Monthly Archives: February 2012

“Doctor, heal thyself.”

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Memorial Day in the back yard with family

I was a grown adult squeezed into a child’s school desk.  (You know, those desks with the table part attached to an arm attached to the seat?)  I pretended to examine the names carved into the desk top while I listened uncomfortably to the couple sitting next to me.  We were all there to be “debriefed” upon our reentry into America after serving as missionaries in far off countries.  The couple next to me was serving in China.  As I listened to the husband speak, I felt them shutting down and closing off and retreating into themselves.  His voice crackled with hostility, “I don’t know why we have to reconnect with our friends and family.  We’ve just going to be leaving them again once our budget is raised.  Why go through all that work if it’s just going to be temporary?”  I understood what he was saying- it’s going to hurt to say good bye all over again.  I understood.

In our missions organization, the majority of us are on a 4-year-out-1-year-home cycle.  After a while, it’s easy to forget where your home really is.  That year back in the states is mainly for fund raising for the next 4 years, but nearly everyone comes “home” beaten and battered, worn out and raw emotionally and spiritually.  And no one wants to admit it to anyone outside of our circle of co-workers.  It might look bad to our supporting churches.  We might look weak.  “Doctor, heal thyself,” we fear someone might say to us.

I saw this weakness in me, and I listened to the recommendation of the counselors in the debriefing sessions.  I knew I needed to do the work of reconnecting with my friends and family while I was back home.  But I also knew there was a painful parting up ahead.  I took the plunge anyways.  And I’m glad I did.

Backyard water fight

During our year (and a half thanks to medical issues) home I made several decisions that would guard and heal and refortify my family to let us put down roots again.  First of all, we chose to live close to our relatives (more about that in a minute).  Second of all, we chose to put our kids in the same private school that their cousins went to.  This was an out-of-pocket expense for us, but we felt it was important for our kids to be close to their cousins again.  Frankly, this turned out to be the best decision we could have made for them.  Third of all, I chose not to travel with my husband so much during this fund raising cycle.  In the past, we had traveled as a family all over the Midwest, home schooling along the way.  I decided that we would only travel on the weekends, and only if we could be home for the kids to go to school on Monday mornings. We did not travel midweek at all.  This decision meant that our kids could be involved in age appropriate activities at a home church during the week.  My son got involved in a youth group, my middle daughter joined a Bible Quiz team, and my baby girl made nursery friends at a Mom’s group on Wednesday mornings.  We put down roots, even though we knew they would be pulled up again.

In addition to these roots, I made a concerted effort to “carpe diem” every coffee date and luncheon I could arrange with my old friends.  Knowing the time was short made it all the more urgent and important to get something on the calendar with all the people I love from my past.  Knowing that I was leaving again made it all the more precious to me.  I wanted to listen to their stories of their kids growing up.  I wanted to hear about the changes that have occurred in the last 4 years in my circle of friends.  I wanted to feel a part of a group again.  In turn, they listened to some of my stories, reaffirmed their love towards me, and reconfirmed that I still have a place in their hearts.  Those were some of the healing elements that needed to be applied to my dry, thirsty soul.  My roots could once again draw up life into my soul.

Back yard fun with the cousins

The last rooting measure I took was to fortify my tap root- to reconnect with my family.  I am so glad that we chose to live close by and to get involved in their church because it meant that I saw my parents (and the kids saw their grandparents) weekly.  I remember once my dad mentioned that he was craving baklava.  I went home and whipped up a pan of the heavenly dessert.  I got in the car and drove the 10 minutes to my parents’ house to surprise my dad with a pan of baklava… just because I love him.  It was so worth it to me to live close to them so I could do the little acts of love that we had missed during the last 4 years.  To be able celebrate birthdays and holidays together, to drop in unannounced, and to sit in the back yard together was more soul-nurishing than I would have imagined when we were sitting in those desks back in the reentry debriefing session.  The counselor was right, we ALL needed this.  We all needed to put our roots back into our native soul even though it was just for a season.  We all needed to be healed.

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Ugh! I feel like I have a plank in my eye!

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We humans have an ugly tendency to judge each other more harshly that we judge ourselves.  I’m totally guilty of this.  Here’s a very minor and admittedly shallow example, I have a little bump on the side of my nose.  It looks like a colorless mole in the crease of my nose.  It doesn’t hurt, it’s not a weird color, and it does absolutely nothing to affect my quality of life.  When I look at my face in the mirror I usually don’t even notice it anymore.  I have thought about having it removed for a grand total of about 10 seconds in my entire 30-something years of life.  It just doesn’t bother me.

But I have met a few people in my journeys who have the exact same bump on their nose (I bet we are genetically connected somewhere in our past).  And the first thought that comes to my mind is, “I can’t stop staring at that thing, why don’t they have it removed?”  Of course I continue the conversation with myself and tell myself, “It’s probably for the same reason that you never had your bump removed, because it doesn’t bother them!”  You see, I just judged someone else more harshly than I judge myself.  I applied a different standard of beauty to someone else that I can’t live up to myself.  And we all do it every day… like a million times a day in a million different ways.

Humans.  We’re kind of a rough bunch to get along with sometimes.

Jesus knew about this ugly tendency we humans have.  He said, “Before you try to get the speck of sawdust out of your buddy’s eye, you should take the 2×4 out of your own eye.”  This is figurative language at it’s finest because you’ve never seen someone walking around with a plank of wood sticking out of their eye.  But what Jesus meant was, don’t be judging everyone else so harshly while ignoring your own sins, failures, flaws and short comings.  Quit poking around in other people’s dirty laundry.  Mind your own business!  We learned that lesson in kindergarten.  It’s time to apply it in your grown up life.

So make an effort today to take it easy on each other.  And if you see the plank sticking out of my eye, just leave it alone.  Chances are it’s a bit sensitive to the touch.  Thanks.

Spirit Breaker: When Life Disappoints Me

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Warning:  This blog post contains indelicate, unorthodox, inelegant, and unrefined locution not merely for the purpose of being vulgar or crass, but for the express intention of communicating intense emotions with appropriately magnified rhetoric.  All opposed should cease reading approximately midway through this article.  ~Respectfully, Overly Conscious, Dutifully, Protectively and Sincerely Yours, The Author.

As we each journey through life we find something meaningful to pour our heart and soul into.  For me, I find meaning in pouring myself into ministry to others.  But sometimes we meet with a challenge or road block that can be a Spirit Breaker for us.  Sometimes it’s losing something that we’ve invested ourselves in that causes heart break.  Sometimes the heart break takes the form of rejection by someone that we have loved or someone that we have given our best to.  For me, that is the worst Spirit Breaker.  It takes a long time to heal from that kind of heart break and it takes a true act of the will to love again.

Josh, talking with students

Let me give you an example of this kind of Spirit Breaker.  Back in 1996 Josh was a Senior in Bible College.  We had been married for about a year and a half.  That summer our son was born, Josh was working on his internship and holding down 2 part time jobs.  Then he returned to classes in the fall and added that load to his back as well.  He was working very hard.  In the middle of his internship under the youth pastor at our home church, the youth pastor resigned!  Josh finished his internship (a.k.a. worked for free as the youth pastor) and in the fall was hired part time to officially fill the position.  He worked full time and was paid part time.  He graduated the following spring with a degree in youth ministry and more than a year of experience already under his belt.  The next 8 years were both fantastically successful and fantastically painful as we poured ourselves heart and soul into the youth group. We loved those teenagers more than they will ever know.

We graduated 8 classes of teenagers.  We played a part in the development of a couple hundred teenagers during those 8 years.  The best part was being a spiritual influence, mentor, guide, and leader to kids in various stages of spiritual growth from 7th grade to 12th grade.  The worst part, the Spirit Breaker was when kids would make bad decisions even when they knew the right path to take.  As youth leaders we could only stand at the side of the road of life and shout words of encouragement or caution.  We couldn’t force people to follow God.  We couldn’t force people to behave right.  We couldn’t force kids to stay in the church after they graduated from high school.

It was more than heart breaking to see kids that we had prayed over, cried with, and poured our heart and soul into then leave the youth group and turn their hearts away from God.  We felt like failures when we saw some of our teens floundering inspite of our best efforts to lead them on the right path.  We loved those kids and tried to show them God’s love.  When things went bad, we had to remind ourselves that these kids weren’t rejecting us, they were rejecting God.

Compounding this heart break, this sense of failure, was the lack of support– sometimes open hostility- that we experienced from some of the parents.  We used to joke that Moses had the right idea:  he killed off everyone over 20 before he lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.  Of course that was a joke, and we had a few amazingly supportive parents on our side, but it was just that the disgruntled ones complained so loudly and some were on the church board.

Josh had a particularly devastating experience when a deacon who had kids in the youth group swore at him and complained that the church would be better off without a youth pastor.  This deacon immediately went on my “list of people I do not like” and it was really hard to minister to his kids after that.  I could have let that be a Spirit Breaker for me, but I chose the high road and chose to keep loving the kids even though their dad was a jerk.

(Readers of sensitive constitution should omit the following paragraph.)  I can’t tell you how many times I was horrified and humiliated by a parent when we were in youth ministry.  I had one guy stop me in the church lobby on a Sunday night to complain that there were not enough teens in church on Sunday nights so his kid didn’t want to come either.  Then in the same breath he complained that I was looking a little sloppy for church- I was wearing a T-shirt and cargo pants.  I wanted to tell him, “Screw you!  I don’t drive your kids to church, you do!  And I can wear whatever the hell I want, no one is paying me to be here or to abide by a dress code.  This is probably WHY kids didn’t want to come to church, because some self-righteous prick might criticize their clothing.”

Instead I again chose the high road (with a touch of smart-aleck) and said, “I dressed up nice this morning when all the grown ups were in church.  I figured there wouldn’t be as many grown ups here tonight, so I could dress more appropriately for ministering to teenagers.”  I was shocked that someone would be so critical of me personally.  It was like I wasn’t even a human being in this parent’s mind.  I was giving my all in a “job” where I never received ONE paycheck and this was the reward?  Spirit Breaker.

But I always had hope that I was making an eternal difference for some kid out there.  What off-set all the heart breaking experiences in youth ministry were the times when a kid would really surprise us.  Sometimes a kid that struggled a lot as a teen would pull it together and become a strong Christian adult!  Surprise!  We never could tell how all these seeds that we were planting would turn out.  We had to keep the hope alive.

We just had to hope that we were making an eternal difference even though we didn’t see the evidence right away.  I remember on our last night at youth group, kids and parents were standing around waiting to talk with us and to say good bye.  A few hours later, as the crowd began to dwindle, a girl from a past graduating class came up to me.  She had driven 4 hours from college to say good bye to us.  Then she had waited in line for at least an hour to talk to me.  Ironically, I never felt like I connected well with this girl even though I tried.  I really did love her though.  She started crying and thanking me for the cards that I used to write to her.  Just that little act of attention meant a lot to her.  I was very touched.  Somehow I had made a difference in her life even though I didn’t know it at the time.

Hope.  It is only in thinking of the possible results of the millions of little acts of kindness that I can set aside the pain of Spirit Breaking experiences and to keep on loving and giving and working and sowing seeds into the lives of others.  My only hope is that somewhere along the way, something I do will MEAN something, someone will be touched by a little act of kindness, someone will see Jesus differently because I loved through the heart break.  And for me, that is the only way to overcome a broken spirit… hope for better.

“God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.  It is a good thing to quietly hope for help from God.  It is a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.”  Lamentations 3:24-26

Hey, you want some Fruit?

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“My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.  Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness;  trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits;  the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.

“Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good – crucified.  Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.  That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.  Live creatively, Friends.”

Epistle to the Galatians 5:16-26 The Message:  The Fruit of the Spirit in everyday language.

“These are a few of my favorite things” (did you just sing that in your head?)

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Oprah isn’t the only one who has a list of her favorite things.  Just because Fridays are supposed to be light and fun, here are a few of the things in life that put a smile on my face:

1.  The color turquoise.  Is it blue or green?  I don’t know, but it just makes me happy all the time!  I love that color.

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2.  Daisies.  I like all kinds of flowers, but daisies are the most cheerful, in my humble opinion.  If I could combine the shape of daisies with the fragrance of lilacs or gardenias I would have created the perfect flower.  I like Daisies so much that I named my daughter Emma Daisy.

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3.  The smell of wet dirt.  Think rain, think watering the lawn with a sprinkler, think gardening, think spring.

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4.  Kissing a baby’s head.  I can think of nothing more heavenly than kissing the soft, downy hair of a baby’s head.  Unless of course the baby is dirty, in which case, that’s not a good smell.

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5.  New shoes.  Sometimes I just walk through a shoe store and inhale deeply.  And getting a new pair of shoes makes me unreasonably happy.  I don’t know why.  Probably just because I’m a girl.

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6.  Art.  Looking at it, making it, talking about it, appreciating it- I was made to love art.  It’s the language of my deepest soul.

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7.  Books.  I have a Kindle because I live in a Spanish speaking country where English books are hard to find.  I love my Kindle because I can still read with it, but I vastly prefer books.  The cracking-spine sound of opening a new book.  The smell of paper and ink.  Turning a page and feeling the progress of one side being heavier than the other side.

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8.  Laughter.  I love laughing until I cry or until my tummy hurts or until I make a croaking sound or something equally silly and laugh inducing.  I love people who make me laugh.  I love movies that make me laugh.  I love every kind of humor from slap stick and junior high humor to dry, intellectual wit and sarcastic banter.  I love it all!  I have no problem laughing at myself either.

9.  Naps.  I’m a 20 minute power napper.  I’m a much nicer person after I’ve had an afternoon cat nap.  Every mommy loves nap time.  Even though my kids have out grown naps, I still want one every afternoon.  I just wish I had a hammock.

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10.  Coffee.  And again in the morning, I’m a much nicer person after my cup of happy goodness. Sweet and creamy is my M.O.  The smell of coffee is better than… anything!  They should make coffee scented car air fresheners and coffee scented deodorant and coffee scented breath mints and -OH- I could go on and on and on!  It’s the best legal addictive stimulant around.  Coffee makes me happy, happy, happy!  I usually feel invincible after 2 cups, so I just stick to one in the morning and go about my regular Wonder Woman way.

Of course there are many more things that could go on this list.  Beaches, fall leaves, camp fires, baking, cats (no haters!), compliments, baby animals, dark chocolate covered almonds, date-nite with my husband, my kids, traveling, learning new things, teaching, coconut lime sugar cookies, the list goes on and on.  The world is full of things that I love!  Eat your heart out, Oprah.

Pace Yourself! Life in the slow lane.

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If you’ve ever travelled overseas you probably have noticed that in many places the pace of life is a lot slower than in the USA, sometimes infuriatingly so.  When we first moved overseas it took us a few months to adjust to this slower pace.  We found that by adjusting our expectations we could slip into life in the slow lane.  Our “To Do” list went from 5-10 things per day to 3-4 things per week in the slow lane.  On a good day in the slow lane, if I can check off even one item from the ToDo list, I feel productive and successful.  We had to adjust our expectations or be frustrated and discouraged.  We chose to adjust.

There are several reasons that life is slower overseas.  First of all, for our first year overseas we didn’t have a car.  This meant planning extra time for walking places.  It also meant thinking twice before I bought a second gallon of milk at the grocery store, “Would I rather lug two gallons of milk home now or come back to the store for more milk in 3 days?”  Because we had to carry our groceries home without a car, we made many smaller trips to the store throughout the week.  Decreased mobility slowed us down.

Another reason for a slower pace of life is that we have to shop in many different stores to get what we need. One-stop-shopping is an American thing.  Currently, I shop at 5 different stores each week just to meet our family’s grocery needs.  I call it “hunting and gathering” because no single store has all that we need, all the time.  Sometimes I find a product one week and the next week the store shelf is empty.  (I don’t think inventory is taught in business schools here.)  Some days I feel like all I do is drive from store to store searching for one thing.

A wide range of prices also slows me down.  Sometimes I can find better prices by shopping at another store.  For example, there is a store where I buy our shampoo.  It is a crazy catch-all, you-never-know-what-you-will-find kind of store.  But they usually carry one American brand of shampoo for just a couple of dollars.  It saves me about $8-$10 in shampoo if I buy it there.  So in my mind, it’s worth a trip to the shampoo store every couple of weeks.  The hunting and gathering method of shopping means that it takes me all week to find all the items on our grocery list.  By the time I find everything, it’s a new week and I get to do it all over again!  Grocery shopping can be a full time job overseas!

Paying bills can also eat up an enormous chunk of your day in Life’s slow lane.  In both Mexico and Costa Rica no one sends bills or money through the mail.  In Mexico we would go to the phone company to pay the phone bill, and the electric company to pay the electric bill, and so on. Here in Costa Rica, we can pay our bills at the grocery store, the pharmacy, or the bank.  But in both countries, bill paying means going somewhere and standing in line.  I remember in Mexico standing in line all morning to pay a bill, then just when we got close to the front, the window closed and the teller went to lunch!  We had to come back the next day and do it all over again.  I have learned such great patience from standing in line.  I can now stand in line for hours without complaining!  It’s a wonderful skill to acquire.

We have adjusted pretty well to life in the slow lane, so every time we return to America I marvel at how we used to move so fast for so long!  When we first returned after 3 years away, we had to pace ourselves or the American Way would burn us out.  We found that in America we could complete an entire week’s worth of chores in a single morning!  “Yahoo!”  But rather than enjoying our extra time, we felt like we should take on more tasks to fill the rest of the day.  Within a few weeks we were feeling stressed and burned out.  We made a deliberate attempt to slow it down again.  Life in the slow lane was looking really nice to us, at that point.

Slowing down sometimes feels like an impossible dream.  I hear it from other people all the time when we go home, “I wish we could slow down and simplify our lives!”  You can!  Just sell your car.  That will require you to say NO to a lot of extra commitments and will reduce your radius of mobility to whatever is between your house and the grocery store.  And when you are considerably relaxed in your new slow pace of life, you can send me a thank you card… I’ll pick it up at the post office next time I go.

Children Playing with Matches

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I stepped out of my house to see the sky filling with billows of ominous, black smoke just a few blocks away.  Something was on fire.  The newspaper the next day said that two children were playing with matches in the shanty-town behind the mall and 50 families lost their homes.  It started with the flicker of a match and a puff of sulfur and ended in total devastation.  Children playing with matches.

 When I was 13 years old my family moved to Naperville, Illinois.  My Dad joined the staff of a great church, Calvary Temple, and there I met some of the most influential friends I would ever find.  One of the first services we attended was a New Year’s Eve prayer service.  There were microphones stationed in each isle were people could approach and offer a prayer for all to hear.  Suddenly my bowed head snapped to attention when I heard the voice of a young girl praying into the microphone on the other side of the large auditorium.  I looked up in surprise and saw a girl about my age passionately pouring her heart out to the Lord for all to see and hear.  I said to myself, “I don’t know who that girl is, but she’s going to be my best friend.”  She was brave and passionate and I heard my heart reflected in her prayer.  Many years later Hana Margaron was a bride’s maid in my wedding.  But in 1989 she was just a girl playing with matches.

 It wasn’t long before I found myself surrounded by a little group of friends.  The girl friends that I met at Calvary made a deep impression in my malleable spirit.  We formed a girls’ prayer group, just a bunch of Junior High girls- no adult leader.  And we began exploring the Holy Spirit together.  We were playing with matches.

 It wasn’t long before our cozy little campfire of a prayer meeting started getting out of control.  Suddenly we had a raging fire on our hands.  We became consumed with the passion of sharing the Gospel with everyone.  We brought our school friends to youth group, we started prayer meetings in our High Schools, we provoked religious discussions in Public School classrooms.  During the summers our church hosted Sunday Evening in the Park at the band shell in downtown Naperville.  With my group of young friends in tow, we walked the River Walk every Sunday night inviting strangers to the service in the park and sharing our faith when the conversational door opened.  These kids with matches were consumed with the fire of God.

 Since then I’ve fanned that fire of the Holy Spirit and it has utterly consumed my life.  On first blush it appears that I have nothing to show for my 37 years of life.  The fire has burned it all up.  I have no house of my own.  I don’t have a car of my own.  When it comes time to collect social security I’m going to be screwed because I’ve never received one paycheck for what I do.  There are no schools or hospitals with my name on them.  You will not find a single book written by me (yet).  I have only the degrees I actually need and use, no honorary doctorates hang on my wall.  Here in this world I only have a little handful of ashes that show that a fire has blown through here.  I’m just a girl playing with matches… and I love it.

 There’s an old Amy Grant song called “1974” that always makes me think of those days when our little group of young girls started praying together.  I’m not sure that any of us really knew what we were in for when we asked for more of God.  We were just kids innocently exploring our faith.  I want to say thank you to all my friends from that time of my life.  Thank you for loving God in a way that stirred up a flame in me.  Thanks for warming your hands by the fire with me.  I still love you, Friends.  Did any of us really know what we were getting into?  We were just children playing with matches.

Sunset from my window

 ******In case you are curious, I’m including the lyrics for the song 1974, or you can just look for it on youtube.  Here’s my heart in music.**********

We were young

And none of us knew quite what to say

But the feeling moved among us in silence anyway

Slowly we had made

Quite a change

Somewhere we had crossed a big line

Down upon our knees we had tasted Holy wine

And no one could sway us in a lifetime!

Purer than the sky behind the rain

Falling down all around us, calling out from a boundless love

Love had lit a fire we were the flame

Burning into the darkness, shining out from inside us.

Not a word

No one had to say we had changed

Nothing else we lived through would ever be the same

Knowing the truth we had gained!

The Most Superlative

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Hello Everyone, Grammar Nazi here to give you a quick lesson on Superlative Adjectives.  An adjective is a word that describes a noun (person, place or thing) and the superlative form is the most extreme form of the adjective that you can find.  Most superlative adjectives end in -est, if the root word has one syllable or if it is a two syllable word ending in -y.  For example: big – biggest, pretty – prettiest.  With root words of two or more syllables, you add “most” to make the superlative.  For example:  intelligent – most intelligent.  Two major exceptions are the words good – the best, and bad – the worst.  Remember,

Good, Better, Best.  

Never let it rest,

’till your good is better and your better is the best!

Now aren’t you all glad you stayed in school, kids?

I don’t know if anyone has ever described me using superlatives.  And I’m not a competitive person, so I have never actively striven for superlative status.  In order to find a superlative that suits me, I would have to reduce my field of comparison considerably because there will always be someone out there who is better than me.  Records are broken all the time!  The superlative is a slippery fish to hold on to.

So just for the fun of it, I am going to compare myself to other family members.  But I am not the funniest in my family.  That trophy would have to be shared by my Uncle Russell and my sister Aimee.  Both of them can cause my laughter to dissolve into tears when they get wound up.  Neither am I the most educated in my family, that would go to my Dad who is just months away from receiving his doctorate in the ancient Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of John.  Which reminds me that even through I am bilingual, I am also not the most linguistic in the family. My Dad knows ancient Greek and Hebrew, a pretty good chunk of Latin, can hold his own in Spanish, and muddle along a bit in German… but don’t ask him to pass the butter, because he will  probably forget the word in his mother-tongue, English.  (That’s a family joke.)  I am, in my opinion, not the prettiest in my family.  That honor would go to my Mother who is still often confused for my sister when we go shopping together.  She also has the prettiest teeth I’ve ever seen, movies stars pay big money for teeth like hers… and she’s never had braces!  (Why couldn’t I get her genes??)  And finally, I’m not the most athletic nor the most coordinated.  My athlete husband just laughs at my clumsiness.  (Wait!  I might be the clumsiest in my family!)

So even though I will never be the superlative of anything, I compete against myself, in a way, and try to improve what I do have going for me.  I try to become better and better and what I do and who I am as a person.  I am constantly practicing to improve character flaws that I detect.  I am forever working on strengthening my weaknesses.  I fight the good fight and press on for bigger and better things on a personal level and spiritual level.  Though it’s likely that no one will ever describe me using superlatives, I am striving to be the best ME that I can be.  And that’s all anyone can ask of each of us.

“Flee from all sin, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…”  1 Timothy 6:11-12