Monday, July 30, 2012

The Little Read Hen

Do you remember the little red hen? She asked for help in sowing grain,
harvesting the wheat,
grinding the wheat,
and making bread.

Her lazy companions couldn't be bothered to help, and dismissed every request with a "Not I!"

"Very well, I will" she said. And she did.

But when the bread was baked and fragrant, she taunted them and asked who would eat the bread. "I will!" each volunteered.
"Oh, no you won't" she said. And she ate it herself.

My husband hates the little red hen in me. I share her enthusiasm for the rewards of hard work, and the need for personal responsibility. Ask my grown daughters. They'll tell you that I forced them to do their own laundry when they were too small to reach the controls on the machine. It's a blatant exaggeration, I waited until they were at least 9.

The hen's philosophy is a lopsided parenting strategy, but I didn't raise lazy princesses. My girls are independent and, somehow, generous. That must have come from their father. And their Father.

The little red hen and I share a stingy streak.  Happy relationships need a balance of responsibility and mercy. God has given us the responsibility to live up to His perfect standard. And because we can't, He gives us mercy through Jesus.

May I offer you a slice of bread?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Turkish Teapot

Synapse (sin-apse).   
I pour tea from my favorite red poppy teapot. As I do, my brain creates electronic connections between cells that revive memories of other hot fragrant cups of tea, the sound of my friend’s voice as she bargained for the teapot in the Turkish market, and the sight of Wells Cathedral from an English tea house that wouldn't sell me their poppy-painted pot.  
A connection like this is called a synapse. It is the completion of the impulse from a neurotransmitter in my brain sending information to a receptor cell. Every connection is cellular, that is physical, and sensory, and can be emotional and intellectual. Our brains are multi-lane highways and rutted lanes and overpasses of synapses -- but as I understand them, no dead ends.
 If there were no connections to engrave actions on my brain, I’d have to relearn every skill repeatedly.  If I couldn’t connect the consequences of decisions to the leading events, I’d be doomed to repeat mistakes. And if my brain didn’t organize my albums of sight and sound, taste and touch and join them to aromas, I wouldn’t be able to link the layers of my memories. The connections overlay life with meaning.
Sometimes I am aware of the layers, and the insights that come from the connections.

  In that synaptic space, I sing with joy and thanksgiving at the miracle of them. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Three Things that Annoy

Sometimes the songs from the synapse are off key: 

There are three things that annoy me, yea, four under which I cannot bear up:

bossy children,
cleaning out my refrigerator,
paying for expensive medicine, 
and slow-pokes behind the wheel.

All four challenged me this week. 

 Sunday a child in the church preschool class sets my teeth on edge. 
"Kids don't like to play with little girls who tell them what to do" I say.
"But they need someone to boss them." 
 Oh yes, that's how all of us know-it-alls think. 

While cleaning my refrigerator I find the butt ends of vegetables sliced and left in the crisper, now shriveled and fuzzy. My attitude is as slimy as the squash scraps. 

Then the nurse calls and wants me to refill an expensive medication--for just 3 three days, I get cranky. Surely I can't die that fast without it. I consider self-medicating. 

On the way to the pharmacy I'm behind a dawdling driver. I mutter and moan.

These are NOT the reactions of a grace-filled woman. 

Thankfully, the book of Proverbs is as good at the cure as it is at the diagnosis. "If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth."  Proverbs 30:32

There are two things that are amazing to me, yes, three that encourage me:

God's patience,
foolishness isn't terminal
and that sour melodies can become sweet songs.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Beach song

Six women friends and I chatter while we unload the cars for our annual beach week. Each interaction between us spins another silken thread into the web of our relationship.
This week creates thousands of new connections and each one will change me minutely. We delve a level deeper into each others' histories and find similarities, or not. Either way, more intimate knowledge of another's life helps me encourage her more aptly. 

We feast, and ever afterwards the smell of mango and crunch of jicama will remind me of the friend who prepared the delicious slaw. 
The bike racehome to beat a storm proves to us that we're stronger and faster than we thought. We laugh and dash up the house stairs as the rain pelts down.

I practice patience with my friend's precise way of doing things, and she surely has to do the same with my lackadaisical attitude. 
The web we create is also a safety net. One of our group is at home waiting for a pathology report. We join hands to pray. 
Our togetherness creates 720 possible conversation combinations. It's like an old telephone switchboard with an operator plugging and unplugging us into the partly line. As an introvert I am sometimes overwhelmed and have to unplug my line and find a quiet place alone. 
Then I return refreshed and ready to sing again from the synapse.