Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Abandoned Blogs

Disclaimer: this is going to be a raw, first draft blog. Corrections are welcomed in the comment section. Perhaps there are people out there that actually read my blog.    ;)



Tomorrow will be the last day of 2013. I have thought about blogging for the last couple of days. Yesterday I was going over the labels for my blog to see if there have been any patterns over the last 9 plus years. (today is 10 days short of 10 years.) better part of 10 years. I am a terrible labeler...I have to be, there is enough content to have some patterns. Without even reading through my blog, I know that I have written a fair share about parenting, books and parenting education. The labels with the most content: life (12), love (11), friendship and forgiveness (each with 7). It is strange to not be good with the labels because I am a compulsive list maker. (You know the kind of person who will write something on the list just to check it off because it wasn't there when the list was originally penned. That is just one of my qualifiers. ;)  For at least 2 years I have considered abandoning this blog and the 10 year mark sounds like a good place to end this blog and start another one.

Picking up where I left off yesterday. NOW the count down begins to 2014. I thought of making this post about lists. Then I started to check out what other people on the internet had written about lists. (Yes, I know that the proper verb for that is now, "googled." I just didn't want to use it in a sentence and I ended up doing it anyway.) There are a number of blogs out there that have been abandoned (and that number is in the millions) and now, I am strongly leaning toward moving on from this one. So although I will say good day from here, I will say hello here on January 8th, 2014.

There is so much to choose from...Dan's first 4 months after turning 50, Scotland, London - reunion with my cousin Tess, NOT an empty nest-just more room to spread out, lists, abandoned blogs, What does it mean to be a part of the body of Christ?, ACA, etc. There is a lot that I could write about: the top 10 reasons 2013 was a good year I am grateful for a computer to muse upon, fingers to type, a brain to think and process, a heart to feel, strength in my body to move, work and play. Yes, I am stalling. And I want to end with a smile.....it is hard to say good-bye.

How about a confession?
For years I was one of those people who wrote a Christmas brag letter, sometimes it included a picture and sometimes it didn't sometimes I mailed it in time for Christmas and other times for St. Patrick's Day (yeah, that is a real holiday - we are Irish!) and I think I even did a summertime mailing but looking back on the early years, I probably felt that I had something to prove. When you send your kids to school, you are not asked questions about your children's education because to send your kids is the norm. Fortunately, I was aware of this fact, so the preparation for defense sometimes came out in the form of "the Christmas letter." I never thought that we would educate our own children. It was an alternative that was available and like most human beings I like to have choices. So Dan and I did our "homework"and made an informed decision.
I don't think that I ever wrote the "a day in the life of the Mullaneys" that said, "Our kids are all old enough to know where we live, we're at the library and they are asking me for our address for the third time because we just moved again for the third time this year." Or "Michael went for a walk to the beach and came home in a cruiser." Or  "Dan broke his other foot." Or "We've made 4 good offers on houses in the last 3 years and all the deals fell through." Nope people don't write about the truth except those people who laugh at themselves. So I think I stopped writing them when I got a hold of myself and started laughing at myself and my life. At times there has been pain, grief and heartache and we usually cover those things in love and share with those who are close to us and will pray with us. I have probably written about some of those things on my blog and probably posted a strip from the funnies too! Oh, well.....some people wanted the news about our family and some could probably care less. (Not that they didn't care they just cared less than those who really wanted the news.) Christmas is Good News for those who believe! So it makes sense that people write about the good that happens in their families. The truth is there is enough bad news coming to us 24/7 that we can always use a piece of good news.

It wasn't really hard to go cold turkey on the Christmas Brag Letter because the truth is in the midst of struggles, pain and growing up, we are still proud of our kids and it is a pleasure for me to know without letting the world know about it. I guess the brag letter may have taught them the meaning of the old proverb, "Let another praise you and not your own lips." And when parents have healthy boundaries with their kids then they recognize these people whom they have the pleasure and responsibility of raising are not possessions but dear loved ones then we are free to praise them for life well lived while they are still living! I believe our kids no matter how old they are want and need our loving support.
I have probably said it before but birthing adults is painful process. Letting go of certain ways we relate to our kids when we don't even realize it is difficult. May I say that I am grateful for my adult children being willing to bring it to my attention. It is another season of growing and believing that letting go is another way to love. (It was great to have Grace & Austin, Katie and Michael here for Christmas. Spending time with them was indeed the best present for me this year.)
Some of our friends still send out the Christmas Letter and I gratefully read each one, rejoicing over friends both near and far. Who knows maybe next year, I will reach out with a letter full of Good News but for now, I will do my best to keep it real in the coming year on my new blog, Disarmed by Love.
Happy New Year....let's make it a good one without any fear.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Attitude of the Heart and Mind

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”  G.K. Chesterton

There are only 19 days left until Thanksgiving day but we have our life time of days to express gratitude. This is a principle for a life well lived. Gratitude I do not believe comes easy to us as human beings. Have you ever heard a 3 year old, "Mine, MIne, MINE, MINE?" As much as we are Image Bearer of our Creator, we are also born selfish and entitled or as the Scriptures say, "born in iniquity and conceived in sin."  We need to be taught gratitude. Are parents still teaching children, "please" and "thank you" as some of their first words? (I hope so!) 

Yesterday, I saw the quote above posted in context. I felt certain that a particular friend of mine had put it up. So, I made my way to her profile on Facebook and it was no where to be found. The one thing that I remembered was "whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude."  So that will have to be enough to get me back to writing on my blog. 

Let me say right off the bat, that I am grateful for pen and paper. Lately, I have picked up the pen nearly every day in pursuit of the truth and healing. It is proving to once again be a wonderful instrument. I have had a number of false starts over the past year plus but God has not given up on me and so my other writing endeavors have had to take a backseat. 

Since my last post, there is much to be grateful for especially the life of my husband, Dan. He is at this time in the hospital recovering from surgery. Modern medicine has saved his life. One hundred years ago he would have been dead in August. We see the Unseen Hand of our Creator at work through His Creation, the people who have designed and created the medical equipment and the surgeon who like a craftsman takes what God has created and recreates and repairs a human body. In this case, I would say that these type of doctors are healers. We thank God for he is The Great Physician working through women and men.*

Let's get back to the quote: it says "When it comes to life the critical thing is whether we take things for granted or with take them with gratitude." 
Gratitude has been something that I had to learn. The first lesson happened when I was in a public holding facility for people getting sober who were waiting to go to halfway houses, jail, other treatment or back to the streets. I was not quite 20 years old. Up until that time I was a middle class entitled brat. I did not know the meaning of true thankfulness. 
The initial lessons were hard but they were preparing my heart for the entrance of a King. At the time, I just believed that Kathleen my dear friend believed that there was a Power Greater than me looking out for me who was there for me. Jesus burst in like a surprise whose Love was overwhelming and His Grace unexplainable. The gift of my salvation is not something that I need to work at to keep, just like there was nothing that I could do to earn it. It is the gift of Eternal Life, forgiven, adopted, blood bought. The one thing required of me: "Believe!" Jesus was asked by the crowd what they must do to be doing the works of God? and Jesus' answer was simple yet so humbling: "believe in him(speaking of himself) whom he (God) has sent." 
When it comes to giving thanks I believe that it is birthed out of our faith in God if we only have a glimpse of who he is and in my opinion that is all any of us have in our days here on earth. (I realize that we could get into a philosophical discussion about gratitude and is believe required. And I welcome such discussion.)  
One other thought that came to mind as I pondered this quote is that we can see the results of a grateful heart in a persons actions but that gratitude is an attitude of the heart and mind that needs to be cultivated. It is one of those things that you can talk a good talk but a witness will not really experience the gratitude that you possess until they see you walking the walk. This inside job requires us to slow down long enough to get quiet, observe and reflect upon all the gifts we have received starting with our very breath.

*I could have wrote the whole post just about Dan's treatment. Dr. Laura Lambert is just one of the doctors who has treated Dan. She is a noted surgeon around the country who also has a compassionate bedside manner.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Architecture of a wedding


"You may seal your vows with a kiss"

I don't believe that I have ever been to a wedding where the minster said, "You may seal your vows with a kiss." And those were the words that Patrick said after Grace and Austin exchanged their vows and rings. It suited this wedding so much better than "You may kiss the bride."

Most weddings in our country are planned around the bride being the centerpiece of the event.  However, the sealing of the vows, a covenant commitment between a man and his bride declared in the presence of immediate family, some grandparents, and a few friends, the union of two becoming one in Christ was the keystone of this wedding day. This wedding was about the foundation and not the facade.

The Plan
Once the couple was engaged we talked about Grace and Austin's wedding.  First the date, then the venue, the guests and the food. Even with a simple and intimate affair and a modest budget there were many details to workout. Our talk about marriage had been ongoing for a number of years.

After some deliberation the date of the 4th of August 2012 was chosen. The most appropriate place to have Grace's wedding was L'abri in Southborough, MA and by God's grace and the hospitality of the L'abri staff it was indeed where it took place. Then there was the dress, the guest list, the pastor, where we would have the reception, photographer, flowers, music and other assorted details.

Some people have a wedding planner, some brides do it on their own, some have a girlfriend, their bridal party or family member do it and for us, it was pretty much Grace and me. Even with all of modern technology at our finger tips, it was still not easy planning while I was here in the Northeast and she was in the southeast, where the newlyweds now reside.

The Preparation
Aside from all the physical real time preparations starting in March, there were the prayers that had started back when Grace was a baby. Knowing that God had given us this precious gift of a daughter born 23 years ago today (the one week mark of being a bride.) We were to pray for her life, her salvation, her future. With that came the joy, the responsibility of raising and training her, guiding her. Finally, there were the test launches and giving her opportunities to make decision under our roof and hopefully our loving authority.
The prayers have been heartfelt and will continue to be. When Dan and I found out we were expecting it was with great excitement and a bit of terror. We were going to be responsible for another human being. God is the giver of life and we are the vehicle that He uses to bring forth life. Mothers and Fathers are life givers. God is our life sustainer, so we have been dependent upon Him in the raising of our little Greek girl who we saw become a beautiful woman. (And of course, her sister and brother to follow) Indeed we prayed for Grace that she would become the woman God wanted her to be. We did not draw up lists about her future husband but we did pray for him and his parents, that he would be walking in the Truth and put his faith and trust in Christ alone.

Grace was named after the grace of God. Dan and I know the power of His saving and ministering GRACE and it only seemed fitting that when he blessed us with a little girl her name ought to be a testimony of his character. There are pages that I could write about the prayers that we have prayed for our daughter and her future. We have prayed prior to and throughout her engagement to Austin.

Having already raised her and sent her out for her first launch in the summer of 2007 and then a few more before she headed to Covenant in the fall of 2009, there have been many conversations between us and Grace. Our guidance and input was not only welcomed but also sought after.  This of course drove us to our knees time and time again, wanting of course to give wise counsel, ask the right questions and communicate in love. And all the while knowing that we are just a couple of ragamuffin Christians doing our best to seek the LORD daily. (Reading that over reminds me of how radical grace is and how depended on God I sound writing that. Lots of people think and say, "well you have been a Christian for so long don't you think that you ought to be better than that by now, i.e. less dependent on God by now?" The counter intuitiveness of the Gospel is that as we journey on in faith we actually become more dependent on God, not less. We see our weaknesses more clearly. Better leave a period there before my parenthetical becomes a whole other post. ;)

Dan and I ourselves realize that our relationship that is held together by our Lord Jesus Christ and trust on Him, His Grace, His Mercy, His Love and His Truth in our lives is to be an example to our children and now particularly Grace and Austin. We are to be a testimonial to Jesus and His love for His bride and the bride for the Lover of her soul.

The decision to marry was not taken lightly by Austin and Grace. They have been thoughtful about this covenant. They know that this is a sacred relationship, marriage. We don't talk about marriage in terms of "holy matrimony" in our culture because 1 out of every 2 marriages end in divorce. The time to decide about divorce is before you get married. You need to be committed to the extent that you agree before marrying that divorce is not an option, taking it off the table ahead of time is probably one of the best things that any engaged couple can do.

The Day
The wedding day is a day of celebration and a day of making a solemn vow before God and witnesses to one another. It is also the first day of the rest of their lives together. Quietly, the girls and I made our way to L'abri. Grace would be beautifully & simply adorned for her groom. A simply white linen dress, fun jewelry, hair and make-up done, soft music playing in the back ground. The mother of the bride just taking it all in relaxed and trusting in the LORD. The day was here and I set out to enjoy it. Taking time to pray before I dressed.
Then we made our way outside for pictures. There was laughter and light heartedness coupled with reflection and seriousness to the portraits being taken of the bride. And in what some may say a role reversal, the groom arrived but of course with no fanfare. Kate Ganim, one of Grace's dear friends played the guitar as people made there way into the library of "the big house" as it is affectionately called by those who have been a part of L'abri. Grandma Suzie was the first to arrive. She was a whole hour early and she said, I am always late for everything. We said, well not today. Once the rest of the grandparents had finally arrived, we took our places. Grace and Austin were both seated next to their respective parents. When the Pastor, Patrick Slyman rose from his seat, Austin, Grace and Dan rose. Today was the first page of chapter two of the new life that Grace and Austin will forge together by God's grace and their willingness to pledge themselves to one another. ( The preface would be the beginning of the relationship and Chapter 1 the engagement period)
A cozy and very warm library, a small number of witnesses, this was an intimate gathering. A small number of friends and an even smaller number of family members would affirm this new couple as they start their life together. In a library that held more memories for Grace than our current home, Dan gave Grace to Austin and Austin and Grace gave themselves to one another. Dan prayed over the bride and groom, Patrick gave what I would call a wedding charge to the couple. I had the honor of blessing them with Words from the Scriptures. The vows were exchanged with tears of joy. The rings given as a symbol and placed upon each others fingers with a little push like you give to a toddler's sneaker. The pastor said with authority, "You may seal your vows with a kiss" and then pronounced them Man & Wife.
Originally, I penned this blog on Grace's 23rd birthday as stated in the post and never knew whether or not I would hit the publish button. It is with pleasure to report that the first year has been filled with love in the midst of the challenges. We are grateful that we were all together for Grace's graduation from college. Happy Anniversary Grace and Austin. We love you both so much.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Flog is Golf spelled backwards

I believe it was Mark Twain who said that, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." and I think Salada tea bags had the quote, "Golf is flog spelled backwards." What do they know.



Now that I have given you the heads up about the subject of this post, I need to say that I did a search through my blog and I found 2 posts that were just about golf and only 7 referencing golf at all. What spurred on this search and deciding to write a post about golf? Phil Mickelson winning The Open (as it is called across the Big Pond which here we call The British Open), his caddie Bones choked up with emotion and picking up a book, Extraordinary Golf The Art of the Possible which I read 11 years ago. I don't remember the last time that I watched a whole round of the televised final day of a Major tournament, perhaps when I was pregnant with Grace 24 years ago?

It was enjoyable!  I allowed myself to just get caught up in the changing leader board that was until Phil Mickelson took the lead, didn't look back, and birdied 4 of his last 6 holes. There was drama. Men against the course not just trying to beat each other but having to deal with the condition and the ever changing wind off of the North Sea. Golf is a game of mastering yourself, controlling your emotions, in links golf going after your target and having to play strategically because there is not a whole lot of forgiveness on a links course and some of those bunkers you might want to just die in. One of the commentators said as Phil was walking up the fairway of the 18th hole,  "this is when you need to pay attention to your breathing and be mindful of your walk."

When the pressures of life come upon us, HELLO!  "This is when you need to pay attention to your breathing and be mindful of your walk." And for those of us who are on the pilgrim highway doing our best to walk in a manner worthy of the LORD, is this not great advise for us too? Recently, I had a high blood pressure reading during a regular physical. (yesterday I was 124/68) So, I needed to have it checked 4 weeks in a row. Dan said, when you are in the waiting room just take 10 deep breathes. (Anyone remember the "cleansing breath" from childbirth classes?)  If we can remember to just pay attention to our breathing, then I think that this will help us to exercise self control when we find ourselves in the situation where the adrenaline is running high, when the pressures of life are getting to us. Even if one suffers from "white coat" anxiety.

Some say, how boring to watch golf on TV. Frankly, I would rather play golf than watch it, but there is something special about the 4 major championships, there is hunger and the competition is at its highest level.  I really was not interested in Tiger winning but I was thinking that today's round must have been awkward with his old caddie, Steve Williams on Adam Scott's bag. At the start of today, I wanted Adam Scott to win, since it was an opportunity to redeem himself from last year (where he lost to Ernie Els after leading by 4 shots on the final day.) And it would have been a great win for Lee Westwood who is described as a young 40 year old and has been in contention 8 times for a major without a win. Ian Poulter, cleverly dressed Englishman showed grit and guts and it was easy to say "Go!" as he eagled the 9th hole and birdied 10, 11, and 12. Phil Mickelson is a man with a lot of class and character. It was great to watch him take command. To witness the love of his wife and 3 children just off of the 18th green they had a family hug and how within that great moment of vulnerability ignored the cameras capturing that moment and remaining in the moment.

And now my history with this game that we created by my ancestors in the Kingdom of Scotland. It was not on my radar growing up. Dan introduced me to this game when we were newly dating. He bought me my first set of clubs, they were steel shafts. While tackling this new sport for me, I was able to strike the ball, do something right handed and during my first season chip it in from off the green probably 6 times. (1986) It has probably been a total of 6 since then. Needless to say, I was bit by the bug.
Now, it just so happens that neither Dan nor I have been out for a round this year.  My hope is that it will be sooner rather than later. It is something that Dan and I enjoy doing together. At some point I think it would be fun to play in a ladies league, the only problem I see with that is that I tend to be a bit competitive and if I were to join something  that I would want to compete, like have a shot at scoring well and winning!  (It has been years since I did something like that. It was a humbling experience, since I am a bit of a hacker and I have never considered myself a "golfer" that would require some consistency on my part, a handicap and a membership somewhere.)

There are things about the game I really love: being outdoors usually in a combination of a natural setting and man's creativity in the architecture of the course, and the maintenance of the greens keepers. Being active, to use my body and play a target game. And one of the best parts that I love about being out on a course is that golf requires quiet and a loud person like me, needs time to be quiet. There is golf etiquette that Dan was diligent to teach me. Not everyone out playing minds or perhaps even knows the etiquette. Discernment is required in those instances, do you teach them a lesson which could be verbal or non-verbal? Do you exercise patience and let it go? Sometimes the Marshall comes by and just takes care of it for you.

It is just a game but one that I enjoy.  Perhaps I will at least hit the driving range this week.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

When Fact and Fiction cross

Recently, I finished reading From the Garden to the City by John Dyer and I am currently reading Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry and the two crossed as I was finishing the first and halfway through the second. The great thing about fiction is that it has a great way of embodying truth. (There are things that I am finding out about fiction that I knew in the experience of being moved and challenged by fiction but I just did not know how to articulate it. That is a matter for another post.)

John said in his book,

"It is my hope that the biblical and philosophical tools presented in this book will help us become better stewards of the technological tools God has entrusted to us, as we seek to live lives that honor him and the work of his Son."
Dyer, John (2011-07-14). From the Garden to the City (Kindle Locations 3131-3133). Kregel Publications. Kindle Edition. 
In his book, John gives us the bigger picture of technology, not just the "smart phones" "tablets" and "clouds" of today but going back to the basic tools used in the garden like a shovel. The things that we as humans create as tools to aid us in life since the beginning of mankind can be categorized as technology when we are will to look at the broader definition. John puts it this way, “the human activity of using tools to transform God’s creation for practical purposes.”

When I got to chapter 16 in Jayber Crow, I recognized something that we ought to stop and contemplate. We are a society of consumers. Christians are called to count the cost. It is difficult to block out the noise of our society. Every day we are presented with choices. Here in our western free society, we love the fact that we have so many choices. In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 30 the LORD says, "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.....Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days," (v. 15, 19, & 20) and in Matthew from the Sermon on the Mount the LORD Jesus talks about how we ought not to lay up treasures here on earth and that we cannot serve two masters and in the middle of that HE says this, "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness, if then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matt 6:22, 23)

I have been spending time in the Sermon on the Mount and these two verses have been puzzling to me and now I think that I have a clue. Could this be about discernment? If I can not see what is before me and take time to think about what I am doing and as some say "just go ahead blindly" then I am in great darkness. Even here Jesus lays out for us choices. I do NOT believe Jesus is saying that we need to be destitute and can't have our stuff but that we need to have our priorities in the right place.

Now we have arrived at the crossroads.

"Technology, then, is the means by which we transform the world as it is into the world that we desire. What we often fail to notice is that it is not only the world that gets transformed by technology. We, too, are transformed."

Dyer, John (2011-07-14). From the Garden to the City (Kindle Locations 548-550). Kregel Publications. Kindle Edition.


In Wendell Berry's book Jayber Crow purchases an automobile. If we can look at the automobile as a recent technology in the rural setting of Kentucky, the chapter describes how this purchase effects Jayber economically, socially, physically and mentally. (quite possibly spiritually but that is not touched upon in the chapter)
"In Port William after the war the idea that you could "jump in a car" and drive to Hargrave in only a few minutes was still fairly new. The time had been, and not long back, when people in Port William who wanted to go to Hargrave would walk down to Dawes Landing and take the boat."
~~~~~~~
"What I really got the car for was to participate in the night-time social life of Hargrave. I was already participating, but I was getting tired of riding down there on the running boards of cars and in the back ends of trucks, and then maybe having to walk home. And so I squandered some of my savings and some of my wages in the interests of living life more fully and abundantly."
~~~~~~~ 
"To be plain about it, I was lonesome. I wanted the company of women." 

I believe in the wonder and reflections of our Creator in the things we create - including both our historical and modern technology. I am just added my voice to the small choir that is telling the church to be wise, do not embrace every latest advancement without thinking and counting the cost and do not despise the ones who have created new and wonderful things or the things themselves. Let us discern, let us pay attention, let us choose wisely in a way that will bring glory to our Creator.


Thursday, July 04, 2013

Pause

Pause ..... for dramatic effect
Pause.....when agitated or doubtful
Pause.....the button that we look for on the remote, ipod, podcast



Sometimes we all need an extended "pause" in life. Some people take a sabbatical and usually those people are pastors or professors. We live in a 24/7 world where there is some expectation to always be "on"and regular everyday people like myself are burning out. Not that I have been burned out but I have been taking time to regroup and rest and seek the LORD.
The Pilgrim Highway has a new look. We have been with all three of our children twice this year (once with our son in law for Grace's College graduation.) and that meant a couple of days here for my father in law's wake and funeral and a couple of days in Chattanooga for Grace's graduation.  The new look has been in process for some time but last summer after Grace and Austin married and Michael went off to college, Dan and I are in the midst of figuring out how to just be a couple again.
Both Dan and I have had some grieving to do. Most Americans, Christian or otherwise expect themselves and others to just get on with life. Stay distracted. Get busy. Everyone who has kids has to deal with it. I would argue that we are not meant to be "on" 24/7 and busyness is not necessarily a badge of honor. To acknowledge the sadness of the close of a great season of our lives in raising Grace, Katie and Michael who have turned out to be wonderful people is not only just a human thing to do but an incredibly vulnerable thing to do.
There are things that I had to say no to that was SO incredibly difficult to me. You might say, that I am type A or someone who does not want to stop. I want to burnout bright. Live life to the fullest. Discovering that I needed to find out that I have limitations. I would content that all humans are finite and ALL have limitations. Some people don't know what to do: when their children are happy and excited and starting new seasons of their lives and INDEED, I am happy for my children. However as Semisonic's Closing Time aptly says, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end," and the sadness of the end of something so precious and life-giving for me, is what my friend, Louise calls "The Wonderful Awful Mix" and most of life is just that.
Prior to June, I did very little blogging since August of 2012, in fact 12 posts from then until June 1, 2013. End of May beginning of June, I started hitting the play button again, coming out of the gate a little slower pacing myself and now I need to be careful. There are decisions to be made. New directions that I hope to be taking and by God's AMAZING Grace, I have the Freedom to do so!

Happy Fourth to all my American (Green card, naturalized, the lovely people that I have the pleasure of being friends with who have immigrated) Friends and Family enjoy the Freedom we have here.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sometimes the answer to the question is "suitcase"

Asking Why

"The moment the word 'why' crosses your lips, you are doing theology."
                                          From When Life & Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Curtis James

Below is a clip off of a friend's wall on Facebook. I have deleted everyone name but mine to protect the innocent (dismantled the links) . However, it is publicly out there in my activity in this social media.


Mother #1
J. asked me "why" today for the first time ever. I think the day that I've dreaded for years may have arrived.
  • FB Friend Why?



  • Mother #2 S. LOVED when that happened with “oldest child.” His enthusiasm really encouraged me with that stage. And, yes, it is a stage.





  • Catherine Mullaney I certainly hope it is not a stage. This is inspiration for a blog post. All three of my children 20, 21, 23 still all ask the question why and plenty of other questions as well. We are the only created beings who have the ability to think and reason. (I better save the rest for the blog post)












There are things from my raising, training and loving my kids when they were very young that are very vivid. So, I am very aware of the question "why?"being a way to delay obedience and in our house, "delayed obedience was disobedience." Most of the time it was OK to ask but it takes great discernment and focused attention to help our children know when to ask questions and particularly the why question.

I would say that the first 7 years of a child's life that the number one thing to learn is how to joyfully obey mum and dad. And we encourage them to do it with alacrity.  Humble obedience is the key to the rest of learning. One of the saddest comments that other mothers in particular would say to me was "I could never homeschool because my kids would not listen to me." This is NOT the kids fault. Inside I would be screaming, "What?! Are you kidding me? It is your duty as a parent to train your kids to listen and obey." With most of these conversations, I did not have the type of relationship with the other woman to confront her and call her to the carpet.

It helped to say, "obey first and then we can talk about the reason or reasons behind our command." We did our best to not wield our authority over our kids with the "because I said so." There were times that it had to be said but we also wanted our kids to understand. For us to bring them up under our loving authority meant we were cultivating a loving relationship with each of them.

When our children were quite young we memorized Proverbs 2:1-11 together. And come to think of it we did not memorize verses that might read something like, "children obey your parents" because we were learning to live that and we did our best to remind our children that we too were under authority, needing to be obedient to the LORD.

2
My son, if you accept my words
   and store up my commands within you,
2
turning your ear to wisdom
   and applying your heart to understanding—
3
indeed, if you call out for insight
   and cry aloud for understanding,
4
and if you look for it as for silver
   and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
   and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:1-5


The verbs in this proverb are fantastic. It will not be long before the little ones who are the children of the "why" mamas are asking questions like, "Why did Jesus have to die?" "Why do we believe that Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus' birth and my friend says it is about Santa and getting presents?" "Why do we thank God for the food?" "Why is it called Good News if Jesus had to die?" Of course, the other questions starting with How, When, Where, What, and Who will follow as well.  

I think that Christian parents desire and pray for their children to know the LORD. And if we were to silence them into unquestioning obedience, we would crush their spirits and there would be a millstone awaiting us.

Each and everyone is an embodied soul. The wonder and questioning of the little ones help us to remember that we are children too with a Father who welcomes our questions, our fears and our doubts.  It starts with us knowing and trusting in who our Heavenly Father is. Yes, this takes time and patience and discernment and wisdom.

My favorite story about questions is from the Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. When they got a little older and started asking questions that they were not ready hear the answers to we would speak one word, "suitcase" and our kids knew what that meant because we used the following story to help us along the way.
“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, "Father, what is sexsin?"
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
It's too heavy," I said.
Yes," he said, "and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

If we deny our children their questions and curiosities about life they will find someone else who is willing to listen, explain, and lovingly guide either to the Truth or to the ways of the world.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lighting fires in hearts and minds

Education is TOO important

Before we go any further, we probably should define our terms:
according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary

education

1. a : the action or process of educating or of being educated; also : a stage of such a process
b : the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process
2 : the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools

educate

a : to provide schooling for
b : to train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession
2
a : to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically especially by instruction
b : to provide with information : inform
3
: to persuade or condition to feel, believe, or act in a desired way

teach

a : to cause to know something
b : to cause to know how
c : to accustom to some action or attitude
d : to cause to know the disagreeable consequences of some action
2
: to guide the studies of
3
: to impart the knowledge of
4
a : to instruct by precept, example, or experience
b : to make known and accepted
5
: to conduct instruction regularly in

teachable

a : capable of being taught
b : apt and willing to learn
2
: favorable to teaching
(originally started in August 2011 when we could see the finish line of educating our children at home which "formerly" concluded in December 2011)

Now I am racking my brain to remember what I wanted to say, since "Education is TOO important" is not a complete thought. I don't know what I was thinking at the time but there is a lesson that I have continued to learn since the age of 19, that lesson is that I need to remain teachable.  I have been listening to Andrew Kern of CiRCE Institute who says, "When you say, 'I don't know' then you become teachable." Frankly, I believe that all human beings need to be humble and be willing to learn, change their minds, look at things from a different perspective. We will never know all that there is to know.  

It would not be outside of my character to have thought, "Education is TOO important to just be left to the 'professionals.'" 
Let's think about that.




Education is too important to just be left to the professionals. 
(I thought that a calming photography might slow us down to contemplate that one thought. )



I am not a professional educator. However, along with my husband we have taught our own children who have gone on to college and have done quite well in those settings. (It is with sober judgement that I am able to declare this.) And I know that there are parents out there who have no business educating their own children and equally, and unfortunately, there are teachers out there who have no business being in the classroom.  
Teachers go through all that schooling are issued a certification in order to teach but there is something lacking that can not be learned in a book. Knowledge does not equal wisdom. Knowledge does not equal inspiration. Knowledge does not equal creative engagement with your students. To merely be a dispenser of knowledge limits both the student and the educator and a lot of times that is what education looks like. 

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." This quote is attributed to Plutarch and is my philosophy of education in a nutshell. After equipping students with the tools of learning, isn't education an opportunity to help students to think and reason for themselves? Don't we want them to learn and discover on their own as well as learn from others? Once I light a fire in the heart, mind and soul of a student, I want to see it ROAR! 

For me to say, "Education is TOO important to just be left to the professionals," is quite an assertion on my part. And I would say that it comes down to what is your definition of education. At the beginning of the post, I gave a number of definitions from Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Now I would like to turn to Noah Webster's 1828 definition which I think offers a broader scope. 

education

EDUCA'TION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.


When it comes to children this is a great definition. I have written and said before that I do not consider myself a teacher but I am an educator.  It has been a great experience. I haven't quite put it to bed yet. And at the end of the post from June 24 there I have indicated some of my concerns. 

Firstly, all children are naturally curious. They are curious about the world around them and other people and their own little selves. This curiosity should be guided never squashed. 

Secondly, education is not just about acquiring knowledge. Of course knowledge has its place in the spectrum of education but it is not the whole. Knowledge is only useful if you have the wisdom to be able to apply it. 

Thirdly, teaching is an art form. It requires you to be able to inspire those you teach. In order to inspire someone you need to get to know your students and what drives them. When you discover that you can apply the right spark to ignite the fire in each of them. 

Lastly and certainly the most important, remember that your students are people first. Those you teach are equal in value to you because each and every person is an imagine bearer. The first word about us as people is "God created man in his own image." Our students need to know that we care about them as people that matter. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Child's cry for Justice (Everyone is Naughty)


"because children know that indeed they are not good and therefore when they hear a story of the clash of good and evil they cry out for justice and at the same time are overjoyed by mercy."
(December 14, 2012) (It is a day that some of us will remember as the Newtown shooting where 20 children and 7 (not 6) people were killed and yes, the man who committed the crime, his life counted as well, but I don't think he knew that.)
The quote however was from a podcast by Angelina Stanford entitled "Imago Dei and the Redemptive Power of Fantasy."  It made me want to repent for not having the vision and discernment to allow my children to read Harry Potter when they were growing up. If you have children 9 or 10 and older and you are reading this post, consider having your children read the series or enjoy the books together as a family. You can listen to the talk here
And I am sure that I wrote this quote prior to hearing the news about Newtown. However, I would like to take this opportunity to make some comments on the "Everyone is Naughty." Anyone who has had children knows that we do not have to teach little ones to throw a fit, throw their food on the floor or grab a toy out of another hand. They just DO IT because everyone is naughty.
If you find yourself out in public between Thanksgiving and Christmas you may overhear because you can not help but hear , "You better be good or Santa will not bring you anything for Christmas!" and not as common these days, "Naughty kids don't get anything for Christmas so you better cut it out!"
Usually, I just need to remove myself from the situation. Number 1 most of these parents are bold face liars because it is an empty threat. Number 2 It is one of the poorest examples of parenting. Number 3 it is a belief that our natural state is one of goodness.
(Let me just say that I believe people, every single human person is made in the image of the Living God)
Human beings are good is a common belief. It is that belief that makes people say, I can not believe that a person could kill those innocent children. Yet those same people are the ones who do not value the life of the Newtown shooter. So much so, that he is not named as one of the ones who lost their life that day. It was a heinous crime and I am not trying to justify his actions but it is just a matter of trying to understand mankind. Some people's naughtiness is more noticeable than others, but I think that it is harder to believe that overall people are good when it is easy to see the suffering brought upon us by our sins.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Remembering

Bucket LIST

My friend said to me, "Put it on the bucket list" I said "First you have to have a bucket list to put it on" we laughed together and the conversation continued. But afterwards I was thinking, I am just SO grateful to have a bucket. What I mean is, I have a life. Hopes and dreams and desires.
(July 2011.  Anyone who has spent time with me knows that I have a notebook, index card or Endicott stationery at any given time and that I am a list maker. The Bucket List sounds like fun and who knows perhaps some day I will make one. For now, I am just going to do my best to live life to the fullest.)

If Christians are beggars looking for "bread," then we need to get out of the kitchen, into the throne room, on our knees with The Book open (August 2011) (Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus is the WORD  who became flesh. We are living in between the "already" and the "not yet" and these Words of His, Jesus said that they will not pass away.)


The Drafts
(emails never sent with some decent quotes)

"What we must do is to stop regarding unpleasant or unexpected things as interruptions of real life. The truth is that interruptions are real life, the real life that God sends us day by day. What we call our real life is but a phantom of our imagination." C.S. Lewis

If you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up. Never begin to say - "Well, I wonder if He did speak?" Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him. You do not know when His voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness. Oswald Chambers

Dan just said to Katie, "I question whether Mr and Mrs Mort are really human, I think they are angels."

"There are people in AA that are not professing Christians that are more dependent on God's grace, more surrendered to God in a general sense, believe more in letting God be God in all circumstances, more grateful to be alive than a lot of Christians that I have met." CM

The Love of Christ

The whole self esteem movement makes the gospel unnecessary. If you keep telling little Janie that she is a "good" girl and she needs to be good. Romans 3 says there is NO ONE Good, no not one.

(February 2012) 

Reckless? Ruthless? Reformed? Redeemable?

"I just want him to be safe"

Safety is one of my mother's highest values. She just wants my brother to be safe and yes, I want my husband to be safe too. However, safety is overvalued
but the safest place to be is smack dab in the middle of God's will which sometimes means we are in a dangerous place, physically and often relationally. (February 2011...some kind of snow storm, I imagine)


Failing to Love and Acting in Love

It is to be our goal as followers of Christ to aim at always operating out of love. My son Michael has been involved for the last year in a video project with 6 of his friends. This is their last week, so I am working my way through the videos wanting to watch each one. After viewing two of them, I thought: Go to the children and they will speak the truth.


Two of these younger sisters in Christ asked questions that had to do with love and it got me to thinking. Michael and I just returned from two qualifying NCFCA tournaments, one of them was on the campus of Covenant College where my daughter Grace is a student and was on duty this week. We got to spend a good amount of time together and I am grateful for that.

This year I returned to tournament life after taking a full year off. The main reason for my return is this is Michael's last competitive season. And as a result of that decision I, like most parents in the league, want to be of service, contribute and encourage our students to develop their oratorical and analytical skills in the competitive arena by working on tournament staff.

At the GA Open the last tournament we attended was a mixed bag. I came not just as a parent of a competitor but also as a mother of a college student who happened to be on campus that week. My desire was to be of service when I could and to spend some time with my daughter. For the most part I did operate out of love.
(March 2011. Where I was both a trouble maker and a trouble shooter.)


Sometimes we are introduce to things that come in the post not addressed to us yet are available to read, like a magazine. It is a magazine about style called W which stands for who, what, where, when and why. Today I decided that I would read the Editor's Letter which was entitled, "Society Now"

Gossip and intrigue are at the heart of social life. (March 2011 It is an unfortunate commentary on 21st century life in USA)



Another page turned......

Being present for the chapter we are closing, Our last MassHOPE convention concluded yesterday.
(April 2010 and to think that was over 3 years ago. There are things that I am concerned about concerning the Christian homeschooling community. Two of those would be: how womanhood is viewed and the messages that the girls are getting: especially the idolatry of the family and secondly, "an idealistic Christian view where virtue is almost guaranteed and the reality of being sinners who are raising sinners is a topic not only avoided but not even acknowledged.) 



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Clean out and posting continued


The other day I was thinking about the news. The home page for one of my browsers is The BBC. On occasion I read the Boston Herald or USA Today. Almost daily I listen to NPR on the radio.
(May 2010 Some of my readers may judge me for listening to NPR, some refer to National Propaganda Radio but really, ALL news sources have their bias)


Reading Blogs
I have been reading and started following more blogs, every time I have sat down to write a blog so here are some interesting places that I have gone to on the Internets, the web, and all the other goofy ways that people say when they go surfing on a computer......online.......linking up.....


Inspiring



(August 29 2010)
Does anyone really ever say, "linking up"? I probably just made that up. The "Inspiring" link that year has long since past but those growing young people did a reunion week last December. You can view that week here. The other three well, yeah they are thought provoking, heartwarming and interesting but I really don't read those regularly.

Genesis God a refuge and a consuming fire! (January 25, 2011) And we think that we can fully define God. Oh finite ones, we are so finite.


"Live and let live" is a good principle but it should not always be applied. We can take it to the Nth degree and become cold and unfeeling toward those around us. Other times, we struggle to know when to step in and be a part of someone else's storm and when to step back. These are probably the most difficult decisions to make especially when you are invited into the storm simply by being a part of someone' s life. When we love someone and they need us, we want to ride out the storm with them, lay our lives down for them. But as the storm grows and includes others it can be hard to navigate, to decide to leave one person to go help another or to be standing in the middle, viewing destruction in one part of the storm and not knowing whether or not to report to those who have already suffered so much in the storms of life. Do we take it upon ourselves to burden them further or do we carry it for them?

There is One who spoke a word and the storm obeyed His voice and all became still. This stillness is available to us in the midst of the storms of life we can still find ourselves in Christ and know the peace that surpasses all understanding. It has been said, that life has a way of throwing the unexpected right in our path, but that we all ought to expect the unexpected.

The visible storms are accompanied by internal ones. When we are on the outside looking in we have no idea unless a person decided that they want us to know what kind of storm is brewing on the inside. We witnesses a lot of the external ones without even thinking about the internal ones that accompany them.

Perhaps a little disjointed this post but I think you get what I am trying to say.
(written on February 3, 2011 It has been stormy for quite some time in the last few years, I have no idea what I was involved with here. There are just too many storms to filter through for me to figure out which one and that is probably God's mercy.) 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tag me on the Wall

The Wall
Meeting at the Wall
Talking at the Wall
Smoking while sitting on the Wall
hoisting myself up onto the Wall

(originally started in November 2010)

When I was a kid we wrote on the actual wall.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fate, Forgiveness and Friendship


"It's a life and death situation."
When this line is used in a story either real or fiction, we think of it in the usual way: hanging off the edge of a cliff, being an out of control drug addict, cancer, being held at gun point, etc. you get the picture. We think about the physical life of the person, which in turn ends the social life and the work life. Some people don't think about, believe in or talk about the spiritual life. Some people don't like to talk about what they believe and why they believe it, as a general rule. It means that one would have to stand up for what he/she believes. It can be controversial.

So I have been thinking about mortality and I can't remember a time in my life that I haven't. I remember at 10 years old contemplating the end of my own young life. When people bring it up, I usually don't comment. Even recently a friend said, "maybe you're too young to be thinking about your own mortality." I don't think youth has anything to do with it. Maybe the general happy go lucky youths don't think about it. I guess I had a couple of seasons of not thinking about it but overall it is one of those things that concerns me.
I care about the here and now, a little more about my future and the future of my children but I guess I give a glance heavenward quite often. When I think about people in general, I think of their physical and mental health, emotional well-being and the state of their soul. People and their lives matter and all people are in a life and death situation.
The wages of sin is death. Sin has got to be paid for in order to enter the Presence of a Holy God.
(May 2010)

What prevents a person from accepting forgiveness? In a word pride but the explanation is not that simple to understand or maybe it is. Perhaps, it is light finally dawning on marble head. Perfectionism is the culprit. I don't think that I should make mistakes. I make them and most often I admit them and ask for forgiveness. Intellectually, I understand how important it is to learn from one's mistakes. However, there is a good possibility that what was pronounced regularly, "I may not always be right, but I am never wrong," was also modeled for me. It seems to be ingrained. Like I have an allergic reaction to forgiveness, when I think I have made a mistake that I should not have made. I think to myself, you must pay for that mistake. People can't just let you off the hook.
Some of the most successful people have made lots mistakes: Einstein, Edison, Ford, Hughes and Gates just to
 name a few. The key is to learn from them. I realize that these types of mistakes are not the same as the one's we make when interacting with people and hurting them. However, if I could see that the fact that mistakes is one of the things that ought to bring us together as human beings, then my relationships would continue to grow.
Even though these are two types of mistakes, they both miss the mark. The Oxford dictionary says, "an action or judgement that is misguided or wrong," for their definition of "mistake."
“How many people are completely successful in every department of life? Not one. The most successful people are the ones who learn from their mistakes and turn their failures into opportunities.” – Zig Ziglar
(December 2010)

Learning how to be a friend and finding that it can be a really hard thing to learn.
(December 2010)

We live and die. God keeps saying yes to the human race. People keep getting together (some marry and some don't) and having babies. We still have a planet and the world continues to spin on it's axis and most of us expect the sun to rise in the morning. Yes, this is a bit of a heavy post but that is kind of like life sometimes.



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Still on the Pilgrim Highway (drafts to posts cont'd)


One Door Closes..Another Opens


Revelations 3:8
When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go, only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly! 'The power of one sentence! God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor. God closes doors no man can open & God opens doors no man can close.. If you need God to open, some doors for you...


The above is from an email I received today, the same day that the hot water heater exploded in the cellar we are currently residing in......and in the words of Michael, "yeah, he definitely shifted things around alright" It was an internal explosion but we still experienced lots of wetness and Katie was the one who discovered it. So, I am just wondering, what is next?  

(June 2009 I believe that this was also the day that the freezer at Endicott quit. Fortunately, I did not have to drive back to the store, it just made life interesting. At the time I was running the store (Endicott) for my brother in law.) 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Katie got on the computer after I did, looked in the google search bar which read "Target Locations" and thought "what, is she launching a missile?"
(June 2009....Katie has given me great tips for more effective "googling" since then.) 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In February of 1994 Michael took his first steps and I was in New York City he was back home in Waltham with his dad and sisters. Some may say "no big deal, there are probably tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of kids who do that with a daycare provider every year." Our parenting has been intentional and we decided to educate our children at home and we do our best to be present for these experiences.
Part of our children's education as high schoolers has been to participate in competitive forensics. Yesterday, Katie and Michael set out for the National Championship and I am back here in Massachusetts. I am missing one of the events of their high school years. It is hard for me to miss it and at the same time I know that I am exactly where I am suppose to be: Endicott Variety.
(June 2009 I believe that Nats were in SC at the time and I remember the ache in my heart that week. It was very hard to be left behind and at the same time I had the peace of Christ. It was great to be there for SO many moments and milestones in my children's lives.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Kingdom, the Escape, the Walk
Yesterday we gathered with the family of God in Auburn, MA and we heard a word from Brother Ralph and Sister Pauline. Ralph talked about the Kingdom of God being within us and that it is quite possible to not be in it. There are things that keep us from entering in and we must find a way of escape from those things in order to walk in the Spirit and at the same time be in this world and in the flesh.
(This took place at our friends, Ken and ClaraJean's in September of 2009. It reminds me of how rich our pilgrim journey in the Spirit and in the Body has been so far.) 


Monday, June 17, 2013

The stories continue

Tell me the Story
is a book by Max Lucado
We owned it at one time and in story form tells us about creation, forgiveness, redemption and other matters of faith. I sure hope it is in storage somewhere. It was delightfully written and the paintings by Ron Decianni are captivating. (July 2008 Indeed it was in storage which we finally got rid of last spring when we bought our house in Boylston MA. I think Dan will probably add it to his save it for the future grandchildren collection.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Life is richer and deeper than we know. Are we willing to question? to understand? to find meaning? or are we trudging along? putting our collective noses to the grind stone?

What? How about the economy? the upcoming election?

It is still worth
(October 2008....questions, the meaning and purpose of life.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Story

Hey there! I have put up the new blog for my raw fiction. So you can check it out anytime or not.

There are so many people that I love! God has been gracious to us.
(October 2008. I still like this story in the making but I never went back to it.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday Morning December 21, 2008
Writing to you from Sutton, MA where it almost seems like what CS Lewis called Narnia at some point, "where it is always winter but never Christmas." The reign of the white witch I believe. We have our little tree, a few other decorations and the music of course. There is just something different going on. (some might say, "it's the economy stupid") I received a phone call from an older woman last night, I answered and she said hello, then brief silence, she said it's Jules, and I said who are you looking for? and she said Judy, I said you must have to wrong number, Merry Christmas and she said Merry Christmas to you too, dear.
When people say Merry Christmas it is softer not as rushed, like they really mean it. Like they're saying keep your chin up. Times are tough but we can still enjoy the simple things.
Tuesday Morning December 23, 2008 (Ah, winter in New England. This is also the year we had that terrible ice storm. We lost our power for about 10 hours but some people went a week or more without power)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Relationships come in all different flavors. As a traveler, I had to be willing to give my heart to people even if I would only walk through their life and they mine for a matter of days or weeks. It has enriched my life so much. Some people I keep in touch with, some I don't and some may read my blog regularly and are reading this very post and I don't even know it. The point is we are made to live in community and have all kinds of different relationships. (February 2009  We are all travelers and one day we will come to the end of the road and it will be our last day here on earth and then on into eternity. Even for someone who never ventures out of their own parts, it still holds true.)




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~