Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 29 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 29

A poster I put together for promoting our summer camp program.

Today I've been reviewing summer employment applications and writing interview questions. That has led me to think about my past jobs and interviews. I've had some doozies! Check this out (names have been changed to protect the guilty)...

  • One interviewer introduced me to another employee and said, "This is Gina, and she is difficult." I felt so bad for Gina to be "outed" like that. But guess who my supervisor ended up being for that job? Yup -- Gina. And she was difficult!

  • This same interviewer described herself as "not sensitive." I know now that I should have asked what she meant by that statement. Instead, I assumed she meant that she had a thick skin and didn't let little things bother her. The truth was, she didn't have a caring bone in her body and made sure we all knew it.

  • Another interviewer opened the session by spending about 30 minutes telling me about the company and the job. When he finished, he said, "Do you have any questions for me?" He was clearly done with the interview. I had to say, "Would you like to know anything about me?"

-- I am thankful for all the jobs I've had, both good and very bad, because I've learned at least one thing from each of them. I know that I could never be as bad a manager as a couple of the ones I was subjected to. (Not the best sentence grammar, but you know what I mean.)

Day 28 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 28

Mimi and Mo love to drink fresh water from the bathroom sink. They run ahead of me whenever I walk anywhere near the bathroom.

Today I'm thankful...

-- That all my basic needs are met in abundance. Yesterday I mentioned hunger. But I have shelter, water, clothing, etc.

-- That I am not greedy, pretentious or materialistic (at least I don't think I am). I want to keep a proper perspective on how fortunate I am and fight for the rights of those less fortunate than me. I do want to make Micah 6:8 my life verse:

But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.
(Micah 6:8 -- The Message)

Day 27 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 27

I love grapefruit. It is one of the only good things about winter, in my humble opinion. I used to have this spoon with a serrated tip that was perfect for eating grapefruit so you got all the pulp. Do you think I can find this great spoon? Not.

This gets me thinking about food.... what else is good?

Iced tea
Grilled vegetables
Many other things, but these are the first ones that come to mind.

--I'm thankful for not suffering from hunger -- I'll never know what it is like to starve. I hope I never take this for granted.

Day 26 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 26

This is one of the best local places to eat. I love being in an area where people know your name, and they know what you'll order at the local restaurant. Kind of like the Cheers bar...

-- I'm thankful for small-town living

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 25 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 25

I saw these interesting tracks on the side of the highway on the way to church today. They started and ended abruptly and were very aimless in their pattern. I wonder what made them -- a mole, perhaps?

It has been a prayerful week for me as our church voted today to call a new sr. pastor. Last night, as I looked outside to check the weather before heading to bed, I saw one supremely bright star directly out front of my house. It was the only star I could see. It was so bright that I thought it was a plane, but it never moved. It had a star-shaped halo around it. I couldn't help but see it as a promise from God that He is very aware of, and in control of, what is happening at my church. Then this morning, we sang the hymn, "I Want To Walk As A Child Of The Light." The first line of the refrain says, "In Him there is no darkness at all." As we sang, the sun was shining as bright as it could through the windows and it was such a neat object lesson for the song we were singing. I love it when that happens!

I must note that we've had a great interim.... you've got to love a guy who will get up and sing a verse of Bob Dylan's "The Times -- They Are A Changin'".

-- I'm thankful for when God shows up

Day 24 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 24

Did some snowshoeing today. It was a leisurely walk in the woods. I say "leisurely" because I worked up a sweat quickly... there was not going to be anything "brisk" about it. But it was lovely... I blazed my own trail in some places, and followed tracks in other places. I love the sounds in the woods: the wind humming, the creaking and cracking of trees, things falling from the trees. Strangely, I did not see any wildlife at all and didn't hear any birds. Must have been naptime just after lunch.

The depression in the snow in the center of this picture would have been someone's bed. What fun it was to find this!

-- I'm thankful for the sights and sounds of creation.

Day 23 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 23

Looks like cotton balls floating in the trees.

Today I am thankful for:
-- Fridays
-- Partners in ministry

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 22 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 22

Took this out of my office window.

I think sunsets will become a regular photo subject in this project because we get some real beauties here at camp. It will be so nice when snow ceases to be a photo choice!

-- I'm thankful for the regular rhythms of the day... the dawning and dying of the sun. There's something peaceful about the expectation that when a day finishes, another will come. I do take it for granted, even though I know it could end at any time with God taking me home when He is ready. But for the most part, I know that I will see the sun set tonight and rise again in the morning. I like that. I hope this project is making me appreciate these gifts even more. I can't help but think of the opening song at Chautauqua's Sacred Songs Services:

Day is dying in the west;
Heav’n is touching earth with rest;
Wait and worship while the night
Sets the evening lamps alight
Through all the sky.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heav’n and earth are full of Thee!
Heav’n and earth are praising Thee,
O Lord most high!

Day 21 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 21

I pass these guys whenver I drive up 430 to Mayville.

Do horses get cold in the winter?

-- I'm thankful for God's creation: for the beauty, for seasons, for the variety of species, and for how it is all connected.

Day 20 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 20

Mimi and I watching the new president.

What a day -- wow. I didn't get to watch any of the inaugural coverage but saw some reruns. I've been especially moved by the comments of those who have been involved in the civil rights movement since the days of Martin Luther King Jr and have lived to see the day of a president with African American heritage. (I'm thinking specifically of the black senator from Georgia, but I can't remember his name.)

-- I'm thankful for the optimistic mood that has decended on much of our country.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day 19 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 19

Mo and I. Yes, I know it is another cat pic. I'm taking a break from snow pics.

Some words of wisdom from missionary, speaker and author Elisabeth Elliot in "Keep A Quiet Heart":
"If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.
-- I'm thankful for wise giants of faith

Day 18 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 18

The watchful eyes of my girls.

-- I'm thankful for my church, for the members who serve in it so faithfully, and for how God speaks in that place.

Day 17 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 17

This is the very first thing I see when I wake up in the morning.

Today I got to reconnect with my oldest friend. We had a great, long conversation and got caught up on a lot of stuff. It felt really good and it seems like we have grown to be more alike than ever. Thanks KT!

-- I'm really thankful for friends who share your core values

Day 16 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 16

Reading one of my favorite magazines. I like it for its feature stories, plus the reviews on movies, TV shows and books. I rarely recognize any of the music artists. Guess I'm getting old! In this issue, there are a couple of things worth mentioning.

First, in the fashion review of the Golden Globes, they said this of Renee Zellweger's dress: "... the usually chic actress was a complete peekadon't." Love that new word!

Second, Stephen King talks in his column about not making New Year's resolutions, but instead focusing on wishes and hopes. He says that in 2009, he plans to contribute a dollar to a charity for every one he spends on a movie, DVD, or iTune download. He says, "I wish that you, dear reader, would do the same. If you can't, I understand -- 2009's shaping up to be a horror show -- but I can wish. Because wishes are how good things start." How about we all take up this challenge?

-- I'm thankful for worthy charities and the work they do.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day 15 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 15

This is Mo, sitting on my shoulder while I work on the computer. She does this all the time. Sorry I cut off her head, but now she's gone and I can't try to retake the pic. Hey, at least it isn't a snow photo!

Thankful for:
-- Days off

-- The fact that God is in control of all things. I always hope to fix things for myself and others who are hurting. But what I really need to do is turn over my plans or ideas to God and let Him massage them, and me, and take care of the situation. This is so hard for a control freak like me!

-- Messages in scripture. This is what I read tonight, in light of the thoughts above:

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever... But as for me, it is good to be near God." Psalm 73: 26, 28 NIV

Day 14 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 14

I hate to make this all about the snow, but that's pretty much what is going on here these days. This is my hanging flower basket that never got put away...

-- I'm thankful for the characteristic of caring, which seems to be universal. Today, my cat Mimi was coughing, and my other cat Mo was so worried! Her eyes got really big and she ran over to Mimi and licked her. It was so cute.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 13 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 13

This is my favorite coffee shop in town: The Ryder's Cup. Like Wegmans, it is very visually pleasing inside with its blue walls and displays of work by local artists. The staff is very friendly, and they make the best hazlenut steamers... much better than Starbucks (otherwise known as Fourbucks). They also have a vehicle with awesome graphics that drives around town to advertise the place. Someday I'll take a pic of it. Today it was covered in snow in the parking lot. Notice the snow falling in this pic?

I attended the JAYWOK meeting today: Jamestown Area Youth Workers. This is a group of area youth pastors who meet regularly for encouragement and prayer. It was my first meeting and it was great. They are mostly younger than me and are salt-of-the-earth folk who are working hard to do ministry in these crazy times. We had a great talk about issues like:

  • How do we get church members away from the consumer mentality?
  • Whose responsibility is it to care for others -- the pastor or us?
  • How do we motivate youth to be good leaders when they are surrounded by apathy in the church?

I won't pretend that we came up with all the answers but it was encouraging to share with like-minded people.

-- I'm always thankful for good conversation about ministry and faith issues.

-- I'm thankful for good talks in general. Today I had lunch down the road at Rich & Margaret's, our local diner. I sat near an older couple who came in after me and never said ONE WORD to each other the whole time they were there. They talked to other patrons, but not to each other. I thought it was so sad. Please, Lord, may this never be the case for me.

Day 12 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 12

This is a picture from the cafe at Wegmans, my favorite grocery store. It is a great place that makes for a very pleasant shopping experience. The prices are right, the selection is very decent. And the visual merchandising and ambience is outstanding. I had a wrap for dinner before doing my shopping and I was enjoying the colorful walls and the artwork. This picture doesn't do it justice, but take my word for it: this is a great place.

-- I'm thankful for convenience and variety. It does spice up our lives!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Day 11 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 11

Mimi and I checking our email.

-- Today I'm thankful for friends who love you with that fierce love that is rare... those who care about what really matters in life and about what makes you who you are... those who want what's best for you, not what's best for them. I'm very blessed. Thanks M & D!

Day 10 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 10

Here I am cutting boards in the shop at camp. We are renovating our dorm and I've been helping cut the pieces for the new bunk beds. I enjoy this kind of work so am glad I can help.

Today I was thinking about the Amish -- started with a conversation last night over dinner. They would do by hand the hundreds of boards I've cut the past two weekends on the radial arm saw. Their ability to maintain a simple life in today's world amazes me. They accomplish a lot with little more than human energy. Think about a barn raising!

-- I'm thankful for electricity.

Day 9 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 9

This photo is legit, folks. No digital doctoring.

-- Today I'm thankful for rest.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Day 8 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 8

Someone turned on the lake-effect snow machine today. Here is my abode shrouded in white stuff. I am not thankful for snow.

Yesterday I had a good laugh at newpaper columnist Mark Shields talking about how, "... my 401k has shrunk to a 201f...".

Today I am thankful for:

-- Snow shovels

-- People who pray -- for those who pray for me, and for those who are just good pray-ers in general.

Day 7 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 7

This is a picture of footprints -- coming and going. First they were in the slush, and then they became frozen in place.

I suppose I am thankful for comings and goings. I use these terms in the context of relationships which is what first came to mind. When a new relationship comes into your life, it is exciting: someone who you click with, who shares your views and interests. It is fun exploring who they are and how you gel with them. But then sometimes there is a going of a relationship. This is tough. I'm one who clings as long as possible. I don't like to give up on relationships. But sometimes it is necessary. A particular relationship can become hurtful or unhealthy. In the last year I had to let go of a long-time relationship... like over 25 years long. As much as I tried to fix what was going wrong, a good friend reminded me that I had not been the one to break the relationship. So I needn't feel guilty when my fixing didn't work. I had to let go. And I did. And it hurt. But I think I'm OK now. Most of the time.

Other things I'm thankful for today:
-- Mail
-- Heat

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Day 6 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 6

Day 6 dawned with a new haircut, color and highlights. Good to go for another month!
Things I'm thankful for today:
-- God's presence.
-- Places to walk in the winter. The Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena is great!
-- Naps
-- Safety

Day 5 of 365 Day Experiment -- January 5

Day 5 concluded with an after-holiday dinner with staff and board members. It's so nice to share a meal and conversation with folk!
Things I'm thankful for today:
-- Mundane tasks. There is something very satisfying about a repetitive task. It always has a beginning and an end, and you can see your progress along the way. I did a mailing today and it fits the bill.
-- String cheese
-- Friends who are transparent. Thanks Bill!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Days 1-4 of 365 Day Experiment

Here's what I look like on Day 1 of my 365 Day Experiment -- 2009.

Day 2 and I am working on my Christmas/New Years cards. Better late than never! If you are on the list, it will be arriving in your mailbox soon.

Day 3 and I am filling up my birdfeeders. Need to take care of the little guys. Otherwise, the cats will lose their eye candy.

Day 4 and I'm getting serious about journaling. This practice for me has been sporadic and I'm resolving to work on putting thoughts to paper. Some might even appear here! At a minimum I'll be recording what I'm thankful for each day. So far, my list includes the following things (in no order of importance so don't get offended):

My cats
Mouse traps

See you soon!

365 Days: An Experiment

I’ve always been intrigued by folks who do a 365 photo experiment; that is, they take a photo of themselves each day for a year. My friends Jim and Suzi have done this. My friend Carol spent 2008 writing down things each day that she didn’t want to take for granted. I’ve been inspired by these two concepts to do my own version of a 365 Day Experiment. I will be taking a photo each day, not necessarily with myself in it (frankly, I’m finding it hard to imagine 365 consecutive photos of myself!). I am also going to journal each day, focusing on things for which I’m thankful . I will be journaling the old fashioned way, with pen to paper, and plan to share some of it. Here’s my reasoning for this project:

1. I want to slow down and appreciate the here and now. No more days flying by with no recollection of anything significant that happened. We’ve been given so many gifts… how many of them do we miss?
2. I want to challenge my creative juices. I’m a very amateur photographer but I have aspirations of being better. I also like to write and this will force me to do it daily.
3. It will be fun!

So if you are interested in a day in the life of Barb ongoing, check it out! No promises on it being updated every 24 hours….

A Most Selfless Act

One of my favorite newspaper columnists is Mitch Album. (By the way, he is also the author of “Tuesdays With Morrie,” one of my favorite books.) He told the greatest story in a recent column. It is about a Texas woman named Marilyn who went to a foreclosure auction to watch her son bid on a house. While there, Marilyn encountered an upset woman and after talking to her, Marilyn discovered that this woman’s house was one to be going on the auction block that day. Marilyn was moved to help; she ended up bidding on, and winning, the woman’s house and giving it back to her with easy repayment terms.

What an amazing story! Marilyn’s son was quoted as saying, “She’s always done good things, for me and everybody else. It’s a body of work, to be honest.” Here’s what Mitch says, which is so excellent:

“A body of work. Of good deeds and selfless acts. I can think of no better election story than this one, because if America is to survive the next few months and years, it won’t hinge on which man sits in the White House. It will hinge on whether we are willing to think as much about others as Marilyn did, to actually help someone simply because they need it, not whether we think they deserve it. It will hinge on our belief in the innate goodness of fellow citizens, rather than assumptions that they are bad because they are not like us.”

Wow. Well said, Mitch. Are we up for it, America? Let’s do it!