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.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ROBBED – again

Carelessness costs . . . Thinking I could never again be a crime statistic, albeit, petty, was plain stupid. Especially since, I had fair warning.

 A couple of years ago, we left our cars – parked in our driveway – unlocked, and were surprised, chagrined and embarrassed to discover a thief took advantage and swiped a GPS. Within months, its replacement was also swiped when I left my luggage in plain view of the desk clerk at our hotel for a few minutes.

But the lesson that thieves are bold, especially when I am careless didn’t germinate many precautions.  

The Latest Ebenezer
I left a small jewelry bag nestled deep in my suitcase in a hotel recently rather than taking it with me.  [No] Surprise! Someone helped themselves to my humble treasures, taking the good stuff, and leaving the paste. 

Shock, feelings of being victimized welled up. So did the conviction that I have no more excuse for being so poor a steward than the thief does, who pilfered through my luggage and helped themselves to what was not theirs. 

Jessamyn West, the American author of Friendly Persuasion, once wrote: It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit to forgive them for having witnessed your own.  It’s going to take more than grit for me to forgive those thieves for have taken advantage of my mistake: willful foolishness – and myself.

I didn’t discover the loss for several days after we returned home – and have been mourning the loss of my valuables – and my own foolishness.  What was taken had some material value – but each piece’s sentimental value was more. The memories of the givers – their generosity – these are still mine. The recognition I bear some blame for losing these gifts stings.

My little jewelry sack is yet another Ebenezer  . . . reminding me

The thorns which I have reap'd are of the tree
I planted; they have torn me, and I bleed.
I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Another little reproof that might have wider implications when I remember a few broken relationships? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Common Sense

My generation was told many things about sex outside of marriage – most of which we merrily ignored. Go Boomers! Mine was the generation that succeeded in casting off the double standards former generations insisted upon. It was common sense that women had just as much of a right to have fun as men.

But my mother who had endured some of the consequences of those double standards told me one thing that is still true –

If you decide to have a party with your boyfriend, remember: a little life, innocent and precious, is always a possible unexpected guest. You don’t have a right to spoil their party.” 

She wasn’t threatening me. She was offering a common sense warning based on what she had seen and I was seeing among my friends. 

But my generation knew better – and we had the Pill!

And we brought abortion out of the back alleys! We wanted the lives of women facing unplanned pregnancies protected.  It was common sense. We knew what happened in those unclean, unsafe places because either we had to have one, or someone we knew had to end a pregnancy. 

Too few of us, though, thought about the life of the child – being assured “it” wasn’t a life – not really.  So, some of us discovered too late exercising our newly secured constitutional right was more complicated than undergoing a simple procedure.

Common sense should have told us that ending an unexpected pregnancy might not be an uncomplicated alternative to carrying a baby to term.   

Call the Midwife --- has dramatically taught viewers the harshness and heartbreak attending a little child’s coming into homes unable or unwilling to welcome them. It has also candidly depicted the callousness and compassion that attended adoption in the 1950’s and -60’s.  Mothers who relinquished their children into the care of others were not always cherished as sincerely as their babies were.

Single-parenting therefore became a common sense solution, one which the government of the United States enabled states to support, as the church and other private charities lost the debate on adoption. (Welfare Statistics)

This new normal has changed us – is changing us, not always in positive ways.  (Seventy -Two Percent of Black Babies Born to Unwed Moms) Common sense should tell us we might need to change course – not so easy in the uncertain times in which we live; when most standards are just your opinion or mine.

January is among its other designations, a month celebrating Right to Life.   Others call it Respect Life, or Sanctity of Life. (WORLD Magazine 2015) I hope this will be the first month in a year that galvanizes us to continue offering   real help to real women and men who have created lives for whom they are unable to care!

God help us to seek Him and His ways, not as a tyrant spoilsport issuing threats, but as a Father whose blessed boundaries protect and sustain life. (Psalm 139)


Friday, January 9, 2015

Exercising Our Freedom, We Better Count the Cost

Poking fun at people and our institutions is as basic a pleasure as eating and drinking. Jane Austen slyly acknowledged this as Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice observed: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?” 

Today, the sport is deadly. The marvels of media technology, coupled with a revolution of human rights have given many in the West unimagined freedoms to mock each other’s most deeply beliefs, exposing what we think are each others’ hypocrisy.  We can say or print just about anything and with the Internet, talk radio or cable TV we can find an audience.

Yet, in these audiences are folks who dislike the clever little jokes at their expense. They take revenge – and people, who might not have been contributors to odious political commentary, die. For example in the most recent terrorist attack in Paris, some people died who had nothing to do with the offensive cartoons that upset the terrorists.

 2015 was barely one week old, and what will be for me its signature is the video of a French police officer.  Wounded, begging for mercy, then executed by a fellow Muslim this image haunts me, as do so many in recent years.  
Would that Muslims could rein in those amongst them who wage war with any who do not embrace their religion.  In recent time, the Germans could not stop the Nazis, the Japanese their militarists or the Italians their fascists. And the church, visible and invisible, in these countries suffered right along through the wars necessary to stop the terror these groups perpetrated.

The more things change – the more they stay the same.

I don’t want to defend to the death the coarse commentary that many believe are their inalienable rights. Nor, do I want our children and any one else to die defending these rights! But, these days are dangerous, crazy times when words are still  more deadly than sticks and stones!  It isn’t self-censorship that we need – it is common sense that counts the cost of who might die because I shot off my mouth or pen!

Doug posted links to two articles that come close to expressing the unease – anger –sorrow – frustration and exasperation the past few days have caused:

Provocation is No Defense for Jihadists:  Don't think they will stop at stupid and vicious left-wing satirists.

I Am Not Charlie Hebdo: Insult is the lowest – and now most dangerous – form of free speech -  

Americans must choose our response carefully – in what is perhaps the third World War, or the continuation of the first one.   The church, more so!

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. (Ephesians 6:10-14, The New Living Translation)

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 . . .

Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits. ~Author Unknown
One day into the New Year, and I still can’t come up with any resolutions . . . or anything much to say . . . we feel like we’ve been sucked up into a whirlwind of people, food, fun, memories, delights, and a few too many Christmas cookies. This time last year the following observation was the closest thing I came to, making a resolution:

Whatever commands your hope will control your heart, and what controls your heart will direct your words and behavior. (Paul Tripp) (January 1, 2014)

Ryan Bell, chose an unusual of set of commands and controls for a Christian pastor in 2014, and discovered he was no longer a Christian after living a year as an atheist. (Link to article)    I don't understand how he did it – but I can see that embracing practices antithetical to one’s profession can have many repercussions. What if I chose to take a year off from my marriage, and live like I wasn’t married to Doug?  First, I don’t think he’d give me a year  -- our relationship would quickly break down, and I wager, he might not return my phone calls.
So, let’s look at what hope controlled me.

When I skim the journal I kept last year, the hope that God is who He told Moses He was, saw me through – but not without detours through major skirmishes with silliness, sadness and self-absorption.  

For as fast as last year went – I see days upon days of beauty and delight, and God’s faithfulness. Yet, I know what I was thinking, even as I tried to sound “spiritual.”  I hear gnawing little “Yes, but’s . . .” like the rats who sharpened their teeth on the wiring in my former car. (Rat-tled; Those Rascally Rodents Return)

I got around to completing the Year End Reflections’ “query” that I recommended in early November. Looking at the highlights, the disappointments and the game-changes for 2014, so many people I know have suffered staggering losses – horrifying experiences. Even the most modest inventory gets me off the pity pot!  I am grateful to be alive, having the wherewithal to remember and resolve!

10 Highlights – Accomplishments, Best Memory
1.              Being ALIVE to ruminate!
2.              Enjoying my best friend and husband
3.              Family reunion at a family wedding
4.              Meeting our newest grandchild
5.              Seeing other grandchildren perform in a Christmas recital
6.              Completing gift book of art projects
7.              Remembering Barbara Black
8.              Gaining the trust of a few women who want sobriety
9.              Deepening friendships
10.          Getting another commission on a painting – and finishing it!

10 Disappointments – Failures, Missed Opportunities

1.              Broken relationships that remain as unhealed wounds
2.              Failure to hear what others were trying to say
3.              Not doing what I knew I should have done, could have done or said
4.              Doing what I should not have done
5.              Seeing the cunning, baffling power of addiction
6.              Big starts to projects  -- too many remain unfinished!
7.              Caring more about my issues than others
8.              Fear of others, real and imagined
9.              Grumbling, worrying and griping about stuff I can’t control
10.          Ignoring what I can control. 

3 Things You Focused on – What you put the most of your time into
1.      Self
2.     Others
3.     God

3 Things You Forgot – What you didn’t get around to
1.     God – that He is always faithful even when I am not.
2.     Others – that many, many have wisdom worth applying.
3.     Self – Just because I have been through a lot, doesn’t mean I know it all.

Reflection. How does this inform your plans for the New Year?

1.              Don’t live like I doubt God is, or that He is beyond discovery or knowing. (Jeremiah 29:13)
2.              Or, that His word is not wise counsel for me. (Psalm 19, 119)
3.              Although all the highlights in the year have had depressing shadows, and
4.              All the disappointments were not without glimmers of light, which were not always initially apparent,
5.              God left blessed fingerprints of His grace.
6.              The biggest blessing this year, as always, has been the people – many and varied -- and I don’t want to forget in the New Year that those I love are only on loan. Don’t take people for granted! (and get over being taken for granted!)
7.              Today is all I have --therefore, spend my time wisely.  (Try Harder)

8.              In 2015, I choose to place my mustard seed-sized hope in the God who sees me, and in His word, which understands me. (Timothy Keller, The King’s Cross.)