Saturday, February 28, 2009

Their Chapter Closes



Helen Irma Wells-Rawson
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September 4, 1912 - February 27, 2009
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The youngest child of James Elmer and Annie McFadden-Wells, Helen was a favored baby sister to my own father. One of ten children, she lived long and well, raising five children of her own in the pristine valley carved by the Okanogan River. Yesterday, at the age of 96 1/2 years, she joined all nine of her siblings, as well as her husband Bob and beloved son Tim - - just beyond our view.
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An entire chapter now closes. The generation that has embodied both my father's and my mother's youth has gone. We who remain have become the gatekeepers; we step in to pick up where they left off. It will not be easy to hold the course as steady as did they.
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Thank you, Aunt Helen, for the years of cherished memories we shall relish until we all meet again for yet the best and greatest of our family reunions.
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Vanities for the Bonfire

Every so often I remind myself of the vanity of certain beliefs & behaviors. Some are downright ludicrous; others merely prideful. Some Most show up in my own life, and they fall neatly beneath the banner titled: rational-lies (aka rationalizations).

The list could span the length & height of the Golden Gate Bridge, but here's just a few:

I must have a clean house at all times lest anyone see it messy.

What I think couldn't possibly be wrong.

What others believe is truth only if I say so.

My husband is obligated to me for ( fill in the blank ).

If I hold onto that size 4 skirt long enough, someday I'll wear it again.

I have to keep the family secrets about ( fill in the blank ).

Beds must be made up every day.

I can only have friends that are believers.

People need to feel sorry for me because ( fill in the blank ).

Sometimes it's OK to gossip.

I don't have to say "I'm sorry" to anyone, for anything.

My life has significance only when others see or know what I do, or have accomplished (sometimes, even, for the Lord).

What people think of/say about me is probably true.

Grey hair, wrinkles and arthritic hands are ugly.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Green is my favorite color. Emerald hues captivate me, so you'll find touches of green in my wardrobe, in my linen closet, on my walls, and among my collectibles. My car is green. In fact, I even have flecks of green in my hazel eyes!

But I'm totally non-plussed about my favorite shade having been taken hostage by the environmentalists.
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As I pen my thoughts today, I want there to be no mistake: this is not a green statement. I'm not looking to clean up the environment, though I fully subscribe to that worthy initiative (provided Al Gore stays out of it). No, I merely want to borrow from the Green Movement for totally selfish, though probably not altogether disassociated purposes.
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It was just a few days ago that I headed out for a morning jaunt. From my westerly perch in the White Tank Mountains ("mole hills" if you're from mountain-country) I can see far across the whole of the greater Phoenix valley to the place of the rising sun. From North to South it's a panoramic sweep, which means my walks often include an appreciative glance, if not long pauses.

During the referenced saunter I couldn't help but notice, again, the low-lying smog - pollution - that hung like a dingy brown blanket over the valley floor. I actually stopped for a better, longer look. It troubled me, but not so much as it troubled me when I began to consider its implications. A real-world parable was already forming.
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What is pollution? Why and how does it form? Who's responsible for it? What hazards does it contain? How does it affect our health: individually and collectively? What needs to be done to prevent or correct it?
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Each of my questions did little more than beg answers. I was the beggar.
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So I began investigating, and pondering. My first stop was to Merriam, and in his usual succinct fashion he offered this: environmental contamination with man-made waste.
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That didn't fully satisfy my curiosity itch, so I moved onto the world-wide-wide for a scratch. There I was assaulted by a plethora of daunting data that I attempted, albeit briefly, to synthesize. Here's what I did glean on the subject of pollution: the introduction of contaminants into an environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem, i.e., physical systems of living organisim.
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Wow. Now I was getting somewhere.
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Next I read this: The major forms of pollution are listed below along with the particular pollutants relevant to each of them. A huge litany followed. I decided to spare you.
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By now I was leaning back in my chair and wondering: "How much more do you need to know?" I decided I had enough threads (instablity, disorder, harm and discomfort ... if nothing else) to weave something. So the knit one/pearl two process began. It very quickly morphed from smog to sin, and my real world parable had context. Nothing I crafted from there worked better than this:
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" 'Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways (long list of perverted sexual practices), because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
Leviticus 18:24-28
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I leave off by saying what a difficult, sometimes verboten, subject is sin. I don't mean for it to be either. Sin, like pollution, is simply part & parcel of our human condition. In connecting pollution dots, I couldn't help but recognize their similiarities.
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Afterall, there's often no recognizable culprit with sin. Yet there remains a lingering cloud - visible or invisible - that is a danger to all.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ode: Buttons 'n Bows

Anyone have a prophetic gift? Not me ... but sometimes my life feels like it was written in advance - a virtual prophecy unfolding. There's many a tale I could weave here, but the one that has me chuckling today is a memory from long ago.
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At the incredible age of 13 my piano teacher - Carol Vargo - convinced me to sing in a talent contest. Or maybe I convinced her. Either way, it was a daft idea given the fact that I'd never done such a thing, and I really didn't have much of a voice anyway. But she was game, and became a great advocote & coach.
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Song selection was tough. I was clueless. I mean, it wasn't like American Idol days when contemporary artists could be emulated. I had to be original.
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Original? Well, there was no doubt THAT would happen. Just getting up on stage was going to be very original, regardless of my performance.
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How we ever decided on the song is beyond me now. In fact, I'd never even heard of Buttons 'n Bows. In hindsight, my mother probably had something to do with it. Together she and Carol crafted a costume straight from Annie Oakley's road show. I was a walking ruffle!
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I practiced. I practiced some more. Carol choreographed some dance steps and hand movements. I was supposed to make various & assorted facial expressions.
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Showtime arrived and I experienced the first of what is commonly called a panic attack. I couldn't breath much less sing. But my stage mothers shoved me from behind the curtain. Apoplexy set in as I viewed a rather large audience, many of them teens like me. What had I been thinking?
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Carol's piano que began, and in my bravest, best fashion I belted out a song that still makes me laugh. I don't remember the performance, or any particular sign of audience favor. But I'll be darned if I didn't win 2nd place! (Now I have to wonder if there were only two of us in the contest to begin with).
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Can you just picture a child of the 60s singing these words, in a pinafore no less?
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East is east and west is west
And the wrong one I have chose
Let's go where they keep on wearin'
Those frills and flowers and buttons and bows
Rings and things and buttons and bows.
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Don't bury me in this prairie
Take me where the cement grows
Let's move down to some big town
Where they love a gal by the cut o' your clothes
And you'll stand out,
In buttons and bows.
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I'll love you in buckskin
Or skirts that you've homespun
But I'll love ya' longer, stronger where
Yer friends don't tote a gun
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My bones denounce the buckboard bounce
And the cactus hurts my toes
Let's vamoose where gals keep a-usin'
Those silks and satins and linen that shows
And I'm all yours in buttons and bows.
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Gimme eastern trimmin' where women are women
In high silk hose and peek-a-boo clothes
And French perfume that rocks the room
And I'm all yours in buttons and bows.
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Buttons and bows, buttons and bows...
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My bones denounce the buckboard bounce? Eastern trimmin? Growing concrete?
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So what's the prophetic link in all of this? My life has been, in so many ways, a humorous ode to Buttons 'n Bows. And in case you're wondering about odes, Merriam tells us they are: a lyric poem usually marked by exaltation of feeling and style, varying length of line, and complexity of stanza forms.
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Yep, that's my life - - lyrical, varying, complex. Thank God, without ruffles!
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The Season of Sisters

In a few short days, three of my favorite people in all the earth will join me for what has become a richly treasured annual event: A Gathering of Sisters. We will laugh, shop, eat, share, weep, reminisce, pray, eat some more, and relish each other's position in life and heart.
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A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost. ~Marion C. Garretty
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Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood. ~Louisa May Alcott
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Sisters are different flowers from the same garden. ~Author Unknown
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In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips. ~Author Unknown.
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A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life. ~Isadora James
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We may look old and wise to the outside world. But to each other, we are still in junior school. ~Charlotte Gray.
She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child. ~Barbara Alpert
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(Pictures: circa 1978, 2005, 1997)

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

At the Core

Some weeks back, e-buddy Melanie recommended a book titled, "Tortured for Christ". I'd heard of it, though I'd never read it. So I decided to take her up on her suggestion. As the title suggests, the book is tough read.
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Today's a day for tough reads.
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That said, this may be a tough read for my visitors, too.
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As I'm wading through this auto-biographical story of Richard Wurmbrand (founder of the organization known as "Voice of the Martyrs"), I find myself jostling a number of feelings. Revulsion. Anger. Incredulity. Gratitude. Curiousity. Sorrow.
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It's safe to say I just don't understand how one (or many) human beings can treat another human being with such cruelty. In fact, cruelty is kindness as compared to what happened to this man and his family, and to many others even today.
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In Chapter Two I stalled for quite some time, attempting to digest Wurmbrand's take on inhumanity. He lays it squarely at the feet of atheism.
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"The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe. When a man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil, there is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil that is in man. The Communist torturers often said, 'There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.' I heard one torturer say, 'I thank God, in whom I don't believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart'."
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During my stall, I tried in vain to grasp the implications, or to answer my own questions ... questions that rose one after the other. It's no secret: men have become more-and-more inclined to move away from God. It is not necessarily a Communist agenda that bends men in that direction, but an atheistic one. Same same? Probably not, but certainly the implications on the heart of man couldn't be more striking.
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What, I wonder, must happen for men to be free to express all the evil in their heart? What, God forbid, would so captivate men that the need to be human would be of no value?
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It's a day for tough reads.
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Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Proverbs 4:24-27
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sixty Plus One

It was late 1947. My parents had moved well into their 40s, and their girls were long passed toddler stages. Dolores was 15, Barbara 13, and Carol nearly 7.
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There was a buzz at the house. Things were changing ... mother's waistline for one; and the showing up of a crib and high-chair. Making room.
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(Pictured, just before my birth: Mother and girls, Uncle Dan & Aunt Bridie)
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On February 21, 1948 I stepped onto the scene. Family photos from that point onward have tufts of curly hair and chubby cheeks (top and bottom). Come to think of it ... they still do!
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I have written much of these - - my welcoming committee. And welcome they did! I doubt any child was more eagerly anticipated, or more treasured..

The olders are gone from the scene. The youngers actually have become the olders ... and I'm now among them. Today I turn 61!
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It would be easy to make this the longest post ever, going on-and-on with a litany of memoirs, anecdotes, failures & successes - the sort of items you'd expect from someone that's been on the planet 61 years. That seems selfishly ambitious somehow.
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Rather, let me begin and end this day with a thank you. First to my parents, then to my sisters. I am, in large part, who I am today because of you.
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More important: thank you, Lord, for the place You chose to plant me. It was and is the richest of soil!
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Fog

On last night's news I noticed the Pacific Northwest is again being plagued by fog. I remember it well, having lived most of my life near Seattle and the Puget Sound.
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It's so very lovely if you are free to remain still and simply watch it. But it makes for tough navigating if you cannot. Planes are grounded. The freeway slows to a crawl. A saturating damp assails in ways that rain cannot. It's safe to say: fog is dangerously wondrous!

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Simply put, fog is a cloud that has descended upon the earth - - as if to tiptoe it's way among mortals. It's quiet and stealthy, often arriving without warning.
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I thought briefly about sharing here fog's properties, and the reason it forms. I ditched that idea because it really doesn't matter.

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Fog forms.
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When it does, it becomes very difficult, if not altogether impossible, to see. The analogies therein are endless. I can't begin to capture them all, but a few are worth pondering:
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What I do or don't do while waiting for the fog to lift is closely associated with where I find myself when it does.
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If I must navigate the fog, moving at a slower-than-usual pace and exercising caution is likely to spare me trouble.
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There's no guarantee someone or something won't rear-end me as they attempt o navigate the fog.

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So it's no wonder Chuck Swindoll's insights today take me straightaway to the subject of fog, as if he wrote the following after seeing last night's news himself. From his book, "Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness", he writes:
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"All whom God uses greatly are first hidden in the secret of His presence, away from the pride of man. It is there our vision clears. It is there the silt drops from the current of our life and our faith begins to grasp His arm...
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... Abraham waited for the birth of Isaac.
... Moses didn't lead the Exodus until he was eighty.
... Elijah waited beside the brook.
... Noah waited 120 years for rain.
... Paul was hiddden away for three years in Arabia..
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God is working while His people are waiting waiting, waiting. That's what's happening. For the present time, nothing. For the future, everything!"
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When the fog eventually lifts, our vision clears.
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"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Music Magic

My friends ... I drop by this morning briefly for no other reason that to share with you an incredible music resource:

Pandora Music

Click on the link, then enter the name of your favorite artist or song. It/they will be loaded, as will all similar artists and songs. You will then be equipped to listen nonstop - for hours on end!


You can also register if you like, and save your station selections. It's a resource for customizing your very own radio programming!

This morning I plugged in Paul Wilbur and have delighted in the sounds of Jerusalem and all things worshipful. My one entry has lead to songs by Don Moen, Chris Tomlin, Ross Parsley and others.

I'm thinking this afternoon I'll check out the Beach Boys.

Enjoy ...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Remembering

I wonder when the smell of clean linens won't summon her,
Or when I don't mistake the aging hands at the end of my own arms for hers. .
I wonder when popcorn won't mark a memory of Saturday nights and Lawrence Welk,
Or when dirty windows will cease pleading in her voice for Windex.
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I wonder if my days will ever be long enough to forget sitting on her lap,
Or if my newest memories will crowd out scenes of her applying her lipstick.
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I wonder if riding buses will ever again be the adventure she made it,
Or if chenille could be anything but her robe.
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I wonder if I'll wear white in winter without her wink,
Or if I could toss leftovers into the garbage free of guilt.
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I wonder if the rainbow could be as bright as when she pointed it out,
Or if sleep could be as peaceful following her tucking.
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I wonder how many days I must live to cease missing her,
Or if there could even be enough days for that to be possible.
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I wonder how she'll look when at last we meet again,
Or if she waits patiently at heaven's portal for her daughters to arrive.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Indomitable


Long before I could see her, I heard her. That indignant wail could mean only one thing: Molly was mad ... very mad!
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It wasn't fear or danger or pain that I heard, but something completely different - and so very familiar. From her toddler days, that particular cry had come to mean that something, or someone had gotten between the child and her intentions. It was a holler, actually - - or, as they might say in the Appalachians - - caterwauling.
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It took me a few seconds to locate her from my deck perch above. Finally I spotted all 3 feet and six years of her, stomping her way up to the house from the road below.
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We lived in a rustic, rural neighborhood on a rise, just above and across from a small but pristine lake. Fir and Alder trees surrounded us, as did a Narnia-like wooded environ filled with Oregon Grape and ferns. The children and their pet menagerie played there for hours on end, collecting all things creepy (someday I'll share their snake-collecting story, or the time our youngest found a dog he named Bow-Wow, or ....), building camps, or climbing trees.
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So I watched her make her way, not the least concerned until I realized she had a goat following hard on her heels. Yes, a goat! Seems the creature had designs on her zip-locked bag of Cheez-its. He wasn't about to leave her alone until he'd eaten every last one. She was having none of it, though her bag by now was nearly empty. The goat's relentless nipping and occasional head-butting was paying off handsomely, and it seems Molly's protests were little more than the cost of having his way.
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Knowing absolutely nothing about goats, I darted from the house, fearing the worst. Had my precious little girl been bit, or kicked?
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I needn't have worried. The goat was in far greater danger than she was!
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As I stooped to comfort her, the goat must have thought better of his taste for Cheez-its. He quickly made tracks in the opposite direction.
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I swept Molly into my arms even as she began the rant - - about the missing Cheez-its ... the mean goat ... the torn bag ... the inability to save her snack ... Her list of goat-grievances went on and on.
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It was all I could do to keep from laughing. But I'd learned to be cautiously transparent with this child. Until the requisite venting was over, laughing would not do.
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Many years have passed since that day, yet the scene and the story remains vivid. It surfaces when I least expect it, coming into view as if a well-preserved Norman Rockwell portrait beneath which is the caption: Indomitable. She was, and she is.
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Today, as then, she is a continual source of joy and amazement.
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Just never, never mess with her Cheez-its!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Snippets - Tucker Home Team


Tucker Home Team
February 12, 2009

Now here's trouble: Greg, Gary, Gary & Terry!


The best of kitchen-eze ... Kim, Toni & Nancy



A munchin' bunch!








I've often thought how blessed are we to belong to such a lively, lovely Home Team. We gather every Thursday evening - some 26 of us - Herschbergers, Tuckers, Allens, Pierces, Hudecs, Urwillers, VanDykes, Clines, Milhouses, Corkrans, Hedstroms, Delongs, Flanagans.
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This year we're making our way through the One Year Bible together. It's at times somber, penetrating. At other times it's hysterical, humorous. And at still other times, it's rich, deep. And always great fun!.
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This group has seen joy & glory together, as well as grief, sickness, heartache, loss, and much difficulty. I'm proud to call this "home", and this amazing collection of people "friends"!
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And then there's those food feasts!
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not So Fast


I suppose since I've given space to Cupid, I might as well alot Darwin some room as well. Afterall, today's the day to celebrate his birth and the advent of evolutionary science (1). Science?
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It seems, even though our schools teach Evolution as science (as a foregone conclusion no less), only 26% of the population is buying it. The remainder belong in the not-so-fast! mix. Darwin himself was not so sure of his own position by the time he reached the end of his life. His theory had kinks. And it is that theory that has evolved into fact; and that supposed fact is what has evolved into the science our children are being taught.
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According to research studies, 64% of Americans believe that Creationism ought to be taught alongside Evolution in the classroom, but you can bet your bippie that won't happen! The answer lies, in part, in the possible theological implications of evolutionary thinking. For many, the Darwinian view of life - a panorama of brutal struggle and constant change - goes beyond contradicting the biblical creation story and conflicts with the Judeo-Christian concept of an active and loving God who cares for his creation.(2)
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... a new Gallup Poll shows that only 39% of Americans say they "believe in the theory of evolution," while a quarter say they do not believe in the theory, and another 36% don't have an opinion either way (3 & 4)

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I find it remarkable that nearly everyone was a Creationist until Darwin appeared on the scene 200 years ago. I don't mean to imply that nearly everyone was a Christian, but deists abounded. Since then, a large number - though certainly no majority - have tossed the Creationist view in favor of a theory that they've proclaimed to be scientific fact. They'll site this modern Scientist or that one, as though their "experts" have it all figured out ... sort of. Most will not abide the findings of the distinguished Scientists (5) that subscribe to Creationism - - among them Galileo, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton and so many others! (6)
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For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather
around them a great number of teachers to say
what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears
away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
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For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—
His eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what
has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God
nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile
and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for
images made to look like mortal man and
birds and animals and reptiles.

Romans 1:20-23
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One thing I'll say for Darwin ... he made it really easy for me to accept the Bible as the unadulterated word of God, and Creation the ONLY explanation that makes sense. Darwin may claim primates as ancestors, but I choose the altogether better DNA!
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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God
He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:1, 27
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Resources/Links

(1)
Darwin Day Celebrations
(2)
Pew Forum-Research Findings
(3)
Fox News: Only 4 in 10 Buy Darwinism
(4)
Gallup Poll - Findings
(5)
Creationist Scientists
(6)
Answers in Genesis

Love Is In The Air


Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce,
but still only light and flickering.
The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals,
deep-burning, unquenchable.
- Henry Ward Beecher



Regardless of origins, it is a wonderful thing to set aside at least one day a year to consider the loves of our lives. Hopefully we cherish them each and every day ... We are told:
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Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?
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The history of Valentine's Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
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So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
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One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
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Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
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According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today.
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Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
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While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial — which probably occurred around 270 A.D — others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival.
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In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.


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Resource: History.com

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The King of Mysteries

Years ago, with the reading of several books by author Ann Rule, I was bitten by the whodunnit? bug. Her stories are rich and full of details, snaking their way along historical themes and plot lines to reveal the roots of her mysteries; true stories, detective-like in nature. I'd long been a fan of mysteries anyway. I mean, who hasn't bit their nails while enthralled with an Agatha Christi or Nancy Drew novel?

My quotient for gripping detective tales has grown with the advent of CSI-like programming and all things forensic. It leads me to believe I may have an alter-ego ... as if seized by a need to duck into a phone booth and don my personal S Cape.

So I guess that explains to some extent why I'm an ardent student of Bible prophecy .... sort of. That ardency is not born of morbid ruminating about the end of the world (which is not destined for ending, by the way). Far from it!

Rather, it has been an incredible initiative that often leaves me humbled and speechless, expectant and wide-eyed! After all, of the approximately 2500 prophecies given in the scriptural texts, at least 2000 of them have already come to pass literally, and with complete accuracy. No reason to think those remaining need to be relegated to some what does it matter anyway?-heap. They matter.

When I read last week that Billy Graham's newest focus for 2009 is to prepare people for the return of Jesus I actually stared in disbelief. The headline is posted on his website, and it reads: This year, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will focus on the return of Jesus Christ -

That's quite a focus!

Many churches teach from an eschatology (isn't that a great word?) view periodically, so the reality of Jesus' return and all the events leading up to that incredible day come as no surprise to many. For others, it's a vague possibility. For yet others, it's a fable.

Anyone that's familiar with Billy Graham or his ministry partners would hardly label him or them as fanatics. He's not known for sensationalism, or for predatory practices. You won't find him huckstering miracles or preaching a fragmented gospel. His reputation is solid, and so are his ethics. If anything, he is discreet and subdued; conservative. So for the return of Jesus to be given such a prominent placement on the BGEA agenda, you know it is worthy of note.

Here is one mystery chocked full of wonder. The amazing fact that there is a generation that will witness the literal return of Jesus is hard to wrap one's mind around - - much more the implications of that day. I'm thinking Billy Graham has the right idea in his effort to help people prepare.
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For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14
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Mysterious? Absolutely!
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Mystery? No way!
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Resource: Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn website

Friday, February 6, 2009

Word Warrior

Since today is the birthday of now-deceased President Ronald Reagan, both radio and television have hosted a number of small remembrances. It is no surprise that his eloquence as a communicator heads the list; and who of us can forget his now famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin on June 12, 1987?

"Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev -- Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

I wonder how many remember that he also said this on that day ...

Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront.

Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower's one major flaw: treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere, that sphere that towers over all Berlin, the light makes the sign of the cross.


How proud I am that he, among so many of our bold, courageous and godly leaders, never cowered when it came to the power of the cross.

You can read the entire speech here:
Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stealth Mothering


Do you have a bunch one of those mothering memories that brings either a huge grin or a shade of red to your face?

Many moons ago, while raising a lively batch of teens, I was often overtaken with apoplexy by their cunning and determination. Oh ... they were great kids, and I doubt any mother loved theirs more. But they were kids; teenagers. And such creative ones at that!

I won't identify the culprit particular teen in this tale. Suffice it to say he was the youngest (the other "K" in the family) ... whose sense of humor is so kean that Bill Murray and Stephen Colbert have long feared for their jobs.

He was also given to sneaking out at night.

It was a phase, actually. More than once I did bed checks off-and-on throughout the night lest our sleep-walking (one attempt at an excuse) son go missing. Had Amber Alerts been available in those days, there would have been a permanent one posted at every intersection in our community!

Well, in the wee hours of one such bed-checking night I discovered his bedroom door locked. Quickly I shifted gears to become a James Bond-like sleuth. I attempted to pick & pry the lock, but to no avail.

I then thought briefly about utilizing a Karate-type kick to break through the door, but I figured the only breaking thing would be my leg. Instead, I began calling to him - - a whisper at first that reached a holler crescendo. No response.

Slowly it occurred to me that he must have sneaked out his window, much like he'd done as a youngster during his bat fishing expedition. Otherwise why would he lock the door and be so unresponsive? No doubt he thought this recently hatched mother would never connect the dots.

He didn't know how stealthy his mother had become.

Since I'm an avid fan of all things forensics, I quickly donned my private eye personna and devised a plan. I would simply access his room from the same window he'd exited. I could then wait patiently to wring his neck for his return.

Did I mention his room was on the second floor?

With nightgown gripped firmly in one hand, I exited the upper story by way of another upstairs room (this one on the opposite side of the house from his). Up and over the roof top I climbed, praying and hoping that no one would actually see me. When at last I reached his room, I could see that his window was open. My suspiscions had been dead on!

As I attempted to crawl through his window, I found myself wrestling with blinds and then impeded by a dresser placed in front of the window (no doubt his make-shift exiting ladder!). It was nothing short of a robust initiative to gain entry, one that left me more than a little disheveled.

Imagine MY surprise when I encountered a frightened, wide-eyed teen sitting bolt upright in bed with a look of disbelief on his face. Imagine HIS surprise as he gained enough of a voice to ask ... "Mom ... what are you doing?"

My reply? "Shhhh ... I'm going back to bed. Don't tell Dad", as if I had been the one to have sneaked out, then back in again.

Without skipping a beat I walked straight to the locked door, unlocked it, and then proceeded to return to my own bed - as if it was all in a normal night's routine.

It was the last time he ever sneaked out.

It was also the last time I ever sneaked in.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Commanding Still


Since these cannot be posted in most many public domains, I thought I'd welcome them to my little corner of cyberspace.

First, a bit about tens:

Ten is one of the perfect numbers, and signifies the perfection of Divine order, commencing, as it does, an altogether new series of numbers. The first decade is the representative of the whole numeral system, and originates the system of calculation called "decimals," because the whole system of numeration consists of so many tens, of which the first is a type of the whole.

Completeness of order, marking the entire round of anything, is, therefore, the ever-present signification of the number ten. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete. *

The best of tens ...

ONE: 'You shall have no other gods before Me.'

TWO: 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.'

THREE: 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.'

FOUR: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.'

FIVE: 'Honor your father and your mother.'

SIX: 'You shall not murder.'

SEVEN: 'You shall not commit adultery.'

EIGHT: 'You shall not steal.'

NINE: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'

TEN: 'You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'

That about covers it.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Visiting the Whinery

It begins days in advance.

Quietly, even imperceptibly at first, it mounts. You might never see or even know it's going on, but I cannot escape it.

It's an altogether familiar condition, and it arrives every year just ahead of my annual mammogram. I call it my silent whine. It sounds something like this:

... I can't believe it's THAT time again, already.
... I wish there were some way the prehistoric methods could be modernized.
... You'd think brilliant minds that send men to the moon could come up with something better.
... What does NOT wearing perfume have to do with an x-ray?
... Is there some reason the tech's hands have to be so cold?
... Why is medical care so darned expensive?

You get the picture. But this is not the only thing I've been known to whine about; just the first thought that comes to mind with the subject of complaint lodging. This week it's very close to my conscious thought because the Home Team (weekly Bible study) we belong to is again reading through the One Year Bible together. We have been waiting with sweaty palms as Moses confronts Pharaoh, and now we've just safely passed through to the other side the Red Sea, out of harm's way.

I never tire of the saga, and with each new reading I'm engaged, intrigued, conflicted and incredulous as though reading it for the first time. Even so, I find myself wagging my finger at those whiney Israelites. I linger long over the verses related to their grumbling. They just couldn't seem to get a grip on the good and, instead, preferred hauling around the half-empty glass. No high road travel for them. Only the low road would do!

Within days of marching out of Egypt we hear them:

"They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, 'Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us ... ?'" Exodus 14:10-11

So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What are we to drink?" Exodus 15:24

Six weeks out of Egypt, after witnessing more incredible, miraculous feats than any other generation in any other time in history, we hear them again ...

" ... on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron." Exodus 16:1-2

It isn't long and we are told that their grumbling, all of it, may have been directed at Moses, but it was intended for God. Their fear, their regrets, their thirst, their hunger, their doubt - lock, stock and barrel leveled at God.

" ... He has heard your grumbling against Him. You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD." Exodus 16:8

It boggles the mind to think of what they'd witnessed, only to sink swiftly into the quagmire of malcontentedness. Their final days in Egypt could hardly have been routine as God dealt in ever-increasing severity with their enemies. Those ten plagues could not have been ignored!

We learn of His tender concern for them, and how He went before them and came behind them simultaneously, providing a visual glimpse of His glory by way of both a cloud formation and a fire spire. Imagine crossing the vast Red Sea with walls of water standing alongside you; the sea bed completely dry beneath your feet. Ho hum? What were these dudes thinking!

We read on as the story further unfolds. The whining never abates, and for 40 years they go from one grumble to the next. The whiners-extraordinaire missed altogether the promise offered.

My lot in life, albeit one that has not entailed a flight from slavery or a 40 year wander in the desert (or has it?) pales in comparison. Even so, there's that mammogram ... There's also a plethora of other whine-worthy scenarios I could whine on and on about. I am them.

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, my complaints - like theirs - are against the Sovereign Who governs my life; ordains my steps. Bear in mind, acknowledging what is is not whining. After all, wayward teens, depleted finances, difficult bosses or spouses, and illness are just a few of the tough things we mortals face.

No, it's only when we ruminate through our list of complaints (i.e., self-pity, resentment, etc.) like rummaging through the city dump for previously tossed garbage that ruminating becomes grumbling. The former is an inclination towards fixing problems; the latter toward fixing blame. The former is a confession of fact; the latter a confession of one's lack of faith. I've been to the dump more than once.

Perhaps I ought to listen up. There is given a prescription for whine-itis.

"Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. ... The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:13-14


Monday, February 2, 2009

Hope That Endures

Beyond optimism ... and way beyond philosophy ... our hope endures!

I have heard this song repeatedly in recent days. And not once has it played that tears do not form in my eyes ... often unbidden ... though never unwelcome.

In my heart I recognize this hope. It endures.