10 Things I Learned in March

1. Big birthdays can get overshadowed by little birth days. This year was PB’s big 6-0, but nobody paid much attention because little Emma Kate made her entrance into the world and stole the show. I wasn’t even home to give him a birthday kiss on the morning of the 9th, but he showed up with cupcakes and presents for everybody else that evening. Getting a new birthday buddy is pretty sweet gift.

2. I’m not a fan of springing forward. Falling back is fine in November, but losing an hour in March throws off my circadian rhythms. It takes me a good 2-3 weeks to stop feeling wonky.

3. There’s nothing like live musical theater. PB and I got to see two productions this month — one by our local high school (Little Shop of Horrors) and another by the Rochester Civic Theater (The Drowsy Chaperone). Both were thoroughly enjoyable. We are a bit biased, though, as the Rochester show featured our daughter as leading lady. Neither show had a “cringe “factor, meaning, everybody was on pitch. (Bravo, Janet Van de Graaff!)

4. Quote of the month: “Jesus ate a lot of good food with a lot of bad people.” Leonard Sweet

5. It’s a joy to learn something new from someone who’s passionate about the topic. A friend from our church taught two classes on canning and preserving food, demonstrating water-bath canning and pressure canning. Her enthusiasm and knowledge was so inspiring. Plus, she brought jars of delicious samples to try.

6. PB bought a pie for $150. The church youth group sponsored a pie auction with the proceeds going toward a mission trip to Guatemala this summer. It was for a good cause, so I didn’t give PB the raised eyebrow. Boy, that pie was good.

7. I’m a 1 with a 9 wing. Yes, it’s another personality profile. I just can’t resist them. The Enneagram goes deeper than Myers-Briggs (I’m an ISTJ), sometimes uncomfortably so. It points out strengths, but also nails the dark side of each type, which can feel like a slap in the face. In a good way.

8. I wrote 5% of a book. Well, actually .04931507’s of a book. But it’s a start. My name is printed among other “contributing authors”. I signed a contract and received 10 hardcover copies of the small devotional book. I think it’s legit, but the title is not out on Amazon yet, so I’m still holding my breath.

9. When a person forgets to exercise for a few years, that person’s muscles get mad when that person tries to use them. It’s time to get my 2 lb. weights out of the closet.

10. I will never look at the crucifixion of Christ the same way again after sitting under the teaching of Ray Vander Laan during our Lent series. I will forevermore hear the cry, “It is finished” as a victory shout of a conquering King, not as a last dejected gasp. As the prophet Amos wrote, “The Lord roars from Zion.” The Lion of Judah roared, “Paid in full”. Praise be to God.

goodbye March

Spinning

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Luke 12:27

When my brother was in college, he rode his bike from Wisconsin to Texas. I’m not talking about a motorcycle here — I’m talking about a 10 speed bicycle. He and two buddies pedaled 970 miles in June of 1972 to attend a Christian conference for young, radical “Jesus people”.  It was worth it, though, because he came home with a great girl and married her six months later.

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I don’t know much about long distance travel on a bicycle. My cycling experience is more like the monotony of pedaling a stationary exercise bike in the basement. I can pedal all the livelong day and never get anywhere.

That’s what worry looks like.

Lots of energy and sweat for no progress.

Lots of fussing and exertion, but no destination.

Lots of spinning, but the same old scenery.

When I l give in to anxiety, I’m riding the wrong bike.

It’s time to come up out from the cellar, pump up my tires and feel the wind in my face.

That’s what trust looks like.

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One Tongue Too Many

Charles Wesley had a good sense of humor.

He wrote lots of hymns, but my favorite is “O, For A Thousand Tongues To Sing”. It’s the first song in the red Methodist hymnal I grew up with and it’s full of rich phrases that I have grown to appreciate more and more. I used to think Mr. Wesley was dreaming of a Sunday attendance of 1,000 people who would all praise God together. But now I think Charles had something else in mind.

My paraphrase: “If only I had one thousand tongues in my mouth! I would use each and every one to sing of my great Redeemer’s praise! I would wag all those tongues and declare the glory of my God and King! Just think how much talking I could do about the triumphs of His grace with 1,000 tongues!”

But I see a problem here. I have enough trouble with the one tongue I have. Controlling my only tongue is often more than I can handle. How would I ever get one thousand tongues to unite in praise when I can’t even seem to get my one tongue to consistently speak of God’s glory and grace?

tongue

The Psalms are full of references to the mouth, lips and tongue and most of them are negative.

  • “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” Ps. 34:13
  • “His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.” Ps. 10:7

Psalm 71 is different. The writer resolves to use those muscles in a positive way.

  • “My mouth will tell of your righteousness.”
  • “My lips will shout for joy.”
  • “My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long.”

Sometimes I have to show my tongue who’s boss and resolve to use it for the good stuff. All day long.

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My NCAA Champ

It’s March Madness — that wonderful time of year when the fans of 67 teams get mad because their hoopsters got knocked out of the bracket, while the fans of 1 team get to go completely berserk and set things on fire.

Back in 1941, the NCAA tournament included eight teams and nine non-televised games. There was no bracket, no Clark Kellogg, and no Vegas odds. Ah, the good old days.

Also, the trophy was way cooler than it is now.

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Wisconsin won that year.

They beat Washington State 39-34.

It was the last time the Badgers won the NCAA championship.

My uncle was on that team.

Can you pick him out in this picture?

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No, he wasn’t number 35 — that’s the big man, Gene Englund.

Nope, my uncle didn’t wear number 36 either. That’s Johnny Kotz, the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Uncle Morris isn’t in the first row or the second row.

He’s not number 26 in the back row.

In fact, he doesn’t have a number.

My uncle is the guy on the far left of the picture in the suit and tie, standing right behind Head Coach Bud Foster.

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He was the team manager.

(At least he didn’t have to wear those goofy socks attached to what looks like knee pads. What in the world?)

My uncle, Morris Bradley, was a 22 year old college student and he was having the time of his life.

When the team got back to Madison in the wee hours of a rainy March night, they were greeted by hundreds of fans. The champions were given a ride around the Capitol in a fire engine. Unfortunately, the fire engine caught fire so the parade was cut short. A reporter from the Cap Times newspaper quoted my uncle as saying, “Everybody had to pile off, and we were on our own from then on.” So I guess you could say they started a fire in Madison that night.

This year, as we cheer on our teams, let’s tip our hats to the guys on the bench with the water bottles and clip boards. In honor of my Uncle Morris.

 

My DNA

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This is a picture of me.

Or, I should say, a picture of my DNA.

For Christmas I received an Ancestry DNA kit. Ancestry.com is a genealogy site that helps people research their family history and connect with long lost relatives. Through the use of DNA testing, a person’s ethnicity can be discovered.

So, I spit some of my saliva into a little tube and put it in the mail.

Then I waited.

And wondered.

What secrets might be hiding in my DNA? Would I turn out to be a descendant of a Viking warrior? Might I have the blood of an Indian princess? Could I be in the line of English royalty?

Or would I turn out to be connected to a ruthless dictator or an infamous criminal or a lady of ill repute?

This morning the results were in. That little dab of spittle showed that my ethnicity is:

  • 50% from Great Britain. (No surprise there.)
  • 27% from Western Europe (Yep, knew that.)
  • 12% from Eastern Europe (Uh huh.)
  • 10% from Ireland (Wait. What?)

Somehow a wee Irishman jigged his way into my family tree unbeknownst to me.

Or maybe my Scottish cousin got tossed around in his boat and landed on the coast of Ireland by mistake.

This must explain why my kids loved Lucky Charms.

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It’s a good week to discover I’m 1/10 Irish!

Introducing Emma Kate

The newest twig on the family tree has arrived!

Introducing Emma Kate.

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She has her very own fan club.

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Emma decided to give PB a special birthday present. Herself!

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Birthday buddies forever!

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It never gets old.

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, Your mighty acts to all who are to come. Psalm 71:18

February Lit List

The common cold knocked me for a loop last month. Only four titles made it to my “Books Read” notebook, but they were good ones. Here’s what has been on the bookshelf in February:

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  • Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis — I started this book a few years ago and stalled out so it went back on the shelf. Then I recently talked to someone who loved it, so I picked it back up. I yawned through the first 32 pages. Then I highlighted the daylights out of the rest of the book. Now I see why it’s a classic. Glad I gave it a second try and stuck with it.
  • A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis — This short book (75 pages) was heartbreakingly honest about the death of Lewis’ wife. I didn’t underline one word because it felt too sacred to mark up a man’s journey through loss and grieving.
  • All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir by Brennan Manning — I listened to the audio version of this book because it’s hard to read with a sinus headache. I retreated to a dark room, put in earphones and was mesmerized by Maurice England’s narration. Brennan looks back at his life as a priest, then not a priest; his marriage, then his divorce; his constant struggle with alcoholism, then sobriety, then alcoholism. He sums up his life with three words: all is grace.
  • Unoffendable by Brant Hansen — I know it’s probably too early to call, but this may be my “book of the year”. I laughed at the humorous stories but cringed at how convicting this message was to my spirit. Mostly I felt like I had just been slapped up-side the head, in a good way. I obviously needed this book. Now I want to figure out how to give everyone I know a copy without offending them.

Happy reading!

“There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.”  Irving Stone