There’s a feeling I get when I’ve finished writing a book. The last words are typed with gusto that falls just short of damaging the keyboard. Immediately after that last period is placed, I have to get up from my seat and pace until the rush simmers down. Once my heart slows, there’s about 24 hours when no matter what I’m doing, the thought that I finished a book sneaks into my mind over and over. It’s like I can’t believe it, and feel so relieved that it’s done. I had forgotten about that feeling until I finished my fifth book last week. The feeling is unobtainable from anything else. It’s the overall sense of accomplishment, but also specifically that an idea was forged into reality.
Something that started as a tiny little thought, rolled around and captured additional fodder that could be used to support the thought, then grew a little. Then grew a little more. Then, became almost painful because it was too big to NOT be on paper. It begged to be set free.
What’s interesting is that once it’s on paper, if it’s successful or not to others is secondary to the fact that a story has been created out of thin air, flowing from my head to my fingers to a Word document. Unfortunately, the feeling is addictive. From the first time I felt it, I wanted to replicate the experience.
Three more are circling in the rafters. All in various degrees of readiness. My mind will let me know when they’re ready to be set free.
I was at the grocery store when my cell phone rang. The caller ID said “Jesus.” My heart leapt before remembering that our pest control person’s name is Jesus. I’ve never learned his last name.
This got me thinking. What if Jesus did call me? What would He say?
“Is this Jolene?”
No, He would already know who He was calling.
“Hi Jolene, how are you doing?”
I’m feeling confident He would already know the answer to that.
“Will you do something for me?”
Pretty sure that’s what the Holy Spirit is for.
What if I decline the call? Would He leave a voice message? Maybe send me a text instead?
I can’t think of why He might call, but I do think it would freak me out. Not sure why. Maybe because He would have transcended from inside of me to externally. A call from Jesus would take quite some time to wrap my brain around. This little thought process provided me with a closer look inside of the Bible stories where God appears. Holy smoke!
Schools used to break for the summer so that kids could help work in the fields. While schools still adhere to this tradition, laws have made it nearly impossible for kids to work at all. The laws were put into place to protect children, however, the unintended consequence is that most businesses don’t want the headaches of sifting through a myriad of labor laws to bother with a person under 18. So those kids are left with a home that probably has both parents working and they have nothing to do. Of course our nation’s children have a drug problem. They’re bored and largely unsupervised.
At the age of 18 you are required to be available to serve and perhaps die to protect our country. You’re taught how to shoot a gun and participate in war, yet, in California, you can’t purchase cigarettes or drink alcohol until the age of 21.
On the other end of the spectrum at age 70 you are no longer considered eligible to be a juror in our judicial system. However, eight of our U.S. presidents have been nearly that age or older while governing the most powerful nation in the world.
None of this makes sense.
We had a group of women who were preparing for a marathon. One Saturday morning, we were driving into the mountains for a more strenuous workout. Two of us were new to the group and sat quietly in the back of the car. At some point, I turned to the lady next to me and asked her what other things she did other than running. She replied that she was a veterinarian. Her entire family were missionaries in Eastern Europe. They had come home for a sabbatical. The remainder of the ride, and on the way back after our run, the conversation in the car primarily centered on her. Her life was fascinating. We would not have known anything about her if I hadn’t asked her that one question.
I was working on a promotion for United Way. I distributed a promotional invitation to all of the local churches along with my phone number for more information. A woman with a thick accent called me. It was difficult to understand what she was saying and the conversation took much longer than I had the patience for. She did want to participate in the promotion but had no means of getting to the location. I reluctantly agreed to pick her up and bring her back. I believe I rolled my eyes as I committed to this. When she got into the car I began with small talk – she was a stranger with a language barrier so it was a bit uncomfortable. As we drove, we learned that she and her husband had fled Iran as persecuted Christians. They had left everything behind. Soon after they arrived here, there was a major earthquake in her home town which killed nearly their entire extended family. As she continued to provide details of her life, I began to feel more and more appalled at my initial attitude toward her. It was an excellent lesson in humility.
My son was on a soccer team. We were at a tournament with a lot of time between games. The mother sitting next to me is a single mother with an only-child. Out of nowhere she tells me that when she was in college she became pregnant. She carried the baby to term and then gave it up for adoption. That baby was now a 20-something man and had found her. Her only other child, the soccer player who was in high school, had been unaware that he had an older brother. Now the mother and two boys began the process of knowing each other and creating family memories together. You never really know what is in a person’s past unless they chose to tell you.
A colleague of mine is from a wealthy family. When they were kids, his father took the children camping. They had never been camping before. They went out and bought all of the necessary items. Loading up the car they headed to the mountains. Mom didn’t go. They sat up camp, ate and went to sleep. Early the next morning, Dad woke the kids up and told them to pack up the car, they were going home. When they reached their hometown, Dad stopped at their Country Club and made the children shower in the locker rooms. He was not going to take them home only to soil their own bathrooms. The only moral to this story is that it’s so funny. Either you love camping or you don’t.
Another colleague owns several businesses and continues to start up new ones. I asked to write a feature article about his businesses for a local magazine and he agreed. Turns out, he migrated with his parents to the U.S. illegally as a child. He worked alongside them in the fields. He ended up working for an agricultural related company as a young man. His work ethic and intelligence did not go unnoticed by his employer. When the owner of the company decided to retire, he offered the young man the opportunity to purchase the business over time. He was able to grow the business and payoff the debt quickly. It expanded and continued to be the catalyst for additional new businesses that vertically integrated with his existing business. He focused on new technology in every aspect of his endeavors. Most of his businesses have an engineering element. My colleague never went to college or formally learned engineering. He did end up sending his two sons to college. Both are now engineers and being groomed to take over the operations when he retires. It doesn’t matter how you start out, what matters is what you do with what you’ve been given.
In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I would focus on the force of mothers. What word do people say in front of a word expressing something scary and forceful? Answer, ‘Mother.’ Here are my five examples:
1) Mother of all bombs (MOAB) - Why would something as destructive as a bomb be called a mother? Because it's appropriate.
2) Mother Nature – this is actually the most accurate description of mothers. She’s beautiful, soft, comforting but also violently powerful with a variety of tools to get her job done.
3) Mama bear – it’s a foregone conclusion that you do not get between a mother bear and her cub. Even humans use this term to describe a human mother who’s become extraordinarily protective of her offspring. It doesn’t seem to be as dangerous if you get between a father and his child (no offense dad’s). The mother is considered far more vicious under these circumstances.
4) “The mother of all wars” was a term coined by then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein when the US first began the Gulf War. Even in a region where women are suppressed, the President of that country used the term ‘mother’ when rattling his saber.
5) Mother fucker – I know, crass, and not a term I use often – except maybe when I’m driving, but I would be remiss to not at least acknowledge this phrase. It’s not called ‘Father fucker’ now is it.
Mothers have that innate ability to just go ballistic if the situation requires such behavior. It’s the primal response that moms have little control over. It’s like releasing the kraken – the reason you only use the kraken as a final measure is because it’s difficult to control and difficult to put back into captivity. But oh, so effective in getting the point across. So, here’s to you, you Forces to Be Reckoned With. Enjoy the celebration of what makes you, you.
We were having lunch at a local restaurant. The table next to us had a family from out of town. The daughter asked for whipping cream. The waitress brought her an entire can, which the girl proceeded to empty on top of her pancakes. As she's eating her mother said, "Kingsburg is a Swedish town." The girl pointed to the whipping cream and asked, "Because of this?" Mom replied, "Why would you say that?" The girl responded, "It's sweetish?"
My blog is entitled “The Truth is Out There” because it has multiple meanings. It was coined for the popular television series The X Files. It’s one of my favorite sayings, especially in our current cultural environment. Using the ‘pronounce it’ method, when your verbal inflections change so does the intent of the saying:
The TRUTH is out there - It can mean the truth is actually somewhere, implying that whatever was stated before may not have been the truth.
The truth IS out there - It can also mean that the truth is definitely available to us, we just have to look for it.
The truth is OUT THERE - Change the inflection and it can be interpreted that the truth is so crazy, people won’t believe it.
While choosing the correct, most accurate words are important, so is the cadence we use in delivering those words verbally. I think much of our communication difficulties come from this aspect of expressing ourselves especially as it pertains to the individual interpretations of such.
I was surprised one day to learn that “skedaddle” was a real word. I had assumed it was some sort of slang word that parents used to get their children moving. With that realization, I began listening for other words that are kind of funny, but are actually listed in the dictionary. Here is my list so far. Feel free to add to it in the comments:
As I drove my youngest son to school one day, he used the term “The fancy moms” in a sentence. With this particular child, I am accustomed to being surprised each and every day by what comes out of his mouth, however, this term was more intriguing than usual.
“What do you mean by “The Fancy Moms?” I asked.
“You know, the ones that get all dressed up to take their kids to school.” He responded plainly.
This caused me to consider what I was wearing; yoga pants, t-shirt, and Nike’s with my hair pulled back in a bun because a pony tail would sway too much when I go for a run after dropping him off. I’ve written here before about self-reflection, but in this case, my habit of not dressing up to take my kid to school was presented as a simple fact from a pre-teen.
After I get all three other family members on their way in the morning, I usually go running, then shower and then, I suppose, become a fancy mom. I used to run before everyone was up, but it’s too dark and cold and after some incidents, decided to wait till later in the morning.
Still on our way to school I ask, “Does it embarrass you that I’m not a fancy mom?”
“Not really,” he replied.
As we pulled into the drop-off zone my heart lightened, “Oh look, that mom is wearing her pajamas and slippers! At least I’m in non-sleep attire!” I said proudly. I suddenly felt like I was the bad mom in a comedy movie.
He shrugged and said, “I guess that’s good. Bye.” And jumped out of the car, on his way to his despised classroom.
Have you ever noticed that when someone says, ‘To make a long story short,’ that it’s nearly guaranteed to be a long story needlessly longer? And that they’ll sprinkle that phrase throughout the auditory rendition?
I’ve also realized that when a speaker says that their presentation is short – they generally mean it’s longer and more disappointedly, boring.
There was a grocery store who used to advertise, ‘If we’re slow, let us know!’ I remember waiting in line at that store with the catchy slogan running over and over in my mind as it took seemingly forever for my turn with the cashier.
My theory is that if there weren’t promises made to set the expectation dial to ‘hopeful,’ then we wouldn’t know the difference. Better to work in the other direction, if you ask me.
Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.