Monday, November 28, 2016

Did You Hear That?

Guest Post by
Bethany Buchanan

In my family, I have the reputation for being able to fall asleep almost anywhere. As a direct result of working a physically demanding job (often literally from sunrise to sunset), I have the ability to doze off in nearly any circumstance.

There was the time I fell asleep at a nephew's birthday party and members of my immediate and extended family took turns taking selfies with my semi-recumbent form on the couch. On more than one occasion, I have dozed off in a chair during a holiday family gathering and awoken to find that my older brother has placed around me and balanced atop my person newspapers, magazines, and other various items from around the room. Another time I put my head down on the dinner table at a Japanese noodle restaurant in downtown Shanghai and slept through the whole meal. (Jet lag may have played a part in that one.) Living in an apartment for seven years, I learned to (mostly) sleep through loud music, drunken revels, and lovers' quarrels taking place in full voice mere feet from my bedroom window. Not to mention all the catnaps I've snatched in tack rooms, waiting rooms, on airport floors, and in airplanes, trains, and subways.

Because of my ability to sleep anywhere and through almost anything, I'm intrigued by the fact that sometimes I pop awake from a dead sleep because of a very small noise. It's as if I have this background software running in my brain that jolts me into consciousness whenever it detects some sound that is out of the ordinary. 

For example, I used to dog-sit a Jack Russell terrier named Nike. Since she was old, she had to go out at least once every night. But to wake me up, she didn't bark or whine or cry. She had this particular way of wheezing that wasn't quite a whine, and she would sit on the floor and stare at me and breathe funny until it woke me up. And somehow, it worked.

The sound of my snowbird roommates arriving home for the winter and closing car doors in the driveway has been enough for a brief interruption of my sleep. The splat of a frog jumping onto a window can drag me into a moment of wakefulness. I once awoke in an immediate panic at the sound of a dog about to throw up. I've popped awake to a state of high alert when I heard the distant sound of tinkling glass at 3:00am. (That's an exciting story for another day.) And just last night I woke up in some confusion at the sound of a cat about to hack up a hairball. (I don't own a cat. Thus the confusion.)

I'm not a neurologist, so I don't know the mechanism that makes the brain work this way. But I do think it's pretty cool. I see it as another example of how we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And I wonder if it's related to the way my brain wakes me up fifteen minutes before my alarm goes off on horse show mornings. 

But I have to do my wondering while I'm doing the dishes or cleaning stalls. Because if I sit down to think about it, I'm bound to fall asleep. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

25 Tasks to Accomplish Before Sharing Your Next Snarky Political Meme

For those insistent on sharing snarky political memes, I have a challenge for you.

25 Tasks to Accomplish Before Sharing Your Next Snarky Political Meme:
  1. Shut off your computer for an hour and spend it outside: take a walk; rake leaves; go for a run; kayak downriver; stand in your driveway and watch the sun set while singing "How Great Thou Art" at top voice; climb a tree and yodel over the fence at the neighbors.
  2. Read the entire Bible. (If you've never read the Bible, start with the Book of John.)
  3. Play a board game with the kids. 
  4. Drive to the nearest ocean and jump in fully clothed.
  5. Download Overdrive; check out an e-book; read it. (Don't have a library card? Get one. Can't get one? Check out Project Gutenburg.)
  6. Tour the American Southwest.
  7. Take up beekeeping. The world needs bees! Also, the world needs selfies of you in a beekeeping suit. Either way, the world wins.
  8. Donate blood. 
  9. Watch "Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere" (now streaming on Netflix).
  10. Grab a friend you won't feel like killing and learn to dance the Funky Charleston together. Once you've nailed it, stage a public performance. (Once you've staged a performance, send me video clips.)
  11. Make a new friend. (If he's single, refer him to me.)
  12. Read Dickens. All of it.
  13. Repeat one of your children's made-up knock knock jokes to your friends, neighbors, and colleagues. See how many of them pretend to "get it."
  14. Try to understand why shortalls happened. Then try to understand why they're coming back.
  15. Learn to Lindy Hop.
  16. Invite your church small group over to dinner. Reenact Macbeth's dinner party scene ("Banquo's Ghost Appears"). Don't warn your wife in advance.
  17. See how high you can count in Fibonacci numbers.
  18. Study the official rules of Cricket.
  19. Mentor/disciple a child, teen, young adult, or younger believer.
  20. Memorize the libretto of Mendelssohn's Hymn of German. Ditto Mozart's Requiem, except in Latin.
  21. Write a genuine Elizabethan sonnet.
  22. Immerse yourself in fellowship with a local church. Work together to minister to one another and the community: share the Gospel, feed the hungry, counsel the brokenhearted, care for the sick, and serve the poor.
  23. Host a backyard barbecue for your friends and neighbors. Discuss how you can all work together for the good of the neighborhood. 
  24. Commit yourself to living a joyful, productive life--a life in which you prayerfully take responsibility the things that you can control and rest in the sovereignty of God for the things that you can't.
  25. Pray for your elected/appointed leaders: that they grow in wisdom, learn to execute justice, and actively promote peace.
If you've accomplished these challenges and still feel a burning need to share that snarky political meme, go head.

Or share this post instead.

* * * * *

Monday, November 7, 2016

Can We All Stop Dumping on Millennials?

It bothers me to hear so many people dumping on Millennials.

First, let's analyze what makes them so different. 

Most generational differences are a result of over-corrections on the part of the younger generation from the generation that's come before. In that sense, we've actually shaped Millennials.

Think about that. They're partially the way they are because they're over-correcting from our errors. 

Perhaps more Millennials are living at home longer not out of sheer laziness but because of the combined effects of the economic recession and mounting student debt. Perhaps their marriage rates are declining not solely because of an innate selfishness or a desire for unfettered autonomy but because many Millennials are personal victims of the disastrous divorces of the Boomers and Gen-Xers. Perhaps they're less politically engaged because they've witnessed the fundamental failure of politics to meet mankind's deepest needs. Some can't handle conflict and wrestle with deep, opposing ideas because helicopter parents over-protected them for too long, robbing them of vital opportunities to develop these skills.

On the list could go.

Yes, Millennials are over-correcting from the Boomers and Generations X and Y. And sure, some of those over-corrections probably aren't going to work out so well. But the fact remains that there's a reason why Millennials are the way they are.

Let's take some time to consider that before we mindlessly dump on them for their shortcomings.

Also, we need to acknowledge that Millennials might be succeeding in areas where we failed. In many cases, we were weak in certain areas because we were blind to the needs; if we're still blind to these needs, we're probably blind to the value Millennials bring to the table.

Finally, the main reason we need to stop dumping on Millennials is that there's really no room for this sort of behavior in biblically-based relationships--especially within the church. If a younger sister or brother in Christ is well-meaning but misguided (or even, to be fair, completely off-base), it's the responsibility of the elders to provide relationship-based mentoring, quietly and kindly offering one-on-one guidance. We can't do that if we haven't taken time to build relationships with one another; and I can't think of a worse way to lay a foundation for relationships than applying blanket generalizations on the younger generation and mocking them for their shortcomings.

Millennials aren't perfect, but neither is my generation, and neither is yours. 

As James reminds us, we all stumble in many ways.

Instead of dumping on each other for flaws and weaknesses, let's instead encourage each other in Christ as we press toward the mark.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us (Philippians 3:12-17). 
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7).
* * * * * 

Photo Credit: 

By r.f.m II from Colora Maryland, United States (Self-Portrait #26) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons