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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 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/