Archive from July, 2013
Jul 30, 2013 - Book Review, Quotes    1 Comment

The Poisonwood Bible

I have a 45 minute commute to work. So I enjoy my car time by listening to stories, by getting lost in another world to and from work.

I just finished The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It tells the story of one family’s journey in, with, and through their crucible in Africa in the 1960’s in their own words. Each chapter is written in the first person and has the voice of the wife or one of the four daughters of the infamous Nathan Price. Nathan takes his family to the Congo for what he believes to be his calling from the Lord. The family goes through cultural faux pas, miscommunication, famine, political revolution, disease, hunger, and death over the next several years. They are scattered, literally, to the ends of the earth.

The Poisonwood Bible

It is not a happy bedtime story.

One character, Adah, was born with hemiplegia and, because of difficulty and because she is not readily listened to, she keeps her verbal words to a minimum. Instead, she writes. She is constantly writing poetry, tales, and her own story throughout the decades that this book spans. At one point she writes the following quote, which if I were reading this novel I would have read over and over again. Instead, I missed half of her next paragraph repeating it in my head to ensure retention.

Adah writes, “I take the noise in my head and clamp it to the page to keep it still.” 

I loved that. I understand that.

Writing helps me know what I think about something. When trying to explain myself or make a decision or prepare for a talk, I must write down the noise in my head, clamp it to the page, in order to keep it still and look at it logically and know what I think. The quote was beautiful and it makes me want to clamp down my words even more!

Jul 28, 2013 - My Story    2 Comments

Debt-Free, The Way to Be!

I am officially without debt.

How adultish of me!

Part of my log flume ride into adulthood has been to attend a financial planning class which discusses debt-reduction, investment, tips and tricks, and the ever present looming, long-term problem: retirement.

I always thought I was good with money. And it turns out, I do okay, far from perfect, but I’ve avoided some pitfalls as well. I’ve never held a credit card balance and I worked so as not to take out school loans. I got through several degrees with some help from family and that set me up for success in life. Debt has never been a huge part of my life, but this week it officially vacated as, drumroll please!, I paid off my car.

2009-toyota-matrix-xrs-photo-401923-s-1280x782

It felt good to write and send the last lump sum. I almost stopped to take a picture of it for it represented so much adulthood. Purchasing the car was the largest amount of money I’d ever spent at once. It meant picking up more hours to add a car payment to my budget. I had more than one weeping episode as I test drove, researched, and finally decided on the model I wanted. I spent at least six months looking up blue book values and finding all the rebates I could qualify for. I knew I wanted to have this car for at least a decade, squeezing all the utility and goodness out of it! Everything about buying and paying off this car was a big deal. It represented hard decisions and responsibility. Sacrifice and toil. Ownership and pride. It was the beginning of adulthood.

I am thankful for my trip into adulthood. It has been a lot to think about. I’m not sure what lies next on my log flume ride, but I say, “Bring it on!”

When do you feel the most like an adult?

 

 

Jul 25, 2013 - Devotional    No Comments

Multitasking People

“You can multitask things. You can’t multitask people.”

The speaker repeated that several times at my orientation last week.

How often do I try to multitask people? I call out, “I’m listening!” when I’m really throwing laundry in and deciding how full I can make the barrel and still consider my clothes clean after the cycle. I talk on the phone, but I’m not fooling  my conversational partner, she can hear the clackety-clacking of keyboard keys through the phone. I watch a movie with my roommates, but my eyes stay glued to a different screen the entire time.

I’m terrible at multitasking people.

It was a fear of mine as I upgraded to a smart phone. I didn’t want to have the phone grow directly into my hip, as if my joints were dependent upon being connected continually. I don’t carry my phone with me at work. I leave it in my room at home typically. It’s just so distracting.

And dishonoring.

It doesn’t respect my friend or family member to be interrupted by a cute little chirp every few minutes of a conversation. I am willing to multitask things: do laundry and vacuum, pay bills and dust, file and sautee with reckless abandon! But I don’t want to multitask people.

May this be true in my life!

attached to cell phones

Jul 22, 2013 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Holy Hair Flair

I feel like I am missing a word. Like it should read, “Holy Hair Flair, Batman!”

Maybe that’s just showing my age. But that really has nothing to do with my story!

A friend of mine is headed to Africa, to coastal Kenya, in a few short weeks. I’ve sent her with an extra special present: Holy Hair Flair. I thought about the difficulty of cross-cultural, inter-generational, second-tongue work- and it is a strain in the best of circumstances. My church adopted this people group, the Digo people, over a decade ago. We raised funds and built a well, commissioned the translation of the Bible into their native language, and have sent dozens of people over to care for, educate, train, and love on this people. This latest team will be doing medical, literacy, and handiman work.  How can four people traveling literally half way across the world take all the books, tools, and medicines that they might need? And why would I add to their load?

My prayers are that the small bag bursting with hair flair will provide an “in” a way to communicate love and excitement without the benefit of the same language.

I was scheduled to visit this same people group two years ago, but for many reasons, the trip was canceled. I’ve always mourned that. I wanted to send a little bit of myself with the team this year and I figured what better way to do that than through hair flair?! I carefully chose an assortment of styles, sizes, colors, and clips.

And then I prayed.

I prayed that they would be a small blessing, a little reminder of love, a memento representative of a whole group of people in America who care about this tribe and work for it’s well-being.

That’s what makes it Holy Hair Flair –the love with which it is sent. May it succeed it it’s purpose!

Hair Flair

Jul 19, 2013 - Humor    1 Comment

Stats & Search Engines

I’m still learning about this blogging thing.

I enjoy writing – that doesn’t take a lot of effort. And I’ve gotten used to whipping out my phone to take pictures when something strikes me as humorous or blog-worthy so I have some visual interest to my posts. But the web design and “blogging back end” still baffle me.

I am thankful for friends who helped me with set up and decision making at the beginning of this adventure.

I spent some time today working through my website again. Reminding myself where certain crucial plug ins or settings are because it’s not always intuitive.

And I discovered two things that made me smile:

1. I’ve had over 5,000 visits to my blog. Holy frijoles! That’s a lot of posts and a lot of readers. Truly, thank you! You keep me writing and processing life and that is a good and healthy thing!

2. One of my plug ins tells me how people got to my blog. They could type in the link directly or be directed here by Facebook or Twitter. It also tells me what people searched on a search engine like Google that directed them to Ithinkonpaper.com People sometimes search occupational therapy or MacGyver or log flume rides. And, as it would happen, someone searched “how to fix a crown” last week… and Google in it’s wisdom directed that individual here! I found it hi-larious! Hopefully my blog helped that person, or at least gave him a giggle, or let him know that someone else has been through such an ordeal!

Tooth glue Crown

So, maybe I should troll around my blog’s back end more often, because it made me laugh as well!!

Jul 16, 2013 - Humor, My Story    3 Comments

Sole Mates

I’m missing a sock.

Half of my favorite pair of running socks. I love them because they’re different. Bright green. Snazzy – with a little extra flair. And Functional – so they don’t slip down my heel mid-run.

But one has been missing for weeks. She ran away after her last time in the laundry.

I searched washer, dryer, and floor. Hamper, sock drawer, and roommate’s laundry piles. To no avail.

I finally got tired of looking at one lonely sock. So I did something about it. I wrote a letter:

Sole Mate Lonely

 

The note reads:

“Sock seeking Sole Mate! Enjoys exercise and the wind in my fibers and the feel of a good bath afterward. If you find any sock that would fit this profile, send her my way! Love, one lonely green sock.”

My plan was to pin the note to the sock and hang  it in the laundry room so that four sets of eyes could look for his mate instead of just one.

But I decided to change out of my PJ’s first. I chose a shirt to wear for the day, and as luck would have it, the matching green sock fell out of my shirt! No joke! I started giggling right there in my closet.

matching green socks sole matesI didn’t even get to the laundry room to post my note! But I was delighted nonetheless. This wasn’t a waste of time, searching for my missing sock for weeks, or writing this note, or taking pictures and writing this blog post for that matter. Without even intending to, I’d just created a story. I turned a frustration into something fun.

And that is always a worthwhile activity!

IMG_0504Thanks for reading. Hopefully I won’t have to do anymore sock match making for some time. But I do have to admit that my Sock Match note did find a mate in about thirty seconds. That has to be a record!

 

 

Jul 14, 2013 - My Story    1 Comment

We Didn’t Start the Fire…

Alas, Mr. Joel, I did. 

I was making popcorn for some friends who were over to watch So You Think You Can Dance. I hadn’t made stovetop popcorn in a while, so I guess I was out of practice.

I poured some oil in a pot and set it on the burner to warm. I stepped away to retrieve the popcorn kernels and returned, not to a simmering pot as expected, but to a roaring fire ball! Flames leaping well out of the container and no shortage of fuel, ahem, oil, to keep the flames going.

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Thankfully, I did not stop to take a picture at this point! 

My eyes widened to near my hairline and I leapt into action, going through  my checklist. Don’t use water — smother! Options: 1. Tight fitting lid is on the counter. 2. Baking soda is in the cabinet to the right. 3. Fire extinguisher is in the pantry.

Thankfully, the first option did work. I grabbed the pot and lid and quickly cut off the oxygen supply.

I then walked outside and unfurled the lid to let off the smoke that had ballooned in the smothered fire-pot seeking to avoid adding smoke inhalation to my list of kitchen grievances.

But the best part was, our guests never knew anything had happened! They wondered why I walked outside with the pot, but were more captivated by the hip hop than my strange antics. I was thankful that I was cool under pressure and knew what to do. I had two other options if the lid trick hadn’t worked. I didn’t scream or panic. I was MacGyver – cool, crafty, and collected in the face of literal flames! But I didn’t know that’s how I would have reacted. If the fire hadn’t tested my quick thinking or my resourcefulness, I wouldn’t know that I was capable of handling it without overreacting.

I think that’s true in life as well. It’s not until we’re challenged, dealt a hard providence, or experiencing the fires of trials that we know what we’re capable of. That we know where we’d turn. Though it is not pleasant, fires in life strengthen us.

 

What fires (literal or figurative) have you dealt with lately? How have you handled them? Who or what did you turn to when the fire(s) started?

Jul 13, 2013 - My Story    No Comments

My Log Flume Ride into Adulthood

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click

WHOOOSH!

I had a long time to click up this ride slowly, anticipating the plunge that was inevitable. The plummet into adulthood taunted me seemingly just out of reach.

I worked, but wasn’t full time. I saved for retirement, but not aggressively. I went to bed when I felt like it.

But all of that has changed.

I am now riding the log flume plunge directly into adulthood. I would have considered myself mature before. I wasn’t stuck in college life for the past decade, but life has changed. I plan for the future in all new ways. I’ve spent the last several months consumed with thoughts of health insurance, 401K’s, and flexible spending accounts. When I was offered and accepted my current position, a friend of mine began calling it my “big girl job” because it was official, full time, and steady. I worked nearly 40 hours a week on the neuro team, but it was just different, more flexible, less certain, and most crucially, without benefits.

Adventureland-9-6-2008-Log-Flume-1

“Big girl” decisions have become commonplace over the past several months. Everything from packing my lunch to going to bed on time to buying stock. I’m realizing that I am an adult. I’m saving for retirement in new and exciting ways (if such a thing is possible). I did a little dance in my room when I sent in my last check for my private health insurance plan, knowing that I’d be saving money with my new found and ridiculously exciting benefits. I check my paycheck statement for this magical thing called PDO. These things are new and exciting and require oodles of decision making.

It’s been a wild ride. More rewarding and more challenging than I anticipated. I eagerly anticipate the next plummet on the log flume ride of life. And with my birthday just around the corner I shout, “Bring it on, Life! I’m ready!”

What about you? What exciting plunge are you anticipating in life?

 

Jul 10, 2013 - Devotional, My Story    1 Comment

Magyar Vagyok, Nem Turista!

A friend of mine is in Budapest right now.

She asked for my recommendations on sightseeing and eating and I got this dreamy far off look in my eyes as I wrote her back remembering my numerous trips to this gem of a country. I have such fond memories of Hungary. Teaching English, devouring delectable food, committing cultural faux pas, living with naked hosts. Each could be a post by itself! Below is a post I wrote after my last Mission trip to Hungary reprinted here for your enjoyment and my nostalgia!

“I’m sitting here at a restaurant in Budapest sunburned, dehydrated, exhausted, sweating, coughing, and covered in mosquito bites… and life is good.”

orlando grace church IMG 3968 300x225 Magyar Vagyok, Nem Turista!

The Hungary Team 2010

My trip to Hungary was exciting, beautiful, and bursting with laughter despite the numerous circumstances which could have made it a rough trip. We were spoiled Americans stuck in an air-conditionless nation in the middle of a record setting heat wave with temperatures near 100 every day. I didn’t get a full night’s sleep for two weeks. I struggled to communicate with both my students and my host family. I haven’t been able to take a real shower since I left the states.  I ingested a few unidentifiable meats. And yet somehow none of this seems to matter. I am normally not this resilient, but today I am a part of a team – an integral part – and that knowledge trumps every other circumstance trying to pull me down right now.

orlando grace church IMG 0826 300x225 Magyar Vagyok, Nem Turista!

Kelly and Laurie showing off their buttons!

The title of this post means “I am Hungarian, not a tourist.” It was on a button which my host family gave me in 2008. I chose it as my title because I was more than just a tourist on this trip; I experienced something which transcended a mere two week stay in a foreign country. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of calling. In my mind I’ve always thought of calling as something distinct from the rest of life and significantly long term. Such that if someone was called to missions, I wouldn’t see them for several decades! Since I graduated from RTS last year I’ve wanted to receive my calling as if I was in a holding pattern just waiting for God to reach down and tell me how to really start my life. My ideas about calling have slowly changed. I have thought more and more about the one truly long term calling – to be faithful. My calling is to obey my Lord in whatever situation I find myself, to be just as faithful in the everyday as I am in the big things, like mission trips. The following is an excerpt from my journal entry as I processed my mission trip to Hungary.

“My job is to be faithful where you have me, Lord, that is my true calling. Jobs may change and I may move. Marriage may find me someday, but my calling, my big calling will stay the same. To be able to know why I’m here, why I came, how I contributed. This is such a gift! All too often we don’t get to see the big picture or know how we helped the cause. But I was given a peek, a glimpse into my part in the big plan – and for that moment it was beautiful. My calling may not be showy or spectacular to everyone else, but there will be times that the curtains will be pulled back for just a moment and I will see the tapestry that You are weaving instead of just seeing my own individual thread. That happened tonight as I sat amongst my fatigued, sunburned, and dehydrated fellow soldiers and felt your goodness to us.”

orlando grace church IMG 3618 300x225 Magyar Vagyok, Nem Turista!

Jul 8, 2013 - Exegesis, Quotes    No Comments

Music in the Key of Life

I’m no musician.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love music! But somehow my musical training and prowess stalled when I was first chair in the recorder in fourth grade. I can carry a tune okay, but I don’t enjoy singing in front of others – at least not on my own. But if you put me in a group, surrounded by the voices of the congregation, I sing loudly and I sound phenomenal! Something beautiful happens when I match the pitch of the person next to me. I hear and feel the power of the masses. I am encouraged to breathe deeply and give the tune everything I’ve got.

The power of singing in unison drowns out my vocal imperfections and highlights the notes I get right.

This is the power of community.

And that’s a beautiful thing. And the good news is that the power of community doesn’t stop with just singing ability – it extends to all areas of life. I am more compassionate at my job, a fiercer friend, and more motivated in ministry when encouraged by my community than I ever could be on my own. Others understand where you are and how hard it is to sing at times. They can give you strength to sing even when it’s hard.

Each person’s life has a song. If you think of your life as an opus, full of different movements at different times in life, our songs won’t always sound the same, but they can all be beautiful. It doesn’t matter if your current tune sounds like a playful ditty or a mournful dirge – both can be sung worshipfully. And both are more powerful with others singing alongside you. Each life is an opus which must be crafted in community and fellowship.

orlando grace church 51P2FYRR7XL 211x300 Music in the Key of Life

The movie Mr. Holland’s Opus gives a helpful picture to think about life as a grand piece of music. Mr. Holland, a high school music teacher, who dreamed of fame and fortune, is given a gift upon his retirement. Many of his students over the previous four decades return to play a composition for their beloved teacher and mentor. One of his students, Gertrude Lang, whom Mr. Holland helped decades previously to “play the sunset” honors her mentor with the following speech:

“Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life. “

We match each others’ tunes. We sing together. We live in community.

Jesus, help us to sing, no matter the tune, with all our might creating an opus of worship fit for the King!

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