Tag Archives: Appreciation

Blueprints, Planning, and Appreciation

Sewer LineIt was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that theLord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” 1 Chronicles 15:13 (NIV)

For the past three months, Wendy and I have been working on plans to build a house.  We’d vigorously pursued a plan to renovate and update our existing home for the past few years. However, very much in the spirit of what I wrote in yesterday’s post, the answer to our prayers was not what we had anticipated. So, we suddenly find ourselves pouring over blueprints and contemplating an endless number of decisions regarding the most minute details.

When it comes to these types of projects, the stark differences between Wendy and me become readily apparent. Wendy’s brain works very logically and methodically. She is great with details, processes, plans, and methods. My brain works in imaginative, big picture vistas and doesn’t sweat the details. Within this contrast lies both our strength and our struggle.

Despite the conflicts that arise out of our differences, I have a real appreciation for the logic and details which stimulate Wendy’s brain, and I understand that when things are not done properly then bad, or at the very least frustrating, things can happen. When we planned the lower level of the house at the lake (which we finished ourselves with the help of family and friends), Wendy had the floor plan mapped out perfectly. The contractor didn’t read her plans carefully, however, and ran the sewer line in the wrong spot. We had to alter our plan and change the dimensions of the bathroom. To this day, we don’t walk in the bathroom on the lower level without noticing the wrong proportions.

Through the years I’ve come to realize and appreciate that God is the epitome of both the left brain and right brain that he designed into we humans who are “made in His image.” God is both artist and engineer. He creates in an endless stream of big picture imagination and, at the same time, designs things down to the sub-atomic level. There is a place, purpose, and a need for both.

In today’s chapter, David realizes that in his big picture idea of moving the Ark of the Covenant to his newly establish capitol of Jerusalem, he had missed the details God designed into the proper way the Ark was to be handled and moved. Realizing his mistake, David goes back to the drawing board and makes sure that everything would be done properly according to the detailed instructions God had laid out.

I can confidently say that my brain will never work like Wendy’s. I doubt there will ever be a time in which I will be excited and stimulated by planning processes and minute details. I can, however, confidently say that I’ve learned to appreciate and value those like Wendy who are wired that way. I appreciate that God reveals Himself to be intimately concerned with details. Sometimes, I am required to consciously adjust both my thoughts and my attitude accordingly.

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Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time
Once upon a time (Photo credit: steveczajka)

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
Psalm 107:2a (NIV)

This past Friday night a group of friends gathered at our house to read that latest draft of a play I wrote, which is entitled Ham Buns and Potato Salad. The play is slated to be produced by our local community theatre in April and I’ve been scrambling to make a couple of major revisions to the script. Friday night was an opportunity to hear the script, and my changes, read by other voices and to get a feel for what is working, and what is not.

The play is about the stories of a small group of people in a small Iowa town. It is rooted in my experiences of living for three years in a very small town along with bits and pieces of many real stories people have shared with me over the years. In particular, the play revolves around one young woman’s story, which she herself has refused to share with anyone in the town for over a decade. Her refusal to tell her story has become a legendary piece of town gossip and the source of endless speculation. The play deals with the unforeseen circumstances which bring the young woman to share her story and her secret.

I find it interesting that the psalmist didn’t write “Let the redeemed of the Lord:”

  • …tell others what to do.”
  • …make a lot of rules.”
  • …appear perfect.”
  • …act like they’ve got it all together.”
  • …hide their faults.”
  • …judge others.”

I love that the are encouraged to share our stories. We all have stories, and I love to hear other people’s stories. I find them fascinating. Once I have heard a person’s story I understand them better, appreciate them more, and have a greater capacity to love them. The world would be a better place if we all took the time to share and listen to one another’s stories. I love the fact that Jesus wrapped His teaching in stories, and I enjoy being a storyteller, which is why I wrote Ham Buns and Potato Salad.

This week we will all gather with family and friends to share meals, open gifts, worship, play games, and watch football. Today, I am challenging myself and all who read this blogpost to intentionally take the time to ask for, and listen to, another person’s story:

  • Grandma, how did you and grandpa meet? Tell me about falling in love with him.
  • Dad, what was your favorite toy when you were a kid?
  • Tell me mom, what was a typical Christmas when you were young?
  • Tell me, nephew, what is it you are passionate about?
  • What was the high point and low point of this past year for you?
  • What was the naughtiest thing you did as a kid?
  • How did you end up in your career? Are you glad? What did you want to do?
  • Nobody talks about Uncle Sid. What’s his story?
  • Where’s the most exotic place you’ve traveled? What was it like?
  • What is your biggest regret in life thus far?

Trust me, the holidays will be much more enjoyable if people share their stories.


Monument Valley Utah
(Photo credit: gordon2208)

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of….”
2 Timothy 3:14a (NIV)

I regularly refer to my life as a journey. If you don’t know it, the word “wayfarer” (the name of my blog) means one who is on a journey. Along the journey there are mountain top vistas and deep, dark valleys. There are occasionally breathtaking views and long stretches of monotony. Along the way we will all face our share of disappointment, tragedy, difficulties, stupid mistakes, unintended consequences, and personal failures. We will also experience our share of joy, pleasure, love, achievement, rest, recognition, and personal victories.

One of the lessons I have learned along the way, and increasingly appreciate, is that momentary stretches of the journey are best viewed in relation to the whole. My tragedies and difficult stretches always end up in my rearview mirror, and I always end up a little wiser for the experience. Likewise, I have come to have a much greater appreciation and gratitude for pleasureable moments of love and joy. Our daily journey through work and tasks and chores and honey-dos can get monotonous. If we’re not careful, we forget to relish the moments of joy when they occur.

As Paul writes his letter to Timothy from a Roman dungeon (one of the many dark stretches he faced) and realizes that his own personal journey’s end could not be far off, I found it poignant that the admonishment he gave to his young protege was: continue.

Keep going. Press on. Don’t stop. Don’t quit. Take another step.

Here we go.

An Iowa Psalm

Iowa annual fainfall, in inches, created in ES...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 65

You take care of the earth and water it,
    making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
    it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
    for you have ordered it so.
Psalm 65:9 (NLT)

For the record, I’ve never been a farmer. Though I’ve lived all but four years of my life in the state of Iowa I’ve got the most rudimentary understanding of how farms operate. I was raised in the city and have rarely stepped foot on a farm. Nevertheless, I’ve come to understand that being from Iowa gives you an appreciation for the land and the symbiotic relationship we have with it. You can’t escape it. The land and the people woven together. There’s cadence to life here that begins with planting, leads to harvest, followed by subsequent thanksgiving and celebration of the holidays before it ends in deep winter and the hope of next year and doing it all over again.

I tend to think that this relationship and dependence on the land and the weather is what gives us a rather humble and simple faith. Those whose livelihoods are rooted in agriculture realize our dependence on so much that it completely out of our control. You live life constantly making adjustments to what the earth and sky throw at you and have faith that it’s all going to work out in the end. When harvest does come and the crop comes in, there’s a realization that a large part of your success had absolutely nothing to do with you.

The chapter this morning tapped in to all of those thoughts and emotions. This is an Iowa psalm; A farmer’s psalm. David’s lyrics are full of that humble understanding that God’s creation is immense. No matter how much we strive to tame it, it only takes one massive storm, flood, or drought to remind us how dependent we really are.

Today, capping off a holiday weekend of Thanksgiving, I’m saying Psalm 65 as an extra prayer of gratitude.

Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 26

 From the family of the Izharites, Kenaniah and sons were appointed as officials and judges responsible for affairs outside the work of worship and sanctuary. 1 Chronicles 26:29 (MSG)

For the past five years I’ve helped lead our little town’s community theater. It’s a great group of people and I enjoy doing shows. Audience members, however, have very little idea the sheer number of people and amount of time and energy required to put a show together for our audiences. Audience members see the actors, but they don’t see the people who did props, marketing, production, set, lights, sound, make-up, or any of a number of other tasks required.

As I read through these chapters laying out how the organization and workforce for the temple, I feel like an audience member getting a peek at the sheer breadth of work required to run the temple. As a casual reader, I think there was this big temple but you had a few priests who made the sacrifices. I didn’t think about security, upkeep, music, accounting, grounds, crowd control, and storage. Solomon’s temple was like a city unto itself. It was a major operation and required thousands of workers to keep it in operation.

Today, I’m thinking about the things I experience without ever considering all that is required to produce it. I’m thankful for all those who quietly go about their appointed tasks which ensure that I can enjoy my daily existence.

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 26

Peace & wholeness. God, order a peaceful and whole life for us because everything we've done, you've done for us. Isaiah 26:12 (MSG)

I spent a good part of my day yesterday listening to a person share their life story. I'm often astonished at what people will tell you when you simply start asking questions. I sat amazed at the tale that unfolded before me. It was tragic. You would have never guess that this person's journey included events of murder, abuse, addiction, and intense brokenness.

I walked away from the conversation with a greater appreciation of this person and all that they have endured. I also walked away with a renewed appreciation for how very blessed I am.

I know that every life is touched with tragedy and pain. My own path has included its share of brokenness. Your path has, too. I get that. Yet, more and more I understand how truly, lavishly blessed I am. As I read today's chapter in Isaiah, I identified with what Isaiah meant when he wrote that everything we've done, God has done for us. It's not about me. It's not about what I've done. It's about what God has done. His will, His order for us is peace and wholeness.

Today, I walk in gratitude for what God has done for me.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and audreyjm