Saturday, March 10, 2018

A “Spring Forward” Observation—About Knees

Every March Americans lose an hour if they’re compelled to switch to Daylight Saving Time. Many suffer a physical loss of sleep, making the term spring forward anything but pleasant.

My knees don’t think the prospect of springing forward is pleasant either. They think springing in any direction is a physical nightmare. Oh, they can stroll, saunter, and meander like champs, especially along a sea or lake shore. They propel me down crowded grocery store and theater aisles fast enough to avoid annoying speedy twentysomethings. They assist me as I wander in parking lots, looking for the car that must have moved itself while I was gone. They even hustle at a reasonable rate when I’m as late as Wonderland’s White Rabbit—maybe because I forgot to reset the time on my watch.

Yet these knees have issues, and they don’t keep me guessing about their feelings. They creak and groan. Sometimes they refuse to work at all when I first command they do their job. Stairs and bleachers are enemies; high curbs are street monsters. Forcing my knees to hike up a rocky, hillside path would be unnecessarily cruel. They don’t go bowling and they don’t play tennis. My attempting deep-knee bends would be unwise. Who would lift me without complaint once I was down there? Not these knees!

Springing, especially—as in leaping, jumping, bounding, or hurling—requires knees in a condition mine have lost.

I’m ecstatic that my own springtime clock adjustment doesn’t require getting on my knees. I might pray for patience, strength, and endurance while I was down there, but my knees and I would probably miss church the next day—not because I forgot to change the time on my alarm clock, but because I disregarded my physiological reality.

Make us spring forward in time if you must, O Powers That Be, but I beg you, leave my spring-challenged knees alone.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Could I Edit Myself Out of My Church?

My church is creating material for small groups to complement a message series. Members of the ministry staff, participants in our writers group, and others have been invited to submit supplemental devotionals. Another freelance editor and I were asked to edit them.

I’m in the middle of working on more than a dozen pieces written by people I barely know (it’s a big church), staff I’ve never personally met (it’s a big church), and coordinating with another freelance editor I didn’t even know was a freelance editor (it’s a big church). Unlike when I edit professionally for publishing houses, I’m not "in Kansas anymore.”

“We might have to change churches,” I said to my husband, who serves in hospital visitation.

“And why is that?” he asked.

“Because most writers don’t like to be edited. What am I doing?”

He thinks I was kidding, and he’s right. But my slight worry behind the joke is real. As a pastor’s daughter and later a pastor’s wife, I sometimes found myself in the center of or at least around the edges of church controversy, church snubs, church division…Must I go on? For years now, I’ve avoided being anywhere near the potential for church messes. They aren't pretty and they can hurt. I clearly remember sitting in a church office, crying my eyes out after someone scolded me in front of a roomful of church people. I had offended the other person without realizing it, and I was miserable,  hurt, and embarrassed.

So why did I put myself here where I could hurt someone’s feelings in this church by agreeing to edit these devotionals? It’s not that I’m not comfortable with my skill set, or that I’m not diligent about assuring authors their work is theirs, not mine. Other than for rules of grammar, spelling, and agreed-upon style, any changes I suggest are subject to their review and approval. I make this clear for every  author I edit, serving them on a professional basis. But this was serving community.

In addition to having some fear of hurt feelings, I’m one of those introverted beings who find it difficult to determine how to serve in the church without thrashing about like a fish out of water. That is, unless God paints a big green arrow, which he’s metaphorically done for me more than once. And I thank him for it. When it came to service within the church in the past, I often served in ways that filled a need, especially in the areas that affected my own children, but that didn’t put me even remotely in an area of gifting, lit in the green glow of his will. So I learned to wait for that green arrow. (That he has not seemed to prompt me to visibly serve in the church much in recent years would take another post to explore.)

When the writers group began meeting in the new year, one of God’s green arrows not only appeared, but, I think, glowed. One of the leaders specifically invited me to join, which works well with introverted people, and I mustered the courage to do it. After all, I am a writer, and I like to work with writers.

You’ll be asked to edit at some point, God said. I gulped. Uh, okay. But I didn't know it would be so soon.

I'm introverted, yes. But I’d like to get to know all these writers better. I’d like to encourage them in their gift. I might like to be in a small group with one or more of them and “do life together.” That means this service as editor is a risk; I could mess up, offend someone without meaning to. Oust myself. I’ve written about how editors must be “fair, balanced, and unafraid,” but this is working “fair, balanced, and a little afraid.” Yet I know taking a risk when following God's arrows can lead to doors of opportunity, ready to open.

I shared what I’d said to my husband with the leader who invited me to the writers group, and we both laughed. But then she said in all sincerity that she’s prayed for God to be at the center of it all. I’m so glad she has, and so have I.

In the meantime, I’m trying to see all the green arrows God has for me, especially any beginning to glow. I'll just have to not edit myself out of my church.

Is God painting green arrows for you?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Short Reflection on the Horrors of Pre-Vacation Shopping

The other day I went shopping to update my wardrobe for the next couple of seasons, a semi-annual task I detest. Yet I must undergo this torment because spring and fall are when we take vacations, and I never seem to have everything I need. Let’s just say I’m hard on clothes. Stains even Oxiclean won’t remove? Uh, yeah. The wear and tear of too many years on staple items (read T-shirts)? You see my dilemma.

One of the main reasons for this hatred, at least for me, is that the stores are too hot in the spring because they have yet to turn on air-conditioning and in the fall because they’ve turned it off too soon. And yet I suffer through this ordeal because I hate shopping for clothes online even more. Plus, I never leave enough time to order online, receive the package, reject what I ordered, return it, and still suffer in stores to get the job done. Why not skip to the inevitable?

“Are you hot, ma’am?” one checkout person asked me as one more drop of sweat fell from my forehead onto the credit card in my hand. Her question seemed an unnecessary delay to me, interrupting my anticipation of the breeze I knew awaited me outside, already an estimated four to seven minutes away. I could see the front door from my position in line, and my entire body was already in “as fast as I can walk out of here” mode.

“Yes,” I answered, not inclined to elaborate but to simply prove I was coherent. Maybe—my having already dabbed away all the makeup I’d come in with—she thought I was having a stroke. No, I was only melting. But let me just say, I left with everything I needed, because I was not about to go back lest my need for a vacation increase tenfold.

Except I still needed a new purse. Or two. And that meant I had to go back a couple of days later.

I also hate shopping for purses, but for an entirely different reason. First, some stores display their purse selections by brand, so in each section I begin by finding the purses with my requirements: medium size, an adjustable strap, the right compartments and fasteners, not too expensive (because I’m cheap with purses), and a texture that speaks to me, which isn’t patent leather or cloth. The hard part is choosing color and pattern.

Especially in the spring, a reasonable woman would want a purse that’s bright and cheery, even if it doesn’t go with everything she owns, right? I try. I really do. Once I bought a fuchsia purse and even bragged about it on Facebook, I think. But the best I can do, after a long, long and hot, hot time trying to force myself to make an interesting choice, is a sort of beige and a definite black. The melon purse is pretty, the floral bag is nice, that blue one would go with the sandals I hardly ever wear. But I am at heart a “goes with everything” woman and I don't seem to be able to change. I have to try to be interesting in other ways, I guess.

Thank goodness I don’t need to go flip-flop shopping. You see, first I'd have to…and it would be hot…

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