Monday, January 31, 2011

My Great Estate

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival."

I've been thinking a lot about friends lately.  Friends are a huge blessing. Emily Dickinson said friends were her estate. I get that. My friends make me feel rich in ways that money never will. 

My best earthly friend is Dennis. There's no one I'd rather spend time with; no one I'd rather talk to. I believe everyone's best friend should be their spouse. I'll bet the rate of divorce would greatly decrease if that was the case.

This morning my best friend came back from Starbucks with a breakfast surprise. A slice of Reduced Fat Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, my favorite Starbucks treat. I appreciate the fact that it's reduced fat, but if it wasn't I'd eat it anyway, just because it's so darned good. And because it's chocolate. Chocolate and coffee belong together. End of discussion.

The red Starbucks cup is a Christmas gift from Dennis. (Yes, I make Starbucks coffee at home, but Dennis goes to Starbucks anyway. It's his social hour with his friends.) Our friend Keely -- the Starbucks barista -- wrote the girlfriend greeting on the sack before handing it to Dennis. It made me smile to see it. 

Jesus Christ had something very important to say about friendship. . .

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13

He also said. . .

"For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 

No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."  John 10:17-18

For this reason Jesus is my Great Estate.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Honey, Have You Seen My Duct Tape?

My husband attended a men's breakfast at our church last Saturday. The event was publicized as a Man's Event. No flowers on the table, no tablecloths, and no quiche. No siree Bob. The tables were bare, and the menu was real he-man food. Steak, biscuits and gravy, potatoes, pancakes. All that artery-clogging, guilt-producing fare that men never seem to get at home, but which they secretly (or not so secretly) crave.

The organizers handed out name tags. As soon as Dennis showed me his, I knew it was blog fodder. He was not allowed to throw it away until I snapped a photo. 

If you're wondering what the red material is, it's duct tape. Yeah. Duct tape.  It's a guy thing. They love the stuff. In the words of Red Green, "Spare the duct tape, spoil the job." Apparently where duct tape is concerned, less is not more

Truth be told, Dennis is no stranger to duct tape.Take a look at his Bible.

I love the fact that my husband's Bible is so well-used that he has to hold it together with duct tape. Note the artist's touch. Silver band with just a hint of red. Nice. 

Fascinated with this male duct tape obsession, and having the world at my Mac, I did an online search of the sticky stuff. To my utter amazement, I discovered an entire duct tape culture. For example, did you know there are two men, Jim and Tim, known as "The Duct Tape Guys"? I visited their website and discovered Tim and Jim have taken common duct tape and elevated it to an art form: "Duct Tape Fashions", "Cookin' with the Duct Tape Guys", and "The Refrigerator" -- for all things duct. My duct tape hat goes off to Tim and Jim.

Imaged used with permission by
I've been ruminating on how the men's ministry could take their gatherings to the next level, and here's my suggestion.  At their next breakfast they should do a Duct Tape Craft. Right after they consume mass quantities of Sausage and Gravy Quiche, of course.

God looked over everything he had made; 
      it was so good, so very good! -- Genesis 1:31, The Message

Friday, January 14, 2011

Just A Matter of Time

"Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” -- Henry Van Dyke

Anyone born before microwaves has probably heard the idiom "A Watched Pot Never Boils". The idea being that impatience only seems to make time move more slowly. Apparently androids are fascinated with this idea. In an episode of Star Trek Next Generation called "Timescape", Data sets out to perform an experiment to determine if, indeed, a "watched pot never boils". He boils a kettle of water, first watching it the entire time, and then not watching it at all. When Commander Riker enters the room during the action, Data explains that his internal chronometer doesn't allow him to detect any differences. Riker advises him that since humans don't have internal chronometers, Data should turn his off. Data says he'll try it and Riker jokingly warns him not to be late for his shift. Riker leaves and Data looks at the kettle with a puzzled expression. The water is now boiling.

As a child, the twelve months between my birthdays seemed to drag, causing much angst. Now the same time passes so quickly it's scary. I still feel like a kid. If it weren't for the fact that I have an adult son with two children, I might be able to pull off this forever young charade. Well, at least to myself.

There are few moments when the movement of time, or the seeming lack thereof, is more acute than during the sleeping hours. For example, after a recent restless night, Dennis commented to me. "Why is it that at 2:30 in the morning 15 minutes seems like 2 hours, but at 6:30 in the morning 2 hours seem like 15 minutes?" (If you're shaking your head and asking, "Huh?", read that again -- slowly. You'll get it.)

I'm fascinated with the fact that God set our earth in motion with the advent of the 24-hour day, yet He is completely free of any time constraints whatsoever. Not years, not months, not weeks, not days, not hours, not minutes, not even seconds. "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." 2 Peter 3:8. (Wow, try getting your hands around that one.)

Some day I'll experience the wonder of eternity, when time will have no meaning. But for now, I've got a pot to watch. On second thought, I think I'll use the microwave.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blahg, Blahg, Blahg

A man I met at a New Year's Eve party asked, "What sort of things do you write?"  

"Oh, I'm working on a novel. And I blog and write daily devotionals."

He politely asked what my book is about, and I described it.

"So about blogs. Would you say they're like an ongoing Christmas letter?"

His question took me by surprise. Christmas letter?

I've never considered Joyful Altitude akin to the continuation of a letter sent to friends and family at Christmas. Certainly it's a type of journal; a recording of my life. But somehow I've hoped it would be more. That it would entertain the reader, as well as enlighten. Give inspiration and offer comfort. And that my words and photos would give glory to God. But maybe I think more highly than I ought to about my writing and photography. Maybe it's just "yada-yada-yada" or "blah-blah-blah". 

But then, again, over Sunday lunch a friend mentioned to me that I'm not blogging enough. She's a faithful reader and would like to see more frequent posts. I appreciate the fact that anyone would willingly read what I write, so for someone to actually ask for more makes me fairly delirious with joy. 

Speaking of delirious joy, that's what I felt last Wednesday morning while driving through Big Thompson Canyon with Dennis. This stunning sunrise took my breath away. . .

I never take for granted the beauty of my surroundings. Yesterday I thought about how dramatic the seasonal changes are in RMNP. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, here are photos I've taken of the Alluvial Fan in. . .




When Spring arrives, I'll take another photograph to complete the Four Season set. Then I think I'll make prints and frame them. Better yet, maybe I can get Dennis to paint them for me.

In the meantime, I'm going to  keep on blahging.

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; 
   wisdom and power are his. 
 He changes times and seasons; 
   he deposes kings and raises up others. 
He gives wisdom to the wise 
   and knowledge to the discerning."
Daniel 2:20-21

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Revolution


So reads this morning's headline from a Denver news station website. 

This is just what I've been waiting for. An excuse to keep a perpetual fire burning in the fireplace and write from a nearby easy chair. It's my compensation for living in a cold climate. The photo I just snapped and added below should help set the mood for you.

By the way, the oil painting of the Alluvial Fan above the fireplace is a Reinke, painted several years ago. It remains my favorite work of art.

So I'm sitting in front of the fire and thinking about new year's resolutions. Where did this tradition come from, I wonder. Thanks to modern technology, research isn't too difficult. The most widely accepted explanation is summed up best in an Ezine article:

"The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.

With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness  from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year."

What an interesting concept. Instead of resolving to change something about ourselves that we'll probably just end up forgetting about in a few weeks, we seek out our enemies and ask for forgiveness. And then we exchange gifts. Cool. I like it. In fact, I'd call this a revolutionary idea.  Can you imagine the impact on our world if everyone adopted it? What a great way to start out the new year. Forgive those who have trespassed against you. Sound familiar?

Jesus Christ said, "So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."

Have a Happy Forgiving New Year.