Saturday, April 21, 2007

feels like home.

I was all set to finish another blog but somewhere between carrying in 500 bags of groceries and walking the dogs, I lost my motivation to complete that particular story. I guess I just got more introspective or thoughtful (for lack of a better word). Anyway, my mind and heart are currently occupied with things that are precious to me.

So, I'm sitting here listening to a song that's entitled "Feels Like Home." And you know what feels like home for me (other than family)?

Friends.

Watching the news about the tragedy at Virginia Tech only reaffirms the absolute need we each have for community. Would things be different if the gunman had someone in his life who knew him and cared about him? Would Virginia Tech even be in the news?

Friends feel like home. They just do. You feel like you're where you belong when you're with them. And I'm not talking the general population who happen to know your name or could recognize you in a lineup. I'm talking about those select few (and oh are they few and far between) who know your heart better than your face. To be honest, you should count yourself blessed beyond measure if you have just one. It is rare. It is precious. And its value is immeasurable.

I have a very small handful of friends like that. Some new, some old. I honestly don't know what I've done to be that lucky, but I carry gratitude like none other because of them... and only because of them. There is nothing I have or could ever do to deserve that. In my life, I have always had a hard time wrapping my head and my heart around grace (I am a child of God, accepting him when I was younger - but the truly grace-filled life has escaped me for longer than I would like to admit). Amidst my valiant effort to fight off having to trust and believe in a grace that is free and true were adversaries (known as my friends) fighting right back, disrupting my cynicism and my doubt. Those people (and they hopefully know who they are) are grace personified to me. A personalized picture of the cross. They don't know it, but Jesus has put them strategically on the frontlines of a fierce battle for my heart, and more importantly, for my complete surrender. I believe, at least for me, that it will be through these people that I truly become who God wants me to be.

The completion of me won't happen until I see Him face to face, but that just means it's the journey that matters most. Well, it's taken me a very long time to realize it, but on this journey (or any other journey for that matter) I don't want to walk it alone. I've done that for far too long. I need my friends. I need community. I can't do it otherwise. I don't know why I'm always surprised by that and try to prove the contrary... but it is as true and as real as the air I breathe.

Anyway, this goes out to my friends... my longtime ones that I appreciate more and more now that there is some distance between us due to life and work and family. And to my new ones who have stepped into my life as if they've always been there. It really does feel like home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

to bee or not to bee...

So, this morning I'm recovering from my Nyquil hangover (and no, I do not do Nyquil recreationally), and I decide to go sit on my balcony for a little bit. You know, wake up, stare at the pretty lake, and slowly return to coherency. Well, all of a sudden I notice my dog, Jill (the other dog that is not Jack) is lunging her head back and forth through the railing on the balcony. A bit aggressively I might add. Now, I'm not in the most alert state of mind at this particular moment, but I am able to recognize when something is "off." And this struck me as strange, even for her (that's a later story).

Anyway, there is a tree in front of my balcony (it's one of those pretty trees with little red berries and flowers, stays green all year long - that kind of tree). Well, apparently it's the season for pollen and whatever bees do, so there are all these little bees flying around (small bees, the size of flies). And, of course, Jill is trying to catch them and cause havoc in their little bee lives... but the funny thing is any time she gets too close to them, she shakes her head violently afraid that she actually caught the bee and that it's stinging her repeatedly on the tongue.

Now, several things are funny at this point - Jill shaking her head violently while her head and neck are lodged between iron bars, funny. Jill yanking her head back through the bars and looking at me with berries, flowers and leaves stuck in her nose and mouth, funnier. Bees then staring at Jill wondering, "well, how the heck do we get to those... they're hanging from that dog's face?" even funnier.

But, the biggest thing for me - the potential for the most embarrassment - is that Jill is quite the overachiever, so her lunging, as she gets more and more courageous, starts to include a leg, shoulder, chest... and all I can think of is how exactly I'm going to ask the maintenance guy:

"Do you happen to have a blow torch? My dog is stuck in the bars on my balcony.... Why?? Well duh. She was trying to eat the bees."

I need more Nyquil.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

about jack...

I'm sure there is someone wondering what "Jack's Tavern" is all about. Well, in its simplest form... it's nothing. I was setting up my blog and realized, "hey, I need a name." About that time, a big hairy blob rolled over and laid across my feet. That blob would be named Jack and is my dog of going on 8 years now. [Side note: I'll get to my other dog in a later blog and how she came to be named].

Once I decided to use Jack in the name, I began thinking about what I want my blog to embody as far as purpose and atmosphere (I guess this is where the "nothing" that I referred to actually becomes something). Now, sometimes when you think of a tavern, you think of lots of drinking, smoking and sticky bar stools. Let's upscale my idea of this particular tavern a bit. First, it exists in one of the states that outlaws smoking in public places so the air in Jack's Tavern is breathed, not seen. Second, I've hired Mindy C as the tavern manager - rest easy tonight knowing there will be no sticky bar stools, germy tabletops, or nasty floors. It's immaculate. And, more importantly, bacteria free. Third, this is more of a hole-in-the-wall, quiet, conversationally driven pub-like establishment... no obnoxious drunks, bad dancers, or close talkers with questionable breath. And since I mentioned the word "pub", no rowdy Irishmen.

Now that you have that picture in mind, the reason I picked "tavern" is not (contrary to what my mom might think) to get under my parent's skin because she and my dad both abhor drinking of any kind (having an alcoholic father will do that to a kid, and sadly both of them did). It's actually because there is this relaxed, welcoming, and almost "safe" feel that a tavern tends to exude. It is both a place of familiarity and anonymity. You know the place - 'where everybody knows your name', but no one knows your thoughts unless you volunteer them. A tavern paints personal conversation seated closely to gracious dissimilarity. Anyway, that's the reason for it being Jack's Tavern, and not Jack's Burger Barn, Jack's Bar & Grill or the ever popular Jack's Beer Emporium. Oh, and just to stay on the up and up, the subtitle of my blog (who's jack and where's my pina colada?) is TOTALLY to get under my parent's skin and so very random I still don't know where it came from.

So... all of that to say, pull up a stool, order your favorite ale and join the conversation... drinks are on the house.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

what to say, what to say

I'm not sure what I'm thinking with this whole blog thing. Maybe I'm doing it because it's the cool thing to do (little shout out to Mindy C). Trust me, it's not because I feel like I have something valuable to say... especially considering the writing of these things will most likely happen after my brain has passed its most alert and intellectual point for the day. What's funny is I've never been able to even keep a diary for more than a week, so exactly what I'm thinking, trying to keep up a blog that other people are supposed to regularly read and respond to, is more humorous than you realize. [Note to self - probably not a good idea to watch TV while trying to write] My attention span, at its most ambitious, is a bit sketchy (and that's with nothing going on), much less with a big colorful box talking to me about how to survive if I get stranded on a volcanic island with nothing but a styrofoam cup and a gum wrapper. Anyway, it might be more productive of me to write on my balcony staring at the pretty lake. Of course, knowing me, I'd probably just get distracted by the water, a passing duck, a leaf, or perhaps a random drop of condensation that mysteriously"shows up" on my chair. Who knows? I'll solve the writing/concentration issue later... along with a few smaller, insignificant items like global warming, increasing gas prices, world peace, and deciding which song most appropriately should be played at all future Angelina Jolie sitings (pretty sure "We Are the World" is quickly becoming the front runner). It may just be - that any time I write a blog -I allot a large amount of time to accommodate both the TV watching and the writing (or accommodate basically any distraction... and the writing). Anyway, I'm going to give it a go. We'll see what happens. My only request of anyone reading my random thoughts is to be sure and set your expectations very... very... and one more for good measure... VERY... low.