Archive for March, 2010

Over the past few months, I’ve had to do something I haven’t done in over 10 years; look for a job.  It’s amazing how things seem to change so drastically when you haven’t participated in them for a number of years.  I found this to be true in the “job hunt” experience.  Prior to this, I remember going out to businesses and filling out applications or dropping off resumes.  Mailing your resume was acceptable, but actually dropping it off sometimes got you an immediate meeting with your possible future employer.  Nowadays, things are much different.  Employers don’t seem to want you to come in so much.  I found that most want you to email your resume in, which in my prior years of jobhunting would have been taboo as it didn’t show much initiative.  It also seems to be the norm now that if you are a possible candidate, you get treated to a “phone interview” to see if you are worthy of further consideration.  When did all these things that once seemed impersonal and lacking in motivation on the part of the applicant become acceptable and encouraged? 

Face to face communication is something, it seems, that we just don’t have much time for anymore. 

 Cell phones are another great example.  Do you remember when it was rude to talk on your cell phone in public?  I was in a gas station the other day and saw someone talking on a cell phone go up and pay for their gas without any interaction with the cashier.  I’ve even seen people in restaurants give their order to the wait staff while conversing with someone on the phone.  We are too busy communicating to communicate. 

 The latest form of communication is texting.  Like most others over 40, I don’t get this one at all.  Why we don’t have more pedestrians hit by cars or walking off cliffs while texting is beyond me.   Everywhere you go, people have their nose in their phones reading and responding to text messages. 

 It’s bad enough when we fail to acknowledge those around us because we are on the phone, but now we don’t even want to talk to the ones we are communicating with! 

 I once asked someone why they would text someone instead of calling them and I got this response, “We don’t always have a lot to talk about so we can spend more time together writing short messages back and forth”.  To this, I must reply, “Huh?” 

Email is much the same.  I’ve had people email me a questions at work that require more time to type a response than it would to just call me, especially considering that my response will most likely solicit another question needing another response, and so the day goes.

 I’m not implying that we should abandon all these forms of communication.  As much as I seem to be complaining about them, I myself do benefit from them as well.  I would just like us to take time to slow down for some face to face time.  We are creatures in need of relationships.  We were created for it.

 In Matthew chapter 8 of the Bible, a centurion approaches Jesus stating that his servant is sick and in need of the healing that Jesus can provide.  Jesus agrees to go with him to his house but the centurion makes this statement:

“Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

In an effort affirm this man’s faith and also use it as a teaching moment for those following him, Jesus demonstrates his ability to perform miracles over long distances and heals the centurion’s servant.  This is a rare occurrence in the life of Jesus.  Jesus preferred to be face to face with those who needed him.  He put mud on the eyes of a blind man (John 9), He went to Jairus’ house to heal his daughter (Luke 8:49), Jesus put his fingers in the ears and touched the tongue of a deaf mute in order to heal him (Mark 7:31), He even waited days to raise Lazarus from the grave so He could be there in person (John 11).   Jesus put his hands on a crippled woman to heal her in Luke 13:10.  I could go on and on but I will end my point with my favorite account in Luke chapter 5:12.  As Jesus is walking with a crowd, a man with leprosy calls to him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”   While others stepped away from the “unclean” man, Jesus reached out touched the leper and said, “I am willing”.  And with the words, “Be Clean”, the man was healed.

 I know that Jesus’ life was busier and filled with more stress than mine.  Yet, Jesus found it important, even necessary, to spend physical time with people to build a relationship.  Let’s take one more lesson from the Great Teacher and do the same.  When it seems easier and more convenient to just make a call, take a little extra time and stop by in person.  Instead of making that long distance email, make the phone call so you can really ask, “How are you”?  Don’t let a text try to express your emotions, let a hug do it instead.  Let’s try to reach out to those around us and really let them know we care.

But if we are the Body
Why aren’t His arms reaching
Why aren’t His hands healing
Why aren’t His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren’t His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

From “If We Are The Body” by Casting Crowns

 by Pat Crowe


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Tree Talk

Do little girls still need private places for dreaming?  Do they need to ponder about growing up or do they just do it? 

 My private spot as a child was the pine tree in my neighbor’s back yard–which meant I had to sneak over when no one was watching.  If the neighbor lady caught me walking through her yard, she’d insist I come in for lemon-aide.  Once there I had to view her latest pair of knitted slippers.  She had dozens of these slippers.  In fact I had several pairs myself–all colors–given to me by her for every birthday and Christmas that I can remember.

I’d also have to endure Skippy, a small, black dog that loved to bark and lick my legs.  I thought Skippy could use some manners, but my neighbor lady just thought Skippy was cute.

 Don’t get me wrong.  My neighbor was a nice lady.  In fact, she was as close to a grandma as I was going to get.  Years later when I married, she attended my wedding and gave me a seasoned iron skillet–twenty-nine years later, I still use that skillet.  But back then, when a girl had some serious thinking to do about life and war, and Bobby Sullivan, the sixth grader down the street,  orange knitted slippers with red poofy balls on the toes seems an unnecessary distraction. 

  My pine tree was taller than any house around and I was the perfect height to jump up to the first limb and swing my gangling legs over and climb aboard.  At the tippy top of this tree, I could look down on the world unencumbered and incognito.  It seemed like it was the only place I could be alone with me.

I always had pine sap between my knees, but it was a small price to pay for solitude.  This special tree was my secret place to think my young, confused thoughts through.  As a fifth grader everything seemed wild and out of control around me. The Cuban Crisis loomed and my Florida backyard had somehow become the target. Growing up in the 50s and 60s with bomb shelters, riots and beatniks convinced me that the adults in charge were losing their grip. 

One day, while swaying to and fro in my tree, I decided I was going to be different.  I vowed that as a mom, I would only cook spaghetti and hamburgers and never drink milk.  Shoes would always be optional and a ponytail always appropriate for any occasion.  Pedal pushers could be worn to church, and playing in ditches would not be off limits to any of my daughters.  I would live in peace with all nations, and all twelve of my children would have their own dog.

And then there was my body.  It was beginning to betray me.  I was getting lumps and bumps where I didn’t want them.  Boys no longer wanted to pick me first for their kickball teams. They wanted instead to write me notes about going steady.  How yucky was that?

Other days I would just climb up to the top of my pine tree and just listen.  The sights and sounds floating around me gave me confidence that despite the possibility the world could end at any moment, everything would be all right.  A basketball bouncing off the pavement and clean sheets popping in the breeze were reassuring. A dog barking in the distance, a mother calling her children home for supper, made my heart settle and my breathing become normal again.

The swinging motion of my tree, rocked me gently like a cradle calming my fears and making my spirit hopeful again.  Whatever my thoughts, I came down from my pine tree a little better equipped to face the next adolescent happening or the next bomb drill–whichever came first. 

The next time you see a little girl who looks like she needs some extra space, point her in the direction of a friendly looking tree and give her a boost up.  Encourage her to climb toward the sun and to wave at eagles. 

Oh, and by the way, if you’re ever driving around town and spot chubby varicose-veined legs dangling from an overloaded tree branch, don’t be alarmed.  It’ll just be me pondering about life and other stuff and trying to decide on spaghetti or hamburgers for supper.

 by Deb Cleveland

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