Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Next? Postscript

Well, it seems the good pastor from San Diego has been standing on solid constitutional ground, and the illustrious officials of that great city have so noted.
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The only postscript I might add to this postscript is a question. The original story played out with prominence, but this follow up is literally relegated to the back pages, if at all.
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Why's that?
..
San Diego County Allows Bible Studies to Continue in Home
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The San Diego County has backed down from shutting down a home Bible study after receiving a flood of complaints from people concerned that the county is attempting to "muzzle religious expression."
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"No one respects the right to free religious expression more than I do, and no one would find the infringement of such rights more abhorrent," said county Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard said in a statement Friday.
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Ekard said dozens of e-mail and calls have come in to his office as media reports revealed that a county employee told a local couple they could not hold their weekly Bible study without a permit.

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The employee labeled their Bible study a "religious assembly."

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In a warning letter, Pastor David Jones and his wife, Mary, were ordered to "cease/stop religious assembly on parcel or obtain major use permit."

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The Joneses, along with dozens of others, argue that their right to hold Bible studies is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

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While many saw the county's attempt as an infringement upon their right to assemble peaceably and privately in their home, CAO Ekard stressed that the county "has never tried to stifle religious expression and never will."
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"This is a land issue," Ekard stated, and not an issue of religious expression.
"I deeply regret that a routine code enforcement issue has transformed into a debate over religious freedom in San Diego County," he said.
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The county had received complaints from a neighbor about traffic and parking issues resulting from the weekly Bible studies, Ekard noted.
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Pastor Jones believes the complaint was prompted when a Bible study member hit the car belonging to a neighbor's visitor. Jones paid for the car damage.

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Dean Broyles, president of the Western Center for Law and Policy, based in Escondido, Calif., which is representing the Joneses, believes the county's insistence that this is a parking issue is fabricated.

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"Broyles told the Union-Tribune that the officer had asked the couple such questions as "Do you sing?" and "Do you say 'praise the Lord?'"

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Ekard is reviewing the officer's actions and re-examining the policies and procedures the county uses "to deal with such complaints." If the officer is found to have acted inappropriately, Ekard said he will take action immediately.

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"Let me be clear: religious intolerance in any form is not, and never will be, allowed under any circumstance in San Diego County government," Ekard underscored.
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Until the county finds a solution to the matter, the Joneses will be allowed to continue their Bible studies.
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SOURCE:
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20090530/san-diego-county-allows-bible-studies-to-continue-in-home/index.html
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Bionic Living

Flanked by his older brother and sister, my youngest son was brought into the house wailing, and with great drama. Pouring from his chin was that red substance all mothers dread: blood. All three were crying.
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As I dragged out a moist, cold washcloth with which to clean up the sorry sight before me, I was given a rather convoluted rendition of what had happened. I didn't know until that moment that the English language could be spoken in such a staccato style, syllables intermingled with stutters & odd guttural noises.
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But suffice it to say I could barely make out an intelligible word so upset were all three - the two older as much as the younger (No doubt because they had something to do with the curious injury). To this day I couldn't tell you what really happened.
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It seems an ill-timed plummet caused the injury, when young son fell from his perch above for the ground below. He landed on his chin (ala, jelly-side down) - the same chin that now lay open before me with a deep, wide gash.
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In moments I decided he'd need stitches, and then the real wailing began. "No, no, no!" came his protests. Given the then-popularity of the Six Million Dollar Man T.V. series, I quickly responded with a bold, unbelievable (except to 4 year old) lie: He would not be getting just everyday, ordinary stitches. He'd be getting Bionic ones.
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From tearful terror to eager expectancy, the boy couldn't get to the car fast enough. He shot that telltale glance at his waving siblings as if to say: "Neener neener, I get Bionic stitches!" They were smart enough to wave in silence. These 6 & 8 year olds weren't so gullible as to believe the whole Bionic stitches tale, but they were smart enough to leave it be ... this time.
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So off we went.
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When we arrived at the hospital's emergency room, we were greeted by the usual contingent of diagnostic nursing staff. They weren't busy, so it would be no problem getting him right in. He would need stitches.
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At which point I said, quite authoritatively: Yes, and they'll need to be Bionic stitches.
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As if on cue, the nurse responded: Of course, I'll let the doctor know.
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From that point on we entered a world unfamiliar to either of us. The doctor that stitched him, as well as the attending nurses did their Bionic best to embellish the experience. Everything in the sterile surgical room became a Bionic this, or a Bionic that. Even the syringe that would deliver the numbing pinch had Bionic powers. The child was rapt with awe.
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When all was said and done, the stitched up boy beamed from ear-to-ear, good as new. Better than new! He could hardly wait to get home to show off his Six Million Dollar stitches! (Which probably cost me only slightly less.)
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I'm not sure why this story cropped up today other than it's one of those amazing life-lessons that has played out in other, different ways over the years, and often on the spiritual level. As an adult, I've even comforted myself with the getting of Bionic stitches, rather than those other ones - the painful, seemingly needless type ... the ones that hurt for no apparent good reason. What's more:
  • The line between fearful & fortified is often blurred. Vision & perspective makes such a difference.
  • Humor seasons everything with color and courage.
  • God often reminds me that those things in life that would daunt me are little more than opportunities for Him to apply Bionics to my life.
  • Every experience has the potential for a great story, and an even greater testimony.

The 4 year old is now 36, and those Bionic stitches are still serving him well.
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Oh ... that all our experiences would be Bionic!
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

What Next?

Now for more serious news. Hang on folks, if this doesn't give you the screamin' meanies, nothing will ... .
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Couple Ordered to Stop Holding
Bible Study at Home
Without Permit
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Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary have been told that they cannot invite friends to their San Diego, Calif. home for a bible study — unless they are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to San Diego County.
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"On Good Friday we had an employee from San Diego County come to our house, and inform us that the bible study that we were having was a religious assembly, and in violation of the code in the county." David Jones told FOX News.
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"We told them this is not really a religious assembly — this is just a bible study with friends. We have a meal, we pray, that was all," Jones said.
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A few days later, the couple received a written warning that cited "unlawful use of land," ordering them to either "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit," the couple's attorney Dean Broyles told San Diego news station 10News.
But the major use permit could cost the Jones' thousands of dollars just to have a few friends over.

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For David and Mary Jones, it's about more than a question of money.

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"The government may not prohibit the free exercise of religion," Broyles told FOX News. "I believe that our Founding Fathers would roll over in their grave if they saw that here in the year 2009, a pastor and his wife are being told that they cannot hold a simple bible study in their own home."

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"The implications are great because it’s not only us that’s involved," Mary Jones said. "There are thousands and thousands of bible studies that are held all across the country. What we’re interested in is setting a precedent here — before it goes any further — and that we have it settled for the future."

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The couple is planning to dispute the county's order this week.

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If San Diego County refuses to allow the pastor and his wife to continue gathering without acquiring a permit, they will consider a lawsuit in federal court.

...
I'm thinking: where's that UFO when you need one? There's a few judges they need to beam up!
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Source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,522637,00.html?test=latestnews
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Disciplined Continuum

Strange term, isn't it? Disciplined Continuum.
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I was writing* in my journal earlier this week and it just leaked from the tip of my pen. There, in the black etches left on the notebook's paper sat those words and - with them - curiosity. I hadn't just written one word, but two: disciplined continuum.
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Now where do you suppose I got those words; that concept?
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Unsure myself, I paid Merriam a visit, and here's what I learned about continuum. It's a noun, meaning it's the subject of all action or descriptors (aka verbs and adjectives). Furthermore, it's:
. .
a coherent whole characterized as a collection,
sequence, or progression of values or
elements varying by minute degrees
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That sounds pretty intentional to me, pretty nounish (new word); as if progressing along any continuum will take you somewhere - a destination - associated with one's values. It's a trajectory, and it advances little-by-little by way of a steady, albeit sometimes imperceptible, gait.
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Mmmm, it puts the subject of destination into a whole new light, as if I've now been put on notice: where I end up is due largely to the disciplined continuums in my life.
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I can't help but think of the adage: begin with the end in mind. Ah, such wisdom!
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What is it about discipline that I so resist? It's not always rebellion that inspires the resistance, either. Sometimes it's confusion; a lack of clarity. At other times it's old fashioned ignorance. But mostly it's stubborn selfishness. Mine.
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Intentional & sustained, the continuum of discipline is what puts muscle on my otherwise flabby soul. .
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No discipline seems pleasant at the time,
but painful. Later on, however, it produces
a harvest of righteousness and peace for
those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11
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Perhaps the most compelling discipline that entails a continuum on my part is this:

His divine power has given us everything
we need for life and godliness through
our knowledge of Him who called us ...
For this very reason, make every effort to
add to your faith goodness;
and to goodness, knowledge;
and to knowledge, self-control;
and to self-control, perseverance;
and to perseverance, godliness;
and to godliness, brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness, love.
For if you possess these qualities
in increasing measure,
they will keep you from
being ineffective and unproductive
in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:3, 5-8
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If I proceed along today's continuum (thinking, behaving/acting), where will I end up? Will I be effective and productive, or will I simply amass some stubble that'll not sustain eternity's glance?
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May it be the former - a disciplined continuum that results in knowledge of Him.
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Time to break out the map & compass. Continuums work best with directions.
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..
* Writing. Words. Talking. Communicating. It's what I do. Come to think of it, it's who I am. For whatever reason, the good Lord built into my equation a love for the give-and-take, for the exchange of ideas. I'd like to think that in my quest for words and reason early on, His Word became paramount. Besides, what better Word is there?
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorials for Memorial Day

Post-tramatic Stress Syndrome hadn't yet been coined as a term. Following World War II, anyone suffering with the aftermath of the war's horrors was simply consigned to suffer silently, and often alone. That consignment frequently meant institutionalization.
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And so it was with my father's brother, Elmer.
Pictured: Brothers Jim (my dad), Elmer & Martin
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Uncle Elmer was a regular fixture at our family home. I don't recall a holiday or family gathering that didn't include him. I loved him enormously, especially his gentle and quirky ways. He entertained me by the hour with demonstrations of false teeth versatility.

The smell of cigarettes even today bring Elmer near. While no one else in the family smoked, he and his Chesterfield cigarettes were synonymous. The smell of smoke clung to his clothing, and his hands had long ago become permanently stained yellow. It may have been offensive to some, but to me it was quintessential Elmer ... a condition that merely accompanied his thin frame and wrinkled brow.
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And then there was his affable nature. The littlest things tickled him, and he'd scrunch up his shoulders as he breathed out an audible laugh. It could last for several seconds, and in the process made everyone else laugh too. Often I'd sit there on his lap, just staring into his eyes and face while his laughter captivated me.
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I don't have the whole of Elmer's story, nor would I attempt to do it justice here. But suffice it to say that he served our country well during the war, returning with a malady they simply called Shell Shock. It meant that he spent the latter part of his life esconced in the Soldier's Home in Orting Washington - roughly 20 miles from my family. He died there, and I shall never forget the rousing significance of the 21 gun salute at his funeral. I hear it still today. He is buried there, on solder soil.
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Thank you, Uncle Elmer, for your faithful service to this country, and for your even greater devotion to my family. You will forever have a honored place in my heart as my favorite uncle, and my dearest war hero.
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I have another hero I'd like to honor today: my 40 year-old son, Brad. He is alive and well; too alive to be memorialized just yet. But until this year when he retired from the military, he served our country for 20 years as Gunnery Sargent in the U.S. Marines. His most recent and final command was as a Marine Recruiter in charge of recruiting offices in Olympia Washington. He loved the Marines. Still does ...
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Thank you, son, for your loyal and totally devoted service to this country. You will forever be my precious child - my first; you will forever represent all that is good about the country I call home. Semper Fi!
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To all the unsung heroes - yesterday, today and tomorrow - Thank you.
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Incommunicado (Updated)

Before digesting what is to come, by all means do so with Ecclesiastes 10:2 in mind: The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. Thank you, Christy Rose!
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I've seen this coming for several weeks now. But it was just yesterday that my left hand decided it wouldn't be speaking to my right hand (or was it my right hand that wasn't going to speak to the left hand?) about it ... at least not for awhile.
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So here I sit in quizzicalment (new word), wondering what in the world they're up to. Therefore I can't actually tell you what new mission is afoot, or what adventure may be in store. Come to think of it, it could be neither. It could be something tough.
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I hate it when they do that!
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But, if it is something tough (my knees now quaking), then certainly I hope my right hand is taking on the undertaking. My left hand's a weak, sorry sort. It looks better than my right hand, probably because it hasn't had so much use and abuse, and my arthritis hasn't seemed to affect it as much. But it's easily fatigued, and it wobbles.
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When at last they're talking (if ever they resume) again, I will share what they've been up to. Right now, I'm just hoping and praying they're successful.
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I think.
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I've never been kean on secrets unless they don't involve me, or my hands!
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So, if you should think of me over the next three weeks, I would sure covet your prayers. A bushel of resolve, a snippet of faith, and a dose of humility would be of great help.
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P.S. Rest assured, Pat ... I don't plan on going anywhere, as I'll be needed right here to watch these two do what they do ... or don't do. Well, not exactly. I'll be here (in cyberspace), but I also plan to fly north to spend a bit of time with my family this week. My trusty laptop will be joining me so we can both keep our eyes on the right & left!
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Another Rant

Every now-and-then I tell myself I'll never read or watch the news again. I'm appalled at the number of child abductions and/or brutal murders. This week there have been far too many of them, with a child's own parents often featuring prominantly in the violence perpetrated against them. And it's no longer just men. Women, too, are abusing and raping and murdering. It seems this particular evil is no respecter of persons.
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Why?
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Whether it's played out in the child-sex trade here and elsewhere, or born of some contrived inconvenience associated with caring for a child, or even the outfall of a fit of rage ... it's heinous and so very hard to understand.
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Has the world really sunk so low that the most vulnerable among us are fair game? Will it continue, and possibly grow worse? How is it stopped? How is it prevented?
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I have my opinions ... and strong ones. And today I wish I were a prosecuting attorney.
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End of rant.
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But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God ... Have nothing to do with them. ... these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds
2 Timothy 3:1-5, 8
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"No!" Lessons

It's taken me a lifetime to come to the conclusion that saying "No" is not rude, selfish, impolite or wrong.
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So today I'm taking a mental refresher course. It's something I do periodically to remind myself that saying "yes" even to good things can prevent me from saying "yes" to even greater things. Fact is, I've come to see "No" as one of the most positive, empowering words (and maneuvers) that exists.
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Why not join me? Here's How:
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Just say, “I’m sorry. I can't do this right now.” Use a sympathetic, but firm tone. If pressured as to why, reply that it doesn’t fit with your schedule, and change the subject. Most reasonable people will accept this as an answer, so if someone keeps pressuring you, they’re being rude, and it’s OK to just repeat, “I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t fit with my schedule," and change the subject, or even walk away if you have to.
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If you’re uncomfortable being so firm, or are dealing with pushy people, it’s OK to say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” This gives you a chance to review your schedule, as well as your feelings about saying "yes" to another commitment, do a cost-benefit analysis, and then get back to them with a yes or no. Most importantly, this tactic helps you avoid letting yourself be pressured into overscheduling your life and taking on too much stress.
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If you would really like to do what they’re requesting, but don’t have the time (or are having trouble accepting that you don’t), it’s fine to say, “I can’t do this, but I can…” and mention a lesser commitment that you can make. This way you’ll still be partially involved, but it will be on your own terms.
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Tips:
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Be firm -- not defensive or overly apologetic -- and polite. This gives the signal that you are sympathetic, but will not easily change your mind if pressured.
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If you decide to tell the person you’ll get back to them, be matter-of-fact and not too promising.
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If you lead people to believe you’ll likely say "yes" later, they’ll be more disappointed with a later "no."
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If asked for an explanation, remember that you really don’t owe anyone one. “It doesn’t fit with my schedule,” is perfectly acceptable.
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Remember that there are only so many hours in the day. This means that whatever you choose to take on limits your ability to do other things. So even if you somehow can fit a new commitment into your schedule, if it’s not more important than what you would have to give up to do it (including time for relaxation), you really don’t have the time in your schedule.
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Therefore, I urge you, brothers,
in view of God's mercy,
to offer your bodies
as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God—
this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer
to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by
the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test
and approve what God's will is—
His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Switching Lanes

Out of my rear-view mirror I saw her coming. It wasn't bad enough that she navigated in a blaze of red SUV fury, but that she did so while weaving in-and-out of traffic. Heavy traffic!
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It happened as I was making my way to work. I was traveling along a particularly busy, three lane arterial along with a sizable number of other
commuters. This was my usual route, and the red blur coming from behind me was no stranger. We all know this driver.
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In fact, some of us might BE this driver.
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At first she was in the far lane. But as soon as she could, she darted across two lanes of traffic to gain greater advantage ... just in front of me. I was glad to let her in. Now I felt like I had some control, even as I breathed a sigh of relief that this vehicular dervish wouldn't, most likely, rear-end me.
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So I watched in utter amazement as she made her way. She traveled well beyond the speed limit when she could ... as if en route to a fire, or to deliver a baby. Surely it had to be some such noble mission considering how many of us were imperiled by her driving. Surely?
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Eventually my traveling companion was long gone; too many car-lengths ahead to even see her. While out of sight, she hadn't quite made it out of mind. Already some thoughts were forming.
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Some miles later, along this same stretch of busy road, I pulled up to a stop light. I had all but forgotten Miss Mornin' Stormin', but as I looked to my left, there she was, stopped at the same light. How could that be? Surely she'd be five-to-ten miles gone by now. Surely?
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My thoughts quickly congealed as I quietly considered my own question. It occurred to me that she (like so many of us) had been in such a dither to get somewhere that her striving & scurrying actually did little more than endanger both her and her co-travelers. For all her hurry, she made no progress what-so-ever!
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So now I'm wondering how much darting to-and-fro I do. I may not be striving to get ahead, or even in front of other cars, but what about people? What, exactly are my strivings? Am I so important that I need to go faster or farther than others? Do I scare or imperil them? Would they feel safe and at peace traveling beside me, or with me? Am I inferring by my behavior that the rules don't apply to me? Am I inferring by my behavior recklessness is OK?
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Do I navigate in a big red SUV (or any other big red thing ... position in life, or title, or works for the Lord, or ....) as if that means I'm invincible?
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I probably need to sit awhile at the stop light and answer some of my own questions.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rain Dancing Lessons

This came by way of my sister Barbara. It needs no introduction or embellishments. I only wish I'd written it.
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How to Dance in the Rain
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It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman
in his 80's arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.
.
He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.
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I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour
before someone would to able to see him.
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I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy
with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.
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On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors,
got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
.
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another
doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.
.
The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home
to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health.
.
He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease.
.
As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.
He replied that she no longer knew who he was,
that she had not recognized him in five years now.
.
I was surprised, and asked him, 'And you still go every morning,
even though she doesn't know who you are?'
He smiled as he patted my hand and said,
.
'She doesn't know me,
but I still know who she is.'
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I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm,
and thought, 'That is the kind of love I want in my life.'
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True love is neither physical, nor romantic.

True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.
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The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything;
they just make the best of everything they have.
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.'Life isn't about how to survive the storm,
but how to dance in the rain.'
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Audrey Rose Update

Yesterday the parents of little baby Audrey Rose brought her home - weeks ahead of when they'd anticipated, and 5 (that's f-i-v-e) days following her brain surgery!
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She is nothing short of a miracle, her surgery as well. The outcome, thus far, is well beyond the best case scenario anyone had hoped for, and light year's beyond the worst case.
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While no one is quite certain how much recovery will be Audrey's to claim, the days and months to come will reveal the extent of the surgery's success. Will the brain reclaim some ground? Will she have full use of her left arm & speech? Will her brain function as any 2 year or 10 year old?
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And so we continue to pray she is not only freed from the ongoing threat of future strokes, but made completely whole ... a child as normal as any. And so we pray in much thanksgiving for the goodness & mercy of God.
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For now, the fact that she's home is such a precious gift.
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Just as her parents.
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Just ask God.
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blessings

Don't you just love the family of God? This cyber-connection stuff is amazing. Thanks to my special friend at My Hands, His Glory, I'm proudly wearing my blessing badge! Thank you, thank you!
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Fireproofing


Last evening, my Home Team struck again - - this time to provide a community outreach that turned out to be nothing short of a blast, if not an inspiration!
.
I managed to snap a few pictures as we got started, and before the sun set.
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Featuring the movie Fireproof, we invited some 50 families to join us for a Hot Dog Mixer and date night. Before the night was over, the grassy knolls would be filled with blankets and stadium chairs, a crowd of all ages having showed up to share the evening.
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Many from our 60's-something group gathered early to set up a large screen & speakers we borrowed from church. We also provided the food and munchies ... an old-fashioned outdoor picnic!
.
Some of our number could not join us for one reason or another (we pray for our dear Chris who underwent bypass surgery yesterday morning). When in full force, we are a contingent of 14 couples. It is a group often noted for their rock solid faith, senses of humor, imagination, and love. Oh yeah, a little sass too!
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One by one neighbors showed up and the business of doing life together began in earnest.
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Beneath starlit skies, the temp near 85 (perfect!), the movie rolled. You could hear little more than the night breeze as the crowd considered Fireproof's considerably stirring themes. It had been our hope, our prayer, when we selected the movie that it would be one that would mend the tattered threads of marriages and community. Time will tell.
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But word's out ... if you want good food and fun, the Tucker Home Team has the market. It's also now known, this is a force that loves the Lord and neighbors alike!
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By flashlight the teardown effort began late, 10:00 PM. Throughout the neighborhood voices and muffled laughter could be heard as this family and that made their way home.
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As for me, I (hubby's out of town on business) walked the few paces home alone in silence ... As fun as the evening was, nothing struck me quite so powerfully as the goodness of God.
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I pray it was everyone's take-away.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Really?


My ancestral roots sink deep in European soil, but most definitely they don't swirl in the soup described below!
.
What is served up by science is all-too-often but another theory - one that equally often ends up in textbooks as FACT.

I have great respect for bona fide science and intelligent discourse, but I take great exception to the oft obvious & concerted effort to entirely discredit our Creator. I'll take His intelligence over their nonsense pish/posh (thanks to Skoot's Mom) theories any day!
.
Snarl !!!
....
EXCERPT: Chemists see first building blocks to life on Earth (emphasis, italics and sass are mine)
.
PARIS (AFP) – British scientists said on Wednesday that they had figured out key steps in the process by which life on Earth may have emerged from a seething soup of simple chemicals. (That's as ambiguous a bunch of mumbo jumbo as ever I've heard, akin to: they certainly have probably, maybe discovered something ...)

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Genetic information in living organisms today is held in DNA, the famous "double helix" molecule of sugar, phosphate and a base. But DNA is too sophisticated to have popped up in an instant, and one avenue of thought says its single-stranded cousin, ribonucleic acid, or RNA, came first. (Now that must be a "fact", wouldn't you agree? If one thing won't work, then we'll just have something else work instead).
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It (RNA) is chemically similar to DNA but is simpler and tougher in structure, and thus looks like a good candidate for Earth's first information-coding nucleic acid. (Yep ... there it is: the look-alike must be the answer!)
.

But for all its allure, the "RNA first" theory has run into practical problems. (Shucks, and here they had us convinced that a fact had already been born. Those darn "but"s again ...)
.
Critics say that RNA could not have been assembled spontaneously. (I don't need to read much further to know there's going to be a counter-"but" ... we've simply got to find a way to silence those critics!)
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But (I'm clairvoyant!!) a paper published in the British journal Nature by University of Manchester chemists puts forward a different explanation.
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The team, led by Professor John Sutherland, venture that an RNA-like synthesis took place through a series of chemical reactions and an important intermediate substance. (I'll just bet you didn't know that a "venture" is the same as "fact" now did you?)
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Their theory (they're going to have to get rid of that "theory" talk if they ever hope to cement their "facts") starts with ...
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In a commentary US molecular biologist Jack Szostak hailed (I'm wondering what's the "hail"?) the research as an elegant (give me a break!!) explanation ...
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Opinions vary (really?) as to when the first organisms appeared on Earth. (and here we have the stuff of theory, and the stuff of unintelligent design.)

The entire article can be viewed here: Yahoo News



Another Day of Grace

Last evening my daugther-in-law wrote about the song posted yesterday, and more:
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That was beautiful, thank you very much. My Grandma was baptized 2 months ago, and I know she knew where she was going. I just only found out she did that the day before she passed away. I love you and thank you for your prayers. Katrina
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Grandma Grace came to faith late in her life, and as you can see from the comment above, demonstrated that faith with an act of obedience.
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I knew her well, and often admired her savvy business acumen. She was a vital thinker right up until her death, leaving a rich legacy of smarts & soul. Anyone that knew Grace, knew she was family-fierce. No person dead or alive loved theirs more! No mother or grandmother was ever more loved!
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Mostly I love her granddaughter Katrina and her great-grandchildren - the three we shared - my own grandchildren Katie, Young Kelly and Kaden.
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It is they and the entire Miller clan that have my thoughts and prayers today.
.
Grace Valene Miller
February 13, 1927 - May 12, 2009
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They say that life's moments aren't measured by the breaths that we take but by the moments that take our breath. Grace lived for those moments. ..
Grace was born in Sumner, Oregon. She was the eldest of two daughters born to Grace and Myron Varney. Grace and her sister Barbara were inseparable up until the day she passed.
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Her early years were spent in Coos Bay, Oregon. Later she moved with her father, mother, and little sister to Loveland, Washington, where her father found work in the logging camps. It was here that the teenage Cody Miller at Kapowsin High School crossed paths with the woman he would come to call Gracie. They were married in 1943 and had four beautiful children. They shared many moments and adventures together as a family, and countless games of pinochle, pitch, and cribbage around the table - with many of the grandkids still owing money.
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Her beauty and "Grace" were never compromised and she will be forever missed.
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Grace lived her life to the fullest, but her greatest moments were spent with her friends and family. Whether on Christmas Day, Easter Morning, or Pork Chop Sunday, Grace enjoyed being surrounded by loved ones. She is preceded in death by her parents and husband, and survived by her sister and best friend Barbara, and children Corrie, Cody, Jody, and Rory. Her family stood bed-side and is made up of 13 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
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Grace always said that she was rich in family.

Now that's a legacy!

We'll see you on the other side, Grace.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

True Promises


I share this beautiful song in honor of my dear daugther-in-law, Katrina. Her beloved paternal grandmother Grace left us yesterday, having traded this life for that which was promised her in Jesus.

I love you Katrina, and I mourn your loss.

Mom

Headlines

There are days, and many of them, that I am so grateful for the community (Verrado) and the church (Palm Valley Church) that make up a huge part of my Arizona existence. Never more than this week.
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What's happened here will not be heard on the local, much less national news. It's the stuff we call living, and apparently it isn't deserving of notice or air time.
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So I'm going to give it notice, Front Page placement if you will!
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On a small but notable scale, there are three schools here in Verrado. Each has been hit hard with budget cuts like a good many of our institutions across the nation; cuts that represent the death knell to jobs for many teachers. It also means a sizable number of children from our church who attend schools here will be losing some of their favorites ... some of their beloved role models.
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Worry and tears have hit schools and homes alike with force. My pastor's is one such home, and immediately it set the gears in motion.
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This week and next my church is hosting Teacher Appreciation luncheons for the staff at Verrado schools, as well as several others outside this community. It's one small gesture designed to thank those that serve our families. We are doing it anonymously lest anyone think it's a member-grab, or some opportunistic measure to gain notoriety. If people ask, we've told them who we are. But the emphasis has been on them, and how grateful we are for their dedication.
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On a larger and grander scale, there is a wee one - 13 months old - by the name of Audrey Rose who has profited from the same community, the same church. Prior to her birth, Audrey suffered a stroke. It went undetected until, in recent months, the typical growth of an infant was marred by deeply concerning symptoms. Worried parents sought medical counsel. It was not what they wanted to hear.
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There was a spider-web-like brain mass that kept little Audrey Rose from using her left side fully, and affected her speech. She would not develop as other children.
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Fast forward ... through a providential twist of circumstances, Audrey came under the care of an expert brain surgeon. She underwent a two-phase surgery on Monday & Tuesday of this week. In phase one, the surgery entailed a microscopic journey into her brain to first cauterize the errant blood vessels that were feeding the tangled mass there. In phase two, the mass itself was removed.
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For the past 48 hours, and for the 48 to come, the people from my church (including people that don't even know Audrey Rose) have signed up and then kept a prayer vigil, hour-by-hour, 24/7. Mind you, Audrey Rose and her family don't attend our church. They are not even believers.
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The surgery part of Audrey Rose's ordeal is over, with doctors joyously reporting a "best possible outcome". That joyous report has rooted deeply in the hearts of her parents and we watchers alike.
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Now the wait. In the days and months to come, doctors will know better whether Audrey Rose will live a normal life (whatever that is), or be impaired due to her brain's condition. And every step of the way there will be this this silent force praying quietly and humbly just out of sight, just out of hearing.

Except, that is, for God's seeing and hearing. He is good, all the time!
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Now that's a headline!
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Wayfaring

From my earliest recollections I have loved travel. Everything about a journey intrigues me; from the planning stages to the departure itself, from the packing process to the trekking upon foreign soil ... and everything before, after and in-between.
..
It would appear I was born a pilgrim, and a pilgrim I remain.
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I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up
where I intended to be.
Douglas Adams
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In many ways that could explain why I'm intrigued - - even gripped - - by the scriptural texts associated with pilgrims and pilgrimages. I realize the latter is often taken hostage and made into a religious observance. In truth it's not.
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It is so much more; much, much more!
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In the latter (religious) context it's all about the noun. In the biblical sense it's all about the verb.
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Merriam tells us that a verb is a word that characteristically is the grammatical center of a predicate and expresses an act, occurrence, or mode of being. Verbs give life and action to a sentence.
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Both pilgrims and pilgrimages connote a type of movement ... they express an act, if not an action. It's nicely packaged in an ever-advancing journey towards something and/or someone that is not
here, and certainly not now.
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The pilgrim advances anyway.

....
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
Psalm 84:5
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Your statutes have been my songs
in the house of my pilgrimage.
Psalm 119:54
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Following the light of the sun,
we left the Old World.
Christopher Columbus
..

Following the light of the Son,
we left the old world.
Kathleen
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

She is Blessed

I miss you, Mom.
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Though you've been gone 33 years, hardly a week passes that I don't consider you. And I am grateful.
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So much of what gives my life depth came from your having poured into it while I was yet small.
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Thank you for loving us with your whole life. Nothing on earth mattered more than your family, and we are today the better for it.
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"Helen" to friends, family and co-workers, you were respected by them all.
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To me ... you were, and are just Mommy.
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So, as mothers are honored today, I will not give, or bend to, applause without thanking God for you.
..
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD
is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:27-30
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Motherisms

I dare say, there are a good many situations or phrases that bring our mothers to mind, front-and-center.
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My own mother had a menagerie of pet phrases. Ever the Tutor, she had a way with her admonitions. She said lots of loving - - warm fuzzy - - stuff. But it's her eagle eye and edgy tongue that makes me laugh today (and she'd be telling me to get rid of the smirk!).
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A few ...
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... If you think _____ (fill in the blank), you've got another think coming, missy!
... If you're really hungry, a piece of bread would do just fine.
... What would the neighbors think?
... If someone jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?
... You don't need to stand in front of that mirror so long!
... Do you think I was born yesterday?
... Wipe that look off your face!
... Don't ever forget you're a Wells girl.
... If you'd done it right to begin with, you wouldn't be doing it over now.
... Hold your horses, young lady!
... Don't use that tone of voice with me, missy!
... There is no good reason for you to miss school.

... Because I said so, that's why.
... Mind your manners!
... Well, when I was your age ______ (fill in blank).
... You won't be going anywhere until first you ______ (fill in blank).
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and my very favorite ...
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... Don't you get SASSY with me, young lady!
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I'm thinking my children have a list of their own. I wonder if any of my mother's sayings are included there?
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Circadians in Defiance

Just beyond my reach, sleep mocked me.
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My mind, and to some extent my body, argued with it briefly.
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Eventually I decided to cloak myself in contentment if sleep would not obey me. It was actually a conscious decision: I will enjoy the wakefulness!
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No sense battling an agent as defiant as circadians in rebellion. Some foes are best whipped with a swift surrender.
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It happened a few weeks ago, but it certainly wasn't my first experience with it. I could not sleep. No way. No how. Instead I listened to my own shallow breathing, and to the random banter that played in my thoughts as if they were stuck on some cosmic perpetual "play" device. It wasn't worry or fretfulness, just a circadian snafu that worked against the slumbering process.
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Fighting it only makes it worse. Fighting it just adds an element of aggravation to the wakefulness. (Why is it the clock has so much power and emphasis when it's being watched, second-by-second?). In fact, fighting it often seems to give it power; a renewed vigor with which to deter the sandman.
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Sleep is defined as the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored; a state of torpid/dormant inactivity.
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Let's just say torpid and me don't always agree. I'm not an insomniac, nor am I inclined to worry. But torpid-resistant? Seems so!
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I have to laugh. There's no sense counting sheep, either. There aren't enough of them anyway.
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Odd thing is: once I surrender, sleep often overcomes me. Go figure ... One minute I'm mystified by the number of thoughts & words that can actually play simultaneously in one's mind, the next they're gone entirely. And so am I.
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And another odd thing: once I surrender, once I decide to enjoy be thankful for sleeplessness, I am inclined to want to be awake, to consider further how much I have to be thankful for. It's not actually a conscious counting of blessings, one-by-one (as they say), but that's exactly what it turns out to be.
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Torpid comes calling. .
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The fear of the LORD leads to life:
Then one rests content,
untouched by trouble.
Proverbs 19:23
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Til All Success be Nobleness

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain;
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
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America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.
,
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
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America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.
.
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
.
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.
.
" ... the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands."
Isaiah 32:8
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This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows Me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,"
declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 9:23-24
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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Then There Were Five

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It's your special day, Kelly. .
.

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Long before your debut on May 6, 1973 you were synonymous with surprises and joy and sleepless nights.
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It actually began some six months prior to that. Having had surgery, and having been completely unaware of your growing form within me, it was fatigue and a slow recovery that sent me to the doctor that day. His questions were myriad as, one-by-one he ticked through the reasons I was having such trouble regaining my land legs. He ordered up a battery of tests and in short order came back with his diagnosis: I was nearly three months pregnant.
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In stunned disbelief I drove home to share the news with your Dad. There were no cell phones in those days, so you and I made that trip home together - the first of many miles you and I would trek in life. I don't recall now if I spoke to you or if I sang, or if I simply drove in solitude and incredulity. But love was brewing - and anticipation - of that I am certain.
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By the time I arrived home I had already begun thinking in terms of growing bellies and tiny toes. On the other hand, Dad nearly fainted before we both began laughing so hard I thought one of us would pass out! Here we thought we were done with newborns, going so far as to give away infant clothing and bedding, the bassinet, walker & toddler seat, the bottles. Apparently we weren't as done as we thought we were.
.
You made a grand entry, albeit too early. At four in the morning, and weighing in at 4 pounds, 10 ounces you were one minuscule bundle! But oh, what a beautiful bundle!
.
From your cupid-like face to your porcelain skin,
everything about you was quintessential perfection. We knew then that you'd one day become the most handsome of men. And so you have.
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The two little ones that waited eagerly for their baby to come home couldn't get enough of you. Brad and Molly moved over readily to make room for you.

I could write on (and long) of your years in our home, and beneath my gaze ... of your clever & curious ways; your penchant for disappearing
or enchanting; your social nature & infectious laugh. Of sitting atop old blue to cuddle a bunny or to saw wood (if not your leg). Of your tender heart & risk-taking. Perhaps another day.
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Just know that today I am so proud of you ... of the son, man, husband, father, & businessman you've become. I'm so grateful
that a post-surgical challenge turned out to be a blessing - - a 4 pound 10 ounce powerhouse.
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HAPPY #36 BIRTHDAY!
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I love you, Mom
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