Ambition

Some mornings if I’m crunched for time, I’ll use an online devotional called “Our Daily Bread.” I have the phone app and everything! So, back in June I read an entry about King David and how he wanted to build the permanent temple for God.

Actually, the temple thing wasn’t the point of the devotional, but it’s the part that applied to me.

What happened is that God told David some “good news” and some “bad news.” It was great that David aspired to build the temple. But… he wasn’t going to. Instead, God assigned the job to David’s son Solomon.

I suspect if it’d been me, I would have been super disappointed and not a little pouty. I’d be in danger of having the kind of selfish ambition James refers to in the third chapter of his letter. But David submitted to God’s will and threw himself into supporting Solomon.

I also do well any time I aspire to serve God. Yet he will assign roles according to his plan, not necessarily according to my desires. If my motives for wanting to serve are pure, I’ll submit.

As near as I can figure, “Ambition” is fine as long as it refers to seeking excellence and having a good work ethic and all. Ambition gets to be a problem when you want a particular role for your own sake. Then if someone else gets that role, you become jealous and bitter.

May I always be ready to step back and assist my brother and sisters, even when they get an assignment that I may have wanted.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Shop Local, Sleep Local

As I mentioned back in May, I like to eat at local indie restaurants when I travel. In that spirit, on one of my many recent trips I booked a room at a modest small-town motel that looks every one of its 60-plus years. Normally I would stay at the nice, new chain place near the freeway, where we have a rewards account and I could chalk up a few more points toward that next romantic getaway. But this particular motel and I–well, we have a history. I’d spent a night here years ago on a cross-country family trip and fondly remembered my large, quiet room. It would be fun to visit here again.

The retro kitsch began the moment I set foot in the lobby. No one was there, but I could hear someone talking behind the door marked “Office.” It sounded like a woman scolding someone. Perhaps her kids were calling and pestering her for the fifth time that day. Soon a weathered, gray-haired desk clerk emerged. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” she rasped in a chain-smoker voice. “I was on the phone about a reservation.”

My survival antennae went up. Do not mess with this woman.

“Of course, that’s fine,” I said, and proceeded to complete the check-in sheet she handed me. Yep, wrote my contact info and car description with a pencil.

As I handed it back to her, she fixed me with a glare. “Do you drink coffee?”

“Yes, I usually have a cup or two in the morning.” I winced at the apologetic tone in my own voice.

“Well, I make coffee in the office at eight every morning, and I don’t want to have to throw it out.”

I almost saluted. “Yes, ma’am, I’ll come by and get a cup.” Do not forget coffee.

She handed me an old-fashioned metal room key clipped to a plastic key ring the size of my phone. Then I moved my car in front of my room, and my suitcase inside. Here’s my room.→

Spacious, isn’t it? And of course you’re welcome to use the microwave and refrigerator… you just have to crawl behind that “I-Love-Lucy” desk to plug them in.

I’d unpacked my necessities and was getting comfy when my gaze strayed to the ceiling. My room had three ceiling light fixtures, plus one wall fixture above each queen-size bed. The wall fixtures were a pair, but. . . the ceiling. . .


None of the three lights even resembled each other. Just don’t look up any more.

The bathrooms in this place are legendary. They are huge, with the shower and toilet in one section, a separate tub beyond that, and finally, a long counter with two sinks. In true retro fashion, the tub and toilet are colored in hues to match the wall tiles. (Mine were a sort of weird Band-Aid pinkish-beige. Last time I stayed here, I had a Chevy Bel-Air blue bathroom.)

The floors feature ceramic tiles installed by someone with a pretty good eye. I know that because they ended up fairly straight, mostly… considering he didn’t use those spacers that keep the tiles lined up. The tiles had a quarter-round design in each corner, creating circles where each four came together. The overall effect didn’t actually give you vertigo unless you looked at it on the diagonal.

I’d show you my picture of the floor, but I took it from a diagonal angle. Every time I opened the file to resize it for the web, I’d get vertigo and fall off my chair.

After a good night’s sleep I got up and ready for action. I was going to put my suitcase in the car, but figured I’d better go get some coffee first. As I poured, the phone rang back in the office. A familiar, raspy voice answered with the motel name and added, “This is Nadine…” which I thought was the perfect name for her.

The coffee was awfully strong, but I didn’t say a word. Do not complain about the coffee.

By the way, I’m not telling you the name of the motel or where it’s located. I’m afraid word might get back to Nadine. If she thinks I’m making fun, I’ll be in trouble next time I stop there.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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How to Score “King of the Mountain” Status Without Riding a Bicycle

Tejay van Garderen won his KOM jersey in the
Tour de France. Mine was much easier…
Photo credit: Velonews.com


Chronically knotted muscles are no fun. I would know, because for the last 18 years or so, my left shoulder has been bunched up so it looks like the Incredible Hulk’s, compared to my right shoulder, which more closely resembles Olive Oyl’s. Also I can barely turn my head to the left, a real downer when you’re driving.

I tried chiropractors, deep tissue massage, asking one of my guys to apply stiff pressure to the epicenter.

Nothing. Still bunched up.

But this summer I started going to a local chiropractor who doesn’t mess around. He used various relaxing treatments, pummeled me, and gave me a stretchy band and instructions for exercising with it at home. After the first couple of visits, I started noticing some actual improvement. Yaaaay!

Around the same time, I noticed something else. Whenever I bicycled any distance on my road bike, “Mrs. Tweedy,” my shoulder and neck tightened up again.

Uh-oh.

Sure enough, the doc agreed that cycling puts me in the exact position he is trying to get me out of, pretty much undoing his treatment.

So, I’ve decided to take the rest of the season off the bike completely. This isn’t as grievous as you might think. After all, between the heat and the wind and the bunchy shoulder, riding hasn’t been much fun. So I’m going to work on rehab and do other forms of exercise.

But guess what I got at my last appointment… The doc used those crazy suction cups to draw blood circulation to the skin, which left my back covered with large red polka dots.

Hmmmm. Large red polka dots… sort of like a King of the Mountain jersey.

Thanks for reading!
Tailwinds,
Jan

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Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection

If you’d asked me what it would be like to read a collection of seven short novels, each featuring a “Tiny House,” I would probably have said something like,

 Claustrophobia-Fest.

But my curiosity was up, and I was familiar with two of the contributing authors, Ane Mulligan and Michael Ehret. So I snagged the book for my Kindle.

I’ll let Amazon’s blurb set the scene…

…Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. Travel with them around the country in this big novella collection.

One theme: Tiny Houses. But seven very different and fun stories. I found humor, suspense, romance, adventure, personal growth… and a surprising amount of head room.

This book gets my recommendation as a Great Weekend Read!

Also, if you access Amazon via “smile.amazon.com” and register, your purchases can support a charity of your choice — such as my personal favorite, BestwĀ (Building Everyone’s Success Together in West Africa). You can visit BestwĀ’s website here or read my take on the organization here.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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An Herbal Miracle

Usually when I try to grow herbs, they come to a bad end.

a) Too much sun, so they scorch on the first hot, sunny day. Or,
b) The pots tip over, blocking the plant from the sprinklers, and they dehydrate. Or,
c) They rot from over-watering. Or,
d) They go to seed before I can harvest so much as a leaf.

Like the Texas Rangers baseball team, though, I “Never Ever Give Up.” Actually, the Rangers’ current 39-38 record is better than my herb garden record, but who’s counting?

And persistence pays off. I’m here to report that I’ve had a potted basil plant for, like, FOUR WEEKS. And it’s still alive! Yesterday, I used some of the leaves on a couple of tortilla pizzas for lunch. Yummmmm……

Those leaves were still growing five minutes before this photo was taken.

And now, to pick a few cherry tomatoes before they split from the heat. This is almost like having a green thumb!

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Wanna Get Away? –Yes, Please!

Don’t ask me why, but one of my most embarrassing moments recently popped into my head, more than 25 years after the fact. . .

It all started ages ago when Eric, our firstborn, was a toddler. We enjoyed sharing treats with him, like half of our cookie or bites of our ice cream. We had to be careful, though. Sit him in your lap and give him one spoonful of your ice cream, and you had to be pretty wily to get any more of it for yourself. He would maneuver his face to anticipate your movements and intercept every possible bite.

We developed this weird, awkward straight-arm method of eating ice cream, lifting the spoon waaaaay higher than his head before arching it back toward our own mouths.

One Sunday evening, we attended a party for choir kids and their families at our church. I was there because I helped in Kindergarten choir. Standing around with Eric on one hip and a cookie in my other hand, I chatted with a choir mom.

Eric pointed to my cookie. “Bite?”

What can I say, my guard was down. “Sure, honey, you can have a bite.”

I held the cookie in front of his cute little mouth… which kept widening and widening until it looked like an open garage door.

The omnivorous maw engulfed my cookie. I was left holding a piece the size of a dime.

Eric chewed happily. No kidding, he had taken a mega bite before there were megabytes.

I gave in to the snark side.

Just a bite, huh? This kid’s gonna be an IRS agent when he grows up,” I observed aloud.

The other mom blinked at me, absolutely bewildered. “My husband is an IRS agent, and he never does that…”

When my heart started beating again, I changed the subject, then went to look for a toothpick. See, I needed to remove a foot from my mouth…

Your turn: Surely I’m not the only one with an embarrassing moment… what’s yours? You can share in the “Leave a Reply” box below.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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.38 Special: The Fellowship Gathers

Last week, I told you about my failed attempts to get rid of my dad’s old handgun before someone got hurt. Between the post itself and Facebook, my sad tale garnered a variety of responses. Congratulations, commenters! You are now members of The Fellowship of the .38 Special.

Of course, the characters in Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring offered to join Frodo via heroic remarks like, “You have my sword!” “And you have my bow!” “And my axe!”
My Fellowship, on the other hand– well, below you’ll find their comments, followed by my Tolkienian translation…

 
S: You could probably just bury the thing. Only make sure you do it at midnight. And keep your flashlight hidden.
“You have my sarcasm!”

C: LOL — What you have there is an oxymoron: a German-made piece of junk.
“And you have my bluntness!”

J: That was hilarious.
“And my laughter! With you, not at you.”

D: You could always throw it at a burglar.
“You have my sass!”

E: Yeah, that gun is worth the scrap value of the metal parts.
“And you have my disrespect!”

J: Oh my goodness, that is too funny. Your dad would really be laughing… It made for a great story, though…
“And my utter lack of sympathy!”

Okay, it’s really only brass and lead. Not silver.

Fine. I see how it is.

But one commenter stood head and shoulders above the rest. Yes, the Gandalf Silver Bullet of Helpfulness Award goes to my friend Drew. His winning remark?

I’d take it off your hands!

>Cue pastoral music and beam of sunlight; Mordor begins to crumble. . .<

I’m happy to report that I handed off the revolver and accessories yesterday. My home is now a Gun-Free Zone!

That is… at least it’s a Revolver-Free Zone.

And the SWAT team didn’t even have to come.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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