2nd Cup of Coffee, 4/12/18: IF THE GLOVE FITS

I was tired to begin with, so when I got Mom’s call I wasn’t very gracious.

“You want to what?  Today?”  She’d been putting off going through my step-dad’s stuff, and I guess I’d gotten used to her kicking that particular cannister down the road.

“I know, honey.  It’s just that I’ve been delaying this and waiting ’til a good time.  I guess I finally realized there isn’t a good time.  I mean, Jerrold’s been gone a year already, and, well . . . ”  I stood shaking my head in frustration.  The stack of things I needed to do, errands needing to be run.  I guess getting Bart to the vet for his annual shots could be postponed, and Junelle’d have a couple dozen Snickerdoodle Supremes for the volleyball boosters on Saturday instead of today.  The rest of my To-Do list would just have to switch to Not T’day, Eithers.

“Sure, Mom.  Put the coffee on.  I’ll head that way.”  I think I kept the resigned whine out of my voice, although I confess I kind of gritted my teeth, but would’ve sworn I was smiling if anybody’d seen me.  I spent a little time trying to rearrange schedules and appointment times, then grabbed my keys off the counter.

Want me to be honest?  It hacked me off that Veradean and Shiryl weren’t there when I arrived in Mom’s driveway.  I mean, they were Jerry’s real daughters.  I never knew my real father, who’d abandoned Mom when she was pregnant with me.  I was 9 when she married Jerry, whose first wife had died when my two step-sisters were in kindergarten.

As I wiped my shoes on the old bristley, homemade welcome mat before going in, I reflected it was just as well neither of them were there.  I never have fit in with them.  They made it clear Jerry was their dad, not mine.  Both of them have, well, pretty faces and nice bodies, so their social calendar was always full from middle school on.  They never once asked me to go with them, they never wanted for anything, they—-

Enough.  I suddenly realized I’d been standing there, kitchen door ajar about 4 inches, the tantalizing aroma of Mom’s monkey bread making perfect scents when combined with the fragrance of just-brewed coffee.  I was letting two absent women keep me from being with my Mom.  She and I look and sound a lot alike, and until Jerry was in the picture, she and I were as close as we could be and not be joined somehow.

“There you are.  I was afraid maybe you wouldn’t be able to make it, after all.”  She was watching me as she slid a mug with “Grand Tetons” on it over to me, brimming with fresh coffee.  She was more aware than either of Jerry’s girls how I’d never felt part of their lives.

“Oh, no, I just had to switch some times around and—”  The tablecloth.  It was once white and green checks, though it was now faded and still had that stain I remember from where Veradean had broken Jerry’s fountain pen while playing with it.  I remembered the vinyl tablecloth from my childhood when the five of us used to sit around the table playing board games every Saturday evening.

Mom softly smiled.  “I wondered if you’d remember it.  To be honest, I’ve already pretty much gone through your dad’s things.  I wanted to spend a little time with you, since I just have a couple more boxes of—”

“You mean Jerrold?  Well, since I’m here, pass me one of them.”  I noticed Mom’s hurt look, but tried to overlook it as I pulled the folded-over flaps of the cardboard box open.  There was the usual hodge-podge of stuff a man collects across his life, and I did try to be discerning as I separated the savable from the doomed.  I thought I’d emptied it, and lifted it to toss over by the door when I heard and felt something else inside it.

Upending the tattered box, I saw an old glove fall onto the table.  Definite yuck.  Curling my lip, I looked to see if the other one was in there.  Nope.  One glove, the right one.  It was a man’s leather work glove, soiled, stained, lacerated and patched with signs of a lifetime of labor.  I was about to drop it back inside the box before tossing both over by the door when I glanced up and saw the rapt, almost reverent look on Mom’s face.

“What?!?”  I’d rarely seen Mom look that way except in church.  “It’s a dirty, patched old leather glove.  One … glove.  What possible use could it have?”  The patches were equally tattered and threadbare duct tape.  It was ugly and by itself.  What possible use, indeed.

Setting her half-empty box aside, Mom sat there eyeing me and sipping her coffee.  Right then, her eyes seemed like they were about four hundred and thirteen years old.  I knew there were things she knew she wasn’t telling.  I knew she was deciding if it was worth her time to bother.  I knew when it was time to shut it and listen.

“Arlene, do you remember that prom dress you just had to have your senior year of high school?”  Uh-oh.  Mom calling me by my given name is bad ju-ju.  And I did remember the dress.  I also remember the complete jerk I made of myself until I got it.  I’ve always found silence to work great.  It did this time.

“The man you call ‘Jerrold’ somehow heard about it.  Without saying anything to me, he took a second job, working evenings part-time in his brother’s machine shop, to earn enough extra so I could buy that dress you just had to have.”  I was chastened, but still puzzled about what that had to do with this oily, grubby, duct-taped old glove.  Mom saw my bewilderment and pounced.

“The man you call ‘Jerrold’ was required to wear gloves on his second job, but couldn’t afford both a new pair of gloves and still help me buy you your prom dress.  So he took his old gloves, cleaned them up as best he could, and used duct tape to patch the holes in them.  When he told your uncle why he was doing it, he let him use the taped gloves.”  I couldn’t keep it totally shut.  It’s a downfall of mine.

“But why is there only the right one?”  She pounced again, harder.

“One night they were doing a last minute job.  The man you call ‘Jerrold’ was tired and somehow got his left glove caught in a spinning drill press.  He managed to hit the ‘kill’ switch and save his hand, but the glove—”   I was getting it.  I was still a little put off by that snarky way she kept saying, ‘Jerrold’ while waggling her head like that.

“The glove was torn up and had to be trashed.”  Mom just nodded with that look only Moms seem to perfect that’s like how a cougar looks just before it enjoys lunch.  Since silence worked so well before . . .

“Without both gloves, ‘Jerrold’ couldn’t keep working there, so he borrowed enough from his brother to help pay for the rest of your prom dress.”  I sat there, a congealed puddle of greenish-yuck remorse.  I seriously didn’t know what to say.  I’d always thought he was staying away because he didn’t like me; and that Mom had saved up the money for my dress from her sewing she did on the side.

In a barely-audible voice I twice had to clear, I mumbled, “Did he hurt his hand very bad?”

“He was on light duty for a few weeks until he could use it enough to do his main job again.  Anyway, you can go ahead and throw it away if you want as you head back home.”

I sat there, thinking, as I finished my coffee.  Shaking my head, I said, “No.  I’d like to keep this to remind me that none of us ever quite knows the whole story, and we never quite know each other nearly as well as we ought to.”

Mom stood, too, and watched me put on my coat.  Gently picking up the battered and taped old glove, I looked her in the eye and said, “Thanks, Mom, for reminding me of my daddy.”

I loved the shocked look on her face.

And I never did tell her LuAnna Harpster ‘accidentally’ spilled punch on that prom dress and I never did get it out.

It seems the karmic reservoir never runs dry, does it?

© d. dean boone, April 2018

Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

QTM for 4/11/18: 4 STEPS TO REAL, LIVE QUIET TIME OF YOUR OWN!

“What?”

“Nothin’.”

See the source image     “No, really.  I’ve been blathering on as if.  Shutting up now, and listening.  Can you help me understand what’s troubling you?”

After a few seminal seconds, packed with meaning like a loaded baked potato, the startling answer came.

“I, uh, don’t know how to do quiet time.  I-un even know for sure what it is, what it looks like.”  It was my turn to be silent for a few seconds.  This isn’t a dull-witted gamester with the social skills of a clam.  This young man is an electrical engineer, working on a graduate degree.  He’s not a new Christian, he’s a nominal one who needs coaching, needs to be discipled.

I’m sure he noticed my arched eyebrows.  Good thing I’m not blonde; he’d have had ‘Egg McMuffin’ on the brain and I’d have lost him for sure.  Being an engineer, anything abstract or esoteric would be lost in the translation.  I had to think in simple, black-and-white straight lines.  If the student doesn’t learn it, you never taught it.  Figure out how they learn, and you adapt to them.  Stop forcing them into your Teacher’s Comfort Zone.  If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer . . .

“M’kay.  Let me warm up our coffee, and I’ll draw it out for you.  Americano, right?”  I could tell ‘draw it out’ was working by the way his brow unfurled.  Flowcharts.  Blueprints.  Schematics.  Now we’re cookin’.

See the source image

He thanked me for the joe, reaching for his pocket.  He was getting the tip.  I let him.  Engineers.  He then settled back, iPad ready to take notes, eyeing me expectantly.  Him, not the iPad.  At least I don’t think it was watching me.

ONE:  decide on a place

“Find or choose a spot where you can slow down.  Naw, serious as a ripped hangnail.  S l o w   d o w n.  Leave your devices plugged in somewhere you aren’t, so they can’t distract you.  Leave them there.  Yeah, really.  Leave.  Them.  There.

TWO:  have only your fav Bible and a writing pad there

“Devotionals are great.  Read good ones, old and recent.  Just not now.  None of them come close to examining your thoughts and analyzing your motives and desires like God does as you’re reading His Word.  After all, that’s where good devotionals come from.

THREE:  begin reading in Proverbs, then in the Gospels

“I suggest starting with John.  Do NOT pressure yourself; relax and be alert to the flow of ideas and impressions that come into your mind.  When something you’ve read sticks there, mark your spot and stop reading.  Go ahead and underline, highlight, and make notes in the margins.  One day, someone you love will open that Bible and learn from you, even after you’ve gone on Ahead.  Breathe a quick prayer for discernment and understanding, then write that day’s date and those thoughts down on your pad.

FOUR:  praying is conversation with God

“God understands you in whatever language you’re most comfortable speaking.  Talk to Him just like we’re talking over coffee right now.  The difference is that God speaks through the Bible, through other people and events.  He speaks through music, worship, song lyrics, even observing His natural order.  And there are those special times God speaks directly to your heart and mind.  Just talk to Him, silently or aloud.  Or both.

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“Discuss the things with Him what you just wrote down.  Then pray around your family and loved ones.  Next, pray the news.  You’ll never run out of legitimate things to ask God’s help about.  Pray for those involved with those sirens you just heard.  Plane flying overhead?  Pray safety and blessing over the flight crew and passengers.  When driving during the day, pray for all first responders you notice:  police, firefighters, military personnel, EMTs and ER staff, utilities crews.  Remember every long-haul trucker you pass . . .”

He was looking up at me now, thoughtful.

“Yeah.  Suddenly that PRAY WITHOUT CEASING deal starts making sense, doesn’t it?”  He nodded, eyes slightly squinched.  It always makes me nervous when an engineer’s eyes do that.  Never know exactly what’s going on back there.  I figured he’d had enough for one sitting.

“Congratulations!  You just experienced your very own QT!”  Gathering up my bag with my own Bible, pad, and book, I sat our cups over in the ‘Wash Me’ bin.  “Only one more thing you need to do.”

Ah.  THERE’s that engineer’s look.  You know–that one where their head’s pointed right at you, canted to starboard, eyes pointed approximately 040 degrees?  The silent way of saying, “What now?  I got stuff to do”?

“Do it again tomorrow.”

© D. Dean Boone, April 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Encouragement, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Granger: A CROSS-EYED LOOK AT THE WHOLE EASTER THING – 3/31/18

That early in the morning, I knew Jimmie’s Diner would be almost empty.  That worked for me.  I was in a mood.  And I was almost right.  Other than the cook in back, Peggy Sue was by herself.

See the source imageSolitude must be a comfortable friend if one intends to write.  I enjoyed the closeness of the friends with whom I surrounded myself, yet I was okay with spending large parts of my days alone.  It gave me time to observe.  It gave me time to think.  It gave me time to waffle.

There are pleasantly intrusive things in this life.  One of the most pleasant is the scent of a fresh Belgian waffle.  One can be seated in the middle of a busy breakfast crowd having ordered all the normal fragrant stuff any self-respecting breakfast menu offers.  Let one person order a Belgian waffle, and you can pick that aroma out of all the others – like suddenly being arrested in mid-task by a whiff of a lost lover’s favorite scent.

“I don’t mean to intrude.”  Peggy Sue stood there, coffee cup in one hand and a waffled plate in the other.  Yeah.  “Plated waffle” is normally correct, but you’d need to see a Jimmie’s Belgian to understand the juxtaposition.  “You looked kind of stumped instead of the way you usually are intent when you’re writing.  I usually can only eat half of one of these, anyway, and–well, I’ve seen you eat.”  She blushed slightly, but kept at it.

Points for audacity.

“How about sharing half of this with me?  I’m hungry, and need to eat before the breakfast crowd starts trampling in.”  At my single-raised-brow, she grinned.  “I loved Brother Bear.”  Glancing down, she smirked.  “And, yes, I’ll get some more butter.”

God does in fact move in mysterious ways.  What followed was one of my life’s little serendipities I won’t forget.  It had to be a God thing, for Peggy Sue’s a hard, dedicated worker who seldom has time to sit down, let alone tarry a bit and carry on a conversation beyond, “Hot sauce or ketchup with that?”

See the source imageButter.  Warm syrup.  Barely waiting to cut it up before popping that first big, soft hunk of waffle in the mouth.  Swallowing and taking a couple of unladylike gulps of water to wash it down, she looked pointedly at my pad.  Peggy Sue pointed with her chin as she nabbed another syrupy morsel.

“What’s running through your mind this morning?”  I hesitated.  Writers dislike questions about their unfinished work.  Dislike?  I meant despise.  Yet she’d always shown an appreciation for both my time and privacy whenever I chose Jimmie’s as a writing venue.  Besides, Peggy Sue was made in Rizzo’s and Trixie’s mold:  she kept my coffee cup full of fresh, hot joe.

She deserved more than a brush-off.  Besides, I’d been stuck at a mental intersection for awhile with these thoughts, each of them like a teen just learning to drive, and clueless about to whom to yield.  Taking a thoughtful breath, I sipped some coffee for fuel.

“People who stop communicating soon lose the wonderful closeness they had when they’d been staying in contact.  It’s just the way things are.  When you are close to someone, you talk and listen.  Converse.  Share things with one another no one else knows, or ever will know.  That’s the nature of a close, loving relationship.”

Coffee.

Munching the golden brown syrup-sappiness, Peggy Sue nodded, making momentary eye contact, moving her fork in a circular motion while she chewed and swallowed.

“Let something interrupt that smooth, continuous communication, and the distance between them begins to widen.  Neither may want it, may not even be aware its happening.  But it does.  That’s a fact of human interaction.  You want to remain close to someone, you stay in contact.”  I glanced up to see if she was tracking.  Looked like she was a couple steps ahead of me.

“For awhile, all those things you see – a memorable quotation from a book, or a funny Facebook meme, all those things you openly shared together – make you think, ‘Oh, I need to tell—-‘ But you can’t.  They’re not there, or at least they’re not receiving.”

This time she was ready, having swallowed some water and now sipping coffee.  That half-waffle was gone.  Look of a lady, appetite of a T-Rex.  My kind of friend.  “So what’s the answer?”

“Being perfect in every way, God doesn’t respond to us not talking to Him like we do when we stop talking to each other.  Were God human like some try to remake Him, He’d take a month or two of our refusing to spend quiet time with Him, and say, ” ‘Kay, then.  Cross that one out.  I guess when they decide they want to be in this thing with me, we’ll start again.  Who’s next on the list?”

“He’s not, though.  You could come back to Him months, even years later, and He’s just like He was when you wandered off.  “I was wondering where you’d gone.  I’ve been waiting for you.  Come sit down and catch me up.  I’ve got lots of stuff to share with you, too.”  That’s part of what the Cross and the Resurrection are all about.  It’s God, in perfect, permanent love and relationship, saying to you and I personally, “Welcome back.  I’ve missed you, I love you, and I want to share so much with you.”

Peggy Sue sat thinking.  “I never thought of it all that way before.”

“I hadn’t, either.”

“So, it doesn’t matter how long someone is, what, estranged or distant or–here her voice broke and tears glistened–separated from God, He never gets huffy and quits trying?”  I slowly shook my head.

“God’s not human, the Bible says.  It says nothing can ever separate you and I from His love toward us.  He doesn’t get tired of waiting, He doesn’t start doubting and feeling neglected and insecure when He doesn’t hear from us.”

Peggy Sue was up and gathering her dishes and flatware.  “You always brighten my day when you come in.  This time you gave me something to think about, too.  Thank you.”  She scurried off, seeing the first of the breakfast bunch coming in the door.

I’d given me something to think about, too.  While we were talking, part of my mind was remembering a decades-old lyric I hadn’t thought about in years.  The song was playing through my spirit as I sat with my empty coffee mug in my hand . . .

Time after time I was searching for peace in some void
I was trying to blame all my ills on this world I was in
Surface relationships used me till I was done in
But all the while someone was begging to free me from sin

 Never again will I search for a fake rainbows end
Now that I’ve found the answer my life is just starting to rhyme
Sharing each new day with Him is a breath of fresh life
Oh what I’ve missed He’s been waiting right here all the time

He was there all the time
He was there all the time
Waiting patiently in line
He was there all the time  

~Public Domain

I sat there, toying with my empty cup and feeling alone, while at the same time feeling remorse at projecting my feelings on God.  He never once said to me, “You’re not worth loving.”  He’d gone to the back of the line for me every time – way more than I’d ever have done.  Worse?  I never bothered explaining, automatically assuming God knows everything, so I don’t need to explain.  Part of my feelings?  People aren’t like that.  No matter how close they are, those relationships require some communication, if only to reassure the other they’re still thinking of you, still in your high-Earth orbit. 


  God never once said to me, “You’re not worth loving.” 


I knew my feelings were mine only.  I knew God’s as close as my next breath of welcome.  I knew my hand was about to be scalded.  I pulled it back so Peggy Sue could refill my mug.  In my defense, I did it with class and aplomb, making it look smooth and premeditated.

Her amused grin showed my effort was wasted.  I curtly nodded as if it hadn’t been.  Now we were both amused.

My grin swiftly faded as I thought of how many people struggling to be loveable and needing to be loved heard every put-off translated into those words that drove them deeper into emotional inertia.

You’re not worth loving.

People say that by their actions.  It may be polite, but a shut-out’s a shut-out.  “You’re not worth my time; I’d rather hang with–them, for instance.”  No “See ya.”  Just a disappearing act.  Of course they may not mean it that way.  Usually, it’s because that other person or group is better known to them than you.  Their relationship’s closer.  They’ve been knowing each other longer, etc.  No, they likely don’t mean to shut you out.  But that’s the way it comes across.

No matter what the actual reason, that’s what an injured heart with a tourniquet around it hears.  Eventually, the wounded heart convinces the mind and spirit it won’t work this time, either.  The terrorized, emotionally-exhausted soul gives up and reverts back to a safe, armored place deep within where no one else can reach to cause that kind of hurt again.

Easter, Resurrection Sunday, was God’s way of reaching down, pulling that guarded, tenuous heart gently to Himself and saying, “You wanna see just how much loving you is worth to ME?  Take a good look at that bloody post half-buried in the courtyard where they laid my Son’s back open for you.  Listen to the jeering, profane screams of defiance and hatred from the crowd and from Hell itself at Him trying to get back up just to carry that crossbeam to where they’d be executing Him. 

     “Take a good look into that centurion’s eyes as he stands there staring up at this Man they’d just killed.  Take a good, long look into Joseph’s borrowed crypt.  It’s the only time-share grave you’ll ever see, because IT’S EMPTY.  Take a good look at who’s right here beside me, standing, holding out scarred arms to you.  It’s the first thing Jesus did when He got back here!  He pointed to you and said, “What about him?  And her?  And that guy over there?  And them?”  THAT’s how much you’re worth to Me!”

I knew better than to begin writing just then.  My own heart was too vulnerable.  No worries; I’d not forget that lesson.  I pulled all my writing stuff together, jotting down what I could recall of those lyrics I hadn’t heard or thought of since a college kid.  Then, as Peggy Sue refilled my mug again, I sat back and read them once again, this time taking them as a private message from God to me.

He was there all the time
He was there all the time
Waiting patiently in line
He was there all the time  

When I grabbed my black bag full of writing stuff and the inevitable book, and walked out of Jimmie’s, I had a smile on my face.  And oddly enough, I was humming the tune as the little electronic dealie on the door went, “DEE-doo.”

© D. Dean Boone, April 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

QTMs for Good Friday, 3/30/18: HANG IT ON THE CROSS

There was nothing more hideous and embarrassing than dying on a Roman cross.  It’s natural to associate it with all the despair and ugliness surrounding the event of Jesus’s crucifixion.

I submit the Cross of Christ as God’s ultimate symbol of love for me.  I couldn’t free myself from my habits, my hatreds, my favorite attitudes and my sin.  But Jesus did, just as God told us He would.  Because of Jesus, my life’s forever different.  Hope replaced horrible death.  Heaven makes here look boring.

That same hope is available for you, too.

In this morning’s mail, I found something I want to share with you as we move into Resurrection Celebration weekend.  I don’t care where you’ve been, or what you’re facing.  God’s love and grace can and will help you walk through it, and overcome its effects, living on in personal and spiritual victory.  Jesus proved it on the Cross.

Read and absorb the following.

 

 

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May the fact of Christ’s resurrection and the promise of His eventual return give you joy and hope this Easter!

God’s very best to you, my friend.

© D. Dean Boone, March 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 3/27/18: THE WISDOM OF THE WABBIT

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Good morning, coffee lover friends.  After some frustrating internet issues, here’s your 2nd Cup, fresh-ground and served up piping hot.  The cream and fixin’s are right over there.

I found this set of fun things on a friend’s site this morning, and it’s catchy enough I want to share it with you.  It’s patterned after the ALL I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE, I LEARNED FROM series.  The teacher in this one, however, is the Easter Bunny.  I know.  Stay with me.

 

ALL I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM THE EASTER BUNNY

 

~ Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

~ Walk softly and carry a big carrot.

~ Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.

~ All work and no play can make you a basket case.

~ Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day. 

~ Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

~ Keep your paws off other people’s jellybeans. 

~ The grass is always greener in someone else’s basket.

~ An Easter bonnet can tame even the wildest hare. 

~ To show your true colors you have to come out of your shell.

~ The best things in life are still sweet and gooey!

There you are – wisdom fwom the wabbit.

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A big shoutout to MikeysFunnies.com for sharing so much clean humor each week.  I don’t knowingly embarrass fellow writers.  Let me say this much:  Mikey is a nickname for a man with a warrior’s heart whose back story rivals my own for seeing God’s power at work.  If you’re looking for some great good humor you don’t need to hide from the kids, consider checking out his website.

Some of you are wrinkling your nose because I chose to let each statement above stand on its own minus my palaver.  You know me; I was tempted.  However, I’m working on a couple of book projects as well as keeping the java in each 2nd Cup nice and hot – my own, and one for a friend.  I’m managing to stay occupied.

Thanks for being so patient while we ironed out the ‘Net thing.  It’s a handy tool when working, and a hectic mess when it’s not.  It’s wonderful to be back with you, sharing this great Columbian Supremo.

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An Easter thought:  No matter what or how you believe, had it not been for Jesus’s dying on the cross, rising in death-killing power, and His promised return, life for you and I would be unimaginably different.

Loving you – Dan

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Humor - Lighten Up, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

2nd Cup of Coffee: BUREAUCRACY IN ACTION

BUREAUCRACY IN ACTION

  1. Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb toward the Banana.
  2. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the apes with cold water. After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result–all the apes are sprayed with cold water.
  3. Turn off the cold water. If later another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them.
  4. Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other apes attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
  5. Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
  6. Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.
  7. After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.

Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not?

“BECAUSE that’s the way it’s always been done around here.”

from Mikey’s Funnies

 

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QTMs for 3/13/18: 3 REASONS TO MAKE THE EFFORT NOT TO BE A REJECT

“Oh, Lord, don’t let THEM sit with us at our table!”

See the source imageDon’t look shocked.  You’ve thought the same thing, and more than once.  Don’t think God doesn’t hear your unspoken complaint.  And don’t think that after a few times of averted eyes and obvious body language, the THEY to whom you refer don’t receive it loud and clear.


You’re not wanted at our table.  We don’t want to welcome you into our group. You’re not like us, see, because we’re US.  We’ve been US for years, we always sit together, we always do things together.  When one of us puts out a picture at this or that social setting on Facebook, you’ll usually see the rest of US there.  That’s because WE are US.  You’re not wanted in our circle, but we’re way too cool, and probably way more spiritual, to actually have to say it.  You’re being shunned, silly rabbit.  Get used to it.  Because you’re just not part of US, and you never will be.


It gets easy, doesn’t it?  Easy to draw together, to react like iron shavings to a magnet in any social setting.  It takes no talent to reject another.

See the source imageSimple.  Just look for another US member, and join them.  Soon there’ll be five or six, and it’s even better if they’re couples.  US couples tend to automatically keep any singles who might be interested in being a part of their group at bay.  Just turn toward one another, presenting your backs to anybody else, and TA-DA!  DING-DING-DING!  WARNING!  DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!  REJECT APPROACHING!

Who are you, and what made you think you’re wanted here?

It’s bad enough to put up with social near-misses by THEM couples sniffing around long-standing US groups.  NObody needs the odd single person doing the same thing.  Why, if we let that happen, it won’t be long before some of US find out those people aren’t so unlike US after all.  They might even be worth getting to know . . . Nah.

I’m suggesting you learn to identify US groups, and make the effort to help open their self-absorbed eyes for the following reasons.

  1. No one is unworthy of your attention.  There are a few individuals whose obnoxiosity makes them unpalatable to any group in any setting.  But I’m guessing even they got that way because they got fed up with the artificial smiles and barely-tolerating spirits of US groups, just waiting for them to shove off.  Sentient humans can tell when they’re constantly putting others off, and sometimes why.  Maybe no one cared enough to unUS long enough to sit down with Mr. or Ms. Obnoxious and, without animus, speak the truth in love to them.  Real friends do that.  Real Christ-followers do that.  Nope; not easy.  Yet Jesus told us to love one another like that.  It’s not optional.  Know why?
  2. Everyone has a story.  Yep.  Even the aforementioned obnoxious, unsocialized ones.  Every man or woman you’ve ever met has a piece of their story that can inform you about why they act and react as they do.  That individual may never be a close friend to you.  After all, we each have our own preference in friends, and some are bound to be closer than others.  We have, however, no right to turn a cold shoulder to anyone unless they’ve somehow earned it.  Even then, there’s something in their back story from which you can learn.  At least you’ll be a friend to them, and not be turning your back and averting your eyes the moment they walk through the door.  Why’s that important?See the source image
  3. You’ve been one of THOSE people at some time in your life.  It may have been a long time ago.  But very few have been instantly popular the day they were born.  And for that odd few who were?  It didn’t take long for everyone around them to see how shallow and self-serving they were and leave them alone.  So, you see, one way or another, you’ve been one who can walk into a room unnoticed, sit down by yourself, and be your own best friend.  You’ve known the slight frisson of excitement when someone approaches your table, only to say, “Do you mind if WE borrow a chair?”  Strange, isn’t it?  That ‘someone’ never seems to say, “Hey, why don’t you join us?” or better yet, holler over a shoulder, “Hey everyone.  C’mere!  There’s someone new here I want you to meet!”

People who’ve suffered rejection in their past are keenly aware of its fangs.  Each new rejection brings old strikes, old poison memories flooding back.  They may act disinterested and even aloof.  They’re not.  They’re scanning faces and voices into their internal database, and from that point on will be superficially, even professionally friendly.  But they’ll never let those people get close enough to hurt them.  And another possibly-terrific relationship goes up in smoke before it ever began.

I believe that’s one of those sources of heart-tears God promises to wipe away:  promising friendships that died on the vine because US were more intent on maintaining social integrity than entertaining Christ’s command to love – even the unlovely.

© D. Dean Boone, March 2018

 

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QTMs for 3/8/18: DRIFT IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STOP PADDLING

The Bible says a lot about the cross.  Nowhere does it mention inoffensive.

It’s no secret our American culture has for decades been steadily drifting away from God.  While that drift out into the depths of Whatever Feels Good has been happening, there’s been just as steady an invasion of philosophies alien to God and His salvation plan through Jesus.

I was born and raised in the great Pacific Northwest.  From my earliest memories, our family spent several weeks each summer camping and fishing in the mountains of central Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Idaho.  Those trout, steelhead and salmon were worth the effort!

It takes time and effort to plan a trip like that, especially if using a boat.  There’s equipment, bait and lures to buy, motors to fine-tune, and batteries to charge up for trolling.  Even if planning to catch most of one’s food, there were still condiments and cornmeal, salt and spices, pepper and particulars.

Does it make sense, then, to go to all that effort to plan a great fishing vacation, put one’s boat in the water, lower the motors, load it with all necessities, then just . . . drift?

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Don’t get me wrong.  We meant to drift sometimes.  We’d figure out which way the wind was pushing the waves, motor up above that, cut the main outboard and drift, letting the action of the water propel us.  If catching fish, we’d stay there, repeatedly using the trolling motor to go back to our original starting point and drift some more.  If catching little or nothing, we’d use the outboard to go somewhere else interesting, and try the same thing there.

Drifting while fishing’s not terribly crucial unless you’re drifting over a falls or into some rapids.  Intentionally drifting away from the guidelines of God’s Word is spiritually mortal.  It doesn’t happen all at once; we cut a corner here, quibble over something else there, and before long we’re a long way from where God did His changing work through Jesus in us.

“How on earth did we get here?”  Good question to ask.

Hell’s temperature hasn’t dropped, but any interest in hearing a thing about it has.

If we tolerate real preaching much, make sure the speaker’s voice is respectful, husky and breathy.  I don’t need NObody yelling at me.  In church, I mean.  If we’re hosting Entrepreneurs Extraordinaire or watching an edge-of-seat game, the more excited the better!

You.  Up on the, uh, stage thingie.  Entertain me.  You do all the work, make it happen and sparkle.  Sing upbeat stuff I’m used to hearing, with lyrics that don’t expect anything from me.  Remember the 11th Commandment:  “Don’t make me uncomfortable.”  Let me be okay with thinking, “Well, that’s nice for you.  There’s a lot of ways to please God.”

Well, yeah.  But every one of them is in the Bible.  And every translation out there reads pretty much the same.  And every one of those commands of God are funneled through the Person and saving work of Jesus Christ.

Our problem is that we’re stubbornly attached to finding a way – ANY way – to get God’s grace pouring down over our lives except the one He’s given us:  Jesus.

See the source imageThere’s where the drift comes in.  The world around you – its cultural norms, the way everybody else lives – want you at all costs to just fit in.  “Go ahead and do church all the time.  That’s cool.  Just come back and be ‘us’ with us, too.  After all, the Good Book says you’re salt and light for the rest of us, right?  Can’t do that if you’re not out here with us.”

Right.  Yet I’ve never once seen a person receive Jesus as Lord and stay just the way they were before.

See, that’s where drifting is so dangerous.  It blurs any clear distinction between life as God wants us to live it, and life the way we want to live it.  If no one can see any real change for the better in following Christ rather than following the world, then what’s the point?

Go on and do your thing.  Eat, drink, and be Mary.  Or Tom, Jack or Jill.  Get all the gusto and grins you can.  Be a good person.  Make others happy.  Just remember that “for tomorrow you die” part.

God’s still in charge of that part.

Don’t misunderstand.  I like being comfortable as much as the next guy.  I’m sitting here surrounded by books and writing pads, sipping fresh, hot coffee.  I’ve a cozy pinon wood fire burning in the fireplace, warming my feet and my thoughts.  Of course comfort is important.

I like being liked, too.  I don’t like feeling awkward in social settings or being looked at funny any more than you do.  I simply believe that it’s not my task as a Christian man to play caboose to every whim my culture throws at me.  I’d rather be a living, breathing, coffee-enjoying specimen of a God’s guy.  I’d rather be making no apologies for quietly bowing my head to thank God for His miracle-working power that allows me to eat and absorb nutrients from my food.

I’d rather leave the bar where God’s had it all along.  I’m not talking about being obnoxious and holier-than-thou.  I’m saying I see my role as being at peace in my heart, and loving and comfortable among all others while unobtrusively yet gratefully living out my faith to please my King, not my culture.

Perfection?  Nope.  Don’t even get me started.  As a recovering perfectionist, I tried that route and found it ridiculous.  I’ve plenty of sanding and polishing work to be done in and on me – but the Holy Spirit’s the one whom I allow to do all that finishing work.  Listening to Him, following His lead gives me plenty of work to do.

Want to know the truth?  I know many think drifting’s just the cat’s jammies in the fishing world.  Not me.  I never really liked being at the mercy of wherever the wind or current took me.  If you like it, that’s all good.  Enjoy.

For me, I’d rather stick real close to where God is and let Him do the navigating.  When this is all done for me, I want my life to reflect how close I tried to stay with Him, not how far I managed to drift away before coming running back, grinning and saying, “Psyche.  Just kidding.  I was always Yours, right?”

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If letting The Drift happen in your life seems to be working okay for you, remember there’s always a count and weigh-in at day’s end.

Show me your string of fish, and I’ll change my bait.

© D. Dean Boone, March 2018

 

 

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Designing This Day, 3/7/18: IT’S YOURS. DO SOMETHING WITH IT.

I know every day when I awake still here, God’s given me a precious gift of 24 more hours of living.

That’s not something I take for granted.  Humanly speaking, I’d have been dead since May of 1997.  My son and daughters would have been minus a dad all this time.  My wife would have been widowed and alone for almost 21 years.

See the source imageWhen I was actively dying, God chose to step in and alter my history’s course.  Life for me has never again been the same.  I’d like to tell you I’ve always used every spare moment as wisely, and as much for God’s glory and use, as I could.  I’d like to tell you that, but I’ve wasted my share of my life’s precious moments.  Wasn’t intentional, no.  And I always have tried to shape up the minute I realized it.

I’m not talking about having fun, taking time off to recreate and restore body, mind and spirit.  That is one of life’s essentials I practiced way too little prior to almost dying.  That might have even contributed to it.  If you know me at this point in my life, you know I am now enjoying my leisure much more.

I’m talking about a mental outline for how I’d like the day to progress, if it’s left up to me.  I was up at 3:30 this morning, which is normal for me.  Lying in bed doesn’t work, for my mind is already out there on the trail, taking point and wondering what’s taking the rest of me so long.  As a writer, morning is my most productive time, so I plan my day accordingly.


You are every bit the beneficiary of God’s similar blessing.


Sedentary I’m not.  My basic daily design is have a modest workout;  shave & shower while coffee’s brewing; prepare and consume a hearty protein-rich breakfast; go through the day’s mail & respond to communications; block 4-5 hours for writing, the actual time depending on whether the weather allows a brisk 2-mile walk.  Later in the day when my strength wanes, I tend to household chores, both inside and out, since they require no real mental focus.  And when my creative juices overwhelm my physical blender, I often take the ’96 SVT Shelby Snake convertible out for a mind-blowing, head-clearing ride.

So, yeah.  Every day I’ve lived since then is a day I’ve considered a direct gift from God to me – and I celebrate every one of them as such.  I recently read the phrase, “designing the day”, and it resonated in my spirit as a proactive, positive approach to each day’s living.

The point here is that you are every bit the beneficiary of God’s similar blessing.  Every day you live is a gift from God to you.

  • You cannot control everything that occurs to or around you today.
  • You cannot control what others do, think, or say.
  • You are in total control of your attitude.
  • You are completely in command on the bridge of your soul.  
  • How today shakes down when you lay your head on your pillow tonight is completely in your grasp.

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Yes.  We’ve all heard PMA hoo-ha before.  I’m not trying to sell you anything other than your own ability to direct the day’s events and how you’ll respond to them.  I have my share of physical challenges, just as you do.  Rather than whine about them, I’d rather own them, work to the best of my ability and strength within those parameters, and with God’s help accomplish something I wouldn’t have otherwise seen happen.

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You can do what you want today, and I’ll go right on loving you; we’ll still be friends.  You don’t have to feel obligated in any way, because this isn’t intended to be oppressive or overplanned.  That’s nuts.  That’s exchanging one cell for another.  I’m just sayin’ that I choose to frontload my day; to have a plan of action in mind, a rough flowchart of what I’d like to have accomplished when the sun sets here in Kansas.  Syncing that with God’s limitless ability and faithfulness seems to me to be the ultimate win-win.

I’d rather design my day than just be drug around by it.

I’m suggesting it to you.  Give it a try.  See how you feel when the sun sets wherever you live.

© D. Dean Boone, March 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

2nd Cup Saturdays for 3/3/18: THIS IS NOT THE ME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR

The little story opens with a boy who has such a crush on a girl he follows her everywhere.  She can’t go anywhere without him tagging along like a hopeful stray pup.

See the source imageFinally, after weeks of this, she stops, turns, and asks, “Why do you keep following me like this?”

His answer is artless and to the point:  “Because you’re the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen, and I think I’m falling in love with you.”

See the source image     “Really?” she responded.  “But you haven’t seen my friend, yet.  She’s a lot prettier than me, and she’s standing right behind you.”

The boy frowned and looked over his shoulder.  Puzzled and a little indignant, he said, “There’s nobody there.”

“I know.  But if you are really falling in love with me, you wouldn’t have looked.”

Yes, that’s kind of catty.  If the roles were reversed, the girl would certainly look, too.

See the source image“Love” gets overused, even abused, until one can be excused for not being sure what’s meant.  We all have private mental ideas and ideals attached to our own definitions of what Love looks like, how we’re sure we’ll experience it.

Along comes a boy or a girl we like.  Really like.  Suddenly LOVE is dropped into our hearts and minds.  Like one of those TV Plinko games, “Love” goes ‘ploink’, ‘ploink’, ‘ploink’ing it’s way down, bouncing off all our idealized notions, and lodging in the bottom of our hearts.

Yup.  Love.  Married.  Mortgaged.  Mommy and Daddy.  The works.

The problem is, that boy or girl is another uniquely-imperfect human being.  Flawed.  Dinged, scraped, abraded, rubbed raw.  Maybe even cracked or outright broken.  Suddenly it hits:  that person isn’t talking, acting, playing or responding according to our expectations.  They’re not on script!

I’m sure by now you know the most likely reactions.  It’s why there’s so much separation and divorce in our world.  There’s another that is slower and more subtle, yet just as lethal and just as detrimental to an established home:  one spouse arbitrarily deciding to withdraw inside a kind of mental forcefield that leaves the other out–yet without telling them.

That spouse seems to live absorbed within their earlier defined ideals of Love, in a kind of dreamy, imaginary togetherness bubble that never plays out in real life.  Result:  the other partner finds him- or herself constantly left out without knowing why.  The longer this continues, the weaker that relationship becomes.

See the source imageFew if any outsiders ever know this is happening.  It’s even possible the bubble-wrapped partner isn’t aware of their mental withdrawal, either.  Unless some catalyst triggers a confession, an entire lifetime could be spent by the one never once having been truly loved, nor the other ever having given themself wholly to the other.

When using ‘Love’, it’s advisable to ask:  “What do you mean when you say, ‘love’?  Can you unpack that and help me understand what that is for you?”  Listen.  Pay attention.  It could be the difference between spending life with someone who unconditionally does love you, or with a congenial stand-in who eventually figures out they’re always going to somehow come up short, no matter how long or diligently they try.

So.  Would you have looked?  Probably.  We’re all notoriously curious, aren’t we?  Boys and girls both are still figuring out what love is and isn’t.  They tend to be cow-eyed  follow one another around.  Why, I know of one boy who even followed a girl along some railroad tracks . . .

Crazy what some people do for what they think of Love, isn’t it?

Don’t make assumptions when dealing with another’s heart.

Cute games are for children.

© D. Dean Boone, March 2018

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , | Leave a comment