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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Turtle....on a Post!?

Yesterday I came across another article documenting the apparent gradual demise of marriage. I find this stuff both interesting and ironic. When I read something like this--and please believe me when I say that I don't doubt it's accuracy at all--I am reminded of the "turtle on a post" phenomenon.

Humor me. Just suppose for a minute that you are out in a field some bright and shiny morning having fun. You're getting your morning walk in the open air...just hiking along. Suddenly, you spy this very curious site, and you hardly believe your eyes: Yup, IT'S A TURTLE RIGHT THERE, BIG AS LIFE IN FRONT OF YOU, SITTING ON TOP OF A FENCE POST!

Sure, you're understandably surprised. It's sitting there curiously staring at you and you're returning it's startled gaze right back. You think to yourself, and maybe you even express your thoughts out loud in the turtle's hearing, "Hey little turtle gal, what on earth are you doing setting here on this post? How on earth did you get here?" Of course you don't expect the turtle to answer you back.

But, if she does, and she opens her little mouth to speak...she tells you she's been training for this exercise for many months. She reports how she's been training and practicing by climbing rocks and graduating to progressively higher and more difficult outcroppings to develop her technical climbing skill and confidence toward this, her ultimate challenge. Today, this morning, was THE big event--the opportunity to face and embrace her destiny...climb this post. And as you can obviously see, SHE WAS SUCCESSFUL!!!

So, if she does open her little turtle mouth to speak...DON'T BELIEVE THE TURTLE (but do help her gently down), because turtles don't climb posts. PEOPLE PUT TURTLES ON POSTS.

So what's the problem in reporting how 40% of a large sample of Americans think marriage is obsolete? Actually nothing. There's no problem in the reporting...none at all. But there is a problem in the interpretation of that information; in the interpretation of that data. So, what should we conclude from it?

Consider this example:
If I were to tell you that our society is in a war with fat; that 40% of the American population is overweight and many in that percentage are actually obese. Then I also told you that medical technology offers amazingly effective means for removing or controlling body fat, and that these methods make the need for dieting obsolete...what would you think? What would you say to me?

Would you say something like, "Wow, it appears we've got a really sick society, one that has forgotten how to eat properly, that fails to discipline itself, and one that often actually looks for excuses to be indulgent?

Of course, yes, that's exactly how you should respond if you are really THINKING--exactly what you should say back to me. Any other explanation flies indulgently in the face of our personal, family, and societal health. It SHOULD be obvious to just about everybody that any other kind of reasoning is just plain wrong..."The Turtle Climbed this Fence Post!" Not!

The Bible clearly tells us about Satan, that he is a liar, a deceiver, and a destroyer (Rev. 12:9; IICor.11:3). Most major societies have historically risen or eventually deteriorated on the strength of their truth-telling and character. In this situation, the idea of marriage being obsolete, or not, is of course not really about marriage per se or at all. The issue is really one that's about angry rebelliousness and sensual indulgence . It's all about finding license for convenient passions and self-gratification without accountability (Romans 1:18-32).

So if and when you read or hear discussion like this about marriage...pleeeez remember the turtle!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tuesday, Judi and I returned from a fun vacation. We've arrived home feeling good--emotionally, spiritually, and physically! That's a sharp contrast to vacations we've done in the past where we got home exhausted and needed a l-o-n-g nap just to catch-up before we returned to work.

It's always nice to renew relationships, especially those that have been seasoned with the spices of shared experience and common history. We were privileged to spend our time hosted in the home of two people who know us probably about as well as anybody. 

My friend Derald was a fellow engineering (Mechanical/Metallurgical) student and lived right next door to me and my (Electrical) engineer roomie . Derald was my best man in our wedding in 1970. Now he and his lovely wife, Andrea, continue to live in that community, Corvallis, OR, a place we moved away from several years after we were married.

It was the late spring of 1973. I had just taken a job as a field engineer with an up-and-coming consulting firm,  CH2M-Hill, based (at that time) in Corvallis, . I had accepted a role with them and they immediately moved us north to Portland--Judi and me and our first, new son, Mark. At that time the company was a fledgling consulting firm. It's a huge understatement to say that they've grown a bit since then.

So, we're back home and we're already well into this week. I've got a lot of pleasant vacation-specific thoughts, and they're like the pleasant sensations of a satisfying meal, wafting around in my mind. They've become tangled-up with and sweetly christen this week's responsibilities, including a home-related "to do" list. Among other stuff it includes things like protecting my maturing grapes, harvesting our apples from the backyard tree, prepping for some Friday counseling work, winterizing efforts in the shop, note prep and outline development for an upcoming men's seminar, strategic business development planning and execution,...and of course, blogging.

But these things are "up front" on a stage against a backdrop of competitive sights and sounds. But you've probably seen or are seeing and hearing them, too--some BIG deterioration in the past two days for the Dow, Doomsday prognostications about a "double dip" recession, rumblings in the Middle East about Palestinian statehood, and another speech from President Obama.... Then, too, on the home front I empathize with Judi's stepping back into the demanding work-day and week themes she faces; a whirl-wind administrative "full-time role masquerading as part-time." It seems to characterize so many contemporary business situations. And this morning we woke-up to a nearly dead battery in our car. Aha. For sure we are home; life is normal again!?...and the message of Proverbs 3:5,6 never wears out.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Pick Up the End of the String!"

Yah. Right. Lots of times I feel exactly like that, like someone has handed me a task more complicated for the moment than I'm prepared to do. It's not that the task is beyond me, "impossible," but that there are so many little pesky demands being made on me, right now in this moment, that finding and "picking up the end of the string"  is just more than I've got the time, emotional energy, and the attention span to do. The word "exasperation" comes to mind.

When my sister and I were kids at home and in the midst of  "circumstances," I can remember my mom saying, "Tie a knot in your (circumstantial) rope and hang on." I think it was her way of encouraging us to slow down and carefully evaluate our options. Another famous saying that we heard often, "Life by the yard is apt to be hard, but life by the inch is more of cinch."Again, it was her way of encouraging us to "slow the train" to give ourselves opportunity for evaluation and clarity before we "jumped." A good look at any situation at hand sure seems to be the more intelligent response to what can feel like overwhelming circumstances.

As a counselor often working with married couples one of the biggest challenges partners routinely face has to do with communication and problem solving.  When I was a neophyte counselor studying at the University of Denver, two of my mentors were Doctors Howard Markman and Scott Stanley. I remember so vividly their words explaining how one of the greatest confounding contributors to couples conflict is in their failure to really understand the problem they are trying to solve together. Of course that starts with their really working to understand one another, first. Howard and Scott would say, "You can't solve a problem that you really don't yet understand!" 

I remember reading the little booklet, "The Tyranny of The Urgent." Perhaps you've read it too. It's been a while, but one of the things I remember about it's wisdom is in this question: What's really urgent?" Insight is discovered in one's ability effectively prioritize where and how I can best use and focus my obviously limited energies and time. Yes!

So, maybe "picking up the string" isn't what's most important right now. In fact, maybe it's not really important at all given the other stuff going on. It'll just lay there for now; I won't give it another thought (Matthew 6:31-34). Ha. When I think about it that way I realize it's just a stupid little out of place string.

What's your "string" today?

Have a super day...I think I will!