Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Book You've Read at Least Once

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


I last read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. I didn't intend to re-read it, but the e-book happened to be available from our library and Harper Lee's recent death made me realize how little of the story I remembered. 

I'm from a small town and grew up in a relatively poor family but my family lived in that county for 6 generations so I was related to "everyone." There is a sort of status in having a lot of cousins. Even though my family was nothing special, we were related to some who were. I knew families like the Ewells and Cunninghams and Finches. I knew a kid like Dill. A lot of what Lee writes about small town life resonates as true with me. Probably more so now that I have moved away from it all. Time and maturity have altered my perspective. Rose-colored glasses are firmly in place.

It was nice to read something so good that I stayed up late to keep reading, even though I knew what was going to happen in the story. Does that make sense? Anyhoo -- 2 down, 10 to go.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2 Yrs L8r

Two years in Arizona, already! Still feel out of my element, but less so.

The old saying is "bloom where you are planted." I am not blooming. But not withering and dying, either. More just living. Just being. But life is like a bicycle, you have to pedal now and then if you want to get anywhere. The only time you can coast forever is on the final downhill run.  I need to stop coasting. Life is getting dangerously slow and unsteady. So pedal I shall.

Blooms are happening around me if not within me! And hummingbirds are loving these two in the yard.

And it looks like I will pick my first tomato tomorrow, with many more to follow.

Summer break starts next week. I welcome the brief change of routine and a bit more sleep in the mornings. And time to enjoy a cup of tea on the patio at the start of my day. Perhaps that is all the fertilizer I need to get my bloom on.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Strong's #2428

The Hebrew word translated variously as “virtuous” or “noble character” or "worthy" in Proverbs 31:10 is only used to describe one other woman in the Bible – Ruth (Ruth 3:11). As we know from her story, Ruth was a very hard working woman and not the Angel in the House many want to twist the Proverbs 31 woman into. Ruth is also a foreshadow of Mary. I think we protestants latch onto the imaginary Proverbs 31 woman and ignore the flesh-and-blood Mary as a model of womanhood because the reality of Mary We are comfortable making an idol from the mythical Proverbs 31 woman because we tell ourselves we can become her if we try, try, try. One only needs to look in the mirror to greet her early each day before heading off to tackle that to-do list! But apparently praying to have the faithfulness and humility of Mary would be idolatry. Go figure.

And what is to be gained if I become the perfect Proverbs 31 Woman and dance about telling everyone? The comfort that I can rely on myself to work out my personal salvation? The honor of others looking to me as an example? Oh, yes, I am promised that my children and husband will arise and call me blessed. The word vainglory comes to mind.

No. Not going to do it.

Ruth & Mary humbled themselves as servants. The better choice.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 ESV)

He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9 ESV)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

B&W vs. Kodachrome

The devil's favorite color is gray. - G.K. Chesterton

Years ago I read Ben Franklin's list of virtues that he tried to abide by and how he evaluated himself daily. I thought that was a bit extreme, but I found the idea of 7 deadly sins vs. 7 heavenly virtues a more attainable challenge, at least in my head.

The best way to score oneself on this Vice/Virtue challenge is to imagine it is like a customer service survey where Always is on the far right and also on the far left. 50/50 is in the middle. Always on the far left is BLACK and Always on the far right is WHITE.  Anything in between is a shade of gray.

Immediately we fail because no one can check "Always Humble" without pride. And we continue to fail because practicing these virtues perfectly is impossible.

We can hope to live our lives in the lighter shades of gray. Perhaps leading a light gray life is a sign of a person with very good character, but real life isn't light gray. It's blue and green and yellow and pink and so on. Those nice bright colors, the greens of summer, makes me think all the world's a sunny day (oh, yeah)...Everything looks worse in black & white.

The world around us is colorful and vibrant and interesting. It is also imperfect (but that is okay)! Let go of perfectionism and enjoy the ride. That is truly a challenge but those who can do that have genuinely good character.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Just a Reminder

Disagreements happen. I believe this is not a bad thing. Pretending to agree just to get along is so....fake. But disagreeing for the sake of creating an argument,'s unnecessary. I feel a little guilt there. Yet I gain a lot from disagreement. It challenges me to examine my faith, my behavior, and my relationships.  

There is a lot of toxic "Christianity" on the web. By toxic I mean it drives people away from faith rather than reaching them with it. It teaches false doctrines. It diminishes Christ's work of salvation on the cross. It casts doubts on God's sovereignty. It is hard to sit in silence sometimes.

The gentle reminder, kind of whispered in my ear = Prayer Is Important.

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us,
in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront
one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work
together with mutual forbearance and respect;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A: It keeps no record of wrongs.

Q: What is love?

One woman was telling her story of divorcing her husband due to the hardness of her heart towards him. Years later, her granddaughter held her face in her hands and asked her, "Nana, did you ask for forgiveness from Papa {her grandpa} for divorcing him?" and she said, "Yes." "Did you ask my mama forgiveness for divorcing her dad?" and she said, "Yes." "Did you ask my aunts to forgive you?" "Yes," she replied. Then that little girl looked right in her grandmother's face and asked, "Why haven't you asked me for my forgiveness?" - Source
Yet it would be a million-zillion-billion times more important to teach the little girl to forgive her grandmother without making "Nana" beg for it.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, 
as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:32

But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. - Matthew 6:16

Monday, April 18, 2016

The CCO vs The Merciful God

The Chief Compliance Officer is the person who makes sure a company is obeying state and federal regulations and internal policies and procedures. CCOs are a necessary part of modern corporate America and ever increasing layers of regulation and litigation. The CCO knows the rule book cover to cover and is responsible for training employees to comply with the rules.

Does the church need CCOs? In Bible-speak, a CCO is a Pharisee.

Pharisees believe in obedience to the letter of the law. Compliance.

One of my top 10 favorite verses:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8

Do justice. To who? Jesus lives this verse. Do justice to the poor, the lame, the sick. Do justice to those the Pharisees excluded: whores, lepers, tax collectors, the demon possessed. Do justice on the the Sabbath. Do justice to the woman at the well, the bleeding woman, the dead girl, the adulteress.

What do all these people have in common? They are the weak. The victims. The abused. They didn't earn Jesus' mercy by obedience, but they received it by His Grace. It is absurd to believe Jesus would ever side with the abuser for the sake of keeping the law. It is beyond absurd to believe God would condemn an abused woman for divorcing her abuser.

The church does not need CCOs. It needs Jesus.

And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. Matthew 12:7