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.

Friday, January 28, 2011

American Idol -- Sucked In – Early

I am in, when I thought such an admission would never be mine. For the past two years, we’ve tuned in at the end of the season, watching the final contenders for "American Idol." But last night I taped it, intrigued by the few minutes I saw – so many people who went to great lengths to show their talent in hopes of fame and fortune. I watched the remainder today and again was impressed by how hard most contenders tried, and how decisive but mellow the judges seemed, and how differently the ones who were turned away from a trip to Hollywood behaved. Some took it in stride, many cried, a few railed against the judges – and a couple swatted at the invasive cameras. Everybody seemed to have supportive families.

I don’t know much else about this decade plus phenomena – but the episode last night, the one with the fiance who entered to win for his fiancee who was unexpectedly and horribly injured in an accident before their wedding was the hook. His wining would make her happy again – and the judges extended their good wishes to her in her recovery.

How hard they all worked to make a good showing – to earn their spot, and receive recognition for their talent – singing. Thousands times thousands of competitors showed up just for the opportunity to be judged, again and again.

I got to thinking: I wonder . . . what if I took a cue from my fellow Americans and

1. I took the talents I have, apart from singing, and fought for the right to have them judged?

2. I valued the judgment of my services by the poor and needy as highly those who received the professionals’ judgments?

3. I was as excited to perform for Christ as those contenders were to face Steve Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson?

Wow . . . I wonder where I could be at the end of the season?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Being Alive

At four-thirty this afternoon, I rustled my stumps and headed out for a walk in the sparkling sunshine, blue skies, crisp breezes – fifty -plus degrees. As I rounded one corner, heading for another, the melody filled my memory – Tis the gift to be simple –

It was sung most recently at the service commemorating those who lost their lives in Arizona, and for those whose battle for life goes on.

Being able to walk on a sunny Saturday afternoon, securely meant more to me than I can say – and as I walked I did it for myself, but also for all couldn’t join me – the folks who died and were injured in Arizona – our soldiers, the souls blown up by suicide bombers – flood-ravaged Australians, the babies who died in Philadelphia (http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/17549) – but especially for those who were too busy or distracted to enjoy their lives – it was quite a gift.
'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free, . . .

So, too, are the gifts of walking, thinking – daydreaming of loved ones – having dinner with valued friends – living because someone – an unknown hero or heroine to me - stands guard, fights, or dies for me.

Simplicity, order, and freedom cost more than I can repay – more than I can reckon. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Running Aground, Again and Again.

Most people who drink enjoy smooth sailing with their drinks; some who need pain killers seem to control their drug intake. But some of us carry too much ballast; we misread the water depths; misjudge the winds and find ourselves running aground, again. Each time we do a bit more damage. It’s hard for you to watch us wreck ourselves; when we come to, it’s hard to see the damage we’ve done – we can’t figure out how to make things right. So, we have a little something to help us get it together.

Do you know someone who can’t stay straight? Someone who can’t let the chemicals alone, whether it’s a little bitty glass of white wine – that never seems to run dry – to smoking crack cocaine, from taking too many pain pills to downing too many beers, or bourbons? Some seek euphoria. More seek deadness – quieting pain, real or imagined. At some point the drink or the drug is the most important object of affection in their lives; at some point, the substance becomes personal, the only one who understands, comforts, or relieves the pain.

A drug of choice that becomes “human?”

Years ago a friend who did a lot of 12-step work said alcohol (and drug) abuse is the closest many of us get to seeing demon possession.

Wow. That’s dramatic, I thought.

Over the years, I have come to think my friend may have been on to something. Get close to a drunk or drug addict, and you may find the “God-shaped hole” seems filled with a deceiving chemical. Mercifully, God is filling my heart’s holes with Himself – a real and powerful protector against the deceiver His enemy is.

We all know somebody who is abusing chemicals – drugs or alcohol. We sit next to them in church; sometimes they even may be our preachers; we work with them, and car pool to little league with them. Maybe their addiction is not yet full-blown; maybe they haven’t crossed all the lines that define addiction for us.

Not yet, anyway. Pray for them! Given time they will die, become insane, or get sober.

What then can we say or do for the soul, run aground again by life’s storm and demons’ gales? As mad as they make us, as deeply as they hurt us – pray that we remember they are not the enemy. (Ephesians 6:12-13) How then are you and I praying for the souls we know who are caught by chemical addictions? How are we serving them? Would we pray the harder if we knew Satan is literally destroying them? (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Home – Again.

Early in December we returned to our former home in Maryland to celebrate Christmas and the new year, leaving our current home in Texas. While there, we camped out in an apartment we had formerly used, and so felt quite at home. Time passed too fast – and we left before we could see so many dear friends and family. Oh! For the time to catch up with no interruptions.

Every trip reminds me a bigger trip home awaits – one my mind can’t fully comprehend. It’s a trip that scares me as much as it thrills me. No interruptions – and all the time in the world to be with God, and reconnect with those who went before me. I believe there is one way to get to that Home – many I know and love, do not. They have chosen their own paths.

But to everybody I love – I hope you will hear my heart’s song for you, expressed through Cindy Bauchspies' wonderful music, Peaceable Kingdom. 


(Picture information: Sheep Going Home by Sue Campion)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Praying for Haiti

Recently I wondered how I could pray some of the imprecations David did in Psalms – like “Knock out all their teeth, Lord!” ( Psalm 3:7 – my paraphrase ) I can pray it wholeheartedly today. I listened as a young woman in the Frontline interview about Haiti hung her head and said, “All I have left is my faith.”(Frontline: The Battle for Haiti http://tinyurl.com/4btedoy)

Because of how her country was before the earthquake, and then the earthquake, she and her countrymen have lived for over a year in conditions Americans, even our poorest, do not. I thought her comments would describe this grief; they covered far more.

When the quake leveled this island’s buildings, it also opened the gated in prisons and jails, and terrible folks were unleashed. They now control the population – doing unspeakable things to women and children.

The woman who spoke was composed; as I listened, I was not. Her suffering reminded me of women who went through the Babylonian siege and then captivity. (2 Chronicles 29:3-11) It’s one thing to read history – it’s another to see it played out in front of you as current events– the human heart really is capable of anything. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

The church in Haiti needs help – even from faint-hearted folks like me. Now is not the time for debating or discussing the mustard seed – plant it! James said to a group of Christians about to live through severe trials:
“You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove . . . (James 2:14-20 The Message)

God let my light shine – for I have much and have been spared more.

Isaiah told King Ahaz:
“If you don't take your stand in faith, you won't have a leg to stand on."(Isaiah 7:9 The Message)

Let me pray like good works don’t matter, and give in the same manner Christ has given me!

And the prophet Isaiah also told those who would lose everything:
[God] is the stability of your times – a wealth of wisdom, salvation and knowledge: The fear of the Lord is His treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6)

God, hear my prayer:
Arise, O LORD!
Deliver [Haiti], O my God!
Strike all [her] enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people. ( Psalm 3:7-8)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Change of Plans

We hoped to be in Knoxville Tennessee. tonight. A winter storm changed our plans. Checking all the reports, it appears the wear long the route to Dallas may be dicey if not treacherous. So, we changed course and will lay low for another 24 hours.

Would that other decisions in life could be so plotted! Would that there were some spiritual internet that spelled out the cautions for the next twenty-four hours. With even a bit of warning, I could stay away from potential disagreements, trials or even troubles.

Wait a minute – what is the book of Proverbs if not a advanced warning system? What is Psalm 19, or Psalm 119?

Hmmmm . . .

Getting up-dated road condition reports from the on-line weather channel can save my life and may keep me from harming other drivers. Soaking in God’s word is a surer life saver – as well as a preserver against the carelessness that harms others. Knowing it, believing and trusting it means enjoying a straighter path home than any internet site can offer. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

God, I believe; help Thou my unbelief.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"Words! Words! Words! I'm So Sick of Words!”

Eliza Doolittle sang, and I wonder: How many words does it take to describe evil?

It appears a mentally disturbed person legally bought a weapon, murdering and injuring many people: a federal judge, a child, an US Congresswoman, and five other souls. We don’t know how he could do this, or why. This has not stopped speculations – and common decency doesn’t seem much of a restraint with so many open mikes.

The talking heads inundate viewers and listeners with so many words unconnected to facts – and all are caught up in a swirl of unmediated grief, shame and horror. Do those who operate the news think the more they talk the more they can keep the evil at bay?

Could all these news “stars” just shut up – maybe enforce silence, broken only by solemn music? Maybe they could give us time to think about the fact that what is normal in Mexico and Iraq and Afghanistan just visited the USA, destroying the lives of several people on a sunny morning in a suburban shopping center in Arizona?

After the bloody rampage in Tucson Americans can’t make any sense out of the evil,  although we have more than fifty hours of commentary on cable and network news. The folks I usually listen to are as inane as the ones I avoid: all are reporting gossip, repeating baseless opinions and asking embarrassingly intrusive questions to people still processing the horror of what they saw or heard, or tried to help.

“Gotcha”sound bites repeated ad nauseam do not equip us to stand against evil – much less stand together. ( Isaiah 57:1)

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Tea Party Stunt?

Reading aloud the US Constitution before Congress convened may have been a stunt. But it sparked quite a response in me. The last time I read the Constitution was in ninth grade, and I couldn’t list what my rights are or how many of our nation’s wrongs were resolved by amendments. And as I watched the media’s take on the ground-breaking event, I only saw snippets on C-span and other news outlets. So, I still do not know what the Constitution states.

I heard one commentator, who thought the reading was a silly and expensive exercise, state that legislators are elected to tell us what is going on. This gave me pause. What do I think the legislators should be doing? How can I judge my representatives’ performance if I don’t know what their job description is, and is not?

I wonder what Abigail Adams would think of my ignorance?
She wrote in a letter in 1775:
“I am more and more convinced that Man is a dangerous creature, and that power whether vested in many or a few is ever grasping, and like the grave cries give, give. The great fish swallow up the small, and he who is most strenuous for the Rights of the people, when vested with power, is as eager after the prerogatives of Government. You tell me of degrees of perfection to which Humane Nature is capable of arriving, and I believe it, but at the same time lament that our admiration should arise from the scarcity of the instances.” (Abagail Adams)

It may have been a stunt, but it is one that reminds me how careless I am of so costly a gift: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And the freedom to express my opinions – and yours to read.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Taking It Personally

Jeremiah 18
Lots of politicians this week will make a public oath with their right hands on the Bible. The Bible seems an anchor of sorts, linking words and deeds. But most politicians will speak and do what they think right – with little heed to what the Bible teaches about political leaders, much less spiritual needs. So, I can spot their hypocrisy – can I spot my own?

The older I get, the more helpless I see that I am, no matter my good intentions. The closer others invite me into their lives – the fewer answers I have to their deeply felt needs: Singleness, a marriage coming apart, infertility, debt, disease, unruly kids, loss of a job or vision – old age. Knowing God and using His word to speak to Him, and to hear from Him are just about all I know for the troubles I face – that and having the courage to actually do what He says! (Micah 6:8)

Studying the Bible and learning to pray sound like dissembling solutions – and they may be. But, I offer the following introduction to women in the Bible to women who feel helpless and hopeless. God helps the helpless – including powerful politicians and the wealthy, which most American women are, comparatively. (Isaiah 25:4) In the midst of our pain, you and I are just the kind of women God seeks out!

Can you use this to get started studying your Bible this week?

God has shown us what HE wants HIS women to be like, so he carefully recorded information about many women for a reason. They were not perfect — they had problems — they struggled with unbelief — but they obeyed at a critical point in their walk with God — and HE blessed them. Their faith was the assurance of the things they hoped for, the conviction of things they could not see. For by faith in God the women of old gained approval. (Heb 11:1-2)

What He said about these women may help you to pray more intelligently. What about her life impresses you?

How does the record of her life encourage your prayer life?

Pick one or two women and listen for God to form some specific prayers about issues in your life:
Tamar: Overcame came a dysfunctional family. Her name may mean "like a palm." Because of the value of palm trees in the East, the idea of this name connotes wealth and beauty
Scripture references Genesis 38:6-30; Ruth 4:12; 1 Chronicles 2:4; Matthew 1:3

Rahab: A “working girl” changes professions
Scripture references: Joshua 2:1, 3; 6:17-25; Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25

Ruth: An outcast’s faithfulness
Scripture references: The Book of Ruth, Matt. 1:6
What about Naomi's life impresses you?

The wife of Uriah, Bathsheba: An adulteress restored
Scripture references: II Sam. 11:2,3; 12:24; I Ki. 1:11-31; 2:13-19; I Chr. 3:5; Matt.1:6

Here's more:
Hannah: Giving over her most treasure possession – her first born son.
Scripture references: I Samuel 1; 2:1-21
How does her prayer life inform yours

Abigail: The woman with beauty and brains — and a troubled marriage
Scripture references: I Samuel 25:1-42; II Samuel 3:3

Sarah – Married to a difficult man
In Gen 21:1: "Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised." What do you know about Sarah's life? Her life was recorded by Moses in Genesis. She became the mother of nations. Look up Isaiah 51:2; Romans 4:19; 9:9; Hebrews 11:11; I Peter 3:6

Mary: The mother of our Lord Jesus Christ
Scripture references: Matthew 1;2; 12:46; Luke 1; 2; John 2:1-11; 19:25; Acts 1:14
Read the Magnificat. (Lk 1: 46-55) What do you learn about prayer from Mary?

Keep reading! Read about these women —
Deborah, (Judges 4 & 5; Hebrews 11:32-34;)
Dorcas, (Acts 9 36-43)
Jeosheba, Joash's aunt, (2 Kings 11) and
Salome, who wanted the best for her boys. (See Mat.20:20-24; 27:56; Mark 10:35-40; 15:40, 41;16:1,2)
Build your own list! A good resource is All The Women in the Bible by Herbert Lockyer.

Remember: "The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. (Ps 145:18-19)

Monday, January 3, 2011

You Believe What?

Many years before I became a Christian, an Episcopal priest at my local church assured me there was no such thing as a devil – Satan, when I went to the priest for help. I was frightened because of a message my roommate gave me about a telephone call from someone who presented a real and dangerous temptation for me. It so frightened me I fled to the church, about twelve blocks from my home. I blurted out my fear that I felt the devil was after me – or something to that effect – and he laughed reassuringly and told me not to worry. Embarrassed, I left his office. I never again went to that church. Yet, the impression of evil from that phone message still resounds. It represented a clear choice. I decided not to return the call.

So, the reader might ask: “Do you believe in an actual devil, one named Satan?”

Yes, I do. But many Christians do not.

In a study by George Barna, many Christians – those who do not claim to be “born-again ” -- see Satan not as a living being but is “a symbol of evil.” Moreover, many of those polled do not believe in the divinity or sinlessness of Jesus Christ – or the power of Holy Spirit; He is a symbol – not a living entity. The poll also found we tolerate many other faiths because we often are not well informed on what the Bible teaches. And, Christians believe, “the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths.”
( Barna Group)

So, beginning 2011 – and the fourth decade that I have been a Christ-follower – I believe the battle in the heavenlies still rages, though Christ has defeated Satan. And I believe a wise woman is never to be without her armor – no matter how out of fashion that suit seems!

. . . God is strong, and he wants you strong.So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way . . . You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. And don't forget to pray for me. Pray that I'll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, . . .

(Ephesians 6:10-20 The MESSAGE)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolved: Be Like Ebenezer Scrooge!

You can't run away from trouble. There ain't no place that far. ~Uncle Remus

Last night, New Year’s Eve, the news wasn’t great – wars and rumors of war, murderous storms, and looming economic woes swirled together. So, too, as 2010 expired, many of us wrestled with disappointment, age, grief and illness – but for one moment we who watched the television, held our collective breath, feeling a thrill of hope that with the dawn, things will be better. The glittery, lighted ball dropped, setting off the crowd’s building fervency into kisses and hugs and hollering, as the television cameras panned Broadway and 42nd in NYC. And I, too, experienced a rush of emotion that I, too, have a fresh start in a new year that portends better times.

This morning the mercy is I am alive – and that you are too dear readers. But as Uncle Remus observed, “[We] can't run away from trouble. There ain't no place that far.” All the scary stuff that haunted me last year – the fears, doubts, worries, and bad attitudes – showed up as if on cue. So, on New Year’s morning 2011, while I know I can’t hide from troubles, I choose to face “trouble” as Scrooge did when he awoke and realized he had not died; it was still Christmas.

When he awoke that Christmas morning, Scrooge was changed, though his outer man was not. He still had the same aches and pains, the same list of self-made problems and problems beyond his control. But, Scrooge had resolved: "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." So when he realized he had not died, he rejoiced exceedingly and immediately set out to do good, first to those he had treated so dismally – then to the larger community. He acted on what he had learned about his failures.

That’s the mercy of having a new day – even a new year if God permits. I can act on what I have learned – on what God has shown me: He didn’t die and leave me in charge! I am not in control of people, places or things. I can control myself, however, God willing. (Titus 2:12-14) Surely that is cause for rejoicing, exceedingly! My letting go of trying to be a god in other people’s lives may mean they are freed to seek the real God on their own. Or, not.

Will 2011 be a turning point toward personal peace and affluence – when wars cease, the rumors of war squashed, and nature subdued? Probably not. But this good day, January 1 on the 2011 calendar, is a gift, filled with new mercies, new opportunities, and the real help of an unchanging, infinite and personal God – Happy New Day!

“ For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future . . .”
(Jeremiah 29:11-14)

Image source