Sunday, August 31, 2008

Coexist IX - My Changing World Views

In the mere process of living my world views have changed. There has not been one person, book or event, but all the experiences in my life that have led me to move past the thinking of my youth. Even though in America we have a law dividing church and state, in our hearts I do not think we can separate our spiritual beliefs from our politics. Both have changed for me in some ways. I am a Christian and yet I do not align myself with conservative Christian right-wing politics. It does not make sense to me any longer.
My blogging friend Ruth, (check it out) often bravely and honestly writes about questions of faith. This week she wrote eloqently about the fact that over the years she has adopted a more liberal viewpoint. She has struggled with some of the contradictions of the Bible and in the Christian faith, (as we all have) but she cannot let go of the divinity of Jesus - and neither do I. Ruth gave me the impetus to finally put my thoughts in writing on this blog.
When I was a young mother I had some friends that were into the Gospel according to James Dobson and Pat Robertson. I found myself on that road until one October when I almost became convinced that Halloween was the work of the Devil and I should not allow my children to participate. I had so many wonderful Halloween memories and I woke up to how I was being influenced. Some "Christians" appear to spread more hatred than love and can take the joy out of living. I wanted to raise my children as Christians, but not a Christianity that was about all the things we cannot do and the people we should not associate with. I wanted them to live in the real word, with faith.
I named this blog COEXIST because that word is the answer to all the problems in the world. There are hundreds of races, nationalities, religions and languages. Human beings look different, have different cultures, sexual orientation and religions - and yet we still want everyone to be the same, think the same, believe the same, have the same skin color, the same kind of family life we have. We still think, in fact, that there is one right way. There is no right way, no right political party or candidate.
I work in a multicultural city and school district. I have had to learn to coexist with children and parents who have lives I cannot relate to, nor do they understand mine. We do not communicate in the same way and we do not have the same values, but we must work together for the children.
I have come to know and admire some gay men. A defining moment for me was when my friend looked me in the eye and said, "No one would choose to be gay. It's a miracle I survived high school." There have always been gay people and there always will be. So if a political platform does not allow my friends the same human rights as the rest of us , I cannot go along with that. (I'll save the rest of that argument for another time).
I do not personally believe in abortion, but I do believe that decision is between a woman and her God. If some people want to worry about the value of human life maybe they should worry about the young men and women dying in Iraq or the black children dying on our city streets from gunfire. Are their lives less valuable?
As an educator I have suffered, along with all the American students and teachers, the punishing requirements of No Child Left Behind. The intent may have been honorable, but when dedicated teachers and administrators country-wide began shouting out the law's faults we should have been listened to. And no, school vouchers and school choice is not the answer. All NCLB has done is taken money and resources away from the public schools, instead of funding them say, like we fund the war in Iraq. If we had a fraction of that money we could turn out kids as smart as the Chinese and all our kids would have the same opportunities. Again, NCLB was written on the basis that ALL kids learn at the same rate and have the same abilities and opportunities. That, my friends, will never be. This is America - when will a President come along that actually assures equal education for all American children?
Christianity should not be in the business of exclusion, but inclusion as Jesus demonstrated over and over. Christians should not be in the business of being God, but of worshipping God. A lot of my views now come from the belief that God is the only judge, not me, not a political party, not a Presidential candidate. This releases me from the burden of judgment and anger at others whose lives are unlike mine or who make decisions I would not make. While we are down here fighting over land and how others should live, God is still in His heaven. He is still the only judge. His opinion is the only one that matters. I can rest in that.
I read Obama's book and I listened to his speech and I agreed with just about everything he said, but I'm not too excited. He is one person. Neither he or McCain can make all the changes that this country needs. Neither one will keep all their promises. The only thing I can do besides vote is be the kind of person that makes a positive impact on my tiny little place in this world. I can sit around bemoaning the fact that others don't agree with me, aren't voting for the same candidate as me, don't believe in the things that I do - but then I'd just be wasting away my own life wouldn't I?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Fotos

This is a photo I just took while walking by our lovely wine cabinet/my husband's junk table (it actually is quite tidy right now). I did not move anything or set this up, but there appears to be five, count them five, pairs of reading glasses - all his. As we always say when we can't find our $.88 "cheaters" - getting old sucks!

I call this one - Beauty and the Beast. It's really the lovely Olivia and Gambit at a recent picnic.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Equal but Not the Same

I believe all living things are created by God, and therefore have inherent and equal value. In my job as a special education teacher I have been an advocate of children who are "different." I am sure that they are just as precious to their parents as non-disabled children and hopefully treated as such in the public schools. Laws like the Americans With Disabilities Act have promoted that notion - allowing handicapped people equal access to public places. There is a law that states that all children are entitled to a free appropriate public education in America.
Recently Ohio adopted a "value-added" formula to measure students' growth on mandatory statewide tests (created by another law called No Child Left Behind). Value-added tracks whether a year's worth of learning is actually happening in the course of a year - regardless of whether the child passes the test at the end of the year. Hurray! Someone finally sat at a desk in Columbus and said - maybe all kids don't learn the same way at the same speed. DUH!
I think this is a step forward, but not an answer to yearly high-stakes tests for our public school students. Value-added has only been adopted in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and North Carolina in addition to Ohio. Really? In 2008 we've only come this far in understanding the realities of children and education today?
What should count is that a child has learned and grown academically each year regardless of whether he started kindergarten not knowing his last name or colors or shapes, or whether he was already reading at a first grade level. The problem for me is that my special needs students are often not equipped to learn a year's worth of anything in a year. They learn more slowly and at their own rate, so even though this idea is better it still seems punishing to them.
Does anyone really think that we are all the same? That all 10 year-olds for example, can and should understand algebraic concepts - or would be okay if they learned those abstract concepts when they are 14 years-old, when the brain is more developed - oops, they are failures already!
It is the same with some "politically correctness" I've recently had conversations about. Here are some examples:
Soccer teams playing against each other for years, but there are no scores and no losers, they are all winners. (do they really think the kids can't count goals?)
All-star baseball cancelled in one nearby suburb because the kids who didn't make it might feel bad. Unfortunately the kids who worked hard all season to earn it were the ones to feel bad.
End-of-the-year awards ceremonies in elementary schools where ALL the students get awards regardless of their achievement or behavior. ( and the point is?)
Lunch aides in an elementary building now being called "lunch teachers". I know they have a tough job and they certainly deserve respect - but I doubt if any of them spent years working on a Master's degree in education as the rest of us were required to do.
Does any of this seem strange to you or am I just a meanie?
In testing we expect all the students to be the same, and in real life the differences, the strengths and weaknesses they exhibit are to be ignored. What are we teaching them about life? They deserve anything the next guy has whether they worked for it or not?
And how is this fair to those who have put in the blood, sweat and tears?
There is only one possible exception to this argument for me and that is public education. I believe in America all children should have access to an excellent education no matter where their parents live or what the property taxes. (Ohio's school funding was ruled unconstitutional over a dozen years ago and nothing has been done to change it). The argument, not unlike my own, is that the parents worked hard to move into a good school district. But I say, if you worked hard to give your children certain privileges that only money can buy, they are still going to benefit through travel and experiences that many poor children never have. Why should kids suffer in school every day because their parents haven't achieved enough? This is America , isn't it?
Sorry for the rant and I'm not sure if I kept my thoughts clear, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tired Tuesday

For teachers the first day of school is chaotic and exciting. It's such an important day for students. Hopefully we do not convey the exhaustion we often feel the first week of school. The first day for teachers is filled with a pep rally of speeches, tons of data and challenges presented for the new year.
Today I began the new year at my elementary school AND at the middle school across the way (my new assignment). I have to say I enjoyed seeing a lot of my fifth graders from last year - but I was not much help navigating the maze of hallways or opening lockers (right-left-right).
My body's tired from running up and down stairs and between buildings and my brain is drained of anything clever to regale you with today - so I'll just say - give me a day or two to adjust to the summer being over (I know all you 12 month workers have your tiny violins out right now - but c'mon - have a heart!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Coexist IX - Children

I wonder if my early thoughts of COEXIST started in college as I studied to be a teacher. I painted this back then, and I think it expressed my feelings about the innocence of children and their ability to coexist before the world teaches them differently. This painting has been hanging in the school office ever since I brought it in for a quick-and-easy bulletin board many years ago and the principal said it was staying put. Few people even know I did it since it has my former name. It's very interesting that the particular school I have worked at for thirteen years is very multicultural in a community that prides itself on its diversity.
Have you ever gone to a playground and watched preschoolers? They seem to innately know how to coexist. They often begin to play together without any introductions or hesitations. They are much more interested in the work of playing then in judging who they are playing with. Of course, later in elementary school, relationships are formed and the complications that can arise from them on the playground, but I believe we are born with the ability and tendency to want to live peacefully. Living in a volatile and unpredictable world changes that somewhere along the way.
So, as I start a new school year tomorrow I hope and pray for peaceful coexistence - for us all.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Living Will

Last night my friend and I were sitting in the living room while I was blogging and I said to her, "I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens just pull the plug."

She got up, unplugged my computer and threw away my wine.

Friday, August 22, 2008

August 2008

Vein splitting, heart slapping,
life rolled you through the wringer.
You came out flat only to puff yourself up again,
get three dimensional, so God
could save you from the shredder.
One time you had it all -
the bills were paid, the house was clean,
the dog stopped peeing on the carpet.
You had love, sex, a roof, a bed.
You had food, car insurance, tickets to a show
- you had it all.
Then it was the children, misstepping,
out of place, and your sleepless nights
erupted into a new era of anxiety.
But your choices were not theirs,
your faith was not theirs, some of your words
fell out of your mouth and landed
with a thud at their feet.
They didn't notice your great, good example,
your ducks in a row perched on the mantle.
They wanted all the fun and life experiences
you never had - and you wanted that for them too.
So you waited and prayed,
kicked faith into high gear
because you never really had it all,
you just had faith.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The soft blue sky never did melt
Into his heart, he never felt
The witchery of the soft blue sky.

William Wordsworth

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


My daughter is back - safe and sound and happy. She has made womanly wise and brave decisions and I am so proud of her. I told her the blogging friends were praying and she said she felt all the angels surrounding her the whole way home. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Beginnings

I am presently preparing my psyche to go back to work and a new school year with new students and new challenges. ( No more playing around on blogs all day). At the same time my beloved daughter is making huge, and I believe, positive changes in her life. I don't usually share deeply personal things on this blog - but I ask for your prayers as she drives a truck with all her belongings from New York City back to Ohio tomorrow by herself. She will be exhausted in more ways than one, so I'm the worried mom. But I do have faith in her strength and in her decisions. And she wants to do this on her own and I respect that.
I have the confidence to ask this because I was thinking of all of you blogging buddies this morning. I accidently deleted my list of "Beautiful Bloggers" and had to reenter everyone's title and blog address. I thought about all the encouraging comments and caring words from so many of you. This blogging thing is quite a phenomenon to me. Something I never even heard of a few years ago. As I thought about my daughter and about all of you - I knew I could count on you to pray for her.
If you are not on my list of links and would like to be, please let me know. Likewise, if I'm not on yours - let's trade links. I may be caught up in all the changes in the next few days, but I will try to keep you posted. Thanks.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I think I'm still recovering from the last two weekends and I have nothing profound in my brain today.
All summer I was trying to lose a few pounds and I was a really "good girl." I counted those points and resisted picnic fare and got up at 6:45 a.m. to walk most days. Alas, I lost a few, plateaued for two weeks and then got discouraged and gave up. Last week I bought a bag of assorted chocolates for the reunion. I had not had any goodies all summer, except for dessert on our anniversary. (Sadly, we haven't even gone out for ice cream this summer! Such sacrifice.)
I did not serve the chocolates and found them the following week. I proceeded to eat every mini-Reese's cup in the bag. My husband looked in the bag that was cleverly hidden in the freezer and said, "You ate all the Reese's!" "Yes, I did." I replied without shame.

Now I am on a mini-chocolate binge. After a virtuous dieting summer - I NEED IT NOW! (However, a binge to me is just a little each day.)

The good news is that chocolate is reeeaaallly good for you. Really! It contains flavenoids, a type of polyphenal antioxident. It has 8 times more than strawberries! You may also reap benefits in your blood pressure and HDL cholesterol (the good stuff).

Cocoa powder is the highest with dark chocolate and milk chocolate coming in second and third. There is a little bad news though - fat, sugar and calories. Oh well. Sometimes you just gotta splurge.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Muscular Dystrophy Fundraiser - A Bocce Tournament

Yesterday my husband and I put on our sixth annual Bocce Tournament to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. A couple years after we moved into our house my husband said he wanted to build a regulation 80' limestone bocce court in our backyard.(see photo - before the bocce-loving throngs arrived) I'm not sure I even knew what bocce was until I fell in love with this Italian. But that's what we have in our backyard and it's provided a lot of fun for friends and family because it's a game anyone can play. The tournament has 32 teams and generally lasts around nine hours. Probably 100+ people visit our backyard during that time. We have a raffle with great donated prizes such as tickets for Major and Minor League teams, gift cards to many area restaurants, signed footballs from the Browns etc. My husband works for many weeks to make this fundraiser a success and thanks to our generous friends and family - it always is. Those people alone bring in over $4000 every year. The winners receive a coveted trophy and their name engraved on a plaque.

Then on Labor Day weekend my husband and stepson, who has Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, proudly present the check at the local station televising Jerry Lewis's Labor Day Telethon. The MDA telethon has been televised and hosted by Jerry Lewis since 1966, but Jerry has been working for and raising money for MDA since 1952. Before he became ill several years ago he would host the entire 22 hour telethon non-stop. Now he comes in at intervals and always, at the end, sings a tearful version of "You'll Never Walk Alone."

If you are not aware, there are 40 different neuro-muscular diseases that can each devastate victims and families. My friend Jacquie, who passed away in March had MD. The most famous person was Lou Gehrig, the New York Yankee for whom amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is named after.

Muscular dystrophy is not to be confused with Multiple Sclerosis, which strangely enough, two of my family members also have now.
Anyway - it's wonderful, inspiring day and boy - ARE WE TIRED!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Noah: The Eve of the Deluge

Here is the painting I described yesterday. For some reason I couldn't locate it before. Click to enlarge! Enjoy - but of course, it's better to see it in person.
(Cleveland's only newspaper must be checking up on me! They have asked me to credit the photos to Lisa DeJong - I got them on Google images - and include this link

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland has had a bad reputation since the 1970's when a few unfortunate and embarrassing events happened here and it became the butt of jokes for all comedians. But Cleveland (outside of the beleaguered public schools) is really an amazing city. In the next few weeks I am going to be a small but opinionated cheerleader for this city. I can't see anything that any other city has that we don't. Today I am touting the Cleveland Museum of Art, which has long been considered one of the greatest and most well-endowed art museums in the country. Our beloved museum closed three years ago for a $350 million renovation and expansion. We've missed it! But in July they reopened 19 galleries in the 1916 portion of the museum. By 2012 the renovation will be complete with two new wings added on.

I was able to visit the newly beautified galleries last week. The colorfully painted walls, the improved positioning and groupings of the paintings, and the gorgeous lighting from skylights made some of the galleries breathtaking to walk into. There were two highlights for me. The first was a room full of enormous paintings by Charles Meynier, of mythological figures such as Cupid and Psyche.(above)
The second was seeing one of my all-time favorite paintings highlighted on a freestanding wall all its own, instead of being stuck in a dark corner as it once was. The painting is called Noah: The Eve of the Deluge. When you first walk up to this painting it looks like a hillside with a dramatic, stormy sky in the background. But on a closer look you see a family in the foreground. A woman appears to be crying on a man's shoulder.(I would be too) Then you see in the distance multitudes of animals climbing the hill to enter the ark. Then you notice hundreds of birds filling the dark sky and descending on the ark as well. The more you look the more you see. The whole thing is ominous in its depiction.

So that's a very brief moment in visiting our museum, but if you're ever near Cleveland, believe me, it's worth seeing! You can click on the photos to enlarge - get a look at Cupid's face.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Race

When were you a wild horse
racing across my plains,
your spirit untethered,
your limbs loose and long?

Why did you splice yourself
into the stultified world
and sew your edited shirts
back together in conformity?

What made you begin
to hate what you loved,
to unfinish what you started
and dig that moat around your art?

Where did you gallop to,
your white mane stark against the gray,
tattoos bleeding off your skin,
your tender ankle bones almost broken?

Who will wait out the race,
polish your new shoes, cling
to your soft sides, caress your face
like a mother with a lifted heart?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Coexist VIII - The Olympics

Watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics Friday night gave me a warm, fuzzy COEXIST feeling. If the world can put differences aside, overcome language and cultural barriers, and let go of political convictions to play games together - the obvious question is why we can't do that all of the time. Why can't it be a way of life? This way seems like a lot more fun, and to top it off, all the losers are good sports about it too!

The Olympic rings were designed to represent the five major regions of the world. The creator, Coubertin, intended for the linked rings to show the deep significance of the union between all humans. At least one of the five colors, which are blue, yellow, black, green and red, are in every country's flag.

The Olympic Creed - The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win, but to take part. Just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Family Reunion

This was the twelfth year we've hosted the family reunion at our house. Some relatives are no longer with us, little children are now teenagers, and for the most part we only see each other once a year. But that's a good thing. I say that because I really believe in traditions, even if they are just once a year. The older we get we all realize how quickly a year passes, and if we didn't have these traditions I'm sure that much more than a year would pass before we carved out the time to see each other again. In my immediate family we still celebrate everyone's birthday. Of course, it's not the presents and the cake and ice cream that is important anymore - it's a reason to set aside time in our lives to see each other.

This year we had 40 family members from 8 states! They all are so appreciative of us having the reunion at our house, but I am appreciative that so many of my cousins travel across the states to get here! It's an effort for all of us. The day goes SO fast! In all of these 12 years we've never had a rainy day. Yesterday was a beautiful day, about 75 degrees. At around 8:00 we had a fire going, marshmallows, Hershey bars and graham crackers out for S'Mores and suddenly the wind kicked up - plates, napkins and tablecloths went flying across the yard and the heavens opened! Everyone grabbed as much stuff as they could carry and ran into every door of the house. Luckily, no one left and we continued the party indoors for another two hours.

Today, an August day in the midwest - it is cold and rainy! So we were lucky! But we weren't just blessed by the weather, but by being a family - and being together.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fire in the Sky

This weekend I am hosting a family reunion for about 35-40 relatives on my mother's side coming from 7 states. I'm kind of busy and distracted so I am re-posting a poem I wrote about the experience of visiting all my wonderful cousins as a child. "Fire in the Sky" was originally published by Poet Lore in 2007.

The trip from one industrial city to another
took two hours, but as a child, it seemed like forever.
We knew we were getting close to our cousins
when the shallow Ohio hills evolved
into Pennsylvania mountains and out of the
car window there were clusters of railroad tracks,
twisting, converging in a massive puzzle.

We followed the Ohio River, wide and
forbidding into the tiny town that sat
across from the inhospitable steel mills.
In the summer, the dirt falling from
the sky collected in gutters and grew weeds
and grass there, and in the winter it blackened
the snow before it touched the earth.

The surrounding sky was perpetually sallow;
neutral from the belching towers
of fire and foul smelling smog.
The filth from the smokestacks brought
a paycheck to its workers, but caused children
to come in from playing with black hands and
feet and begrimed faces and clothes.

At night I would leave whatever bed I was
sharing with one of two cousins to see
the sky that was lit up orange with the angry
fire that discharged from the mills all night long,
and listen to the howl of the trains
and wonder how anyone could sleep
with all this beauty and brilliance outside,

the view at once forbidding and
inviting to innocent eyes.
The flagrant polluting of the earth
was eventually halted and the mills torn down.
The fiery combustive sky dissolved, the jobs lost,
the houses sandblasted of their scorching,
the heavens clarified and colorful,
and the children were clean.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Faith with Questions

This morning on Good Morning America they interviewed Steven Curtis Chapman and his family. Chapman has been a prolific and popular Christian music star for probably 20 years. I have sung some of his beautiful songs in church. He lives in Nashville with his 3 children and 3 daughters adopted from China - until last May. When I heard this in May on the radio I really had trouble taking it in. Chapman's oldest son, Will, accidently hit the youngest child, 5 year old Maria with his car in the driveway and she died. They showed video of this precocious and lovely little girl with the family and it was clear they all adored her. How could something that horrific happen to this family? Chapman has spent his life sharing the love of God in his music and his actions. How can Will ever get over this terrible accident? Why would such a loving, happy child be taken so soon?
Obviously there are, once again, no answers to our questions. But what did the family say in the interview? How would their faith survive? How would they explain it to the world? The son, Will says he remembers his brother just holding him as the parents left for the hospital and his father yelling out the window -" Will, your father loves you."
Chapman's wife was very honest when she said, "At first I said , I don't care who is touched by this - I just want Maria back." Steven Curtis Chapman said they are a family that has faith with questions and that they grieve - but with hope. Faith with question, grief with hope - He didn't say it was God's will that a child would die and a family would be devastated because it's not God's will . I thought he said exactly the right thing. None of us has all the answers, but if we did we wouldn't need faith, would we?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Neighborhood Book Club

The other day I was browsing at my local Border's book store and I overheard two women asking for a book. The salesperson said the book was constantly sold out and on back order and that she was also dying to read it. I had to know what this fascinating new book was, so after the shoppers moved on I went up to the counter and asked. The constantly-sold-out-book was "Storitelling" by the actress and current reality show muckity-muck Tori Spelling. ARGHHH! If you don't know who she is, she is the daughter of the 70's uber TV producer Aaron Spelling, which is, I'm sure, the only way she got to be an actress. Now she has a reality show that details her marriage and pregnancies as if she's the only person to ever have experienced these things. So she gets to write a best-selling book too? Is my face turning bright green yet? Are my claws showing?
Sorry for the rant, but that little piece of knowledge made me think of all the wonderful books that are out there and all the struggling writers that are sweating blood everyday trying to get published.
The joys of reading a good book are magnified when you are in a book club. I love my neighborhood book club. It started when one of my neighbors was over for a party and I found her in my little writing room/library perusing my books. She said, "We like the same books!" After a chat we decided to start a book club. Now it is four years later and 40 books later and we actually have too many members. (Fourteen or fifteen people is a lot to try to hold an organized discussion, a lot to fit in your living room and an awful lot of wine!)
One of the members has kept track of our choices and there has been a great variety of fiction and non-fiction. Our first book was "Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons". That sound like fluff, but it was actually a really nice book about a neighborhood book club. Our most recent book was "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan, a novel based on the real life of a woman who left her family and ran away with Frank Lloyd Wright. It was a great discussion. Some of the others that I can remember leading to great discussions were:
"A Million Little Pieces" (None of us cared if he exaggerated some of it and we all agreed that Oprah was a bitch to him!)
"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Piccoult
"My Life So Far" by Jane Fonda
"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls
"One Thousand White Women" by Jim Fergus
"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen
"For One More Day" by Mitch Albom
They even indulged me and read "Flying Over Midnight"
Just to name a few! Three times we read the book and then watched the movie together - "The Notebook", "Must Love Dogs" and "No Country for Old Men".
Any suggestions for our next book?

Monday, August 4, 2008


I wrote this simple heartfelt poem many, many years ago and not surprisingly - it turned out to be true. Someone I love needs to read this today.


On a mild and clear winter morning
as I walked through the commonness of the day
God spoke to me
in my head, in my heart.

Distinct as if my ears heard it,
lucid as if my heart had yearned it.
Never had I sought this pledge
or let my imagination create it:

I have something more for you
The more your life has longed for.
This trial was purposeful and valid
and what you have seen is real.

One by one the tokens of security,
the known assurances and shelters of this world
disappeared from my days and nights
like snow under the warm sun.

Something better and something more
are the words that I have heard,
yet my mind will not venture
to know their meaning or impact now.

But this promise I cling to
and believe in its truth.
This will be the only guarantee needed
to sustain this heart and life within me.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

More on Prayer

(click on to enlarge)

Now here's a really great prayer. Did you ever read the whole thing? Even though it's not from the bible, you have to believe that it was divinely inspired since it has helped so many people. Yesterday I wrote that I don't pray for every little thing. That comes from the experience of being a part of several prayer chains for years. When it got to the point that we were praying for someone's stubbed toe I thought -there's something wrong here. That toe or broken leg will heal because of the miraculous way he made our bodies. He already provided for that. If something is not going to heal than the person needs faith to accept that. Prayer shouldn't be a grocery list of all the stuff we want - prayer works inside of us. It allows us to feel God's presence. He may not give you a new car - but He will give you contentment, joy, a peace that passes all understanding - that's something the world can't do for you. When Jesus said, "Come to me all that are weary and I will give you rest" I think He meant - I'll put it all into perspective for you. You'll be able to handle it with Me by your side. Think about the Lord's Prayer. All it says is - give me what I need to live today and forgive me because I'm going to screw it up anyway. At a time when I really needed healing this was my daily prayer:
Create in me a pure heart , O God
And renew a right spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
Psalm 51:10

And He did.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Car Wreck vs. Prayer

Do you ever feel like your life is one gigantic car wreck? No one is killed, but there are some major injuries and you can't believe they will ever heal. Ever try praying and get a busy signal? You want to believe that God loves you. You want to believe that He hears you, but He seems silent in His concerns for your everyday life. I think this experience leads many people to doubt His existence and love. In Sunday School we sang Jesus Loves Me, the Bible tells us to cast all our cares on him because he cares for us. So why the cold shoulder?
Conversing with God is not unlike building a relationship with another human. It takes time and effort to get to know each other. In forming a friendship we have to believe that the other person is interested in knowing us. It's a bit of a commitment. It's two-way. If you talk then you have to listen too. That's the hard part with God because he usually doesn't have a voice like a person - probably because He's God.
After a lifetime of prayer I have stopped praying for every little worldly thing. I have stopped praying for sick people to be healed. I have learned that God doesn't alter the laws of nature or the ways of the world. What He does is give us strength to handle what comes and the hope to keep going. He may be Almighty, but I figure if He healed every person who was sick then the world would be quite overpopulated by now. Sickness and death are part of life. Divorce, emotional pain, financial problems are part of the world we live in and most often a result of our own choices.
You wouldn't want a God that followed you around taking all your choices away, would you? Don't get me wrong - my faith is as strong and ever-present as it ever was - but life experience and a lot of praying has taught me that I can't live without my relationship with God and if there is one thing I know it is that He has been with me through all that this world has thrown my way. He's let me make mistakes and He's helped me grow through them. So, life does not have to be a car wreck. If it is, with God's help you can pull your car out of that mess and drive away - a little bruised and bumped, but on your way to healing.