Building Blocks

Greetings my friends! I’m still here! We’re packing, purging, and getting our current house ready to list. All the while I’m beginning to dream about the “farm”. I’ll be too late to plant the garden this year but will take on the pond this summer. And learning to appreciate sunsets from my wraparound porch. Still, my brain is currently occupied with boxes and shelving and storage and … stuff. I have way too many books. And crafting projects. And paper notebooks. However. The current bane of my existence is LEGO. Read about my first experiences here. I hate to say it but not much has changed since that post oh so long ago. In fact, it’s kinda funny that Lego was involved in blog changes then… and blog (okay whole life!) changes now.

Okay. So let’s recap the muse about Lego again. Denmark, 1916. Woodworker named Ole Kirk Christiansen is known as the “creator” of Lego. His original shop was building houses and furniture but the Great Depression caused the crew to focus on smaller projects like wooden toys. The term “Lego” is loosely translated to Danish for “play well” leg godt. In Latin “I put together”. The name stuck.

Photo by Rick Mason via unsplash

Fast forward through some tweaking and brick adjustment, and by 1958-60’s Ole’s son, Godfried had taken over the family business and began the big switch to plastic bricks over wooden ones. I was shocked to know that Lego Canada wasn’t fully established until the late 1980s. The bricks had made their way to North America sometime before, but Canada didn’t have its own branch until then. My childhood. I must be old. Now, of course, we have Lego amusement parks, online clubs, T.V.’s Lego Masters etc. etc. And no age limit to builders. AFOL is a thing: Adult Fans Of Lego. My grown son is one.

In fact, the whole house is filled with Lego maniacs. Someone inevitably receives a box at Christmas. During the pandemic, weeks were spent building Hogwarts giant castle complete with minifigures and moving staircases. And so the conundrum of moving it all. No one is willing to part with it (even though I hear you can fetch $60 a kilo for the loose bricks). I have a large, I’m talking knee-deep, bin full of loose bits and bobs and teeny tiny pieces I painstakingly sorted from various shelves and jars. I’m still finding random bricks here and there. I was chastised for not keeping the kits together… but what’s a mom to do when there are sooo many? Plus I have built kits collecting dust on shelves. Any hints? At this point, I am open to all and every suggestion. Message me. Please.

I suppose I cannot complain. We have been blessed with the resources to give such creative projects to our kids (those kits aren’t cheap… even second-hand!) And I am thankful that this hobby is one the whole family can participate in. Skills are required and bricks are boredom-busting… at least for a little bit of time! I love Christmas afternoon. The little baggies are all over the dining room table and heads are bowed in brick worship and concentration of builder booklets. Even our girls.

So my muse takes me to Ole Christiansen again. Could he have built my soon-to-be new-to-me-century farmhouse back in 1900? Would he know his toy would become a worldwide phenomenon? Will I ever find a solution for how to pack, sort, and store all those tiny bricks? I need perspective. Hebrews 3:4 says:

 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

I must remember that houses, Lego bricks, dishes, books and treasures I find are human things. Made by some factory and shipped from Amazon. Even the precious ones are created with human hands. God is the builder of our relationships. Our connections and our friendships. Our families. He orchestrates the timing in our lives of who arrives and who leaves our blips in time… and the whys of when they are there. I’m glad you all are out there. Connected to me in a weird way through my words on a page. I may not know you… and I may know you well. Your purpose in being here is real. I’m glad. And if you have an idea on how to organize Lego for moving: I’m very glad! Message me!

He Popped the Question!

Welcome back, my beloveds! I apologize for the slight delay, but February is a fun-filled month for us and I just wasn’t feeling it. I was in a little stale state as far as writing was concerned… even though we had lots going on! Birthdays, Valentine’s day, Family Day weekend, and I am proud to announce that an engagement has now been added to the month’s list! Our eldest son asked his beloved to marry him… and she, of course, said yes! How am I old enough for this? No comment. That purple hair is coming soon.

And so begins the muse… popcorn. Sorry, I suppose that connection needs to be made. After the great “proposal” we had a little gathering where the mother of the bride-to-be displayed little bags of popcorn that said: “He popped the question”. I’m sure you’ve seen the pun on Pinterest or at various shower-type events such as the one we had this weekend. Anyway… it was a fun little gesture that got me a thinkin’ all about that snack. Who discovered it? How? Why? Why is it the movie snack? Is it the only movie snack? And so I dug a little.

Let’s start with the variety. Popped corn is not the same as the veggie served at Thanksgiving dinner. The Zea mays variety everta, is the most common strain of corn used for popping. Originally domesticated in South America, people used to “pop” it in large kettles on the stovetop. MMMmn. Kettle corn is still the best form, I think. And the movie theatres? Well… somewhere around the 1890’s a guy called Charles Cretor created the classic street car “steam-powered” cart for selling nuts, candy and popcorn. That became popular when Mr. Dickinson began putting them in his theatres… a move that proved the snack was more popular than the actual movie ticket! It wasn’t until the 1970s that a Mr. Orville Redenbacher’s namesake brand of popcorn was launched for home use (now that tv movie watching seemed to have taken over from movie theatre going). Have you heard of that guy? Industry leader, for sure.

So what about that aroma? Remember smelling it back in the school or church basement and just knowing something good was about to happen… movie night, party period or something great. Ahhh… That smell just made you want to snack! Turns out it’s creepy chemicals affecting our brains. Popcorn contains high levels of the chemicals 6-acetyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydropyridine and 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, very powerful aroma compounds that make us crave the taste. These chemical compounds are also used by food and other industries as a marketing tool to make us “want” their products. Cue profitable theatre ticket sales.

Are you craving popcorn now? Well, just before you dive in the pantry for some Redenbacher’s, let’s think about this as our takeaway: Romans 8:28. We are like those little grains of everta corn to God. He knows that sometimes a little “heat” causes just enough stress to “pop up” good things in our lives. We need to expand out of our little comfort zone sometimes in order to become sweet and yielding. Like that microwaved bag, sometimes things just keep popping and popping up …. one thing after the other. Rest assured God allows it for something good. Always.

Here’s another thought. 2 Corinthians 2:15. We are to be that sweet attraction to others when things are popping up in their lives. The aroma of Christ should flood the room like popcorn scent in a theatre. It draws you in and makes you want to taste it. You should want to crave it. That should be the power of Christ in our lives. And it should be the center of my son’s new marriage adventure. So the party gift was ever so appropriate. I think I’ll go finish off the bag now. How about you?

Contrast and Kindness

Life is full of contrasts. We start small and grow big. We are young and get old. We have good days and bad days. We are weak and we are strong. We feel sad and we feel glad. Days and nights pass into years and decades and we continue to go through moments of contrast. The dictionary describes contrast as “ being strikingly different” from something else. You can be in a state of contrast (noun) or in the middle of it (verb). Yep, life is definitely full of contrasts.

Have you been feeling it this week, my friend? I used to worry that if all was going well, it meant something bad was just creeping around the next corner. It’s easy to feel that way because often it happens just like that…. One day you’re smelling the roses and Boom! Thorns attack and the pain is felt strong and steady.

Recently, I read a little object lesson for kids about contrast. Think about cotton balls and stones. One is soft and fluffy… like puffy clouds in the sky. Rocks, on the other hand, are hard. Rocks are solid and full. You can”t stretch a stone like the fluffy clouds. Rocks sit. Now imagine I wound up and hit you with a handful of each. How would you feel? Now pretend the cotton balls are kind words and the rocks are unkind and mean words. Which hit harder?

It’s a simple object lesson – but effective for even us big kids. As we get older, we are not immune to the consequences of our words. We cannot excuse our verbal spewing because we are older or wiser. Hard and harsh words still land solidly on the ears of others… and they can hurt. Like rocks pelted in the playground.

In contrast, kind words are soft, soothing and tend to spread wider. When we build up one another in love and affirmation, it spreads beyond the first set of ears, like the fluffy clouds spreading across the blue sky.

So, even in this life full of contrasts, we must always remember to be kind. Our words are powerful and can have a “strikingly different” effect on those who hear them. It’s wise to “think before we speak”. I hope that my musings do that each week as I share words on a page. Now, go have a cotton ball snowball fight this week!