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.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back in Texas

 Reason and faith are both banks of the same river.  ~Doménico Cieri Estrada

One week ago today I was organizing myself to head to Maryland, and the week I spent there flashed by, even though the days were filled with several long hours of giggles and tears. This morning I am not organizing much except some pleasant memories. Yes, here I am — sipping coffee in absolute quiet — well except for the classical radio station’s soothing strains.  No ear-piercing shrieks, squeals, squalls or loud crashes. Even my phone is silent. The loudest noise is me sniffling because the baby shared her cold.

In thanking God for what He provided this week past, He showed me – at the airport – a concrete reason  we could enjoy our children and their children, a place to worship and hear the Gospel of Grace, and sleep in peace. The reason?  Soldiers.

They face head on what is always lurking around the corners of my life – death. Many young people – and not so young as well –  dressed in fatigues – coming from or going to battles I could never fight; battles that mean I can live in peace.

This peace that God has enabled is not only for my pleasure – it is an opportunity. How well will I use it, knowing its cost to my fellow citizens and the Lord Jesus Christ?

While I can, let me learn, live and love because You, Lord loved me first. And You have given me a hope and a future. 

Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
  If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
 but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.
 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!

(Psalm 66:16-20)

. . . My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
(Psalm 73:26-28)

. . .  I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
 The LORD has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.

(Psalm 118:17-18)

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I write this to the traveler seated in the row ahead of me on my recent  flight. Do you ever think about the fellow passenger whose space you cramp when you shove your seat back, O noble air traveler?

Do you?

You snuggle into your seat; I feel that as my tray table lurches forward, checking my crossword puzzling.

Are you comfy, yet?

Do you stop for even a second and wonder how or if the person in back of you is coping with a diminishment of their traveling space that your comfort required of them?  


Then, I can’t help but wonder: whose “space” has been diminished because I needed my comfort now? I don’t like this thought – but it keeps me from jamming my tray table back up with my knees.
But I remember other flights -- and other issues . . . commercial air travel remains a sound and personal tutor. As does this little proverb from quotegarden.com:
Whenever we safely land in a plane, we promise God a little something.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Monday, September 13, 2010


Ten years ago today we visited a church in Dallas, and heard a sermon on the very passage that was  this morning’s Bible study: John 2:1-11. In my Bible I saw I had noted the date and sermon topic and preacher: September 12, 1999, “The End Points to the Beginning,” Skip Ryan.  What are the odds, I would open my Bible to study a passage which was the text for a sermon in a church of which I never expected to be a regular worshiper?

Ten years brought surprising changes for the pastor and for us. The most surprising: our nation was attacked almost two years to the day, September 11, 2001, changing us forever, whether we lived in Maryland or Dallas. In this decade, Dr. Ryan stepped down from the pastorate and we moved from Maryland to Dallas and are now fellow worshipers of a church we never imagined joining that morning. Both our children married; we enjoy grandchildren and renewed relationships with family and new friends.  And I am very aware that I am 3650 days closer to the Beginning than I was ten years ago,  listening as Dr. Ryan  urged us not to be “closet drinkers” – we must not be dainty with the wine of the new covenant. (George Herbert)

That “Beginning” is the feast that the wedding at Cana foreshadowed – and one whose prospect thrills and scares me. Wars, rumors of war, earthquakes – tsunamis – Christians stumbling, friends battling cancers, people dying  young, financial setbacks, news of addicts relapsing: ten years of pain and problems, and that feast sure looks good. I hope we see each other there! God bless you dear reader until we do.
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines. 
On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, 

the sheet that covers all nations;            
 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; 

 he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. 
The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say,
"Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation." (Isaiah 25:6-9)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Tropical Storm, Hermine

A Tropical Storm, Hermine.

“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” Oscar Wilde

Hearing the sirens, and then sound blasts from the TV is unnerving; hearing a weatherman plot the course of an unseen tornado, and recognizing the cross streets, because they are within blocks of our house creates a dry mouth, quickly. Faster actually then I could have imagined.

Then while huddled in  a bathroom . . . the only interior space, I remembered:  I have no shoes on, and if the house does collapse, it might be tricky picking my way through the debris. This is not good. Then I imagined what the bathroom would look like if the house in fact collapsed. Being barefoot would not be my biggest problem.  

But, we had our cell phones and computer; so. we could chat about our predicament to other family, across town, huddled in their interior walled closet. What’s more, I remembered to bring in bottled water – no shoes, but I have water. And we can watch  the storm pass by, electronically, as the computer shows colored cells moving away.

The watch is not yet over – but I am hopeful the deluge will not turn back.

Last week, a category 4 hurricane blew itself out over the eastern seaboard – and a tropical storm dumped so much rain in Texas, we had deadly floods, and tornadoes. Two people lost their lives, and others lost their property. And Friday marks the peak of the hurricane season.

Tonight’s conversation may be unimaginative, how-some-ever,  I am much relieved to be having a  tiresome chat about the weather now, considering what I was imagining when the sirens went off, and Doug and I were huddled in the guest bath.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season usually runs from June through October. and the picture of  monster storms, one after another, churning and destroying is a picture that describes what is going on in the lives of folks I know.  Cancer is wreaking its havoc. In each case the disease blew up forcefully – unexpectedly – and is flooding people’s lives with cures that seem as deadly as the disease. Like a real hurricane that spawns other deadly events like tornadoes and flooding, cancer is not the only catastrophe these dear souls face. In the midst of one friend’s fight, the marriage of his adult child collapsed, and so did the ceiling in his home when their water heater malfunctioned. Another friend’s cancer battle erupted abruptly during a move and renovation of their new home – major surgery, major chemo and radiation all during the stress of remodeling. And I have several other friends with stormy cancer tales that blew up this summer! 

When bad times hit, and are compounded by the collateral damage of “cures,” or other disasters,   I can see why Job’s friends shut their mouths in the face of their friend’s anguish! (Job 2:13)  Even saying, “I am praying for you” sounds both feeble and presumptuous.

Many years ago, I prayed that God, who was not then my personal Friend,  would totally heal a friend from lung cancer, in part to show me that He was real and worth knowing. She was the same age I am now: 64. For  nine months she fought – and spoke very little of God. Her sister came and tended her. I think she was a Christian, remembering some things she said to me – she would be close to 100 if she still lived. But my friend died, and I got the idea  prayers  – my prayers – were pointless and powerless. For many years following I felt  unqualified to talk to God, other than sending “arrow prayers.”
In the face of so much suffering, I still feel “unqualified” to pray – and my prayers still sound both feeble and presumptuous. What has changed is that now I believe God is real and have faith, (though small as a mustard seed), that He in Christ is worth knowing – and moreover He receives all my prayers, and answers each one. (Isaiah 53:12) Moreover He Himself prays (Hebrews 7:24-25), asking  for things I have phrased poorly, or even forgotten to ask. As a father overlooks silly and ignorant requests from his child, God  sifts through my words, and gives appropriate answers.

Unlike Job’s friends, I have no idea why some of my friends’ storms are so severe. But, I will keep  watch with you friends, as we wait together for these storms to blow out to sea.  And I will enjoy God’s loving and purposeful rescue for you.   I am praying for you and yours   during these “hurricanes” that are bearing down on you, dear friends. But way more powerful is the truth  that  Christ the Lord intercedes , and His words are powerful, and purposeful.(Romans 8:26)

“Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” 
(Isaiah 46:4)

Art work:  Hurricane Season - Gavin Mayhew

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Who is rich?  He who rejoices in his portion.  ~The Talmud

As this August ended, I looked back in my notes about this time last year. We had concluded a huge yard sale – a sale so complicated that the experience disabused me of ever wanting to do one again. Yet, I still like bargain shopping.  It stirs a bit of self-validation, and an impression of control over my circumstances.  Maybe an echo of a thrill my predecessors had hunting dinner?

Who knows?

 But even the best deals come with unforeseen costs.  The Learning Channel has a series on hoarding that vividly show what  George Santayana – philosopher and writer in the last century –  meant when he said of  personal possessions, “. . .  they would take away my liberty." Liberty isn’t the only loss.  Possessions take money, energy and time – and they can overtake life itself. The wealthiest man in the ancient world reported, “I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, . . .” ( Ecclesiastes 5:13) Recently in Las Vegas a woman, whose pursuit of finds knew few limits,  was finally discovered, buried underneath her “treasures.”

Her stuff, all inanimate objects, engulfed her. Makes me wonder if William Blake had a point:   
    Since all the riches of this world
    May be gifts from the Devil and earthly kings,
    I should suspect that I worshipp'd the Devil
    If I thank'd my God for worldly things
. ~ Gnomic Verses
"Stuff,"  inanimate objects whose proliferation,  has spawned careers for home organizational experts, social workers and television producers may be the 21st century equivalent of Biblical plagues. God used plagues to get His people’s attention (Exodus 32:35; Numbers 11:33-34), and as a sign of His power to Pharaoh. Today God lets us see how unsatisfying and annoying “stuff” can become.

 We say we can’t live with too much of it, and we panic if we don’t have enough of it. Accumulating “stuff” doesn’t replace God, and can’t  put off my appointment with death. (Isaiah 44; Luke 12:16-21) And more "stuff"  is never enough. (Eccl. 5:10)

Oh God! : Don’t let me buy the lie I need more, or do not have enough! Don’t let me die, unnoticed and buried in stuff! I so understand Agur’s plea:
    Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
    Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, 'Who is the LORD?'
    Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9)