Tag Archives: change

A Metamorphosis of Sorts

When I was 13 or 14, I sat in my upstairs bedroom on a rainy night and started to read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I met the protagonist, Meg Murray, and realized that apart from her braces and whizzing math brain, she was me! I devoured the book, and the others in the series and I can say confidently that Meg Murray is a big part of why I am the nerdy girl that I am.

Today I stepped out after dinner to clip some pussy willows for my kitchen window. I was wearing some gaudy leggings under a black knit skirt, and had thrown my favorite browny green blanket sweater over a grey shirt to keep me warm. As I put my feet into my bright floral rubber boots I had a sudden realization.

I am no longer Meg.

I have become Mrs. Whatsit.


The Beginning of the New Beginning

Ten years ago in march, Jonathan left his youth pastor position with the hope of attending a reformed seminary before re entering the world of vocational ministry. That was God’s plan, too, but it was a much longer path than we could have ever dreamed. The Lord had a lot to teach us personally, and theologically and a lot of sanctification to work in us before he led us back to that original goal. We have changed dramatically in this decade in so many ways: from infertility to three children, from Baptist through the Home Church movement into confessional Presbyterianism, from angry conservative into dependent humiliation, from the people we were then into the people we are now.

But in that decade of being led through change, change and transition became the new normal for us. Every year we wondered what the next year would bring. We made plans loosely, not having a definite aim for our future; and even in the plans we made, we found ourselves waiting some more. Seminary was both a blessing and a curse, in that we had a fixed date for our next transition (turns out even that was more flexible than we thought) but the temporary nature of seminary always hung, like a shroud, over every relationship and conversation. The Lord has blessed these last 3 years and allowed us to love deeply and be loved well, but always knowing it was one more stop on the journey. This decade has pointed me to the shadow of sin that taints every hello with goodbye until the final restoration when there will be no more wandering or goodbyes.

So here we are, on the brink of that original dream and I fear the goodbyes and the hellos. I fear that having said goodbye so often and having anticipated this goodbye for three years, I will disregard the people who have been so treasured to me as I turn my face to the next thing. I fear that reaching our destination, I will find that a decade of wandering will make it harder to put down roots. I fear that despite having yearned to stop and stay, this now rambling soul won’t find it so easy to stop on a dime.

Can I ask you friends, old and new, here and there, for mercy in the journey?

Book Review: Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret by Larry Osborne

Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret: Why Serial Innovators Succeed Where Others Fail by Larry Osborne sounds like a pop psychology motivational book that would be sold on radio commercials and in hotel ballrooms. The title, the writing style and a few of the flashier illustrations all have that unfortunate infomercial quality to them; yet, the heart of the material is better than its trappings.

Osborne discusses the inevitability of failure, the pitfalls of changing something that isn’t broken and the difference between true innovation and mere invention. Instead of “selling change” which usually means “change to do what I am doing,” Osborne is helping organizations to manage change. He addresses questions to ask to identify if change is even necessary. He suggests ways to communicate regarding change within an organization in a way that minimizes resistance and disappointment. He also suggests the type of person who is the best to lead truly innovative change well.

The section on identifying innovative people was my personal favorite. While Osborne does not use Meyer’s Briggs Temperament in his assessment, anyone as familiar with Meyer’s Briggs as a Covenant Seminarian/Wife would read his three paragraphs regarding the perfect innovator and summarize it this way: hire an NTP. As an ENTP on the Meyer’s Briggs Temperament Analysis, I was a little tickled at that chapter. In fact, the book could be broken into two headings “Why You Should Hire An NTP” and “How an NTP Should Communicate With the Rest of the World.”

Unfortunately, Larry Osborne is a pastor of a mega church, and he uses his church as an example for several of his points. In every case, as a confessional Presbyterian I was put off but what I saw as “fixing” something that wasn’t actually broken. If you are a pastor and you think your church needs some innovative change, may I suggest The Creedal Imperative by Carl Trueman instead.

However, I think this would be a handy book for anyone leading a healthy business or not for profit organization. Small businesses and organizations often need innovative change, and don’t know how to go about doing it. While not a magic wand, Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret could jump start some discussion regarding healthy innovation instead of chaotic change. The diagnostic questions at the end of each chapter are alone worth the price of the book and the over the top writing style.

I received no compensation for this post. I was provided a hard copy edition for the purpose of review. I was not required to provide a positive one. I keep a disclosure statement here.

Nothing Stays the Same

We arrived home on Tuesday evening and it was so nice to be home my own bed, cooking in my own kitchen. It has been wonderful to see so many familiar faces, and for the majority of them to light up at seeing mine. How comforting to be greeted, over and over, with “So nice to have you home!”

On Wednesday I ran errands, and everywhere I stopped, including both of my regular grocery stores and my bank, had been changed in subtle, but significant ways. By the time I got to Aldi, the last stop, I was left with the strong impression that I had come back not home, but to an alternate universe. Unfortunately in this new universe I still did not work for Global Dynamics or Massive Dynamic. I just couldn’t find tuna.

We are in our “last things” stage of seminary, in which I say crazy things like “of course we have to do Cow Appreciation day at Chick-fil-A! It will be our last chance!” The little changes in the familiar places remind me that even if we were going to live here for the next twenty-two years, it wouldn’t stay the same. We would still say good bye, we would still have last chances and we would still have adjustment. When we move on to the church for which The Lord has prepared my husband, and we get settled and put down roots, there will still be changes and good byes and last chances and adjustments. In the first few months I will have plenty of times that I can’t find the tuna and the toilet paper; but the possibility remains that after ten years I could walk into a grocery store I know by heart and everything has changed and I won’t be able to find the tuna or the toilet paper.

Several people have said to me lately regarding the final year of seminary, “oh I just couldn’t go through that. I don’t like change.” The Lord is reminding me that there is nothing we can do to avoid it. Instead, we roll with the change, and rest in the Unchanging One.

A Change is as Good As a Rest

At least, that’s what my grandmother used to say. Sometimes, when a baby hasn’t slept in days and I’m running on caffeine and adrenaline, what I really need is rest; but other days, like yesterday, a change is really as good as a rest. What I needed yesterday was to complete a task that would still be completed next week. I needed to do something creative. I needed to do something different from the daily routine. And I needed to do it with supplies contained within my house. So when I came across a full can of brown spray paint I had forgotten I owned, I knew what was going to be as good as a rest.

Ugly brass lamp that has been hiding in my basement for 2 years. . .

plus a can of espresso one coat spray paint

I didn’t realize until halfway through the job that the mackerdoodle was circling me snapping pictures. Believe it or not, this was one of the most flattering angles she managed to capture.

equals an end table for this side of the couch.

Yes, it needs another shade, but like I said, I was working with what I had in my house at the time. All I need was something different, to use different parts of my brain, and this was it. It was something different, and it was as good as a rest.

Nothing Stays the Same

This morning I woke up to frost on the trees and the deck and the car. I put on my robe, and boiled the kettle for coffee and pondered the differences between this winter and last.

This time last year it was eight degrees Fahrenheit, and the entire city was covered in layers of alternating snow and ice. I have a very clear memory of telling Jonathan, “We have to get the children out of the house! If the high is above freezing, I’m taking them out. Even if it’s for 30 minutes.” I stuck to it, too. I didn’t have a jacket that closed over the enormity that was the fetal snickerdoodle, but Jonathan’s insulated hunting overalls fit. I went out looking like a hunter with a beer gut just to avoid another day of seeing only the house. Jonathan was on the second of three grand openings he did last winter, and carrying a full course load. It was a long, hard winter.

This winter has been different in every imaginable way! The weather has been more fall like than winter. We’ve had one snowfall and when the temperature is in the 30’s I say, “No, we’ll play outside tomorrow. It’s too cold today.” I can say that because the temperatures haven’t stayed below 40 for more than two days at a time, and if it does I know we’ll be going somewhere to get the kids out of the house. This winter we go to Bible study, ballet, speech therapy, and midweek at church. I’m having a hard time scheduling in time to hang out with my favorite people (apart from my kids. My favorite grown up people.) because we’ve got stuff. If it wasn’t for the snickerdoodle’s nap times, I’d have two or three other things I’d be doing. Jonathan is still working and taking a full load, because this is seminary, but we’re all getting used to it.

More than anything else (and there are a lot of other lessons), seminary is teaching me that nothing lasts forever. In the seminary world, where routine changes every semester, this is magnified; but the same is true in every part of life. One day soon the snickerdoodle (and by extension, ME!) will sleep. When Jonathan graduates the children will be almost 7, almost 5 and 3. That means I will probably leave seminary with three potty trained children, two children in school (!) and presumably everyone will have words. It’s two years and an entire world away!

Last winter felt like it would last forever. But it didn’t. We got through it. It’s a lesson I need to remember when I’m tempted to shout at the Lord for leaving me in some situation longer than I think is necessary for my sanctification (yes, the irony is intended). The winter I’m living in may seem long, but spring will come. It always does.

If the Shoe Sort of Fits . . .

I hate buying shoes. I actually hate shopping period, but I really hate buying shoes. For the most part I buy shoes at Payless but not sandals. Apparently Payless believes that what women want in a sandal is almost twine like strips of flimsy leather. I prefer something more substantial, so I buy sandals at WalMart.

I know, I’m a delicate flower.

My current sandals are at least five years old, all five of which were Georgia summers, meaning hot and long. They have the aroma of a wet dog, a dead one who had rolled in poop and then lay down in the sun to ferment. There were rumors that the Center for Disease Control had declared them biological weapons and were considering a quarantine of my neighborhood, that could extend to the entire city if I wore them for another summer.

Fortunately for the safety of the world my parents gave me a WalMart gift card for my birthday and I bought new sandals with it.

I hate buying shoes. I may have mentioned that.

Old shoes are comfortable and my feet slip into them automatically. They match the tan lines on my feet. The soles are molded to the way I walk and the straps are shaped to the bumps on my feet. New shoes pinch for a little while. Even when I buy shoes that fit, it takes a while for them to become acquainted with my feet and patterns and behavior. I used to be able to just slip on my sandals and go, forgetting they were even on. With my new sandals I was always aware I was wearing them, and they were new and different.

I’ve had them for a week and the last two days I’ve been able to slip them on and forget them. It’s not a long transition, but it’s there. It’s one of the reasons I hate buying shoes.

This illustrates why seminary life has been difficult for me. Every semester has been like having new shoes. The routine and schedule and events keep changing and just when I get comfortable with them and settle in to the new grooves, they change again and I’m back to the pinching, just a little. Just like with my sandals, there aren’t any blisters or rolled ankles to show a truly bad fit, it’s just the rub of change.

Jonathan is finishing up Hebrew in a couple of weeks and while I’ve only just gotten used to our summer schedule, we’re going to be into the fall one in four weeks. A new set of shoes. A new rub in a different place, and then as I build up my callouses and learn how to slip into it, it will be over and new semester will begin.

I used to love change. My goodness, we’ve never lived in a home more than three years, but children need continuity, and part of my job has been to insulate them from the changes and make continuity where there wouldn’t normally be any.

Maybe that is what is causing the rub. Maybe I’m taking the pinching for all of us and it’s making the shoe feel smaller than it has to. Or maybe I’m getting old and set in set in my ways, and the Lord is breaking me of that. Or maybe I’m just over thinking things. I do that some times.

Regardless, my new sandals fit, and I’m happy to wear them, just as I will be happy to settle into the fall semester when it comes.