Tuesday, December 29, 2009
RATHER THAN resolving to read the Bible more, focus instead on living each day to His glory. If this is our focus, utilizing the ultimate guide book on such matters will be a natural part of our lives. Reading the Bible through in a year, while applaudable, is something that must be done with great caution lest it become like some athletic challenge rather than a true time of devotion, reflection, & application.
RATHER THAN resolving to lose weight and wrapping it in the paper of "it's for my health", focus instead on the people who love you most and, more importantly, the word of God. If we all lived truly embracing the idea that our bodies are temples, the obesity epidemic would be non-existent. And if we truly loved those who love us as completely as possible, we would also not allow ourselves to get to the point of needing to resolve this each and every year. We would maintain our health NOT to relish a smaller size...NOT to spend more time on ourselves....NOT to look like we did (or better) in high school....we would maintain our health because it's the very least we can do for those who love us.
RATHER THAN resolving to save more and spend less, simply examine the past year with the eye of your parent or grandparent or even better, your Savior. Did you spend what He gave you in a way that would make Him proud of you - your ultimate Father - your Abba, Father....was He standing next to you when you purchased the $400 pair of shoes, another pack of cigarettes, a new car, the tattoo, yet another upgrade to your child's arsenal of video game systems?
I don't believe resolutions are inherently bad. I don't believe wanting to read the Bible more, lose more weight, or buying a pair of expensive shoes is inherently bad either. I DO believe that we fallen humans don't need any help at all in focusing on ourselves. In the past year I've noticed that in my own life, the very things which perhaps I would normally resolve to eliminate or change have actually kept my feet from straying. We MUST believe that He will avert all evil or turn it to our profit. And while Paul asked to have his own thorn removed several times, the Lord knew that on Paul's earthly path having that thorn was for his own good.
Too often what we seek to eliminate is the very thing that is keeping us (insert the word).....could it be "humble".....could it be "grounded"....could it be "devout"...... Not having a lot of money may be keeping you from being tempted by the 'sights that dazzle'....having a few extra pounds may be keeping you from the sin of pride and arrogance.....the job that stinks may be your mission field.
Perhaps, then, the only real thing we as Christians need to resolve is to have our eyes open to His will, our hearts prepared to accept that will, and our courage girded up enough to live within His will minus the grumbling, complaining, and constant urge to "improve" upon what He has given (or not given).
Happy 2010....may you find yourself living even more in the hollow of His hand than you ever knew possible.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Yet grief could easily be experienced without the loss of life. Christian parents know the grief of seemingly losing a child because of their loss of faith. People of all stations, especially in recent years, have experienced the grief that comes from job loss. Job loss can lead to further tragedy that includes ruined reputation, drastic changes in a standard of living, the loss of medical care, and even the loss of a home.
Tragedy and grief strike with no respect of persons. The experience is shared across geography, religion, and economics. Loss is loss regardless of situation. The sting is universal. The lives touched forever changed.
To speak with anyone who lived through the Great Depression in America during the 1920s and 30s is to be regaled with stories of pain and suffering. Of adult men reduced to apple selling and women thinning what was called “soup” even further while children had bellies that ached. The Depression touched lives regardless of beginning station in life – and in fact it could easily be argued that the repercussions were felt hardest in the lives of those that had most to lose. And while those Depression survivors now speak of the past experiences as “character building”, the act of looking back often creates rose-colored glasses through which the gift of years becomes a perspective which helps only in retrospect.
There is a good chance, therefore, that anyone reading this has experienced a form of grief or tragedy. There is an even better chance that right this instant someone in the vicinity is going through a particular tragedy. A neighbor, a fellow church member, a cousin, friend of a friend….someone is experiencing a form of suffering which should….which MUST result in difficult introspection involving questions along the lines of “What can I do? What do I have that can be passed along? What can I give?”
Note that all of the questions involve actions and not necessarily a form of communication. Not once will I suggest you sit and ponder which pithy saying you should use to comfort the grief-stricken. Never will you hear me suggesting that Hallmark makes a great card for those experiencing job loss. Instead it is my heart’s deepest belief that the comforter should speak only when spoken to…should offer advice only when solicited…should live a life of action and giving rather than platitude and prose.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I can't help but "be" so I'm not sure what Bill S. (Shakespeare, not Steffen) had in mind with "to be or not to be..." but he certainly must have had a staff of people to do his 'doing', otherwise he would have realized that it's in the doing, or not doing, that we have the greatest decision making. And perhaps that in the doing, or not doing, that we have the most potential to really improve upon a life or completely mess it up....or at least mess it up for a day or week or evening.
Sometimes 'doing' decisions are made for us - our much liked piano teacher decided to stop teaching. After Ethan taking lessons for many years and Maddie following suit, the ending of this relationship was rather difficult. Or at least rather odd. When Monday rolls around it still doesn't feel quite right that we are home and not heading to lessons. And I have even been dragging my feet in finding a replacement teacher though one is really needed for our youngest musician as piano is her "thing". So we are not doing piano...though we really didn't get to make that decision.
A "not to do".
My biggest not doing as of late was not doing my high school reunion. I believe "party pooper" was used - most definitely with the greatest of Christian love - when I did not make an appearance. The fact that my lack of appearance was noted at least gave my ego a minuscule bump that day. Here's the thing.......I did NOT like high school. When I was in the midst of it of course I tolerated it, I had friends, I studied when necessary. But I did not like it. The teachers everyone adored? Well one made me dress up funny to recite a little bit of Hamlet. The other couldn't remember my name to save his life. These were the guys that lead, of all things, Young Life...the ones that were supposed to make kids feel open about their spiritual lives - give them a safe "outlet". I still shudder a bit when I envision one in particular. I don't have many memories from my high school years which I'd want to sit around and recall. Furthermore, in light of the life we have been leading the past few months in this household, attending a reunion was at the bottom of my list...especially of things to do alone.
That was a "not to do".
I have determined even more than usual to embrace the role that I have been assigned in this life. At present, that role is that of mother. (Yes - wife too - no preaching please....) My role has been summarily derided as of late by a lovely little special on NBC news conducted with great skeletal aplomb by Maria Shriver. Being 'just' a stay at home mom and keeper of a house was labelled "antiquated". I love how a society can twist anything into being "antiquated" or somehow without value based upon the wishes of a vocal group - perhaps a vocal majority at this point. Because life was SO very bad when moms were home with their children? Because the lives of children who were greeted at the door by a mom who sat and listened to their day as if the world depended on it scarred children for life? Because generations of adults brought up in a family with a mom always available become the ungreatest generation? Not so much.
This is a big "to do" right now.
Finally, as in all things, it seems even more important - and perhaps more difficult - to do the good that I know I should do....perhaps it is the plummet in finances in this home - perhaps the plummet in mood in this home - perhaps it's the general state of so much in this world. Whatever it is....perhaps it's just sin (ya think?).....the good I want to do I do not do.....though I hope to continue, at the very least, to toss aside anything that gets in the way of at least making a valiant attempt at something worth doing...something good worth doing.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
It is a simple sentence. Complete in fact with its subject and verb and proper punctuation. Short - concise - to the point. Complete. It is from here that a recent set of readings began for me and brought me from youtube to the evening news to the Bible. It was an interesting journey.
A recent youtube not-so-sensational video has been shared quite a bit both on Facebook and via many of those viral emails meant to - let's be honest - get the readers just plain upset. This video shows a group of very young school children standing together and singing. It is not the act of singing, but rather the lyrics, which have a good many people questioning just how rational the thought process is of a good many adults. These children find themselves in New Jersey - not a foreign land (though perhaps aliens have landed). The song they sing is not a politically correct version of American The Beautiful, but rather a song of praise to "Barrack Hussein Obama". I did not add his middle name for inflammatory purposes, I write it because it is what they sing. They sing of "equal pay for equal work"....I'm not sure what a 1st grader knows of this, though perhaps many came home asking for a substantial allowance increase. These children have been taught that a man by virtue of electability and "doing good" is praise worthy.
My day only got better when I turned on the evening news. Thanks to general thriftiness, this means I choose from one of three major news networks - NBC it is....that Brian Williams is the better looking option. Stories abounded that night on the good people are doing for others in the midst of the economy. Propping up how "good people" would surely not want the uninsured to die of cancer. Really lots of news about people generally described as "good" (unless they were speaking of someone not a Democrat).
In the end, my day was best when the Bible was read yet again and we found ourselves in Psalm 81 accompanied again by a little Abraham Kuyper. Our Psalm includes a lovely listing of all Jehovah did for His people..."In distress I rescued you..." and my personal favorite for its vivid word picture image, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." Yet as is often the case with stubborn Israelites and even more stubborn Americans, "...my people would not listen to me". And so the Lord gave them over to what they desired most which only lead to their enemies getting a foothold (yet again) in a very physical way.
All of this makes me marvel a great deal. To say I am not political would be a really gross piece of sarcasm. But I'm not married to a political party. In fact, in recent years I'm quite disillusioned by most anyone who ends up in Washington. A good many men and women have been ruined upon entering such service...such appears to be the nature of the beast. Yet I do remember when, at the very least, America as a whole valued leaders who (perhaps for show...but that part is not our responsibility) attended a church service and called upon the one true God as their source of inspiration. My how we have changed. We have embraced "good people" - not really caring that there is no source or basis for that good. If "God is love" how can we love apart from Him? How can anyone?
And finally, if a nation that calls upon the Lord is blessed where does this leave us? A nation full of "good people" with no source of good. A nation that praises humans who don't praise the one true God. And, how can it not be, a nation which will be given over to its enemies. If only we would "open wide our mouths" to the Lord rather than to a government.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
I am re-reading a book each morning which had spoken to me before and, because of God's good and perfect timing, is speaking even more to me the second (or third) time around. And so, today, I borrow from Near Unto God by Abraham Kuyper: Daily meditations adapted for contemporary Christians by James C. Schaap.
"Imagine everything you own blown away by a tornado - everything, even family. Nothing remains. Really, that's where each of us is at death. As we face our Maker, our real fortunes lie only in our souls, and the only riches we carry belong, really, to him...
"Hell will be littered with creative, bright people, nimble in conversation - people who have sought none of the riches of God.
"To be rich with God is to own Him, to be His temple, to carry in your heart the holy and glorious one wherever you go. To be rich with God is to be refreshed continuously from the Fountain of all good inside one's very soul.
"To be near unto God means understanding that what we really own comes to us both in Him and through Him. It is a mark of our sin to recognize how difficult it is for us to know with true conviction that our fortunes lie in the Lord and not in the things of this world - and to operate on that principle.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
What IS fit to write, what was central to my thought process, where it sprung from (and then went horribly astray in a fit of good old foot stomping anger and frustration and the desire to take people by shoulders and shake them good) was something simple and yet concise:
WHAT does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love kindness, to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
I'm disheartened that I'm seeing this more in the world than I am in the church as a body of believers. I'm feeling it more among the groups that conservatives routinely denounce and put down. There are no simple answers just as there are rarely simple problems, yet caring for people during an economic calamity should be something a church excels at....something it does with great humbleness, efficiency, and certainly without one hand knowing what the other is doing.
Now I'm stopping - before the foot starts stomping again....
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I imagine humans have been shoving aside guilt - or at least displacing it - since the beginning of recorded time. Adam shoved his blame to Eve I'm sure, partly, in an attempt to assuage the guilt he felt over standing by and watching Eve do her thing. He even took that blame a step further and blamed his Creator for ever giving him "the woman". Somewhere in the midst of our dirty sin-filled story the main human characters felt enough guilt over seeing nakedness that they decided hiding from that shame would be the best route to take. It seems that where there has been sin there is often guilt. Or at least there should be.
Abraham Lincoln, father of emancipation and favorite poster child of the underdog, often bemoaned the fact that he had no good solution for slavery. End it to be sure, but what then? Generations of slave traders had removed a people from their homeland and transported them abroad where these people had gone on to have children and - in whatever fashion they could - establish a life in a new country. In fact, the guilt was so great that during an address in Peoria, IL Lincoln went so far as to suggest that the best solution, though wholly improbably, was to send the slaves back to "Liberia". In some ways Lincoln's guilt, felt on behalf of an entire country's population, lead an otherwise sensical person to suggest something that just about anyone would agree made no sense at all. And he, himself, knew the suggestion was completely implausible. Guilt makes us come up with crazy notions for covering it over or taking care of it.
Somewhere along the line, however, guilt became so covered over with grace that we neglected the guilt that got us here in the first place. I'm thinking 'grace' not only in a Biblical sense, but in that cheapened worldly use of the term. Oprah loves using the term 'grace' with the aplomb of Joel Oosteen and his prosperity preaching. Catholics once known for their "catholic guilt" rarely have much of a concept of the emotion - in my family the guilt died after my grandparents with the next generation acting without regard. In my own generation we were raised not only to follow laws and rules and commandments because they existed, but because there was that dreaded pit of the stomach guilt that came right along with swearing, drinking, smoking, premarital sex....you name it - it wasn't completely avoided but the guilt was as palpable as the second hand smoke girls tried feverishly to wash out of their hair.
Guilt it seems has been replaced by lowered expectations. What is granted as freedom is really a feeble bunch of excuses for bad behavior. There are few rules for teens because, as one parent once told me, "What can you do? You keep telling them 'no' and eventually you have no connection." Children cheat in school and instead of guilt they blame a teacher who can't teach or a 'system' that has failed them. They don't feel guilty - what else could they do but cheat? Husbands look at pornography and have affairs but there's no guilt - after all their wife let herself go, was too tired for sex, nagged him far too often. Wives sure have no guilt over not being a wife because it's really not what they signed up for. They are in the marriage for the children and their children are extremely happy so why should they feel guilty?
Guilt used to be an art.....one that drove us to grace and gratitude. What happens when we lose the art.....what drives us to true grace and a life filled to overflowing with gratitude if there is no longer anything to spur us on to that point?
“I have come to the conclusion that none of us in our generation feels as guilty about sin as we should or as our forefathers did” - Francis Schaeffer
Thursday, July 30, 2009
That said, assuming you've got the time, here's the easy way to roast on the truly cheap.
1 whole chicken
1-2T salt - I prefer coarse - your generic table variety is fine
1 T pepper - my preference is coarse and fresh ground - table style is just swell
4 whole bay leaves - you can find these in your spice section - bottled
2 T rosemary - buy it ground or buy in the more whole form and crush with a mortar/pestle
3 T oil - try using olive or canola if possible
Rinse your whole chicken thoroughly removing any 'innards' and the neck - save the neck. Rub the inside carcass with the salt, pepper, & rosemary. On the outside of the bird use a knife to separate the skin from the breast near the rear opening. Once open a pocket is created which can be filled with your bay leaves. Rub the entire carcass with the oil.
Bake in a 350 degree (F) oven generally for 1.5 hours or until done using a meat thermometer.
Enjoy your roaster but save any leftovers - yup - the bones (provided they haven't been chewed on or licked clean), the skin, anything left....even the often avoided dark meat. Take the whole kit and caboodle and put in a tall pot covered with water...include the neck you saved above.
In the pot include what you have...things like:
2 T salt
2 cups chopped celery...be thrifty and throw in the leaves too!
1 cup chopped white onion
1 T whole pepper corns
2-3 whole bay leaves
Heat this to boil and then reduce heat to simmer for about an hour....if the water is evaporating a good deal feel free to add more.
Like garlic? Throw some into the pot while cooking.
When all is said and done poor the pot into a fresh bowl or pot by simply using a colander and dumping through that. The colander should catch any bones, chunks you don't want, and whole pepper corns and leaves.
What you have left is chicken stock/soup. To use immediately consider throwing back in any celery/onion that you have in the colander - add some chopped carrot - maybe some egg noodles - and salt/pepper to taste.
Two meals - one roaster....whether roasted at home or roasted in the grocery store, the pre-seasoned meat makes for some great soup.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
From day one of parenting disappointment rears its head. It begins simply enough with drowsy disappointment over lack of sleep. And while so many well-meaning (and well versed) parents will tell us to enjoy the moment for the moment will soon be gone, it sure is difficult to find enjoyment in anything when holding up one's eyelids takes an effort of Olympic proportions. Of course losing sleep takes on an entirely different meaning as children age and, in my case, the disappointment over bad behavior, bad choices, general "badness" falls squarely on my shoulders. While we're all in possession of a sinful nature, with each childhood misstep I can't help but be disappointed in myself for not (fill in the blank)....not spanking more, not refraining from spanking, not keeping him more sheltered, not forcing her out more, not throwing every TV out of the window, not teaching discernment as of 6 months of age....the list goes on. Disappointment.
Then I have what I'm now calling 'Socialist Disappointment'. Color me green (or communist red) but I'm really disappointed in my fellow capitalists over their shock at the direction of this country. Is it not inevitable for Socialism and its counterparts to gain a foothold when even in our Judeo-Christian circles we can't refrain ourselves from spending and retrain ourselves to give to those who need a bit? Oh, to be certain, non-profit agencies often thrive in this economy as well-meaning Christians set out to prove a point (if I had a dollar for each comment similar to: "I guess we're showing the world...our missions budget is well over its yearly goal during this miserable economy."....) Yet I'd like to snatch a few new cars from a few people and disperse that money directly into the hands of the un/under employed...the un/under insured... the stressed out wives....the hard working (but failing) husbands...the Christian school tuition bills of the family of 4...YES - I'd like to get a bit Socialist on the spending of others. I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in the lack of embarrassment - in the face of the problems of so many - that a new car/new cottage/new (big ticket item) seems prudent right now. I have Socialist Disappointment and though I feel that I should undergo a 12-step program for it I'm just not ready to commit to that quite yet.
Veggie disappointment: there's one that only comes to the surface in the homes of would be gardeners. I learned disappointment over growing vegetables from my dear old dad. Each year the garden would be tilled, each year the plants would be planted in a very OCD-manner, each year he would stew over rabbits and fungus and bugs (Oh My!) Veggie disappointment is habitual at its very core in that it can be avoided but among the would be gardener it rarely is. In February of each year a seed catalog enters a home and all prior year VD is forgotten, replaced only by visions of Eden-like tomatoes and carnivorous rabbits. VD is subtle, filled with angst, but like Groundhog Day repeated over and over and over and over..... (Have I mentioned my deer-eaten kale?)
Today I'm thinking on disappointment. I'm not yet disappointed by anything in particular but I fully expect to reach it on some level, at some time, in some place..... For as sure as the sun rises and sets, so sure is disappointment....the hope, however, is that like Veggie Disappointment each day is begun fresh - "with no mistakes in it" as Anne of Green Gable fame enjoyed saying - and devoid of disappointment for as long as possible.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Our Mutual Friend & BBC's Our Mutual Friend....generally a good adaptation
Charlotte's Web & ancient cartoon version....quite a good adaptation
Charlotte's Web & most recent live version....oh heavens...not so much
Pride and Prejudice & BBC's Pride & Prejudice....bring on the Darcy! Nice!
The Memory Keeper's Daughter & the TV movie.....I'm glad my memory isn't so hot
Jane Eyre & most recent version....not bad
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe & BBC's version.....worth coming out of the wardrobe for
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe & the most recent adaptaion....I want to like it...enh
Les Miserables & the 1998 adaptation.....it's a long book to adapt but missing characters abound
Friday, July 10, 2009
I sat next to her and inquired as to the source of her tears (I'm sure secretly hoping it wasn't something I did....) She was listening to a song, she stated, and it always made her cry. It was "The Way We Were" song by Barbra Streisand courtesy of the movie of the same name. She went on to explain that the words made her remember the moment she met my dad - their early courtship - fixing up their first house....all the moments that I now realize are the hallmarks of many younger couples. Now being an only child I went on to stomp my little feet wondering why those memories did not include me - how could she be sad if back then she didn't have me, her greatest joy of course.
She couldn't fully explain it to a young child. There were no words, I know now, which would have satisfied my curiousity and my lack of understanding. But I do realize now that I witnessed the hallmark of a good marriage. And while Ms. Streisand connotes other less than glorious political thoughts in me as an adult, her song still renders me teary and now I understand....
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Perhaps for those of us who were raised within the Calvinist Reformed traditions of Sabbath negatives, falling to the other side of the spectrum was akin to a drug addict suddenly being told that cocaine is a good thing. I count myself among those raised in some fairly vague but harsh rules (try not sweating on the Sabbath). While avoiding any form of sweat is rather nonsensical to this mother at this stage in her life, I still fully appreciate the idea of a Sabbath.
As Jesus walked along with his disciples and picked some grain he reminded the Pharisees - those who would have embraced the no sweat rule, among others - that "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). My maturing life has made this fact all the more real as my observations of just what a week entails screams for a Sabbath. Cheapened grace keeps man always moving, always reaching, always doing...cheapened grace forgets the admonition to "Be still."
Cheapened grace becomes an excuse rather than an exaltation. Grace as excuse keeps God's people from His house on the Sabbath. Grace as exaltation makes it difficult to keep God's people from running to His house. Cheapened grace suddenly renders the Sabbath about us...about our sports, our eating preferences, our need for vacation. True grace renders the Sabbath - and all of life - about our Savior.
I need a Sabbath. My spiritual life needs one. My emotional life needs one. My daily grind life needs one. I need the reminder - I need the refocus - I need the slower pace. The Sabbath is one of the very few things in life which none of us should ever need a vacation from.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Not everyone who cries "woe is me" is really at 'Woe-Level'. Have you ever found yourself disappointed, after helping someone, because you discover that they really didn't need the help? I find myself in this situation every couple of months and I know I really should not feel this way...we each answer for our own actions (or lack thereof), but the dirty sinful nature rears its ugly head. I just hate feeling like someone took advantage of me....I hate it even more so when I realize the person is so self-centered that they haven't a clue. I hate it most that I even think about such things. Get behind me....icky thoughts....
Suffering from foot-in-mouth disease is worse than loneliness. In loneliness one is at least safe from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (or to the wrong person). Loneliness is not an experience one longs for, but there is some safety in being alone. I loathe and abhor gossip. I try to avoid it at any cost. Yet sometimes I have opened my mouth, said something, and realized that what I said was 'news' to the listener. I hate when I share 'news' that wasn't mine to share. And I don't mean the veiled prayer request gossip type news, but just news in general. I think 'better safe than sorry' is a mantra to live by when it comes to sharing information. And so I think that loneliness, though not longed for, could certainly be treated a bit as a gift.
I just swapped online for a book (paperbackswap.com). The name should not necessarily reflect the contents. The title in this case? Skinny Bitch. Yup. And, no, it's not a diet book for female dogs. This one is touted as a relevant, current diet book for women looking to be, well, skinny (hopefully not bitchy....though when following this book one's mood could easily be classified as such). The authors list as their qualifications being "former Ford models". Really. I mean, such things really beg for me to make so many comments...it's like the ultimate joke set-up. The first chapter was sensical enough. The second chapter re-hashed Fit For Life (anyone remember this one?). By the third chapter the authors wanted us to embrace being vegans. Cough. Sputter.
Know this: I am not a huge meat eater. I DO believe that what we eat tends to determine how sick we are during a year. I DO believe that certain ailments can at least be alleviated by eating or avoiding certain foods. BUT too much of a good thing is......a bad thing. Vegans notoriously get their protein from soy-based items. Too much soy has been linked to breast cancer. I don't say this as the scientist who has done all the research, rather to show that for every good thing there is usually an example of why the good thing isn't so good. Then there's fish oil. When we don't eat it here we take it in capsule form. That's not at all vegan.
Ah - anyway - I was glad I didn't pay for the book and in spite of two "former Ford models" saying it's a good thing, I think I'll wait until they get some M.D.s behind their skinny names before I tout this book as the next best thing to sliced tofu.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
- was planning Vacation Bible School for church
This year I.....
- am planning Vacation Bible School for church
About a year ago I.....
- was nervously awaiting the results of the kids' standardized tests
This year I.....
- liberated all of us from the anxiety by skipping the tests
About a year ago I.....
- was planning a (BIG) family reunion in (MY) backyard and going (VERY) insane
This year I.....
- marked the season with the death of one of "the sisters"....one of my Aunts who just was always there along with the other two....sort of one Aunt and two bookend Aunts.....
To everything there is, indeed, a season. Some things stay the same for good purpose. Reaching children should not be a 'numbers game' involving a ratio of non-churched to expense. (But - alas - it often is.) I'm glad some things stay the same.
And some things change because we have a good mind to change them. The liberation and freedom of homeschooling easily lend itself to a year off of standardized testing. Nevermind that in traditional school settings the testing is not an annual occurrence - we homeschooling types are held to higher standards.....mostly by prying eyes and telling comments. Yet a little change does a body good.
Of course all things change not by our will, but by His good will. In fact, 'not a hair can fall from my head' apart from His good pleasure and I find that exceedingly comforting. Not confining. Not restricting. Oh-so-liberating. For if I were in control I shudder to think at the results. And so life changes drastically when family is called Home.....but Home is a most excellent place to be. The very best, in fact.
Friday, June 5, 2009
"Context is king!" is not a bad motto to hold for one's life in most - if not all - arenas. In fact as I type this little ditty I cannot think of a time when "context is king" would not hold itself up to the closest scrutiny. Perhaps only in comedy would context kind of throw a wet blanket on something otherwise quite humorous.
This came to mind specifically this morning when I checked in at various websites reading posts, seeing the pithy Facebook 'status updates' of various "friends", reading in the way that 2009 adults read in the a.m. I chuckled when I saw that a comment I had made on someone's status update for the night before had been deleted. It seems that this "friend" didn't like context too much as I had pointed out that a quote he probably intended to woo his loyal female followers (he's a divorcee) was written by a bisexual author/poet and probably not for the audience my "friend" was intending. It seemed context really didn't work for him and I was summarily deleted.
And as our (cough, sputter) President woos the Muslim peoples of the world into slick submission - to which I say to him "good luck with that" - it seems he has thrown context out the political window yet again (how often can one window be broken?) We have a President reaching out and wooing a group that doesn't want wooing - they want heads on silver platters. Where was this man when planes were driven into towers, as women long before that were subjected to the worst kinds of humiliation (because they had the nerve to be female), as children were raped and beaten? This is the group he wants to now befriend? Radical or no, this is no religion that is a friend to women - a friend to grace - a friend to children - a friend to anyone but brutal, power-hungry men. Context, it seems, is little more than an antiquated afterthought.
So many instances of people forgetting that "context is king". Unlike my freshman year religion class, I could be doing a lot of arguing on a rather routine basis. Yet while context may still be king - sometimes silence is golden.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Not since Sarah Palin has the issue of women and competence played such a political role as in recent days. With Obama's nomination of one Justice Sonia Sotomayor we girls have the headlines yet again. The nomination had me thinking a number of things -
1) We Michigan residents would have been thrilled to 'donate' Governor Jennifer Granholm...not just to the short list, but to the up for nomination slot. Color me disappointed that she didn't get the nomination just to rid Lansing of her a bit ahead of schedule.
2) White men are really out of luck until they achieve true minority status. REALLY out of luck. Sorry Adam, what goes around and all....
2b) White women married to said white men are equally out of luck by virtue of lacking the forethought necessary to avoid marrying one.
2c) The administration's two most visible white men? Joe Biden. Enough said. And the Press Secretary - the guy who throws temper tantrums, is generally rude, and throws cell phones.
3) Had the aforementioned white man made a comment to the affect of, "My experience as a white male in America has given me more usable experience for judging cases than an Hispanic female sitting on the bench" he would have found himself on the rim of a soda pop can faster than you can say "Anita Hill".
As the mother of a very capable girl I really hope that as she ages she will be held to high standards. Period. Not "high standards for a girl" or "high standards for a white girl". But high standards. Why this is not the wish of all parents - why incredibly accomplished minorities are incapable of standing up and shouting "NO!" when they realize standards are loosened for their benefit completely mystifies me.
As the mother of two very capable (and white) boys I really hope that they will have the courage and determination and strength to be the men we are raising them to be. Men after God's own heart. Men who would never take the easy route, men who will always take the higher road, men who would never stand back and point at someone else and say "The person You placed next to me? It's really all their fault..." And I hope that opportunity will still exist in whatever arena they are called to enter, though I secretly fear such opportunity will be slim.
I don't 'Love, Love, Love Being A Girl'.....but I sure love being a wife and mother and sister....and I sure do expect to be held by the same standards one would have for anyone else...and I sure do hope that in the future America will go back to being a place where standards are standards - for everyone. Period.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At 'em boys,
Give 'er the gun! (Give 'er the gun now!)
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame.
Hey! Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!
Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder,
Sent it high into the blue;
Hands of men blasted the world asunder;
How they lived God only knew! (God only knew then!)
Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer
Gave us wings, ever to soar!
With scouts before And bombers galore.
Hey! Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!
Friday, May 22, 2009
The subject line was a bright indicator that this was no personal note. Yet as is often the case when it comes to messages from those we've lost touch with, I found myself oddly okay with a blanket email. I was prepared to be okay with him asking if I want to take part in a "special business opportunity" (that's Amway-speak for the non-Grand Rapids among us) or an inquiry as to whether I had ever considered switching insurance agents (also plausible since the sender is a chronic job hopper....a harder title to hold onto in this present economy).
What I received was a mix of the two tongue-in-cheek scenarios above filled with all kinds of "opportunity" but reeking a bit of partial truth. It's tough when we can't handle the truth in our own lives - perhaps tougher when we believe others around us couldn't handle our truth either. Truth is a struggle. It often divides more than it unites, and it many times has us criticizing the truth-teller rather than embracing his honesty. People who lose jobs "move on to other opportunities" or "give two week notices" rather than get fired. Couples divorce over "irreconcilable differences". No one really tells it like it is.
There is a scene in the movie A Few Good Men - a scene in a courtroom to be exact - that includes an exchange that goes as follows:
Lt. Jessep (Jack Nicholson): You want answers?
Lt. Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I want the truth!
Lt. Jessep: You can't handle the truth!
This exchange popped into my head as I finished the email message I received. Did the sender choose language he knew the recipients could handle or was the sender struggling with his own truth? Did he purposely use ambiguous language in an effort to deceive - further removing himself and the rest of us from truth - or is his own life so bogged down with a false sense of reality that he can no longer identify what is fully true? How much of this is going around! It takes but five minutes of an evening news cast to be bombarded with partial truth (which, let's be frank, has ceased to be truth if it has "partial" in front of it). And how many people have taken on a diagnosis for a loved one rather than confronting their own truth - that they are somehow complicit in leading someone they love down a path of deconstruction?
This email still has me thinking - how watered down truth has become, how so much has become "relative", how we no longer stand up and beg for the truth - even if the writer/speaker claims we can't handle the truth. I want to write back to my sender and tell him that I would much prefer a truth which took some time to digest than a watered-down version done for our mutual 'benefit'. I want to do so, but if I'm entirely truthful with myself I'm not sure what my reaction would have been to blunt honest truth. This is the sad reality of life: We only pretend to support the failed while secretly wondering what they did wrong.
In a perfect world, more people would recall and live by this quote rather than the false sense of preservation promoted by the idea that listeners can't handle the truth:
"From failure you learn; from success, not so much." - Wilbur, Meet The Robinsons
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
GRADUATION - it seems forever ago - 20 years for me this year - and yet it doesn't seem long enough that I have friends with graduating children. We went to our first open house last Sunday afternoon and to look at this lovely young woman knowing I can look at her and see her younger self....ah! As I sat there with friends a teacher from my past arrived and we embraced with her reminiscing of my own elementary/junior high schooling for she was a teacher at the same school at the same time. This time of year is thrilling for so many young people and rather a mix for parents. For those of us who sit back and watch - but find ourselves edging ever closer to the moment for our own children - it's a very mish-mash kind of experience.
GARDENS - are my piece of peace and the dirt is giving me a satisfaction that no amount of shopping may do...the feel of the dirt, the idea of growing something from that dirt, the creation of compost (yes, really) from what others deem "garbage". Today brought tomato and pepper plants and transplanting raspberries and just a lot of satisfaction in getting something done.
PRUNING - in the midst of gardening there is the ever-present job of pruning, but lately I am applying this art to other, non-plant, aspects of my life. I said "no" today to something that I actually kind of wanted to say "yes" to....but I knew a "yes" would render my life and the lives of my family members manic. I'm pruning people - not cruelly, but ya know what, one-sided relationships are not relationships at all and if I'm the only one showing real interest - offering support -checking in....well sometimes lives run their course and a good pruning is really just the inevitable.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
- skorts - sort of to shorts what a mullet is to hair....sensible and fun all in one
- strawberry plants - very hard to kill, very forgiving....great qualities in anyone/thing
- swine flu - it's no laughing matter but, truly, there has been more good joke material produced because of this "pandemic" than I've heard in a very long time
- sneakers - going through them because the weather is nice...good sign
- silly children - silly mostly because their teacher decided break should start NOW
- stiff drinks - for some it means splurging on regular Coke as opposed to Diet, for others it means their lemonade gets a little 'help' from Mike (of hard lemonade fame)
- sisters - I've never had biological ones, but I've met some pretty fabulous ones along the way
- sunshine - occasionally I've been known to relish this
- showers - often I've been known to relish these
- smoke - from the fire pit...apart from the smoke smell in hair & clothes, it's a wonderful way to spend an evening
- Savannah - one of my favorite cities
Sunday, May 10, 2009
"Normalcy", however, is most definitely a relative term and one that does, indeed, shift as time marches on. Just as normal once meant a couple we found ourselves in a new state of normal as each child was gifted to our household. It shifted in many ways - both extremely perceptible and seemingly small. I'm thinking this instant of how a grocery tab changes from including diapers and formula to five gallons of a milk a week and at least two jars of peanut butter per month. My how time marches on and normal re-creates itself on a continual basis.
"Normalcy" is also best appreciated by those who have lost it and quite misunderstood by those who continually live within it. We have found this to be the case both first hand amid comments and calls and emails from those who know of our recent adjustments to normalcy but who can't stand how our adjustments have made their lives so very difficult (and, perhaps, abnormal?) We have experienced this in the constant adjustments children have to make each time normal is redefined. There are tears and fears and upset stomachs.
And as I type this, forever thankful for things in our lives which have returned to the old normal:
- blood clots have been cleared and a robust husband is returned to health
- the rumbling of a diesel truck engine can be heard in the morning
- a whirring lawn tractor that makes its rounds faithfully
- the once partially empty church pew that has been refilled yet again
While normal will be new for a great many both now and in the future, and while we all will deal with others who don't or won't or can't understand, perhaps Erma Bombeck stating that "normal is just a setting on the dryer" is the best way to deal with the changes. With a great deal of tongue-in-cheek humor, a proper measure courage, and an even better portion of faith....thereby rendering even a dryer that breaks part of a new normal - embraced with some difficulty but met assured that a broken dryer simply represents a new challenge.
"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything You gave me'.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
She was exceedingly thin by Sunday - she hadn't spoken in anything but gibberish for at least a couple of weeks. The jaundice had given her the false 'tan' it shares with its victims but the yellow of her eyes gave away the fact that the 'tan' was by no means healthy. She was now rarely soiled, the catheter bag mostly empty, and the conversations I shared with her completely one-sided and now completely a mystery to all but myself.
Sunday night I had a stirring and I simply announced to Mike that I had to sit with her. I remember reading through Job that night. I remember finally, fully saying "good-bye" and I remember finally being able to truly pray that the Lord would give her what was left of her heart's desire and take her from me and unto Him.
The nurse called to providentially see about an off scheduled visit...mom had been on Hospice almost 9 months by now - inordinately long - and her nurse had grown (too) attached. Her breathing was rare and the nurse asked if I wanted to take a quick break while she changed the sheets. I had barely walked down the hall when, upon moving the sheet, my mother took her last breath. The nurse simply stated "she's gone".
And she was.
This woman who had moved from mother to best friend to grandmother with the ease one would have reserved for a woman who had experienced this transition in her own mother - though mine had not - eased into Heaven leaving skeletal remains but so many marks and finger prints on so much of my life that I still find myself waiting for her to return. Someone so large, it still feels, could not truly have taken permanent leave from my earthly life.
25For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.26And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,27whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
- Job 19 (ESV)
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Matthew's listing as a part of the Sermon on the Mount is a succinct list of "Blessed are..." and a blessing received. Luke's listing is a list of blessings upon the poor and woes upon the less than poor. In fact, a cursory internet search will render many left-leaning organizations and websites looking to Luke's listing as a rather Socialist manifesto. True.
Anyway, as I muddle through a year of limbo - limbo rather than change at this point - I find myself again drawn to the Beatitudes as a recollection of the blessedness to be found in circumstances which the world may judge to be less than advantageous. The world sees curse - the world often finds God only to blame Him - or the world uses these situations to continue their quest to disprove the Creator. Yet in a sea of Beatitudes each situation is coming from the hand of the speaker on the mount.
Whether the version is found in Luke 6:20-28 (KJV):
20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
23Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
Or listed in the manner that the younger version of my self enjoyed from Matthew 5:2-11 (ESV):
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
My young Latin scholars have left me searching for Latin roots whenever possible and imagine my full circle moment when I read that 'beatus' is Latin for "blessed" or "happy". In the midst of my limbo it is comforting to receive these moments of "happy" knowing that the end result - the second part of each line in the Matthew version - is something so wonderful received from His hand. And while the ultimate reward in heaven is supreme, the bits and pieces received here on earth to get us through our own limbos are momentary snippets of these future gifts.
This week I found myself blessed in my limbo via children whose wonderful insights are often far deeper than I give them credit for; via a group of women with whom I experienced some of the best bouts of laughter; via the peace He knows I receive from working in His earth; via the gift of friendship new and old. So blessed am I....quite simply because I am His and He is mine and because of this I have the gift of seeing His hand in so many ways, in so many circumstances.