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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, July 30, 2012

Seeing an Application of a Worrisome Warning


What did Christ mean when He said what you did for the least of these brothers and sisters, you did for Me – and what you did not do for them, you did not do for Me? (Paraphrase of Matthew 25:40-46) A friend posted a photo album of what such doing looks like over three years, and I hope you will take the time and review it – it’s about 12 minutes of your time. (One child’s journey) In this album, this wee lad’s ebullience and the compassion of those who served him show a definition of serving the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters that is invaluable. 

On the calendar of all the kinds of people we honor, is there a day for those who help the young children with significant impairments gain their independence? Is there day when we say to the kids who work so hard to gain the skills they need to be a part of this wonderful world – WOW! Look what you did! Is there also a day set aside when we celebrate the moms and dads, siblings and grandparents of these special children who cheered their precious gifts on, exhorting and comforting them? 

Is there time in my day to pray, or time in schedule to serve?

This piece was written by a sister of a young man who is an overcomer.

Precious Gift

 by Cheryl Mullis

God has given me a brother who is very special.  His name is Matthew and he was born with Down's Syndrome.  Matthew is now thirty years old.  God has brought a richness and fullness to my life through those thirty years of living life alongside Matthew.  I hope to bring encouragement to those of you who may be living life alongside someone who may have special needs. Matthew has been a PRECIOUS GIFT to our family, sent directly to us by God.

 Precious Gift
           
 Positive Parents

            gaining daily strength from a visible, daily walk with the Lord


             believing that my sibling is a true blessing


            focusing on the positive/refusing to be trampled by the  insurmountable obstacles


            communicating love and acceptance to each child


            discussing openly the realities of living day to day life with a special child


            God is our refuge and strength, our ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear. (Psalm 46:1 )

Rejoicing


            in the unique family in which God has placed me


            in the differences my sibling has


            in the ways that God shows me how precious each one of us is to Him



            Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS and again I say REJOICE. (Philippians 4:4-7 )



            I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful, O Lord. (Psalm 139:4 )

Energy


            to face day to day living


            to keep up



             Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed. For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, O Lord. (Lamentations 3:22, 23)

Confusion


            why has God "blessed" our family in this way?


            will my sibling ever be able to . . .?


            will my friends understand?   will they accept me?


            why do my parents have to spend so much time with him?



            Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thatksgiving present your requests to God.  And the PEACE of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds In Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7) 


Insults


            hurtful


            cruel


            hard to talk about


             Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)

Opportunities


            to meet others in similar places in life


            to serve in the church and community


            to become aware of the special qualities and gifts of others

Unaccepted


            name calling


            cruel looks


            people avoiding you

Surprises


            never know what to expect


            private family issues being made public


            life is not "controllable"


            people who God uses to encourage you


            God's grace IS sufficient



            My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
            (2 Corinthians 12:9 )


Gift from God


            remembering that each life is a gift from God - even your sister or brother
             special
                         unique
                                     precious



            For you have created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. (Psalm 139:13)

Intense



            intense times of frustration
            intense times of embarrassment
            intensely personal situation
            intense times of confusion
            intense times of JOY

Fun


            keep a sense of humor
            remember to laugh

Trust


            in God's plan -  unknown to us
            in God's strength to carry on day to day

Encouragement from Habakkuk to God's people  --
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET, I will REJOICE in the Lord.  I will be joyful in God my savior. The sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on to the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Another great resource:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Roses


In the summer of 1971, I received a dozen red roses at work – I was impressed. Never before had a beau sent such flowers! I told my parents and they told me grandmother, then 92. She was not impressed – wanting to know who his people were, and thenceforth referred to Doug as the rose man.

Over the years, the rose man has sent many lovely roses – today was perhaps the grandest yet – celebrating our anniversary.   Forty years – it’s been a long time that passed so quickly! 

I found these quotes, deep thoughts from others on marriage – some come close to capturing my feelings – and remain good advice for the next forty years I hope to enjoy with the Rose man.  

·      To keep the fire burning brightly there's one easy rule:  Keep the two logs together, near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart - about a finger's breadth - for breathing room.  Good fire, good marriage, same rule. ~ Marnie Reed Crowell


·      Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  ~Marcel Proust

·      Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths.  No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.  ~Mark Twain

·      Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can't live without.  ~James C. Dobson

·      A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.  ~Ruth Bell Graham

·      A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short.  ~Andre Maurois

Friday, July 27, 2012

Darkness




Letting more light in the living room last week was quickly eclipsed by the news of a horrific shooting, and terror plot in Aurora CO. This time last week how many folks were looking forward to an opening of a movie? By this week's end the nation got a glimpse into the outworking of someone’s child’s illness and sin nature.

More words have been written speculating why the shooter did what he did than have been written reporting the events that began at midnight last Thursday.  We want to know how and why something like this happened – we want to understand and prevent the darkness that spawned the terror that took 12 lives, injured many others and threatened first responders who may have broken down a door, igniting a firestorm.

  • What broke in a man when he could bring himself to kill another?  ~Alan Paton
  • He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.  ~Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

But the darkness was not isolated in Colorado; in Texas, another group of people seeking a better life also violently died. (Fourteen Illegal Immigrants Killed) And in Chicago a young woman and her baby died, victims of an abortion. (Chicago Tribune story

I believe death is the fruit of one man’s choice – Adam’s. (Romans5: 12) With that choice, the violence and horror often preceding death, is also death’s bitter fruit.  I believe, by God’s grace, we still have a choice – not to be shielded from violence and death, but to go through it and live. (1 Corinthians 15:22) I don’t like the conclusion that some people are so broken that their sinfulness spills out marring and destroying all it touches. But there it is.

Sudden, violent death is not what I think I am likely to face when I get up in the morning, go about my routines – it’s not what  any of the moviegoers expected; nor did the people who piled into that pick-up, speeding from Mexico to Texas anticipate it. Surely the young woman who was ending her unborn child’s life didn’t expect to forfeit her own that day, July 23.

But death is the elephant in the living room -- it's hard to talk about a "natural" death, much death that is unnatural and untimely.   Last Thursday, it bellowed so in Aurora that it got our collective attention.  Even the carnage in Syria took a back seat. We hardly heard its growl in Texas – and in Chicago – most of us missed its coming.  

  • Ignorance of death is destroying us. Death is the dark backing a mirror needs if we are to see anything. --Saul Bellow


 In the coming days, what will we see when we look in our lives’ mirror?

  • Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them. Ecclesiastes 9:22
  • When it comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die. -- Jim Elliot, journal: 25 March 1951

image: Karl Gehring / The Denver Post via AP

Thursday, July 19, 2012

More Light is Worth the Risk


We had four wood panels cut out of our front door, replacing them with glass. We wanted more sunlight in our living room, even as we realized that replacing solid wood with glass might increase the risk of a break-in. But more light is worth it.

I wish cutting through the wall of political rhetoric this campaign year to get light were as easy – because we need some light if we are going to survive and prosper as a nation, and as individuals.  If the 2012 campaign ads or stump speeches were only what we read – or heard – it looks like our choice the first Tuesday in November will be between a possible felon and a proven socialist – each and both have agendas to destroy the country they seek to govern; both candidates are incompetent and dishonest, according to their opponents’ assessment.

I wonder how either man made it so far. 

Since none of the candidates, their surrogates or the media is willing to talk about real stuff, how can we choose good leaders?   And even if we threw every incumbent out of office this year – what about the bureaucrats, local, state and national, who keep the government growing? How will elected officials rein in this run-away horse? 

Too many of us throw up our hands and refuse to vote -- Dr. Tony Evans said that Christians can and must vote this year. For whom or how, he did not spell out.  He recommended that voters should spell out what we think the issues are; figure out what the party positions are and what the candidates are saying; line the concerns and contenders with what we know Scripture says about issues and actions – and speech. 

That’s the hard part – what does the Bible say about a nation’s deficit spending, national debt, and war; or, its character, prosperity and peace?

Christians understand that God spoke on many of the topics convulsing us today – even if they bother us. (Mark Twain
·      We know God has shown His people what is good and what He requires. (Micah 6:8)
·      He’s warned His people not to call good evil, or evil good.  (Isaiah 5:20)
·      He warned against racism. (Colossians 3:11)
·      He also had some advice about money. (Borrowing)
·      He was specific also about caring for the wounded – afflicted and alien.
·      Even more – He told His people how they should behave. (The Beatitudes)

Not all Americans agree on a hierarchy of challenges we face – mine may not be yours, dear reader, but perhaps a few will resonate – the economy, welfare and healthcare reform and expansion are huge challenges.  I am listening for a few topics – and I believe Scripture has wisdom here, even for a nation that is not Christian.

·      Putting people to work in jobs that enable us to provide for our families and contribute to our communities and country is unquestionably a top issue.
·      People who won’t work forfeit the right to eat; people who can’t work need our help.
·      So, then, feeding the hungry, and sheltering the poor is what Americans do.
- Is increasing food stamps the best way?
- Is the housing we offer safe, or economical?
·      Also, we must overhaul the health care system – so that we can care for the least of our citizens, with the care we would have for ourselves.

Just as bringing more light through our front door could be risky, it could be risky if the candidates became more transparent -- if both sides laid out their qualifications and ideas, simply, and quit demonizing each other.  But light can be so worth the risk!

Stopping the hurtful, ad hominem or straw man attacks voters hear 24/7 might even give the candidates and their backers the breathing space to think about how they can collaborate with government bureaucracies and other power interests, to govern. Then, we, the voters and citizens of this great nation, might have time to think about what we can do to tackle issues – and quit looking for knights on white horses to save us from ourselves.   And then, maybe the media’s talking heads and pundits would finally get real jobs.


 Article from FactCheck

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fear is Faith Too?


In a selection from her book, Pearls of Great Price, Joni Eareckson Tada recounts a conversation between two young women with Down Syndrome that may have flashed by – but was vital, both for the one who heard the words, and for me who read them.  Having successfully scaled a climbing wall, Corie assured her anxious friend, reluctant to ascend, “The wall won’t hurt you.” And her friend Heather garnered her courage and started to climb.

Two young women with distinctive “limitations” did something I would have been scared to do even in my twenties! (What I was not afraid to try – and should have been --  is  a topic for another time )

Corie surrendered to the opportunity, trusting her helmet and climbing harness and thus who cheered her on.  In doing so, when she climbed up and back, she knew the wall would not hurt her friend, and urged Heather on.  Just like Joni’s question at the end of the account reminds me, walls are not the problem -- 

Are you facing an intimidating wall right now... a medical problem, an unexpected bill, a strained relationship, or a wrestling match with temptation? God has a purpose, and knows all about what you're facing. Look up, take heart and say, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are the Master of every wall in life. Help me to take courage from little Corie's courage and counsel. With your help, I'll grip that first rock and begin to climb.


God, I believe; help Thou my unbelief.

I may not struggle with the limitations Down Syndrome creates – but I struggle with a raft load of limitations spawned by pride, bull-headedness, and ignorance.   I may be up against more than I can handle on my own; at least I am finally recognizing that!  The wonder is today is the day when I can suit up and ascend – trusting equipment will hold, for that is the Designer’s intention.   
   
Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet.
Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them.  . . Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (Ephesians 6:10-18 The Message)


 Fear is faith that it won't work out.  ~ Sister Mary Tricky

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Schnapps


As a little girl, I never fell under the spell of horses – over the years, I’ve never been tempted to fling myself up on one and take off. I was told they could smell fear, no matter what. And horses generated trepidation in me anytime I got close enough to assess their size. 

But, when my friend, Helen, invited a few of us to meet her horse, Schnapps, I readily accepted.   Her deep love and connection to her horse came through all the stories of how she came to own him.  She bought him several years ago, riding him faithfully until a few too many aches and pains restricted her, and him. His care and comfort are, however, still her delight.

Schnapps is 33 years old – that’s 85 in horse years! He had been a racehorse but age and its attending limitations put him in the pasture. His family connections were impressive my friend discovered, when she found a tattoo in his mouth. With a little research, Helen learned her horse was related to Secretariat.

Even I understood that’s a notable connection.

So, I hustled myself out to the stables where he and other horses abide – some thirty miles north of our humble abode. That is I programmed the GPS, and prayed I wouldn’t get too lost – and I only missed one turn. Note: going thirty miles somewhere in Maryland is a big deal – it is no big deal in Dallas.   

Helen greeted me, forgiving my lateness, and proudly introducing me to her “baby.” Her presence seemed to calm him. Helen came prepared with a bag of carrots, from which we could offer treats as we each drew to speak a word and have our pictures taken with this venerable, aged horse. I fed him, and he nuzzled me. Yes, I still was just a wee bit timid – but perhaps his sense of smell had sufficiently weakened?  He is a lovely creature – age has lessened any impression of fearsomeness, but not his dignity  -- or his love of carrots.   

All this fraternization was in the midst of a day camp for little girls who were learning how to care for the horses that they had just ridden. Their duties reminded me why I was not cut out to be a cowgirl.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

About Last Night

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So, we went to the movies last week and saw The Avengers – with half of Dallas, or so it seemed. But we wanted to stir our stumps and put our minds on autopilot in a crowd, so off we went.

All I can say is WOW! Whatever troubles were on my mind before we went into the film vanished in the drama, noise and action. Evil will not stand in the face of friends who finally ignore their differences and work together – even if there was a wee bit of collateral devastation of New York.  Moreover, if these superheroes are needed on earth again, they will return. 

The promise of a returning helper is a big deal – and we’ve had one in the person of a kind plumber. We’ve been having quite a few plumbing glitches in the past two months.  First, some innards in our toilets needed replacing; then, I inserted the refrigerator’s water filter a wee bit askew – lodging it firmly, half in and half out of its holder; and most recently, the toilets backed up and were overflowing in the back yard. Maybe he felt sorry for us – or maybe he just wanted to see what else we had broken around the house.  He showed up last night around 10:30 PM to answer our latest emergency – and he drove about thirty miles to get here!

What we did was inadvertently create a fountain of water by the side of garage.

Watering after 10 PM has become a pleasant little ritual for the past several weeks. Even though the pots have been placed strategically to catch the sprinkler’s spray, several more need a drink. Doug was helping and gave the hose a tug, not suspecting the faucet was not on cooper, but thin PVC pipe – that was worn and cracked. Imagine his surprise when water gushed, full force from the remains of the broken spigot.

That was a lot of water

How do we turn off the water? (!) The city had reworked the access, and we were at a loss. So we called the city – whose 24 hour dispatch responded. The first help arrived within minutes as a policeman arrived with a long-handed socket wrench to unscrew the manhole cover in the alley, shut off the water, stopping the gusher, and cutting off water to the house.  He wished us well, and hoped we knew a plumber.

Well, we did – but we didn’t know his willingness to make the trek from so far on a Friday night! Although he told Doug, our call rescued him from a bad ball game, he was like our own Avenger . . . fighting against the plumbing calamities in an old house that can be caused by its maladroit owners – maybe not as critical as finding a missing Tesseract, but plumbing emergencies at night or on the weekends can be pretty upsetting.   

We had another spewing water problem two years ago – only in the winter. (A Faulty Faucet)  This time the plumber promptly came – and his readiness to help us was a great help! And fortunately, he didn’t make the mess the Avengers did in New York City.

But this little adventure reminded me there’s a lot about home ownership I still don’t know, and I’ve been doing this for quite awhile. Knowing where cut-off valves are is important – knowing helpers who show up is more so.   Be willing to help is as important as being ready to receive it, and I am grateful for another object lesson in what that looks like.  


From the quotegarden today:  

Daily Harvest for 7/7/2012:
Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds.  ~George Eliot

Friday, July 6, 2012

No Do-Over



She was tired, caught up in a marathon legislative session, and hit the wrong button, but because hers was the deciding vote, Rep. Becky Carney, a five-term Democrat from Charlotte NC could not have a do-over. A fellow legislator said: “There was nothing she could do about it,” he said, in an interview. “There was nothing that can be done.”(Read More)

But, what was refreshing about the revelation of Ms. Carney’s blunder was her courage: "It was a huge mistake," Carney said afterward. "I take full responsibility."(Read More) (Emphasis added)

Laying aside the merit of what Ms. Carney’s mistake enabled, a measure that lifts the ban on hydraulic fracturing as a means for mining for natural gas, her trouble struck a cord. How often has fatigue or fear in the midst of my life’s little battles been the reason I hit the wrong button – saying, doing, or thinking the opposite of what I know to be right? 

 Whew . . . a bunch! More to the point, however, is the reminder – the best reasons in the world for doing wrong is never an excuse for not owning the blunder and making amends. 

From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own
(Syrus – 1st century BC writer of maxims)

So much I can’t do-over – even as I knew the instant the words escaped my lips, or the actions hit my memory banks, I was out of bounds.  My hope is in God who accepts my confession and repentance and enables me to do the next thing – apologize and make restitution. (Psalm 51)

We never need to long for security, stability, or better outcomes in our life.  We can learn how these gifts are contained in our own actions. (Anonymous wisdom)

A Blast from my Past:

Photo by Keith Baker
Copyright 2010 Capitol Broadcasting Company

 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Can’t Be Out of Money . . .

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 I still have checks!
Once upon a time, that exclamation about summed up my understanding of my bank account. However, late fees became expensive tutors reminding me  I could not spend more than I had – except when I tried [often unsuccessfully] floating a check or two.  My banker dad disabused me of the wisdom of this wishful thinking. So did the mail: a check returned with NSF (nonsufficient funds) emblazoned on a check was embarrassing.  Now e-mail arrives pronouncing my financial mismanagement.

Sigh . . . How I live my life depends on how much money I know I can get my hands upon.  I [still] understand the limits of debt I can incur, for I understand what I can afford to repay – there is a bottom line. And we’ve paid for the privilege of ignoring it! 
 
Now it seems our government can’t come to terms with its bottom line. We want to do so many good things – and surely feeding, housing and educating our citizens who need a helping hand are wise and good decisions. So, too is helping the elderly and infirm. However, now we are all at the trough. (Cost of the feed)

It seems I now owe fifty-thousand bucks or there about for the government's programs. So does my husband, our children, each of their kids, and you, too, gentle reader.  And this debt is not a one-time bill.

Writing an overdraft sounds so much nicer than kiting bad checks sounds if I blow the budget, and the bank account.  Can it be our government is exclaiming, “We can’t be out of money . . . We still have checks!” 

·      Or, do our leaders know about checks coming into the treasury that we do not –like, we don’t have to worry about owing this much because we are getting a check for triple the amount from income or products we are producing -- that we don't know about?
·      Or, could the US be on the verge of running through the money its citizens and businesses in fact have? (See Mrs. Thatcher’s comment)

I want my elected leaders to tell me how they can plan to get us out of debt, and on a solid footing of incurring no more debt than we can reasonably repay. (I am repeating myself here.) Doug and I have had to do that; maybe you have too. And I would like to see a discussion, a bi-partisan, American loving, common-sense discussion that tells me what they need us to do in plain language – the plainer the language, the better.  

  •             Who is paying for the healthcare? 
  •             And how much will it cost whom? 

The next several months promise many more debates over how and who will pay for the “Affordable Care Act.”  I haven’t read it – nor have I read the Supreme Court’s rendering of its constitutionality.  What I know about it is too frequently connected to the last opinion piece I read.  And I am reading opinions expressed on Real Clear Politics.com and FactCheck.org.   Radio talk shows and TV pundits rarely help me understand if in fact the emperor has new clothes, or is still standing there buck naked.


Other Points to Ponder: