First of all, writing progress. I got the first two chapters edited. At this rate I will finish editing my book (40 chapters... it's dreadfully long), in 7 years. That puts it into a depressing perspective.
On the bright side though, I just finished reading Anne Lamott's "Plan B: Further Thoughts on Grace." Which is where the "dreadlocks" in the title comes in: here's Anne with her dreadlocks.
More on Plan B later, I have more random things I feel compelled to mention.
My 7 yr old daughter Blaze hand-made over 25 valentines for her classmates and a couple teachers, each painstakingly signed "Will you be my val pal?" That was just too sweet and cute not to share (even if I didn't get one).
Oh, and my four year old, Dreamer, is now requesting that everyone call her by new name, Princess Tinkerbell.
On a slightly less sweet note, I have a friend who went out to our church's Valentines banquet, which was the Friday right before Valentine's Day. Someone asked her and her date, "did you have a nice Valentine's?" and her acerbic reply was "oh, we're not celebrating Valentine's day, we're celebrating Friday the 13th."
And on a downright anti-sweet note, another friend discovered http://despair.com/bittersweets.html, a company that sells "Valentine candy for the rest of us" - little candy hearts that says things like "aging poorly", "I want half", "parole is up", "dog is cuter", "so, so alone", "dork magnet" and many other charmers.
Last night I heard of the most fascinating job I've yet encountered: a cloud seeder. Yes, really, you too could potentially be employed by a company that contracts with different state governments to seed their clouds so they get more precipitation. Cloud seeding can also be used to suppress hail or at least reduce it, and so insurance companies pay for this service. What are the clouds seeded with? A special type of smoke with silver iodide in it, which serves as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, altering the microphysical processes within the cloud (wikipedia).
I also learned last night (I was at a friend's baby shower), that if your two-year-old is throwing a temper tantrum, throwing his or herself to the floor kicking and screaming, one proven solution is to throw water in their face ("it doesn't hurt them", says an older mom). Hmmmn, I'll have to remember that one.
Another random skip. I have been having an amazing discussion with an old friend from high school who actually read my last blog (wow, I have a reader!) He believes in many Buddhist themes, but is also currently reading C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity" and we've accrued over 10 single spaced pages worth of email correspondence discussing various Buddhist and Christian themes. And that will be another whole blog post, at some later point.
Skip again. I am keeping up with my various challenges this year so far: my Bible read-through (I'm limping through Leviticus, and enjoying Mark) and Beth Moore's verse memorization challenge. This month I am working on a long one:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? (check) Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
I also discovered from Beth Moore's blog another wonderful verse:
Malachi 3:16 - Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.
Beth comments on this:
Try to grasp what that Scripture suggests. Every time we boast in the Lord with each other - face-to-face, on the phone, picking the kids up at school, in the women's restroom at church, over email, on the blog - He stops to "listen and hear."
Two different words are described for the attentiveness of His response. God listens. God HEARS. Scripture doesn't waste words. (John 21:25) If it uses several different descriptions to say the same general thing, we need to take notice because that intensity is meant to turn up the volume.
The next sentence indicates that a secretary in the Kingdom of Heaven literally records either the occasion or perhaps the conversation itself on something called "a scroll of remembrance." I don't know about you but over the course of my life time, I want to keep that secretary writing as fast as his hand can fly across that scroll. Even this moment, an historical record is being kept of our communication in His Name.
I had a friend once suggest trying to read all the "3:16" verses in the NT - the most famous of course is John 3:16, For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. I guess there are a lot of other great 3:16 verses, and not just in the NT!
Getting back to challenges... I'm not doing so hot on TrackDiet.com. But I haven't given up.
Finally, a few good quotes from Anne Lamott's "Plan B."
Well, first, Wikipedia fan that I am, I had to look up a little background on Annie:
Anne Lamott (born 10 April 1954, in San Francisco) is a progressive political activist and author of several novels and works of non-fiction. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, her non-fiction works are largely autobiographical, with strong doses of self-deprecating humor. Marked by their transparency, Lamott's writings covered such subjects as alcoholism, single motherhood, and Christianity.
A quote from her, from an interview: "I've heard someone say that our problems aren't the
problem; it's our solutions that are the problem. That tends to be one thing that goes wrong for me: my solutions. That's what I write about spiritually..."
She's also "reverent and irreverent" - it's fun to read her takes on life, but sometimes a little difficult to swallow Scripture and swear words on the same page. Still, here are a few gems that I just loved.
Anne attributes this to her pastor: "Peace is joy at rest, joy is peace on its feet"
A conversation with another Christian friend:
Tom: We remember that God is present whereever people suffer. God's here with us when we're miserable, and God is there in Iraq [war]. The suffering of innocent people draws God close to them. Kids hit by bombs are not abandoned by God.
Anne: Well it sure looks like they were. It sure looks that way to their parents.
Tom: It also looked like Christ had been abandoned on the cross. It looked like a win for the Romans.
Anne: How do we help? How do we not lose our minds?
Tom: You take care of the suffering.
Anne: I can't get to Iraq.
Tom: There are folks who are miserable here.
After we got off the phone, I ate a few birthday chocolates, and I asked God to help me helpful. It was the first time that day that I felt my prayers were sent, and then received, like e-mail. I tried to cooperate with grace.... the problem with God - or at any rate, one of the top five most annoying things about God - is that He or She rarely answers right away. It can take days, weeks. [years] Some people seem to understand this - that life and change take time. Chou En-Lai, when asked "What do you think of the French Revolution?" paused for a moment, then replied, "Too soon to tell."
Anne and I definitely share the belief that chocolate is one of the great comforts of life (God, of course, is the greatest comfort, but chocolate does help, too) More evidence:
The best thing I've heard lately is Christian writer Barbara Johnson's saying that we're Easter people living in a Good Friday world. I don't have the right personality for Good Friday, for the crucifixion: I'd like to skip ahead to the resurrection. In fact, I'd like to skip ahead to the resurrection vision of one of the kids in our Sunday school, who drew a picture of the Easter bunny outside the tomb: everlasting life, and a basket full of chocolates. Now you're talking.
When you pray, you are not starting a conversation from scratch, just remembering to plug back into a conversation that's always in progress.
When God is going to do something wonderful, He always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, He always starts with an impossibility.
One secret of life is that the reason life works at all is that not everyone in your tribe is nuts on the same day. Another secret is that laughter is carbonated holiness.
If you want to feel close to Jesus, find the people who are suffering, or whom the world doesn't value.
There is a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, "Why on our hearts, and not in them?" The rabbi answered, "Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your hearts, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside."
You can either practice being right, or being kind.
Next blog: another great book - I've just started it, and already been deeply moved by it. "Having A Mary Heart in A Martha World"