Tuesday, November 29, 2005

relational, analytical beings

I mentioned I've been reading "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller. Here are some of my favorite passages so far. (His words are in italics and mine are not.)

The very scary thing about religion to me is that people actually believe God is who they think He is. ... God is always changing the way I think of Him. I am not saying God Himself is changing, or that my theology is open and I blue the lines on truth; I am only saying I think I know who He is, then I figure our I don't know very much at all. For instance, and as I have said, a lot of people believe God responds to formulas, but He doesn't. So that is one example of how our idea of God is always becoming more accurate and that's one of the things you notice about Jesus in the Gospels, that He is always going around saying you have heard it said such and such, but I tell you some other thing. If you happened to be a person who thought they knew everything about God, Jesus would have been completely annoying.

Miller tends to babble some in this book. But it seems so real to me. Maybe because his mind seems to be going as much as mine does. And I'm learning that tasks, lists and schedules aren't everything. My time is pretty a much a mute point in life.

... it only makes sense that if God was communicating a relational message to humanity He would use the multilayered methodology of truth and art because nobody engages another human being through lists and formulas. Our interaction with one another is so much more about that hidden language.

Adam and Eve is such a brief story in the Bible in context of all those pages. But Miller has some good things to say about it. He's obviously spent time thinking about the story, and I'm glad he's prompted me to do the same.

Considering this couple, and what Adam went through to appreciate Eve to the utmost, I wondered at how beautiful it is the you and I were created to need each other. The romantic need is just the beginning, because we need our families and we need our friends. In this way, we are made in God's image. Certainly God does not need people in the way you and I do, but He feels a joy at being loved, and He feels a joy at delivering love. It is a striking though to realize that, in paradise, a human is in complete without a host of other people. We are relational indeed.

I've been struggling with identity and purpose and priorities in my life. I was letting too many things define me when I wasn't sure if those were the right things. Apparently Miller has been there too.

If man was wired so that something outside himself told him who he was, and if God's presence was giving him a feeling of fulfillment, then when that relationship was broken, man would be pining for other people to tell him that he was good, right, okay with the world, and eternally secure. As I wrote earlier, we all compare ourselves to others, and none of our emotions -- like jealousy and envy and lust -- could exist unless man was wired so that somebody else told him who he was, and that somebody else was gone.

With being relational and needing people, so that means people affect people -- both good and bad. It's the basic principle that nobody is perfect, and if all these nobodies are relying on each other, then some mistakes are bound to be made.

Adam and Eve were deceived; they were misled. Something in them wanted something they couldn't have, but they were tricked into thinking those thoughts. It's a both/and situation. We are wired so that other people help create us, help make us who we are, and when deception is fed to us, we make bad decisions.

I've made some personal goals with myself, mainly to just adjust my attitude. I have been living in a constant frustrated, stressed state, and I just need to relax and enjoy what is around me. Sure, sometimes I'm not going to like people, but I'm making an effort to complain less. We'll see how that goes.

I have a friend who gets so terribly upset when somebody pulls in front of him when he is driving that he will nearly turn red, and beat his steering wheel, yelling at the guy who pulled in front of him. That is pretty crazy because somebody cutting in front of you on the road is only going to cost you a second but it feels like something more; it feels like there is a penalty for not being respected by other people, it feels like you are going to die unless you get some kind of respect and appreciation.

Miller has a "Lifeboat Theory" that talks about how throughout life people try to justify why they shouldn't be thrown overboard. He remembers a question from grade school that prompts people to at least mentally classify another person's value: If there were a lifeboat adrift at sea, and in the lifeboat were a male lawyer, a female doctor, a crippled child, a stay-at-home mom, and a garbageman, and one person had to be thrown overboard to save the others, which person would we chose? He's right. People judge and classify and forget in the idea that all people are created equal. Then you have to wonder, are all people really created equal once you consider how we are relational beings who build a frame of reference with the influences -- good and bad -- around us.

What if when we are with God, we feel that we have glory, we feel His love for us and know in a way infinitely more satisfying than a parent's love or a lover's love, that we matter? I think that would be very beautiful and if I could press a button to go back to the way it was in the Garden of Eden, I would, because so many times I don't feel like I have any glory at all. I feel like I am in a lifeboat trying to get other people to say I am important and valued, and even when they do, it feels as through their opinion isn't strong enough to give me the feeling I need, the feeling that quit at the Fall. ... In the context of the lifeboat (motivated by self-preservation), the characteristics of "other people" become inferior simply because they are not our characteristics. Logic is thrown out the window, or worse, used as a tool to validate our prejudices. Philosophies, ideals, and even religious convictions become weapons for slaughter. In my own life, I notice I validate people who like or validate me. When I say so-and-so is a nice person, what I really mean is so-and-so thinks I am a nice person. And if I sense a person doesn't like me, or thinks he is better than me, my mind will find all sorts of criticism, noticing his temper or his dense intellect. After all, how many people do we dislike who don't dislike us as well?

And the best part, is I'm only about half way through this book.

Monday, November 28, 2005

I'm thankful ...

* My family and my in-laws are completely different. While it's frustrating at times that one is like the day and the other is like the night, really in the long run it's better because too much of either one would drive me insane. Balance is a good thing.

* Babysitting Milla was definitely among the best parts of my Thanksgiving weekend. Greg and I took our precious niece to see Shelley and Dustin and their boys at Shelley's mom's house. Bekah was over there too. It was fun to see old friends and enjoy the liveliness of that beautiful 23-month-old girl. Plus, it gave me a brief (and I understand the emphasis needed on BRIEF) sense of what it will be like to be with my friends and our kids one day.

* The Chili's waitress thought Katie and I were sisters. Actually, I'm just really thankful for my friendship with Katie. Dinner with Katie and Brad was too brief last night, but, as always, it was good to see them. I long for the day when we can be neighbors again. Meanwhile, we'll enjoy living in the same state because that is MUCH closer than Boston.

* I can put up Christmas decorations this week, start playing to Christmas music and continue Christmas shopping. I like to enjoy Thanksgiving then turn to Christmas.

* I read aloud a few chapters of my new favorite book, "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller, in the car yesterday and then Greg and I got to have a really good conversation about our marriage, our friends, our dreams and just life. I say a "good conversation" like I rank these exchanges in my mind. It's not really that I rank them but I evaluate the feeling with which I come away from the conversation. All I know is our conversation along the Western Kentucky Parkway, Purchase Parkway and the longest 17 miles ever on U.S. 641 was good for my heart.

* We pulled in the driveway way at 8:58 p.m. and I got inside just in time to see "Grey's Anatomy." (I finished unpacking the car during the first commercial break.)

* People, including myself, can change. I get frustrated sometimes because people assume they know me. They assume they understand what motivates me. But, really, more often than not, people, especially in Murray, have no idea what life experiences I bring with me. Ironically, I do the same thing, though. I assume I understand people and what drives them, good or bad. Really, people are complex; to try to define them with simple labels is absurd.

* Football season in my world is over. It's definitely time for basketball.

Friday, November 25, 2005

In Kentucky ...

Cheeseburgers were first served in 1934 at Kaelin's restaurant in Louisville.

The town of Corbin was the birthplace of old time movie star Arthur Lake whose real surname was Silverlake: He played the role of Dagwood in the "Blondie" films of the 1930s and '40s Lake's parents were trapeze artists billed as The Flying Silverlakes.

More than 100 native Kentuckians have been elected governors of other states.

The song "Happy Birthday to You" was the creation of two Louisville sisters in 1893.

Teacher Mary S. Wilson held the first observance of Mother's Day in Henderson in 1887. It was made a national holiday in 1916.

Post-It Notes are manufactured exclusively in Cynthiana. The exact number made annually of these popular notes is a trade secret.

The public saw an electric light for the first time in Louisville. Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent light bulb to crowds at the Southern Exposition in 1883.

The radio was invented by a Kentuckian named Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray in 1892. It was three years
before Marconi made his claim to the invention.

In the War of 1812 more than half of all Americans killed in action were Kentuckians.

Middlesboro is the only city in the United States built within a meteor crater.

The Lost River Cave and Valley Bowling Green includes a cave with the shortest and deepest underground river in the world. It contains the largest cave opening east of the Mississippi.

United States Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Fred Vinson was born in a jailhouse in Lousa, Ky.

Pike County, the world's largest producer of coal is famous for the Hatfield-McCoy feud, an Appalachian vendetta that lasted from the Civil War to the 1890s.

Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave and was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls, New York is first.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

lift up your head

Give to the wind your fear
Hope and be undismayed
God hears your sighs and counts your tears
God will lift up, God will lift up, lift up your head


I was listening to that Jars of Clay song (I think it has a U2 feel to it.) on my way to work. Although I can't listen to a whole song on my way to work without sitting in the parking lot once I get here, I was glad that song was on. I prayed I would be encouraged to be the right person today.

There are several things weighing on my heart, but the most specific is the way a story I wrote stirred up the community. I have a city council meeting tonight and I'm nervous about people talking about it. Here's the thing, if I had to decide again whether to look into the story about a prominent physician who is also on the city counil and I knew my story would be received with harsh criticism, I'd decide the same. I don't doubt whether I should have done the story or whether my editor and publisher should have run the story. I just want to handle any comments I receive with the right attitude.

With both that doctor story as well as just some identity things I'm dealing with, I've gotten encouragement today. It's really neat to see my needs met even when other people didn't know their words were exactly what I needed. Even my nurse encouraged me on two fronts today.

Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears the way
Wait because in His time, so shall this night
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy

Sunday, November 20, 2005

an unpublished column

(Although I guess now it's self-published in the literal sense.)

I believe people have the right to know.

They deserve to know what the government is doing with their money. They should know what elected officials and other prominent people are doing with their time and the people’s resources. And, yes, people need to know when something good happens.

But, see, communicating those things doesn’t mean I’ll always make friends in my job.

More than my job in big-city Louisville where no one really knows anyone or my job in Richmond, where I commuted 52 miles round trip, sometimes being a reporter in Murray is hard work. It’s not the writing, approaching people with questions or learning what makes this town click that burden me.

Sometimes there’s a thin line between fulfilling my philosophy that people have the right to know and knowing I’m going to ruin someone’s day. Sometimes negative news wins headlines because that’s what people need to know.

So, here’s the thing. I know what it’s like to be on the other side. I know what it is like to pick up a newspaper – both a hometown weekly and a big-city, multi-section newspaper – and read about a loved one’s mistake.

Twice, I saw my father’s bad choices make headlines. The same choices forced him to resign from his career as a school principal. I saw my mother have to face his consequences that weren’t so private anymore. My heart ached for my dad, but I knew the people – his students, their parents, the community – had the right to know. Those newspaper articles didn’t change his life, and my family’s lives; his choices did.

Yes, unfortunately, who people are and what they do for a living is sometimes enough to make something news. There is a difference in a grocery store clerk and a middle school principal being arrested – even when that principal is someone you love.

I used to have dreams of working for a big paper, of rising through the ranks of the journalism ladder. Now, I don’t know. Working at a small-town paper that the community loves to hate and hates to love comes with a greater responsibility.

I live here in my husband’s great-grandmother’s house that I plan on making my own as time and money will allow. I want to raise a family here and have them call this town their home.

This job of mine is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about writing stories about and for the people who are my neighbors. Trust me, that’s a challenge when these people who become the stories also become my friends.

I know this business isn’t about making friends. But I sure hope people can respect my philosophy that people have the right to know.

The stories are about people – and families and friends. Having someone I love on the other side of the pages shook my world, but never since have I wavered in my belief that people have the right to know – even when it hurts. That philosophy may drive me, but while I write stories, I never forget my dad’s name in the headlines. And somehow that pushes me harder toward knowing people depend on the newspaper for some truth.

searching

I know there are people who have actually gone form misery to happiness, but they didn't do it by walking through three steps; they did it because they had a certain set of parents and heard a certain song and knew somebody who had a certain experience and saw some movie, read some book, had something happen to them like a car wreck or a trip to Seattle. Then they called on God, and a week later read something in a magazine or met a girl in Wichita, and when all this had happened they had an epiphany, and somebody may have helped them fulfill what this epiphany made them feel, and several years later they rationalized this mystic experience with three steps, then they told the three steps to us in a book. I'm not saying they weren't trying to be helpful; I bring this up only because life is complex, and the idea that you can break it down or fix it in a few steps is rather silly.

The truth is there are a million steps, and we don't even know what the steps are, and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them; and still worse, they are different for you and me and they are always changing. I have come to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us to not rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather in His guidance, His existence, His mercy, and His love.

-Donald Miller in "Searching For God Knows What"

Thankfully, I was introduced to Miller's writing at the Jars of Clay concert. He "opened" for them with some readings from a soon-to-be published book. It's ironic, though, because when I was reading the same book I just quoted. He said Miller was his favorite author. I stored that in the back of my head and last night took some stranger on his recommendation. And that oh-so perfect quote for me just came from his first chapter!

Friday, November 18, 2005

dreams

Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them. —John Updike

I feel like I'm at a crossroads in my life. I love my job, but sometimes it drains me. Sometimes I have issues with the way the management wants to do things. Still, just assessing what I do and not so much who I do it for, I love my job. Yet, sometimes I feel dissatisfied. It's almost ironic, when I think about it. My favorite stories to do are the hard news things. I think I like the challenge of chasing the story and seeing a published result.

Yet, I dream of owning my business that would give me a chance to make scrapbooks for people. I'd even like to do more of it on the side. I dream of being a mom who has plenty of time for my children. Yet I'm scared it I go that direction, especially the self-employed scrapbooker route, that I will miss the hustle of the newsroom. I like writing for a purpose, I just sometimes wonder if that blurs my personal purpose.

My favorite person to share this stuff with is Katie. She knows me better than anyone in the world, and she always offers a refreshing perspective. It's amazing, really. Despite where we are physically in this world, she can relate or at least sympathize. She can find my beauty when I am so frustrated with myself. Recently, she's had some good inside. First, I agree with her that I'm too impatient with myself. I expect issues to be solved in one breath and plans to be made today. I'm my toughest critic by far.

In another e-mail, she understood my professional crossroads:

You have this creative outlet that a newspaper alone will NEVER satisfy. That's one reason why you have your blog, isn't it? I envision you making scrapbooks, putting together unique pictures and designing photo albums, writing novels, or a coffee table book of thoughts, one-liners, with black and white pictures attached...you have so much inside you that is so ready to be freed.

Hmmm ... I love that Katie will dream with me.

And I love that when my mind happens upon a crossroads, sometimes an attitude adjustment is all that's necessary, but knowing there are options and dreaming about them is an amazing comfort.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

losing my mind, and my keys

So I met Jaclyn for dinner at McDonald's (that's what my pregnant friend craves...) between partially covering a meeting (I left early...) and covering a memorial service. I was thinking it would be a good 45 minutes of down time with my best friend that I haven't gotten much time with lately. So, we ate and chatted and caught up.

Then I looked for my keys ...

Yeah, I couldn't find them.

I dumped everything out of my purse/bag ...

blood sugar monitor
insulin
camera
small notebook
wallet/purse
lotion
pens
mints
change.

But no keys.

So I asked the lady at the counter if I had left them up there while I ordered my chicken strips. No. She said I should look where I sat. Well, I had already done that. (I even checked in my Chicken Selects box, like I got them mixed up with the sweet and sour sauce.)

I decided I must have locked them in the car. I went outside and looked through my window. I didn't see them.

Then Jaclyn said, "Kristin, your car is running."

Well, I found the keys. In the ignition. Hmmm ...

Yeah, I don't know how I managed that one either.

So, the story continued ... I had to be on campus at 6 to cover something. It was about 5:52 by now. Greg was getting ready to teach a class at 6. Jaclyn was getting ready to go to class. My quick planning: Jaclyn took me to the memorial service on her way to class; Greg left his class to come turn my car off and he brought me my keys while I stood near the building on campus waiting for him. By 6 or just a few minutes after, everyone was where they belonged, and I had my keys back.

I covered the memorial service that was packed of inspirational quotes and lessons.

Then I walked back to McDonald's. Now, it was probably only four or so blocks, speaking in city terms, but this is Murray so I was just walking through a residential area.

Now, that's fine and all, except I was coming from a memorial service of a 62-year-old Murray State student who was killed late Thursday night/early Friday morning when she was walking home from campus. Dang, I couldn't get that out of my head. Thankfully, I had sidewalks most of my walk. Then I kept thinking maybe my car had been towed because it was in McDonald's parking lot so long. Then I realized they probably just thought the car went with some of the teenagers loitering in the parking lot.

PLUS I was wearing boots (like the ones that come just below my knees) and a rather thin skirt that went down just about that far. My top half was warm in my sweater, but my knees weren't feeling that great.

So there my car was, just where I left it. Only this time it wasn't running.

Monday, November 14, 2005

stubbornness? forgetfulness?

I don't know which it is, but I keep getting things in my mind and thinking that's the truth, then realize I'm wrong. I have done it twice today, and both incidents annoyed me.

leaves, leaves and more leaves


Greg and I raked a lot of leaves Saturday -- and that was on the front yard. Greg is standing in the ditch. Thankfully, the city comes by and sucks the leaves up, so all we have to do is get them to the ditch. At least Saturday the weather was worth enjoying.



Among the two bigs trees in our front yard from which the many leaves fell.

This month's pictures of my adorable niece


Hats go well with Milla. Mom and I found this one at Pike Place Market in Seattle. It reminds me of Blossom. Remember her?



Milla was especially adorable in her dress and boots. The word of the day in her world was "sticker," appropriate as she put Halloween stickers on both arms. They are a bit goofy, but they definitely don't keep her from being cute.



Grandma and Milla are reading. These are the rare moments during which she sits down. Books and Elmo. Otherwise, it's go, go, go.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

journalism in my world today

* I got a really great compliment today. Someone really important in the community told two college journalists (from California, no less) that if they wanted to know how to be a journalist, they should follow me around. Wow. What a compliment, and what a timely thing to encourage me.

* I just interviewed Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay on the phone. I was star struck. I think I might have stuttered just once at the beginning, but then I relaxed and kept all my thoughts composed. (I know, based on things he said, being a staf is far from what he wants as a musician.) I used to love Jars of Clay (Their first album with "Flood" was my favorite, and probably still is; although "Flood" was actually my least favorite song on that CD.), but then I sort of just didn't listen much. No real reason. Then their new "Redemption Songs" came out, and I remembered why I love them.

(They are playing at Murray State next week. That's why I interviewed him.)

In college, my roommate and I had quotes hanging all over the concrete walls. One was from Dan Haseltine. I wish I could remember it. Then six years later, here I am interviewing him. It was an interesting 20 minutes, and I hope I got more quotes. I won't hang them on my wall (I don't decorate like that anymore.), but I will surely draw insight from them.

Jars of Clay is very much into identity, who we were created to be, not who the church or the world says we are. Fascinating concept. And rather appropriate for what's going on in my heart and head these days.

* I started the Citizens Fire Academy this week. Sitting there, I was reminded how it's worth giving up time for things that aren't absolutely newsworthy to develop relationships with people. That's the key to this business, in my opinion. People are the stories — good or bad — so knowing them and choosing to communicate fairly with them is essential.

There's that's my Journalism 101 lesson for the day. You know, a professor or two probably told me that, but it wasn't really until this job (my third out of college) that I truly grasped and understood the importance. I think it comes with living and working in such a small community where the line between work and play is so blurred.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

on the line

"It’s a thin line between pleasing yourself and pleasing somebody else."
-Indgio Girls

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Fall

The ground was snug beneath the leaves. The autumn blanket blurred the difference between grass and concrete.

Monday, November 7, 2005

three thoughts

* My blood sugar levels have NOT been good the past week or so. Up and down. Down and up. And the worst part is not having any clear-cut answers.

* It's supposed to be 70-something degrees today and 80-something tomorrow. So much for wearing my new fall/winters clothes I bought at Kohl's yesterday. It was quite the successful shopping trip, especially because I got my mom's 15 percent discount PLUS the 15 percent discount for the sale this weekend.

* The patience I have with my family amazes me. Despite the way they frustrate me sometimes, I really loved being around them this weekend.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Dummy

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Morgan is no dummy — but he got in trouble for driving with one.

Morgan, 28, got a $351 citation for putting a kickboxing dummy in the passenger seat of his car, then driving in a lane reserved for vehicles carrying more than one person.

“I think he was pretty embarrassed because all the people driving by were laughing,” Officer Will Thompson said. “About the only thing he said was, ’Well, that didn’t help me very much today, did it?”’

Thompson often parks next to the car pool lane and stands on his car door rail to look down into passing vehicles. His point of view allowed him to see Morgan’s dummy — which was wearing a Miami Dolphins jacket and a baseball cap, but had no legs.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Hmmm...

I've been really busy at work the last couple of weeks, and it spilled over into my personal life too. For that reason, I was really looking forward to my carry-out Mexican food at the park this afternoon. The trees were beautiful. The sun was shining, but the temperature was perfect.

But something happened after lunch and my brain hit a wall. Since lunch I have gotten pretty much no work done, cut my finger on a file folder, hit my head then my elbow getting into my car, and dropped my cell phone when I was trying to make a call. I just feel really disoriented.