Archive for October, 2007

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
October 27, 2007

Ephesians 5:27b …without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind – yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish 

All my life I’ve had oily skin, which makes for fewer wrinkles, I suppose, but can lead to blemishes. However, as time marches on, even oily skinned people develop wrinkles in particular spots, and I now find myself at that awkward age of needing both blemish medication AND wrinkle cream. I guess I’d flunk Paul’s holiness test this week! 

Yes, my “meno” finally seems to be “pausing”, so my hormonal balance is wacky, and my face shows it! When will it all end? I keep wondering what the store clerks think when a (ahem) “mature” person, such as I, checks out with yet another tube of blemish zapper.  

It can’t be stress, as I’m one of the least stressed out people I know. Life is serene, and that’s a good thing! Perhaps it’s sleep deprivation? Sometimes my snoring friend keeps me up at all hours of the night, but if it gets too bad, I just decamp for a quieter spot. That or nap during the day.  

Oh, I suppose I could go to my dermatologist, but he’d probably make some joke about our age, given that he is the exact same age as I am. I know this because I used to date him in high school! It took me awhile to muster it up to go to Bill as a patient, knowing I’d have to disrobe in order for him to examine my skin! But he’s smart, skilled and I know he has my best interests at heart, so I found the courage to go. 

He’s made fun of me before, when I contracted a mild case of shingles a number of years ago. When I asked him what this strange rash along my ribs was, he diagnosed shingles and opined that it was “an old person’s disease”! Thanks a lot, Bill!  

Another time, ten days after I’d worked at eradicating some poison ivy in our yard, I developed an itchy rash on my arm. My mother in law had fussed at me for working in the poison ivy without taking proper precautions, but I pooh poohed that, saying that I’d never had a problem with it before, and besides, it had been ten whole days since I’d been exposed. (of course, I didn’t boil my clothes like she told me to, either).  

So I went to Bill, and asked him what it was. He said it was poison ivy. I said, “Bill! Think of something else it can be so my mother in law won’t be right!” He said to tell her it was syphilis! Good one, Bill! Ever the joker. Luckily, I have a good relationship with my mother in law, and recounted to her what Bill had said. We both laughed together, and still do laugh about it. 

While I’ll go to Bill for unusual things like shingles, poison ivy and suspicious moles, forget about ordinary old blemishes. I’ll just try to keep a positive attitude about them, figuring that I must not be really ancient yet if I still get them, right? One of these days when I’m REALLY old, they will disappear on their own, I suppose, but until then… Walgreens, here I come! 

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Like a Good Neighbor…
October 20, 2007

Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

We have been blessed with wonderful neighbors in just about every house we’ve lived in over the years. They have not only been our neighbors, but our friends, as well, and even when we’ve moved on to other houses, we’ve kept in touch and remained friends.  

Many people don’t know their neighbors, and some don’t even try. Perhaps they are truly anti-social, but sometimes it’s just a case of shyness.  Whatever the case may be, it can be tough when you need help and don’t know your neighbors well enough to ask!  

As a young married couple, we were doubly blessed to rent a house across the street from good friends from high school/college days, and then to purchase our ‘starter’ houses side by side in another neighborhood. What fun we had! Even doing the yard together was cause for a party. And how easy it was to help each other when any problems arose. I recall once when our neighbors came over in their bathrobes a couple of mornings to use our shower when their plumbing was malfunctioning! We started our families together and watched our kids playing… and then we moved on. 

For a few years we were ‘nomads’, renting a series of houses that (with one exception) came complete with good neighbors. It was an interesting stretch, and I recall really wanting to set down roots and have our own house again. But circumstances precluded that, and despite my yearnings, we enjoyed these years, and still look back on them fondly. It was a good way to ‘try out’ neighborhoods, and I am not at all sorry for the experience, mostly because of those aforementioned neighbors!  

This morning I rode my bike by the site of the last house we lived in prior to purchasing the one we live in now. It has been demolished, alas, but I was delighted to see our former neighbors out there working in the yard, just as they had done when we lived next door (almost twelve years ago). How much fun we had catching up on the news, and oh, how I miss being a daily part of their lives. They were so sweet to Shannon when she was a little girl, and even though they are fully aware of the passage of time, they were amazed at the concept that she is not a precious ten year old anymore, but rather a senior in college! (still precious, of course!) 

I returned home to see our current next-door neighbors outside, and visited with them a bit before doing some yard work, myself. This particular couple goes away each summer to their lake house up near the Canadian border. When they are away, it’s kind of lonesome down here at the end of the street, and it’s always such a delight when they return, to see their house turn back into a home.  

One cannot appreciate what a blessing good neighbors are until they are absent. We are so lucky to live on a street with nice people all the way up and down it. Need proof? Even Bailey and Shadow love just about everyone on the street, and you know if a dog likes someone, then that person passes the good neighbor test! 

Honestly, if having good neighbors were a factor in determining property values, I do believe our house’s appraisal would be sky high! (don’t tell the appraisal district I said that!) How very blessed we are…

Goats Do Roam
October 10, 2007

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 

As I was in the wine aisle of the grocery store, a colorful label caught my eye and caused me to chuckle. Yes, it was a bottle of red wine called “Goats Do Roam”.  A Côtes du Rhône, of course. Seeing that label brought to mind an encounter I had with a herd of goats a number of years back, a story that I submitted to our church’s “The Story Project” book.  

I was staying at my aunt’s, just south of Utopia, TX, and as was my usual habit, I was running one morning, enjoying the quiet country roads. The only companions I had were the creatures that I’d spy along the way.  

As I rounded a bend, I encountered a herd of about 20 goats milling in the road. I didn’t want to startle them, nor was I sure of what might encourage goat aggression, so I stopped. The male leader came up to me, gave me a few sniffs and began nibbling my shirt. He seemed harmless enough, so I scratched his head and slowly walked around the herd.   

Once clear, I trotted on down to the highway, and when I turned around to head back, I discovered that the whole herd had followed me. Mr. Goat came up to me once more, and again I scratched his head and eased around them. The very moment I began to jog back to the house, a car whooshed by on the highway at 70 mph, and the goats stampeded after me. So there I was, running as fast as I could, with a herd of bawling goats galloping behind me. 

My thought was that I could outrun them or that they’d tire and lose interest in me. But almost a mile later, they were still behind me, and it sounded like they were calling, “MAMA! MAMA!” I was laughing so hard that I could barely run. What a sight we must have been! I finally made it to the gate, and bade them a wheezy farewell as they pulled up behind me, huffing and puffing. 

Might I suggest that all runners include a herd of goats in their training regimes to increase their speed (followed by a nice glass of “Goats Do Roam”, of course)? Works for me!

That Thing She Does
October 5, 2007

1 Corinthians 12:8-11 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.  

I started writing this blog as an outlet for myself to be able to write what I WANT to write about rather than what I HAVE to write about. My weekly list of things to do includes writing my column (about the fine arts at our church) plus an article or two about upcoming arts events (for our paper and website) and sometimes, press releases for outside media. 

  

This past week, I wrote one release, and four articles in addition to the column, and for once the tables were turned! I enjoyed what I HAD to write about more than what I WANT to write about. In other words, there wasn’t much of interest in my personal life this week!

But interviewing one of our music interns and featuring his story was really fun (the column for Oct. 12). And doing research and writing about an 18th century painting in our church’s art collection was extra interesting to me, especially given my art history background. Finally, writing about a new type of worship service at our church found me researching the subject and interviewing those involved, and I learned something new as a result.

My sister, Mary and I were discussing service opportunities this week, and I said that I sometimes feel guilty for enjoying what I do as a service so much. I don’t get paid monetarily, but my compensation comes from being challenged, learning new things, exercising my writing skills and getting to know SO many interesting people. I do all this from home via e-mail with occasional trips in to visit with folks. Best of all, I don’t have to go to any boring committee meetings!

The people I work with appreciate what I do, because it saves them from having to deal with all the details that come with promoting events and programs in this ministry area. It makes me feel good that I can help in this way, and it REALLY makes me feel good when I am successful in placing items in the outside newspapers.

So should I feel guilty? Some people say that you have to make sacrifices in order for service to ‘count’. I don’t think so. I think God gives us all individual gifts to use to promote His kingdom in whatever way we can best do so. Although Paul doesn’t mention ‘publicity’ as a spiritual gift in his letter to the Corinthians, I like to think that God gave me this gift of expressing myself in print (with a special thank you to Mrs. Berndt for guiding me!), and honestly, that’s what I do best. It helps that I am an organized sort of person, and I make sure I get everything where it’s supposed to be before deadlines, which is important!

But I’m lousy at singing, not confident in public speaking or teaching, nor very handy with heavy equipment (i.e. construction sorts of projects). So I continue to do what I do best and just hope that it’s the most helpful way to serve our church.

Sure, there are other things I do, like dote on our youth choir (still their ‘choir mom’), volunteer at the day care center for seniors (with my two ‘pet ministers’, Bailey and Shadow), hang art in our gallery and such. But as much as I enjoy all of those things, writing is my favorite thing in the world to do, and I hope to be able to continue to serve in this way for years to come.