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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, March 27, 2011

Where’d All that "Glorious Texas" Weather Go?

It always happens.

I get all my winter clothes sorted, cleaned and stored; my spring and summer clothes arranged and culled, and the weather changes from warm and balmy to chilly and damp. All that “glorious” Texas sunshine is playing hide and seek – quickly disappearing.

All my newly planted flowers look alarmingly defenseless as the squirrels are still burrowing for the remains of last years acorns. I shooed off one fat and furry fellow from the edge of the pot in which I hope the freesia will flourish.

And I am as thankful for our gas fireplace logs, as I was at Christmas a year ago.
“[S]he who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if [s]he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient.” (W.J. Cameron, an 19th century explorer and entrepreneur)

“. . . Nothing is possessed save in appreciation . . .”

My appreciation of my family’s safety is deepened by a recent photo of a young Japanese woman sitting, knees clasped, mourning, amidst the rubble of what may have been her home. So many Japanese parents lost their children, so many children, their parents – brothers gone, sisters, lost – the comfortable familiar is now a nightmare. Just as so many Haitians lost their families.

We live in days wherein the luxury of gratifying anger, nurturing resentment, or perpetuating misunderstandings is prohibitively expensive. The cosmos is too changeable – and life is too short to abuse the relationships God has established.

Some aids so you may more fully appreciate the folks around you:

A patient man has great understanding,
but a quick-tempered man displays folly.
A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:29-30)

A man's wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Let the Gardening Begin!

Last June, I reported that the Black-eyed Susan seeds sprouted in spite of starting too late, and my careless watering. However, no flowers bloomed, only foliage. I gave up on them, and tucked the greenery in a large pot with a chrysanthemum and liriope – disappointed I would not be seeing any reminders of Maryland in my Texas garden.

But yesterday I was surprised.

Yesterday – a glorious Texas spring day – I gathered my cultivator and spade, “gloved” up and uprooted the wilted winter pansies, flowering broccoli and a ga-zillion shoots from buried acorns from a yard square bed that abuts the covered porch. I preserved three snapdragon plants, hoping they will survive the sun and heat amongst all new flowering plants I intend: Shasta daisies, lemon symphony, lithodoa (grace wind), African daisies and sun bells – all supposed to last in Texas sun and heat.

Then, I spied the large pot, quite green with chrysanthemum leaves and liriope, and a clump of oblong leaves – portending Black-eyed Susans! They made it through the unusual winter we had this year!

Cautiously I extracted them from their companions, and gingerly separated them into seven little plants. Three would be the first plants in the cultivated square! And I put four others along the skinny oblong bed on the far side of the covered porch.

So, if gardens are indeed a form of a form of autobiography, (Sydney Eddison) I started another chapter - a chapter that includes the hope of freesias and lilies – three packets of seeds yet to be sown, and reminders of Maryland. This is indeed an antidote to panic attacks – for I must breathe deeply, exercise, and imagine colors, shapes and smells that divert the anger and anguish the world reports.

Summing up from From quotegarden.com:
“Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.” ~Lindley Karstens
“ You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday 2011: Gottcha!

Words have meanings and these meanings express ideas that carry real consequences By their words a teacher lost her job; a presidential hopeful his shot at the office, a community worker her job, and now the C.E.O. of NPR, her position. A hidden camera interview – a.k.a. gottcha journalism – toppled another prominent person. (See here.) For years secret taping has exposed people doing and saying foolish, mean, reprehensible things. The stupidity isn’t limited to a few. From a national candidate caught mocking people’s ethnicity, to employees showing clients how to skirt the law, to media elite demeaning political operatives, we see it isn’t just the kids who say the darndest things! And every single one of them might agree with Mary Ann Evans (George Elliot) who wrote “Blessed is the person who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.”

We’ve known about “bugs” and “moles” – but now no one has the luxury of saying what is really on their minds – for now we live in an age of open mikes to the world. Leaders – political, social, academic, scientific, and artists – can see their offhand or heartfelt comments go viral in the time it takes to watch a You-Tube clip, or Facebook post.

However we think about what was done and how, the expectation of being instantly and publically answerable for our words is daunting. I always wondered what God meant when He admonished me I would give an account of every careless word. A paraphrase describes the warning this way:
Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation. (Matthew 12:36-37 from THE MESSAGE)

Five years of technological advances suggests how He might keep such an account. If just the memory of a few of my “verbal lapses” embarrasses me – how much more would the irrefutable evidence of all my careless words convict me?

Today is a day of repentance on the church’s liturgical calendar; many Christians therefore submitted themselves to a mark of ashes which symbolize our repentance from our sins. (Job 42:6) But every day is the time to think about our words and repent from our folly. (Psalm 51, 139:23-24) Calling anyone a fool, for any reason, has a real consequence. (Matthew 5:22-24) Today is the best time to seek to restore the relationships we have harmed – starting with God, Himself.
No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won't put up with the irreverent use of his name. (Exodus 20:7 from THE MESSAGE )

And then think about all the times we laughed off, or disregarded others’ objections to what we were saying, “just kidding!”

People who shrug off deliberate deceptions,
saying, "I didn't mean it, I was only joking,"
Are worse than careless campers
who walk away from smoldering campfires.
(Proverbs 26:18-19 from THE MESSAGE )

Words are powerful weapons – or tools. They can cost us relationships, jobs, and respect and peace with God.
The man of few words and settled mind is wise; therefore, even a fool is thought to be wise when he is silent. It pays him to keep his mouth shut. (Proverbs 17:27 The Living Bible)