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.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cold Water In Loving Cups:

A Ministry?

Cable news succeeds in outlining, describing and reiterating what Paul observed: the days are evil  – These are desperate times! (Ephesians 5:16) And the times affect the very people who create them. (John 13:34, Matthew 5:44) Paul saw his generation and described ours:

        . . . People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life . . .   Refusing to know God, they soon didn't know how to be human either — women didn't know how to be women, men didn't know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men — all lust, no love . . .  And it's not as if they don't know better. They know perfectly well they're spitting in God's face. And they don't care — worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best! (Romans 1:18-32 from THE MESSAGE )

People who believe God live in the midst of people who do not believe in Him, and our charge is to love each other and nonbelievers with love. How do I do I do this?

First, remember that but for God’s grace – and the loving forbearance of several Christians – I might be far worse than the Romans Paul described. Second, ask for a heart that loves – and a will that serves; neither one is second-nature to me. Third, put away the fire hose. I am learning offering cold water in loving cups is one way  –  though I used to think a fire hose of hot water was one way to quench the "opposition." Fourth pray for Christians who are visible – that they are transparent and effective witnesses of Jesus the Christ.

Finally, I found this e-mail from Peacemaker Ministries quite helpful on how to reconcile, live at peace, among and with “enemies.”

    Don't Drop Your Weapons!

    Paul also understood that God has given us divine weapons to use in our quest for peace. These weapons include Scripture, prayer, truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Eph. 6:10-18; Gal. 5:22-23). To many people, these resources and qualities seem feeble and useless when dealing with "real" problems. Yet these are the very weapons Jesus used to defeat Satan and to conquer the world (e.g., Matt. 4:1-11; 11:28-30; John 14:15-17). Since Jesus chose to use these weapons instead of resorting to worldly weapons, we should do the same.

    (Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 248)

    Food for Thought

    What weapons do you tend to use when you are in a conflict?

    When we finally decide to reconcile with an enemy, we sometimes approach them with an attitude of "dropping our weapons.” But Jesus never calls us to be unarmed or passive among our enemies. To the contrary, he calls us to lay down our ineffective worldly weapons (like defensiveness, anger, self-justification, and gossip) in order to take up the truly heavy artillery (like love, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control). Take time today to read Romans 12:14-21 and resolve to take up again the weapons for which the Lord sacrificed so much to equip you.

Romans 12:14-21

    Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.

    Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

    Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

    Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

    If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

    Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.

     "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head."

    Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NASB)

Friday, November 13, 2009

An`Estate Sale --

My friend spied an estate sale and passed on the address.  Estate sales are always on my way; so, I stopped; I parked on the same street that had obliged me a few Saturdays previously when another estate sale loomed. Approaching the house, I saw through large windows many good, but gently worn treasures in with everyday stuff – and so it was in each room. Alas, nothing for me.

 Leaving the house, a guard greeted me – testifying to the remaining valuables: sterling silver, a full length mink, rugs, books on collecting porcelain and silver, amongst costume jewelry, old appliances  – and half full bottles of cleaning and yard sprays, marked fifty cents. I looked up and saw a broken window pane in a dormer; the paint was pealing; looking around, I saw the yard was overgrown. In the driveway, people had removed the seats in their van to accommodate their find: a sofa with good bones and timeworn upholstery

Because of the economy, her home may be remodeled instead of demolished – and all her things, the care of which surely occupied a large portion of her resources – time, money, and thoughts – will have new homes – or molder landfills. What we work so hard for, becomes another’s property – for a season or two; where is that from in  Ecclesiastes?

A woman’s life sorted, tagged and on sale – not a thing that bore witness to a man’s presence. Who was she? Where is she? Did she have people to love, and love her? Did someone help her at the end of her stay in home?

Well, dear anonymous and elegant lady – thank you for letting me see your treasures. I hope for all the pleasure they gave you, loving hearts gave you more – and that you were loved and that you loved.

A Familiar Lonesome Wail

I remember the first time I heard the sound of a train – I was a small child visiting my grandmother in Jonesville, South Carolina. The tracks were several miles from her home.  Though trains ran throughout the day, I only heard them in the morning and evening. But, that wail intrigued me – I had seen pictures of passenger trains, and distant sounds kindled day dreams. My grandmother’s house still stands – does a child dream when she or he hears a distant wail?

The next time I heard a train’s horn, I was a junior at the University of Maryland – our apartment was literally right by the tracks. The landlord said we’d get used to it; he was  right. After the first couple of days I rarely heard it. I had no time for dreams.

But now, that distant wail – haunting and familiar – is clearly discernible at our new house! As I sat down with coffee, it greeted me – having said a goodnight before I retired. I have time for  musing – Does  that train wend its way east and north through South Carolina, and Jonesville, onto College Park, perhaps then chugging into Grand Central?  Another train now passes.  This is no way to get a morning’s housework done!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coming to Terms with Time

Some birthdays are difficult to celebrate, for they bring an awareness of aging – a daunting prospect with all that attends!  I heartily concur with another woman’s thoughts:
    Come, thieving time, take what you must,
    Quickness to move, to hear, to see,
    When dust gathers near to dust,
    Such diminutions need must be,
    But leave, O leave, exempt from plunder,
    My sense of humor, curiosity, and wonder.
(An anonymous poem, from a 93-year-old  lady, given to her pastor in Washington DC church)

But a sense of humor, curiosity, and wonder aren’t always enough if facing  infirmity, loneliness  and death.

The first time I ever thought much about how old I was getting, I was staring at my reflection in a mirror - in Quito Ecuador - on my 23rd birthday; it dawned on me (finally) I was an adult – but the choices I had been making were not so wise. I had some decisions  to make, not fully realizing that growing up meant growing old.  That was the only birthday that literally troubled  me. Plenty of other times have given me pause to reflect on how quickly my life was passing – but not another birthday – so far.

About twenty-three years later, was one such time as I stood in the autumn sunlight of our dressing area, stunned by the realization that  “middle aged” was no longer an apt description of my age and stage. How it came to me was doing the math . . . doubling my age that afternoon I figured that put me well beyond what even Moses said was a reasonable  prospect of longevity. (Psalm 90:10) 

Another twenty years, or so, has passed since that epiphany – decades that brought all kinds of changes – the least of which has been aging: people whose lives I often took for granted died; new relationships have been forged – I have another “son” and “daughter” – gifts of grandchildren who will outlive me, God willing. Changes that seemed unthinkable have come to pass – wars, uncertainty, and a “normlessness”– anomie – that I thought only described post World War I; “unshakeable” foundations shook.  

When I first thought about growing older, I assumed I had time, time to dream and live those dreams out – time to make a difference  – I would make a major contribution to my world. And I would be very different from other women I knew! Twenty three years passed and  my ideas about what to contribute had changed; my desire to be so different has mellowed. Another couple of decades zipped by, and imagining the future is not as pleasurable as remembering how far God has brought me; I miss the women, my mother, family and friends, all from whom I wanted to be so different. And that sense of humor, curiosity, and wonder doesn’t overcome pain, loneliness and fear.

I read Isaiah 46:3-5 and am comforted by God, who is the God of my gray hairs – an important promise for one who decided to retire Miss Clairol.
“When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, GOD is rock-firm and faithful.”(Psalm 73:26 from THE MESSAGE ) 

Grateful for each day, then – even as my get up and go . . . diminishes . . . even with increasing limitations, I can with laughter, curiosity and wonder, pray: 
    . . . And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me,
    Until I declare Thy strength to this generation, Thy power to all who are to come.

    (Psalm 71:18)

    . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. . .  (
Psalm 51:10-15)

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Window Now Faces South . . .

In our new home, because of my desk’s situation, the morning sky’s light is different – I face south. The light is gentler – in our former home, I faced east in the morning — but I rarely sat at my desk; I enjoyed reading and writing on the screened porch, (weather permitting) an exposure also protected from the sun. So, the light feels somewhat familiar.  

On either side of the desk are books, photos and tiny treasures, some that chronicle thirty-seven years together: some wedding gifts, many we collected. I added to the collection a Maryland memento. Saturday, while yard-sailing, (or, in Dallas, estate-yachting) I found a small Delft ginger jar, inscribed  Maryland – interesting to speculate what the connection was.

Were they transplants, too?

Texas is full of transplants! Business people whose companies relocated; Latin American and African immigrants, university and medical students – quadruple the mix since Douglas left in the 1960's. Many folks here, when asked if they are natives, reply, “No, but I got here as quick as I could.”  I genuinely like Texans – natives and transplants – everybody who have so graciously opened their hearts to us.  But I have never been more aware of being a Marylander – even a Baltimorean, though most of my life I’ve spent in the Annapolis area! What’s that about? I wasn’t so conscious of that when I lived in DC. 

Of course, this surprising tie to my provenance is like Doug’s. One evening as we walked, he remarked on the sunset – brilliant blue melting into orangery-purples – and I realized maybe he’d been missing the memory of how the sun looks – rising or setting.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Yesterday and today have been glorious, cool and sunny in Dallas – after days of   showers and storms – downpours that have replenished water supplies.

Last Monday, as we readied boxes and bags for the Tuesday move, we worried about the weather – the clouds parted and the movers from Maryland and Texas converged –depositing the bits and pieces of our lives: the living room rug that I saw first in my husband’s bachelor pad was unrolled,  and the memories of our children playing, crawling and toddling spilled out.

Many open-hearted friends and family pitched in – with concrete, kind help – bringing food, muscle power and encouragement. By Thursday night – because of all their help – we could find our way around the house, and our son and his wife flew in – through the crazy weather – and we had a fun time – content to leave the chaos. Friday night the Texas family and friends entertained them and us.

Saying good-bye after breakfast this morning was hard – the feelings  reminded me of the Sunday we left our son at his college: for years I knew the day was coming – yet was somehow surprised that time did not simply stop.

. . . Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day . . . 

But just for today I remember the kindness of so many and the love of the best kids a mom and dad could have, and God who made such a wideness in His mercy it found out me.