Sunday, May 30, 2010

Celebrate good times: Come on!

Join with us as we celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary. What God put together, no man and no diagnosis has put asunder.

Mike said last summer, "Well, I know you really want to go to Alaska. If I'm still around next year, we'll go.

Pay up time, Pal!

We will be flying to Seattle and then boarding the Ms. Zaandam for an 8 day cruise to Alaska. Next Sunday, Mike will be scaling the face of the Mendenhall Glacier while his wife, um, I believe, will be 'descaling' in the ship's spa, if you know what I mean.

Mike visited with his doctor last Monday. She poked and prodded and pronounced him fit to travel.

You can follow our progress, perhaps here; I've read something about a one-time activation fee; I also saw something about 45 - 70 cents/minute. Not sure. If that's the game, I'll update you when we get back.

You know, our marriage was very good before Mike's diagnosis. We have grown even better in this partnership. God demonstrates, every day, why His plan is for life-long companions, to travel through this adventure together.

Our God shows us, every day, His blessings to us, big and small. And you, our friends, are among those blessings.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thirsty for the Word

Over the years I have been encouraged, coached, goaded and shamed into trying to read through the Bible. All methods, so far, have failed. We are to thirst after God's word.

Not so thirsty here.

Quite a few times, I began with good intentions, reading (and rereading and rereading) through the poetic drama of Genesis and onto well-known narratives throughout Exodus (you know, there’s a movie).

But I hit the wall when I turned to Leviticus. I mean, those ancient Hebrew laws, on and on.
I lose it among the payment of sheep for infractions and then all those washing rituals. I mean, come on. How does this relate to me? We have antibiotic soaps these days.

And as for developing a thirst, let me tell you that one of the worst courses I ever took at Wheaton College was the required Old Testament class.

Heading into our sophomore year in college, Mike and I were IN LOVE and facing the same general education requirements so it seemed to make sense that we would take them together. We did not consider how awkward this might become if we broke up but we didn’t so…

We studied slides of fine art in Art Appreciation. (“We appreciate this! We really really do!”) We dissected the classical in Music Appreciation and attended professional opera. (nose bleed seats) And we sat together, in the front row, in Dr. Heiksen’s OT Archeology class.

The class met at 7:30 AM during the snowy winter months so it was still dark outside. The course was a snore. The only person more bored than me was Dr. H. himself.

More than a few times, we would enter the lecture room and face two armchair desks. In one sat the professor and on the other was a tape player. We knew, after the first week, what came next. Dr. H would slip a tape into the player and his own droning lecture would come forth. He might lean an elbow on his desk and doze off. I rarely checked the room behind me but I’m pretty sure we all joined him.

I don’t remember most of what we were to "learn" in Old Testament, but two things stand out.
1) I ended up with a really good textbook on Christian Apologetics (why in Old Testament?) to which I still refer. There are all sorts of cute little doodles and “I love you, Mike” and ”ZZZZZZ again” in the margins in blue highlighter.

2) It is only one of two courses in all of my college education where I got a better grade than Mike. Now here’s what’s funny (to me) about that. We worked together in Old Testament. On tests we were within 1 or 2 points of each other. We created an extra credit presentation for the course. And when the smoke had cleared, I got an A and Mike got a B.

It’s a fluke but still, I got the better grade so I’m good with this. But it was yet another reason I crashed early in the Old Testament reading plans.

The last time I tried, steeled to preserver, I actually made it almost to the end of Deuteronomy before I caved. This time, I excused myself…a well-developed skill..because my husband was ill and well, I had a lot to do.

But there are plotters around me.

I have two really good friends who continue to challenge my lack of commitment to the scriptures. One is a New Testament wizard who can bring up the right word from Paul or Peter, or Jesus, to match any situation.

The other’s pores leak Old Testament. She smiles but cringes at any suggestion that the Old Testament is less relevant today than the New. SHE can back up her resolve with verses from… have you heard of this?...Nahum and Zephaniah.

Then, of course, the hub, who is retired and has a bit more time on his hands, has become quite the Bible reader, along with his WWII tomes and all things Malcolm Gladwell.

You can see, I’m surrounded and I know this is not an accident. SO, I brought this up in my small group and, gulp, asked them to pray for me, pray that I would develop not just a habit but a hunger for God’s word.

I confessed to them and now to you: I am a voracious reader of the newspaper. That ritual is a part of my morning routine. I do not feel dressed and ready for the day until I’ve perused the daily news.

I’ve heard this same thing from my more spiritual friends as it related to a quiet time with God and His word. I know that this SHOULD be something I want to do. But I don’t so I asked the group to help me. I knew that this would make me accountable to someone other than myself, who is not such a taskmaster.

New Testament friend suggested that I pray before I begin my reading and ask God to guide me to something I need. What a concept. I placed a Bible on my desk at school and scheduled a regular reading time.

So where to start? “Well, I think I’ve read Genesis quite a few times and I’m trying to develop a real hunger so, selfishly, I should find something that speaks to me right now.”

Right now, I’m living within a bubble of God’s grace. He’s showing us so much mercy and He's blessing us every day. The Psalms? Quickly I discovered that many Psalms cry out and ask God to help.

Not yet.

Then, Mike was listening to The Messiah and I recognized a passage from Isaiah. Ok, I’ll try that.

Did you know, I did not, that the first 10 or so chapters of Isaiah are all about God’s judgment on His people for their transgressions?

Not where I am right now.

Proverbs? Not right now. Levitius? Oh, come on! I’ve read through it but I don’t think it will make me want more. Lamentations? Short but all sad and grieving. Not at this time.

“Ok,” I reason. “Pick-and-choose is not working. Pray some more.”

Then, wouldn’t you just know it? I found a book at the lake that summarized the Old Testament. When did I buy this book? Why did I buy this book?

Timelines. Photos. Maps. Literary analysis. I landed on a chapter about Joshua. Then, I grabbed my Bible, turned to Joshua, and I was hooked.

What an adventure! (What a screenplay this would make! )

Did you know, for example, that after Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan River, before they went into battle, he gathered all the men so they could be circumcised? What it would be like, witnessing this as he sold it to his soldiers.

Then, wisely, they rested until they were healed. And that’s when manna stopped falling from heaven. I had known when it started but never really wondered when it stopped. It stopped as soon as the people were ready to get their own food.

God’s pretty cool that way.

Joshua is an edge-of-your-seat narrative and then onto Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles.

I’m moving through so many of the stories that were the substance of Sunday School instruction. I can recall the flannelgraphs.

Solomon, once the wisest of men, fell as many do. His two sons, Rehoboam and Jeroboam led their part of the divided Kingdom.

Relevancy: So, Solomon, you named these boys so similarly. To make it hard to keep them straight? Reminds me of identical twins, African Americans, one of whom was in my class. They were named Ken and Kent; either their parents had no imagination or they had a really good sense of humor. This brothers were also dark skinned and I wondered if they ever traded places. They certainly could have gotten away with it.

Also as we (!) read through these historic books, we see that it was not modern men who invented that weakness to strut in your own greatness and fall fall fall. The ancient kings displayed the same frailty; it usually involved the wrong women.

As King Solomon said, late in life, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the son.” Ecclesiastes 1:9.

By the way, I had an ‘aha!’ moment as I traced the divided kingdom. Israel to the north was eventually destroyed and taken into captivity. It ceased to exist. Judah, to the south, was also taken captive but its captor encouraged them to continue their religion and culture. (did not know this)

SO, THAT’S why Matthew begins his Gospel with that long long long geneology of Jesus, tracing him back to Abraham. He came through the line of Judah, the people who continued their faith.

I know. All you biblical scholars are giving me a “duh.” Ok with me. It’s lightbulb time here.
So now I’m ready for Isaiah because I have the context and my chart.

I’ll be reading.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Passing

We attended a funeral last week. An elderly lady had passed away. Although it’s not true that only the good die young, when a younger person passes away, he leaves friends and survivors so they tend to pack the church.

The same thing happens when the deceased is a celebrity or a head of state: the pews fill to overflowing, passing Christmas and Easter for record attendance. Much of that grief may be obligation but the crowds are impressive, as though their size measures the significance of a life now closed.

When you’ve lived a good long life, there are fewer friends left to send you off. At this service, walkers and canes outnumbered pall bearers, but not by much.

We joined with children, grandchildren and several great grands to note this passing. We sang, we reminisced, we eulogized and then we prayed. One precocious little ‘en did a play-by-play on the colors of the flowers.

Dinner followed. Churches are good at this.

So, who was this lady?

Kay was a backyard neighbor of my in-laws. Her youngest son, Jim, has been Mike’s friend since middle school. He and Mike’s sister Lisa formed one of those small-town, across-the- fence romances that led to marriage and 5 of Kay’s grandchildren. As my kids are about the same ages, when the cousins came to town, there was much jumping over that fence and back.

So to my children, she was Gramma Kay. We are blessed to have our ‘real’ grammas with us but, frankly, I think we can ALL stand all the unconditional love we can get.

I met Kay early in my relationship with Mike; our meeting was unforgettable and typically Kay. When I introduced myself, she smiled warmly, trained her intense brown eyes on mine and said, “I’m so glad to meet you. Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”

When I answered that yes, I did, she smiled even wider and offered me some tea. I enjoyed many cups of tea and homemade cookies in her parlor over the years.

Kay was singled-minded in her dealings with people. She was determined to lead as many lost souls to the Lord as He gave her breath. She was unapologetic in her approach. And once you assured her that you were one of God’s children, her focus was to nurture your spirit. When confronted with someone’s problem, she would quote an appropriate scripture and then offer to pray. You did not bring up a challenge without this expected response.

At her passing, Kay had been a widow for 20 years. She and husband Gordon were charter members of Bible Baptist Church in Kokomo. Once, in that parlor, I mentioned that I wished I had some Sunday School-type music to play in the car when I took my kids on errands. It was one of those thinking-out-loud kind of statements as in: I really must go shopping someday and look for some music.

But, it turns out, I never needed to. That evening, Kay and Gordon dug out a case full of records (Google it) and transferred many to cassette tapes. (Google it). These plain black cassettes where then hand lettered: Preschool
(This little light of mine), Elementary(Dare to Be a Daniel) and Middle School Be Ye Doers of the WordThere was another tape with songs based on scripture and one filled with favorite hymns. They packed them into an old shoe box and drove them over. No time to waste, you see.

Kay’s health had been in decline for several years but her pastor reported that whenever he visited her, she would greet him with,” Trust and Obey.” How fitting we sang that old hymn at her funeral.

There is mighty theology in older hymns:

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word
What a glory He spreads on our way
Never fear only Trust and Obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to Trust and Obey.
Then in fellowship sweet

We will sit at His feet

Some funerals are times of deepest grief. For me, Kay’s was a victory lap. She had run the good race. She had finished the course.

As we sat there, I had no doubt that she was standing by her Savior, with His arm around her shoulder.

And she was singing.

And she is singing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

End of the Semester at KHS

January 4, 2010 -- I stepped back into my classroom at Kokomo High School. Although I think I was ready to take it on faith, within a week, I knew that this was exactly what God wanted me to do.

May 27, 2010 -- The semester ends. Grades get tallied. Books get closed. Bulletin Boards get cleared. Clutter gets tossed. The veteran teacher puts her important stuff in the back cabinet, in a manner that will make its retrival easy.

Within a week, custodial folks will cart everything out of the room and into the hall. The classroom will received a top-t0-bottom cleaning and a fresh, shiny wax coating on the floor. Then they'll move the furniture back in and it will be waiting for me in August.

Here at KHS, we have a special group of friends who are joined together in prayer and service to anyone within our community who requires prayer and/or service. And let's just say that our definition of "community" is broad and wide.

We currently know of 5 people who are doing battle with cancer. As more become known, they will add to the list.

Last spring, these friends showered us with pillowcases. And they began praying for us. They continue to pray and they forward requests to their friends, family, churches and etc.

So, what a covering we all received. What follows is my end-of-the-semester note to these special friends.
Dear Laura’s Angels,

Mike and I are blessed to be among those who benefit from your prayers.

As you may know, we are living a miracle right now, testament to the power of prayer. We remain humbled by this as we, like most, are not particularly deserving of such grace. We serve a Living God, one who knows our weaknesses and loves us more than we can imagine.

You may have seen me about the halls. This is my most comfortable milieu and I continue to know that God wants me here, doing what I do. It is amazing to walk daily in the footsteps that the Father has placed before me.

We ask our God for a great summer. We are planning on a great summer. We are planning that after that great summer, I will return to my classroom.

We also know, in deeper ways than ever before, that His ways are not our ways and we face each morning with fresh faces, seeking His face.

We will continue to covet your prayers for us. For those of you who follow our blog, I will update you often with specific needs. will get you there.

For those of you who don’t, we will face another CAT this summer. The doctors will continue to look for tumor growth. If it occurs, we will follow the very excellent advice we will receive from gifted professionals in our community.

And we praise our Lord for other gifts: we will celebrate our 36th anniversary in June. We will travel to Alaska on Ms. Zaandam and scale some glaciers. We will spend a lot of relaxing time at our cottage in Winona Lake.

And we will know that you are with us. Let us hold each others’ hands and thank God for His mercy.

Joined with you,

Lynne Bolinger

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Travels with Ivy

It is widely acknowledged among those who are in the know that the world's finest dog lives at my house. She is known to her loyal subjects as "Princess Ivy" or "The Iverson." Those of us who she permits to dwell here on West Taylor under her benevolent reign recognize that she rules with an iron paw. What Ivy wants, Ivy gets, period.

Now that I am retired, much to my wife's envy and Ivy's delight, I have time to spend amusing myself with various entertaining activities, most to which require a short trip in the truck. As the old advertisement for Toyota trucks read: Dogs love trucks. Iverson is no exception. If I am going somewhere in the truck, she expects to go, period. If I leave without her, she is visibly irritated and even gets mad, often demonstrating her anger with a sharp bark at me.

Ivy and I have a routine every morning. Lovely Loon is long gone to work when I get up at 7:00 am. Ivy lies in her bed, while I take a shower and get dressed. I fix breakfast in the kitchen and read the newspaper. Ivy remains in her bed, pretending to sleep. I usually clean up the bedroom and kitchen. Ivy slumbers on in her bed. Finally, I say "Let's go." Like a bolt of lightning she is out of her bed and streaks for the back door. I hit the garage door opener and up comes the door.

She runs for the truck and usually stops halfway to look back at me and bark, as if to say, "Hurry up, we've got things to do!" As soon as I open the truck door, she leaps up onto the seat and quivers with excitement. She usually barks and leans over to give me a playful bite on the arm. The day has begun! Travels with Mike! (Forgive me John Steinbeck.)

I have learned that certain business establishments in Kokomo are dog friendly. Some do not even require a leash. For example, Moody Cycle is a wonderful eclectic motorcycle shop straight out of the 50s. It is the only motorcycle shop that I know that has two or three stools in the back next to a permanently plugged-in amplifier and a couple of guitars for anybody who happens to want to play some music, preferably blues or rock and roll. Is that cool or what? And even better yet, your dog is welcome. Ivy loves it. She races around to see everybody and excitedly sniffs everyone, because they all have dogs, some of which may have been there earlier. Iverson is petted by all who are there, while I hang out amidst the Harley-Davidsons and BMWs, and swap tall tales with my friends.

Rural King is also dog-friendly. For those of you who are not familiar with this chain store, it is kind of like K-Mart for the farmer or pseudo-farmer. I am to understand that there are lots of people who live in the country, who have small farms. They do not raise any crops, but they do have a few cows, pigs, or sheep. They need stuff for the animals.

So, Rural King has fertilizer, feed, garden supplies, tractor repair parts and peanuts. Yes, I said peanuts. Rural King encourages its patrons to stop in and get a handful of peanuts to eat as they shop. Of course, you know who has to have a peanut? Around the store we go, Iverson and me, eating peanuts. Is America great or what?

One of my daughter's friends pointed out to me that her dad, who is a retired Delphi executive, spends every morning at Rural King. Since I was not retired at the time, I asked what on earth he was doing there. She shrugged her shoulders and said she did not know. Since then I have noticed a significant number of older, retired gentlemen (like me) wandering seemingly aimlessly in the store with and without dogs, eating peanuts. I conclude they (we?) are there for the free peanuts.

Hollingsworth Lumber is dog-friendly. I go there to buy hardwood for my furniture projects. The retail counter is patrolled by Sam and Daisy, a golden retriever and chocolate lab, who are usually both asleep, until we get there. Then there is much sniffing, snorting, and tail wagging as the three dogs to catch up on the latest events in the dog world.

We often have to stop for lunch on our daily travels. Iverson prefers Wendy's. We were coming home from Winona Lake last week. Ivy had been running all afternoon and I could tell she was thirsty. I ordered the usual three cheeseburgers and two fries, along with a Coke. Then I pulled up to the drive-through. I thought about it for a minute and then told the girl at the window that I needed a cup of ice water for my dog, as she was parched. The girl looked at me funny as she handed me the cup of ice water.

"Will your dog drink out of the cup?" she asked.

"Of course she will," I replied, "She has excellent manners." I held the cup at a slight angle and Ivy happily slurped away half of the cup's contents. The drive-through girl giggled and called her co-workers over to watch Ivy drink from the cup. I gave Ivy her fries and cheeseburger and we were on our way.

One of my favorite stops each day is the Frozen Custard stand. Last week I stopped at the drive-through to get a large ice cream cone. It was particularly good, since they had black raspberry -- my favorite -- that day. As always, as soon as the girl handed me the cone, I gave Ivy the honor of the first lick. Off we went on our errands.

As I pulled out into traffic, I had the cone in my right hand. Some idiot in the left lane swerved into my lane, forcing me to turn right sharply. As I did, my right hand slipped off the steering wheel and the cone dangled briefly within Ivy's range. In a split second, she snarfed all the ice cream in one lightning quick bite all the way down to the cone. I couldn't believe it. I got one lousy lick.

She wasn't sorry, either.

Unfortunately, not all businesses are dog-friendly. Iverson says that this is discrimination based solely on the fact that dogs have no thumbs. I am not sure about that. Nevertheless, when I have to leave her in the car, I always crack the window and tell her I will be right back. As all dogs are able to do, she settles down for a short nap. This has developed into a game we play.

My truck has an electronic door lock feature, so the door can be unlocked as you approach the truck. When you hit the button to unlock the door, it makes a beeping noise, which wakes Iverson up. When she hears the beep, she knows I am approaching, so I see her head instantly pop up and she starts scanning the parking lot to locate me, her head on a swivel.

Sometimes I hide behind a larger truck and watch her looking for me. When she begins to get worried, I jump out into her view and her tail wags with joy to see me return. As soon as I get into the truck, I have to be sniffed thoroughly to determine if I have been around other dogs and she demands to be petted as we drive away.

The simple truth is that dogs make your life better. They don't expect much -- just some food and a pet now and then. In return you get unlimited, unconditional devotion that you probably don't deserve. Dogs never lie and they are always happy to see you. They know when you are worried or sad. They know when you are sick. Sometimes the best medicine is when they lay their head on your chest and look at you. Sometimes when we are going somewhere, Ivy simply looks up at me with those big brown eyes and I can tell that it is her way of saying "I love you." People should do as well.

Mike out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

OK, you REALLY have to be a fan................

We were just messing around on You Tube when we typed in Mike's name.

Apparently, when we were in Florida in January, our friend Brian made this video, set it to music and then posted it.

He forgot to tell us. We did not know it existed until this afternoon.

One of the very cool things his friends arranged for Mike was to go flying in a friend's aerobatic plane. And here it is.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Only for Rabid Fans

This entry is for the fans. It is a short trip through the first years of the Mike and Lynne Bolinger Corporation. We figure that no level of fame will generate an autobiography for either of us, which is really fine because, among other things, who needs all that press coverage? Photos that catch a bad angle? Strangers calling out to us, using our first names?

But you, our readers, are not strangers. You are our brothers and sisters, by blood and by bond. You’ve been walking with us through a monumental adventure. You know, (don’t you?) how much we covet your prayers and crave your concern.

We will mark our 36th wedding anniversary in a few weeks. We’ve never been big celebrants of such milestones…for many years, June 8 came smack in the middle of final exams where I was elbow deep in paperwork so it was “Hey, Happy Anniversary” and “Yeah, you too.” Hate to ruin any romantic notions you’ve been fostering but the truth is the truth.

I do recall that last year, we made a point to celebrate, for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which was we figured it was the last one. We traveled to San Antonio, even as Mike was feeling ill, to spent time with our daughter and her boys. Mike and Allyson had time to go off together for a father/daughter chat and I remember noting that it was so good of God to give us THAT time to tie up loose ends.

And here we are, a year later, getting ready to celebrate again. Isn’t God good? And as that terms doesn’t come close, is there one that does?

Shortly after June 8, 1974, Mike began his three-year stint at IU School of Law. 5 days a week, he’s jump into our 1970 white Volkswagen and drive 50 miles for class. I would hike over to the high school, a mere ½ mile from our apartment. I would get home around 3 and do the little new wifely thing, trying to prepare a meal and setting out a pretty table.

Mike usually arrived at 4:30, tired and spent, his head pounding inside and out from the day and the drive. We’d sit for our little dinner and then he would retreat to the spare bedroom where he would study all evening. I would do my schoolwork, some light cleaning, and watch all sorts of bad TV movies. For the youngsters out there, there were only a five stations to choose from.
Mostly I saw the back of Mike’s head. That December, we drove to Michigan to share Christmas with my parents.

As Indiana law required teachers to obtain their Masters Degree within 5 years, it seemed like a good plan to begin that goal so during Mike’s second year of school, I attended Ball State University two nights a week. We would team drive, he still putting 500 miles a week and me adding 240 to the Bug’s odometer.
Our apartment morphed into a dorm with a study room. Our dining room table no longer had room for actual dining; it was piled with books, typewriters (google that), notebooks and pens.

We were also living within our means which meant that we had become budget fanatics. That meant that I went to the grocery store with cash in hand and had to make it stretch, sometimes putting items back or replacing with something cheaper. Saturdays became the day I would make something that could be eaten all week, like mac and cheese or chili; I’d divide it into plastic containers and freeze them so either of us could give it a microwave blast and have something to eat.

We did have money for haircuts but

Even though we’ve weathered 36 years, we aren’t in the business of offering advice or handing out wisdom on how to stay married. We know that we had volumes of prayer offered up in our behalf. But we did land on one little trick that saved us a lot of grief.

I began to notice that on quite a few Fridays, I would get ready for school looking at swollen eyes from the crying the night before. It took a lot of brown eye shadow to camouflage the puffy eyelids. When I realized that I was going through eye shadow at a faster rate than normal, I started to attempt to analyze what was going on.

On a calm Saturday afternoon, we sat down and had one of those team-building chats that I’m betting all still-married people have had. We figured out that by Thursday nights, we were both so tired that it took almost nothing to set one or both of us off. And then would come the fight, with all of its irrationality, and he would shut down and I would cry and we’d both go off to our corners.

So, on that afternoon, we took a pledge, a new one, that if either of us ever thought that our discussion was headed for a fight rather than a calm discussion, that one could utter the magic words:

“It’s Thursday.” That was code for ‘stop talking.’ I didn’t keep count but I’m pretty sure he got to say the words more often than I did.

Or do.

By the summer of 1976, we were graduates, the MA in English and the JD in law.

And then, summer of 1977, we cut our hair and became grownups.

Three years later, God blessed us with our daughter Allyson. Another three years, another kind of blessing in the form of her brother Zach.

And that’s what you can call

Mike and Lynne, the early years.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Proud Mama (and Papa)

So we have this college boy here, inching close to that Bachelor's degree.

He just completed a semester and earned 4 A's and a B+.

I asked him if he had figured out that sometimes, the grade is not always a good measure of what you learn. He agreed, adding that in his B+ class, he had learned more than in almost any other college course.

For part of that grade, he created a video; it's posted on You Tube.


Go to You Tube
Type in Zach Bolinger Drifting

And enjoy.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mothers' Day

Mike and I are blessed to have our mothers in our lives.

It seems a bit trivial, doesn’t it? To thank them only once a year. And egotistical to assume that just because we call or drop in occasionally, that suffices to reward them for all they have done.

My mother-in-law, Mary Ann, is a gracious woman who has taught by example, how to be a good mother-in-law. She claims to have learned this from HER mother-in-law. If so, I hope I can display the same wisdom to my future (not yet on the scene) daughter-in-law.

This is one of Mike’s favorite photos. “It was my first airplane ride, “he said. His dad took the tyke out of his mother’s arms and up, up, up into the clouds.

My mom, Evelyn Hayes, has also taught me much. She raised 4 boisterous children, some more challenging that others….myself in that column. Mom likes to say, “When Lynne asked for permission to do something, she wasn’t asking IF she could do something; she was asking if she would be doing it with permission.”

Can you believe THAT?

Mom and her sister Lois graduated from Luther College with degrees in nursing and joined the U.S. Army to see the world. Although she never left Iowa, she DID meet the handsome Captain Hayes who knew a good thing when he saw it. Mom has many talents. I could fill a page. But she is most gifted when she is in nurse mode. Several times, she has served me or my husband in that capacity and displays an intuitive care for her patient.

In her life, she showed her children what long-term commitment meant. She and Dad celebrated 55 years of marriage before his passing.

Since 2000, she has shown us how to navigate widowhood and singleness successfully and in ways that please God. She is vibrant, busy, and loving life.

Two extraordinary women.

Thanks for everything.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The National Day of Prayer 2010

I'm not sure what we were doing last year on the first Thursday in May. It's fair to say that we were deep into exploring what God had for us. Mike was still weak from surgery. Then his wounds, which I got to clean out twice a day, became inflamed and that added just another jab to our hearts.

This year, May 6, 2010, is one of those perfect spring days that we get around here. A clear blue sky and a light breeze, temperature about 70 degrees. The city set up a bandshell on the east side of the courthouse square and from 12 - 1, citizens gathered to praise, pray, and participate in this important right.

And: Mike led us in prayer for the legal system and its courts and workers:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I stand before you today as a man who knows the awesome power of prayer, just as do all the people who stand here in the shadow of this courthouse. All across our nation, similar gatherings are taking place to help each of us remember that you are in control. We know that you hear all our prayers regardless of whether they are spoken in private or in public. This courthouse, like similar ones all over our country was built to provide a place where people could go to seek justice in their lives.

Courts of law, with judges, lawyers, and all the supporting people were not in Your original plan. You created Eden. Your desire for us was for there to be peace and happiness. Man chose otherwise. Someday each of us will experience your divine judgment. Until then, we have a need for human justice, imperfect as it may be

Most of the people that work in this building know you and try to make decisions that would honor and be pleasing to you. But sometimes it is difficult for us to discern what is right and what is wrong. For this reason we pray that you will give to each person who works here a part of your infinite knowledge and wisdom so that good decisions are made. We know that your ways are higher than our ways and that your justice is higher than ours.

We pray that we would be equipped to administrate our imperfect justice with your wisdom and sometimes, where appropriate, with your mercy and grace. Those that work in these offices are men and women many of whom have chosen to work in this area. Some have answered your call to work here: To devote their lives to the pursuit of justice. These people meet others on a daily basis who are struggling to deal with some of the terrible problems of life that we all encounter.

Rich and poor, healthy and sick, learned and uneducated, victims and those who victimize. All come here to seek justice. Help all of those people and all of those that stand united here today seek your guidance and wisdom daily. Help all those who work here seek your knowledge. Let all of us serve as you would have each of us serve. Let each of us know every day when we go to work here in this courthouse and those in all courthouses what it truly means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Let each of us know that by playing our individual parts in our flawed system of human justice, that each of us is truly trying to serve you and your Kingdom.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Malcomb Gladwell Changed My Life.

The hub has been a voracious reader most of his life. Much of his leisure choices run contrary to anything I might be interested in. We maintain separate sides on family bookshelves and wander different paths when we stop at our local book store.

He devours those spy-counter-spy-counter-counter-spy thrillers where, at least, I would need a flow chart to keep the plot straight. And when it comes to non-fiction, he loves the strategy of war and so is conversant with details and minutia of WWI to the present, the large and the small battles, victories, and various players. Captain, general, private, flying ace.

Give me a well-written, character-driven piece of fiction any day of the week.

Mike’s reading enjoyment ramps up when he can summarize it to the most convenient ears. Those would be mine. As a trial attorney, he has milked the pregnant pause in the courtroom for effect. As a literature critique however, his timing is a bit off. “And then, just as the message is set to be sent to wa wa wa waaaaaa wa wa” Sometimes, even as I try to attempt to follow, the eyelids fail.

A child of the King, he has also read through the Bible several times in the last few years. His thirst for understanding God grew when he believed he’d be summoned into that throne room soon.

When we returned from the hospital last April, a close friend commented that he figured Mike would go deeper into his spiritual nature and, as a side observer, I’d say that’s the truth. He began with Chuck Swindoll’s Jesus, in his Great People of the Bible series. Within a month, he had read through all 8 books and reread the relevant portions of scripture. And shared it with me. “Did you know that the word “God” does not appear in Esther?” Trust me (and Chuck). He also sent Swindoll a letter and received a personal reply.

We’ve both read Randy Alcorn’s Heaven and Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? And of course, we reread Basic Christianity by John Stott and Mere Christianity by Wheaton favorite C.S. Lewis.

How, then, did he happen upon What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcomb Gladwell? He picked it up during one of his frequent stops at our local library. I’m betting the title grabbed him as he holds to the belief that dogs are smart, insightful, intuitive, and loyal. Our dog, all of this I’m sure, is also quite spoiled as she gets to ride shotgun on errands about town.

When Mike’s dark cherry-hued Silverado pulls up to the Wendy’s Window, the staff knows: Ivy gets her own order of fries and a cheeseburger, something our vet, Dr. Bob, would frown upon and something the hub disputes with mock surprise. How could anyone even THINK that he would feed her such stuff? Evidence is heavy to the contrary of his assertions: why is it, I ask, that whenever we sit for dinner, Ivy dashes from wherever she may be to sit, alert and intense, to his side, chin turned up with expectation and eyes fixed upon utensils?

Also, I have work that window. "Cute dog, Mrs. B."

The veterinarian people, by the way, have lectured me on her weight; they chastised Zach when she nipped the vet’s fingers as he offered her a snack. “Typical of dogs who are fed from a fork,” he sniffed.

This year, as Mike has more free time than the rest of us, I let HIM take Ivy for her annual veterinary appointment, content that they would roll their eyes at the doggie scale and observe the fork behavior, and lecture HIM. He reported that this did not happen, that they said the dog was ‘slightly overweight and certainly looked healthy.’

At least the forked tongue is still in place.

At any rate, Mike and Ivy have become even faster friends and a book title that seemed to elevate canines to a new level would make good reading. I’m pretty sure that’s how the thought patterns fired.

Gladwell writes for The New Yorker Magazine and this book was a compilation of former articles. The Dog Saw in the title comes from a piece about The Dog Whisperer, who had a program on television. This man claims that he can manage any dog’s behavior through subtle, observable movement. We learned (remember, I get this second hand) about how dogs interpret human leaning as a signal for play or attack. It is good to know the difference. Mike tried it on Ivy and proclaimed The Dog Whisperer a genius.

The hub also got sucked in by the author’s engaging style. Gladwell, an Indiana University graduate, possesses a gift for inquiring -- did you ever wonder why? – and then seeking out the answer.

It was chapter 2 that signaled a change in my life.

“Have you ever heard of Ron Popeil?” the hub asked one afternoon, shaking his head and chuckling through Gladwell’s prose.

“Well, sure,” was my honest answer.

One of the joys of the journey is that even 40 years after we met, we continue to learn new things about each other.

Mike had read Gladwell’s chapter about Popeil, the son of the inventor of the Veg-a-matic, and the face of numerous infommercials, most which aired before QVC hit the tube. Some of his stuff is junk; some not so bad. I, myself, have owned the Popeil Pasta may remember the pitch, “It makes chocolate pasta.” Intriguing.

Mike was clearly amazed that I knew who Ron Popeil is; I was amazed that ANYONE did NOT know who he is.

Gladwell’s biographical chapter draws a rich portrait of a born salesman, a youngster so attractive that his father set him up at the downtown Chicago Woolworth where Ron demonstrated the chopping of vegetables to working ladies during their lunch hour. He chopped his way through tons of produce while grinning and selling. He sold and sold and sold, the Veg-a-matic and his charm. His display desk was his stage and his groupies, in sensible shoes, swarmed like he was a rock star.

His successes continued and continue into this century.

Evidence: on our kitchen counter sits our Platinum Edition Ron Popeil Rotisserie, still gleaming and still in use. We gather, or at least walk by, the whirling heated oven as chicken, or roast beef, or pork roast, or steaks rotate, cook, brown, and fill the house with irresistible aromas. (see blog: February 14, 2010)

So how did Malcomb change my life? In this year of changes, that’s quite a claim, but it is accurate.

As we faced the Biggest News, that diagnosis of Stage 4 gall bladder cancer, we drew each other close, arms around each other. For a while, the hub and I shut down our interest in the world outside our embrace. Nothing else mattered. We had a clear idea only that God was in control, that He had a plan for us, and that He would walk us through it. The banter of television, especially news and politics, went on mute. The daily newspapers seemed filled with irrelevance.

Slowly, we’ve emerged from that cocoon to rediscover what else is going on. Just yesterday, Mike went on a tirade about the upcoming election: we have decided to vote against any and all incumbents. Imagine what would happen if there were NO senior politicians and everybody had to travel the learning curve? We dream.

And Malcomb has nudged Mike into the fascinating study of events in the present, of the intricate, sometimes arbitrary appearance of people and events that turn the world on its side.

Mike’s audience is more in tune with his summaries; in fact I have plowed through a few Gladwell chapters myself. I’m conversant with the Rule of 10,000, the 80/20 Principle, and Mavens vs. Connectors. Tease?

So, thanks, Malcomb, from here in the Midwest, where we are very much alive and living.