the rabbit is humanely dispatched, ready to become meat and pelt.

I'm SO gonna have nightmares.

I don't care how many times I see Gollum drop the "brace of coneys" into Frodo's lap, tear into one with his bare teeth, and have them snatched away by Sam, telling him that there's only one proper way to eat a brace of coneys, I'm not buying a Rabbit Wringer. *shudder*

Ok, let's get off this rabbit trail and back on to the main path. (Ba-dum-DUMP!)

The reason these things are rolling around Steve's hamster wheel today is in Exodus, where we happen to be reading in the Daily Audio Bible. God is establishing the culture of His chosen people, teaching them His law and how to come to Him. Also giving instruction for the construction and plan of the Tabernacle (the tent of meeting), and the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests.

And oh my goodness, all the laws and rules and sacrifices. A whole bunch of 'em just to consecrate Aaron and his sons, one morning and evening just as daily routine, others for special feasts, and so on. (And we're just getting started - Leviticus is coming...) It was a tough time to be a cow. Or a sheep. Or other critters. PETA wouldn't have been able to keep up with it all - so many protests, so little time...

All those animals, all that death, all that blood sprinkled here, there and everywhere. And for what?

For God, Himself - dwelling in the tent, right there, where they could see His glory, hear His thunder, and know His presence. All that death, for their new lives as God's own people, His dearly loved chosen people.

I'd imagine that they would have told you and me that it was worth it. The sacrifice pales in comparison with having God in their midst, being His people, guided and protected by Him, led in to the land promised to them, to be His people and a witness of Him to all nations.

Yet, these are the folks that in just a few pages, are going to do that whole golden calf thing, who are going to grumble so loud that they'll get put on hold for 40 years in the fabulous tour of the wilderness, and are going to have prophets write over and over again about their unfaithfulness to the Lord. God will lament over them, "You were to be my people, I would be Your God, but you turned away from me to gods made of wood and stone. You prostituted yourself in the arms of others right in front of me."

God DWELT with them. The blood of countless animals ran to allow them to come to God, and for what? So they could throw it all over for a gold cow. Or a wood thingie. Or a stone thingie. Or some other thingie. So they could kill animals and offer them to a thingie. Or even kill their own children and offer them to a thingie.

This makes no sense to me.

But I am no different.

You see, the blood of the Lamb was shed. He was killed - not in a humane, kind way, but in one of the most horrific deaths twisted human minds could devise at that time. His blood flowed, His life ebbed, He died.

And here I am, getting a little creeped out over a Rabbit Wringer. Alright, a LOT creeped out over a Rabbit Wringer.

God Himself poured out His life as a sacrifice. My consecration cost His blood. What the death of innumerable animals could never secure was accomplished in His death. By His stripes, I am healed.

And just like a stupid sheep, I turn away and go wherever I want. I throw over His sacrifice for thingies. I take my thoughts, my passions, my time, my resources and I hand them over to thingies of wood, to thingies of precious stones or metal, to thingies that go buzz and whirr and have bright lights, to images on a screen, to words on a page, to tunes on a device.

And I feel the weight of a poor animal dying that I might have a burger more than the death of the most beautiful One who ever lived that I might have life.

In the same podcast, as we were reading about the construction of the Tabernacle, we also were in Matthew, hearing our Savior pray, "If it's possible, let this cup pass from me. But if this cup can't pass, and I must drink it, Thy will be done."

The One who accepted His Father's will is the One I will turn my back on...

for a thingie.

If the death of so many animals shocks and disturbs me, shouldn't the death of God Himself plant me on my face in tears? Instead of being creeped out by how many creatures died as sacrifices, I should be shocked and disturbed at how little I think of His sacrifice. For by my unfaithful life, I show to all the world how little I care that He died for me.

Father, forgive me for my unfaithful heart. I am so easily snared and distracted by things, by images, by words and by anything that comes across my path. But Your blood was shed so that I could come to You. You made the way for me to be free. Remind me of the proper perspective - You died that I might have life, and You willingly paid that price to redeem me.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wax On, Wax Off...

"Uuuuuuup! Doooooooooooowwwn!" ... "Uuuuuuuuup! Dooooooooooowwwnn!" ... "Uuuuuuuuuuup! Dooooooooooowwwnn!"
- Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid

Did you know it's possible to actually change your brain? The real, physical, grey and grody pulpy mass thingie? Yup - so I'm told by persons who actually know stuff.

When you change a behavior, replacing an old habit or reaction with something new, you actually build a new path in the ol' noggin.

Were you to install a skylight in your skull (which I don't think is wise, just for the record), you'd see little road construction vehicles, driven by little guys in yellow vests, with other little guys in yellow vests drinking coffee and holding little STOP/SLOW signs, ticking off other little guys in little vehicles who are already 20 minutes late for that important meeting with Steve the Mental Hamster, and it's the third time being late this month, and there are rumors of staff reductions, and nobody wants to be transferred "downstairs," doing the kinds of work that make everyone cringe when watching Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe reruns.

Or am I the only one who imagines this sort of activity? Perhaps I watched Tron or Tron: Legacy one too many times?

** by the way, just kidding about the whole "yellow vests, standing around drinking coffee." Just about anybody on a road construction crew could whip my tuckus with one Thermos tied behind their back. **

But it's not easy, building those neural pathways. The old stuff doesn't want to go away just because I see something new and shiny that I'd really like to do. Nope. This here groove is deep, this here groove is wide, it's served us well for nigh unto 52 years, and we sees no reason that it ought to be changed. Nope. Nosir. Nope.

It's only by showing up, doing the new, keeping after it, telling the Internal County Commission that we're a'comin' through, come heck or high water, and doing this day after day that we finally make something new.

And even then, if we don't keep after it, the new doesn't stick.

Take Tai Chi, for example...

I took my first Tai Chi class a year ago January, and immediately fell in love. I had wanted to pursue it for years, but never ever thought I'd be able to. It was a huge dream come true, and I found that I deeply love it. Tai Chi does amazing things for both body and mind - it teaches my new body how to move, increases my flexibility, keeps me balanced, and reminds me that some dreams do come true.

So why haven't I been to class in a couple of months? Why haven't I at least been watching my instruction DVD and practicing? Or doing the part of the form that I do remember?

Because the new habits, the new pathways are easily killed. It starts with something simple - entering December, holiday rush, no time to practice, so I'll just lay Tai Chi aside and catch up with it in January. January comes, and I'm still recovering from the holidays. No time to practice, so I'll go next week. Or the following week. Or the other following week. Maybe next month. If I had time to practice, then I'd feel ready to go back. Or a place to practice - there's just not enough room anywhere in the house with all this crap... um, stuff. And after all, I'd just be wasting my teacher's time, and holding back the rest of our class. No - I'll get back to it when I'm ready...

The Internal County Commission laughs, pours another round of coffee, and gets back to paper shuffling. The "new guy" hangs his head and wanders out of town. The new desires die, the old wins. And change never happens.

Or riding my trike...

If you know me at all, you know that my recumbent trike, Big Blue (and my Rover before it), is an essential part of my world. Riding is my prime replacement behavior for food addiction, and much of the wondrous transformation I've been through has been accomplished on three wheels, by God's grace. I ride bike trails, I ride city streets, I dream of doing the Dalmac ride from Lansing to Mackinaw, and of doing my first century. (100 miles in one ride) The Lakeshore trail in Chicago still awaits (36 miles of amazing - it was on last year's list, but time and finances killed it, so it's high on this year's list), as does riding in Holland and Grand Haven. Yeah, I'm a little obsessed with riding my trike.

So why so often when it's beautiful and sunny, do I find reasons not to be out? Even on some of those amazing sunny, snow-free and unseasonably warm days we've had in this bizarre winter of 2012, you can find me flattening my fanny on a chair in the living room instead of toning my fanny on the trike. (Yeah, it's cold, but I like riding in the cold, so no excuse there. Take today for example - sunny, no snow, it's February, and a nippy 34 degrees outside. Yet I'm out riding. Like I said, I do like riding in the cold. Cold AND sunny? Oh heavens, yes!)

The old fights constantly, trying to keep the status quo. It resists change at all costs, even at the cost of harm to the whole body and mind. It rebels, it resists, it never willingly jumps in and participates, and it's what the phrase "kicking and screaming" is all about.

Ok, that phrase is actually about a ticked toddler, but in many ways our ingrained nature is a toddler, and a dang spoiled one at that.

Now, these examples are physical pursuits. But don't think the world of the mind is any easier...

How about the simple practice of spending time in God's word every day? In my world, 'simple' means turning on the iPod, playing the Daily Audio Bible, mindfully listening, and allowing the Word to speak to me. No page turning, no deciding where to read next - just show up and listen.

So why is it a test of my resolve every day to get it done? To keep up with it, and go through the whole Bible in a year, setting aside time in my day every day to hear God's Word and to allow it to penetrate my heart and mind? Why do I have to possess an iron-clad determination to just show up?

How about writing? I get to sit at Biggby (or another coffeehouse du jour, although my heart belongs to the East Beltline Biggby), ponder deep thoughts, and see where the words take me. It's a blessing, a luxury, and although it is essential to my mental recovery, it's still extravagant.

But to do it faithfully, I have to make it an iron-clad resolution. No excuses, no weaseling out of it, just make it happen.

Audio editing? I've got a backlog of projects that I need to have done weeks ago. Not hard, just time. I get to go sit somewhere, listening to audio books, editing, sipping a coffee or an iced tea. And yet, I drag my heels. Why?

Because the Internal County Commission doesn't like change, doesn't like anything outside of the comfortable, the small, the dumb. It likes the life of living in the recliner, immobile at 480 pounds, because then one has an excuse to not have to think, to not have to work, to not have to make things happen. Just sit here, make this chair your world, only do what you can reach from your pudgy perch, and don't strain. After all, you don't have the energy to do anything else. A deep, wide groove that has been my only choice for so many years, I don't remember any other choices.

Oh yes, the Commission did indeed get the memo that there have been major changes. The pounds have dropped, new things are being learned, and the big blue recliner was tossed in the garbage. Doesn't matter - as long as there's a chair in the living room, and a table, and some yarn, and some snacks, and a DVD remote, and a game controller, and a semi-darkened house, and a dog to keep me company, well, things can stay just as they are - just as wonderful, just as safe, just as subversive, soul-robbing, mind-numbing, hope-crushing, body-wasting... just as they always were.

And as they have been for more years than I can remember.

How easy was it for Daniel to learn karate in "The Karate Kid?" Hours upon hours of one or two motions... "Wax on, wax off." "Paint da fence - up! Down!" "Sand da floor." "Side to side." Hours and hours, one or two motions at a time, same motion, same angle, same breathing...

Until the day that Daniel loses it, blows a fuse, and discovers what Mr. Miyagi has been up to all along. When all the repetition and focus add up to what was really being learned.

I need to be learning the small motions - "iPod on! Ears open!" "Hiney at Biggby! iPad on! Type on keyboard!" "Trike out! Ride on!" "Chair bad! Moving good!" "Lazy brain off! Audio editing on!"

"Oh, and tell the Internal County Commission to go stuff it someplace. There's been a coup, and the new regime is taking over."

Ah, the continuing war of the old and the new. At least I'm not unique - it's a struggle as old as the history of people, and well-documented in the Bible. The old nature doesn't go without a fight, never gives in, and requires constant work to keep in check. The new, with all its wonders and freedom, is frail and fleeting, can vanish without notice, and is in constant danger of assault from the old. Unless we defend it, it will lose the war.

The hope is this - in Christ, we are given the strength, the hope and the tools we need to wage this war. Our armor is provided, the strength to swing the sword is promised, and we have a shield and refuge to run to and hide in. So we can get back in there, pick up where we left off, and continue the battle.

The end of the Book tells us that the outcome is already decided - we win. Now all we have to do is show up, fight, and keep going.

Thanks, Father, that you provide what is needed for this day, every day. Help me to put on the armor, to take up the sword and to fight. Give me the sight to see the darkness of the old nature, the strength to defy it and the hope of the new. Thanks for proving Yourself faithful again and again and again, all along this amazing journey. For this is a war, but it's also an adventure. Help me see both the wonder and the warfare, keeping my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off...

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

"Why Don't You Do What You Dream?" Pt 3

Check out parts 1 and 2 of this ponderous piece of... exposition, that ye might understand from whence we have come and wherefore art we goeth.

OK - so I have some ideas of things that I dream - things that exist in my heart and mind, a lot of which may never see the light of day. They're important though, because they're a little window into how my head works. For my own mental development, as well as for my beloved to see some of what's going on in there (instead of having it mumbled at her, shotgun style and random), it's worth the time to wade through it all.

First though, this real-life note...

My mom had zero patience for dreams. "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride" was one of her standard replies, fired off anytime I would articulate something she considered foolish. Another chosen smackdown was to ask why my head couldn't get around practical things, instead of all that junk I would fill my mind with. Get my head off of those useless things and on to the stuff right in front of me.

(Like math, for example. She could never understand why math makes no sense to me. Ever. When I got A's and B's in geometry, she was convinced I had been playing games with her head all those prior years of D's in math. After a seminar on "Hemispherical Tendencies," my left-brained mom called her right-brained son and said, "now I understand why I'll never understand you." Have you ever seen or heard a frustrated teacher-mother try to drill multiplication tables into the head of a right-brained dreamer? No? Be very VERY grateful...)

"But the mother and child reunion, is only a motion away." - Paul Simon

Thanks. Steve the Hamster and I feel much better now...

Now, this isn't a "resolving issues from your childhood" therapy session. Really. It does say something to those of you who live with dreamers, though -

Dreamers, especially young dreamers, are tender souls, and contained in those ponderings are some deep windows into their hearts.

Impractical? Usually.

Useless? Probably.

But that ridiculous, improbable dream contains a little nugget of what makes a dreamer tick. There's a little bit of them in there, mixed in with the whimsy and wishes, and when the steamroller of reality comes in, doing 60 in a 35 zone, a little bit of a vulnerable heart turns into roadkill. And part of what remains of that heart gets a little hard.

Yes, reality must rule. But it doesn't need to rule with an iron fist.

Just a word from a dreamer, who's been squashed a few thousand times. I'm impractical, I dream useless things that'll probably never ever EVER come into reality...

(Like getting our old sax quartet back together, expanding it with wind controllers, recorders, and technology that didn't exist back when we played together, and making it into a totally gnarly awesome group, dude!

Oh, and a contrabass clarinet and a bass sax added in there too. I miss playing contra.)

(How about a dream of hooking up with a couple of other musicians, along with computer assistance, to do a live performance of "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield - the whole, original album. Only the tympani would be in tune this time, unlike on the original recording. Vicki, my personal tympanist, cringes every time she hears it.

Three musicians, extra tracks, Tubular Bells... *sigh* Did I mention I'm a Mike Oldfield fan? Or that I own almost every version of Tubular Bells on CD? Or that I even know that there are multiple versions of Tubular Bells? Shower my wife with your sympathy sometime, 'k?)

(And yes, I do even know who those other musicians are, what parts and instruments they would play, and how the thing could lay out. When I dream music, I dream in 3D.)

The preceding dreams brought to you by Steve the Mental Hamster, sitting in the corner laughing at me...

The danger is, there's a little bit of me in every one of those dreams, and that little piece of Cal can get flattened easily. Dreams are all well and good, and in balance they are breath for the soul and light for the eyes. There are a couple of dangers, tho, especially for young dreamers:

1. If all dreams come into being, roll around for a bit, and then fade away (or get squashed into oblivion), then the lesson we learn is to never dream, because none of them ever become real. This can be a hope destroyer - don't bother dreaming, because they never happen. Things never change. It is what it is.

To quote the bard, "A man will grow tired and his soul will grow weary, living his life in vain." ("Ammonia Avenue" - The Alan Parsons Project)

A dreamer needs to learn the balance between dreams and reality, and where the two intersect, but that's something they have to discover for themselves. It can't be beat into them with a rubber mallet. (or a rubber chicken, for that matter...)

2. The opposite is true - if we dwell in our dreams, but never live in the here and now, then life, real life, becomes dead and stale, never joyful, never beautiful because we're always waiting for our dreams. Nothing is ever quite good enough, nothing is ever quite fulfilling enough, because it's never quite as amazing as what I'm dreaming of.

For example, I have to be very careful what movies I go see. Sometimes, I get so taken with a movie that a part of me wants to stay there. I'll imagine extended story lines, complete with how I'd live in that world. Imagination is great, as long as you learn how to let it flourish without trying to live there.

Dreams are beautiful, wonderful, fragile things, but they're never strong enough or real enough to live in. (Albus Dumbledore reminds Harry of this when speaking of the Mirror of Erised in The Sorcerer's Stone)

Thus endeth the mini-lesson about dreams and dreamers. Amen.

In her book "Smalltopia," Tammy Strobel (she of the Rowdy Kittens blog, one of my faves) writes about defining our dreams, and small steps toward bringing them into reality...

Pick one dream, then pick one step you can take today to bring that dream one step closer. Repeat.

Being the short-sighted just-barely-starting-to-grow-up-even-though-I'm-fifty-two-years-old person that I are, this is a good plan for me, for a couple of reasons:

1. I have a terminally short attention span when it comes to long-range planning. I could be working on surprising Vicki with a trip to the Shack (bed and breakfast - not the book...) and need to sock away every penny I can scrounge to make it happen, but I'll throw it all over for some bright and shiny thingie that grabs my attention, forgetting all about the bigger goal.

Dave Ramsey says that the difference between a child and an adult is the ability to delay gratification and keep your eyes on the long-term goals... I'm growing up pretty fast, but not quite there yet. "Ooooh... Shiny! Pretty! MINE!"

(The only quote I ever do from Finding Nemo: "Mine? Mine! Mine? Mine! Mine? Mine! Mine?")


2. Along with that short attention span, I have a tendency to get bored with projects that take a long time, or get so overwhelmed that there is so much to do and it'll take so long to finish, that I just give up. (This had its roots in the days when I weighed 480 pounds - back then, EVERYTHING took too long to finish, was overwhelming because even the simplest things were hard to do, and there was no energy left over for anything, so all dreams die and despair reigns. Things have changed, thank the Good Lord above, but digging out the roots takes time.)

Interesting but sad and pathetic note... This last reason - my tendency to just give up - explains my musical career.


Take someone blessed with a tremendous amount of natural ability in music, (God gets the glory for this - it ain't nuttin' I done did myself) who can pull off a lot without having to work really hard at it, and add that tendency to get bored with things that take a long time or a lot of work, and what do you get?

A person who can play almost anything, but doesn't play any one instrument excellently. Or as I put it, I'm not outstanding at any one instrument, but I'm really passable at many. In other words, I'm a musical Swiss army knife - good for a lot of different functions, but not the best tool for any single, focused task.


** Before you roll your eyes at me, say something like "I wish I was that 'adequate' at anything musical," or slap me upside the head the next time you see me (head or body slaps are fine, but please - no face slaps...), understand a couple of things:

First, I love you. Thanks for leaping to my defense.

Second, I don't deny the tremendous gifts God has placed in me, nor the way He allows me to use them - to fit into any space, wherever I'm needed in a musical setting. I'm one of those musicians on the worship team (not the only one, 'cause we are blessed with some amazing people!) who not only needs to know when I'm playing, but WHAT I'm playing on a given week.

(One of my favorite memories from early college: I was home, for a weekend I think, and came in late to Oscoda Baptist. Came down the aisle during a hymn while all were standing, and Jim - songleader and musician maximus - caught my eye and looked over at the piano. Cue received. I went over, sat down, and became the pianist du jour for the service. I love doing that sort of thing!)

God knows me best, and knows that as I'm growing up, I still have issues with getting bored with just one thing. **


So, (If you can even still remember where the heck I was going with all that... I had to go back and check.) the plan of "pick one dream, then pick one small thing you can do today to make a step toward it" is a good plan for me. And as I take one small step, I'll hopefully find that perhaps I can do two or three steps in a day. Maybe I can take some bigger steps, while keeping the longer view in mind. Then I can make some bigger moves, learning to see where it's all headed.

Then Vicki finally gets that trip to the Shack. (the bed and breakfast, NOT the book. Just so we're clear.)

Steve, ramp up the "Final Thoughts / Winding Down" theme music, please... No, I don't think the tiny bagpipes give the feel we're looking for here... No, not the tiny accordion either... Ah, the very tiny harp. Perfect...

So what have I learned from this long, rambling, self-centered, introspective examination?

No clue.

(Ba-dum-DUM! He may be a mean hamster, but Steve is always ready with a rim shot...)

But seriously, folks...

• I'm a dreamer.
• Dreams are fragile things, that contain a tiny piece of the their dreamer.
• Dreams change and grow, just like we do.
• Dreams can come into fruition with time, patience, and small steps.
Working a long time to bring a dream into reality seems to get a little easier, the more that we grow up. (not being grown up yet, I'm not certain about this - I'll keep you posted...)

The whole "growing up" thing also shapes and molds our dreams. It helps a dreamer learn that while dreaming is good, not all dreams are possible, nor should they be. Growing up allows us to focus the lens, to really see what matters, and to see the clear and shining path God lays before us. (For the record, I'm not giving up on the Chapman Stick, no matter how impossible it seems. There. I said it.)

Dream one, I think, will be to live a smaller life. It'd be nice to do that in a tiny home with a big garden, but there's no reason we can't start living tiny in our present home. We're already starting on small steps - you wouldn't believe the amount of junk we've already launched, and you would be horrified at the amount there still is to get rid of.

(If you're an Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist or any other kind of selling ninja, and would like to help a scatter-brained old fart actually make a little coin while launching tons of stuff that I'll never need again, while keeping some coin for yourself, contact me. I'm deadly serious, and I'd rather slip some love to a friend than pay someplace to sell it for me. Goodwill is all well and fine, but it'd be nice to get a little return for some of this stuff...)

Steve - put down that trombone! Sorry - he thought it was closing music time...

So, like most things in this journey I'm on, it's a work in progress. I never would have seen this stuff coming on the morning of March 30th, 2010, but I'm so glad it has, looking at it from my chair here in February 2012. Vicki is too, for the record - she's gladly traded many trips to the Shack (b&b, not book) for a husband who's alive and shows potential of actually becoming an adult - soon.


In some ways.

This transformation only changes so much - there ain't no cure for crazy.

(Ok - maybe electroshock. Don't suggest that to her, though. Seriously.)

'lemmie sum up...

God provides the best dream of all - not being who I was yesterday and making steps toward who He wants me to become. Together, we'll keep taking those small steps toward the goal, the one He can see and allows me glimpses of. Not all of it - just enough for me to handle.

After all, I am and will always be...

a dreamer.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

"Why Don't You Do What You Dream?" Pt 2

Check out Part 1 of this post to be pickin' up what I'm layin' down... Part one is the intro, Part two is the list of dreams.

Obviously, everything on this list will require work. No dream just pops perfectly into reality, fully born and working in all its glory, regardless what the movies would have us believe. So this list is not the place where I try and keep my feet on the ground, to realize the impossibility of these things. These are my dreams, not my to-do list. So no squashing, no moaning that they'll never happen, no discouragement. When and if the Lord points toward one of them and says, "Go!", He'll make the path open before me. But it's hard for Him to point out the path if I've not even opened my eyes.

So here's some of the answers to the question, "What do I WANT to do?" Actually, the first is more about "How do I want to live?" And the answer is "Small. Very small."

Living small is my primary, starting place dream - #1. Of course, this has multiple layers...

Becoming clutter-free - Vicki and I are both messies and have lived with that all our lives. But we yearn to have a home that doesn't look like a bomb just went off, to actually be able to find things without a half hour of searching, or to be able to say to friends, "Come on over!" That'd be amazing...

Living much, much smaller - I'm not going to smack down a dream with reality here... We'd like to someday move to a new house. Now, by "new," I don't mean "bigger." We'd like to go small - very small. As in less than 600 square feet. There'd be a couple of extra buildings for other activities, but the main living space would be really small. Look up "minimalism" to get a feel for my shift in attitude and outlook.

Staying a one-car family - we'd like to have one vehicle, one that's capable of pulling small trailers, or of putting a whole load of equipment for a gig inside. Front runners include the Ford Explorer Sport Trac or a Honda Element. (I'm leaning toward the Element, but only if we get it repainted purple. Vicki's leaning toward, and I quote, "Anything we could afford." Amen.)

In order to remain a one-car town, we'd need to have pedal power available year round. Enter the Velomobile! Feel free to look up these wonders of the modern age, and imagine the Captain scooting down the Beltline inside of one of these puppies, laughing at the frigid temperatures right before he gets buried in a drift all the way up to his... um... April.

But still smiling.

A little land - with the idea of the small house and a couple of extra buildings for specific things, we'd like a little bit of land to produce some of our own food. I'm not talking totally self-sufficient, off the grid, greener than Yoda - just to be able to garden, to can and preserve, and to live at least partially off of the work of our hands.

Areas for tasks - in this grand plan would be a few outbuildings:

1. office / music / writing studio (potentially could be separated - office / music / technology lair; and a writing / thinking / devotions place);

2. hobby / craft / making stuff and selling it place;

3. garage / storage / wood / metal / glassworking place;

4. guest accommodation - living in a tiny (or at least small) house, it'd be best for guests to have their own little space, that they might not feel run over. Oh, and able to use the necessary without the whole world hearing the outcome.

(I saw one amazing example of a great guest room for a tiny house - a couple bought an Airstream trailer in need of some work, refurbished it inside, parked it in their yard, and built a roof over it to keep it from leaking in the rain. That's their guest bedroom - brilliant!)

5. Greenhouse / prep kitchen - I do think this is a bit brilliant, and I don't say that about my ideas often...

Attached to a moderate but useful greenhouse would be a moderate but useful kitchen space, complete with freezer, dehydrator, sink, stove and lots of counter space for cleaning, chopping and washing. Why? To take our produce after harvest and prep it for storage - either canning, freezing or dehydrating. And to be able to take the produce, cook it into soup or whatever, and can it right there. In a small house, we'd have a kitchen sufficient for day-to-day life and a little more, but to do the kind of tasks that food preservation requires, it'd be nice to have a little more room to work with. Wouldn't need all that space daily, but having it available for use would make things run smoother.

6. Exercise - I'm not talking home gym, spa, or anything extravagant here. Just a space to have room to do Tai Chi without standing in a snowbank, to have the trike on the rollers without having to try and find a place in the living room to set it up, or to use a treadmill without having to redecorate. A few weights, a balance ball and some resistance bands would keep it simple.

(Those last two might be combined, by the way - greenhouse with room for exercise and kitchen addition. Working out in a sunny space always makes Cal a happy boy...)

7. Outdoor entertaining / clay oven - if you look up the word "yurt," you'll see what I'm thinking of as an outdoor space that would allow for entertaining or even guest lodging. This could also become the exercise area. The clay / brick oven would let me do some baking and other type of cooking - ok, it's an extravagance, but a pretty cheap and fun one to build.

Does that sound like a little much? Why not just one house, with areas for all that garbage?

Honestly, I'm easily distracted and a messy person, at least in my home persona. I tend to be neater at work, where it counts. In order for me to actually function, multi-tasking is my nemesis. So one area, one function is my path to efficiency, or at least making one area do multiple things by being able to completely switch it over from task to task, getting rid of distractions and clutter in the switchover.

Dreams sometimes are shaped by reality, and how we're wired.

Ok, now we live in Smalltopia (to borrow the word from Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens). Now, what do I want to do when I get there? Well...

(Steve ramps up the "suspense / big revelation" music, using not only his tiny kazoo but a really small hurdy gurdy...)

Storytelling - being able to tell stories in churches, camps, libraries - wherever - is the most amazing thing I could imagine. Of all the many things I do, being a storyteller brings me so much joy.

One of my fondest memories happened in the fall after Mom retired from teaching... We did something we had promised each other we would do for years - we went to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. Three days of some of the most amazing storytellers I have ever heard. On that trip, Mom discovered that she was a speaker who likes to use stories - I confirmed that I AM a storyteller.

One area of storytelling I'd like to explore is Kamishibai - Japanese paper storytelling. It's amazing, and I think it could be a niche that would work well with my gifts. I just realized that an area of 'telling I'd like to explore is hospital visitation, especially for children. Kamishibai would be a great technique for this, as would some of my musical gifts. (Probably not the tuba though, for the record. Tuba good - hospital tuba bad.) Anyway, I'd like to see how it would work to be able to minister to sick kids in that way.

Writing - I had no idea that I'd ever consider this one, but I'm learning and growing so much from my writing. And I'm finding myself desiring - even compelled - to spend time at the keyboard, writing away. One of a gazillion bloggers, typing away, believing that someday our words will catch on, thousands upon thousands will flock to our doors, and we will be "there."

Yeah. Right. I'm a dreamer, not delusional.

If the Lord would show me the link to be able to write stories that I could then tell, that'd be amazing. So far, not yet. But there are seeds here that could lead to something else - more than one person has whispered the word "book" in my hearing, and they weren't talking about the type of thing that happens on "Hawaii Five-O..."

(Too old of a reference? How about on "Cops?" Better? Alrighty then.)

(Here's a Steve the Hamster Memory Moment: The whole dorm was gathered in Quincer Lounge, watching the last ever episode of Hawaii Five-O [before it was ushered into rerun pergatory], waiting for the ending, and the last uttering of the immortal words by the terminally tough Jack Lord, "Book 'em, Danno..."

And he said, "Wait, Danno - I'll book this one myself."


Thanks, Steve - now get back on that wheel...)

Moving on...

Gospel magic and clowning - this goes hand in hand with storytelling. I love being a magician, because I love the wonder of it. Being able to teach or tell a story and have some of the wonder of it happen right in front of others is such a kick!

As for Eye-Bee the Clown, the only reason that he got stuffed into a trunk for years was my physical condition. I never lost the desire, even though I said I did. I just couldn't do it when I was way over 400 pounds. This past October, I wandered around our church's Hallo-luia party in face, doing some marginally funny stuff, dreadfully out of practice, but found that it's fun once again. So I'd be open to working on my character and routines, and getting back to "bumping a nose." (The clown equivalent of "breaking a leg.")

BIG DREAM... I'd like to go to Clown Camp this summer. It's the week before our 30th anniversary, and it'd be amazing to go and camp there. I'd toddle off to clown camp while Vicki has the days free, and I'd get to learn so much. There's no way it can happen from what I can see on the horizon right now, but these are dreams - no stomping.

(Alright - I did stomp a bit... I didn't fill out the application for a scholarship since I knew that there's no way we could make the rest of it work, even if I had gotten a scholarship. "The difference between an adult and a child is the ability to delay gratification." [Dave Ramsey] Since the Lord didn't open a path, that's enough for me.)

- If you know me at all, you know that just saying the word "music" opens quite a vast chasm - I do need to narrow that dream down a bit, but continuing to use my musical gifts is important.

For the record, I still really want to learn to play the Chapman Stick. And the cello. And possibly a folk harp. I have plans for a series of hymn albums called Quiet Strength, as well as finishing the series The Church Year (my Advent album was the first of these), but reality has put most everything on hold. So we'll give those dreams CPR when the Lord says to.

The amazing man to the left, by the way, is Emmett Chapman, the inventor of the Chapman Stick. I sigh, I swoon, I drool. Sorry about that last bit...

Fiber arts
- this includes loom knitting, weaving, sewing, machine knitting, and (since we're dreaming here) learning to crochet. (I've tried, I've died. My dad had the gift of crochet - and didn't pass it along, apparently.) Weaving is a biggie - I'd love to get a floor loom.

Woodworking - building stuff, doing things with a scroll saw, making stuff. I've always wanted to work with wood ever since I was little and my great-grandpa cut me a very simple bunny out of some plywood with a bandsaw. No time to learn growing up, no dad in the house to learn from (and a mom who wasn't a handyperson) or anybody else for that matter, and shop class always conflicted with music - thanks, public school. :-D No complaints - I'm a musician born and raised, but it would have been nice to make some sawdust along the way. Someday, Vicki may even trust me with tools. Maybe.

Jewelry making - I love bending wire, either in sculpting a pendant or weaving a bracelet. And I really like soldering and making pieces with that technique. I like metal work in jewelry more than beading or stitching.

Glass fusing - this has applications in jewelry but there are many, many other projects for fused glass, and I'd love to explore them. I love glass and the boundless things you can do with it.

Audio work - I really do love editing and sound design, even though I have to kick myself to get to work on the projects on my plate. The storyteller in me finds it so rewarding to take a spoken word performance, adjust it to make the words have the best rhythm and impact they can, and then add to it the special touches of sound effects, music and those other things that bring the story to life.

Those are pretty much all personal dreams. They all have Vicki's support (although the instruments she wavers on a bit - she's more behind the Chapman Stick than the cello. And is neutral about the harp. She is VERY positive about me continuing to record music, loves it when I do magic at children's church, enjoyed seeing Eye-Bee get out of the trunk, and would join me in glass fusing. She also wears the jewelry I make and the scarves I knit.

Floor loom for w
eaving? Um... not so much.)

As for dreams involving the two of us...

Traveling - I'm not going wild here, not dropping everything to trike across the country (although triking Route 66 did cross my noggin - wouldn't that be amazing?...). But too many people that I know, including my mom, said for too long that they'd always like to go to *insert selected destination*, or to see *insert selected attraction or other cool thingie* and never did. Life interrupted, opportunities never came, and it didn't happen. I think seeing some stuff is really important, I think it deserves a place on our radar and, in my world of dreams, getting out and seeing new things is a biggie. So here's some traveling stuff that is on the list:

First of all, to make traveling possible, we'd like a teardrop trailer of some sort - it's basically a mobile bedroom, camping at its simplest without putting two people in their nifty fifties in a soggy tent, (ok - Vicki has a few months before she joins me in that happy club) and just about the right size for the two of us. Vicki would like one that we can sit at a table in (a "standy," as they're sometimes called), but I'd be happy with a very small one - just enough room to sleep. Taking our own tiny home on wheels would make traveling affordable, and it can be pulled by a tiny car instead of a honkin' truck or SUV. Best part - this could be something that we build ourselves, if I had some of the aforementioned skillz (or could get some guidance from some of the dreadfully talented folks I know.)

As for where to go...

1. Route 66 - ever since I saw "Cars," I've been wanting to get my kicks on Route 66. I'd like to travel the length of it, not necessarily in one trip, although that would be outrageous, but I don't want to wait until I'm too old to remember what I saw yesterday.

2. Alaska - we'd like to see it someday. I'd really like to do a short term mission trip to our denomination radio station in Nome, even in the dead of winter - that'd be a hoot!

3. San Francisco - I was there when I was like 8 or 9, and I'd love to take Vicki there someday. I still remember Fisherman's Wharf - loved it.

4. Florida / Disney World / Universal - I was at Disney World in the first year they opened. They set a record for reaching park capacity early that day, so the lines were obscene, the crowds immense, and my memories vague. The only ride I remember is "It's A Small World." *shudder* I'm told EPCOT is amazing - I'd like to find out for myself.

(Alright - you got me. Yes, I do really, really, REALLY want to see the Wondrous World of Harry Potter. There, I said it. Happy now?)

5. New England - does one really need a reason? I think not.

6. West - Montana, Mt. Rushmore, and other big ol' amazing rock formations - Land, spreadin' out so far and wide...

For the record, you'll notice that these are domestic locations. I don't have fantasies of flying off to exotic destinations, since you can see some pretty awesome stuff right here. But there are a couple of places...

1. Ireland & Scotland - I'm a whistle player. That's all the reason I need.

(Our eldest Niecelet left for some studying abroad in Scotland, and although we'd dearly love to go and see her while she's there as well as to do a little touring while on that side of the pond, unless the Lord makes a way, that won't happen. No squashing - just truth.)

2. Israel - as Brian Hardin puts it, to see the Bible in 3-D.


"Ok, Cal - this is all interesting, but utterly useless for most humans. Why in the name of Fats Waller would you put this, a cross between pure flights of fancy and a very useless letter to Santa, out there for public view? Who cares??"

That is a fair assessment and question.

Bear in mind that this blog and journal are tools to help my mental recovery and rebuilding. These are the things in the physical world I use to help remake my inner landscape - to try and sort through all the twists and turns on this path of being reborn. If this list were all fantasy, there'd be a LOT more stuff, MUCH more whimsy, and perhaps a few ponies.

Or at least alpacas.

What it gives me is some sort of picture of the many, many things rolling around in my noggin. If I ever needed proof of being reborn, consider this: I'm a 52 year old man, who still thinks that maybe someday I'll have time to learn the Chapman Stick or the harp. That I might be able to learn to be a clown - a good clown. That I just might start on that writing career, "tho' no one read me, still I will write-o." (Just trying to make it fit the song...) Honestly, dear ones, there's nothing on this list that seems ridiculous or fanciful to me - they all seem good, noble, practical (sort of) and possible. Nothing so outrageous that it's out of the range of what might just come into being.

In short, "Hey - it could happen."

Maybe buried someplace in all these ridiculous notions is a glimmer of reality, a nugget of possible, a tiny diamond of hope in the rough of the mundane. And therein would lie a compass, a spark, a direction to help point the way in this adventure God lays before me.

And maybe, just maybe, someone else dreams. Maybe someone else feels like they're looking at a brick wall, no path, no way to move. And maybe, just maybe, they'll think, "If an old dude like Cal can dream like this, maybe I can too."

Hey - it could happen.

This is the dream list, with stuff that catches my attention and imagination. Some of it is downright fantasy, some of it possibility, all of it resides somewhere in my heart. Getting it out into the world gives me the opportunity to sort through it, see which ones really move me and which ones don't. Hopefully I'll reduce some mental clutter, get some focus, and allow God to shape my sight and illumine the path.

To continue this grand experiment, Part 3 will ask the question, "What do I do with this stuff now?" Steve, play us to commercial, then we'll be back...

(insert sound of "Hampsterdance" being enthusiastically played on a very small kazoo, along with bongos being played by tiny hind feet...)