Snow Day!

Just thinking…..

After all the years I spent going to school, both as a student and a teacher, and despite being retired, I still get excited about snow days. They are the unexpected, undeserved days of grace.

The Hubs still teaches a morning class at the university, and it was canceled this morning because of the snow. We both could sleep a little later, but chose to get up, anyway. We had a leisurely breakfast, staring at the winter wonderland over the steaming mug of coffee. The Hubs went outside after breakfast, and I chose the luxury of staying inside, knowing that I don’t have to go anywhere at all!

Snow days as a kid were awesome. I grew up in Iowa, and although we had a lot of snow, we didn’t have a lot of snow days. Iowa was used to snow and matter of factly took care of it. But we went through a period of years with super severe winters in the 50s. I still remember the snow being higher than the barbed wire fence. And then the temps dropped so low that the snow drifts froze solid. That meant I could walk right over the fence! Heady stuff, there! And of course, that meant we went no where.

When the blizzards roared in, my family was snug in our old farmhouse. Dad had the furnace in the basement stoked, and Mom made cocoa and hot soup. We would gather around the radio, listening to the school closings, and erupting in cheers when we heard our school district. Listening to the list of schools was one way I learned my Iowa geography. Then we would set up a card table and play Monopoly all night and all day. We would look longingly out the window at the potential fun, but with temps dipping to 50 below, there was no way we were allowed to go out. Dad went out to feed the cattle and chop the ice out of the water tank, but even then, he came back in and stood on the hot air register. That hot air register was a favored spot. We spread our mittens on it to dry, Mom set bowls of bread dough near it to raise, and the little orphan lambs born during the winter were in cardboard boxes by it to stay warm.
We kids slept upstairs, where the old windows were not tight and rattled all night. We were buried so deeply under quilts that we couldn’t turn over during the night. And when we awoke in the morning, little ridges of snow that blew in through the windows covered the quilts

Magic was written all over the snow days. Then the south winds would blow, the ice cickles began to drip, the drifts shrunk, and the landscape became mud. It was back to reality.

And so it is today. The savage beauty of the snow remains, but my adult self is getting back to reality.

To God be the glory……
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Published in: on January 28, 2009 at 3:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I Have Papers to Grade…

Just thinking….

My students handed in papers on Thursday. Not only that, but I had the audacity to give an essay test that same night. Now I have two sets of papers to grade. And I’ve just begun.

Yes, I let 3 days go by and didn’t touch the papers. I just
couldn’t
look
at
them.

I was tired, had to cook, laundry to do, phone rang, checked email, went to church, had company over…….. get the drift? I found lots of other things to do. Meanwhile the papers sat right where I put them. Waiting…. waiting….

I remember the first year I was a teacher. I had about 190 students and not nearly enough training to know how to handle grades, grading, and the paper load. Think of 190 research papers where I was expected to grade for content, organization, accuracy in footnotes and references, mechanics, and so forth. And before the paper even came in, I had 190 outlines, 190 rough drafts, 190 sets of note cards…. I was overwhelmed. I had stacks of papers on the floor of my bitty little apartment. While trying to grade those research papers, other papers and tests kept coming in.

Finally, I threw them away. Honest. I knew I would never get through the papers. Some were so old that the students had quit asking about them. And I determined that the next year would be better. Somehow I would find a way to muddle through all the papers.

Well, I ended up teaching for 36 years. That was a lot of papers. Now that I’m retired, I only teach 2 classes a week. I have a total of 15 students. And I’m sitting here right now typing and thinking about how I need to grade those papers. Hmmm……. maybe I need to edit this post. Maybe I need to clean the bathroom?

To God be the glory……
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Published in: on January 26, 2009 at 11:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I Have the Itch to Travel

Just thinking…..

Wanderlust is tugging at me. I want to pack a suitcase and a cooler, jump in the truck with a map and cash, and take off to explore.

But it’s January, and the Hubs and I have part time jobs…….. So no traveling yet.

I love to travel. The Hubs and I take a vacation every year. Sometimes it is in our own state and just for a few days. Sometimes it is a few weeks. Sometimes we strike out on our own, and other times we sign up for tours, cruises, etc. Sometimes we go abroad or sometimes to far states. We just enjoy the trip!

Our trips are not filled with glitzy destinations or amusement parks. We opt for historical and educational sites (duh….. we are both retired teachers……). So we seek out homes of authors and presidents, and graves of the same, and museums and factories and natural wonders. We’ve hunkered down at Vicksburg and looked out over the battleground from the same perspective as a soldier, and we saw the bed where Lincoln died. We’ve waded in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve watched the grey ocean crawl as we flew to Hawaii, Korea, Japan. We’ve gone to church in little backwoods buildings, and worshipped in huge city cathedrals. We’ve stopped for by-the-road picnics after hitting a farmer’s market, and we have dined sparingly in 4 star establishments. We wander thru Branson, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Juneau. We pick up rocks and sand, putting them in baggies and we take pictures, pictures, pictures. We’ve flown, hit the rails, taken a steam ship and ocean liner, and driven the asphalt. We’ve stayed in strange Oriental hotels, crummy motels, and nice average family facilities. I’ve not yet stayed in a bed and breakfast. And we’ve been to every state except Oregon and Maine. That’s on my to-do list before I die.

Both of us grew up in families that traveled a lot and traveled on the cheap. So our wanderlust comes naturally. If the price of gas stays down, we’ll load up this summer and take off for Tennessee. We have friends there (that was a number one rule of my family: plan the trip to stay with friends and family! LOL!), and want to wander around the mountains.

My feet are itching, but I’ll just have to scratch for a while.

To God be the glory…….
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Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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If Love Was A Rose……..

Just thinking……….

“If love was a rose, my love for you, Sweet Heart, would be a rose garden– a new fresh bloom each day, all year long.”

Imagine. The Hubs woke up early to go to work, as usual. And as usual, I snuggle into the warm indent he left and snooze a little longer. Then I stretch as I wake up, slowly arise and go into the bathroom. And I found a note on the mirror, written in blue marker. You just read it above.

I’m not much of a human when I wake up. I’m slow, groggy, sometimes grouchy. The Hubs jumps out of bed all perky and chatty and ready to meet the day. On the other hand, I’m ready to meet the afternoon, but alas, it’s morning. So that little note did its job in waking me up and making me smile.

This is not the first note the Hubs has left me. He began doing this years ago, sometimes on the bathroom mirror, sometimes on the bedroom mirror, sometimes with little bits of note paper. The paper I have saved; the mirror notes get wiped off. But they are not wiped off my mind. What a husband! How he loves me!

After all these years, I celebrate a love that is still as fresh and exciting as when we began over 3 decades ago. He still finds those little surprising moments to express his feelings, and does so many little things to show his love in action. Just an example: he’s retired. But he still gets up each morning and goes to work. Some mornings he only works an hour, sometimes a couple of hours. He wants to take care of me, and bring in a little extra, and I love him so much for that. And now…….. another note! Thank you, Father, for giving me this love on earth.

To God be the glory……
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Published in: on January 22, 2009 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Touch of Spring

Just thinking…..

The sun is bright this morning. And although a little frost is still on the ground along the north facing slopes, the day is shaping up to have a little warmth to it. Yes sir, we’ll get all the way to 45 degrees today!!! How good is that!!

I grew up in Iowa. I didn’t know any better. Winter meant blizzards, huge drifts, blowing snow, layers of ice, school closings, below zero temps, frozen water pipes, frozen stock tanks for the cows, ice skating whether intentional or not…… It took me several years to realize that much of the USA didn’t live this way, and that parts of the USA had it even worse.

At 18, I left Iowa and moved south…….. to Missouri to go to school. And then I moved further south, still in Missouri, to start teaching. I still remember teaching a literature class about Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” and asking them to write about a blizzard they had been in. They looked at me with blank faces. Finally one student said he had never been in a blizzard. I was shocked. Didn’t everybody have blizzards? That’s when I found out that weather was milder here. Not a huge difference, but a wonderful difference. Spring came earlier, snowfall was less, and average temps were higher. I was in the tropics!!!!!!

A change of seasons is important to me. I don’t want to live where it is summer all year round. I love the crispness of the fall, and the pristine wonderland of winter. I love watching for the first faint green creeping thru the underbrush in the spring, and the lush gardens of summer. But there comes a certain time during each season when I begin to long for the next season. We just finished some deep-freeze temps here, and the relatively balmy 45 for today just whets my appetite for spring.

Unfortunately, after today, it starts downhill again. Nevertheless, I will enjoy this day and give praise for it. It’s my little oasis in the winter.

To God be the glory……
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Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Inauguration Day Musings

Just thinking………

I didn’t vote for Barack Obama. I don’t believe in his leftist ideas. His choices of association scare me a little.

Nevertheless, he is now my President, and today was an historic day for not only our country, but the world. Because he is my President, I will respect him as leader and I will pray for him. But I want to ponder the significance of this day.

I had observed that the opening and closing prayers didn’t seem to be prayers at all, but rather a speech to a human audience. In my mind, prayer is communication with God, and both men who prayed seemed to be preening just to the audience. I felt that Warren came closer to prayer than did the last minister. I was rather dismayed to hear his flippant words about mellow yellow and white get it right, etc.

When I mentioned my thoughts to another woman, she said, “Funny. I was thinking that Warren’s prayer was not as good because he was more exclusive while praying to God and mentioning Jesus. I thought the last guy was more inclusive, and that’s what the day was all about.”

Well, we obviously did not agree on the nature, purpose and audience of prayer. But my observation went beyond that. We had a major disagreement, but I did not threaten her. I did not burn her home, desecrate her ancestor’s graves, smash her mailbox. I didn’t steal her children or bomb her husband’s car. We simply disagreed. And then we continued our relationship!

That incident reminded me of the peaceful transition of power today. Just as my acquaintance and I had very differing views of prayer, so does the outgoing and the incoming administration have very differing views about the values and goals of the nation. Yet there was a respect and peaceful changing of the guard.

I am so blessed to live in this nation. I can’t imagine living in a country with coups, counter-coups, dictatorships, and all the up and down uncertainties of an unstable regime.

So…….. I didn’t vote for Obama. But I really really want him to be successful in leading our nation. Father in Heaven, protect him and his family, and work in his mind and soul and heart a great miracle. Amen.

And another smaller note: My grandkids announced that they watched the inauguration at school on TV. The 8 year old was all bubbly about it, even though she didn’t understand most of what she saw. But the 5 year old kindergartener simply announced, “Yep. I saw Joe Obama.” Gotta love it!

To God be the glory…….
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Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 3:06 am  Comments (2)  
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That One Special Dog

Just thinking…..

Probably everyone has had that one special dog…. the one that always comes to mind when someone mentions “dog.” The one that makes you smile or laugh, or remember some heroic or stupid thing. Maybe just a dog that was loyal and friendly.

That dog for us is Chance, a golden lab and chow mix. We jokingly call him a Chab, or a Low. He has the gruff protectiveness of the Chow, laying on the porch with his back against the front door, just daring someone to try and enter the house without permssion. He has the low growl and bark designed to scare off intruders. But he has the gentle good nature of the Lab, always wanting to be near us during our outdoor tasks or walks.

Chance got his name from his circumstances. We picked him up at the animal shelter; we were literally his last chance. He was just a little mop of fur and growl 17 years ago when he came to live with us.

Now that he is a very old dog, it takes him a while to get to his feet. Arthritis in the hips hinders him from quickly bounding up. But once he is up, he still can run like the dickens. He seeks the sun to warm his old bones, and he noses piles of leaves together to make himself a comfy little nest. He hates water, and avoids every puddle in the road when we walk. He’ll take shelter under the porch when it rains or snows, and only delicately will venture out to greet us before retreating to his dry quarters. And don’t even mention a bath…….

Chance has had a mission during all his years: to catch a squirrel. Nothing else matters. He may be eating his favorite kibble, but he hears a squirrel rustling in the treees, he is off after the critter. He has run head on into trees while on a squirrel chase through the woods. When the squirrel scampers up a tree, making mocking chittery noises, Chance stands on the ground and whimpers his frustration. As far as we know, he has only caught a squirrel once. Once. But it doesn’t stop him from trying. As hard as it is to get up, he will do it to chase a squirrel. As much as he hates the rain, he’ll venture out to chase a squirrel. His vision is focused on squirrels; his mission in life to catch one.

I was thinking about that this fall as Chance and I wandered the woods gathering hickory nuts. We had stopped to sit on the old bench in the woods, and I was scratching his head. He loves it. He snuggles in to make sure we won’t stop. But then he saw a squirrel. As much as he loved the massage, catching a squirrel was a far greater, far nobler task.

I began to muse about my purpose in life. Do I have that over riding vision, that pervading sense of mission? Will I go out of my comfort zone to achieve it? Will I venture into adverse rainy places to accomplish my goal? That’s what Chance does.

Paul, the Apostle, was like that. As Saul, he had the vision of persecuting all the Christians, and he zealously chased them. After his conversion, the vision changed. He was still a man on a mission, but now it was to convert others to Christianity and to strengthen churches. He never seemed to lose sight of his purpose in life.

Oh Father, let me be like Chance. Let me continue a mission for You even in the rain, even in the pain, even in my old age, even out of my comfort zone. Let me be like Paul, with my vision fixed on You. May my passion and purpose in life be to witness for You. And if, like Chance, I only catch one or none, let that one be for Your glory.

To God be the glory………
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Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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ProLife Reflections

Just thinking…..

Today is ProLife Sunday. I have not always been prolife. Until I was in my mid 20s, I naively thought that it didn’t matter. It was a way to get rid of a mistake.

I was a young teacher, and a student named Karen showed me the truth about abortion. Karen gave an informative speech about abortion. Because it was informative and not persuasive, she carefully did not preach. She was required to use a visual aid for the speech, so she had photos of aborted babies, and of various stages of development in the womb. She calmly presented the development of the child, and discussed the various ways the child could be aborted. I was horrified. My mind had so sanitized the procedure that I had been ignorant of the truth. Karen changed my mind with that one speech, and from that day on, I have been prolife.

Later, I taught in a Catholic school where prolife attitudes were norm. Yet that did not stop the teens from having sex and having babies and having abortions. It was like there was a disconnect, and that normal teen attitude of “It can’t happen to me” reigned. My heart ached for them as they were thrust into a world of bad choices which compounded more bad choices.

One day we were told that we were having an assembly, and that all the students were to file into the gym for the presentation. A woman got up to speak. She introduced herself as someone who owned an abortion clinic, and proceeded to tell us how she operated it. She said her main motive was to make money. She could not make money if teens did not have sex, or had sex with birth control. So she offered them birth control, but made sure that it was flawed. That insured that she would have clientele, and often have repeat clientele. Yet that still was not enough money. So she began to market the dead babies. She produced a catalog of baby parts and sold them to research facilities, and manufacturers of various items, such as shampoo with collegen, etc. It was sickening. Some girls ran out of the room, and vomited in the bathroom. Her point was brutal about a brutal truth: abortion kills.

So why did she tell these gruesome facts? She told us how she had become a born again Christian and how she realized that she could not undo anything that she had done, but that she could start over and fight against abortion. And that was why she traveled from school to to school to present the truth. Her presentation made me even more adamantly prolife.

Today our pastor preached from 1 Kings. David’s evil older son was setting himself up as king. David wanted Solomon to be king, and counter acted the older son. Then the people had to decide who to follow: the evil older son, or Solomon. The pastor said this was similar to choices we have to make today. Do we follow the true king, Jesus, or do we follow the evil want-to-be king, Satan? Jesus offers a kingdom of life and Satan offers a kingdom of death. Those sucked in by the abortion hype have chosen the kingdom of death. But Jesus continues to offer forgiveness and restoration, even for those who chose death. He continues to offer the kingdom of life.

I know people who have had abortions. I do not hate them; I feel for them. At one of the most vulnerable times of their lives, they chose the wrong path, and it can’t be undone. But there is still hope. Those who say they are prolife and yet go about bombing abortion clinics do not understand that hope. Those who condemn abortion and yet will not reach out to help the mother do not understand that hope. Lord, forgive us all.

To God be the glory…..
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Published in: on January 18, 2009 at 11:15 pm  Comments (1)  
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Reflections on a Saturday

Just thinking……

It’s Saturday. When I was teaching full time, Saturday was special. I could sleep late, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, clean house, enjoy puttering in the kitchen while baking and simmering a pot of stew. I would work on catching up my grading, and get next week’s lessons planned.

Then I retired. And I wondered what role Saturday would play in my new life. Would I still look forward to it as a special day, or would every day be Saturday?

I’m a year and a half into retirement, and have found that Saturdays are a blend for me now. Part of that is because I still teach a couple of classes. So I still have grading and lessons to do. But I now have time to work on this during the week. I still like to putter around the house on Saturdays. Today I am baking bread, doing laundry, and messing around with the computer. The Hubs is home on Saturday, so we enjoy a nice breakfast time together. (He teaches an early morning class each weekday, so we don’t eat together then.) Saturdays are a bit more leisurely for me now.

Sundays have always been the Lord’s day in our house, but I used to use Sunday afternoons for grading. I don’t have to do that anymore, and that nice sense of relaxation is here for Saturday, too.

So…… it’s Saturday. Think I’ll have another cup of coffee, check on the laundry, and get that bread started.

To God be the glory………
bug

Published in: on January 17, 2009 at 5:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Calvinism: Important? or not?

Just thinking……..

I am a Christian. Absolutely and unabashedly so.

Now there seem to be many stripes of Christians. So just in care you are wondering, here’s my stripe:
1. I’m Baptist…. Southern Baptist, to be exact.
2. I believe God is creator of all that is, and is sovereign and omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.
3. I believe that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit make up the Trinity.
4. I believe that the Bible is the word of God and that it is true. I also believe that I can use various translations to help me in understanding the Bible. My personal favorite is the NKJV.
5. I believe John 3:16. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, died for my sins, and resurrected after 3 days. He ascended to Heaven and He will come again.
6. I believe that I must accept the truth of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and that I must repent of my sins in order to be saved.
7. I believe in missions, whether personal, local or foreign.
8. I believe in tithing joyfully and then giving beyond that.
9. I believe in reaching out to the community around me, meeting needs that are physical, emotional, and spiritual.
10. I believe that when I die, that I will go to Heaven.

There are probably a lot more things that I believe, but this quick list pretty well sums it. So what’s with the Calvinist stuff?

Admittedly, I am not an expert on this. But my take on Calvinism is that they believe God only chooses certain people for Heaven and salvation, and the rest have no chance. Those who were not chosen can believe all that I believe, they can live an exemplary life, but if God didn’t put them on His list, then it’s for nothing. They were created to go to hell.

I have a problem with this.
1. John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world…..” It doesn’t say that He loved part of the world only.
2. If God has already determined who He wants in Heaven, then why missions at all? With the Calvinist view, it’s all taken care of. Those who are to be saved, will be saved. Those who are not, will not. Cut and dried! Don’t waste your time evangelizing. But I can’t reconcile the Great Commission at the end of Matthew with that. Seems to me that we are instructed to go out, tell the world the good news, and make disciples.
3. Everyone who is Calvinist seems to think that they are one of the chosen. I’ve never met a Calvinist who believes that others are chosen, but not himself. How exactly does one know if he is one of the predestined?

Now if you are a Calvinist and you think that I am misunderstanding your position, I’d like to hear it. Just make it simple enough that I can understand.

But from my little corner, it just seems wrong and egotistical. Because God is God, He can do as He wishes, and needs no affirmation or permission from me. If He so chooses to create some people destined for Heaven and some for Hell, He can do it. So I’m not arguing the sovereignty at all. I’m arguing that God doesn’t retract on His own Word. And the Word does not seem to support Calvinism.

To God be the glory………
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Published in: on January 16, 2009 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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