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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.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It’s NEVER Too Late!

She blurted out her frustration: her children, aged six and eight, fight all the time. Listening, I was tempted to respond – I held back; I didn’t want to be overwhelming in the "meet and greet" segment of the worship service. But I thought about her frustration during the sermon, remembering the shame I felt when our little “Christian” family scraped and fought with each other.

Because I wince still when I think about the stupid escalating quarrels, I didn’t want this dear young mom to give up on the most important ministry to her kids who are fighting. So at the end of the service, I took her hand. She now looked stunned as it was my turn to blurt out my heart: I told her, it may sound crazy, but she has a high calling in the midst of fighting children. I told her not get tired or give up teaching her kids how to resolve their arguments. If we want our kids to be blessed, and called sons of God, we must teach and model peacemaking.

Yes – I know it means more work – more tears – and many, many more prayers to know how to be a peacemaker amidst fights, remembering that this is a high calling – one that the church sometimes fails to do.

Twenty years ago nobody in our church seemed candid about their family fights – and I sure was not going to be the first one to expose the problems. So Doug and I stumbled along until we started searching for and applying some Scriptures. Later we were introduced to peacemaking principles through Peacemaker Ministries. (The 4 G's) They remind us if we would be reconciled to God, we must be reconciled to each other.

Conflict is an opportunity to glorify God, Ken Sande, Peacemaker Ministries, founder. This is hard to remember when – for the umpteenth time – the kids start fighting. These fights have prompted many to call “Super-Nanny,” an engrossing character on a reality show. She shows frazzled families how introducing a firm, loving hand, a simple system of warnings, disciplines and rewards, and practicing them consistently brings order to disorderly homes. How much more will God help us when we come under His care, learning to apply His principles!

Here’s a starting point: Peacemaker Ministries has organized some Scripture into acronyms, one of which is the 4-G’s.( Link)
Glorify God
Get the log out of your own eye
Gently restore
Go and be reconciled.

Think about the 4-G’s when your kids fight. I know, dear mom, you are tired – hurting – and perhaps at your wits’ end. Your kids’ fighting horrifies and dismays you – but you are there for a reason, and it isn’t just to keep giving them time-outs or threatening them with their father’s wrath. You are their teacher who points them to Christ, the only Mediator between God and them, and shows them the power that is theirs when they learn how to please God, and use disciplined, loving words to describe how they feel. It’s not too late!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gearing Up for a Perfect Summer?


The author of The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm, constructs a window into life 100 years ago, so we may glimpse the aristocracy and commoners; artists, writers, politicians, suffragettes, and laborers living through the great British heat wave. (Book review) Throughout her anecdotal album of how the rich and famous coped, and how the not so well-off suffered, Juliet Nicholson draws from the news but, writes as if drawing from prominent people’s diaries. The reader may savor the gossip Ms Nicholson dispenses. Yet, the reader who knows how the lives of all these people will be irretrievably altered weeps. How important would the distress of heat and drought seem, if people knew what August 1914 would bring? She describes the young men attending parties and balls as unaware how soon they would be canon fodder.

I was vexed reading how carelessly those with wealth and privilege chose to live; Some of my vexation was tinged with jealousy. All things being equal, would I have been so different?

Where was the church in 1911? Parts of her were battling Islam in British Guiana the New York Time reported in the fall of 1911.But Ms. Nicholson did not report this. She reports very little of the church – visible or invisible. A remnant is not always so easy to spot among such glittery social fabrics – or bolts of social misery.

Where is the church today? – Where am I? The upheaval in Egypt shows an ongoing battle with Islam. (more info) I pray this generation’s remnant will be clearly visible – wherever we are! And I pray my courage will not slide either.

The summer of 2011 is a few months off; will a heat wave try us as it did the Brits a century ago? One hundred years ago, some warned – but none could imagine the coming carnage and chaos. We have more access to news of world events – events that might alter our comfortable world. So, in one sense, we are more aware – but how well do we understand our times?

" . . . If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you'll lose it, but if you let that life go, you'll get life on God's terms. (Luke 17:27-37 The Message)

Lord, I believe – Help Thou, my unbelief!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Doing is Smarter than Saying

In a letter to her husband John, shortly before the American Revolution, Abigail Adams wrote, “We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.”

H-m-m-m-m.

Now, I like high-sounding words – and I like arranging and rearranging them in sentences, paragraphs and points that convey deep thoughts. I like them so much, I spend a fair amount of time writing letters in my head, or having conversations, with many high-sounding words, imagining all the points I could make to help people I love, on how avoid the potholes and brick walls that I hit square on. Mrs. Adams prods me to reconsider all the good advice I am tempted to give. She would ask me, what deeds back up all your advice? In other words,
“Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold -- but so does a hard-boiled egg.” (An anonymous quote)

Once in a while I am asked for advice – not as frequently as I am asked for my prayers, though. Here again, it’s not what I say, but what I do, believing God is stirring up the prayers He will answer in His time.

When I am asked, what I would say, are summed up by two principles, and a set of powerful examples: (emphases added)

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right. ~Hannah Whitall Smith ( a woman who lived with many disappointments)

In giving advice seek to help, not to please, your friend. ~Solon (An architect of Athenian democracy)

Keep your mouth shut, be pleasant and try to be useful.” (My mother and mother-in-law)
God, please make a woman of deeds and doing – instead of pontificating! But when I need to speak, give me the courage to speak the truth in love. Keep me from saying anything I am not doing myself. And stir up in me prayers, believing whatever I ask in Christ’s name You will do.

Monday, February 7, 2011

John Lennon & My New Food Processor.

It took me long enough to decide; Saturday I did. I bought a food processor. With discounts and rebates I saved twenty dollars. Which is good because the trip to the Urgent-care was $25.00.

Unpacking the machine with care, I had been mindful of the sharp blade; warily I picked up the chopper with my left hand and it flew out, grazing my thumb and to fingers and palm. Catching it with my right hand, it sliced a moon shape into my third finger. Scrambling to help, Doug assembled the first aid station, and went to work – when the bleeding did not stop, we headed over to the professional band-aiders. They fixed me up and renewed my tetanus vaccination.

And our adventure happened on a Monday. Needless to say, my agenda changed. So, now, I gaze now across my desk at the sunshine and shadows that are today’s gifts – and agree with Robert Fulghum: “If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.”

I reflect that God, who knew I needed a way to the Urgent-care, saw to it the luncheon that would have occupied my hubby was canceled. He also saw to it the snow and ice were totally gone, too. He put me into the care of capable, kind folks in a clean facility. There, I thought about our soldiers. And my friends who are undergoing rehabilitation, cancer treatment, and palliative care as their lives end. So many I know and love, and more whom I know only by reputation have had their plans “changed.” “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans,” John Lennon observed.

The food processor gleams on the counter – almost saying, “Want to play again.” Well, not today, or, even tomorrow. Some of the recipes that convinced me of my need for a food processor involve “moisture.” I can hunt and peck out my tale – but I can’t do much else that involves moisture. Therefore, I am putting off all those amazing recipes for health and fitness for a few more days.

Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take. You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack. ~Author Unknown

Friday, February 4, 2011

A link to an article really worth your time

Preemptive Peacemaking

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2011/winter/preemptivepeace.html

It will take about twenty minutes to peruse -- but many hours to ponder.

Blessed are the peacemakers -- for they shall be called the sons of God.

“Nobody Expected the Spanish Inquisition” (Monty Python)

We are still hampered by ice and cold – as news reports detail riots in Egypt, demonstrations in Yemen, and a cyclone in Australia. I watch on TV in comfort and relative safety. The end of the world hardly seems probable – but we are twenty-four hours closer to it than we were yesterday.

I grew up amidst fears of a nuclear holocaust; “On the Beach” was a movie that haunted my imagination for decades – until all the players who had bombs seemed to learn how to play together. But now new players have joined the game – and I have begun to think a bit more about how quickly life could change – or end.

Have you considered from how much you have been shielded – just today? Each day I am stunned!

Over centuries, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and man-made cataclysms have destroyed millions upon millions of souls. Christ described two times that people were caught unaware – in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot when disasters destroyed them all. (Luke 17:26-29) Our hope is God, who knows how to rescue us! (2 Peter 2:6-7)

Some people lived through the holocaust, the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima; some survived the 2005 tsunami, and 9-11. But His plan of a rescue doesn’t mean my life won’t change, though my life is spared. In the 6th century BC, when the Babylonians marched the women of Zion into captivity they lived through a horrific siege – never to participate in Temple worship again.

When Isaiah saw the coming Babylonian exile, he urged the people to look away from disaster and consider God:
And He will be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the LORD is his treasure.

(Isaiah 33:6)

Recent news has reminded me of “Fire and Ice” – a poem by Robert Frost, who pondering the end of the world, wondered whether it would be preferable to die by fire or ice – passion or hate?

When my world is upended, it doesn’t matter how I will die – how shall I then live?

Noah and Lot did not expect a flood or a firestorm; yet, in their own ways were preachers of righteousness in a world very much like our own – though our sin seems on steroids! The women who were marched to Babylon didn’t expect that would happen in their lifetime. But they kept their faith in the coming blood sacrifice.(Isaiah 53) And they trained up the generation who went back to Jerusalem, rebuilding the walls and eventually the Temple.

Tomorrow when I open the papers, the news may be as unexpected as street riots in Egypt, the 1933 hurricane that reshaped waterfront property in Annapolis, or the planes that hit the Towers and the Pentagon on 9-11. Or, I may get unwanted news about loved ones or my own health.

How shall I then live?

But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? (Romans 10:14-15 The Message)


Image Source

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Wasn’t Thinking

"Nothing is ever a complete failure; it can always serve as a bad example." Carlson's Consolation (from Murphy's Laws)


In Dallas, the temperature rarely has been cold enough for long enough to burst water pipes. Because we have vacuum breakers on the outdoor hoses, we didn’t worry about them freezing – unlike in Maryland. So with milder temperatures, we forgot you have to removes the hoses from the spigots to make the vacuum breakers function

Now we had a good warning that temps would plummet tonight – in fact if I heard it once I heard it a ga-zillion times: tonight will be the coldest night in 15 years.

So, an hour ago, snugged before the fire, we heard the TV weatherman warn about outside pipes; we looked at each other and swung into action. Doug suited up; I got some pliers. Out he went, and quickly discovered both outdoor faucets had frozen, with the hoses firmly attached. As he wrestled, with disengaging them, a young neighbor came to help.

I guess we will know later if or how much damage our lack of foresight will cost.

This is an uncomfortable reminder of one or two other things I forgot – like giving to the homeless shelters. We give, but on an inconsistent basis. I’ve known about their needs: the Dallas Morning news covers it; so does our church as a part of our urban ministry. Same Kinda Different as Me, a collaborative book by Ron Hall and Denver Moore was a powerful testimony to the pain and redemption of homelessness right in the D/FW area. But I tuned out my conscience’s pings – even last night when I wrote about the coming storms.

That’s really what “I wasn’t thinking” means.

So, I looked up quotes on excuses on my two favorite sites: Christiansquoting.com and Quotegarden.com. I found a few thought provokers:
“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” - Abraham Lincoln, 1809 - 1865

The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse. ~Author Unknown

And oftentimes excusing of a fault
Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.
~William Shakespeare
I don’t want to forget about what someone from Australia said after reading  yesterday’s blog about the monster cold storm enveloping 2/3 of their country. The writer described a set of storms hitting Australia this week in areas already devastated by floods of biblical proportions. It’s a storm on the scale of Katrina.

Here’s a reminder of how to start helping:
(The Not-For-Profits Reminder)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And now for the news and weather . . .

January ends with news of intensified unrest now in Egypt – and a winter storm is coming across most of the USA that will be a doozy. Once I stayed tuned for news of breaking developments. Now I switch to my classical music station. Watching breaking developments and then reruns every few minutes of the same stuff or updated graphics no longer helps.

What can I do about any of it? Someone once said: “If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”

So, I’ll write about it – and maybe pray, too. I like what Glenn Turner said about worry: “Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.”

Worry keeps me from working on what I can and trusting that God is working, too. The only known cure for fear is faith, observed Dr. Lena Kellogg Sadler (an American physician, surgeon, and obstetrician who was a leader in women's health issues, died in 1939)

Another wise soul reminds me, “Fear cannot take what you do not give it.” And borrowing courage from a Chinese Proverb: “That the birds of worry and care fly over you head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”

God for your church in Egypt and throughout the Middle East – bless them with all they need to be blessing. May Christ be real to each soul.

For those who rule our nation and all the other rulers, leaders politicians – I commend them to Your care – that they serve for your glory and the good of those they rule.

For those who help us in rough weather – in ways we can’t imagine – thank you God. And God help them in their duties.

The “Navy Hymn” haunts my heart – for those in peril on the sea. Naval Academy Glee Club in San Antonio 2008

“Oh God thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” (the Breton Fisherman's Prayer) And the sea looks particularly great tonight -- and my craft ever so tiny!

“So first of all let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear. . .is fear itself. . .nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

Only he who can say, 'The Lord is the strength of my life' can say, 'Of whom shall I be afraid?' - (Alexander MacLaren)

Oh – our property taxes were due today too, I think. Good-bye January, 2011!