Growing Wisdom Teeth – Take it From Me

One of the daily prompts this week was: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given someone that you failed to take yourself?

One of the most worthy pieces of advice that I try to dispense to myself to follow is this:

Never follow another’s advice if that individual hasn’t tried this suggestion out on/for him/herself first. Then assure that individual is trustworthy when you ask how things worked out. 

Do-overCase in point.  My youngest son is in the unfortunate position of having two older and seemingly more life-experienced brothers who enjoy doling out unsolicited advice to him about “women.” He’s found that some of this advice hasn’t served him so well, though. For instance, recently, when young friends of the female persuasion asked him and other male counterparts to go to a middle school dance, he and his friends quickly came to learn that, “I’ll get back to you – I’m keeping my options open” didn’t have the mundane explanatory effect they had anticipated from the advice that had been given.

Here’s what I do consider to be a worthy piece of advice that I wish I’d followed in younger years:

Total Package?Recently, my friend’s beautiful, thin teenage daughter was distraught because her boyfriend told her she probably needed to run some extra laps. As my friend and I were commiserating about why women allow themselves to be torn down in this way, I dispensed the following advice to the daughter (that I wish I’d taken for myself when I was her age and dealing with jerks who felt it necessary to tear down others’ self-esteem to make themselves feel better):  I told her to thank her ‘self-declared gift to women’ for his suggestion and then make one of her own that, while she was out running extra laps, he should think about going and swimming a few – and he should be sure to keep his mouth open while giving out his advice – preferably while his head was under the water. (I can now – later in life – defer to my opening statement on this one, as I learned to become fairly proficient at telling suck-the-life-out-of-you suitors to ‘go take a hike’ at an exponentially faster rate throughout the years.)

And here’s a piece of advice that I haven’t yet tried, but think it’s worth a shot. This is for women who find they have been designated as the official ‘Changer of the TP’ in the household:

TP ChangeLadies, the reason your men don’t change out the empty toilet paper rolls is because they perceive them as too soft and safe to be categorized as a manly project. Here’s your helpful hint to get the job done: Simply adjust your dispenser so the inner spring comes flying out at a ridiculously high velocity and indeterminate angle, whereas personal protective equipment would be required to minimize the chance of injuries. If your man perceives this challenge to be dangerous enough to take out an eye (or perhaps even a testicle), then he’ll deem the t.p. roll worthy of being changed.

Let me know how these work out for you…

For more pieces of advice (good, bad or otherwise), visit the Daily Prompt here.

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How God Can Equip from the Hip on a Fateful Trip

The same night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

Genesis 32:22-31

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Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is HelplessHelplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?

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Once upon a time…very early on a Friday morning (still known as night to most people) in late January, I set out on a hiking trip into the Great Smokey Mountains – up Mount LeConte, to be a little more exact.

Hanging out in the Smokies. That’s a happy me, waving hi! 🙂

I was with 3 others (my sister, a fellow youth leader, and his teenage daughter – who you see with me in the pic), each of them having the good sense to eat breakfast prior to the hike. (So my excitement had me preoccupied – that important little detail escaped me.) Although it was foggy, the weather report at the Ranger Station was good, so we headed out for an invigorating winter day-long hike.  Early on the trail (I’m guessing less than 200 feet from the trailhead), as I rushed to take the lead and forge my way up the hill, my foot slipped on a little piece of “black ice,” twisting my entire leg and pulling a hip flexor ligament.  I was unable to lift my foot to make a full step for the remainder of the hike – about 7 miles up to one of the highest points on the Appalachian Trail

 Worse yet, we hadn’t expected snow that day – and it wasn’t long before we were trekking up the mountain in 3”, 6”, 9”, 12” – up to 18” of snow by the time we neared the top.  The colder it got and the deeper the snow, the slower my shuffled gait became on the linear regression curve – according to the growing stiffness and pain in my hip.  At times, it felt as though I wasn’t even progressing.  I literally had to reach down and drag my foot by pulling my leg through the snow, though I, of course, kept saying, “No, I’m fine.”  Two of our party went on ahead of us, as I’m sure they needed to maintain their rhythm to make it up the mountain in these conditions until they could come up on places to rest and wait.  But my faithful co-youth leader and friend, Ralph (whose wife, Debbie, was smarter than us, because she opted not to go on the hike) remained faithfully and steadfastly at my side.

 Ralph was a true friend. As an avid mountain hiker, he could have easily outpaced me on a good day if I’d had a healthy hip – and his human nature may have wanted to do that. But he never once complained about the slow pace he chose to maintain with me. His big-brother mode not only encouraged me the entire way (even stopping me for a forced breakfast break with the squirrels – who must’ve come out, thinking I was a nut); but he practiced incredible patient steadfastness and threw in some great conversation to keep my mind distracted from my injury. Somewhere along the way, we started with some small talk, but then progressed to talk about those more important matters in our lives. I had been a young widow for a whopping 6 months at that time, still trying to emotionally recover from the unexpected trauma. Ralph, in contrast, had been married to Debbie for over 20 years. He openly reminisced about how they’d met, their dating years, about falling in love. Being raised by my dad, I understood what a rare occurrence it was to get to hear inside a man’s heart, and I felt privileged for the experience.

Mt LeConte Shelter
Mt LeConte Shelter on a less foggy day

 By the time we reached our intended destination – the summit, where the normally breathtaking view provided nothing more to see through our iced eyelashes that day than an ample amount of fog – we were lucky to grab a few moments in a shelter in which we all huddled to gain some caloric strength from our sandwiches. I think we finished them in about two bites, as we were being beaten and tortured, even in the shelter, by vicious winds and icy rain. It was there when we realized we were going to have to rethink our strategy to get off that mountain. (The ranger’s station dispatch thought to use the same shortcut strategy too, as a crampon-clamped, ice-encrusted party of boots attached to a well-lit search team was on its way up to assure we – and any other non-existent people who might have been “daring” – I like that word better than “foolish” – enough to go up there weren’t planning to try to brave an oncoming storm in the shelter. Seriously? Were they feeling this icy wind? Oh, yeah, it wasn’t their sanity that was being questioned.)

I can only say that, for the longest time after that hike,

I possessed a wonderfully worshipful attitude!

A view (we didn't have) of foggy darkness closing in
A view (we didn’t have) of foggy darkness closing in

In processing my experience, there was no brag in making it up Mount Le Conte, despite the odds of injury and ice.  Instead, all I could recall was my “God moment” – how my friend had waited for me and encouraged me along the way, how our hiking party planned an entire re-route  (which was a risk for all) with me in mind, and how another dear friend had been on standby and had joyfully come to our rescue at the end of another trail (based on the information we were able to give her once we received cell reception for just the small but right amount of time needed to convey it).  I had learned to walk on a hike in an entirely new sort of way a way that had to do with my survival on the one hand, and faithful friendship on the other. 

Despite any loneliness I had felt over the last several months in my life,my God-moment showed me I wasn’t alone.

I suddenly could see that this was the very relationship that God wanted to have with me – one where I utterly and completely had to rely on Him for my sustenance – His companionship, His guidance, His patience – His walk with me.

 God knew that I was at my river crossing in life – between being a widow from a heartbreaking marriage (scared – though not admitting it – of what the future held) and re-routing towards a new beginning.  On that fateful day, my hip injury slowed me down enough so that I could experience relationship in a way that I would have otherwise missed.  And that’s how, in my own hip injury experience, I think I can relate a little more to Jacob’s story at the River Jabbok – how his limp signified the irony of the blessing, in the place where he was brought closer to his reliance on God.

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Have you ever felt like you were battling God with your hurts and pains, when maybe you were being blessed with an opportunity to rely more closely on our Lord’s faithfulness?

 

Lessons at the Dinner Table: Experimenting with Liquid Density vs. Viscosity

Come Visit our Dinner Table turned Homemade Science Lab to learn more about LIQUIDS!

Here’s a fun at-home science experiment for kids (okay, and adults) to consider the densities and viscosities of various liquids. I’ll give you the simplified kitchen version.

Liquid Density Science Experiment

Materials Needed:

  4 “shot” (small, clear) glasses:

 (1) ¾ full of room temperature water, colored with blue water-based food coloring

 (1) ¾ full of light corn syrup, colored with red “gel” food coloring (which also has corn syrup as base)

 (1) ¾ full of glycerin (from first aid section of drug store, which will have a clear color)

 (1) ¾ full of pure vegetable oil (which will have its own natural yellow color)
PLUS (1) taller clear juice glass, in which you’ll eventually pour all these liquids together.               

 

Procedure:

 Pour each liquid, slowly*, into the juice glass, one at a time, in this suggested order:

  1. Water
  2. Corn Syrup
  3. Glycerine
  4. Oil

 Wait a moment for the liquids to settle and layer out.  The more dense liquids will go to the bottom of the glass, and the less dense liquids will layer at the top of the glass.

(*I’ve done this in a mason jar & shaken it up too. Just realize that, if you choose this option, you’re going to be waiting awhile for things to settle out.)

 You can repeat the experiment, pouring the liquids into the glass in a different order.  Regardless, if you do the experiment properly, your layers should always come out the same.

(Note:  Some of the food coloring may slightly leak from one fluid to another because of the gel or water base in them, rather than the liquids themselves coming together.)

Results:

 

Can you tell which of your liquids is the most dense? 

 The least dense? 

 Is that what you expected, based on how thick (viscous) they were when you poured them?

 

 

To check your answers (and get a more comprehensive explanation + some other options to the experiment), review the slides below from my son’s 5th  grade science experiment that he conducted and the answers he discovered:

Comparing Liquid Viscosity to Density
Using the Scientific Method

(the beginning slide shares the same name as this title)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Thought it would also be fun to do a ping-back to the Where’s My Backpack Travel Theme this Week on Liquids, for all those submitting to contemplate on the viscosities of all their lovely fluid depictions.

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How to: Submit Lessons at the Dinner Table to Share with Others

Liquid: A Fount Full of Blessing

Wherever I travel, wherever I go
My God blesses abundantly, this I know.

Corresponds to the week’s Travel Theme on Liquid from Where’s my Backpack?

Man Pouring out Baptismal Blessings

Baptism is a sacrament. In a sacrament, God uses common elements — in this case, water — as means or vehicles of divine grace.

Nowhere do I personally feel God’s presence and grace more than when I’m meditating on His creation alongside one of our many Appalachian springs.

Nature Pouring out Baptismal Blessings

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful!

I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.  -I Corinthians 1:4

Family members returned, just before Thanksgiving, from Ligitolo, South Sudan with which our Church District is in Covenant. I was privileged to help go around to various churches in our area, as well as speak to people from our community, helping to explain how they could visually demonstrate their prayers for the people within this ‘newest country community’ to see, by tying colorful prayer cloths to a netting as they sent up their prayers for them.

Here is a picture of the missionaries presenting these visual prayers as a way to express one kind of support they receive daily from the commitments made by those who lovingly tied on each of their cloths.

Now, look at the response given by the people in this small village of South Sudan. They, too, wanted to send up prayers for the people of our District – not only prayers of thankfulness, but to let their brothers and sisters in the states know they were also praying for them.

Here, you can see them gathering to place their own prayer cloths onto the net.

Isn’t that just like God? Often times, when we think we are blessing someone else, we are, in fact, casting a net that will spread many blessings. Blessings that have a way of coming back to us. Why? Because you can’t out-give God. The Bible tells of a story when fishermen had worked hard all day by themselves, but had caught very little when doing so. Then Jesus showed up in their midst. When Jesus told the fishermen to cast in their nets, they doubted – nevertheless, they obeyed. The nets came up so full that they were overflowing and bursting at the seams.

Funny how much fuller our lives tend to be when we listen and obey the Word of God.

Here are  a couple of other photos from this past trip that remind me to be continually thankful.

The Hope Kindergarten School is thankful because their area has HOPE once more.

This is Wani Silent. As a worship leader, he is anything but that! Our family assists in sponsoring this young man, who believes he wants to become a preacher – to lead the people in their thankfulness and praise.

Praise the Lord! Praise him with trumpet sound, praise him with lute and harp! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!  -Psalm 150:3

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How do you best express your own thankfulness?

To hear how others are thankful, or to share your own version of thankfulness, visit the Weekly Photo Challenge page.

Success! A Life Well Lived

I’ve taken note that, when someone dies, the first question often asked by others is

How did this [tragic thing] happen?

There was a point in my life (until not too long ago, as a matter of fact) when I thought this was a very rude form of public inquisition. I can recall being prodded by new friends, as a young girl, to go ask my mother if I could spend the night. At first, there was a slight twinge of pain that would travel through my heart before I could bring myself to answer them – to say I couldn’t ask my mom because she was dead. (I soon learned I could confuse them with the big word I heard my dad say to adults – DECEASED – and confuse me, because it seemed more sterile, as though it couldn’t contaminate my heart in quite the same way.) Over the years, that twinge of pain that came on in those “let’s take this friendship to a new overnight level” moments simply became a twinge of dread that made me shy away from too many new friends. I decided the regulars would suffice, since they already knew my secret. Friends who had suffered some kind of loss were even better. In that, we could share a bond.

I became very proficient at being publicly social without ever allowing anyone into my inner sanctuary of space. I was tired of the looks that ranged from horror in my new friends’ eyes as if I was an alien when I spoke the words, “My mom is dead,” to the looks of pity and sorrow their mothers would give me when my dad would deliver me to their full-familied houses that always felt warmer and cozier than my own. I began to sense that, in some instances, I was looked upon like a disease, as if having me around could create some bad omen for their family. Many times, my new friend and I would have the best time together, but I’d never be invited back. Other times, I was no longer invited back because of an innocent social faux pas (such as the time I lost my ride to cheer practice because I questioned my 12-year-old friend about playing with dolls – a sincere question of intrigue that my dad-raised mind couldn’t fathom, which was taken by her mother as being irritatingly menacing on my part and a reasonable excuse to excuse me from further rides). My friends’ parents always had a plentiful variety of excuses of why they couldn’t spend the night at our house either. Apparently, one dad wasn’t considered to be a sufficient chaperone of two girls.

So I learned not to mention my mom; sometimes just saying “I asked my dad; he said it was okay.” I then learned that being part of a single parent family wasn’t even the issue – some of my friends came from those (living with their single moms who then were eager to meet my single dad, of course, prodding me for information such as what he did for a living, his age, perhaps I could arrange a date…). A few moms much younger than my dad assured me how attracted they were to older men, and I grew up learning from these arm-candy, narcissistic gold-diggers why that was. I also quickly learned I’d had enough of that sort of education and simply avoided making friends who had those kind of moms at all costs.

Later in life, whether losing a child during birth, losing another parent and a husband to tragedies, losing many other loved ones to illnesses, I learned that key question always remains. Even in the midst of mourning, people can’t help but ask, “How did this person die?” I see this question, time and time again, pop up on social networking alumni sites, even directly on a deceased person’s Facebook page. I hear it whispered around in every funeral home, as though it’s some warped game of Telephone. Each time, that familiar twinge of pain that’s so well-rehearsed in my heart drives through, even when I didn’t know the person well. I think of the family members or close friends that will read, hear, or feel compelled to answer this question and will wonder the same thing: How did this [tragic thing] happen?

Yes, there was a point in my life when I (much like my cheer friend’s mother) mistakenly thought this question had a rude or malicious intent – until I came to understand the answer actually being sought:

Could this [tragic thing] happen to me?

.

In this realization, I’ve also come to a reasonable conclusion that it would likely be a prideful, pompous gesture – the greatest tragedy of all in humankind – to believe that any one of us is above such possibility.

As a matter of fact, I’ve considered how life might feel if I couldn’t grasp the right perspective about death. Death is an absolute part of life. And it’s only at one’s death when others truly have the capability to grasp that person’s measure of success in whether it was a life well-lived. Like it or not, that’s generally the point at which a legacy is determined.

 The man of safety may never live for his fear to
die.

The man of danger may never live to hear his grandchild
cry.

The man of balance journeys on throughout each lifelong
day,

carrying neither such concern as he travels on his
way.

©2012 jody love

Because of this, one day, when I am laid to rest, I truly hope people don’t waste their time talking about how I died. Rather, I’d like to think the better question will surround how I lived.

And I can only hope, above all else, the answer will be…

FULLY.

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What is a life well-lived to you?

To view others’ personal responses to “What is a life well-lived to you?” you can follow the Daily Prompt on Success here.