Drip Water

dru[pI have installed and use an automatic drip watering system on my flowers and herbs. Besides being techy and mechanical so it’s fun, it also really makes a difference. Sometimes we get rain and cool days and the plants do just fine. But when we get the long stretches of heat with no moisture, it can really take a toll on the potted plants. The herbs especially do not like dry and hot weather, it seems. Anyway, it is fun to know that watering is taking place every morning and that the plants are getting their daily dose of water.

I had to experiment for awhile but it seems the plants do best with a 45 minute watering each morning around 7am before it gets too hot. The drips are placed at the base of each plant – I notice that the water doesn’t pool and run over but, rather, it slowly soaks into the soil around the base of the plant. Very little water, if any, is wasted due to pooling and runover. The soil is never sopping wet but is usually moist to the feel. Sweet!

It is kind of neat to be out when the dripping first begins – the controller does a slight clunk to open the water valve and then the system gurgles and sputters and hisses for a minute or so until all of the air is out of the piping and then the system quietly purrs for the next 45 minutes. When finished, the controller clunks shut and waits for the next day.

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Gender Inclusive

Include-Diversity-In-Your-LifeI’m thankful to be apart of a church that has now full integrated females into our worship assemblies. It has taken over a decade of work, prayer, discussion, courage, and the hearing out of many opinions. But in the end, the veracity of Scripture and the will of God has overcome, I believe.

There has been a price, for sure. We have lost families – good, upstanding, and long-time members. They couldn’t see the changes and, while not having a Scriptural basis, felt the changes went too far and were too different. Of course, that’s their prerogative but it has hurt bad. I have lost long-time and dear friends. Has the price been too high?

But I have never seen nor experienced the freedom of worshiping in assembly as now where we all – men, women, boys, and girls – can participate fully and completely. There isn’t any pride. There isn’t any glowering or posturing. There isn’t any “lording it over.” Rather, I hear prayers and songs and words that are heartfelt, sincere, meaningful, and honest – from both males and females.

What I find especially gratifying and comforting is I now no longer have to come up with some kind of Scriptural gymnastic floor show to explain why a female can’t serve an offering plate or make an announcement or lead a prayer. There is now consistency in my theology when it comes to who and why someone can participate in assembly.

This all began for me in the mid-nineties. We had a “children’s church” and an issue arose where the three-year old boys were allowed to stand and pass a collection tray among the pre-school group. But not the three-year old girls. No one – and I mean no one – had a sound, wise, reasoned, Scriptural basis for the action. I was never the same after getting through that kerfuffle.

There is much more to be done to create an humbly inclusive assembly. But we are blessed to be where we are and I am thankful that the patience, understanding, and determination of a few hearty souls has finally led us to where I believe New Testament Christianity would have us be. I’m honored that we are trusted by God to be where we are. I only hope and pray now that we can do this with graciousness and sensitivity.

And I am especially happy for our young boys and girls – they will never be under the dark cloud of exclusion with only silly, complicated, and stretched explanatory ideas and excuses that supposedly come from Scripture but, actually, are from the minds of people from decades and centuries past who had definite gender exclusion agendas. We are free at last!

We may be considered fringe for awhile, and some will question our motives and the dedication we have to our denominational legacy but already, we are experiencing a new type of visitor. Even this past week, two ladies visited and, with smiles and affirmation, told me they most certainly would be back.

The time has arrived and it’s pretty amazing that God has allowed us and trusts us to be on something of a cutting edge. It’s almost too much to comprehend – the trust he has in us. I only hope we can fulfill and uphold the trust he has granted us in this new and forward-thinking endeavor.

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Boat Reunion

bancroftI’ve never been to a reunion of any kind. Well, that’s not totally true. One time we attended a family reunion, of sorts, in New Mexico. I suppose that counts. But I’ve never attended any kind of school or professional reunion. For some reason, I was quite involved in high school politics and for about ten years after graduating, I would regularly get notices that I needed to show up for reunions in order to oversee the proceedings. For one reason or another, I either couldn’t attend or, more likely, I didn’t want to attend. I’m quite the social butterfly, as many of you know. After about fifteen years, I never heard from them again. I guess they gave up on me. I never desired to attend a college or professional reunion. Whatever.

So anyway, I have my paperwork ready to notify the organizers that I will be at next year’s USS George Bancroft (SSBN643) reunion in Norfolk. (The 643 veteran’s website is here.) The boat has had many reunions over the years but this is the first one I have decided to attend. I may or may not know anyone at the event so, again, I will fit right in as a loner (most submariners are loners). But regardless, it is the 50th anniversary of the launching of the 643 and I think it might be neat to go down and be around the discussions and people associated with the boat.

I suppose for many young people in their 20’s, there are usually life-altering and mind-bending events that set personal patterns for the future. Much of my life was affected by the early years I spent onboard the Bancroft a long time ago. Very difficult and challenging times, but special times, nevertheless. I have no regrets.

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Trying Honestly

kissonlipsTrying harder is not the goal – it’s trying with more honesty. Are you able to judge whether you are trying harder without comparing yourself to someone else? Usually not. If I don’t run fast enough and someone tells me that I need to try harder, I suppose I and others will have to compare the speed of my second run to someone else to gauge whether I am successfully trying harder or not. After all, my run speed is my run speed – why isn’t it good enough the first time unless I am not somehow matching my speed with the speed of others?

But trying honestly is not about being compared to others – it is about looking in the mirror. Am I running with honestly and integrity? Only I can answer that. There is not anyone anywhere who can look into my heart and soul and determine if I am running honestly. If I don’t run honestly, I am cheating no one but myself. I am a liar to myself. I deserve to feel bad about deceiving myself.

In my friend’s admission that she simply needs to buckle up and do better, she is learning to be honest with herself. She is tired of being compared to others and, in fact, rebels against the expectations of others. I understand her frustration at being compared to others and empathize. But when she shares her deepest feelings by saying that she needs to be honest with herself, now we are getting somewhere.

It is refreshing to hear an honest answer.

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More Books

03LEPUCKI-master675I’m about to wrap up this session of school. My first session is ending with one grade not being an A (so far, they have all been A’s!) but a nasty B. I’m a failure! I don’t know – not worth worrying about, I suppose.

Anyway, books for next session started showing up today on the porch from Amazon. Classics, every one of them. Inferno and the Iliad, among others. Guess I will be getting back into all of that again. But it’s okay – I’ve always loved these works.

Speaking of books and speaking as a fan of the Colbert Report, I broke down and purchased California by Edan Lepucki. If you aren’t a fan of Colbert, you won’t know that there has been a feud going on between Amazon and some book publishers, one of which is Colbert’s publisher. Amazon won’t sell the publishers’ books (including Colbert’s books) for the prices and margins that the publishers want their books sold for. Anyway, this prompted Colbert to start one of his infamously self-righteous faux campaigns to “bring down the Goliath in behalf of the Davids!” To make an example for Amazon, Colbert picked a book by first time novelist Lepucki (who’s publisher also isn’t carried by Amazon) and encouraged the Colbert Nation to pitch in and order Lepucki’s book from sources who carry Lepucki’s novel. Colbert’s idea was to show Amazon that people can still order books from someone other than Amazon – and they will do it en masse at Colbert’s beck and call. Read about the interesting kerfuffle that developed here. I’m not real sure what the moral to the whole story is but, regardless, it’s an interesting story.

I bought into Colbert’s gimmickry and have California sitting here with me now. A few of us, as members of the Colbert Nation, own the book now. I might start reading my book tonight, actually. Seems a bit more interesting right now than Dante or Homer.

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Relational Prescription

fingershealthIt takes several things to maintain a healthy relationship.

1. Listen – It is so important to listen to each other. Of course, there are times when a rant is necessary or the occasional pity party needs to be thrown, but usually, listening is key to a positive relationship. It’s odd how listening is often considered a very passive action and yet, it is one of the most important ‘actions’ that can be taken to sustain a friendship.

2. Wise Honesty – Sometimes honest truth needs to be said – but it shouldn’t for the sake of trust. Other times, honest truth is avoided and this can end up disastrous, too. The point is that honesty and truth in a relationship needs to be handled carefully like a surgeon handles a scalpel during a procedure. Neither being a total liar or a totally open person works – handling truth with discretion and love is what keeps a relationship in balance.

3. Laughing and Crying – It’s important to be able to laugh together and it’s important to be able to cry together. Too much of one and not the other ends up in a wickedly dysfunctional relationship. There is healing in both laughing and crying and a balanced combo of the two makes for a healthy relationship.

4. Not Just Doing But Saying – It’s false to believe that someone knows you love them if you never tell them. It’s sometimes opposite – saying you love them but not showing them. Horrible. But just as difficult is showing them but never saying it. It’s important to say, “I love you.”

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Health Help

healthI disagree with people who will not share their tax dollars in order to provide health care for those without. I have seen too many honest and decent people who simply can’t afford the exorbitant costs of health care today. I am blessed – we were blessed – to have Cadillac coverage and, admittedly, it has and does bring great peace of mind. But I also am very familiar with people who can barely make it through the month and have given up health care coverage as one of their spending priorities.

It’s easy to blame people for not planning, preparing, looking ahead, and getting educated on the hows and whens to manage personal finances. I get it. But I also think it incredibly discriminatory and, in fact, downright evil to fault people – the ones who simply don’t know better – for not being prepared. Sometimes things happen that wipe out a savings account, sometimes people are fired from jobs and loose benefits, sometimes there’s a divorce, sometimes people spend their lives raising children or taking care of others and don’t have a nest egg. But even more than that, some people are the wrong color, speak the wrong language, or look different. Any and all of these reasons – and more – result in many not having any kind of decent health care.

I, for one, am willing to cough up my tax dollars to help people prevent health catastrophes instead of waiting until there are no options left. When it comes to health care in this country, if you can afford it then you get it. Oddly, though, if you can afford it, for some reason you don’t want anyone else to have it.

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Oasis Days

oasisisisI’m not sure what is happening with the weather patterns but the absolutely comfortable temperatures and low humidity here has made me a believer in either global warming or global cooling – I’m not sure which one is doing it. But the incredibly amazing days we have had the last few days are a break from a normal Jul and Aug here in Virginia. The last few evenings – I’ve been out a bit late – have actually been almost cool. I’ve been driving around with my moon roof open and air conditioning off (and music up loud!). This is the kind of summer I like.

Being out on the deck or over at Government Island or down in Richmond at a botanical garden are places to be with these beautiful days. Things are less panicked, people less irritable, kids and pets friendlier, and things seems to be happier. While it hasn’t been a bad summer at all, these days are like an oasis of refreshment – calming, cooling, easy, and inviting.

A pleasant day is like strong medicine, and it doesn’t make a person sleepy or groggy. Being out in the sun and breeze can heal many ailments. I’ve been overdosing for the last few days trying to heal a bit. And it works, for sure.

I suppose it’s important to try to take each day with the same attitude the days themselves maybe take. They come and go, they are nothing more or less than what they are, there’s always the promise of another one coming, and they can’t speed up or slow down. There’s something to learn here, I think.

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Boyhood Living

boyhood-ellar-coltrane-620Don’t see Boyhood if you want some kind of escape from life or some kind of happy sappy story loaded with feel good and images of two who ride off happily on a horse into the setting sunset. You won’t leave happy and you will have wasted your ten dollars. And, for sure, you won’t be coming out of the theater talking about how funny this or sad that. Oh, and you also won’t be talking about deep meanings and provocative messages and such after experiencing this almost three hour long movie.

Thing is, this movie is about life. Quite literally. And, for most of us, we probably go to movies to get away from life, right? So maybe it’s odd to enjoy (as I did) a movie about life. Specifically, this film took twelve years to make. Small bits of the movie were made every year – for twelve years – as two kids grow up from being little, silly elementary school students into some pretty hardened but surviving kids in college. It’s about the changes in their lives – physical and emotional – and it’s about the changes in their relationships, their family, their education, and their evolving views on life.

What is important to remember, I think, is that this is a film about one set of siblings in one family who live their story the way they live it. There can’t be any judging here. Your family is different than that family next door, right? This film is about a random family and what goes on for about twelve years.

It might be hard to watch because it might be too painfully true.

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Much Arguing

pushthroughGod and I have been going at it for several weeks. I’m very confused about some things and we have been going back and forth. I get tired and angry and tell him so. Other times, I’m weary and give up and tell him to deal with it – I can’t. My logic clashes with my emotions and it creates a crisis that we argue about. What is right? What is risky? What is the limit? What are the consequences? We go back and forth and back and forth. Something has to give and is it better to burn the bridges or is this all about being patient and somehow pushing through regardless of how hard it feels?

I’ve never seen God as some big gift-giving, father-figure who sits in a chair looking down at me with some kind of understanding (condescending?) smile. Rather, God and I have always lived in the trenches together. We talk with each other! I’ve never quite understood the whole problem some have with prayer and how much is not enough and all of that. For crying out loud, God and I are constantly reasoning things, arguing, being honest, or being sad together.

But as two who are together all of the time, we have our fits. He kicks my butt sometimes (in really hard ways that don’t feel good) and sometimes I simply open up on him with everything I’ve got. Sometimes we are gentle and other times we argue.

Right now, we disagree.

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