Friday, January 30, 2009

An Example, but of WHAT??

I'm beginning to fear that my worst nightmare is coming true.

It's the nightmare where your kid doesn't want to do what you do, so they do the opposite of what you are doing. (I know I just made an incredibly profound statement there. Try not to be intimidated by the brilliance contained therein.) If you've seen Spanglish, you know what I'm talking about.

I think I'm going to need to quit reading the classics in my spare time and start laying around on the couch reading Danielle Steele while munching on cheese puffs instead. And if there are any Danielle Steele readers out there, PLEASE stop reading that. It's just no good for your brain. I read one once (A lady on a plane gave it to me to get me to shut up. I read it in a single flight...). I couldn't believe I had spent an hour and a half reading that book.

Anyway.... there is also the possibility of eating only sugar, staying up late watching MTV, and tiVo'ng all my favorite shows so I could get my "picture box fix." I wish I was kidding when I tell you that big sis LOVES the show "My Redneck Wedding," and just because I think it's the most IDIOTIC show around, she's telling me how she's going to have a wedding like that.

I'm not convinced that "setting the right example" is the best plan. I'm sorry, but many awesome people don't look back on their childhoods as perfection personified. I wonder if I could be the example of what NOT to be instead. It feels like I'm just dangling somewhere in the middle and my family is confused.

So what do I have to do? PRETEND to like a bunch of junky brain-mush stuff so they try to be different than I am? Really. This teenage stuff is a mind boggler. I keep trying to be perfect, but that angle aint workin.

"look At mee....I da CRAZZZYYY mamaaaaaaa.............You NEEDS to be gettin yo'way n dis WERLD, cuz MAMA NEEDS YOU to be everything I CAINT! I CAINT do't! ***cry, blubber*** mama da Needs you to get her a drink of water ***drink/ spill/ slobber***"

I mean really, would this help things? Because I'm up for pulling the crazy card.

And I really am no good at being demanding. I prefer inspiring. Only thing is, these kids of mine know all of my tricks!

It's time for me to go play Wii.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

He or She Plays by His or Her own Rules


It would be just awesome if I could tell you that this type of thing wasn't perfectly normal around my house.

But then I'd be telling a lie, wouldn't I? And everyone knows what they say about liars. (Actually I'm telling a lie I don't know what they say.)

I've been wondering why my refrigerator smelled like spearmint every time I opened the door.


I'm going to be asking my kids all about this very very soon. The fact is, I know EXACTLY who did this, but I don't expect the guilty party to come forward. It's pretty much the same person who makes his or her own rules. He or she is one of my favorite people in the world, and he or she is very creative. He or she likes thinking outside of the box, and he or she will be very successful, in spite of and because this person, who remains nameless, is not bound by traditional rules of engagement. He or she is a leader, an innovator, and a genuine, certified free spirit.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Relaxation Junkie

I think I'm a Relaxation Junkie. On snow days like we're having, I seem to thrive on doing nothing. I did clean out a closet or two, but that only got me 2% closer to where I needed to be. Instead, I've been sitting on my cozy couch, listening to Pandora "Library Tunes," watching the snow fall, and reading Longfellow. Truly, he amazes me. His work is simple, but in the grand old style using American word-pictures. Apparently, he has gone in and out of vogue, but I enjoy his writing. I came across this simple poem:

THE WITNESSES
by: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

In Ocean's wide domains,
Half buried in the sands,
Lie skeletons in chains,
With shackled feet and hands.

Beyond the fall of dews,
Deeper than plummet lies,
Float ships, with all their crews,
No more to sink nor rise.

There the black Slave-ship swims,
Freighted with human forms,
Whose fettered, fleshless limbs
Are not the sport of storms.

These are the bones of Slaves;
They gleam from the abyss;
They cry, from yawning waves,
"We are the Witnesses!"

Within Earth's wide domains
Are markets for men's lives;
Their necks are galled with chains,
Their wrists are cramped with gyves.

Dead bodies, that the kite
In deserts makes its prey;
Murders, that with affright
Scare school-boys from their play!

All evil thoughts and deeds;
Anger, and lust, and pride;
The foulest, rankest weeds,
That choke Life's groaning tide!

These are the woes of Slaves;
They glare from the abyss;
They cry, from unknown graves,
"We are the Witnesses!"

It would be great to feel a sense of relief because there are no longer slaves in this world. Unfortunately, there are more slaves living today in this world than were trafficked during the African slave trade era. Slavery doesn't always look the same today as it did then. What is it? Modern-day slavery is human trafficking, forced labor, forced prostitution, debt bondage, contemporary slavery, forced marriage, transferring of wives, inheritance of wives, and transfer of a child for purposes of exploitation.

"Probably the most startling statistic is the estimated 27 million slaves still in the world today. These slaves come in varied forms, and may be very different from the slaves in the days of Wilberforce. But they are slaves nonetheless.

Millions across the globe are bonded into slavery with men, women and children toiling on plantations. Then there is the deplorable and prevalent trade in humans to serve as sex slaves.

Let's look at the statistics: an estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year; approximately 50 per cent of all victims are children; 126 million children work in the worst forms of child labour - one in every 12 of the world's five- to seventeen-year-olds; there are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers involved in over 30 areas of conflict worldwide, some younger than 10 years old." Source

The statistic "27 million" seems unfathomable, but I've checked this statistic over and over from multiple sources. This is the most CONSERVATIVE estimate.

Well...

I didn't mean to ruin anyone's day. I do think, however, that we need to be in prayer for those helpless ones across the world (and right here in the land of the free) who face circumstances much worse than we could imagine. The church is being persecuted, and the truly helpless are being exploited.

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about these things, and I've hesitated to discuss it on my blog, since it's such a huge and dark issue. However, I'd really appreciate it if you would join me in prayer.

I'll be ready for Christ to return any time, won't you?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wilbur is in Solitary Confinement

I wish something funny was happening around my house. But NO! Nothing funny happens around here anymore! My funny bone must be broken, because I have very little comedy in me these days.

I'm not having emotional problems or anything, but I just don't feel funny! And if Wilbur has died, WHO AM I???

This is truly an identity crisis. Is this my midlife crisis? My hubby bear made his "very own" batch of cookies tonight. I should have gotten out the easy-bake oven for him, but he used the big boy oven instead. Not being a baker, he decided to add "extra" butter. This is the funniest thing that has happened to me all day! Oh wait... he just yelled, "Where's MY PEAS!!! BRING ME SOME PEAS, WOMAN!!!"

There's a whole lot of comedy building up inside of me right now. I wonder when it's going to pop out? I'm building up steam. Let's just hope that when I explode, it's not in anyone's direction. It's going to be scary.

****He keeps yelling for his peas. This is surreal*********

When does comedy turn scary? When Wilbur becomes ravenous after being starved too long.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lock Me Up? Or Lift me Up.

We listened to "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards yesterday in Rhetoric. It was a follow-up to Aristotle's discussion of how to use fear to persuade an audience.

My students and I were all sufficiently humbled and awe-struck. The sermon was a great reminder to me that without the Good that is God, my own sin would eat me alive.

God cannot tolerate an ounce of sin. This is bad news for me, because on my best days I can usually count at least 100 times my mind has wandered where it should not, my tongue has said something that it should not have said, or my heart has nursed a secret bitterness.

Sin, unchecked, creates an unfathomable hardness of heart. I knew I was in trouble today when I told one class that I thought Miss Havisham (a classic Dickens character) was a "...funny lady. I hope I can be as blunt and crazy as she is when I am old." One student said, "I think you've got a pretty good chance of seeing that dream come true; You're off to a great start!"

But guilt can be a beautiful thing. I realized afresh today that I am a wanted woman. My sin makes me an outlaw. I have broken the rules. I deserve death.

I'm so grateful that there is someone who paid the ransom for my sin! Scripture says that Christ sits at the right hand of God to intercede for me. He's speaking to Him on my behalf. I am no longer an outcast, an outlaw and a sinner. The debt was too much for me to pay, but HE paid the price for my lawlessness and disobedience. I truly am redeemed. As a bonus, I know I am constantly restrained from evil by His providential hand. For this, I am truly thankful.

I am not a wanted woman; I am a wanted woman.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So, yep.... I'll admit it.

It's time to come clean.

I REALLY love those students of mine. But for their part, I think LOVING a teacher generally has to do with getting a good grade.

A=love (You didn't mess up my life.)
B=tolerable (This is unacceptable, but I might survive.)
C=dislike (This is extremely inconvenient.)
D=anger (Who do you think you are, Teacher?)
F=inane, insatiable blood boiling hatred

I had all of my classes watch a Martin Luther King video montage this week in class, and I gave them an ambiguous assignment. "Write a short essay in response to the video." This boggled many of their minds.

One asked me, "If I don't do well on this, are you going to be angry with me?" I responded, "Of course not! I'll feel exactly the same way about you that I feel about you now! YOU, on the other hand, might feel entirely different about me depending upon your grade. "

Their debate t-shirts say it best: " 'Corrupted Youth' Plato, Apology 24." Are we corrupting them? I sure hope so. Tell me: How do you grade THAT?

So, yep...I love them. Just thought you should know.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Do You Like My Poncho?

I REALLY need to know how you feel.

I put my reputation as the quintessential fashionista (cough) on the line this week for my Rhetoric students. We were discussing "truth," and TELLING the truth.

I know for a fact that there are at least four blog-readers out there who might LOVE this poncho. You might love it because it reminds you of another time in your life. A time in Guatemala... Earthquakes, missions, and learning about God's call on your life. I love it for that reason, too. It reminds me of you.

There are others of you who might not find this poncho appealing.

I asked my Rhetoric class to respond: "When do simple questions require direct and simple answers?"


The question is simple. Are you suffering from Post-Modernism Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Am I?? Do we think that EVERYTHING has a "black and white" answer? We all want to be able to discern TRUTH, but maybe we have failed to realize that LIGHT doesn't create Black and White. LIGHT creates COLORS.

When Martin Luther was asked to recant his writings that were based entirely on his understanding of Scripture, he said "Here I stand, on the word of God alone. I can do no other." When someone asks me "do you like my poncho?" (or some other equally irrelevant question), It's important for me to understand that my opinion is not necessarily TRUTH. It's a matter of TRUTH versus Opinion. Do I have to respond? I don't think so.

I'm wondering if we, as Christians, are at times tempted to "take a stand" for something that isn't a real issue, because we want everything to fit into a box? We're so afraid of being wishy-washy that we make issues out of things that aren't really issues. Is PMPTSD the new legalism?

Someone this week told me that he was on a mission to "reclaim the rainbow." I agree. This beautiful reflection of God's many colors shows his promises and covenant with man. I can't help but also think about the Trinity, and the beautiful differences contained therein.

I think that when we draw a line in the sand, we need to be sure that we aren't standing in front of the Light of Truth while we are busy making our point heard (or seen).

St. Augustine said it best. "Most people don't want the truth to be found, they simply want their opinions to be heard."

I'm grateful for the differences of opinion in this world. This exchange of ideas, cultures and tastes allows for an "iron sharpens iron" effect. I think it's critical, however, that when we share our opinions, we're realize the difference between...OPINION, and the Holy Word of God (Truth). I'm grateful for differences when they help lead me to truth. I don't think there's a truth to divine in a poncho (or other "seemingly" serious issues).

BTW, I did spell poncho "pancho." I'm a poncho neophyte.

I'm taking a stand. I don't have to take a stand.

But...that's just my opinion.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Just Curious...

After sending my thirteen year old to his room for the night , when asked to explain "Why??"

Should I have responded by saying: "Because. You're a back-talking goober face!"

PMPTSD

It has become crystal clear to me in the last few weeks. I've been struggling with a few issues that have become a driving, obsessive personal force in my life. And then, yesterday...it hit me.

It "seems" to me that many Christians (myself included) are suffering from:

Post-Modernism Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I feel free. Sat on that branch long enough. Time to fly. Oh man. I'm awfully close to the cliff. I wonder if I'll make it across????

More to come...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chapters 1-3

Chapter One:

I've gained eight pounds since the marathon. Did you ever notice how short I am? (No of course you didn't because I always wear heals.) Eight pounds on me is like twenty on a person who is not vertically challenged. Those pants...they don't fit sister!!! What happened to mini-me??? SOOO, I started training for the half marathon yesterday. I remembered why it is that people exercise. In the words of Elle Woods, "exercise makes people happy."

Chapter Two:

For some reason, the students in my class today decided to start discussing whether or not we HAD to "tell the truth" by responding to someone when they ask a point blank question. For example, if someone says "Do you like my vest?" (their example), my students feel that the response must be completely honest. I think you can avoid answering the question by saying something like. "Do YOU like your vest?" I don't think it's NECESSARILY a sin to remain silent. Of course, this doesn't apply to vests covered in pornography or dripping blood from a recently murdered person. In that case, I think the answer is a clear "NO! I don't like your vest, Mr. Porno-murderer." Really, does a vest have anything to do with morality? Sheesh. Pick a better example, or I refuse to dignify the question with a serious response.

Chapter Three:

Am I the ONLY PERSON in the whole world who finds the following church sign incredibly ironic? I kept discussing it with my students and they were looking at me like I was C-rayyyy-a-Zee!!!. "Well done is better than well said." (I agree. Well said.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Here, God... Here's the Pen. It's Yours.

It’s 2009, The beginning of a new year.

I’m not inclined towards “new year” resolutions. In fact, I vehemently, in both theory and practice, oppose them. I’ve never kept a resolution for an entire year. I suppose some people are able to do so, but I have been a miserable failure in this arena. Several years ago, I gave up the practice altogether. My life has stagnated, but at least there is no guilt (just kidding...but about which statement?).

However, one cannot help but be inclined towards realizing the hope that comes with something new. A new year brings an opportunity to re-focus.

There are those of you out there (like me) who are easily bored and will glance down this post and realize it goes on and on. You will not continue reading. Bravo. Your time is your own, and I value your choice. Go make a sandwich. For everyone else, here goes an unusually serious post.

I’m a literature teacher, so forgive me if my personal epiphany has been couched literarily. In the great novels, the protagonist always comes face to face with a “defining moment.” It is generally a singular moment in time that defines the character’s entire prior life as nothing more than a precursor to a singular act. The protagonists that we see as heroes define this climactic moment most often by making a heroic moral decision. Sometimes the hero of a novel will realize his or her moment has arrived. More often than not, however, the hero is too absorbed in his own story to have the ability to reflect upon his actions. The hero simply lives how he or she has always been living. The hero makes a surprising choice, but the choice generally falls in line with his or her character traits.

What will the consequences of my character be in 2009? Will I face that defining moment in my life? If I do face it, will I realize that it has come, or will it pass me by unnoticed? Will I be a hero or an anti-hero?

I have a tendency to believe that there are many defining moments in our lives. It is no great epiphany to realize that life is a series of ups and downs, rising action, climax and denouement that is all a part of the every day.

But what if 2009 is THE YEAR? What if 2009 contains that singular moment in history that will define who I am? What if I’ve found my life’s work? Can I maintain a safe distance from myself, so as to not make every move a self-conscious and affected mess??? When providence is at play, I think it is important to live with a measure of selfless abandon.

I don’t think that greatness is generally defined by strategic planning. I think greatness is generally achieved when we realize that we are in a providentially ordained moment (a space in time written just for us by the Divine Author), and we embrace it. We must act on our previous experiences, our character, and most importantly Faith in God that he has prepared us for such a time as this.

To some, the previous has been nothing but garbledy-gook. Someone else out there might know just what I’m talking about. Nate Wilson once challenged an audience: "What type of character are you? How will history remember YOU?" In 2009, I plan to be an active participant in my story. I hope to do this by handing the pen to God.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"Outspoken" Little Sis

I don't know of many women who were socialized by four older brothers.

In my formative years, they were all teenagers. So it's actually closer to the truth to say that I was socialized by teenage boys. Wow. That explains a lot.

Goofy humor and good-natured sarcasm were all part of the package.

Once in a while, I meet one of my own. We immediately bond. Let me tell you, that the experience is one of a kind.

They are all older, born between the years of 1960-1965. I came several years later.

My parents felt guilty that I was "left out" because my dad neglected to purchase me one of these Christmas sweater vests for the ski trip. Don't worry Dad, I'm really not offended. (Honestly, You really thought I would be???)

The bottom line is that I have EIGHT men in my life that I hold in the highest regard. My husband, my two boys, my father, and my four brothers. I had two grandfathers who were Christian patriarchs in their own right.

I've never been one of "the boys," but likewise they aren't "the girl." I wasn't a pampered princess, but I certainly learned the importance of living a disciplined life sprinkled with a great deal of humor from these four guys. I love them all deeply.

Thanks boys.
-Your Bratty (a.k.a. the euphemism "outspoken") Little Sister