Introducing: Mrs. Jennafer Ort

Mrs. Jennafer Ort

Mrs. Jennafer Ort

Over the next two weeks you'll get to know Jennafer (or Jenna as we called her) Ort - who came to UW-L in the summer of 2013 to attend UW-L's Occupational Therapy program. Jenna is one of the most extroverted and playful students I've ever met - in fact - she taught me a thing or two when it comes to just how awesome play is. The first time I ever hung out with Jenna was because she'd just moved to La Crosse and was looking for a group of Christians to hang out with. The OT program starts in June - but Jenna wasn't going to let that stop her! She sent an e-mail and we met up for fro-yo and next thing I knew - we were study buddies! Jenna has a thoughtful and intentional walk with Christ - and added much to JC's during her time in grad school.

Jenna also taught all of us in JC's about the importance of not just wishing the world were this way or that - but taking personal steps to take a stand for what's right and make it better. First we noticed that Jenna didn't eat chocolate. Not because she didn't like chocolate. Au contraire! She loves it (I mean - who doesn't - right?) Rather - she was intentionally giving up one of her favorite treats because chocolate was associated with human trafficking. This was news to all of us. So as Jenna pursued integrity - we learned too. 

Jenna has since graduated from UW-L, passed the boards, started work as an occupational therapist - and recently - Married Phil Ort (Philabuster!). They now live in Kansas City - but are still sharing insights with us - and now you. So come back next week and read more on what Jenna's learned as she dove into this huge problem that affects us all - and insights she's gained on how we can in fact impact this global problem.  

Mr. Patrick Ng - Creator of the Chronodex

Dozens of times a day - I flip open my journal to record some tidbit - this diagram - has an impact on people around me. As soon as they see it - they can't stop themselves from asking "what's that?" I get it - that was my first reaction too.  So - here's the scoop on the Chronodex.


It's a modified clock-face and was created by Patrick Ng - who has a beautiful blog-post about it which I highly recommend you check out here

Mr. Ng created the chronodex at a time when his father's health was failing and his family was struggling with all that means. He used his art - heavily influenced by his dad's love of art and Chinese heritage - to create something different - a way to track time that wasn't the typical boring vertical list from whatever-o'-clock in the a.m. you wake up until the end of your day. He played around with a few ideas and landed on the chronodex. Though Ng is a professional graphic designer in the UK - he impressively generates free downloadable and printable yearly calendars of the chronodex. Here's this years. The generosity of making this visually stunning design so readily available really inspires me.

So - there's nothing magical about it - it's just a way to track time - but it is a very different way visually to track time - and as someone who's fairly visual - I really like it. I started using it back when I was still sick to record the various things I was doing to improve my health - and how well those things were working. Later - as I started feeling better - I used it to plan and track my time and attempt to not bite off more than I could chew and cause a relapse. Because I not only like the way it looks - but like drawing it - I trace it daily into my journal and fill it out as I go through my day. I record some of the same and some different things now than I did when I first started using it - but it's become a kind of artsy, meditative point in my day to draw it out.

The chronodex has really caught on in some sectors - and has a quite a community on-line. There are articles about it - like this one at LifeHacker.

There's a Facebook Page about it (which I just liked) - you can see the page here. If you go there - you'll see that many of the posts/posters use a specific kind of notebook - called a Midori notebook ... which is like a Moleskin notebook - on steroids. Feel free to google image search Midori notebooks - but I'm warning you - that's like journal-crack. You might need a buddy to make sure you don't fall down that rabbit hole forever.

Of course - I LOVE journals, and all things journal-crack and so of course I can't not link you to the Chronodex flickr page! You're welcome. Now that I'm freshly inspired - I'm going to play around too - so many cool ideas here! My favorite is the one above - drawn by Mr. Patrick Ng himself - that blends into/turns into a mind-map. Sweet. 

I don't have to use a Chronodex - but I think it looks cool - and I've been using it for a few years now - and love being able to go back and relive days to a large degree based on my chronodex notes. Mr. Ng is a talented artist with loads of stunning work - drawings, photography and more - I encourage you to take a relaxing stroll through his blog and look at some of the things he's produced. It's visually satisfying.

Cool Person Alert: Hannah Whitehall Smith

Some of you have heard of Hannah Whitehall Smith.  Some of you are about to.

For reference - here's who we're talking about today:  

obviously ... she's hipster

obviously ... she's hipster

Smith - born nearly two hundred years ago - in Philedelphia was a Quaker.  Quakers were generally terrific pragmatists and Smith was no exception.  Because her entire personal theology grew out of the soil of her classic saying (above) "God is enough." she saw her primary role to living out that "enough" was through - not just submission - but surrender.  She used that personal surrender as a means - not to life long torture, denial, misery or any other such - but as a means to illuminating the path of truth to God's purpose for all.  If she didn't completely understand a promise in scripture - she would ask herself - for instance - if she was understanding that passage through the "I must" of obligatory duty or if she was understanding it through the "I get to" of love (though her way of writing that was "may I"

This simple distinction shouldn't be rushed over or glossed over.  Too quickly we are satisfied - in this age of one minute Bibles, and one-minute sermons and one-minute prayer ... we can be tricked by our appreciation for speed into underappreciating the tenacity of this woman who meditated, pondered, ruminated, and in all other ways teased apart and reconstructed scripture over and over until she understood it in a way that was like receiving a shot of God's love straight from His own heart.  All other interpretations - however convenient - were inferior to the one that reminded her of God's incredible love for her.  This unrelenting pursuit of a deeper comprehension of God's love through filtering all of God's word through that lens led to a curious result in Smith's life.

Smith was happy.  

No I mean really happy.  Ridiculously, enviably, and notably happy - in the midst of hard labor, a daunting schedule, farming by hand, travel by horses, no internet, petticoats and shoes - SHOES I tell ya! - with more buttons than the space station! (well ... practically) - her happiness began to attract attention.  A lot.

So much so - she was encouraged on all sides to explain herself.  So she did.  Her explanation led to more demands that she explain herself - and so it went until finally she sat down and wrote it all out in a book - which has failed to go out of print.  Her book - called The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life" 

Before sharing her message of understanding obedience totally through God's love and our loving God - she describes life this way:

"You do love your work in the abstract, but in the doing of it you find so  many cares and responsibilities connected with it, and feel so many misgivings and doubts at to your own capacity or fitness, that it becomes a very heavy burden, and you go to it bowed down and weary before the labor has even begun.  Then also you are continually distressing yourself about the results of your work, and greatly troubled if they are not just what you would like; and this of itself is a constant burden."

Now I know that while words like "Brexit" and "Sharenting" were all the rage in 2016 and "Uberization" looks like it's poised to leave a mark on 2017 - "Happiness" has been a big-whoopity-doo for a LOOOOONNNGG time.  And why not?  "Misery" has no pull to compare.  And I am all for being happy - especially when the alternative is a demeanor that compares to "sucking on lemons and guzzling vinegar"  I mean - I confess - I watched "The Pursuit of Happiness", read "Happiness Project" - and even the sequel.  I'm ALL FOR improvement, growth and that British baking show if that makes you smile. 

But - happiness as an end in and of it self - I believe - will fall short.  Every. Single. Time.  And - while a lot can be said for a pursuit of happiness in the midst of struggle as a way of making the best of things - I still feel compelled to point out that this word doesn't mean exactly now what it did then.  To many Quakers then - to be happy - was to feel blessed.  

The gift of this book is Smith's down-to-earth descriptions of conversations with numerous people she encountered - struggling through the difficulties of life in the mid-1800's.  Her book actually came out in 1875 - this was just a decade after the civil war ended and just two years after the financial panic of 1873 ... people were despairing.  

Also - contrary to many modern versions of the teaching that to obey God is to be blessed - some of which are just disastrous - Smith's definition of having received the "happiness of God" was that you wanted to be faithful.  In other words - to Smith - the ultimate reward for understanding God's word through the lens of love was more of God Himself.  Smith says it best herself:

"God's way of working therefore, is to get possession of the inside of us, to take the control and management of our will, and to work in it for us.  Then obedience is easy and a delight, and service becomes perfect freedom, until the Christian is forced to explain, "This happy service!  Who could dream earth had such liberty?" 

This quite a different message than some present today.  Her entire book is an argument for the trustworthiness of God.  She makes these arguments by presenting a passage - highlighting the promise therein - and then giving multiple examples of people who struggled with that very passage - but surrendered themselves to God's love and sovereignty and discovered not just love through obedience - but freedom.  

While updated versions exist with modern language - I do encourage you to try first the original - the language is different - but her voice comes through beautifully and her message will be less diluted.  

Lastly - this posts - as well as all my previous posts ... if this is as helpful to you as it was to me; thanks for stopping by.  If not; thanks for stopping by.  I am committed to pushing on regardless.