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Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stuff

Another move looms . . . Less than forty-eight hours until we settle in to our next home . . . Boxes, empty cabinets, empty walls – and rooms that echo slightly because the curtains are at the cleaners. Yep, I've moved a bunch . . .

My first move -- just a couple of suitcases: I left  Baltimore for Ocean City – to work for the summer before moving to a college dorm, then, into two different apartments in the same building, before I moved two more times around the College Park area – acquiring stuff, discarding stuff –  never having enough of what the next living space required.

Next, I moved into an apartment near the zoo in DC; within a year I moved onto Capitol Hill, NE. From there I moved to Ecuador for a year – moving around the country, twice.  Illness and revolution sent me back to South Carolina, with little more than what I had in a suitcase to recover before returning to DC – the outskirts of Capitol Hill, this time in SE. Then I moved to Georgetown . . . from whence I married and moved to Annapolis. I left most all my stuff for others to use.

In Annapolis, we moved seven times in twenty-four years; we accumulated stuff.  Lots of it was other people’s downsizing. God gave us children, and our stuff really multiplied! The moves became more complicated – and we needed storage lockers.

We’ve moved three times so far in Texas, each time acquiring stuff – and now we are fixing to move the fourth time. We have let go of a great deal of stuff; photographs remind of us of our real treasures: people and places.  An assortment of images, freezing in time people, who are no longer precious babies, toddlers – or teens; of people who now know what is on the other side of this life; rooms we loved in, argued and cried in; holidays, vacations – I see the colors, smell the smells and hear their voices. They all go with me -- 

So, I am  used to moving . . . and the sadness and excitement that fill the minutes and hours of moving day.   Forty-eight hours until we settle into our next home . . . Boxes, empty cabinets, empty walls – and rooms that echo slightly because the curtains are at the cleaners. And in the upcoming abode – the scenario is the same . . . packing up, sorting, tossing, saving for another time to dispose of, . . . my life is still in moving boxes?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Social Justice

Tonight we had dinner with some interesting folks – about 500! WORLD Magazine held a  dinner honoring Christians who are offering hope and compassion to hurting hearts without government help. They spotlighted three groups, from among many:
Crossover Ministry (www.crossoverministry.org) – Clinics offering healthcare, education and medicine to poor people in Richmond Virginia.
   
Snappin’ Ministries (www.snappin.org) – ministering to families with special needs children.
   
Forgiven Ministry (www.forgivenministry.org) helping reconcile children with their parents who are incarcerated.

Prior to the dinner we attended one of three seminars: Offering Hope to the Poor through Social Justice, with Marvin Olasky (editor of WORLD) and Stephen Tavani (Founder of WOW International – http://www.wowjam.com ). Both men are deeply committed to social justice – but not the way contemporary politicians and social engineers promote it.

The political left thinks social justice must needs not simply level all playing fields – they want  "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his need." The political right too often stumbles into social Darwinism – let the poor die off. The Bible teaches that justice separate the guilty from the innocent; (social) justice is always accompanied with righteousness – these are the foundation of God’s throne – and must be the core of how we serve the poor and hopeless.

Mr. Tavani believes if the Gospel is true and works in the worst places, it is true and works anywhere. To that end, he and enormous corps of volunteers go into tough communities with everything from free cold water, bicycle repair, hair cuts, manicures, food, family photographs, games and shoes. He and his volunteers escort a small number of folk at a time into a tent, and fit each with  free name-brand athletic shoes – after bathing the feet of those they serve.  Is it any wonder they draw crowds?   And to those crowds, he offers the Gospel of salvation, as he and his volunteers meet real needs. They believe doing is more important than saying. 

Mr. Olasky believes this as well, citing the difference between the ancient Romans and Christians hospitality. The Romans were hospitable to those who could do them some good; the Christians entertained those who could never repay. (Luke 14:12-14) He speculated that one reason Christianity may have caught on was not so much the teaching, but the practice by which Christians shared and risked their lives to serve.

It was quite an evening! 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cause of Damage: Unidentifiable?

Moisture has been a problem in our little house, especially since it was vacant for almost two years.  We can see these problems because of the unusually rainy fall.  So, we’ve replaced the gutters and down spouts and we’ve installed a French drain whose conduit to the curb seems to be working. But we found old damage – damage that had been covered up by carpet for over twenty years.  Our contractor  noticed a little rotted wood under a window.

Fearing more moisture problems  or termites we asked the floor refinisher to investigate, and we called in the pest control folks, in an abundance of caution. The workman thought it was just old moisture damage; but, the manager of the pest control company came himself to ensure they had not overlooked anything in the initial inspection and treatment. He clambered around the crawl space and pronounced it free of termite damage. Then, he recommended an extra treatment, no charge, in case the culprits were carpenter ants, who eat damp wood.

Sin remains a problem in my life, though I confess Christ has paid my debt in full; I take steps to battle it – winning many battles, and losing some painful ones. Sometimes “religion”  gets laid over the losses, covering old wounds, the way that carpet covered rotted wood.

My Carpenter, Christ, (Mark 6:3) is in the business of removing covering – especially “religious”  coverings.  What we are discovering is the vestige of sin’s damage; like those floor planks that need ripping out and replacing – the damage needs replacing. But, with what?

I still have the memories, fears, and faithlessness. Frankly, it’s easier to replace rotten wood than live with the fallout of  rebellion – mine and others.    

Though the world has seeped into my heart as relentlessly as moisture accumulates under a pier and beam home and its passions gnaw at me as determinedly as termites or carpenter ants, yet I hesitate to act; I won’t act out of the same abundance of caution I did for our home. Too often I am embarrassed to call out for help, anticipating other Christians’ rejection or derision. Worse, I doubt God cares, or, can help.

Is that what I would tell someone, though, who asked me for spiritual aid and comfort? “ Don’t bother me – or God; I don’t care and neither will He?”

No! I’d urge you to pray – I’d read you Scripture – I’d pray for you! Why is it easier, then, to tell you what to do, than to hear the Gospel for myself?

Maybe because asking God to help me shows just how feeble I am. Asking God shows me Who really is in charge; Confessing His Sovereign rule is one thing; living it is quite another. I don’t mind asking for help I can pay for – I resist anything that underscores how poor  I am.

Today, Mr. Spurgeon commented on Lamentations 3:41, "Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens." He zapped me – identifying the cause of damage:

    The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very salutary lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favours without constraining us to pray for them we should never know how poor we are, but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust.

And there’s always so much dust during any worthwhile remodeling! (Romans 8:29-31)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Eve’s Problem – and Mine

When the woman saw that the tree was good for power, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6)

Eve was created to be in the very place I would enjoy: the delight of her husband, living in a glorious garden with no pests, and no laundry. Yet, when offered a taste of something God proscribed, that’s the very thing she went for – fruit from the tree of knowledge because it looked tasty –  and would make her wise. In fairness to Eve, the serpent deceived her, challenging her to question what God said. (1 Timothy 2:14)

Where I live isn’t excellent in every way – as was the garden where Eve first lived. (Genesis 1:31) I live in the aftermath of their free choice. But, it’s way more pleasant than what Eve encountered when she and her husband were driven from the Garden.  In fact, I enjoy many of its fruits; I am grateful for its bounty. But, too often I can be as complacent as Eve was, not stretching, as she might have, for the fruit from the tree of life. (Genesis 2:9) And so when I hear the question, “Did God say  . . . ?” I can slide into doubt if God really said what He said. If He didn’t, then maybe I can be in charge and do what pleases me?

At the root of my doubt is disobedience – mine or someone else’s. I will not do what I should do, and I embrace what I should not. Or, I stumble into doubt because another Christian sinned. The thought, “God can’t be real if He let’s this go on,” flits by, and sometimes I invite it in for a chat, plunging myself into dark waters. 

Though presented with a powerful deception, could not Eve have asked Adam about challenge, or, God? My question goes beyond what Scripture teaches – but it is a life line in the watery darkness of doubts. But, I must look away from the temptation and search for God. Longing to enjoy pleasure, and to be wise, I am so like Eve, unless I look beyond my sin, or the sin of someone else. And when all I can see is failure – it’s hard!

The tree of life was not hidden from Eve and Adam – nor, is it hidden from me because of the Scriptures.
    Wisdom . . . a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
    And happy are all who hold her fast.
(Proverbs 3:18) 
Christ is not hiding from me. He is as close as I permit; like Peter, though,  I can’t always handle the closeness.   . . .  "Master, leave. I'm a sinner and can't handle this holiness. Leave me to myself." (Luke 5:8   THE MESSAGE ) And left to myself, I am hopeless! (Romans 7:24) Fortunately Christ never left Peter, nor forsook him, and so I have hope. (Romans 7:25- 8: 39)  
    God, God, save me! I'm in over my head,
    Quicksand under me, swamp water over me; I'm going down for the third time.
    I'm hoarse from calling for help, Bleary-eyed from searching the sky for God.

    (Psalm 69:1-3 from THE MESSAGE )
My hope: 
I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. (Philipian 3:12 from THE MESSAGE )


Now, let me get on with the laundry.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Life’s Reproofs:

Eyeglasses
Keys
Cell-phones

Without these things, I can’t read, go anywhere, or be in touch. Two decades ago all I needed was my keys – which I did misplace infrequently. I thought mobile phones were an affectation and I didn’t need glasses. What a difference an accrual of days, weeks, months and years makes.

Misplacing these items burns up many of those minutes – even hours; searching for them ignites emotions ranging from annoyance to one-shade short of insanity. Yet, my disturbing inability to maintain control over them is a gentle reproof from God. In my mismanagement of small things  God reminds me what I can manage, by His grace: my emotions.

Tonight we are having new friends over for dinner – as usual, I put a few housekeeping chores off, counting on time that quickly slipped from my control when I had an unexpected decision to render on remodeling work. Then, I lost my cell phone somewhere between the work site and the food market.

Now what? I hurried back to the apartment to get dinner started. (Butter curry, btw)

Frustration reared – and words threatened to overflow my mind and mouth. I asked God to control me and my mouth.  When I did, I noticed my husband had kindly spruced up the apartment, including doing the dishes.  Depositing the groceries, starting the dinner, I decided to follow my daughter’s advice: breathe.

A friend,  Tamara Eaton, observes, “There is time enough to do God’s will.”  God’s will for me is to choose to be a wild woman or a gentle and contrite spirit, believing and acting like I trust Him, in all things especially when time is fleeting. So I had a little chat with myself.

OK, Barbara, consider this a little ride around a pleasant neighborhood;  I poured a coffee to go, retraced my steps, after a 30 minute adventure, from work site to grocery store I found my missing phone at the food market.

Losing my phone so far from home is a first. Usually I lose it in the house, my purse, or the car. Ah, the adventure home continues.