Welcome


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, March 16, 2015

Moving

Well, in cyber space.

I'm branching out a bit -- come see me if you can, and please let me know what you think.

A New Location




Hoping to Avoid Thorns

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The World Today and My Grandchildren?

Holding Precious Hands


These stories weren’t on the front page the Dallas Morning News today. They appeared on the WORLD magazine site – and they are as troubling as reports of racism, cruelty and other upheavals:

·      Conceived by donated sperm or egg, some adult children are calling for regulation of third-party reproduction. Regulating the Marketplace of Children

·      The Nonhuman Rights Project is “ . . . asking the courts to recognize, for the first time, that these cognitively sophisticated, autonomous beings are legal persons who have the basic right to not be held in captivity.”

·      Should Christians stop criticizing murderers because we’re sinners too? If we must be free of sin in order to call out sin, we should all cease talking and writing about it right now. A Pastor's Wife Justifies Her Job at an Abortion Center

I don’t have a clue how to comment on the complex news that greets us each morning, much less how to come along side any of the people who are hurting, confused or just caught up in the craziness these snapshots of today’s world represent. What’s more troubling is that for our grandchildren, these may well be normal in their world, the way abortion and homosexuality are rights in our children’s world.  How do I even talk about topics like these without sounding like Chicken Little?

Tim Keller, retired pastor from Redeemer Church NYC offers one suggestion, “Pray and pray a lot. Especially when you don't feel like praying at all.” 

That’s harder than talking.

So, I opened my Bible, and finished up the book of Numbers, chapters 33-36: God’s warnings and promises to His people. A Bible teacher summed them up: “Don’t affirm evil by excusing it as social issues.” 

Aye – there’s the rub – I don’t see how in the world I can do that! I like a lot the world has to offer – I don’t want to live as a hermit. But if the above articles are among the stories describing the people to whom we are called to go, I’m tempted to stay! (And urge the grandkids not to get involved!)   

God help me – and make a path upon which I can walk – being useful to the folks I love, and those whom you put in my path -- doing no harm, because these times sure seem crazy and overwhelming. 

Almighty God, we confess how hard it is to be your people. You have called us to be the church, to continue the mission of Jesus Christ to our lonely and confused world. Yet we acknowledge we are more apathetic than active, isolated than involved, callous than compassionate, obstinate than obedient, legalistic than loving.   

Gracious Lord, have mercy upon us and forgive our sins. Remove the obstacles preventing us from being Your representatives to a broken world. Awaken our hearts to the promised gift of your indwelling Sprit.

This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.  (Prayer of Confession from 03/08/15, Park Cities Presbyterian Church)  





Monday, March 9, 2015

March Daffodils

Survivors! 
Snow and ice pounded my neighbor’s daffodils – They sprang up in the warm sunshine of a few weeks ago, but have had to survive recent icy rain and snow.  Their hardiness fascinated me as I have watched them holding up in the face of the intemperate weather. They are act as a little goad to get a grip and quit griping.

I gripe a lot about how bad things are – that is, how different the world seems from the one in which I thought we would be living.  

This is one scary place! What’s scarier is how we describe what we see; it communicates  frustration more than solutions. News of current events, and the reporters and commentators feel and sound as bitter as the recent icy blasts in Dallas –polarizing has a new adjectival dimension for me.  Moreover, it’s hard to laugh when popular entertainers lean on the F-bomb crutch for laughs to jokes anchored firmly to straw man arguments.   




Good Grief! Have I become like the grousers I used to hate to be around? 

Yes.

That’s why those resilient little flowers intrigued me.  The times may be brutal, and bring much that is unexpected. Our social commentators may be harsh -- a bit like our weather has been.  But I can weather it  -- even flourish. That is true even though a friend said daffodils reminded her of flowers she used to place on graves.

Funereal?


About time to sow those wildflower seeds. (Seeds)



o   Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions. ~Edward R. Murrow



o   Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect! ~Owens Lee Pomeroy

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Preparing for Purim

A Good Read
So . . . I have had a BUSY day of Facebook. No sooner did I read a link from one friend and share it – another friend posted an idea, prayer, teaching, current event equally pressing. If we were sitting all together in one room – I don’t think I could have fully heard what all my friends were saying!   Reading, one by one though, what they thought was important enough to share, I could hear.

The most galvanizing were reminders from pastors:

·      Christ is in the boat with me – literally and corporately. (The Comforting Presence)
·      How to pray right.  (We Are Praying Wrong)

They enabled me to listen calmly to Israel’s Prime Minister’s address the United States’ Congress. *  Mr. Netanyahu reminded me that tomorrow is Purim – the Jewish holiday of one woman’s courage to thwart a Persian man’s plan to annihilate the Jews.

 . . . Queen Esther exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies. The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.

 Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei  . . . tweets that Israel must be annihilated -- he tweets. . in English that Israel must be destroyed.

. . .

But Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. 

And the Prime Minister reminded us of how the world has changed since 1979 when
. . .  one of the world's great civilizations [was] hijacked by religious zealots -- religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.

That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran's borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to "export the revolution throughout the world."

He then said:  

Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.

In this deadly game of thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.

So, when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.

I think back to two books and movies that changed me: The Diary of Anne Frank, and On the Beach by Neil Shute: an eyewitness account of Nazi occupation, and a frightening real imagination of the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

Praying the world’s leaders will quickly turn to God in Christ to calm the storms that threaten to swamp us – and that we -- His church -- will not give up praying.**  

We know that in this way we cannot ever really pray wrong. God hears us, and the distant god of our culture cowers in defeat.







Monday, February 23, 2015

When Another Person’s Choice Becomes Personal

Richard Israel

 Debilitating illnesses are monsters -- terrifying, relentless thieves of physical strength, mental acuity, emotional stamina, and spiritual well being – as well as often draining the gifts and talents of the caregivers.  

They are like a final exam for which we know we are not prepared – no matter how we cram for it. They test all we believe, know and hope. 

Is it a right to skip out of such an exam?

Having the freedom to choose release from the grip of illness is an on-going debate in legislatures, in families, and amongst friends. 

We can keep many people alive – often minimizing their pain but never restoring the attributes that made them the wonderful souls we loved – their wit, their wisdom, and winsomeness.  I don’t believe anybody wants that for themselves or for the folks who care for them. 

A long-time and dear friend Richard Israel has battled Parkinson’s disease for many years. He is asking legislators in the Maryland General Assembly to pass a bill – Death with Dignity.  

 "Richard E. Israel, 72, spent more than two decades behind the scenes in Annapolis guiding lawmakers. Now he plans to spend his final months alive lobbying them from afar, advocating for the right to die when he chooses, a final act of control over a disease that robbed him of it.
. . .

It's about having a choice for others, not just for me,’ Israel said, each word taking a full second to articulate. ‘Death is inevitable. The question is when and how.’”*


For those who face death on beds of increasing, inescapable incapacity, and their loved ones, what comfort can those who believe God is in charge of life and death offer? How do we welcome our own death, while being willing to live each moment that God allots us?   

Knowing I might be so tested – seeing one I admire and love, so tested -- takes the debate from political, theological to personal.  

 Joni Eareckson Tada has said we must not end life, nor prevent death – black and white positions that may yield many gray areas.** 

Gray areas are the very reason prayer to the God who hears and sees is our only hope. For Richard, for Maryland, for us all -- 


Almighty God our heavenly Father, send down upon those who hold office in this State (Maryland) the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  For Local Government, from the Book of Common Prayer

Links:


** On Assisted Suicide by J.E. Tada 

Who  is Dick Israel? -- A Friend and  A Fine Man and Public Servant 


from a former Blog: 
 Reviewing a Book Not Quite Finished  -- Tim Keller’s Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Getting Things Fixed

Maybe it’s the season, Lent, but recent things on our to-do list seem like apt images for a few heart and soul issues – when life hurts because of stuff I can’t control.  

Yesterday we got two things fixed:

1.     A persistent, reappearing crack in our bathtub 

A Reoccurring Crack 

Repaired! (Almost)

– and

2.     The damage my spiffy Civic sustained when a driver misjudged the size of the parking space her SUV required.
Marred!



Repaired -- at an OH so Reasonable price! 

  

(Truth be told, we didn’t – instead, capable and affordable folks we were fortunate to find helped us. )

The initial repair bids for both the tub and the car were so steep, and the amount of time necessary to right the problems so long, we toyed with the idea of just ignoring the problems – they were, after all, minor – maybe, we could just live with their nuisance.  However, a  crack in a fiberglass bathtub meant the tub was out of commission. (We do have a separate shower.)  Those thin scrapes across the right back fender looked tacky and could invite rust to breed. Ignoring them would be the equivalent of walking around with a torn hem, or coffee stains on a white shirt!

So, Doug kept pursuing leads, and he found service providers whose talents dovetailed into the solutions to our problems without breaking the bank, and inconveniencing us for weeks.  What a relief!  

And then I thought about the willingness with which I can ignore stress fractures in relationships – caused by old injuries or new offenses.  How can I say I believe Christ walked out of the grave, but act like He has no power to heal the harm I did, or the pain I suffered?

Counting the cost, and remembering Who really paid – pays – all the bills I rack up is the first step in healing stress fractures, recurring or brand new. That's one way to observe Lent. 

The second is being willing to look for ways to restore and repair – beginning with me. (Isaiah 59:2; Psalm 51)  Other times, it is simply letting go of minor grievances, real and imagined, believing that God is keeping count of all my tears.  (Psalm 56:8)

We found affordable help, and fixed two nagging problems, so that we have the use of what we need and enjoy. How much more important are the relationships that God established?   

o   Never give up on someone you can't go a day without thinking about. ~Author Unknown (See Matthew 5:23-24 and Matthew 18:15-35)



Other ruminations on Lent:



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Heart Issues -- edited for cartoon*



 *Trying to comment on today's world is difficult -- from WORLD MAGAZINE this cartoon sums up   so well what I think


Published shortly after World War II, A Book of Days for Christians has been a reliable companion since I discovered it while estate sailing in late 2007. Richardson Wright’s book of mediations seems fresh – and applicable even though he quotes from Christians, most of whom are strangers to me. (My fault – not their’s.)

In 1951, the year the little devotional was published, the Korean conflict heated up – i.e., the backdrop of M.A.S.H. It was  a time much like our own: we’d come out of  two world wars, survived financial troubles; we now faced powerful adversaries. Television was giving itself awards – the Emmys. News of sports, entertainment, the Middle East, nuclear weapons and the arms race had precedence – religion, not so much. We didn't know all that Stalin was doing in the fifties

 In 2015, we’ve just been through the Super Bowl, the Grammys and a tribute to Saturday Night Live.  Russia and the Middle East are still in our news – so is a different kind of arms race. A group of people is systematically and gruesomely murdering other people – and we are holding back from stopping it. 

The reading for February 14 hit my heart. Describing a bauble that delighted his friends, Mr. Wright correctly described a familiar image – I have a fun necklace with one: three cute monkeys, one with hands firmly over his eyes, the next his ears, and the third his mouth that they may see no evil, hear no evil, nor, speak no evil.  (pages 55-56) He goes on:

. . . Of the these three only the last makes sense. The other two are pretty poor ideals to follow.

Refusing to see or hear evil around us is sheer cowardice. We can’t say it doesn’t exist, we can’t just explain it away. We must face it boldly, whether it crops up at home, or in the office, factory, market place, government. The swift wrath with which our Lord chased   the moneychangers out of the Temple followed on His seeing and hearing their corruption. Nor for a moment did He hesitate to accuse them of making His Temple a den of thieves.

The right emotion about sin can only be roused and sustained by the right emotion about God.  ~ Kenneth E. Kirk

What is going on . . . it’s like seeing Hitler rise to power again, albeit in different garb – and hearing Neville Chamberlain declare, “Peace in our Time!”  

Evil seems to pervade. 

Sometimes it may be so astonishing we can’t believe or understand what we are seeing; sometimes, like a frog in a kettle, we are inured to its danger.  There is still time to speak – and to pray that those who have been given the authority to govern will be men and women who understand the times.  (1 Chronicles 12:32) 

Meanwhile, reading though Leviticus is hardly reassuring me. “But, I didn’t know” is no excuse.









Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Seeds

Hope
We spent a lovely afternoon at the Dallas Arboretum, meandering about the gardens, most not wholly recovered from January’s chills and no where near ready for Spring.  But being able to walk about in warm sunshine and see some color, well it was time well spent. And my money was well spent too when we stopped by the gift shop. 

I bought several seed packets!

·      Two packs of Perennial Blooms for the full sun, promising blooms from spring to frost.

·      Two packs of Southern Hills and plains, promising blooms from spring to fall. (Can there be a frost before fall?)

·      One packet of Hummingbird Haven, again to be planted in full sun – and months of goodies for the little birdies. And finally,

·      Two packets for Made in the Shade – obviously suited for the corners of our garden that are tucked under foliage and trees.

What’s more, the recommended planting is two weeks before the last frost, which can come in late March.

The weather for several days has been superb  -- the darker the news, the brighter and warmer it has been.

·      How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli


Today was as a long cool drink  -- I am thankful to have lived through it, enjoying the gifts of so many people whose generosity and hard work made our outing a seamless pleasure.  And who knew a few lavish little seed packets could stir up such happy anticipation?

Friday, February 6, 2015

The National Prayer Breakfast 2015 --

Out of Context – Again.


A few sentences in the President’s address to the National Prayer Breakfast 2015 have made for commentary that has created more heat than light. The entire event is worth watching, especially if you are a person of faith in God through Jesus Christ. There were several highs, and few lows. ( Clips from Cspan) Among the most touching was Dr. Brantley's Prayer – it’s one that covers so many of my heart’s ache for this wonderful country and all our leaders – left, right and “moderate.”

Mr. Obama did state the obvious:  people of faith, including Christians, have done terrible things to each other in the name of our faith. But he said other things – such as being and remaining  humble, remaining vigilant so that the freedom to worship in America is not lost, and to put on love, treating others as we would wish to be treated. But his were not the only remarks!

What happened, early in January, that we just discovered has rocked me to my core – as did the shooting of the injure French policeman begging for his life. (Exercising Our Freedom, We Better Count the Cost) A Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, was filmed being burnt alive while locked in a cage.   The whole world now knows what happened to one man, burned to death by his captors. One more heinous act – among so many – destroying a man who was someone’s beloved child, friend, spouse or father.

I believe his destruction is a watershed – and America seems tired and broke. Therefore, watching a replay of the Prayer Breakfast was simply a refreshing cup of cold water, reminding me that God has loving servants in places I cannot imagine.

Are they perfect in their doctrine and practice?

Good grief NO! – Who would like to assert their own is?

The National Prayer Breakfast, this year more than others, was simply an event wherein lepers showed the rest of us where the food and treasures are.  Would that all the news and social media critics, now so freely dissecting a few sentences, taken out of context, had reported more – especially the prayers prayed in the name of the Lord Jesus – and the testimony of HIS powerful grace.  


*Dr. Brantly's Prayer -- Brantly adapted his words today from “The Lord’s Prayer in Time of War” by Wendy Lyons

Monday, February 2, 2015

Stop Trying to Control Others

Morning Sun, Spa Creek Maryland 2015
 This article has been moved: http://lettinggoandholdingtight.com/358-2/

Friday, January 16, 2015

Scarlett’s Influence -- “Fiddle-dee-dee . . . tomorrow is another day!"

Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara
 I read Gone with the Wind when I was 10 or 11. No, I didn’t get much out of it – but I understood that Scarlett O’Hara’s expectation that “tomorrow’s another day” to right wrongs and enjoy happy endings was a rosy antidote when I was stuck with a day that’s gray and lonely.

Tomorrow though is not always a golden inevitability.

What I do with today has consequences. Procrastination for whatever reasons is as dodgy a default mode as worrying about what tomorrow holds.  Mental, physical and emotional health are gifts, not rights. So, too, are friendships and family relationships.

Scarlett’s impulse to go back to her source of strength, Tara, to think about how to get Rhett back had merit. So did making a vow never to be hungry again.  Taking a deep breath, and putting our desires into plain words we can understand and follow are first steps to working out conflict, finding happiness and preserving our health. What we plan for our future selves – a.k.a. resolutions – is a familiar theme for January:

I want to do things that make me feel better and that don't make me feel worse later . . .
When I think about feeling better in ways that don't make me feel worse and the idea of investing in my future self, I feel like I can make better choices today. (A Little Bit of Advice for Your Future Self)

But tomorrow isn’t just about creating a healthier, happier me. Nor, was self the focus of the woman upon Scarlett’s life may have been based. (Meet the Real Scarlett O'Hara)

The husband of a woman battling cancer asked some questions, the answers to which refine the daily understanding of making the most of the twenty-four I’ve been granted:

How can you see your ordinary time today as something that will shape someone's future? How has God used other people to shape who you are? Do you intentionally think on the legacy you are leaving behind [?] What would people say about you as they sit by a fire? (What is Your Legacy?)


·      Someday is not a day of the week.
·      Procrastination is opportunity's assassin.  ~Victor Kiam

·      Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.  ~Spanish Proverb

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ROBBED – again

Carelessness costs . . . Thinking I could never again be a crime statistic, albeit, petty, was plain stupid. Especially since, I had fair warning.

 A couple of years ago, we left our cars – parked in our driveway – unlocked, and were surprised, chagrined and embarrassed to discover a thief took advantage and swiped a GPS. Within months, its replacement was also swiped when I left my luggage in plain view of the desk clerk at our hotel for a few minutes.

But the lesson that thieves are bold, especially when I am careless didn’t germinate many precautions.  

The Latest Ebenezer
I left a small jewelry bag nestled deep in my suitcase in a hotel recently rather than taking it with me.  [No] Surprise! Someone helped themselves to my humble treasures, taking the good stuff, and leaving the paste. 

Shock, feelings of being victimized welled up. So did the conviction that I have no more excuse for being so poor a steward than the thief does, who pilfered through my luggage and helped themselves to what was not theirs. 

Jessamyn West, the American author of Friendly Persuasion, once wrote: It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit to forgive them for having witnessed your own.  It’s going to take more than grit for me to forgive those thieves for have taken advantage of my mistake: willful foolishness – and myself.

I didn’t discover the loss for several days after we returned home – and have been mourning the loss of my valuables – and my own foolishness.  What was taken had some material value – but each piece’s sentimental value was more. The memories of the givers – their generosity – these are still mine. The recognition I bear some blame for losing these gifts stings.

My little jewelry sack is yet another Ebenezer  . . . reminding me

The thorns which I have reap'd are of the tree
I planted; they have torn me, and I bleed.
I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Another little reproof that might have wider implications when I remember a few broken relationships? 




Monday, January 12, 2015

Lessons Still To Be Taught

from Pinterest
  Hi, I've edited this and moved it: http://autumns-garden.com/1340-2/


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Common Sense

My generation was told many things about sex outside of marriage – most of which we merrily ignored. Go Boomers! Mine was the generation that succeeded in casting off the double standards former generations insisted upon. It was common sense that women had just as much of a right to have fun as men.

But my mother who had endured some of the consequences of those double standards told me one thing that is still true –

If you decide to have a party with your boyfriend, remember: a little life, innocent and precious, is always a possible unexpected guest. You don’t have a right to spoil their party.” 

She wasn’t threatening me. She was offering a common sense warning based on what she had seen and I was seeing among my friends. 

But my generation knew better – and we had the Pill!

And we brought abortion out of the back alleys! We wanted the lives of women facing unplanned pregnancies protected.  It was common sense. We knew what happened in those unclean, unsafe places because either we had to have one, or someone we knew had to end a pregnancy. 

Too few of us, though, thought about the life of the child – being assured “it” wasn’t a life – not really.  So, some of us discovered too late exercising our newly secured constitutional right was more complicated than undergoing a simple procedure.

Common sense should have told us that ending an unexpected pregnancy might not be an uncomplicated alternative to carrying a baby to term.   

Call the Midwife --- has dramatically taught viewers the harshness and heartbreak attending a little child’s coming into homes unable or unwilling to welcome them. It has also candidly depicted the callousness and compassion that attended adoption in the 1950’s and -60’s.  Mothers who relinquished their children into the care of others were not always cherished as sincerely as their babies were.

Single-parenting therefore became a common sense solution, one which the government of the United States enabled states to support, as the church and other private charities lost the debate on adoption. (Welfare Statistics)

This new normal has changed us – is changing us, not always in positive ways.  (Seventy -Two Percent of Black Babies Born to Unwed Moms) Common sense should tell us we might need to change course – not so easy in the uncertain times in which we live; when most standards are just your opinion or mine.


January is among its other designations, a month celebrating Right to Life.   Others call it Respect Life, or Sanctity of Life. (WORLD Magazine 2015) I hope this will be the first month in a year that galvanizes us to continue offering   real help to real women and men who have created lives for whom they are unable to care!

God help us to seek Him and His ways, not as a tyrant spoilsport issuing threats, but as a Father whose blessed boundaries protect and sustain life. (Psalm 139)


Resources: