Saturday, March 13, 2010

on being a social introvert

My idea of relaxation is being alone... with a book or a movie or a project or a pen and pad... in a quiet, beautiful, inspiring, secluded place. And if I am not in the mood to be alone, I prefer the company of one or two people in short increments. It is actually very energizing and revitalizing for me to have that time... and that is why psychologist tend to call people like me "introverts."

However, I do think relationships and fellowship is really important - actually, the MOST important thing about a ministry lifestyle, so I have to work hard to push myself out of my shell and be social as often as I can manage it. "Social" doesn't have to mean being in a big crowd or staying out late at night. For me, it means that I need to make an effort to express to others that I care about them. It means I take some time to put love into action by having a meaningful conversation, genuinely asking about how someone is doing, sharing a meal, teaching truths from God's word, opening myself up to be honest and real and even vulnerable.

I feel like I can justify my need and desire for alone time, because after all, Jesus made a point of (at least trying) to have alone time in quiet, beautiful, secluded places! But Jesus didn't have a fit when he didn't get his alone time every day, because he knew that his ministry was to love, teach, serve - in essence, pour himself into - others' lives. His priorities were straight, and when the option was to help someone else or hide away, he had compassion on those he saw in need.

I think sometimes I hide behind my "introvert" label. It's an excuse for me to focus on me and what I prefer, rather than focusing on my neighbor and what they need. Don't misunderstand me - I definitely recognize that I need alone time for my personal sanity (after a crazy-social 34 hours, I will bask in a quiet evening at home tonight!). But I must be willing to sacrifice "me time" - like Jesus did - if it means a chance to pour into someone else's life. Those are moments that I don't want to pass up or miss out on... those are the moments that matter.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Contrary hair day

65 degrees and cloudy
The air is thick and wet and humid
Misty rain is fickle and has a mind of its own...
Like my hair.

On days like today
My tresses distress
My locks mock
My mane complains -
Everything that should turn under flips out,
Everything that should be straight frizzes up,
Everything that should curl nicely flops -
Nothing can fix stubborn strands in humid air,
Nothing can tame tendrils and soothe them fair,
No, nothing can be done for contrary hair.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Embroidery lessons

I'm teaching myself how to do a little embroidery. Actually, that doesn't make sense, does it? How can you teach yourself something you don't know in the first place? I should not take credit for it. So let me try rephrasing that: I have an instruction book that my Grandma Chandler gave me that I can sometimes understand, and when I don't, my mom demonstrates for me. Then I try to copy what she did, or make my stitches look like they do in the book, and if it doesn't turn out right, I take it out and try again. On-the-job/experiential training seems to work out well in this case.

I'm getting pretty good at "Lazy Daisy" stitches, which is good, since that's the majority of my pattern. And once Mom showed me the secret to a good "French Knot" (the book assumes all good handiworkers already know this) I had a lot of fun with them too. The stem stitches are giving me some trouble, though... more trouble than I really think is necessary. If the yarn was just climbing straight up the square it would be easy, but the daisy stems lean over to either side, and I just can't figure out how to keep the stitches even as I lean. If anyone has any good ideas, let me know!

The embroidery pattern of my quilt is the long-awaited second step to my masterpiece. Yes, for those of you who have been following along, I am now finished "kni-chetting" (the afghan stitch is a strange mutation of classic knitting and crocheting) my 35 squares of mossy green, Shetland Chunky yarn. That's 30 stitches a row, 24 rows a square... 720 stitches a square... 25,200 stitches in all. After all that, I feel like I'm a Master Kni-chetter. I'm embroidering the four corners, and when that is done, I will stitch all the squares together and add a border. Anyone think I can finish this month??

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


It's not that I hate cats. I just have had so few good relationships with them. Usually I find that we have a conflict of interests: I need space on the floor to drive around (aka, can't just step over obstacles), and cats tend to like to superglue themselves in the most inconvenient places (aka, doorways and halls). This ends in either a crushed tail or me being tardy to appointments. Normally, we simultaneously tolerate and disdain each other with the attitude of, "As long as you leave me alone, I'll leave you alone... but I will not comply with your requests or demands."

Last weekend, my mom and I stayed at my Aunt Ruthie's house in Columbus, Ohio, and to my initial dismay their kind and wonderful late dog, Lady, had been replaced with a big, grey cat named Tom-Tom. But amazingly, Tom-Tom and I got along very well... I think it's because he acts like my dog, Beau... and that may be because they are both rescue pets who understand how good they really have it. Do you remember that song in My Fair Lady that says, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" Well, that's my sentiment about cats: "Why can't a cat be more like a dog?" And so I found a good ol' chap in Tom-Tom.

I was told that he preferred to initiate relationships, so I should leave him be until he was ready. It didn't take him long to walk right up to me and cock his handsome face just so, to look me square in the eye and smile. That was his acceptance token to me.

I was also told that he likes to be scratched under the chin, so when he curled up on the chair next to me, I tried it out. That cat lifted his handsome face at me again and a wide Cheshire grin spread across his face and his tail swished happily. That was my acceptance token to him.

I said he reminded me of my dog, and that is true, though I would never tell Beau that, since he has a fit of fury at the mention of the "C word." Tom-Tom is quite social - he likes to sit in the chairs wherever people are gathered just to be in on the conversation. He does not like closed doors, and will paw and push on it until it is open... and then walk on. He doesn't care to enter every room, he just likes to be able to check on things.

Best of all, he was a gentleman. When he laid on the floor (which was seldom, since he seemed to prefer chairs), and he heard or saw me coming, all I had to do was say, "Tom-Tom!" and he got up and let me pass. I was glad to not have this conflict of interests.

So this entry is dedicated to the good ol' chaps like Tom-Tom, and to all those pleasantly-surprising friendships that defy social norms and expectations.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Time for a little change

I've been keeping up an online journal for a little over seven years now on a quiet little website called It's simple and easy... but it is hard to develop a real audience with it. I've considered trying a different site many times before, but sentimentally stuck with what I know. Today I've decided to be bold - to step out and try something new. We'll see if it is successful. If you want to browse through the past seven years of entries (I may refer to them from time to time) then here is the link:

For those who have been enjoying my Bowl of Cherries for a while, don't worry, the content will be the same... there may be occasional pictures to enhance the stories, too. And for those who just happened across this new blog, I hope you will visit again and share your thoughts with me. I like to write about the people I meet, the things I love, the places I go, and the ways God is changing me day by day.