The Coronavirus,the Bible, and I

Quick story…

I was about 18 years old the first time it happened. I was not a religious/ spiritual person @ this point in my life.  I was living my version of La Vita Loca. work crew 1977

Anyway, one evening, I was just  randomly thumbing through the good book, and a sentence  jumped off the page:

     “ Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
    when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”  Proverbs 17:28

Bam/ right along side the head.

My mouth had been getting me into trouble fairly regularly at that point. and I was tired of it.  I resolved right then and there, to take this pithy proverb to heart.  I would keep quiet the next time I was temped to spout off.

Ever so slowly my interactions with people began to improve.

Side note… On this blog, I assume most of you  do not necessarily share my understanding of the Bible, spirituality, etc.  although a few of you do.  I rarely go there on this space.  I have another blog specifically devoted to spiritual stuff, just like I have a “farm blog” more geared to farmish stuff….but I woke up this morning thinking,  I would really like to write something that touches on  the   the coronavirus, the Bible  and our current situation, so I am going to go there….

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The bible has quite a bit to say about the  coronavirus actually , but not in the way you might expect.  For example, right now these words have taken on a whole new meaning to me the past month:

For the righteous  (righteous = a person of faith)  will never be moved: ….
He is not afraid of evil tidings;
    his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady, he will not be afraid.”  Psalm 112

I have those words on a 3 by 5 index card on the dashboard of my pickup.  I’ve been chewing on them the past few weeks.  Evil tidings is a great way to characterize most of what passes for “news” these days.

Not going to let it suck me in if I can help.

(side note:  In case you didn’t know, the Psalms are actually a  compilation of various styles of writings… part song book, part personal journal,  personal prayers, etc.  (think blogger from 3500 years ago).

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One last verse on the media..

 “…. whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” 

I (DM) learned my lesson after 9/11.  I continue to watch my media intake.  No binge watching.  I have no interest in keeping up to speed on the day to day updates.

PS.  I appreciate each and every one of you that has written and continues to write  about what has been happening in your neck of the woods  in terms of the coronavirus.

Would much rather read your stories.

Take care. DM

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The Door Opens #7

36 years ago, come this July, we picked up, lock, stock and barrel, and headed East,   Gilgal Bible Chapel agreed to let us stay in one of their apartments while I returned to school.

I have been reliving that season in our lives the past several posts. This is the 7th installment.

I knew my dad would struggle with our decision, although he and my mom have never meddled in any of our decisions,  (and still don’t).

I wanted to break it to him easy and give him another perspective.

When we got back from our week on the east coast spying out the land, He asked, “Well, what did you decide?”

I’d given it some thought (what to tell  him) so I said, “We’ve decided  to move to Africa as missionaries.”

Dead silence.

I let the words hang in the air for about 15 seconds, then,  “Just kidding.  All the details have come together so we are moving to New Jersey for a year.”

(That was SO out of character for me, as his compliant first born).  🙂

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Shifting gears….

To my regular readers,   Thank you for being so gracious and reading along the last several posts!

I don’t plan  to relieve the whole 5 years we lived on the East Coast with you here.  Just knowing  several of you have been following along has encouraged me to take the time to get this stuff down in print.

I do plan to write one or two more installments  on a few life lessons that were drummed into me while living and working in New Jersey.

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Any of the following interest you?  (If I threw in a few short stories.)  Just trying to get a feel if any of these would be interesting to anyone but me. 🙂

 

Addressing issues rather than ignoring them. (house meetings)

Transparency. (Living life w/o a mask)

People pleasing and boundaries.

Balance or (living with margin) for the long haul.

Mentoring.  (A lot like what goes into good parenting)

 

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Take care and have a good week! DM

 

 

 

 

The Lost Art of Thank You Notes #1

In 1985 we moved our little family to the East Coast so I could pursue my dream of being a marriage and family counselor.  I was 27 years old.  Married with two little girls in tow.  Up until then I had been working full time in construction with my dad and uncle. I came to the realization that if  I didn’t at least give it a whirl I would always wonder.

Pictures of our girls in the back seat of the Dodge Colt pulling a U-haul when we moved to New Jersey.

We ended up living in Northern New Jersey 5 years before deciding to return to Iowa.  The weekend before we were to return , the local church that had taken us under their wing for five years, threw us a farewell party. We’d become family in the truest sense of the word.   As the program wrapped up, one of my friends, John Reilly, asked me to come up front,  to present us with a going away present from the church.  (Keep in mind, on a good Sunday, there were maybe 80 in attendance).  John whispered something about not loosing the envelope!  “There’s something in there to help you get resettled.”  Later when we got to the car, I opened the card and found a check for four thousand dollars.

Blew me out of the water.

Over the next week,  while in the midst of packing, I  jotted off several thank you notes, not thinking much about the act  at the time.

It was the right thing to do.

I was reminded of that check this past Sunday night as I was reading a short entry from the book The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

It was titled  The Lost Art Of Thank You Notes:

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.  And despite my love of efficiency, I think that thank-you notes are best done the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper.

     Job interviewers and admissions officers see lots of applicants.  They read tons of resumes from “A” students with many accomplishments.  But they do not see many handwritten thank-you notes.

     If you are a B+ student, your handwritten thank-you note will raise you at least a half-grade in the eyes of the future boss or admissions officer.  You will become an “A” to them.  and because handwritten notes have gotten so rare, they will remember you.

     When I’d give this advice to my students, it was not to make them into calculating schemers, although I know some embraced it on those terms.  My advice was more about helping them recognize that there are respectful, considerate things that can be done in life that will be appreciated by the recipient, and that only good things can result.

   For instance, there was a young lady who applied to get into the E.T.C. ad we were about to turn her down.  She had big dreams; she wanted to be a Disney Imagineer.  Her grades, her exams and her portfolio were good, but not quite good enough, given how selective the ETC can afford to be.  Before we put her into the “no” pile, I decided to page through her file one more time.  As I did, I noticed a handwritten thank-you note had been slipped between the other pages.

    The note hadn’t been sent to me, my co-director Don Marinelli, or any other faculty member.  Instead, she had mailed it to a non-faculty support staffer who had helped her with arrangements when she came to visit.  This staff member held no sway over her application, so this was not a suck-up note.  It was just a few words of thanks to someone who, unbeknownst to her, happened to toss her note into her application folder.  Weeks later I came upon it.

    Having unexpectedly caught her thanking someone just because it was the nice thing to do, I paused to reflect on this.  She had written her note by hand.  I liked that.  “This tells me more, than anything else in her file,” I said to Don.  I read through her material again, I thought about her.  Impressed by her note, I decided she was worth taking a chance on, and Don agreed.

     She came to the ETC, got her masters degree, and is now a Disney Imagineer.

    I’ve told her this story, and now she tells it to others.

    Despite all that is not going on in my life and with my medical care, I still try to handwrite notes when it is important to do so.  It’s just the nice thing to do.  And you never know what magic might happen after it arrives in someone’s mailbox.

Randy Pausch

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Those 5 years we lived out East were life changing. It really was a watershed time in my life. I am toying around with  writing a series on that season of our life.  The good and the not so good. If I end up doing so, this will be the first installment. 🙂 DM

You came to mind last night

2021 family calendar I put together this year for my mom and dad.

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Ran to town yesterday afternoon to drop off the family calendars that came in the mail this week. After we made our last stop, I looked at my wife and asked her a question:.

“If you could magically go anywhere right now, just for the evening, where would it be?   Anyone in particular you’d like see?”

Here’s the thing about dreaming, setting goals, etc.   You need to set aside all of the normal practical things, (like $, time, travel restrictions, stress of getting somewhere, etc. etc.) and just try to get in touch with your deeper desires).

I used this technique with great success several years ago when I went about trying to identify 25 things to put on a bucket list.  Did this before the “bucket list” craze was even a thing. You may not be able to do exactly the item on your list, but some variation of it. I have been amazed at how many most of those items I’ve been able to check off  simply because I’d identified them as something I would really love to do.

Anyway, that ‘s a bunny trail for another blog post.

So when she asked me the same question:

” If you could magically go anywhere right now, just for the evening, where would it be?   Anyone in particular you’d like see?

I told her, I would love to go to some cozy retreat center, some place with a view, out in the woods/ mountains maybe….

And it would be a get together for all of my blogging friends.  A relaxed  evening just to  visit, munch on finger food, mingle, listen to music,  tell stories.

Everyone would tell a story (or three).

And there you have it.

Of all of the things in the world last night, I could have had the opportunity to do, I chose to hang out with  you.  🙂

So,  while we’re still dreaming, it would be good if  you brought something to share, bottle of wine, type of cheese, some tasty little things to eat.

What would you like to bring? 🙂

Tell me a little bit about the story you’d be sharing. 🙂

DM

 

One of the things about blogging…

Had a friend and  fellow blogger come for a visit last month. 

The first time Kristina came, she brought her  son.  

Second time she came, she brought the hubby.

After that she’s come by herself.

After Kristina left, last Saturday she wrote  something.   I asked her if she minded me sharing a portion of it with you…

 

“I visit my friends smack dab in the middle of farm country.

Its quiet.

Its beautiful.

Its noble.

We don’t do a darn thing but cook, eat, organize, play cards, shop the thrift and Amish stores and talk.

We solve the world’s problems.

One cup of coffee at a time.”

 

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One of the things about blogging over an extended period of time is, if you care to, it allows you to get to know someone on a level, most people never realize.

I (DM) have been putting myself out there via various WordPress blogs since 2007.  Well over 1000 blog posts on 4 different blogs.   Kristina (our guest) has been reading along since the very beginning. 

 And she STILL wants to stay in touch.

That is one of the highest compliments  a person can give. 

Unconditional acceptance.

  The past few years, I’ve noticed the frequency of my posts have started to taper. 

I feel like I’ve said everything I want to say. and that’s OK 🙂

 

If you’re a blogger, why do blog?

Describe your blog to me in 10 words or less. 

Have you ever met any of the people you’ve initially crossed paths with via your blog in person? Tell me more.  I want details. DM

 

 

Last night

42 years ago last night, I popped the question….

Engagement photo.

(That’s me on the right)

40th surprise anniversary party family photo.

I have a lot to be thankful for!

Just a quick post to keep those of you that are regulars in the loop. Take care. DM

Rescue

We have a friend (Kristi)  who lives an area of  Cedar Rapids that was heavily damaged by Monday’s  Derecho.   I was finally able to connect with her last night.  Made plans to help do clean up this morning.

Just got home.

It went well.

By noon, we did all we could do. I had to leave  one large limb  leaning on the neighbors roof, I told Kristi I didn’t feel comfortable with  that one.

I know my limitations.

A couple of neighbors stopped @ one point.  I told them I was going to pass on one of the tree branches.  Just too many variables.  The younger fella, dismissed my concerns and thought it wouldn’t be too hard, just  needed to do this, this and this.

I listened. 😉

It didn’t change my mind.  As much as I would have loved to completely finish the job, there was a real chance when that branch came down  it could take out a window.

No thank you . 🙂

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As I was having my morning cup of coffee (Starbucks/ french roast) this morning before heading to Kristi’s, I spotted movement on a windowsill.

We live in a 110 year old 2 story farm house…you just never know.  It looked like it was either a leaf, the tail of  a sparrow, or a ground squirrel?

None of those possibilities made much sense for different reasons.

5 minutes later I saw it again.  At this point I said something to my wife:“I think  there is something outside on our window sill…. either a ground squirrel or a sparrow…”

Then  suddenly more of the creature came into view….

It was a tree frog!

What the heck.

And it wasn’t on the outside of the glass.

And it was stuck between the window and the screen.

The poor little fella, had crawled through a small tear in the screen and gotten trapped, and he looked pretty dehydrated.

One more day and and I’m thinking he would have been cooked.

I picked him up, to take him outside. The birdbath caught my eye.  Set him in the water, and within a minute he was revived.

 

Also spotted one of our honeybees thrashing around upside down in the bird bath.  I nudged her out of the water and got her up on the ledge.

Within seconds, she was revived.

The word for today is Rescue.

Rumblings

I have to be honest.

There have been several times I’ve  wanted to give voice to something , but squelched it because, I knew I would rustle  feathers.

Life is too short to get into pissing matches, on line or in person…but especially on the Internet.

So I keep my thoughts to myself.

I used to get together a couple of times a month with a self professed anarchist.  He was a few years older than myself.  Did a tour in Vietnam  and came back angry.  Long story short, he and I were on opposite ends of the spectrum politically, spiritually, etc.  yet we shared a common interest in history.  He was articulate, and I honestly wanted to understand his thinking when it came to current events…

It worked.

Over coffee, he and I would get into the most robust conversations and I think we both came away richer for it.

I love conversations like that, if they happen in the context of mutual respect.

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Currently I am sleeping like a baby.

Even in the midst of the current craziness.

Some of it has to do with my job.

There is an old saying  “The laborers sleep is sweet.”   

Most days, I come home physically spent.  So that’s part of it.

Another big part for me is what I’ve been taking into my mind.

I have become even more ruthless (and selective) if that’s possible, when it comes to staying informed.

I refuse to spend my life going from one “crisis” that consumes me to the next.

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There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.

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Thanks for stopping by, on this 4th of July 2020!

Take care. DM

To everything there is a season….

   ” To everything there is a season, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…

A time to speak and a time to remain silent…”  

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Been thinking about putting this blog in the archives for a little while  now.

90% of you that are regular readers know I also have a “farm” blog, which I do plan to continue to use.  Rather than just up and disappear, I wanted to put this little notification out.  If you don’t know that website, and are interested,  leave me a comment and I’ll send it to you via e-mail.

I’ll probably leave this blog up for a couple of weeks, just to make sure any regulars  know how to find me, and after that I’ll put it in the can along with my other blog.

Take care, DM

 

Keeping the peace

One of my main goals when I started blogging was to keep it real… I have no interest in projecting a sanitized version of myself to the world.

I’m more of a velveteen rabbit/ skin horse sort of person.

Love it when I meet someone who is keeping it real…so on that note, I came across this picture this morning:

I’m posting it as a reminder to myself.

Virtual hugs and clink of my coffee cup with each of  you. DM