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Entries in All Random All the Time (55)


Thankful in the little things

My husband works in the insurance industry. He has for eighteen years. This means dealing with people whose homes burn down at inconvenient times, have sewer back-ups at Christmas, or have trees fall over and land into their roof. It also involves a lot of car accidents. Some of the stories over the years of the long-term effects of people's car accidents are very scary. When we get behind the wheel of a car on a regular basis, we don't give a lot of thought to the sheer killing power of which we're in control. I think about it more now than I did before my husband was in the business.

We also live in southern Ontario where winter means just as much ice as it does snow. Whenever a weekend passes by with more than typical inclement weather, my husband will ponder on a Sunday evening, "How many accidents were there over the weekend?" 

I had to go out this morning. I purposely went early because I wanted to get to the grocery store before it got busy and because it's snowing. I've heard the sound of salt trucks, so I know the roads are good at the moment. After my quick dash into the store for a few items, I went home. When I pulled into the driveway, I thanked God for safety. It's not that I was in any real danger. I've driven in worse conditions. But it really does not take much to damage your vehicle, or hurt yourself or another person. What a Christmas it will unfortunately be for some people this year, as their cars get totalled or they get injured. Some car accident-related injuries share their "blessings" for years to come, aside from being the cause of fatalities.

I'm thankful for safety today, and I pray for safety in the days ahead as we visit family for the holidays. The safe travels we have are gift. Be cautious in bad weather, and remember that it's better to arrive late and alive.

Be thankful in the little things. We are so blessed.


Still telescoping

Here is a slightly modified post I wrote in 2008. This still rings true. I wonder if other women can relate to this.


Is telescoping a word? I doubt it. It's a poor attempt to make a noun into a verb, I'm afraid. I think I live a telescoping life.

I have been thinking about details; specifically, the details of our lives. Whether we make our work inside the home or outside the home, life is full of ordinary details. We have to feed people, wash their clothes, get them to appointments. We have things in the local church that take up time; groups we work with, people we serve and little things that are our responsibility. We can become very focused on the details our lives and forget about the world around us.

I am not a big news hound. I see the headlines, and if something strikes my fancy, I read it. I watch the news regularly.  However, I don't have nearly the time to spend contemplating the big issues of the day when there is a dog scratching to come in, a cat whining to be fed, boys whining to be fed, and bible study lessons to prepare for. Sometimes, I feel very ignorant about the world.

The older I get, the more I see there is to learn. There is no way I can possibly keep up. Every so often, I will go off on a tangent, and I will spend a little more time looking at the larger world. I will be like a dog with a bone, and I will read about a topic quite extensively for a while, learn all I can, and then when I realize there is mold growing in the refrigerator, I get back to reality.

My view of the world has to move back into the ordinary, and that's okay with me. This is where God has put me. He has given me this family and these details. They are mine and because He gave them to me, they are good. By the same token, the desire to learn and know more about the world is also a God-given one, and He gives me plenty of opportunity for that, too.

I look at life as through a telescope; sometimes, the view is far and wide, and I see myself as the small little dot in this vast universe. And then, the telescope has to pull back to where I see myself in the centre of my home, managing the many details. I don't know if other people experience this phenomenon. Perhaps my husband does in his own way. He loves news, and he knows a lot about what's going on in the world, but I am pretty sure that he has to pull in his own telescope to look at actuarial reports, auditor's reports and solve the latest human resources crisis. Then, he has to come home and concern himself about the details of being a husband and father; whether or not the garage door opener is working properly, or if the leak under the sink has come back.

We can't escape details and the ordinary. Even the most "famous" person, with the most extraordinary life inevitibaly faces the ordinary. If there were no one ordinary, would we even know what extraordinary was?

There is still a dog who scratches at the door (albeit, a different one), and cats whining to be fed. While the house is empty of children, there are still details. But I still do the telescope thing. The nice thing is that because there are fewer responsibilites, the time for zooming in can last a little longer.


If I was a man headed to seminary...

If I was a young man headed to seminary, I would rely on the support of my family and friends. I would need their prayer support, their encouragement, and emotional support. I have read accounts of men in seminary who have shared how important that kind of support was to them.

I am not a man going to seminary, but I, and every other Christian woman, need the support of family and friends in our life long spiritual education. We need encouragement so study deeply, and with purpose. We need prayer support and encouragement to keep learning and to keep living what we learn.

The encouragement isn't needed because we have plans for professional ministry. We may never move beyond the sphere of our local church and family, but we still need the encouragement. And no, the encouragement isn't just so that we can learn the spiritual value of making our family sandwiches. That lesson is an easy one by comparison to some of the other lessons we must learn.

When I look back to where I was at the age of 30 to where I am now, I see how far I have come. When I look ahead, I see how far I have to go. I am not alone. I know so many women who want to study, who want to continue learning. And it isn't so that we can have a profession, career, or any ministry in particular. It's because the process of study draws us close to God, and reveals our humanity and need for our Saviour.

So, if you have a friend, sister, daughter, or mother who is a theology nerd, support her. Pray for her, and encourage her to press on. And maybe even ask her how the study is going. It will mean a lot to her.


Give me the truth straight up

While away at a convention this week, my husband and I sat with one of his colleagues, who related in a hilarious way his reactions to his daughter's pet hedgehog. The daughter received it as a gift while away at university, and when she returned home for the summer, she brought it with her. Its name was Lionel Pritchie, but our friend had independently re-dubbed it "Sir Stinksalot." He was angry at Beatrix Potter, he said, because he expected Lionel to arrive with a vest and a pocket watch, not stinking up the house and keeping the family awake with its nocturnal behaviour. In short: don't get a hedgehog as a pet.

This seems rather obvious to me, seeing as it's a rodent. Rodent? Bringing it in my home? Yes, seems obvious.

This gentleman clearly loves to entertain with his wit, because he kept us laughing all evening. I love situations like that; when someone else will entertain the whole table. It takes the pressure off the rest of us.

That being said, I'm always a little uncertain about someone who doesn't have an "off switch." You know what I mean: someone who can't ever be serious for a minute. I always wonder why that is. What are they hiding? Is everything a joke to them, or are they just deep down, shy?

The same goes for those who present truth in continually "in your face" way. They are the wise-cracking, exaggerating, shoot from the hip type who never seem to write one word that isn't couched in some sort of analogy designed to inspire rage, laughter, or disgust. I think it's the exaggeration that always attracts my attention the most. Rather than saying, for example, "You may find this hard to believe," they will find other means such as, "Now, this may cause your head to explode, thus spattering your grey matter all over the walls..."

Please don't misunderstand me; I don't mean verbal devices should never be used. They often add colour and power to our words, but it needs to be done in a subtle way, carefully, and in small doses.

Too many use it to the point of overkill.  At some point, I think the truth has to be presented as the truth. Sometimes, the exaggeration or shock type language has to be put aside, and the truth needs to speak for itself. The danger of the shock type of language is that it can come across as being obnoxious.

Unfortunately, if one expresses a concern about this, the response is inevitably "I'm sick of the political correctness. You just can't handle the truth," at which point we're supposed to hear this spoken in Jack Nicholson's voice. The problem becomes ours; we are not tough enough to hear their words. It may be true that we just can't stand it, but it can also be that they are actually being careless and irresponsible with their words.

Yes, that kind of writing is a stylistic thing. Guys like Carl Trueman do it all the time. The thing is, Mr. Trueman never comes across as raging; some of these other types do. Not everyone can be like Trueman, and when some try, they look pretty silly. I find that many of these users of shock type language believe that if they speak in increasingly hard or extreme terms, people will be conviced. Not necessarily. Often, it just makes people stop listening.

In the same way that I find the perpetual clown type a little alarming, I also find the one who presents truth with a constant stream of "in your face" dialogue a little bothersome. I want to ask those people, "Where is your off switch?"

It's probably just a bit of a personal thing, I understand. But seriously, truth served in a calm, dispassionate way never goes out fashion.


And what do you do?

Ah yes, the inevitable question. 

I am at a convention with my husband. There are 350 people present. Last night, we went to a convention centre and ate dinner. Tonight, we will do the same. As I sat with the table of six people, I was faced again with that question.

My husband knew the other people. He's been attending such events for a long time, and the fine folks we sat with were from our part of the world. 

I really loathe that question. I know it's just a part of the tedious act of small talk, and it's just a way for people to be polite, but I have never enjoyed that question. 

When the kids were little, I didn't often attend these events, but when we were older, I attended a few. At the time I was homeschooling, so when I answered that I was a homeschool mom, I was faced with with total disbelief, outright animosity, or a blank stare. The conversation would either end immediately, and my participation in the small talk was over, or there were interested questions.

I am not a homeschool mother any longer. My kids have all moved from home. I was dreading that question. I thought about how I would answer it.

I am not a real writer. I don't get paid for it, and I have no particular credits to my name. So, saying I am a writer would be a lie. I could have answered, "I'm a pretend writer." I just don't know how that would have been received.

I could have said, "I'm a blogger," but that's not really a job for me, and I'm not controversial, articulate, or famous enough to get paid for this blog. So, that would not have been legitimate, either.

When faced with the inevitiable, I gave my usual answer, but I prefaced it with a hopefully self-deprecating, "I'm gainfully unemployed." I did explain that I love to write and read, and I work in my local church. One of the spouses said, "Interesting," which I believe she meant, but the conversation did end there. Thankfully, the conversation moved away from employment, and one of the gentleman, who was very funny, entertained us with his great story telling wit, and I was off the hook.

I realize that I am a minority. I'm an over 45 year old stay-at-home wife and mother. Most women have work that they do for which they get paid, earn accolades, and satisfy their ambitions however big or small they are. I don't. So, the small talk often ends.

As I was watching the people mingling and making their small talk, I did feel totally out of place, and I had a flash of sympathy for my husband who must endure such things more often. The small talk is just so very tedious. This fascination with what we "do" as opposed to who we are. I think this is why God kept me home, so I could be spared the dreaded small talk. Last night's small talk was a huge contrast to the wonderful afternoon I enjoyed with Becky, picking cranberries and having her dog lick my ear, hoping to steal my cranberries. Dog kisses versus small talk? I think I know which one I'll take.

I have another meal to sit through later tonight. We will, in all likelihood, not sit with the same people. Again, I will have to face that question. I have decided I should just take a leap and answer it differently: I'm going to say "I'm a trophy wife." That will either inspire blank stares or a laugh. In either case, hopefully the small talk won't last too long.