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.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sigh . . .

Jeremiah 17:9-10

People murdered each other last week – a young man in California opened fired on several, after stabbing three others to death.  Snipers on rooftops in Ukraine literally picked off people scattering for cover, and a Pakistani family stoned a pregnant woman to death for marrying the man she loved to recover the family honor they thought she lost.  

And I fret about weeds and wrinkles.

Retribution is an old problem – older than the weapons we use against each other. If we could disarm the whole world of its weapons, could we disarm our hearts? 

o   What broke in a man when he could bring himself to kill another?  ~ Alan Paton

Who overcomes by force hath overcome but half his foe.  ~John Milton, Paradise Lost, 1667

o   Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. ~Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Recommended Reading --  Psalm 51

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cracking an Egg Efficiently

Because I have been taking a long sabbatical from news programs, I turned to cable “home-improvement shows” for a gentler window on the world. But I had to dispense with them.  By the time dinner rolled around, I was exhausted from rebuilding backyards, bathrooms, and overhauling kitchens, so invested I became in the plans and their implementation. Whew . . . I could barely get dinner on the table after supervising so much work! 

 Cooking shows similarly wore me out. I was surprised that for however many I watched, none of them changed my decades old approach to meal prep.  I did try following their suggestions for cracking eggs more efficiently. Guess what didn’t work?
So Much for a Better Way to Crack an Egg
Then I discovered that even the “how-to” shows had an agenda for reforming my worldview subtly, but  as persistently as talk radio and cable news. They do it by a type of shunning. Blurt out an epithet, espouse the wrong cause, or embrace the wrong worldviews and "buh-bye now!"  Since June of 2013, I see that popularity is no protection even for past failures.

Therefore, I see that Thumper’s mom was wise – she taught Thumper "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all....

So, I’m listening to even more Classical Music, and doing way more cross-word puzzles.  “Judge Judy” is my new television friend.   And I’ve gone back to cracking eggs the old-fashioned way.  

·      Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices — just recognize them. ~Edward Roscoe Murrow, 31 December 1955

·      Lord, help me not to despise or oppose what I do not understand. ~William Penn

·      "People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word." - George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 1 (Source)

*Other Source of quotes: QUOTEGARDEN.com

Friday, May 23, 2014

Memorial Day 2014: Do Away With Government Tenure

I have the impression Americans are more concerned with our rights to pursue our private happiness, than we are with our shared responsibilities to preserve the rights to life and liberty. 

I had the impression that the government and the military would manage the store, so to speak, so that I could spend my life pursuing my goals – and yes, I have read history, and the newspapers.  But knowledge and understanding are not synonymous. 

I had the impression that voting other people into and out of their elected offices would be sufficient oil to keep the mechanisms running in our national, state and local governments. I had no understanding of the power of salaried government workers who formed unions.

But I am beginning to see that it is the rare elected official who can wield power and change what he or she promised to change. I have the distinct impression that it is not our elected officials who govern us – it is the bureaucracy we have permitted them to establish and fund.  

I have the impression that our local, state and national governments exercise the kinds of power that the aristocracy wielded, with about the same amount of concern for us as the landed “lords” had for their vassals.   

Alas, I also have  gained the impression that living on other people’s money is a widespread and accepted notion – from the oldest of us to the youngest. I know like my little checks and perks!   

  • It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights — the 'right' to education, the 'right' to health care, the 'right' to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery — hay and a barn for human cattle. P. J. O'Rourke, in Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut‎ (1996), p. 227

And in the past year, I have the impression that our government’s departments and agencies, have stumbled – badly.  They have done stuff they should not have done, and left undone a bunch of stuff they should have. And I have the impression that finding the underlying cause of messes and holding people accountable may be a bitter political battle.      

Thank God, we can [still] have the political battle!

I hope the press will quit its partisan shilling; that our politicians will govern instead of campaign and that they take on the establishment of tenured employees,  a few too many of whom are not embarrassed about their work!

On this Memorial Day, I am grateful for those whose blood and suffering secured the peace and safety in which I have lived.  And I am ashamed and grieved how we are not keeping our promises to the military.  

The following quote – inaccurately attributed to  Alexis de Tocqueville -- touched me deeply years ago – building the impression that our moral fiber mattered:

I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers - and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce - and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution - and it vas not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.  

My more fervent hope is that God, who has opened men and women’s minds to see that it is He who gives us our daily bread, and delivers us from evil, will wake up His church in this great nation once again.  Then perhaps we can help America wake up to what is happening to us.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

A New Wrinkle

Wheels for the World

It’s been a pain, awkward and persistent – the problem with my hands. Not having the unlimited use of my hands is a constraint I never imagined. Mercifully, I am getting a taste, albeit on an infinitesimally small scale, of being disabled and dependent -- it’s been a prod to get me off the pity pot and take a good look at others, whose problems are more aggravating, discomforting and relentless.

Multiple Sclerosis is worse. So is Parkinson’s. And this problem isn’t cancer, a genetic birth defect, or degenerative spine disease.   It may look like leprosy; but, it isn’t leprosy, for Pete’s sake!

However, coming up with a remedy for a relatively benign problem has not been so simple. Three different doctors have told me three different things: It’s eczema; or, psoriasis or most recently, it may be contact dermatitis – similar and not similar. 

Since I am working on my medical degree through WebMD, I had questions. Twice I asked the dermatologists if there might be a connection with my skin issues and nickel levels in Apple computer – they began shortly after I became an Apple user.  (Nickel in Apple products)

They didn’t think so. 

So, again using a new mixture of their prescriptions and OTC products, I noticed my skin began to calm down. Then when Doug got me a protective covering for the computer’s keyboard and a case, the calming became marked!

Whether this has been an allergic reaction, or an immune deficiency, or just life, I can more deeply empathize with the one leper who came back to thank the Lord.  (Luke 17:11-19) Relief is sweet!

So, while trying to tame the flare-ups of dry, cracking skin these past two years, I’ve learned that many folks, even younger than I, struggle with skin issues.  When I have screwed up the courage to mention my problem, my friends have been happy to pray for healing – asking me to pray for them, too!  Moreover, everybody has a recommendation for a lotion, ointment, or tonic, including superglue – some work well, others -- not so much.

The persistent kindness of those who have prayed for me has been a balm of deep healing, reminding me to thank God, who stirred up and hears our prayers for each other, and who gives relief. Today, I pray for those whose pain and dependency remains deep and discouraging – specifically like Joni EarecksonTada, herself a quadriplegic, who urged:

I pray for mothers of spina bifida children in Mozambique. I pray for men who become paralyzed from falling out of palm trees in the jungles of the Philippines. I pray for mentally handicapped children in the closed areas of North Korea or western China.

And I pray for the people who care for the afflicted, injured and needy – please refine their skills, and meet their needs Lord.  And keep me from driving them nuts with my little problems. 

o      Gratitude is the least of the virtues, but ingratitude is the worst of vices. ~Thomas Fuller

o      The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. ~ Theodore Rubin, an American psychiatrist and author

o      Sleep, riches, and health to be truly enjoyed must be interrupted. ~Johan Paul Richter, Flower, Fruit, and Thorn

Joni & Friends

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Purposeful Painting?

Peaches Under Construction
 This  meditation has moved: http://autumns-garden.com/1359-2/

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers’ Day 2014

Because I kept quite a little list of grievances, with few grudging compliments, I had trouble finding an appropriate Mothers’ Day card.  

from The New Yorker*

I was hard on my mother – and I am grateful that as I weathered my own parenting failures she truly kept her own counsel. We may not have made the same mistakes – but we shared defeats that were similarly painful. The wonderful experience, and best memories though, were sharing the joy of holding babies, taking toddlers for walks, and sharing the confidences of a child’s opinion of this old world. She never withheld her high opinion of each of her grandchildren and great grandchildren!

The same restraint and kindness was a hallmark of my mother-in-law.  Neither “mom” played the critic, and both were generous and helpful.  I wish there were a card I could send to express my regrets for not having more conversations and my gratitude for so much.

But I doubt I could afford the postage.

Mom and Me

Doug and his Mom

·      Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. ~Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, c.1420

·      God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me. ~Author unknown, variation of an excerpt from "The Serenity Prayer" by Reinhold Neibuhr

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Change of Plans

Battery Lamp May 8 2014

Yes, I knew today would be stormy. But I was startled when the alerts for a tornado went off. (Rough weather - May-Dallas News) Something about “take shelter immediately” when one has nowhere to shelter can get a girl’s heart racing – especially given the damage recently inflicted by storms barreling through Arkansas and Alabama last month. And then the power went out. Into the powder room we trudged, and waited for an all-clear, which came within 15 minutes.

Still no power.

The tidy porches were waterlogged, and things blown about. The yard took a beating – tree limbs and debris everywhere; the mercy is that two inches of rain fell. It didn’t end the drought, but it bought a bit of time.
Whatever it was that visited it us, it disrupted power, and our plans for a quiet evening -- Just as life always does when we are making other plans. (John Lennon)

So, we took ourselves out for dinner, splitting a steak and potato.  As we were finishing, a person ambled in, covered in a torn trash bag, wet, and searching.  They looked around and quietly left.  I bundled the untouched dinner rolls, and we quickly left – trying to share what would have just been tossed. When we found the person, we honestly couldn’t tell if the person was a he or she, so thin and disguised they were in baggy clothes – covered by a holey bag.    

Almost twenty years ago, we encountered another soul, wandering, hungry, homeless just down the street – then as now, both were reminders of what I could have been, but for God’s mercy.

The power came back as we readied ourselves for bed -- and I had to record this weather lesson. 

Somebody may have prayed – But, somebody said or did something that became a lifeline. And I found my way out of the scary places that the two street folk I have encountered still wander.

God, I pray now for that person whose sex and sanity have been swallowed up by the brutal force that life can be. And I ask your forgiveness for being part of the generation with unclean lips and hard hearts. Thank You for turning the lights on for me, back then and again tonight – literally and figuratively. Shine Your light in dark places, and bring us out . . . especially those I love.  

A Family Wedding

Out of the hundred or so guests, I only knew a handful of folks. The bride is a great niece, literally and descriptively.  So, of course I knew my nephew and his wife and their youngest daughter. Our son and daughter-in-law and our daughter and her husband came; so did my brother and his wife. And I recognized a few faces from many, many years ago.

Melancholy and joy, happiness and regrets, wonder and gratitude – memories of other weddings and prayers for the future of marriages represented colored all the impressions I took in.  This day became an unexpected Ebenezer. (1 Samuel 7:12)

My niece,  (a more a possessive description than our relationship ever was), and her husband exchanged vows and celebrated their marriage at a comfortable old country club in northern Baltimore County.  And because Maryland’s spring is about three or four weeks behind Texas’ we beheld dogwoods, daffodils, and azaleas – nature’s delightful rewind of the most hopeful of seasons.

A shower had threatened earlier, but the sun dried up its remnants, and a rainbow emerged at the time friends were toasting the bride and groom – prompting guests to scurry outside and record the event on the innumerable smart phones and cameras. One younger guest asked his dad if they could go and hunt the gold. My nephew confided he had to get a second mortgage just for that display.

Candles may have been on the table, but the glow of our hand-held devices was truly what illuminated us!  The wedding photographer waited good-naturedly for us to look up so she take pictures of us. Never have I seen so many photographers – or have have I been so torn to put my camera down and look at the faces before me.

Serendipitously, a few days later, a You Tube video rebuked me:
Put your hands on your head – stand away from the phone

I am glad I did put my phone down – occasionally -- and enjoyed so many moments. But I am also glad for the pictures I took. Most I deleted – but the ones I kept remind me the Lord has been good to me.  For the brief moment this wedding was, I saw the top part of my life’s canvas, and, from what I often feel is a jumble of threads, I saw an outworking – a purpose -- that has been bigger than my will.

 God! I hope I remember that!

Genesis 9:13

Friday, May 2, 2014

Facing Facts

Sigh: I Might Be That Old

Last night I was recycling shampoo/lotion bottles, dumping globs of expired creams in the bathroom sink under running water. Not dissolving fast enough, the globs looked gunky. So, I decided to stop the sink and run hot water over the remains.

Had I stayed at the sink, and kept an eye on the water level, though, I never would have known how fast water can overflow the sink and fill the pull out drawer below, and the containers it holds. Nor, would I have had the chance to dry the 3x5 carpet  outside overnight. Or, take an hour away from packing for our trip mopping up gallons of hot slippery water.

You see, what distracted me was opening a present from a friend – a lavender- colored mug proclaiming: “Keep Calm – You’re Not That Old.”

Apparently, I just might be. I remained calm, though . . . and kept baling.

·      As important as it is to keep picking yourself up and brushing yourself off, it's also important to stop tripping over your own two feet. ~Robert Brault,rbrault.blogspot.com

·      There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience. ~Laurence J. Peter

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Finishing Up the Life of Moses

Well, everything is spiffed up and ready for action on both porches – but the dip in the temperature makes sitting outside in the shady porch in the early hours a wee bit too much. So, I finished reading about Moses, completing Deuteronomy inside the house.   Temperatures were so bracing this morning – May 1 – we needed a shot of heat! Thus I am not enjoying all my handiwork.

Inside study, means looking at all the work that needs doing – and it easily distracts me.

So, for the moment, I’ll look back to Moses’ life – overlooking the housework and morning news of war, superbugs, wicked weather -- rain and floods, and remember what Moses taught me.
Deuteronomy 34:7
Listen closely. Choose carefully. (Deuteronomy 30:14-20) And remember the song. (Deuteronomy 32)  We each go our own way, way too often, to our ruin and heartache.  

Don’t disobey God because things aren’t working out the way I hoped they would. (Deuteronomy 32: 50-52) 

Believe that God has a better plan for the folks I care about – and bless them with the hope that is God. (Deuteronomy 33:1-25) 

Don’t ever be ashamed of that plan. (Deuteronomy 33:26-29)

Remember the song and keep climbing.