On a strangely quiet Monday I took a photo of where I sat.
It’s my desk in my “office.” It’s not really just an office. And it’s not really just mine. We’ll call it multifunctional. Jointly owned. In here I read, write, research, organize, study, pray, ponder, water plants, stitch, search the file cabinet for stuff people need, and occasionally doze. Bob plays the keyboard and sings. Oh, and if we’re in here together I sing along. The dog sleeps. And howls intermittently at the music.
It reminds me of the “Hidden Pictures” page in Highlights magazine . . . you know, the periodical that was in every Dr.’s office and waiting room throughout my childhood and possibly yours (until the great void of Covid hit and waiting rooms eliminated periodicals, and for that matter, people). The challenge of “Hidden Pictures” was to find a list of items within the larger drawing — an often ridiculously complicated, discombobulated drawing. One similar to this photo.
So we begin.
Pink clay pot
That little buddy has been around since I thought I got rid of it after it humiliated me in 2nd grade art class. But no. It went to my father’s desk at the university (as if my social death among my peers wasn’t enough at the elementary level and the pink pot graduated to holding professorial paper clips). All through school in Boulder one of my best friends was Kay Garramone, who, at birth could paint a watercolor English landscape. Art, you might say, is not my strong suit. A fact that my older grandchildren are starting to realize and in their well-trained polite way are sweetly taking their “Can you draw this?” questions to their Poppy and leaving me to other endeavors. One can stand only so many square cats drawn by Grammy. Or square ducks. Or square hippos. Or squares in general.
I retrieved the failed pink clay pot from my father’s desk at his home when he went to heaven. It doesn’t look as awful to me these days.
Three begonias in a row
Unless an epiphany comes to me about how to handle the ongoing onslaught of baby begonias I cut off from the top of well-rooted mature plants so that I can start new ones in mason jars of water, I estimate we will need a larger house in about ten years. If it were just any begonia it might not be such a burden to nurture its offspring, but no, this is descended from the living plant cared for by my darling husband’s grandmother beginning decades ago. It comes with family baggage. Good, floral baggage, but baggage nonetheless. I cannot just throw tops of trimmed plants away. I’ve tried. Impossible. Their little voices call to me as they’re sailing toward death in the trash bin. And the absolute icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the gravy on the potatoes is that his grandmother’s name was:
So all my begonias are
Destimo Ledonia Begonias
I rest my case
Please send help
Bronze horse on a rock
That beautiful (heavy) dude was brought to me as a gift from Chicago when I was a kid who didn’t appreciate the artistry but loved horses. Years ago the post on which the horse sits just snapped. It no longer fit down into the rock. So the gift lay in two pieces (heavy ones) on its side in a box.
Until one day we were in a group of people at the right place at the right time when my ears perked up at the sound of someone knowing something about welding. (Normally when the topic goes to welding I start humming tunes in my head but this was different). Our friend, Farrell Bird, who knew a lot about a lot of things said “leave it to me” or something along those lines when I brought out my broken statue. So I did. Turned out that even when Farrell couldn’t necessarily do the job himself in his garage (which was rare) he knew a guy who could. So he took time out of his day and carted my broken bronze horse to his guy who took time out of his day and they did what seemed to them like a small thing but meant the world to me.
And there sits the horse. I think of my dad. And I think of Farrell. With thanks.
I remember when I learned the word “ubiquitous” which, in case you think it’s a little too weird to slip into everyday conversation and haven’t added it into your vocabulary bank, means …
… basically impossible to get away from. So is the humble guitar pick at the Mitchells. One sits on my desk and I’m just leaving it there in case he can’t find any of the 10,000 other ones in the house. I want to be the hero who provides the last guitar pick.
Honey, if you’re reading this, check your top dresser drawer, the t.v. remote basket, my potting table in the garage, both the upstairs and the downstairs dog beds, or the dryer lint trap before you take the one off my desk, please. Thanks. xoxo
Two 2lb. weights
When I remember they are there I walk around with them for a while. About once a month or so. Wouldn’t want to overdo it.
Can of Diet Pepsi (sadly empty)
Need I say more? I suppose I could say that once in a while I substitute a can of Diet Mountain Dew. But always circle back to D.P.
The Ragamuffin Gospel
Dear Everybody Who Has Already Read This Book Because It Was Published 30 Years Ago:
I know many of you like it. And the publisher got some big names to do forewords for later editions so that means they are fans also.
I am not a 100% fan. I probably come in somewhere around 40%. We can still be friends.
From the get-go in the first few chapters, my brain tossed up all kinds of guardrails and croc-filled moats around any further willingness to absorb the content. So I put it down and didn’t pick it up again until I’d slept a few nights. I’ve pledged to work on my knee-jerk reactions.
I am most definitely a supporter of loving as Jesus would and acknowledging that His grace is the only means by which we can come to Him as Savior. No denying that. It’s almost ridiculous to have to say it. But Mr. Manning’s words smack of other authors who wrote dangerous books decades after his, highly influential books, that in some ways have almost gutted the beauty of the Church as a bastion of Christ’s teachings and as a refuge for His children in their endeavoring to fully live within the world but yet striving to “come ye apart” at the points scripture directs.
It’s an often disorganized rambling diatribe against the organized church and I take probably way too much umbrage at that attitude because it’s gotten to be such a popular bandwagon. True, the diatribe may now-and-again be well deserved because the church, its leaders and members, are ripe targets for the enemy to entice down some really despicable paths. But, thanks be to God, that is not the rule; it is the exception. I can’t NOT believe that!
Also, I wouldn’t be confident about running the manuscript unscathed through a true theologian’s discernment filter. I can think of about half a dozen folks in my own life I’d enjoy listening to about their feelings regarding this book. If I’m on track with what I think one of them might say, it would go like this: “It dropped so low in my regard I heard it hit the ground.”
All that said, there are some points made that would be beneficial to remind ourselves of regularly. Mr. Manning warns us (meaning the marathoners, the been-around-the-block-ers, in the church) of what he calls the “fatal narcissism of spiritual perfectionism” and points out beautifully that no one need struggle (or serve) to get himself into a good position for having a relationship with God. I’ll take that. With a slice of humble pie, thank you.
Also he gives this perspective: “The sinners to whom Jesus directed His messianic ministry were not those who skipped morning devotions or Sunday church. His ministry was to those whom society considered real sinners. They had done nothing to merit salvation. Yet they opened themselves to the gift that was offered them. On the other hand, the self-righteous placed their trust in the works of the Law and closed their hearts to the message of grace.”
Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Wait, am I allowed to say that? Probably not.
Am I going to finish reading it? Yes. Almost there. That’s why it’s still on my desk.
Finally, to end on a positive note, I do indeed deeply appreciate this prayer at the end of Chapter 7:
” . . . to do the truth quietly without display, to let the dishonesties in our lives fade away, to accept limitations, to cling to the gospel of grace, and to delight in Your love.”
That I can live with and embrace. No croc-filled moat or guardrails required.
Rifle-toting hobo in a frame
That photo is my beloved about 10 days before he married me. I hope you can zoom in on it. He’s got a pistol in a holster and one in his belt. I can’t explain it. He was with his brother, Karl, up in eastern Oregon where they claimed to be fixing fences at the family ranch. Mmmhmm. Whatever.
ticket stub in a frame
David Cassidy. May, 1972. Denver Coliseum. Thanks, Daddy, for bearing up under all that, “I Can Feel Your Heartbeat and You Didn’t Even Say a Word” stuff for your 10 year old daughter. That memory made it into a frame.
Green cloth covered brick
Yes, a brick. Like ones they build houses with. The two little frames I just spoke of are sitting on it. Waaaaay back before I was born my grandmother needed a doorstop to prevent an old door in some old house from misbehaving. And who would want just a plain old brick to do that job? Not she, nosiree. She sewed a little green cover for it so it would be a fancy brick doorstop. And there it sits on my desk propping up memories and stopping nary a door. Thanks, Gram. You’re the best. _________________________________________________
So there you have the solutions to a few hidden pictures. Yes, there are lots more but I sensed I was about to lose you. You can ask or just wonder. Oh, and here’s a bit of the rest of the room. If you added up all the history in here it becomes a little weird. I can’t help it. Reason? Click on this link and you’ll find why I say, “It’s just the way them diesel brakes, is, ma’am.”
Now let me tell you this. If all this were to disappear, vanish in a moment, I wouldn’t miss one stick of it. Not one. There would be tugs on my heart as memories flooded in, but I have that now even without the “stuff.” Sure, it would be nice to still have my photos, my Bibles, my books, my artwork, my stitching projects labored over these last years. There is no greater treasure, though, than the hope of my heart, Jesus. If you’re familiar with the Bible you’ll have heard this a few times:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
Back about a million (okay 40-ish) years ago Bob and I had a few songs “in our pocket” to sing together if ever spontaneously asked. One of our go-tos was, “A Name I Highly Treasure.” Now on these pages I, more often than not, will use music that is a little more up-to-the-minute than this old deal, but after I listened to a few renditions of it, I thought I’d throw it on here just in case it might be familiar to some of you. And, to top it off, it’s a recording of the combined college choirs at the 1960 Nazarene General Assembly. Even if you’re not in it for the music, please listen to it for the crowd engagement . . . I guarantee there was aisle running there in Kansas City on that day. I’ve given the lyrics after the video.
I’ve learned to know a name I highly treasure,
O how it thrills my spirit through and through!
O precious name, beyond degree or measure,
My heart is stirred whene’er I think of You!
My heart is stirred when e’er I think of Jesus-
That blessed name which sets the captive free-
The only name through which I find salvation,
No name on earth has meant so much to me.
That name brings gladness to a soul in sorrow;
It makes life’s shadows and its clouds depart;
Brings strength in weakness for today, tomorrow;
That names brings healing to an aching heart.
That name still lives and will live on forever,
While kings and kingdoms will forgotten be;
Through mist and rain, ’twill be beclouded never,
That name shall shine and shine eternally.
Those are the thoughts of the day, dear ones. I hope, on this beautiful first official day of fall here in the western USA, that you are blessed with the awareness of the source of your treasure. It’s not all the stuff in your house or your health or even your family. Friend, look to Jesus and find your true Treasure. Your deeds don’t have to be great or your pocketbook full . . . far from it.