Friday, October 29, 2010

Marquee Madness

WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND:

...that if you're going to get sick, do it NOW.  Otherwise, you don't get no blessin.

...that all you healthy people skip mass this weekend. 


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making a Difference

After I read The Hole in our Gospel a few months ago, I walked away feeling helpless...unable to make an impact on the HUGE problem of hunger, poverty and the hopelessness of those living without the Gospel.  I wondered how one person can make a difference that counts when the problems are so enormous. 

Since reading the book, I have paid more attention to the work being done by World Vision (whose president wrote it), and I follow them on FB so that I can't forget about the whole thing as easily as I otherwise might. 

I was moved by this brief story which World Vision linked to recently, because it demonstrates that a single person CAN have a profound impact...even if only on ONE family.  This is a beautiful manifestation of God's love flowing from one family to another and transforming their world.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

Root:

rogare (v) Latin - to ask or question

Derivatives:

interrogate - to question thoroughly (interrogated, interrogator, interrogation, interrogative, interrogatory)

rogation - a solemn cermonial petition, especially in regard to a law

abrogate - to repeal or annul...as in after a rogation (abrogated, abrogator, abrogative, abrogable)

derogatory - tending to lessen in value or detract from

arrogant - above questioning due to unwarranted pride (arrogance, arrogantly, arrogate, arrogation)

prerogative - a request beforehand which bestows a superior advantage

surrogate - one who is asked to act in place of another

FYI:  I am aware that there are words which do NOT come from Latin...but they are few and far between...so I will dominantly feature Latin derivatives.  I promise to incorporate some Greek origins too. 

Soul Hunger 3

This road of life we travel will eventually lead us through a place of tragedy, darkness or despair.  That journey should lead us to discover what it is that we really desire in our inmost being: to know and be known by God.  But sometimes that road is long and hard and extremely painful.  We may see no end in sight and find ourselves wondering how we can possibly endure.  

I know God is faithful.  But is His faithfulness strong enough to see me through to the end of THIS?  I believe that He can carry me through anything, yet it seems that not only am I not being carried, I have been abandoned.  He has turned His back on me and has left me to struggle through this on my own.

Does that sound like a blasphemous accusation?  Of course we must tread that ground carefully, but the faithful, exemplary and inspired prayers of the Psalmists teach us that the Christian experience is not always one of the "victorious Christian life," and we often find ourselves on our knees pleading for God to show His face!  "How long, O Lord, will you hide your face from me?  Turn again and show favor lest I be like those who go down to the pit!"   When you find yourself on this road, you are in good company.  Don't lose heart, but engage in actively reminding yourself over and over and over again of the TRUTH.  Here are a couple of foundational truths, among many, that we do well to remember.

1 - The deepest darkness is always followed by the dawn.  Every single day, God graces us with a visible reminder of this truth...His PROMISE...that He will send the light and bring us into the warmth and joy of the day!   The sun does not rise and set by some scientific force that has been set in motion, but by the deliberate and faithful act of God!  And it MEANS something!  It means that our sure and certain hope, which we must believe BY FAITH (when all evidence is to the contrary), is that He is there and He is working and He will bring us out of darkness into the light.  We have no promise about how short or long the night will be, but we do have the promise that the light will come.  We must wait expectantly for the advent of the dawn.

2 - Deliverance from despair always comes through a person or other people.  Yes.  Ultimately and fully it comes through the person of Christ, but in smaller ways it comes through people in our lives here and now.  At first glance, this may be a hard reality to accept because, as Crabb points out in Shattered Dreams, the Christian community is often a dangerous place to be when your dreams shatter.  We may find some initial support, but we all know that "good" Christians are victorious and not only should our grief be short-lived, but also our battles must be fought privately.  Church is too often a place of pretense and therefore a place without hope.  When brokenness is disdained, where the real story is never told, the power of God is not felt.  Where brokenness is invited and received with grace, the gospel comes alive with hope.

Don't misunderstand.  This is not a call for all of us to immerse ourselves in our brokenness by full exposure at all times with all people, or for us to dwell in perpetual sadness.  But it IS a call to fully expose our brokenness to a few, as well as a call to be real enough with everyone that they don't fear to have their own less-than-ideal realities exposed.  How many Christians believe that everyone else in their congregation has clean houses, fulfilling jobs, loving husbands, gracious wives, intelligent and obedient children?  If we project that we have it all together, we are most often living a lie (though we all have times of ease where this MAY be true...and we shouldn't fault or resent those who are in this place!  We should pray for them though, because we know it will not always be so!). 

Bottom line:  we must stop pretending.  It leaves those who really are troubled ALONE in their troubles, which is exactly the opposite point of Christian community!  Real love, mercy and grace offered in the presence of real sin, real tragedy, real heartache, and real brokenness, is the very heart of The Good News of Jesus Christ.  It is our duty, our joy, and our burden as the people of God to offer relief, encouragement, support, sympathy and strength to those among us who need it...and it is also our duty and our joy to receive those things when we are the needy ones.  Just as Moses needed brothers to hold up his hands in a time of weakness and weariness, so our endurance and deliverance are bound up in the life-giving support of our brothers and sisters.

3 - God will, by His Spirit, produce fruit from our suffering. 

C.S. Lewis, after the death of his wife, Joy, cried out to God and found the door shut in his face.  Lewis was acutely aware that God could do something...anything...but He did nothing.  At least for a while.  Lewis compares the coming of God's presence, to suddenly realizing that the room has been filled with sunlight and warmth.  It happens gradually and almost imperceptibly, but all at once he became aware that it had happened.    So it is with us.  He IS here.  The Sun of Righteousness HAS risen with healing in His wings...but sometimes we don't recognize it until we see the fruit of that healing.

Only God has the life and healing that our souls desperately need, and it is in His absence that we come to really believe that.  So we wait.  We learn to rest.  And we learn to long for whatever ultimate good He wants to send.  We learn to recognize His blessings in forms which we didn't expect.  And we remember. We must always remember.

We remember His dealings with His people in the past...how He always remained faithful and He always delivered them and He always made them fruitful.  EVENTUALLY.

We also, fundamentally, remember Christ: in the very moment when Christ, on the cross, was calling out in agony, "Father, where are you?  Why have you forsaken me?!"  God said nothing.  He was silent.  He was absent.  But it was during that exact time that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself!  From this moment of despair, God has reaped a bountiful harvest! 

Remember that harvest.  Remember Christ.  Remember the Father's love for Him...even in his abandonment.  REMEMBER THE RESURRECTION!  It is, afterall, The All-Pervasive Truth - of creation, of human life, of the Scriptures - darkness to light...death to life.  God is faithful and He will raise us from every kind of death to New Life.

Believe this and be at rest. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Soul Hunger 2

From Shattered Dreams:


The highest dream we could ever dream, the wish that if granted would make us happier than any other blessing, is to know God.  The problem is that we don't believe this idea is true.  We assent to it in our heads.  But we don't feel it in our hearts.

We can't stop wanting to be happy.  And that urge should prompt no apology.  We were created for happiness.  Our souls, therefore, long for whatever we think will provide the greatest possible pleasure.

But in our foolishness, we look for that experience in all the wrong places.  To use biblical language, we dig broken cisterns and walk right by the fresh spring of water that is God.

Even though we may long for legitimately good things, when they elude us, we discover that the greatest blessing is no longer the blessing of a good life.  It is now the blessing of an encounter with God.  But we don't view things that way.  So God goes to work to help us see more clearly.  One way He works is to allow our lower dreams to shatter.  He lets us hurt and doesn't make it better.  We suffer while He stands by and does nothing to help, at least nothing that we're aware we want Him to do.

In fact, what He's doing while we suffer, is leading us into the depths of our being, into the center of our soul where we feel our strongest passions.  It's there that we discover our desire for God.  We begin to feel a desire to know Him that not only survives all our pain, but actually thrives in it until that desire becomes more intense than our desire for all the good things we still want.  Through the pain of shattered lower dreams, we wake up to the realization that we want an encounter with God more than we want the blessings of life.  And that begins a revolution in our lives.

In the meantime, our experience is often that when we feel most desperately our need for God, when drudgery characterizes our days while beauty, life and freedom seem out of reach, when we long for His intervention, He seems absent...indifferent to our plight...unmoved by our struggles.   He may leave us in a dark and low place for a very long time. 

What does it mean to hope in God as we continue to live in a world where good dreams shatter and God seems to do nothing about it?  In this place of darkness and seeming abandonment, we experience a soul hunger that creates an opportunity to discover our true hope.  This may not include the elimination of pain or even an experience of pleasure that exceeds pain.  But pain always has a purpose and it WILL do its work.  It will stir up an appetite for the better hope of knowing God well enough to love Him above everything else and to trust Him no matter what happens.

This process carries us down a road that doesn't feel productive and helpful.  For crying out loud, we want to FEEL BETTER!!  But there is no shortcut to joy and the path to it is usually, if not always, one of suffering.  We may prefer to remain naively happy. Our experience of happiness is not entirely wrong, but it is both innocent and shallow, rooted in optimism and  a fool's arrogant spirit of entitlement.

In His severe mercy, God takes away the good to create an appetite for the better.

As was the case with the Israelites, this journey through the wilderness is to "test you, to prove you, and to show you what is in your hearts."  While we're on this journey, we do well to remind ourselves of some central truths that will help us to endure.

To be cont'...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Soul Hunger

The 30-year-old son of faithful Christian parents, Mark was exemplary in his honor for them, his love for God and his sacrificial service to God's people.  Months before heading to Macedonia as a missionary, he learned he had lung cancer.  Within the year, he was gone, leaving behind grieving parents, a wife, and 3 beautiful, very young daughters.

Cathy has been a godly Christian woman for as long as anyone can remember.  Her only dream in life has been to marry and establish a Christian home of her own.  At age 58, she remains single with little hope of ever seeing that dream realized.

George and Maggie raised 6 children with but one desire: for each of them to walk in the fear of the Lord...to love Him all the days of their lives.  As adults, half of them have abandoned the church, some even denying Christ altogether.

Joel married a quiet Christian woman who was a source of strength and stability for him.  At age 35, she began losing her mental clarity and shortly thereafter slipped into full-blown paranoia and dysfunction which prevents her from leaving her house.  Joel is powerless to help her.

Veronica and David's second child was born with cerebral palsy.  Throughout his 18 years, they have had to choose to put him under the knife 9 times, risking his life in order to improve the quality of it, knowing that he doesn't fully understand and without guarantee that the surgery will make a significant difference.

A paroled rapist entered the home of a beautiful, sweet, 21-year-old Christian virgin and violently subdued her so that he could have his way with her.  She died the following day from the injuries he inflicted.

A newly-wedded couple lost 2 babies within the first 18 months of their marriage.

Women who long for children remain barren.

Spouses betray one another.

Siblings reject one another.

Friends suffer with unalleviated, long-term pain and illness that cripple their ability to enjoy life.


These things happen.  All the time.  Hopes and dreams fall in pieces to the ground and we can't do anything about it.

When dreams of material prosperity or success or health shatter, we rationalize that perhaps we wanted these things selfishly for our own ease and comfort.  These are "lower-order" dreams, afterall, that we probably should have held more loosely in the first place.  So we deal with it.

But the truth is, sometimes our "higher-order" dreams shatter and the fulfillment of righteous desires is withheld.  Can it ever be wrong to long for godly children, loving marriages, safety from violence or fruit borne from sacrificial ministry?  Of course not. 

Then what is the point of striving for these good things which continually elude us?  What is it all about, this shattering of godly hopes and dreams?  Each of the scenarios I outlined at the beginning have happened to faithful, upright Christians I have known.  But WHY??

When our desires are torn from us, or are never met, we discover an emptiness inside ourselves...an emptiness that feels an awful lot like death.  What are we supposed to do with that?

Our response could be one of denial in which we run faster and strive harder to fill the void in ways that bring us temporary relief.  But this only helps until we experience the next significant loss.

We could respond with arrogance.  "What did I ever do to deserve this??!!" But this leads to anger toward God and toward any human agents that contributed to our disappointment.  Lingering anger produces bitterness which prompts us to withdraw from life, either socially or quite literally.

We could respond by wallowing in self-pity, demanding that someone see, understand and feel our pain...and then DO something about it!  This results in an off-putting self-absorption which drives others away rather than  eliciting the sympathy and support we long for.

All too often, we Christians respond by hiding our emptiness and refusing to allow others to see our struggles.  We pull ourselves up by the proverbial bootstraps and go forward with a Stoic determination to be OK.  We convince ourselves that we are experts at handling pain.  Keep going!  Stay strong! Relieve the pain, if you can...live through it, if you must.  That is what a Christian who really believes Romans 8:28 does!  Right?

Wrong.  There remains another option for the Christian and I believe it is the response for which we should strive and the one that speaks most fully to the primary purpose of our shattered dreams.

Acknowledging the pain and emptiness that follow disappointment or tragedy is a first necessary step.  Hurrying to fill the void, nurturing our anger, wallowing in self-pity, or Stoically pretending these things don't hurt us, are not Spiritually-mature responses and none of them allow us to reap the benefits that could be ours.

So...once we face up to it and stop pretending...then what?

In his book, Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb suggests (and I agree with him) that when we feel the emptiness of broken or unrealized hopes and dreams, we begin to experience what I have come to call "Soul Hunger."  This hunger drives us to seek the Lord with a fervency which we never have and otherwise would not.  We are forced to foster new hopes and dreams which are less transitory.  In a profound way, we begin to desire God.

To be cont'...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Than I OR Than me?

At this year's Harvest Party, I stood around with a couple other nerdy moms discussing, of all things, the proper usage of "Than I" and "Than Me."  If you ask me, it doesn't get any better than that.  

We couldn't reach a definite conclusion and now I know why.  Even the grammar books are sometimes convoluted on the issue.  

Two camps of thought exist on this matter.  One, the Conjunctionists, claim that "than" is always a conjunction and must therefore never be used as a preposition.  The Prepositionists claim that "than" most certainly can function as both a conjunction and a preposition, depending on context.  

So, which of these sentences is correct?  "Joe likes Betty more than me"? or "Joe likes Betty more than I"?  The only thing that is clear in this case, is that the two sentences could mean something completely different.  The first could mean that "Joe likes Betty more than he likes me."  OR it could mean that "Joe likes Betty more than I like Betty."  The second can ONLY mean that "Joe likes Betty more than I like Betty."

So, here's the deal.  The prepositionists are just flat wrong.  (I have a feeling I'm going to regret saying that so emphatically!)  In both cases, whatever the true meaning, the sentences are elliptical.  That's just a fancy way of saying that implied words are left out.  Upon first examination, "than" can appear to be functioning as a preposition...but it isn't.  When the missing words are filled in, this becomes obvious.

Per our example: if "Joe likes Betty more than me," means that he likes her more than he likes me, the Objective Case Prounoun "me" is the correct choice, not because it is the Object of the Preposition, but because it is the Direct Object of "he likes me."  In this case, "than" is a conjunction, "me" is the Direct Object.

If "Joe likes Betty more than I," means he likes her more than I like her, then "I" is the right choice because it is the Subject of the clause "I like her."  In this case, "than" is also a conjunction, "I" is the Subject. 

Clear as mud?

Conclusion and solution: both uses "than I" or "than me" can be correct, depending on context, but never because "than" is a preposition.  So how do you know which one to use?  Some of you true grammar nerds may parse sentences in your head as you speak and may be able determine, without a glitch, which function the pronoun has and choose correctly.  For the rest of the population, the surest way to choose rightly, is to avoid the elliptical pattern of speech.  Fill in those missing words and not only will you naturally choose the right pronoun (who would ever say, "Joe likes Betty more than me does"?) but you will also succeed in making your meaning perfectly clear.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

For Want of Wit: 15

Could I maybe...just for once...NOT be a dingbat?  It would be a nice break...for everybody, ya know? 

Apparently, the answer to that question is a resounding "NO."  I still dwell in the wild world of dingbatdom.  Why?  How? you ask.  Well...I did it AGAIN.  Nooooooo..........I didn't back into Shaf's car in the driveway.  But...for the third time in as many months, I awakened to a car with a dead battery.

It all stems from my inordinate desire to have the wind in my hair.  You see, on beautiful days like yesterday...and even on not-so-beautiful days like yesterday...I ride in my car with all 4 windows down and the sunroof open.  It's as close as I'm going to get to a convertible.  I love the fresh air in my face.  Makes me feel free and happy...at least for a while.

The problem arises when I forget to put the windows UP...which I may have done a time or two...and awaken to a thoroughly drenched interior...which then smells like an overused, sour towel for a couple of weeks.  My acute olfactory sense, coupled with my aversion to the smell of sour towels has led me, in recent days, to be much more diligent about making sure the windows are up before I go to bed...like I did last night.  But somehow...some way...for some inexplicable reason that makes absolutely no sense to me...I put the windows up then proceed to go to bed, leaving the keys in the ignition, partially engaged!! 

So...here I sit.  Not finishing up my 3-mile walk as I should have been.  Nope.  I'm sitting.  And waiting.  And blogging about my ongoing stupidity.  The Triple A guy should be here any moment now.  We're on an intimate, first-name basis.  He's quite a diplomatic guy who very artfully avoids making me feel the humiliation of being a repeat offender. 


And thus begins this day in the life of one wanting in wit.  Sigh...

Columbus...Who's He?

Your mail won't come today.   And your bank will not be open.  Otherwise, life will go on as usual...as though this day does not represent a significant milestone in our history.  Afterall, we'd like to forget about the self-centered, European, white male who forced his way into the New World, paving the way for all manner of evil and disease.  We of the 21st century are much too enlightened to admire a man like Columbus.  Observe a holiday in his name?  Please.

But you probably know by now that I tend not to be the most politically-correct, enlightened individual on the planet, and I am too much inclined to share my opinions, unpopular though they may be.  However, I am going to resist that temptation today in favor of publishing a few of Columbus's own words.  You can study him on your own and judge for yourself what manner of man he was and what manner of deeds he performed.  One thing is certain, he was admirably poetic as manifest by this entry in his "lowly" log book. October 17, 1492:

At 10 o'clock, we arrived at a cape of the island, and anchored, the other vessels in company. After having dispatched a meal, I went ashore, and found no habitation save a single house, and that without an occupant; we had no doubt that the people had fled in terror at our approach, as the house was completely furnished. I suffered nothing to be touched, and went with my captains and some of the crew to view the country. This island even exceeds the others in beauty and fertility. Groves of lofty and flourishing trees are abundant, as also large lakes, surrounded and overhung by the foliage, in a most enchanting manner. Everything looked as green as in April in Andalusia. The melody of the birds was so exquisite that one was never willing to part from the spot, and the flocks of parrots obscured the heavens. The diversity in the appearance of the feathered tribe from those of our country is extremely curious. A thousand different sorts of trees, with their fruit were to be met with, and of a wonderfully delicious odor. It was a great affliction to me to be ignorant of their natures, for I am very certain they are all valuable; specimens of them and of the plants I have preserved. Going round one of these lakes, I saw a snake, which we killed, and I have kept the skin for your Highnesses; upon being discovered he took to the water, whither we followed him, as it was not deep, and dispatched him with our lances; he was seven spans in length; I think there are many more such about here. I discovered also the aloe tree, and am determined to take on board the ship tomorrow, ten quintals of it, as I am told it is valuable. While we were in search of some good water, we came upon a village of the natives about half a league from the place where the ships lay; the inhabitants on discovering us abandoned their houses, and took to flight, carrying of their goods to the mountain. I ordered that nothing which they had left should be taken, not even the value of a pin. Presently we saw several of the natives advancing towards our party, and one of them came up to us, to whom we gave some hawk's bells and glass beads, with which he was delighted. We asked him in return, for water, and after I had gone on board the ship, the natives came down to the shore with their calabashes full, and showed great pleasure in presenting us with it. I ordered more glass beads to be given them, and they promised to return the next day. It is my wish to fill all the water casks of the ships at this place, which being executed, I shall depart immediately, if the weather serve, and sail round the island, till I succeed in meeting with the king, in order to see if I can acquire any of the gold, which I hear he possesses.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

I haven't delivered a straight up etymology/derivative post since APRIL, so I figure it's high time!

Root: 

vert/vers - [Latin] to turn

Derivatives:

adverse - to turn against (adversarial, adversary, adversity, inadvertent)

avert - to turn away

controvert - to turn in the opposite direction (controvertible, controvertibly, incontrovertible, controversy, controversial, controversialist)

divert - to turn aside; deflect (diverter, divertive, diverse, diversion, diversionary, diversional)

extrovert - to turn outward (extroverted, extrovertive)

introvert - to turn inward (introverted, introversive, introvertive)

invert - to turn upside down (invertibility, inverse, inversion)

revert - to turn back (revertible, revertibility, reverse, reversion, reversible, irreversible, reversionary, reversionist)

subvert - to turn over; overthrow; undermine (subverter, subversive, subversion)

transverse - to turn across; side to side (transversal)

version - a turning of words or facts

versify - to turn into poetry (verisfication, verse)

vertigo - a turning; dizziness

Can you think of more derivatives?  I feel certain I've forgotten something obvious!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Wall Street tycoon and self-proclaimed Master of the Universe, Sherman McCoy.  Assistant DA, Larry Kramer.  Drunken tabloid reporter, Peter Fallow.  Morally-deficient Southern diva, Maria Ruskin.

In The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe has created a vivid cast of unforgettable characters, whose smug, self-important, self-serving attitudes are manifest in their criticism of others, their unsavory thought-lives, and their depraved actions.  

Each one rationalizes, and even glorifies, his own vain choices, and each believes he is in control of his destiny.  Wolfe brilliantly demonstrates that each one is trying desperately to "shepherd the wind" but is unable.  Their attempts to control their lives are futile.

I couldn't help but compare this book to my recent experience with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which I did not review favorably).  Both stories are packed with sordid details of human sin, but whereas GWDT sensationalizes the failures of its shallow characters, one walks away from Bonfire knowing the souls of its characters and feeling the sting and utter emptiness of their lives.

One way Wolfe's story exceeds Larrson's, is in its reversals...the literary and biblical kind in which the mighty ones fall, the rich are sent empty away, the proud are brought low.   In fact, near the end of the story - when his folly has been exposed, he has been tried in the arena of public opinion, and he has lost his reputation, his family and his money - here is where the self-made, self-exalted, Master of the Universe, Sherman McCoy, finds himself:

Every bit of honor, respect, dignity, that he, a creature named Sherman McCoy, might ever have possessed had been removed, just like that, and it was his dead soul that now stood here in the rain, in handcuffs, in the Bronx, outside a mean little metal door, at the end of a line of a dozen other prisoners.

As his life continues to unravel, his plight worsens:

"He looked at the sky and listened to the sounds, just the sounds, the orotund tropes and sententiae, the falsetto songs, the inquisitory shouts, the hippo mutterings, and he thought: I'm not going back in there [prison], ever.  I don't care what it takes to keep me out, even if I have to stick a shotgun in my mouth.

The only shotgun he had was, in fact, double-barreled.  It was a big old thing.  He stood on 161st Street, a block from the Grand Concourse, in the Bronx, and wondered if he could get both barrels in his mouth.

McCoy doesn't find redemption.  In spite of his carefully-crafted world crumbling around him, we sense that pride still governs his heart...and yet, there is also a sense that he is heading further down and when he hits bottom, he just may look up and plead for deliverance.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On Draft

I know all of you men out there immediately expected this to be a post about the manly bonding that can only be found at the local brewhouse, but G.K. Chesterton knows infinitely more about that than I, and he has pretty much said everything that can be said about that already.  So, if that's what you were hoping for, take up and read What's Wrong With the World.

No...this is about my seeming inability to complete and publish blog posts with any regularity.  I have no fewer than 86 drafts online...with an additional 43 drafts in a folder...all in various stages of completion.  That's a LOT of stuff to say.  Yet I find myself unable to "close the deal" on most of them.  Writing well, and with any seriousness, is a laborious (though joyful) task for me and requires a great deal of effort and concentration which I seem to lack these days. 

So...I keep posting shallow stuff, or someone else's thoughts in hopes that my readers will not utterly abandon me!  'Cause if you leave me now, you'll take away the biggest...nevermind.  (But I got you hummin' a little Chicago, didn't I?  You can thank me later.)  

Perhaps the cool air will awaken my heart and brain allowing me to formulate my thoughts clearly enough to FINISH at least some of what I have begun.  Have any of you bloggers out there experienced this?  I am not lacking in ideas...just the discipline and motivation required to formulate those ideas into something sensible and presentable. 

But I'm not giving up...yet. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quickening

I’ve reached the stage where I can finally feel small flickers of movement from our newest baby.

That’s a strange thing to say, “newest baby.” It’s hard to think we are parents three times already. We have three children. Someday we will know them all face-to-face. Today we went to give final approval to the gravestones for the first two. Now, tonight, I can feel the third moving inside me. He or she doesn’t know about his/her older siblings. He/she doesn’t know who we are, doesn’t know what the world is, doesn’t consciously know his/herself. What will I say when the time comes?

Read the rest of this profound and beautiful post by a friend from my church family, here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Consolation

Consolation
by: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

All are not taken; there are left behind
Living Belov├Ęds, tender looks to bring
And make the daylight still a happy thing,
And tender voices, to make soft the wind:
But if it were not so—if I could find
No love in all this world for comforting,
Nor any path but hollowly did ring
Where 'dust to dust' the love from life disjoin'd;
And if, before those sepulchres unmoving
I stood alone (as some forsaken lamb
Goes bleating up the moors in weary dearth)
Crying 'Where are ye, O my loved and loving?'—
I know a voice would sound, 'Daughter, I AM.
Can I suffice for Heaven and not for earth?'

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

I recognize that this lesson is appropriate for the typical 4th grader, but these 2 "Y" words continue to be some of the most misused on social networking sites and in emails.  Truth is, your writing will improve if you're careful about using these correctly! 

Your - is a Possessive Pronoun Adjective.  That means that it indicates ownership.  Period.  That is, and always has been, and forever will be, its only proper use. 

Remember that adjectives modify nouns (or the pronouns which represent them), so you can test your usage by asking this question:  "Whose writing?  YOUR writing."  If you cannot sensically answer the question "whose" about the noun nearest "your" then you are choosing the wrong word.

You're - THIS is the one which gets ignored in favor of the adjective "your" but they are never, ever interchangeable.  This one is a contraction (a shortening) of "you" + "are." 

ANYTIME YOU ARE INTENDING TO SAY "YOU ARE" YOU MUST USE THIS CONTRACTION!! (emphasis mine)

Examples of misuse:

Your going to  come to my party this weekend, aren't you?

I was wondering if your planning to grocery shop today.

Your exactly right.

Stephanie said that your about to lose your job.

In each highlighted case, the meaning is "you are." 

Now you know...or you REMEMBER from your childhood...so you are fully equipped to write with sound grammar!  And I'll thank you for it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Domesticity

For all of you who don't think it can't be done, for those of you who believe it is superfluous, and especially for those of you who have need of orderliness, I am going to demonstrate for you how to fold a fitted sheet.  You can thank me later.

Some, either out of rebellion, ignorance or apathy (you know who you are), are content to roll and stuff the sheet into the closet:


But you don't HAVE to be one of those.  First, place your hands into two same-side corner seams, like this:



Fold them together, like so:


Do the same with the remaining two corners:



Next, fold all four corners into one:




Lay sheet on flat surface.  Two sides will "naturally" fold inward like this:



Smooth, then fold in half:


Flip over.  The "rough" side will look something like this:


Fold in thirds and wah-la!!  You have a neatly-folded, beautifully-symmetrical fitted sheet.
 

Prepare to be impressed with yourself.





Friday, October 1, 2010

Marquee Madness 4b

I couldn't resist commenting further...there's just so much that COULD be said:


Maybe this is where I went wrong?  Had I taken my dogs to be blessed with holy water in the Trinitarian name, perhaps they would have been more domestic and less demonic?  Perhaps I had been spared the guilt and my children the grief?  Yeah...perhaps NOT.

So, what does a pet blessing sound like anyway?  Is it different for a gerbil than for a horse?  What if you brought your pet calf or pig and the priest inadvertently prayed,  "Bless, O Lord, this food which we are about to receive"?  Would you leave the church? 

For those of you sentimental saps who might consider participating in such a ritual (or for those of you who might be tempted to throw G.K. Chesterton's earthiness at me, or who might care to lecture me on the virtue of recognizing and thereby deliberately dedicating all we are and have to God), let me just share this so you can see the slippery slope on which your mindset has placed you:

Pet Memorial Products for Clergy - Doesn't this just tug at your heart?  I'm sure it tugs at mine too...of course it would have to be made of something other than stone in order to feel it.

Or here is a lovely sentiment which you may find riveting from a website which offers pet blessings for those from every religious persuasion:

Animals, like the human animal, are living, breathing, feeling, loving, soul-filled children of God.

We all get tired, we all get wet in the rain.
We all experience loneliness, we all experience pain.
We all thirst for water, and we all thirst for love.
We are all Children of God, Who's Angels watch over us from high up above.
We all breathe, we all play, we all feel.
We all get hungry and we all appreciate a satisfying meal.
We are all born, and we all deserve to live life.
Nobody should be left behind, or be subjected to a dissecter's deadly knife.
We all die, and we are all born into everlasting love and life in Heaven.... in paradise.
Where, as one spiritual family, we all share love, and we all get treated nice.
In Heaven, we all gather together, one species, one race, one religion, and all of us have lots of fun.
In Heaven, we all realize, that we all are really ONE.

We are all one.
One life.
One Soul.
One Spiritual Family.

This is serious business, folks!  Don't let your pet be left out...this weekend only!