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.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Certain Hope Easter 2013

First rose 2013
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection into eternal life . . ..  Book of Common Prayer "The Burial of the Dead" (1662)

·      Meaning for life when we see it mangled by each other, crippled and destroyed by human wantonness – when one too many headlines that shocks my heart and crushes optimism. 

·      Purpose for life when it is cut short –

·      Courage for life through the day when I know my own failures, unfaithfulness and cowardice –

A problem well stated is a problem half solved.  ~Charles F. Kettering

How others have hoped:

·      Could life so end, half told; its school so fail?
Soul, soul, there is a sequel to thy tale!
~Robert Mowry Bell

·      But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.  ~Walter Raleigh

·      There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou - Thou art Being and Breath,

And what Thou art may never be destroyed.  ~Emily Bronte

·      Faith can move mountains, but don't be surprised if God hands you a shovel.  ~Author Unknown

Job 19:25-27
New Living Translation (NLT)
25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and he will stand upon the earth at last.
26 And after my body has decayed,
    yet in my body I will see God![a]
27 I will see him for myself.
    Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.

    I am overwhelmed at the thought!

The roses are again budding in our garden – the wordless evangelist across the street has put on green gossamer foliage . . . my hope is that faith, in Christ, will not disappoint – that it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Happy Easter 2013

Hopes gleaned from Christians quoting and the Quote Garden

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jesus at Starbucks?

Answering a disgruntled investor over advocacy of same sex marriage Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz offered investors this advice:

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much." link 

An interesting challenge [again] faces investors and customers:  How are we using our money, and to what end – whether investing a nest egg or just buying a small coffee – I mean short coffee. 

Every major corporation uses its profits as it sees fit to invest in opportunities, political, economic and social to advance the best interests of itself.  They often give to many charities representing a variety of services, not all of which Christians would consider worthwhile uses of their money. (Think Microsoft and Amazon and Apple.)  And some corporations, even those espousing  “family” values, have gotten rough press about how they treat their employees.

Starbucks has been a wonderful and successful company, putting employee well being right up with customer education and satisfaction, and the company has indeed made many investors a lot of money. See Howard Schultz’ biography and How Starbucks Saved My Life. 

A thirty-eight percent return is hard to beat, but, Starbucks’ investors and customers now have a clearer understanding of how the profits their money earned is being used, including knowing their money is providing health care and other opportunities to the employees.

What we do with this information may vary. Some of us may apply there for a job! Others threaten boycotts. One Starbucks friend urged a kinder, gentler response – describing the Lord Jesus as perhaps enjoying a latte at a local Starbucks, with fellow customers and baristas.  No, doubt Joanna would have been buying! (Luke 8:3)

How He would have addressed the CEO’s gauntlet, I can’t imagine— “pride goes before a fall?”

Possibly some of us will stay with Starbucks – perhaps believing it to be the lesser of many evils in today’s world. Or, a few of us will now think of how better to invest our time and talents and resources differently, thanking Mr. Schultz for his gracious invitation to try other venues for making money.  Maybe others of us might strike out on our own, having a bit of vision, passion and talents, like the skills that propelled Mr. Schultz?

Mr. Schultz' invitation prompts me to inventory how I “use” money.  Dolly Levi in “Hello Dolly,” said, “Money, if you will pardon the expression is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow. 

I wonder if it’s time to rethink how and what I am encouraging to grow. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Low Information Christians

Both Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh describe some constituencies as Low Information Voters; skewering people they think are poorly informed about many important issues.   Apparently, there really are voters who pigeonhole candidates and vote on assumptions such as candidates’ physical attractiveness, sex, race or how the names appeared on ballots.  And,

 An analysis concerned with the "puzzling finding" that incumbent legislators in mature democracies charged with corruption are not commonly punished in elections found that less-informed voters were significantly more likely to vote for incumbents accused of corruption than were their better-informed counterparts, presumably because they did not know about the allegations. (Wiki on LIV’s)

Seriously, she asked sheepishly?

I know I am guilty of having projected my aspirations for personal peace and affluence on candidates, some who could never nor, would ever deliver on all they promised.

If I could have been so uninformed about making political choices, how about other choices I’ve made? Like religion.

I am an American, and like 74% of my fellow citizens, I choose “Christian” as my religion. (The Pew Forum Reports) But what [all] Christians believe is not an easy pigeonhole into which to stuff us. If George Barna has accurately sampled us, we disagree on all kinds of things, especially on moral issues.  (Americans and Moral Concerns)  Perhaps this explains why a few prominent American Christians have changed their support for marriage as the union of a man and woman to the support of same sex-marriages?

Many American Christians of all stripes get the message Christ urged about compassion and social justice, and a commendable number practice the conviction that we must love our neighbors as ourselves.  What we might not get is practicing the first part of Christ’s summation of the Law: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength. (Matthew 22:36-40)

And unhappily, some Christians who capture the world’s attention are, shall we say, “low-information” Christians. Either they promote God’s compassion, but play down His holiness, or, they wax eloquent on His Judgment, and forget to mention His merciful grace.  Both misuse the Scriptures – perhaps because they don’t read it. (What Americans Think About the Bible) 
Low information Christians are unwittingly – or deliberately – denying others who would follow Christ a level path; they are refusing healing to those who need Christ’s help, and hope. (Hebrew 12:12)
So, if given a chance, we must explain that His love and mercy can’t be understood apart from His justice and His wrath.  The hard part about offering the love of God in Christ is that we must not withhold the truth -- the two-pronged truth that

·      God is holy.
·      Humans are broken and we need restoration to our right relationship to God and each other that only God gives – and – we can’t keep indulging the sinful conduct that separated us from Him. Or approve others who do.   

Easter is a great opportunity to pass on the information:  remember the power that raised Christ from the dead, is freely available to any who want out of the dead-ends in which they find themselves.

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, Bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your disease;
Who redeems your life from the pit;
Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
(Psalm 103:1-5)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Today is Extra Terrestrial Abduction Day.

Here’s a link: Extra Terrestrial Abduction Day.  One of the simple pleasures I enjoy in Texas is a radio station that plays classical music and works hard for have DJ’s and programming that appeals to a wide audience. So, in addition to hearing and learning about music, I learn stuff I never knew. (Classical Music)
And spring arrived at 7:31 A.M. Spring is nature’s way of saying “Hey, Let’s party.” (Robin Williams)

That oak tree across the street is getting dressed: it has a gold/green haze that popped out in what seemed like one day – the drey, or squirrel’s nest -- is less distinct against the morning sky. And in an email meditation, I read

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
--- John Muir

I look out the window and see beauty I had no hand in creating – I am listening to music whose sounds delight and whose origin are another human’s gifts. Balance, order, and purpose in what I see and hear – until the news breaks through.  And I learn of troubles that are assailing people – troubles I didn’t cause, and can’t control or cure.  It seems like chaos. So, today’s electronic message counsels:

Even in the face of day-to-day uncertainties, we are reassured by the order and symmetry of the universe.  The unvarying cycles of nature --- the precise arrival of this season --- remind us of God's ability to bring harmony to all things. Through the orderly unfoldment of nature, we are shown once again that we can rely unreservedly on His wisdom and power, now and forever.

Nature is a splendid declaration of God’s handiwork – John Muir, though steeped in the Bible, preferred natural revelation to God’s word.  (Wiki on John Muir) When life gets crazy and mean, looking at nature does bring a sense of calm – but what about when people I love get weird. Or, when I get crazy and mean?

Staring at a tree only helps so far – and the pain of broken relationships or thoughts isn’t always lulled away with good music. Here’s where Scripture helps – it gets at why spring is so dazzling, but depression is such a reasonable response when we take a good look at the world around us – and within us. (See Psalm 19)

The God of my understanding is One who is faithful – especially in crazy, mean and dark times. Jeremiah described His unfailing provision in the midst of awful troubles – troubles Jeremiah did not cause and surely could not control. Jeremiah had a rough time telling Israel the truth about her coming troubles – nobody wanted to hear it – he wound up in more than one pit, from which the Lord delivered him. The prophet felt walled in, with no clear way of escape – and his prayers bounced off the ceiling. Being beamed up by an extra-terrestrial might have been a huge blessing!  But Jeremiah looked to the unseen hand of God and remembered the mystery of God’s wrath and His mercy. (Lamentations 3)  

Some might hope that they will never meet Jeremiah’s God; I hope I will.

. . . Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me. (Abide with Me, by Henry Lyttle)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Word for the Day: DREY . . .

Which means squirrel’s nest.

For years, I thought of squirrel’s nest as a euphemism for a messy, disorganized room, sloppy thinking or an untidy hair-do. But no, some squirrels built their homes high up and stuff them with twigs, leaves, pine needles, or grass, and line them with shredded grasses, fresh leaves, moss, and lichens are used to line the inside of the nest. I never saw one until recently – when I looked up from my desk, and saw the oak tree across the street silhouetted against a winters’ sunny sky.

The tree across the street now is completely bare – and I can clearly see a squirrel’s nest or two. They look precarious – too large for the supporting branches – and it seems as if they could crash to the ground with the slightest provocation. We’ve had several days of extra breezy weather – enough so as I wonder how that drey stays put, and I wonder if there are little critters inside it, how they are managing.   For now, I can see plainly, what will be hidden in the coming weeks as green haze deepens into an enormous verdant canopy. 

Some days I feel like those squirrels’ nests look – precariously resting on limbs that may not support me – and completely exposed. 

Perhaps this is a gentle reminder to keep editing how much I hang out in cyberspace. My sister-in-law’s gentle observation of the various flowerpots dotting our garden’s perimeter has become a mantra: you need to edit the pots.  Too much of even a good thing is still too much.

Or, these precarious feelings may bubble forth from all the joys of maturity continuing as they present themselves: stumbling, bumping into things and sometimes falling can really wreck a girl’s confidence; losing words; forgetting names. Too many examples are still too much.

·      In a [woman's] middle years there is scarcely a part of the body [she] would hesitate to turn over to the proper authorities.  ~E.B. White

These feelings when intertwined with memories, resentments, fears, disappointments and guilt can be like those squirrels’ nest I see; they need editing – and deleting – as surely as the embarrassment of mangy looking flower pots dominating our garden.

·      You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.  ~Douglas MacArthur

To that end, I heard some good old advice recently at a meeting: Don’t believe everything you think.  Or, just because I think something is so doesn’t make it so. A timely reminder not to lean on my own understanding to prop myself up. What I think may be as wobbly a support as those bare branches appear to be! (Proverbs 3:5-12)

Fear can be the stiffest breeze blowing through my branches – Hope is the red marker I am using to edit my thoughts – as well as gratitude.  Looking up, the squirrels’ nests are holding in the current winds blowing through Dallas. Looking around the garden, I have edited the number of pots – just in time for spring planting.

·      There is always a lot to be thankful for, if you take the time to look. For example, I'm sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.  ~Author Unknown