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, August 6, 2012

Nighttime Gardening

I love it – beginning the first time I planted shrubs and tomatoes, I enjoyed the quiet. So, I’ve continued the routine here – slipping out  of the air-conditioning, around ten or eleven PM and hand watering the plants the sprinkler can’t reach. But I am mindful of the unique critters in Texas – the squirrels, slugs and mosquitoes are about the same, but they do have rats, geckos, fire ants and scorpions.  (No bare feet!)

Last night I met a critter;  what it was I am not sure.

My darling husband reminded me, after I described the experience, there’s an old saying down here in Texas: don’t reach your hand in where your eyes can’t see.  And I thought briefly about this wise saying as I slipped my fingers into the large pot of blooming impatience to see how dry the soil really was, after another day of triple digits. Imagine how quickly I removed them as the tips barely brushed a firm, slick ball.

Yuck . . . yes I yelped – but I kept watering, and squirting my hand; the lingering sliminess suggested I had perhaps petted a slug.  A-r-r-r-r-r-g-h.

·      Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.  ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

·      A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.  ~May Sarton

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sailing Lessons

Doug had a sailboat when we were married, a 32-foot cutter, Ladybird, designed and built by Peter Van Dine of Annapolis. We often sailed on a Saturday – inviting friends from DC to come over and join us. It was a novel mode of courtship – surely beat the bar scene in DC! However, it, too, was as dangerous as it was glamorous.  One friend, when she saw the boat made a not so subtle play for Doug! But that’s a story for another time.

Shortly after we were married, when we were motoring out of Back Creek in Annapolis, one of the lines was not secured and fell overboard, fouling the prop.  Ladybird stalled in the middle of the channel, on a busy Saturday afternoon.  Doug quickly went over the side, diving under the boat several times to free the propeller; I was trying to hold the tiller steady, as the wakes of passing boats buffeted her.  Doug succeeded and off we went.

Reflecting on it over the years the memory remains as the root of more than a few nightmares – As does another sail when we were caught in a squall on the Chesapeake Bay in late summer and lost visibility.  I was to keep watch for the sudden revelation of coming too close to the tankers we knew were about before the squall hit.  

Our last sailing adventure included our son, then not yet three. We were in Maine and charted an O’Day 23-foot sailboat. Unaccustomed to Maine “breezes,” we didn’t realize the need to reef in our sails until we were being knocked over.  We stowed our son in a life vest below, and I held the lines for dear life – the force was so great, my wedding band snapped under its pressure. 

We sold the Ladybird. She was a luxury we couldn’t afford the longer we stayed married; attending her upkeep –the time and money – when we were tending a new baby was costly. Even chartering another boat became a dream in the reality of running a business, and family stuff.   

Words can’t get across the pleasure of gliding through water, feeling wind and sun – its smell, and the delight. Nor can any words convey the feeling when the water turns rough, the wind assaults, and the sun disappears, and the realization that a bit of fiberglass and canvass is all that is keeping me from Davey Jones’ Locker! 

The wonder of sailing, though, including the mishaps, and near misses remind me of the bigger picture of our marriage.  Ours has been as lovely and fit a marriage   as the Ladybird was designed and well built.  But even as we sailed her through some dicey conditions, we’ve come through some stormy weather in our marriage:

We’ve weathered some troubles because we were careless, as when the unsecured rope fouled the prop. We were unprepared for the care of our parents, business setbacks, and conflicts within the church, as when the sudden summer storm caught us off guard.Raising our kids in the upheaval of the late ‘80’s and 90’s was a lot like getting back to port the day those Maine winds were too heavy for our sails’ setting.   

We don’t sail anymore – but we still crew together.  The responsibilities are similar. Getting safely home from a summer cruise meant using the chart. Using a chart meant understanding it and relying upon it. Whoever was steering needed a reliable lookout, watching for buoys and lights – we both needed to secure lines, avoid collisions and shoal water.  Staying together forty years has been easier because of the Scripture; believing it and relying on it has been as essential as sailing by the charts of the Chesapeake. Turning over the helm to GOD was the smartest thing we both did.   

We know our final port, but not fully the course or conditions.  The things that can go wrong in life are like the huge tankers hidden in that squall  I knew were out there that stormy day when visibility was zero. We’ve watched friends sail into rough waters; age presents all kinds of challenges, much like sailing on the Chesapeake where shoals, weather, traffic, novice sailors – and careless sailors -- introduce dangers. My job is not to freak – but to stay at my station; watchful, keeping the lines secure, and trust the High Captain.


Show Me the Course
Steer the ship of my life, good Lord, to your quiet harbour,
where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict.
Show me the course I should take.
Renew in me the gift of discernment,
so that I can always see the right direction in which I should go.
And give me the strength and the courage to choose the right course,
even when the sea is rough and the waves are high, knowing that through enduring hardship and danger in your name we shall find comfort and peace.

-- -Basil of Caesarea (c. 329-379)

Dear God, be good to me;
The sea is so wide,
And my boat is so small.
~ The Breton’s Fisherman’s Prayer

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Race Today

Malcolm Ritter, an AP science writer really cheered me up this morning.  Not that he said I can get myself ready for the next Olympics – but according to him, that I can make better use of my time exercising, practicing principles that flow from common biblical sense. (Article) Three points stuck out:

Don’t worry about the consequences of failure – do your best.
He quoted a coach who said: “In general . . . it’s best for athletes to focus on what they can control in the game.”  And another who said: "You've got to discover for yourself ... what level of anxiety or relaxation works for you."  

Anxiety doesn’t ever work for me – even though it is a too frequent companion, especially when I worry about what if.  And I am still learning I have control over only myself.

Lest this realization become just a tiresome adage, I commend watching the recent Olympic gymnasts whose concentration on their own bodies made for some breathtaking routines.  They have disciplined themselves, denied themselves and developed control over their bodies so that they appear to literally fly – as if without effort.  Success is wholly a function of their own determination to control coordinate their bodies, minds and spirits.  And they have the support of their families and coaches, enduring separation and hardship for the hope of a gold medal.

Do any of them seem to think the medal is their right, an entitlement?

Is it me, or have too many Americans lost our zest for competing and winning, going for the gold? And have too many Christians forgotten we too compete for a prize?

The first of this month many of us showed up to support a businessman’s right to speak his mind, even though what he said annoyed others.  Today, how will we face a hurdle that others are erecting?

I pray nobody on our team shows up unprepared, undisciplined, or without love. I pray we run this race, mindful of Who are audience is -- like Eric Liddell, we have been created for a purpose and when we run, may we feel God’s pleasure. (Source quote)

The tragic irony of this grand movie, Chariots of Fire, about his life, recently released because of the 2012 Olympics, is that the actor who portrayed Eric Liddell, Ian Charleson, died of AIDS. He studied the Bible intensively for his role, and wrote Eric Liddell's inspirational speech to the post-race workingmen's crowd.  

People may show up at a local Chick-fil- A for all kinds of reasons – but for the Christians who show up, I hope we remember our calling – ambassadors of the Living God.  Just as  the character, Eric Liddell preached in the movie  – my prayer is that commitment to Jesus Christ will make a straight race for those who run. 

You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me.
But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race.
It's hard.
It requires concentration of will, energy of soul.
You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape - especially if you've got a bet on it.
But how long does that last?
You go home. Maybe your dinner's burnt. Maybe you haven't got a job.
So who am I to say, "Believe, have faith," in the face of life's realities?
I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way.
I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way.
 And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me."
 If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.