Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm Convinced. God Would Play with Legos.

I've been stretched this month.

Last fall, I was approached by a teacher from my Sunday School class and asked if I would be interested in being part of the teaching team that rotates on a monthly basis. I prayed, talked to Lou, prayed some more and said, "yes." I agreed to teach for a month, then re-evaluate, re-pray,  to see if it really was a good fit for me, a good fit for them.

January has been that month. We have spent the entire time in John 17. And I, like all who teach, have learned more than anybody. Some of the gems picked up along the way have been quite unexpected. It's one of those that I want to describe for you here.

When I study the Bible, I like to look up the words in their original language. On Lifeway's website, there's a helpful link on the left that says KJV with Strong's. Click on that, type in the chapter you need, and there, you have the words highlighted that Dr. Strong traced back to their original language.
Sometimes, when I click on a word, there's not much that grabs me. But sometimes, there are "Wow. That's cool." moments. Moments when a light bulb comes on and I think better, bigger thoughts about the one who made me. Moments when I make a connection I've never made before.

I was drawn to look up the word "word" because it is repeated in John 17 many times. Off to Strong's I went.

That picture is an abbreviation of the page. However, this wasn't the page that caught my attention. See the Root: line? That's where I struck gold. I clicked on it and found this:

Lego! Could it possibly be that the founders of Lego named their building blocks after this Greek word? I had to find out.  Off to WikiAnswers and Lego's home page I went.

Check out their history, and you'll find this statement:

The name 'LEGO' is an abbreviation of the two Danish words "leg godt", meaning "play well". It’s our name and it’s our ideal. 

It's not from the Greek, but it is definitely not bad. Play well. Which is what you can't help but do when you're a kid and playing with such a quality toy. Your imagination and creativity are engaged and the sky is the limit. My mind then bounced back to what I was looking up in the first place: word. John 17 tells us in verse 17

  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Just like Legos help children to play well, The Word helps all of us to play well - to live well.

WikiAnswers provided that same information, but added that lego in Latin means "I put together." That phrase works for the toy, and for God. Who's the one who put us together in the first place and the only one who can put us back together day after day? The Word made flesh. (John 1:1)  

So, I started out looking up a word in Greek, and ended up researching the name of a toy. How could I have known that God would use that research -that name - to remind me about Him and what he does? He enables us to live and play well, and only He puts us together. I will never look at Legos the same again.

Luke and David spent hours upon hours playing with these amazing blocks. After my little bit of time thinking about them, I'm convinced God would play with Legos. Think that may be stretching things a bit? Well, that's what this month has been all about. And it feels good.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Word of the Year

We are all only 16 days into 2012. Does the year still feel new to you? It was losing that fresh, new feeling to me until I saw a challenge on a beautiful, inspiring blog I follow. Over at The Lettered Cottage, readers were encouraged to pick a word of the year - something that inspires you to be, well, inspired and inspiring!

Isn't that how all good things are? Good for you and good for others. My dad used to say that you knew a deal was good if it passed that criterion. Good for you. Good for them.

Hopefully, my word will fit that bill. I wish it were a more flowery word, with a bunch of syllables, but it’s not. But it packs a punch for me. And since I decided on it, it has already helped. My word for 2012 is 

As in, do it now. Whatever it is.
Speak the encouraging word now, when you think of it. Or call, text.
Go through the mail now. Don’t let it pile up.
Make the decision now. Procrastination limits your options. Is it really going to be easier to think about and make the decision later? Are you going to have any more time later?
Put the item in its place now, instead of on the dining room table.
Return the phone call now.
Make the menu for the week now instead of “winging it.”  
Eat healthier now.
Spend time with your kids now.
Finish ____ now.
You get the picture. I have major tendencies to procrastinate. Procrastination births regret. And I’m tired of nursing that baby. So I'm stopping that bad habit now.
Now also carries the sense of being fully engaged in the present. Bloom where you are planted. Glorify God where you are.  Most of you have probably heard the quote: "Today is a gift. That's why it's call the present." That's cause for fully engaging and for saying "thank you." Now.

So now, I'm out there with this word, this goal for 2012. It feels good. And I think know my dad would like it. It's good.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Girl is Off to Italy!

I can't count the number of times I've looked at this picture since I took it 16 years ago.
Hannah, first day of kindergarten, 1996
It says everything a first day of kindergarten picture should say. It also is the picture I've put on the way I feel about Hannah spending a semester in Italy. And I think Hannah would say it accurately describes how excited she is about studying abroad this spring.

But my mother's heart is also experiencing "technical difficulties" at times. If you ask me if, technically, I am worried about her being so far away, or not seeing her in the flesh for a couple of months or the fact that she's a young, beautiful girl in a foreign country (who's not going alone, thankfully), I could honestly answer, "no." It's not that those thoughts haven't crossed my mind. Obviously they have; I just typed them. I have just decided to let those thoughts bounce. They bounce into my mind, and I bounce them right out. Plus Hannah has been the queen of organization and has taken care of every detail to the nth degree. I've done nothing but cheer her on.

My technical difficulties have been a little more akin to an intermittent static or snow that might flash across an old tv screen. I'll be blithely skipping along through my day, and I'll see something, or hear a song on the radio, and instantly, I have a catch in my throat. I've even woken up from a good night's sleep, and felt an instant weight - a need to breath deep that, for a few seconds anyway, seems unexplainable. I do not feel  consciously sad or fearful about a thing. I couldn't be more excited for Hannah. But I also know that there's more going on in us than we are consciously aware of. And because of that, and at times like this, I run hard towards, lean hard into, the word of God. And I pray. I pray words like:

Lord, I know you love me and you love Hannah. Help me Lord, that I don't steal the joy of today, these moments, by spending one minute worrying. Help me to love her and pray and be joyful! And may all that we do point others to how great and good and worthy you are. I pray that Hannah loves you with all that's in her. And wow, Lord. She gets to do that in Italy! Thank you...thank you. 

I'm typing this as we sit here together in our family room on the night before she leaves. We're watching House Hunters. Guess where they are looking at houses? In Italy. There's no static or snow right now. No technical difficulties. Just peace and joy...and excitement for our girl.

Thank you, Lord.
January 14, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dad, √6, and Slumdog

Today would have been my dad's 84th birthday.

And I've been saving a story my brother, Keith, told me back in November for just this day.

Keith's daughter, Dylan, and her boyfriend were sitting in his kitchen one evening doing math homework. Keith was milling around the kitchen, casually hearing but not really listening to them frustratedly work through a problem. Irritated at the snag they'd hit, and not really expecting an answer, Dylan blurts out,"Dad! What's the square root of 6?"

He immediately replied, "2.449."

He had to assure them that this really was the answer; he hadn't made it up. He knew it because of my dad. Dad ended every letter he ever wrote any of us with the square root of a number, the most famous of which was 6. This practice had its origin in his college days. Dad had relayed the story about a professor he had had at Lambuth College in Jackson, TN. Whenever that professor came into the class, he would go straight to the chalk board and write out a square root to a ridiculous number of places past the decimal. For instance:

\scriptstyle \sqrt {6}\scriptstyle \approx2.44948974278317809819728407470589139196594748065667
Well, maybe not as ridiculous as this many numbers past, but enough to impress my dad. For us, Dad just wrote 2.449. As soon as Keith told his daughter this story, she said, "Wow. This is a such a slumdog moment!"

I love this story.
I love that Dylan voiced the slumdog* connection.
I love the passing on of family history from one generation to another.
I love being reminded of my dad and his weekly letters. (and the $20 usually included)
I love being reminded of those numbers that were always somewhere close to the words, "love, Dad."

I think he smiled when he wrote them.
I'm smiling as I remember them.
I'm smiling as I remember him.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

*If you haven't seen the movie, Slumdog Millionaire, it's worth watching.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Having a Ball

Ok. I have to blog about this.

Saturday night, January 7, 2012, the Bolivar High School boys basketball team traveled to Republic, MO, for a Central Ozark Conference big school versus small school match up.



Republic, always a formidable opponent, was fresh off a huge Gold Division win at the prestigious Blue and Gold tournament which is held every year in Springfield, MO, over the Christmas break. David, and his Liberator teammates, were 5-5 going into the Republic game and were the undisputed underdogs. But Bolivar pulled off the upset in a defensive battle where the final score was 39-37.

And I predicted it would happen.

I could predict this because I had been here before. In January 2008, when my oldest son, Luke, was a senior, he and his Liberator teammates had to play Branson right after the Pirates had won the Blue and Gold. It was the first game for both teams since the tournament. I still remember the car ride to Branson before the game. We were all quiet, nobody wanting to voice what we thought would be the inevitable outcome. Even I wasn't my usual "think positively" self. I was secretly hoping it wouldn't be embarrassing. But that night, I watched one of the most exciting basketball games I have ever seen. The Liberators beat the Pirates in double overtime to everybody's shock and amazement. I blogged a bit about that game here.

Fast forward to Christmas time 2011. We win one, lose one at the Blue and Gold. Republic wins it all. Our first game after the Blue and Gold? Republic. I thought we were their first game, too. (It wasn't until after our win there that someone told me we weren't their first game since the tournament.) It was all so deja vu. I was all over promoting the potential repeat of 2008. I would tell this piece of Liberator basketball history and how we were destined to repeat it to any one who would listen. I knew it was going to happen.

Garrison mojo
Our team, which had practiced hard all break, came out like gangbusters. Republic couldn't believe what was hitting them. Chance Rash had a great night and scored 23 points. The Tigers regrouped a bit and eventually tied the game in the 4th quarter, but our clutch sophomore, Coday Garrison, hit 2 free throws with seconds left to secure the win. I can't even describe how sweet this victory over Republic was. And did  I mention how much I like it when Republic loses?

I now have another prediction. I will talk about Bolivar being the Blue and Gold killers to anyone who will listen. Heck, I might even tell the whole world...

Oh, wait. I just did. ;)

Go Liberators!

I'm #15's biggest fan