Is Thanksgiving…

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Is Thanksgiving the chief of all holidays? Perhaps.

“Thanksgiving is the holiday that encompasses all others. All of them, from Martin Luther King Day to Arbor Day to Christmas to Valentine’s Day, are in one way or another about being thankful.” – Jonathan Safran Foer 

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“Not what we sa…

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“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”  – W.T. Purkiser 

Some friends on Facebook ask the “stupidest” questions…

I read an article somewhere online this week that I’m too lazy to try to find and hyperlink for you, that talked about internet/ cellphone addiction (as adults). Maybe you saw it. I don’t have trouble saying i’m glued to my iPhone, and that if i had an iPad, i’d have that around with me all the time too.  

So there’s this little screen cap i took off my Facebook mobile a week or whatever ago… made me laugh. You probably a friend like that, or you are that friend. How many of the fixes for our tech woes can be truly fixed by just pushing the power button (off)?

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I’m a lector during the Thanksgiving service tomorrow at my church. And I have two dynamo texts to read, one from Deut. 26, and one from Phil. 4. I like v. 9 of Phil. 4. It says, “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” I’ve been reflecting on that, and our use of social media. Does the life I Foursquare and Tweet and FB about encourage anyone to follow me as I follow Christ? Does it cause others to rejoice? If they see that I checked into Menards tonight (love that place) and saw me Tweet a pic of one of my purchases, does it have a value to anyone besides me? Does it matter if it has a value?

As a minister, I’m called to shine and reflect light. I know this. I think I do okay sometimes at this. I don’t have much that I truly hide from people and there’s a lot in my life i wouldn’t be ashamed to have people emulate. It hasn’t always maybe been this way. When I’m home alone, I usually don’t have any background noise on. It’s harder for me to consentrate if there is. Not usually the tv or a radio or anything. I hear the furnace in the winter. And I’ll have windows open in the summer, but for the most part it’s quiet with me and my thoughts. So I share some of those thoughts through different mediums, maybe more for me than anyone else. Closing the gap between who I say I am and who I really am takes work and it takes grace. Sometimes the best thing I can do is shut things off. 

This Thanksgiving 2013, is a time to “rejoice always,” as always. Like the little facebook screen cap I’m posting, it’s also a time to ask some questions and a time to turn the other way. How about you? Are you quiet enough to close the gap between what you wish you were and what you really are? Are we living lives other people might want to copy?

The goop and crud that clogs me on the inside causes me to to pray, Come Lord Jesus

A few weeks ago, I didn’t know what a carotid artery was. I couldn’t pronounce it, though I am sure I saw the word before. I think i would have pronounced it “car-toid” ~ yeah. I’m not medical or scientific. At all. 

 Nevertheless, my dad, who is 78, has two of these arteries, and both are blocked at something like 98%. This is a green light for trouble: stroke, and worse. So he had one of them “router-rooted” as I called it… a 3 hour surgery where the vascular surgeon scrapes and whittles away at decades worth of goop … And he’s recovering pretty good. More to come on that.

While I was back home for those few days to be with my mom, in rural Wisconsin (far away from the Big City I call home), I snapped a few pictures that remind me of my genes and how my parents influenced me silently. 

 These pictures are of my dad’s bar room. You can see where I get my collecting tendencies.

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 In Strengths Finder language, you’ll see me rank very high in the “input” category. I collect things too. Ideas, books, cheap stuff from thrift stores, recipes, dreams…

 We pick up a lot from our environment, our upbringing, and the goop gets stuck inside of us. Good and bad. As I get older (yuck!) i see a lot of me in my parents (okay, yes and the other way around too, I guess). I see where I picked up logic patterns, the affinity for salty foods, stubborn streaks, fear, introversion, and humor. Not all bad. A lot of it is sort of neutral.

 I’ve been reflecting on health the last few weeks. My own health, with 3 wisdom teeth extracted, and my own wonderings about quality of life, the expenses of eating healthy, and the expenses if you let your health go to crap like my dad did. I can blame antidepressants, I suppose, for helping me gain 40 lbs over the last year, and then I need to take control of my mental health plan and get back on track. There’s things growing inside of us that we’ll never know. Our bodies heal themselves pretty well. Other times, the crap catches up to us and everything gets put on hold while we tend to fixing ourselves. Yes, physically. Yes emotionally too.

Entering the season of Advent, I know a lot of what is broken in the world, and in my own life, my body, and my heart. I find this time of chilly weather, leaves dropping, ground freezing, and darker longer nights causing me to pause and wait upon the savior. I can hear my own prayers as whispers saying Come Lord Jesus. Please come. When you get here, yeah, you can sleep in heavenly peace for awhile, but then dude you got some saving to do. Start with me.

And he comes. He is coming. To heal and to save. Come quickly. Lord Jesus.

My dad once rigged up an alarm on our sump pump. Now he can’t remember what day it is.

ImageMy sister posted one of those “random things about me” things on Facebook this week, and one of her things was that she often has dreams of toilets overflowing.

Guess what!

Me too!

I looked up the meaning of this dream which you can google if you really want to, but when i commented on her page that part of what I attribute it to is that we grew up in a country house where that was a real possibility bc of our septic system and that i have the same dreams. She then reminded me about some alarm thing my dad made in the system that would buzz and ring if the basement was overflowing where the drain was.

I had forgot about that.

My dad was diagnosed this past month as being in the mid/late stages of dementia. He is the most mechanical guy you’d ever meet. Used to restore old classic Duesenburgs for Hollywood stars and worked at a factory making tools for felting needle machines and also was one of the guys who fixed cranes for the Manitowoc crane company. 

Now his mind is being taken from him. Where do the memories go? He has trouble recalling a lot of that. Moreso just stuff that’s happening now, like why is he in a care facility and what operation might they do this week?

It’s his carotid artery, blocked, which caused a mild stroke and more to come… He’s 78.

We all get there at some point, if our parents live to be old and so do we. We’ll watch them get sick in one way or another. One of my seminary text books said something like “we use our health to build our wealth all our lives so that our wealth can fund our health when we get old.” That’s his story. My parents have very little left except maybe a little equity in their house. He’s losing his memory so he can’t even hang on to that. 

I’ll go home to be with him and my mom this week. I’ve been trying not to make the trip because I don’t have a ton of vacation time. But there will be hard conversations and stuff in the garage moved for my mom. New memories will be made now, as his are vanishing and I can only hope to do some good. I have part of his creative spark in me too. I’d be just the kind of person to rig up a ringer for the sump pump. So I hope to make him smile and pray some hopeful prayers. I don’t want him to suffer anymore. Here’s hoping.

Why The Gospel is like that Giraffe Game on Facebook

ImageLast week (or was it longer ago?) many of us got fooled by a very weird riddle game that swept over Facebook land. If you got the riddle wrong, you were supposed to change your profile picture to a giraffe for 3 days (or something like that). I actually got the riddle correct, according to some, but not to the person i replied in private to, so I too changed my pic.

The gospel is like a riddle. None of us get it right. It is impossible to get the Gospel right. What the Gospel does, in the Person of Jesus Christ, is get US right. It changes us. It confronts us in foolishness and we think it is silly and couldn’t possibly be divine. We scoff at the easy-ness of it and most of us reject it. If you don’t think you’ve rejected the Gospel lately, ask how charitable your giving has been. Ask how generous you’ve been in loving your partner when she or he has wronged you. Ask how many times you’ve turned away from people screaming out needs and needing hope.

Even like me, the few of us who think we get the Gospel Riddle right find out that there are as many interpretations of it’s real meaning as there are players in the game. The point is to get in there, make your guess, and when you are wrong, let it change you. Play with it. Get involved. Let it anger you. Maybe there is not even one correct answer. But play. Get in there, be wrong, and let the foolishness catch up with you. And let others see your foolishness in the playing.