Setting Records with Manning

I had a dream. It was a sports dream, which is unusual for me because I’m not exactly the world’s most athletic guy. I don’t watch football and I don’t ski downhill. In fact, I’m more likely to make great chicken wings for people who watch football and more likely to fall downhill.

But last night, in my dream, my wife and I heard that Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark were trying to break a record for the most receiving yards on a ski slope. It was a pretty ingenious set up. Dallas was on skis. Peyton was at the top of the ski hill; this is Indiana so it wasn’t really a mountain. Peyton would yell Omaha and Hike! and fall back while Dallas would shoot off in a downhiller’s tuck. Peyton would cock that shotgun arm and throw the ball. As Dallas approached the bottom of the slope, he would reach up with grace and ease and snatch the ball out of the air, pulling it into the numbers every time.

Because it is a dream, my wife and I decided to go to the slope and see if we could help. My reasoning was that I could be sliding down the hill and receive a ball or two while Dallas took the ski lift back for another run. We could double the yardage thrown (and set the record as a team).

When we arrived at the top of the slope, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were sorting through a box of my old bank statements. While everything else about the dream felt real, that part didn’t make any sense and the illusion began to fade. Al and Cris said that Peyton had just thrown a whopper of a pass to Dallas and in his enthusiasm, had run downhill to celebrate with his receiver. Not to worry, they would be right back.

I agreed to wait. My skis were strapped on and I was ready to get into the game. My wife, while nervous for me, was supportive and encouraging. As we waited I practiced my snow plowing, because it’s been 40-years since I strapped wooden boards to my feet and voluntarily threw myself headlong down a mountain.

But minutes turned into hours and despite Al and Cris’s reassurance, I realized that Peyton and Dallas had gone into the ski lodge. They’d set their record and left the slopes, without me.

From there, my dream shifted to a school and/or diner / and or Welcome Back Kotter episode and the entire storyline fell apart.

As a general rule, I don’t interpret dreams but I’d like to give this one a try. We all know that dreams reveal our subconscious desires. It’s obvious that my subconscious somehow connected to Peyton’s subconscious, subconsciously. What I learned in that dream and from my subconscious connection to Peyton Manning is that he is trying for a comeback, and my subconscious knows this. He’s calling out for help. I think I’ll email him today and ask how I might be able to ease his pain.

I have no idea why Dallas was in my dream. He’s a nice guy and all but just like a yellowshirt character on Star Trek, he is just an extra in my movie of the mind. Al and Cris were simply obnoxious.

I feel better unpacking that little drama; now here is to helping set the record!

The 1,000 Foot View

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou’ve heard the phrase.  You’ve probably said it yourself:  “Can’t see the forest for the trees“.  And, if your life is anything like my own, it is often so very true.  We examine the situation, we study the problem, we analyze the issue but the closer we look, the less we see a solution.  We can’t think about the bigger picture because we’re so worried about the details of the problem.

You know the solution.  You know the answer:  It is often helpful to take a step back.  In fact, it often helps to take about 1,000 steps back.  Get the bigger picture.  Take in a wider view.  Climb the mountain and look down, removed from the situation and free from the entanglements of the problem.  Look at the slopes, experience the wind on your face, celebrate the light brightly shining above the canopy of the forest that often shades the decaying detritus and duff.

The next time you find you are without an answer, the next time you struggle for a solution take a walk above the tree line.  Hike the heights.  Mount the mountains and see if it doesn’t help.

A Call to Action

Dear Lord of Heaven and Earth,

Last night was cold.  While I slept warm and snug in my bed, there were people sleeping on the streets, under bridges and in doorways:  People in this very town slept under the stars and exposed to the winter chill.  They are unknown to me.  They are a problem for some government agency to fix.  They are people who would benefit from a program of some sort.

I’m praying today because I realize that these people are not unknown to you.  You know them by name.  If they matter to you, they should matter to me.  If they are precious in your sight, they should be precious in my own.

And so I pray that you will lead me to action.  Guide me to caring.  May I know how to act on your behalf before another blanket of bone chilling cold settles this night.

I pray.

AMEN.

Beating the System

new radarI saw this on Facebook today and already it is raising eyebrows.  Mine sure went up.

How can the government be allowed to place silent, unmanned radars in remote locations?  How is it possible that they are allowed to monitor my MPH’s?  It use to be a free country.  My rights and liberties are being infringed upon.  I will not stand for this.  Don’t tread on me.

But, I have a plan.  I know how to beat this new electronic surveillance system that is invading my privacy and challenging my right to drive any speed I choose:  I’LL DRIVE THE SPEED LIMIT.

That’ll fix ’em.

My Wife’s Org Plan

IMG_4190We all need to be better organized.  We lose track of our schedule, forget to pay bills, change the oil at 4,000 miles and fail to remember birthdays.

We’ve tried daily planners.

We’ve mastered the to-do’s.

We’ve used stickies.

We’ve filled white-boards.

All to no avail.

But the other day I walked in and found my wife practicing a new form of organization.  It’s a priority system based on color strips.  Those items written in the lighter shades of color require more attention.  Those in the darker shades, further down the sampler, can be done with less urgency.

Of course, when she showed me the stack of samples she’d “borrowed” from our local hardware store, I was shocked…and a little impressed.  I’m not sure how she convinced the sales person that we were debating between 748 different color schemes for our home but, there they are stacked in nice neat rows between the stir-sticks and the blue painter’s tape.

She has a rainbow of color samplers that run the gambit from Blackberry to Abby White.  In fact, she has an entire pile dedicated to the White spectrum.  There’s every variation of white you can imagine (and some you can’t):  White Dove, Cloud White, Chantilly Lace, White Diamond, Simply White, Linen White and Navajo White.  There’s Dune White and Ivory White and, not to be confused with White Dove, there is a Dove Wing White.  There’s Honkey White, White As A Ghost and my personal favorite, Snow White (from the Disney Collection).

And don’t get me started on the shades of green!  Everything from Forrest to Spring.

But there is method in her madness.  At least that’s what she tells me.

And she might be correct.  So far, we’ve repainted the house twice in the last week and yet, she’s had time to complete every one of her outstanding tasks and has been on time for every appointment.  And she’s only in the Yellow section of her paint strip stash.  Thanks, Banana Yellow!

I think she may have an award-winning program…As long as Benjamin Moore doesn’t catch on.

Life Lesson #1739 – It’s NOT POT

Japanese Maple Acer palmatum var. atropurpureum 'Bloodgood'
Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum var. atropurpureum ‘Bloodgood’

My Japanese Maple is NOT POT.  It is a decorative tree (Acer palmatum, var. atropurpureum ‘Bloodgood’) planted in my back yard.  It adds color and texture to my flowerbed.

Please stop picking the leaves and trying to smoke them.

Thank you.

From Roses to Revelation

IMG_3912
My wife’s newest addition to her flower bed.

While shopping at Lowe’s this past week, I found the most beautiful rose bush.  I instantly new where it would go in my yard.  I wasn’t the only one who thought the flowers were pretty.

Or so I thought…Because, on my way to my car, another do-it-yourselfer stopped me in the parking lot and gushed over my newest purchase.  She asked how much it cost and where it was located in the store.  She commented on the perfect flowers and the dazzling whiteness of the petals.  She loved this flower…Or so I thought.

After loading my purchases and putting my cart away, I turned to walk back to my car and the same woman came walking toward me, a book in her hand.

“Sir?” she approached quickly and with purpose, holding out the book for me to see.

“I keep a copy of this book in my car and wondered if you might like a copy?”

I took one look at the thin booklet and it’s title printed in bold letters across the front, “REVELATION”.  She held it out to me as if it were a precious gift.  And in that moment, I realized that the conversation about the flower had nothing to do with the flower.  I felt manipulated and used.

“No thank you.” I said and without another word, I turned to my car.

Without even looking her direction, I started my car, backed out of my spot and drove away.

I’m sure she didn’t think anything of it.  I know that people like her and millions others are used to having the door slammed in their collective faces.  And yet, they keep at it.

But here is the thing:  She took what I thought was an authentic moment of connection over something as wonderful as a white rose and turned it into a cheap method of proselytizing.  She was more concerned about getting her foot into my emotional door than the actual beauty of the moment and the flower.  But now, I truly believe she  commented on the rose for no other reason than to pitch her belief system.  And to be honest, if this is how it has to be done, this isn’t any belief that I want to be a part of.

As I drove home, and nearly every day since, I thought about that interaction.  I’ve studied the scene over and over in my mind.  I’ve re-played her statements.  I’ve analyzed my response.  And then I had to ask myself a very hard question:  Do I do the same thing to people I meet?

After all, I’m an outgoing guy.  I laugh in the lunch line with total strangers.  I’ve become friendly with sanitation workers and lunch ladies that I see on a daily basis.  I talk easily with co-workers and patients.  But why?  Do I have a hidden agenda?  Do I, at some deeper level, do this little social dance as a means to get my foot in the door?

Please understand, I NEVER talk religion.  It’s just not my thing.  But is there another reason I engage others?  Is there a hidden agenda?  Will I want something in return some day?

How about you?  Do you talk to people so you get to know them or so they can know more about your beliefs, your thoughts, your agenda, your TV shows, your kids, your aches, your pains?  Have you ever had a conversation with someone without saying something like, “I know what you mean!  Something like that happened to me just the other day!  Let me tell you about it.”

What if we just listened to people?  What if we complimented someone without expecting something in return?  What if we had and entire conversation with someone and never once thought about our response, only their words and their true meaning?

That would be a breath of fresh air, wouldn’t it?

Early Birds

A Conner Prairie rooster guards his flock.
A Conner Prairie rooster guards his flock.

People often say that it is the Early Bird who gets the worm.

I see several problems with this statement.  First, is there really only one worm that is available early?  Second, how early do you have to be out to get that worm?  If you are too early, it’s just dark and then you don’t see the worm at all.  Next, what about grain or corn?  I often prefer them to worms.  What if I just wait for daylight and then forage for kernels of wheat?  Finally, let’s say I’m not really a morning person (in this case, a morning bird) and I prefer to start my day later…won’t there be worms in the later afternoon when all the Early Birds have returned to the coop?

I’m just trying to think outside the egg carton.

A Prayer for Guidance

100_9612Dear God,

Decisions have to be made.  A choice looms.

Two roads offer themselves and we desire Your wisdom as we select the best road to take.

May we have insight into the direction they will take us, the journey we will experience, the sights we will see because we decided to take the right or left pathway.

And may we know peace when we are at the end of the journey, no matter the decision.

AMEN.

Words and Their Source

Calm MorningThree people expressed their view of my project. They all shared a similar view but their varied approach and the responses they received were much different.

One person is nothing more than an bitter irritant to nearly everyone she meets.  Her words were like rough sandpaper being used to remove a boil on the back of my neck:  They were painful, too rough, too close and definitely the wrong tool for the job.  They caused me to withdrawal violently to avoid more pain.

One person is a lost, lonely and sad fool who covers the pain with laughter that is too loud and too often.  His words are sarcastic and biting.  His snide comments were like my neighbor’s dog barking at the fence:  Teeth flash but are harmless as long as I never try to get close to the unpredictable animal.

One person is quiet and often speaks wisdom beyond her years.  Her words were carefully chosen and represented many  hours of thought.  Like a surgeon’s blade, they cut right to the heart of the issue, making plain the action that must be taken without excess damage.  She did not attack the person, but the problem.

Three voices.  One similar opinion.  Three means of expression.

How do you speak?  What response to you produce?

Use My Hands

100_2323Dear Jesus,

With these hands, I can carry food to the hungry and raise a fist in anger.

With these fingers, I can caress carefully or point accusingly.

My hands are miracles, flexible, strong, delicate.

They can be used to type words of hope or words of hate.

They can.  They do.  They shouldn’t.  I know this and seek your guidance in everything my hands attempt.

May my hands be only used for good this day; for Your purposes and Your Kingdom’s benefit.

AMEN.

Change My Mind

A Short WalkDear God of Wisdom,

So many times I am convinced I am right.

My way seems right.  My decisions are sure.  My course of action is laid out in my head and there is no turning back.

But I have failed to ask your opinion.  I have forgotten to see your guidance.  My understanding of my action’s consequences is limited.

And so, Dear God, change my mind.  Direct my course.  Give me insight.  Lead my actions.

I pray.

AMEN

Open My Ears

Lord of Heaven,

All around there are voices crying out for your mercy.  Help us to hear.

In every location there are hearts beating a broken rhythm of pain.  Open our ears.

Every neighbor shouts their loneliness.  Help us to hear.

Family members hide secrets behind words of shame.  Open our ears.

The world is filled with so many who desire someone to hold their hand, look them in the eye, and listen without distraction.

May we be that person for someone today.

Open our ears, we pray.

AMEN.