You Choose

The choice, as they say, is yours.

Today is gameday in South Carolina – SC is traveling to Clemson for the biggest rivalry in these parts. Families are torn today. Friends are on opposite sides of the divide. One side will be unhappy tonight - and, I hope, they’ll be mostly wearing orange. Some folks will be mad. Some will be mouthy, whiney, offended – and that’ll be on both sides, win/lose/draw.

It happens in politics (if you’re on Facebook, you know what it was like just a few short weeks ago, and still on some walls today). It happens in Christian circles, and I’m sure in other faith communities as well. It happens at work, at home, in the midst of family members, and in juts about anything we do together.

People disagree.

I don’t like conflict. Lots of people think I do. I’m the one who asks the “devil’s advocate” queries often, asking the counter-question in order to get to something other than the status quo. But that doesn’t mean I like to be at odds with the room.

It happens, though – and sometimes it makes folks angry that I don’t stay on the dotted line very well.

Or rather, they choose to be angry. Or if not actually mad, then to still treat me and my questions/statements as a hostile, as someone coming along with heresy and blasphemy at worst, with stupidity and childishness and in need of education at best.

Different ideas, different opinions, different expectations does not an enemy make.

But I choose to be offended. I choose to be angry. I choose to let someone else hold sway over how I feel about myself, about them, about life, the universe and everything.

But you choose to be offended. You choose to be angry. You choose to let someone else hold sway over how you feel about yourself, about them, about life, the universe and everything.

Or, I choose to not.

I choose today to not be angry, to not be offended, to not give someone else the keys to my emotional state.

We get to choose. Yes, it’s harder when the folks closest to you are the ones choosing to be offended, to be mad, to label you as the opposition. But it’s still your choice. It’s still my choice.

Upgrades, Story Timelines and Mondays

[Written Monday morning, posted Tuesday night. Apologies for any inconvenience - The Editors]

It’s an understatement to say that it was a long week and weekend that’s just past. And I admit that I was not my “normal” jovial pollyanna-ish self. But in every cloud there’s something fresh and new, and I found enough to not only make the weekend less of a burden, but to also propel me into the new week with something resembling positive inertia. So I’ve got that going for me.

I upgraded our main house laptop to Windows 8, and honestly it was one of the most delightful and easiest upgrades I’ve done. Everything I liked about the Windows phone is here in the UI – while I don’t have a touch screen to make it all that much more special, I love the new interface, the blocked apps, the style choices. I’m a fan and have enjoyed just tinkering and finding out what’s behind the curtains. Yes it’s a bit wonky in places – the Store and the Mail apps come to mind. But I like finding those things, too, and look forward to seeing updates come through with fixes and more features. All in all, it did this nerd’s heart good.

Sunday night, Trace and I went to see CLOUD ATLAS. Fabulous movie but not for everyone. I put it up there philosophically with THE MATRIX (also from the Wachowskis) and GLADIATOR. I didn’t have to work too hard mentally to NOT give in to reincarnation themes. Instead, I kept hearing Maximus’ battle cry – “What we do in life echoes through eternity” – as each story/timeline moved through to its end. Again, just what this geeky film nerd needed, a full deep film that challenged and inspired and is even now moving me into the week with something akin to new hope and new direction.

Like I said: I’ve got that going for me.

Living Up To My Own Standard

Daily Prompt for 10/24: What’s the one thing you hope other people never say about you?

Saw this in my email this morning and decided to jump in since blogging has, generally for me, taken a back seat over these past four or five months. I’ve been busy. I’ve had other things more pressing on my mind. I’ve been lazy. Take your pick. “Life trumps blogging”, and honestly, I’ve just been living life for the most part. But this question intrigued me – I hope there’s lots of good things folks DO say about me, but I’m not sure I’ve put as much into thinking about what I DON’T want them to be able to say.

The first word that popped into mind was UNPROFESSIONAL. I don’t ever want that to be a thought or a review of my work or of me in general. Ever. That means I’m on time, that I don’t forget appointments or action points, that I stay ahead of others folks who depend on me getting things done. And it means that when I don’t live up to it on my own part, that I bust it to make up for it, learn from the mistakes, and keep moving positively forward.

After that, I never want people to think I’m UNCARING. Sometimes I admit I really don’t care – but mostly, I feel like I do care about how something makes you feel, even if that thing itself holds nothing really compelling for me at the time. Did that make sense? Even when I don’t care, I do… yeah, that makes no sense at all.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m a TERRIBLE LISTENER. That’s huge for me, actually listening and letting other parties know that I’m paying attention. I get so distracted, and it’s only recently that I’ve learned enough about myself to put away my iPhone, to turn down the TV, to look at the person talking so I can be totally engaged and actively listening for what’s being said, what’s being conveyed. I never want anyone to feel I’m not giving my utmost attention in this area.

I’m sure there’s more – but really, if I hang on to those three and live them out positively so the negative doesn’t have a chance to come out, then I think I’ve done something good. And maybe I can blog again, you know, sooner rather than later…

Weathered Well Together

This is a special place to be…

You know your marriage has weathered well when love brings you to the place where you bear the other’s sharp word or dark mood, knowing as you do that these raw places cover a weary or wounded soul and require tenderness, not scorn or assault. Forgiveness is given, easily, before it’s ever asked, the scuffle brushed away, no more bother than a stray piece of lint.

via winncollier.com.

… and it takes time.

It takes understanding over the long haul.

It takes listening first, second and third more often than not.

I confess, it means I should mute the TV or turn it off to keep traveling towards this space in the journey together.

We went to Greenville, SC last Friday, just the two of us. We walked. We ate wonderful food. We saw Falls Park and all the upgrades around the Downtown area.

Mostly, I enjoyed that we were there together. The walking, the words, the silence – all coming through as part of the long haul kind of  life we’re living out together.

Flash This

Posted an entry for a flash fiction contest on LitReactor – click through for the premise, the prompt, and to add yours. Meanwhile, here’s mine:

Always A Reason

Max knew there was a reason for everything. He didn’t always see it, didn’t always believe it, but he knew there was a reason for every little thing in this world. There’s a reason the sun comes up in the morning and blinds him through the hole in the third slat of his bedroom blinds. There’s a reason he ran out of gas last week in the middle of nowhere while trying to get somewhere he’d rather not have had to go to anyway. There’s a reason for the pain he felt in his knee back in March when he was helping Meg and Tony move from the downtown loft. There’s a reason why sweet Mrs. McGill fell ill and died from cancer while anti-sweet Mrs. Thomas just kept right on living and breathing and knocking over his flowerpot with her knobby wooden cane every afternoon. There’s a reason why coffee’s bitterness is just as necessary to life as sweet tea’s icy goodness.

And there’s a reason you’re not supposed to push the big red button on the weapons console. Max looked up into his Mini Cooper’s rearview mirror, the fierce flickering hillside ripping through the night as a reminder of that, barely diminishing at 80mph. Yes, there’s always a reason…

Mr. Ron’s Message, Easter Saturday 2012-04-07

We are here this afternoon to celebrate and remember Ron Vernon. He’s been a friend for many years, family in the best sense of the word. We share grief in his passing even as we share in the joy of having him in our lives together.

In John 11:
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (John 11:25-26 NLT)

It’s no coincidence that this is also Easter weekend. It’s the Saturday between Friday’s death on the cross and Sunday’s triumphant resurrection. Where most gatherings like this would focus on the cycle of life to death, would bring focus to the examples of our own mortality – today we have the unique perspective of seeing death head towards life. The cycle is turned on its head. Jesus lived life here with His disciples, here with us. And in dying and then overcoming death and all its power, He lives with us still. He offers life abundant here and to come.

The reality of our memories and the warmth of Ron’s life with us brings hope in the midst of broken hearts, brings comfort to our hurt. Today, we smile through tears and heavy hearts. We remember Ron, and we feel the life well-lived and well-shared all over again.

Father, Lord God – we thank you today for Ron and for his life shared here with us. We thank you for giving life to all of us, for enhancing that life by giving us time together. Even now, we thank you for Jesus, lovingly giving Himself that we may share in life fully and beautifully with each other. Forgive us where we’ve chosen less that that shared fullness of life. Embrace us as we move forward together from here with memories of our wonderful friend. Heal the broken places and fill the voids as You have shown you can. Comfort and encourage us on toward adventure and our own life lived together. And thank you for Ron Vernon – may we continue to live out the joy and friendship that’s been shared with us. In Jesus’ name – Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER, Jeff & Kim

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT)

The Voices In Your Head

I think back over my own processes and wonder why I made certain choices. Or I watch others and wonder why in the world they chose certain paths.

We have those moments of inspired clarity when we see who we are and want to be, and the life we desire to live. And then real life starts happening again! What if those visions you see about yourself and your life in those flashes of lucidity were your real life?

via Jim Palmer » Blog Archive » That conversation in your head is stealing your life..

Read the whole article. I especially like Jim’s take on “because you’re human” feelings, which should have an amount of negativity from the human experience; contrasting those with “life-sabotaging” feelings, where the negativity goes so far off course as to really look inhumanly off-kilter. We all make decisions based on the baggage we bring to the table: mistakes, successes, experiences good and bad. And sometimes we let some of those things throw us over the cliff of reality with nary a whimper… Jim goes on to write:

How do you change this? You have to transform that conversation in your head about yourself, others, life, and God.

Are you changing the conversation today? Are you asking better questions, seeking better answers, living out better actions today?

And The OSCAR Goes To…

Yesterday and last week, we went to the AMC Best Picture Showcase – taking in all nine best picture nominees before tonight’s OSCARS. This is the first year I’ve seen all of them, and I’ve got my own favorites and predictions for the evening.

BEST PICTURE: I think this one is going to go to THE ARTIST (that’s John Goodman “on set” in the photo to the right, photo from Oscar’s website). Of all nine films, this one has everything from stylized reality to great story-telling to wonderful acting/casting. My personal favorite film of the nine was WAR HORSE, but I think THE DESCENDANTS could come from behind to take this one as well.

LEAD ACTOR: JeanDujardin, THE ARTIST, should win this one for what will hopefully be a US-breakout performance.

LEAD ACTRESS: Viola Davis, THE HELP – great movie that was shortchanged in the marketing as a “chick flick”.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Seeing that Christopher Plummer, BEGINNERS, probably has this one wrapped up, but I’d love to see Jonah Hill win for MONEYBALL to show in the winners’ circle.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: This one’s going to be Octavia Spencer, THE HELP. Again, great film, strong women throughout.

Will be watching for these and all the rest – AND for Billy Crystal’s return as host and troubadour. Will be checking in on GetGlue and tweeting from @rickcaffeinated with hashtag #oscars – feel free to chime in.