Friday, November 28, 2008


Bright winter sun streams in thru the dirty office window that I sit behind.  It feels warm and hopeful.  It feels like its aging my skin.  But I don’t mind.  With age comes wisdom, and at least then I am not a pasty white engineer type.   Thanksgiving was WONDERFUL.  I have a great family, full of talented and resilient people.  I have their DNA. 


Little neon sticky notes pepper my desk and computer screen and I know I should stop typing and get to the equipment list that I need to finish (start?).  But somehow this serene Friday after Thanksgiving is begging me to breathe and reflect and be all sappy.  And to maybe go find a bagel in the kitchen.


Hope.  I hope there is a blueberry one left.  I hope I am productive today.  I hope people realize that relationships are never over.  Their roots linger long after we have tried to remove them.  I used to think compartmentalization was necessary and just the way things were…but I am reminded that God only wiped the slate clean once.  After that, he said no matter how grave it gets, I will chase you.  I will woo you back to me.  No matter where you go, what you do, if you are mine and intended for me, I will find you and keep you and redeem you.   No matter how broken your bones are, my breath is sufficient to make them dance again. 


When I was a kid I had really bad handwriting.  I was ashamed of it because it was the only thing I couldn’t seem to get good grades in.  It was the source of a dreaded reprimand from my teacher.  My aunts and parents worked with me to correct it.  I would start a paper or an essay or math homework and halfway through I would look at how messy it was and rip it out crumple it up and start over.   My handwriting improved but my method did not.  In math, I did so much of it in my head or in my very unorthodox code, which consisted of maybe writing down every third figure and surely not in neat straight lines.  It made showing my work to teachers feel very much like lifting my dress over my head.  I didn’t understand why they wanted to know how I got there? If the final answer was right…why did it matter how I got there?  I never got there like they did anyway.


Into college and after the advent of word processing I would do much the same thing.  I never wanted record of changes, or mistakes, so I would rarely track them.  I would not keep first drafts.  I couldn’t even seem to follow proper procedure in my chemistry lab books, no erasing, white-out or scratching through was allowed.  You had to draw one single line through your error so that everyone could still see it. Then you had to initial it.  As if to say, “I am LEM and this is the color of my underwear on 11/12/08.”  Even as I saw the tracking of these errors as neon signs pointing to the chinks in my armor of perfection, the wise profs saw the value of this process.  They (whoever they were) realized that the process of recording what was done, right down to the mistake, was important to the final product and for looking back over decision making processes.  They also knew that if you go into battle with chink-y armor, that isn’t a good thing.


Now (that I am old, wise and sun-damaged) I keep everything.   It’s taken me seven years of hard learning, but I keep all of my chicken scratches that I write on my engineering drawings in three large bank boxes under my desk.  This means I have had to stop doodling and recording unhelpful meeting commentary..i.e. “Wow, Joe Schmuckatelli has excessive ear hair”.  This also means I have to keep the boxes away from the space heater.  I keep a ratty book of my process flow diagrams for work for the duration of the project now.  It becomes so cool.  With all of the different colors of pen, all the notes and data, the layers of thought and dog-eared pages.  I refer back to it constantly, I teach others with it and it saves me so much time.


All this nerdy-ness is my way of illustrating that the process is important.  With stuff, but even more with people.  I used to be so much more endpoint oriented, final-polished-product oriented.  I left out the value and the beauty of the process. 


Perfect example would be my basketball career.  Not many people can say that they have four national championship rings, I very much can.  But I also know about my shortcomings and things I did during that time that more resembled sausage-making than living a dream-like journey.   That process was overlooked and unimportant to me compared to getting the ring at the end of the year.  The endpoint was praised, but it was so fleeting and empty, I wish I had done the journey part better, especially with respect to relationships with people and with respect to taking care of myself physically, and spiritually.


There were no blueberry bagels, but there is still Hope.    




Sunday, November 16, 2008

Conversation with Mom...

Rick James, everybody!

Mom: "What are you up to this weekend?"
Murl: "Oh I'm going to this thing at the zoo called Zootini"
Mom: "Zuchini?"
Murl: "No. Zoo-tini"
Mom: "Oh."
Follow up conversation:
Mom: "So how was that thing you went to at the zoo? What was it... 'Zucchini'?"
Murl: "Uh. Still no. It's ... 'Zootini', like 'Martini'...take the word Martini and put a "Zoo" infront of it.
Mom: "Zoo-Martini"
Murl: "No, Mom...."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Dirty Window

I sit by a window now…so the goings on outside now permeate my bubble… yesterday there were a gaggle of Canada Geese tromping by... from the neck up they bobbed along, cheering me on.  GO BACK TO WORK.


Today a woman glided by pushing a cart of sandwiches…like unwrapped ones...where is she going?  What is the lunch occasion? Why wouldn’t you cover them knowing there are geese around?? GET BACK TO WORK.



Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election thoughts by Beth.

Emphasis Mine:
A few things I'm so thankful for on this election day, regardless of the outcome:

*We live in a democracy where we have the right to a vote and a voice. We have the God-given responsibility to use both wisely and in the way that best reflects what God conveys through Scripture.

*God "works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will" and "according to the plan." Ephesians 1:11

*Not only does God work out everything in conformity with His will, He has promised to work out everything for the GOOD of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

*God sets up kings and deposes them and gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21

*We, the beautifully diverse family of God, are never - not at any time - powerless. Nor are we ever victims of a system. Believing prayer takes us through doors we'll never be invited to enter and into judges chambers we'll never grace. Take a look back at Genesis 18 once again with astonishment over the dialogue between God and His servant and friend, Abraham. Rejoice that God is ever mindful of a faithful remnant. The Judge of the Earth will always do right.

*Even if persecution should await believers in Christ or harrowing circumstances hound us, God will use hardship to bring unity and purity to a people who need it desperately. The best of circumstances do not always produce the best in the Bride of Christ.

*The living God is firmly established upon His Throne and there at His holy feet we can always find grace and mercy in our time of need.

*No matter what happens today, we are GOD'S elect. He has elected us to show His heart and to walk in His ways in the culture that surrounds us. We are called to walk in the challenging balance of grace and truth.

May we be filled with Christ's Spirit today and our mouths given to praise and to believing, receiving prayer. God IS faithful and He has us firmly in His hand. We will not fear. We will not doubt. We will not hate.

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders." Deuteronomy 33:12