Talk In the Salon

As a guy, I grew up going to the barbershop every week with my dad.  Sometimes he would go first and sometimes I would.  We sometimes had to wait, but in a small town of 200, the wait would be one guy at the most.  The barbershop was in the basement of the Seibert Hotel with two pool tables located in the next room.  Talk centered on the next football game, or the one that was just played.  Mind you back in those days, there was no TV, football, baseball, nor basketball games to talk about.  It was all local topics that were falling on the ears as the hair was being cut off.  Below is the Seibert Hotel where my first locks of hair were cut.


Fast forward to the 21st Century to 2017 and I’m in the chair once more having my hair cut in a salon.  Not a barbershop, but a salon.  I know there are barber shops that I could go to, but I was going to one of those and my barber left, so Nadine suggested I come to her stylist for a haircut and have gone ever since.  I was in the salon with all women stylists and all women clients.  The topics for the day were much different from my barbershop experience.  One woman was talking about having her hair cut 6 inches a year ago and when she looked at the mirror, she began to cry.  In fact she cried the whole night because she was so upset.

The topic turned to the TV show The Bachelor and everyone began to participate.

“Vanessa is the worst choice for Nick.  She is a controller and will control that relationship.”

“Nick and Vanessa will not last as she is too insecure and doesn’t trust Nick.”

“Nick should have chosen Raven.  She is so nice and beautiful and Nick missed out in not choosing her.”

“I don’t think Vanessa is going to be able to move from Canada as she is so tied to her family and her job.”

Comments of the show kept coming and it seemed like everyone was personally invested in what was happening between Nick and Vanessa.  The topics were different in the salon from the barbershop that I grew up in, but there was a common thread of both of them.  Neither topic ultimately had any significance to how those topics could positively impact our lives.  Sports games today will be meaningless a year from now.  Nick and Vanessa and their choices will have no impact in how we live our lives.  These conversations are means for building bridges of commonality with others, but these topics will never take us to the most meaningful topics that truly change our lives and the lives of others.

On this journey we choose what we think about and what we talk about with others we pass on this road.  Our conversations and the topics we choose can truly open the door for transforming interactions.  Choose your topics carefully.

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Weakness: The First Step

Whenever we are called upon to do a task, most of us think about the skills we have and the resources at our disposal before we start the project.  We go to google and look on the web for directions on how to get the project done.  We may call a friend who is knowledgeable for advice as well.  We may find as we investigate our resources that we are woefully inadequate to do the task and run from it.  The task may in our minds be too big and use the tactic of procrastination to prolong the inevitable conclusion that we just can’t do the project.  We might use this tactic in hopes that someone else will take the task and run with it so we don’t have too.

I know that I have used at some points in my journey every one of these tactics when faced with a project at home or at work.  Rarely have I used the statement that I am too weak.  Stating that we are too weak would cut at the very core of our being.  We live in a society in which weakness is not a virtue and is to be squashed at all costs.  To be weak is to communicate that you are a failure.

But I came across a passage in the bible in which the Lord was asking Gideon to do a project for him.  It was at a time when the nation of Israel was controlled by the Midianites  and would come on a regular basis into the land and destroy all the crops and take all the animals.  God comes to Gideon and asks him to take up the mantle for Israel.  The messenger who was sent was an angel.  “The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.””Judges‬ ‭6:11-16‬ ‭NIV

Gideon began to question God’s power and wonders of the past because nothing is happening in the present.  The Lord responded to Gideon by saying, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel . . .”  Gideon realized that he had no strength within himself to do the task he was being called upon to do because he was the least in his house and his family was the least in his tribe.  He was saying that his family had no skills to do this task and he had no skills to do this.  He was weak.  He was inadequate.  He couldn’t do it on his own.

God responded to Gideon by saying that He would be with him and He would give Gideon victory.  When we are weak, it opens that way for God to come along side us and give us the support we need.  He waits for us to see our inadequacy.  Our weakness.  It’s at that point that He steps into our lives and the tasks that we have and gives us guidance and direction.

On this journey, God is waiting for us to recognize our inadequacy and our weakness so that His power can be manifest in and through us.  Our only task is to recognize our weakness.

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Consequences of Persistence

Do you remember Sam?  The sparrow that had been pecking on the front window a few weeks ago?  Its been about 6 weeks now and Sam is still pecking on the window  even as I speak, I hear Sam tapping on the window as I write this jlog.  Tapping, tapping, tapping, tapping.  Tapping in the morning.  Tapping at noon.  Tapping in the late afternoon.  Tapping!!!!  Tapping!!!!!   TAPPING!!!!!  You get the picture.

When we think of persistence, we normally think of the positive consequences of this trait in getting accomplished what you are working on.  It was the persistence of the woman who was asking for legal protection over and over again to a wicked judge that caused the judge to give the woman what she asked for (Luke 18)  We find that when we are persistent in our prayers answers will come.

But what about the negative consequences of persistence?  The picture below depicts the consequences of Sam being at our window day in and day out.  He/she leaves droppings that are seen on our window ledge and concrete below.


The consistent pecking and tapping on the window has turned a funny and curious sound into a very irritating sound.  It has prompted us to go outside a few times and try to scare Sam off to no avail.  Every quality has positive and negative consequences attached to the quality.  There are positive consequences of persistence as well as negative ones.

It’s my choice which quality I think and meditate upon.  If I dwell on the negative consequence of persistence, my actions will be much different than if I were to dwell on the positive consequences of persistence.  My choice will determine my attitude about a quality that is being manifest, whether it be kindness, love, dependability, loyalty, etc.

On this journey I am going to choose to look at the positive aspects of persistence of Sam and appreciate the joy I get in hearing Sam outside chirping as I write and the tapping, tapping, etc.


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Making Excuses

As a parent, one of the most difficult things I had to deal with involved the excuses I got from one of my children for not doing what I had asked them to do.  There was no problem if they told me the truth.  I could handle the truth.  But the excuses I got for not doing something drove me crazy.  I would ask my son to carry out the garbage and he would say yes, but would forget to do the task.  He would use the excuse which would irritate me to no end.  It’s probably the same feeling my parents got from me when I gave them excuses.  Excuses are a common pattern when we are confronted with something we have been asked to do and for whatever reason that something hasn’t been done.

I was reading about the adventures of the Israelites as they came into the promised land and began taking over pieces of property that had belonged to other nations and tribes.  God gave them a command to utterly destroy the people of the land. (Deuteronomy 7:2, 20:17, I Samuel 15:3, 18)  Questions could be asked as to why would a loving God want to kill other nations and people s by His chosen nation, Israel.  It does say that these nations were wicked and they worshipped other gods and served them.  It’s a question that I don’t fully understand and won’t until some time in the future.  This jlog is not to debate the justification of a decision that God set up for the Israelites to carry out but to look at excuses we all are tempted to use.

What I find fascinating in my readings involves the responses of the 12 tribes of Israel seeking to carry out His command of utterly destroying the enemy who lived in the promised land.  Here are the accounts of some of the tribes as they took action on God’s command.  “The Benjamites, however, did not drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites.. . .But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land.. . .Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, but the Canaanites continued to live there among them. Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron or Nahalol, so these Canaanites lived among them, but Zebulun did subject them to forced labor. Nor did Asher drive out those living in Akko or Sidon or Ahlab or Akzib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob. The Asherites lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land because they did not drive them out. Neither did Naphtali drive out those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath; but the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land, and those living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath became forced laborers for them.”
‭‭Judges‬ ‭1:21, 27, 29-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

They were given a command, yet they didn’t do what God commanded them to do.  Some of the readings indicate that the enemy had iron chariots that caused the task to be too difficult to accomplish.  Giants in the land caused some Israelites to wither away and make excuses for inaction.  Excuses have been a part of relational interactions for centuries and will continue to dot the journey of future travelers on this earth.

On this journey, we have the opportunity to erase the excuse and take note on what we are called to do by God and do it.  There are always going to be obstacles to accomplishing the task at hand, but removing the excuse opens the door for completing our mission.

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Painted Finger Nails

Almost a week ago Nadine and I were up in Colorado Springs bringing my mom back to her Assisted living home.  She had been gone from her apartment for around three weeks because of a fall in which she broke her hip.  The hip was replaced and rehab at the hospital had concluded and she was being brought back to her place of residence to resume her daily activities.

We were going to leave to go back to Scottsdale, but we wanted to make sure she felt comfortable back in her home.  I wheeled her in with her wheel chair to her apartment and decided to go down to the main living area to get her mail.  One of the full-time workers stopped me and said, “I am so happy your Mom is back with us.  I do nails every Friday for anyone who wants their nails painted and I know that your mom is tired.  I would love to come up to her apartment and do them for her.  She is such a sweet lady.”

I told her I would ask Mom if that was okay and did so.  Mom was surprised that someone would want to do that, and said she could if she wanted to.  About 30 minutes later, Nicole knocked on the door and proceeded to take her wares of polish remover, finger nail polish, and quick drying spray out of her suitcase.  It was fascinating for me to hear the conversation of shades of pink that Mom did or didn’t like.  Pink sparkle.  Red sparkle.   Glistening pink.  Rainbow yellow.  Midnight black.  You name it she had it.  They finally settled on the pink sparkle and the work began.  Off came the old and on went the new.  The finishing touch was the quick drying spray and the nails were done.

My mom on her homecoming had her nails done.  For those who have kept reading, this was a big deal for me.  I don’t remember my mom ever getting her nails done and at 98, she was sitting there quietly with her hands out while the stylist carefully put the new do on.  After living almost a century, she deserves the beautifying things in life.  She loved the finished product, and I loved seeing her smile and showing off her pink sparkle nails.

On this journey, sometimes the simple pleasures of having your nails painted can mean the world to those who deprived themselves for decades.  Maybe it would be good for all of us to identify what brings joy and splurge a little.

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Planting Spring Flowers

Spring is here.  At least in Arizona which means that it’s planting season.  Now I know that for some of you, you have just had a foot of snow dumped on your outside premises and so you won’t be able to relate to me at this time.  You are bundled up in your warmest stockings and a beanie hat with water-proof boots slugging away to work or going home.  We did have a winter of about one month in January where it got down to the 60’s with several days of rain.  But now spring is here.

Nadine and I love pansies (upper left) and violas, the small flowers pictured in the upper right and lower left.  I love looking at these because they have so much color and you can imagine whatever you want.

For instance, the white pansy could look like a monkey face  with two black eyes and a black beard.  It could also resemble an angel with two wings horizontal and a body on the bottom.  When you look for a period of time, all kinds of things begin to emerge.

Take for instance the white and blue violas in the upper right.  If you look close enough at the flower you can see an inverted heart at the very bottom of the flower.  I have planted these flowers for decades and admired them from afar, but Nadine brought to my attention a couple of days ago the inverted dark blue heart.  I will never be able to see these flowers the same will always see the inverted heart thanks to my wife.

On this journey, what you have been doing on a yearly basis  can change as you allow others in your life to help you see life in a new way.  Opening our ears and eyes to what others see can bring a new dimension to our journey.

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A Tough Woman

There was a saying when I was growing up in eastern Colorado that went like this,

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snakes and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails
That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of.

Do you get the drift of how boys were thought of as compared with girls. We were taught to treat women differently, with respect and honor which I believe today. In God’s eyes, women are equal to men in terms of their value. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28. Different interests. Different Needs. Different gifts. Different skills. Different wants. Same value. I was taught that by my dad early in life and believe it today.

But I came across a passage that I have read over and over throughout the years and I would have to give this woman a different sugar and spice definition In fact I wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley. It’s a story of the nation of Israel going to war with Jabin, king of Canaan and Sisera, commander of the Canaanite army. Barak was the Israelite commander and the war ensued. We pick it up at that point.

“Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite. Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket. “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up. “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’ ” But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent-peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.” ‭‭Judges‬ ‭4:16-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jael was the wife of Weber who had an alliance with King Jabin and Sisera, the commander of the army. She knew both of them and realized at some point that her friends were defeated by the Israelite army. Sisera comes to be hidden by her and her family after the defeat. He was afraid and she comforted him with her words and covered him up with a blanket. He asked for some water and she gave him milk. When he was fast asleep, she took a tent-peg and a hammer and drove the stake right through his temple. She murdered the commander of the Canaanite army. Tough woman. Gutzy woman.

On this journey, this story reminds me of what Jesus said about being innocent as a dove and wise as a serpent. He was saying to be careful who you associate with and its good advice for all of us as we journey with Him.

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