Friday, October 29, 2010

Oh Count Dracula....swoon....

Transparent LanguageAs a nod to the season, I find myself reading Bram Stoker's Dracula.  I admit that as a child of the not so distant past, the greatest challenge is not putting visions of assorted movie versions in my brain as I read through passages.  The reading is occasionally laborious, but quite entertaining with Stoker's use of language being far favored over Stephen King's.  Should you find yourself wanting a good scare that doesn't make you blush (too much) consider this classic....oft overlooked for more highbrow classic reading, but worthy of the moniker nonetheless.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Changing Necessities

Transparent LanguageI spent all of this summer without a 21st century means of transportation.  Okay - legs have always been around making them 21st and creation means.....and the bicycle...well that's pretty old.....  What I mean to say is we became a one motorized vehicle household for a time.  It was an interesting exercise in frugality, necessity, and patience.  It taught me more than I envisioned learning simply from eliminating a gas-using mobile thing.  It made me appreciate and depreciate a lot in life.  And it, again, made me realize how silly we humans are (and how content my mother must have been).

A recent discussion with someone who has been in and out of my life since about kindergarten brought home the above point when we casually bantered about the high cost of Christian education and the necessity that is a mother working out of the home.  Being an accountant by training, I hesitate to ruminate aloud too much on something that I haven't crunched numbers on, but strictly by observation I have noted a great many things which my generation (and those coming up as well) define as 'necessity'.  A lot has changed in just the time I have moved from the days of Mrs. Woltjer in kindergarten to having my own children.

Take for example:

- vacations......I grew up defining trips to Grandma's as "vacation".  Twice we journeyed to Florida courtesy of my dad's employer.   Never did taking a summer/Spring Break/Columbus Day Break vacation become a necessity.  Or a right.  Or a deprivation.

- clothes......I did not grow up a nudist, but I did learn to tolerate garage sale "finds", tent sale discounts, and the joy that was Roger's basement.  Earl Robson's anyone?  And you know, the most popular girl in my class from K - 9th?  Hand-me-downs.  That's right.  Abercrombie (though not yet popular) did not solidify anything in terms of pecking order.

- vehicles.....and back to my original observation.  We added a second car to our home when I was in late junior high.  Before that it was one vehicle (meaning one gas bill, one insurance bill, one maintenance expense).  A good many families of the 1970s were living the same way.  We survived.  We took dad to work on the days mom needed the car.  We walked.  We rode our bikes.  (Funny - we weren't overweight either....)

All this to say, our definition of "need" adjusts with each passing year.  And learning to adjust those needs is tough.  Nearly impossible in many cases.  Even our family is a case in point as a new-to-us mini van (nicknamed McGyver....fodder for another post) entered our life a couple months ago.  Yet I learned to appreciate the convenience of having this vehicle in my garage.  I also learned to love its new-to-us status....the status that enables me to still be home with my children as time flies by.  It's not a decision made easily or made without occasional reservations.  But today, on a dark and rainy day in Michigan, it's a decision that has me particularly thankful.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hey You! Yes You.....It most certainly is your duty....

Transparent LanguageThis will not be succinct.  It will not flow like poetry or read like a future novel.  Nor will it be something everyone wants to hear.  But here it is.

I'm frustrated.

I'm frustrated mostly by Christians who find it easier to care for people in Haiti than to care for their neighbors.  I'm frustrated by Christians who can write checks to fund a church's building, but treat the members in that building as diseased because they needed help.  I'm frustrated by Christians who act like proper stewards because they espouse the teachings of Dave Ramsey (as opposed to - oh - perhaps - Christ?!?).

Today I received an email from someone screaming and crying in words over the pain and feelings of worthlessness felt over being terminated at a job.  While I hope that I do my best to "weep with those who weep", this pain of job loss, of economic misery....too many still just don't get it. 

They don't get that the family next door - the one who held a job and worked hard and didn't spend in a silly manner - they are deciding today whether to buy milk or bread.  While you decide whether to go with the IPod Touch or the Droid phone....while you decide if it's a Toyota or Honda for your new car....do people really not get that middle class people you know.  People who have worked as hard as you, as long as you...they can't buy new shoes for their child this year.  Their daughter wants to play the flute in band but they can't afford a rental payment.

Truly.  If you don't know people like this then you are choosing not know them.  You don't want to be reminded of your consumption.  Of the vacation you took while another family applied for government assistance.

I'm sickened.  What exactly, Christian, do you believe the Lord requires of you?