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, November 30, 2010


“It is preferable to separate rather than patch up our differences.” That conviction guided my upbringing and soured many relationships. When I became a Christian, I hoped never again to suffer broken relationships because of “differences.”

So, discovering that squabbles happened among believers devastated me; realizing that *I* had a bone to pick with some Christians blew my mind.   I had walked away from many people with nary a backward glance  — but leaving the relationships that Christ was forming was excruciating. Somehow, every time I tried to explain why I would no longer be speaking to so-and-so, I could hear the Lord clear His throat. The longer I persisted in avoiding a person, the more he or she came to mind, especially during the Lord’s Supper. My excuses were never sufficient “justification.”

Okay, Lord. What do You want?

 “Barbara, when you are angry with your sister, you shall be guilty before the court; and when you say to your sister, 'Raca,' you shall be guilty before the supreme court; and when you  say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matt 5:22 )

  “Oh no, Lord — I didn’t mean she was a fool — just misguided.”

 "Barbara, if therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your sister has something against you,  leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your sister, and then come and present your offering.” (Matt 5:23-25)

“But, Lord, she is wrong about _______!”

"Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with her on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” (Matt 5:23-25)

 “Now, Lord, she started it!”

 “Barbara, it takes two to quarrel.  “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?” (James 4:1-3)

 “Uh . . . I just want to avoid any further arguments.”

"Barbara, if   you  remember that your sister has something against you —  real or imagined  —  leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your sister, and then come and present your offering.” (Matt 5:23-25) She who separates herself seeks her own desire. She quarrels against all sound wisdom. (Proverbs 18:1)

    “Lord . . .”

“My dear determined daughter, a fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing her  own mind.” (Prov. 18:1-2)

 “Well, what if  . . . ?”

 “Barbara,  refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. As my bond-servant, child, do not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses  and escape  from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2 Tim 2:23-26) 

 “But, Lord — isn’t that instruction just for ministers?”

“Barbara, if any man is in Christ, (she)  is  a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled you to Himself through Christ, and gave you the ministry of reconciliation, . . . God through Me was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to you  the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
“My child you are an ambassador for Me; . . . ” 

“The ministry of reconciliation — that means settling *differences, Lord. And some of those differences maybe mine!”   

 An ambassador follows orders, trusting his sovereign to act. My instructions are make it right when quarrels break-out in the Body that Christ is  building. My instructions, like to any ambassador are to die to a personal point of view.

So, I have gone to sisters in Christ and asked forgiveness for *my* part in causing any separation between us. I went with Christ’s words in my ears: 
"Barbara, if you  remember that your sister has something against you —  real or imagined  —  go; first be reconciled to your sister!  (Matt 5:23-25) “She who separates herself seeks her own desire. She quarrels against all sound wisdom.” (Proverbs 18:1) Let me handle the next step.”

Lord, I believe -- Help thou my unbelief and help me to take that first step.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I am looking for proof – something unmovable and strong that will support my death and make sense of my life; some thing –concrete evidence that as it sustains me, like food and drink, will make sense so others will have an “Aha!” response.  The search becomes more pressing as the days whiz by – I am approaching the end of my life and I want to know if it will be the beginning of a new life. I may not have all the time I need to discover the evidence, however,  if news reports are credible there is a band of folk who relentlessly  wish to quicken my sure demise – terrorists who believe their God wills it.

So, in addition to reading the Scriptures, I read about other people’s search; the most disturbing one has been  Walking Away from Faith: Living with Doubt & Unbelief  by Ruth Tucker; the most recent book has been  The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith by Peter Hitchens. Both authors describe experiences, their own and others’. My search is not unique. Nor, are my doubts and fears when I pursue the God of the Bible.  

Bible study always raises as many questions as it answers – which is why  The Gospel According to Moses  by Athol Dickson was helpful:
    “God loves and honest question. . . if I feel a need to ask a question because of a loving desire to draw closer to God, I should ask as many ways as possible, even if the only answer is repeated silence.” (pages 17, 26-27)

As a brand new Christian, I talked often with my pastor, William Mahlow. I think back to what he said to folks who wanted to know if God were real: Read the Gospel of John. You will have an answer – the question, then, is what will you do with that answer?

On such a pink cloud, I was I could not fathom how anyone could question anything about God. Getting walked out into a desert or two – watching others go through their deserts – however, can generate a few questions. So, too, seeing each other stumble in the trek, harming each other can raise doubts that God is infinite and personal.

I am studying the Gospel of John, again, and am working through chapter 6. John described  Jesus as clearly infinite and personal when He
  •  fed 5000 people from a few loaves and fish
  •  walked several across a stormy sea
  •  confronted the Pharisees with a challenge that offended many disciples
  •  comforted the twelve who remained.

Is this the proof for  meaning in my death and life? The answer remains a question:
      “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.” (John 6:68-69 TLB)

Monday, November 22, 2010

It’s Never Too Early to Celebrate . . .

Last year the first outdoor Christmas decorations I noticed were the day after Thanksgiving; this year the lights were twinkling last week – two weeks before T-day.  Some folks have put up their trees and decked the halls. The stores here have been in gear for weeks.

I don’t begrudge anyone doing whatever it takes this year to spread a little cheer. We can use it – we need a little Christmas, “right this very minute!”  A favorite movie moment is Auntie Mame, having lost her job in the Depression, warbles all the delight the season brings, and is then is rescued by the soon-to-be love of her life.  But, when the scene ends, the  trappings go as quickly as they appeared – just like the  real-time light extravaganzas; cold dark nights rule – and the spirit is plunged again in deepening gray.

This year the Christmas lights seem to spotlight how dark the darkness is. This year, despite the lights, the darkness is more palpable. It seems the premature glitz is barely covering deeper heartache. Leaving aside the flood of bad news from cable news and talk radio – more of us have big health and financial problems that weren’t on the radar screen last year. A few of us have lost spouses and children, literally and spiritually.  It’s hard to muster  a “Ho-Ho-Ho!” from a heart breaking with grief and worry.

What is more unsettling, the decorations [still] ignore the manger – the humble holder of the light that will not  fail.  But, I know about that Light – in Him there is no darkness. (1 John 1:5)

God help me to see that blessed manager with renewed vision, choosing not to be impaired by fear,  frustration, sin  –or doubt.  May I sing a carol from Psalms, and mean it with all the gusto I put into the Hallelujah Chorus!

 . . . Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous [woman]. 
Good will come to [her] who is generous and lends freely,
who conducts [her]  affairs with justice.

Surely [she] will never be shaken;
a righteous [woman] will be remembered forever.

[She]  will have no fear of bad news;
[her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.

[Her] heart is secure, [she] will have no fear;
in the end [she] will look in triumph on his foes.

[She] has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,
[her] righteousness endures forever;
[her] horn will be lifted high in honor.
The wicked . . .  will see and be vexed,
he will gnash his teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
  (Psalm 112:4-9)

It’s never too early to celebrate His birthday –

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It’s Still About Me

I don’t who I am madder at – them or me.

Someone had plans for a “Mac-mansion” a few blocks from us – but the economic downturn seems to have slowed their plans. For more than a year, they have neglected the landscaping: no grading or grass or plants. So, when it rains – as it did earlier this week, the runoff from their unseeded front and side yard creates quite an impediment for walkers: a long stretch of  squishy mud on their sidewalk.

The other morning I had hit a good pace and I didn’t want to break stride and  hop into the street; I estimate a few wide steps and I’d be through it. Not only was I wrong on how big the hurdle was, I misjudged its depth. I didn’t fall, but I could have skidded into a knee-wrecking tumble. Many thoughts hurdled through my mind as I felt my new walking shoes sink and slide, coalescing around the conviction that it was their fault I made a bad choice.

Two days it took for the shoes to dry enough so I could chip off the mud soaked leaves; it took another day for the shoes to dry again from the hosing that forced the mud from the shoes soles. Three days is time enough to admit taking a short cut through another person’s negligence isn’t worth it. Taking the time to steer clear would have been a much better plan – but I was so sure I could navigate the mess.

So I am madder at myself: one, for making an unnecessary mess. But two, for forgetting to pray until just now for the people whose problems might be a wee  more pressing than mine.

Image Source

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nightmares as Answered Prayer?

The dream has different scenarios, but the same theme – final exams loom; I am unprepared. and unable to find the room where the tests are administered;. I see my future flash in front of me – doomed. Though I have good grades in some classes, in at least two, I have cut these other so often, and done no homework,  I can’t even fake a performance – and the classroom is not where I thought it would be.

The panic that I feel as the dream unfolds  wakes me up, calling to mind how poorly prepared I am in many areas of my life – I cut one too many of life’s classes, maybe?

When I cut classes in high school – or I skipped lectures in college, I had fun stuff to do; when I skipped out on life’s lessons, I just thought I knew better. When I was young – ignorant of what made my little world so secure – my dreams and answers made sense; I quickly detected others’ foibles and failures, and knowing I would not make those mistakes, I skipped their lessons.  I quit listening to my parents, whose struggles were choking off any conversations worth having; I stopped going to church, shortly after my parents stopped going, and life seemed more real outside the stained glass. I pulled away even from friends when their choices looked too confining for my ambitions – me, the ruler of all I survey. And of course as a benevolent, wise  ruler, I would right all social wrongs I discovered. 

So, I wanted out of my life as I knew it – I remember the slant of the late afternoon sun on the lawn the day I decided to go as far in the opposite direction as all my friends went, and my parents seemed to value. And no one objected – or argued – or tried to dissuade me when I walked out. Only one person, my aunt,  offered a parting shoot: “If this doesn’t work out, don’t be embarrassed to come home.” When I reached the end of my search for the personal peace and affluence I craved, her words were a dim light on the rocky return path, I ‘m still traveling. 

Some of the classes I cut had lessons that I am glad I am not learning. Mastering denial, which many of my family did  because of alcoholism, is not a worthwhile life skill.  Nor, is pigeonholing people a commendable accomplishment. And it’s also unproductive to study with people who know about God, but haven’t met Him yet.  I am grateful for the make-up classes that God, though. My attendance isn’t always perfect – nor is my mastery of subjects like humility, gratitude, perseverance and compassion complete.

When my recurring nightmare of being lost and unprepared for a major exam shakes me awake, some might say regret and guilt are knocking. God knows, I have enough of them! So, I wonder if my Teacher has more lessons; I wonder  if the nightmare  is an answer to a prayer I say I like to pray?  

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

People tell me, “Be careful what you pray for.” But I have an upcoming final – not sure when, and don’t know where; all that I think I know, all that I have ever done will be tested. (1 Corinthians 3: 10-15) Since the Teacher is up all night, maybe we can review some? (Psalm 121)

Image source

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Way to Pass the Time

Spending some time on a fall day watching the leaves turn color is time well spent. Like watching grass grow, or a snowflake fall, though, we can’t see the process, so much as we can see the result. One day the leaves are lush and shady – the next brilliant red-orange; then,  whoosh – they are gone.

Emily Dickinson mused –

 Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze.

If slowing down long enough to regard imperceptible autumnal change for its delight is a good use of time, then how much more delightful is taking time to see how people I love change? When I take the time to look, maybe I will then see – perhaps,  just a few moments of my full attention will refresh and comfort them and as well as  me?