Monday, 30 January 2017

pro-life

So, yesterday I posted this on Facebook:
Just thinking here... which means this will make both sides mad...
Saw an anti-abortion post quoting Dr. Seuss "a person is a person, no matter how small"
And I thought, "even if they come from Syria?"
Which generated the following responses (so far):
Person A: You are BAD! Lol yes even if !
Person B: Every life has great value in the eyes of God no matter where they live. But God put boundaries around His people for protection of His seed. We are His seed who are born of His Spirit, there is no harm in boundaries. God also commanded war when men rose up against His people.
Person C: No boundaries, no country. No country, no help for humanity
Me: I don't deny the purpose of government and laws, borders, etc.
But Christianity ought to see beyond those things. And I'm beginning to think that to claim the title "pro-life" one has to value all of humanity.

Person C:  Of course. Absolutely.  Not pro birth but pro life
Person D: Trump's directive with its immediate enforcement, no planning, and haphazard implementation, has: left families separated across continents; people fleeing oppression even more scared and afraid; individuals with green cards who have already been vetted shut out; translators for our military in Iraq detained; and the elderly and young with existing visas integrated. Whether you are for isolationism or not, this will have long term repercussions.
And I should add, in keeping with your question - does NOT value humanity. Quite the opposite.
Person B: It is not easy to be President. Life and death decisions are made daily. Sometimes when you choose one group of people to save, you condemn others to death. That's the job. Don't know why anyone wants it. Walk a mile in his shoes. I think Trump is more compassionate than many believe, but His job is to protect Americans first. He took that vow with his hand on the Bible. Read the Bible and see the decisions made by kings, not an easy job      
Person D: While it is not easy being president, one can strive to be presidential. Compassion? All you need to do is look at Tump's Twitter feed and see his insults, attacks on personal individuals, fixation on inauguration numbers, support of torture, and pompous attitude! Every. Single Day. (And this just in tonight- attack on Republican senators). He has no time to be president or compassionate when he is being petty and lashing out instead.
 "Protect Americans" is the same argument used when when our government put US citizens of Japanese ancestry in internment camps during World War II, turned way Jews seeking to flee Hitler, etc. I too want safety, but tempered with fairness and - "whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."
Person E: Their have been religious wars going on ever sense time, wars against good and evil,

So it quickly turned political and finger-pointy. Which is sort of the opposite of what I had intended.

I didn't mean to attack the march-for-life-ers, the president, or even the "bleeding-heart liberals." I meant me. (And maybe hoped someone else would read what I said and think about themselves.) When I say I am pro-life, do I mean I'm pro-birth? Anti-abortion? Pro-American? Or do I mean that I actually value every human I see/hear about?

When I was growing up I heard things about "letting them define the vocabulary" and how when the media uses words like "anti-abortion" they are setting the stage in favor of abortions, and making self-defined "pro-lifers" look bad for being "anti." And that makes some sense if a person explains it better than I have here. But recently I have followed some Catholic blogs on Facebook, and one said once that "Pro-life" is much more than "anti-abortion." To be pro-life you have to be anti-war. Anti-death-penalty. Anti-poverty, even. And then I have been hanging out with Anabaptists (the ultimate pacifists) for a few years. So my brain just made that little comment on that little picture...

I know this stuff is covered in ethics classes to an extent, but I took a few minutes to ponder what it means to believe that "a person is a person."   Leaving aside the "just war" theory for now, though that always puzzled me in the abortion debate, specifically, let me think of self-sacrifice. Obviously I would give up my own life for my husband or my children. I already have in many ways. I feel sure I would go to great lengths to save a random baby, or child. But nevermind a Syrian refugee - what about a terrorist? A known terrorist, on his way to buy fertilizer, steps off the curb in front of a bus. Do I cheer (silently, so as not to alert him)? Do I feebly wave and yell? Or am I willing to do a movie-scene rescue and put myself in the line of fire to push him to safety? If I did save him, would I be responsible for killing all his victims, or am I giving him a reason to change his ways? How can we know what a life may be worth? Shouldn't it be our part simply to do the right thing and let God take care of the results?

And I'm getting off my main point, and this train of thought doesn't really have a caboose. ttyl 

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Glory of God



Last summer I met a lady who asked me for my thoughts on praying for the "glory," and I wrote this down, but never got back with her... Anyway, thought I'd share here. 

The Glory of God

Three things come to mind when I think of defining or describing God's Glory: the Praise, the Presence, and the Place. I put them in that order because I believe we must praise to feel His presence (though we must have Him present before we CAN praise), and then someday we enter the Place.
Let me explain.

Strongs #1391 (doxa) is defined by Thayer as 1, opinion; 2, splendor, brightness, majesty; 3, a most exalted condition (the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true Christians shall enter).

So, #1, opinion, or as I have termed it, Praise. We often say and sing that we will glorify God, or give Him the glory, as we should. This is pretty straightforward: we voice our high opinion of Him when we talk to Him and when we talk about Him. We also glorify God when we cause others to have a high opinion of Him because of something we do or say. I believe that a Christian is living praise. We don't have to be singing to praise God - the way we present ourselves to the world (our manners, our appearance, our tenderheartedness) - all of it is a way to bring Him glory and  honor.

#2, and probably what your friend was talking about when she said she desires the Glory of God to fall on Huntsville, is the Presence. We talk about God's glory filling a room or falling on a person/people.  This is His "splendor, brightness, and majesty." When we catch a glimpse of God with our spirit, and know that something bigger than us is present with us, that is the Glory. God is so majestic, that regardless of our opinion of Him, He IS glorified. This one is harder for me to put into words. Celebrities and earthly royalty carry with them a certain amount of glory, that we recognize by acting foolish in their presence, or going out of our way to see them, or reading every article about them that we can find. God's glory is so much beyond that. When He enters a room, everybody recognizes Him and reverences Him. This is more than a feeling, and cannot be drummed up by emotionalism or even good music, though many leaders try.

As far as wanting the Glory of God to be manifest in Huntsville, it is a thing worth asking for. We must realize, however, that God comes to people in His own way and time, and we shouldn't be disappointed if it's not what we expected. There might be a shouting service at one church and a thoughtful one at another. Sinners might get saved, or maybe just not get stoned when they normally would. 

#3, the Place (or Promise, as Thayer has it). We sing about "glory-land" - what we normally call Heaven - the place where God lives and we plan to live with Him for eternity. (Of course we know that at the end of time, God with create a new heaven and a new earth, and we live in the New Jerusalem where God is present with man, but we still call it "going to Heaven.") This is sort of the perfection of the other 2 points, as we will be without sin and able to fully Praise God while experiencing His Presence in the physical as well as the spiritual body.

This probably isn't what you were looking for, and may not help at all, but it's what I've got. :)

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Bob's Birthday



Well, now that the vacation is out of the way...

Most of the hotels for the trip were booked on hotels.com, which offers a free night for every 10 nights completed. At the end of our trip, I got a lovely email informing me that I had earned a free night. So I began scheming at once. 

Long story much shorter:

I booked a surprise trip to Branson for Bob's birthday. He knew nothing until I handed him a card after lunch on the 14th. Inside the card were two papers. One was the receipt for the hotel; the other was the receipt for a show that night. He was more or less in shock as we gathered our clothes, phone chargers, and keys. We left the children with competent supervision, and went to Branson!

Bob's cousin works at the Branson Travel Office, which is apparently owned by her mother-in-law. So, once I decided on a show, I called her and she booked the tickets for me at a discount. I had the choice of going in to get the tickets, or having them mailed to me, and chose to go in. Therefore our first stop in town was at BTO. As it turned out, the cousin wasn't there, but her husband welcomed us warmly, gave us the tickets to the show as well as complimentary tickets to Inspiration Tower, and a few insider tips about where to have dinner.

Next we walked across the street to Dick's 5 and dime. We took our time and found a few gems, including 12-shot caps for Ced's cap gun, a splatter guard for the microwave, and a locket that says "Ella" on the front - she's been wanting one.

Toilets out back which were heated, and then we drove out to the Tower. I wasn't going to go up, but Bob talked me into it (He said, "See you later" and headed to the elevator). I faced the doors in the elevator instead of the glass window, but once at the top I looked around some. It had drizzled on us most of the drive to Branson, but on the way to the tower the sun popped out, so we got a decent view. It was cold though, and breezy up on the hill. I didn't find anything to buy at their little gift shop, but we chatted with the 90 year old lady for a few minutes.

After that, we checked in to the Carriage House hotel, which was decent but not fancy. Very clean and friendly. We freshened up and went out for dinner. 

But first, we went to the Shoppes at ... I can't ever remember where. Anyway, the one with Case knives and Corning Ware outlets. I got a skinny scraper/spatula and a 9x13 inch baking pan. Except I actually got a 4 piece set which included a 10x14, and lids for both.

In spite of the cousin-in-law's advice, we ended up at Shorty Small's. It was good food, and most of their fare was wheat-free. The only trouble was that we ate way too much. The plates didn't look that big, but Bob couldn't finish his. I ate my pulled pork, fries, and some of the coleslaw, and we shared an appetizer. By the time we left, we were in pain. We went to the Tanger Outlet mall, and walked for the next hour and a half, with frequent bathroom breaks and more water. Bought Elijah a pair of jeans, and finally started to feel a little better.

It was getting close to show time, so we headed over to the Imax theater complex. Got our ticket receipt thingys and were told seating began at 7:50. That gave us enough time for the "as seen on TV" store, a bathroom stop, and a trip to the concession stand. I wanted a drink, and our Branson guest pass card netted a free popcorn. The popcorn was good, but I was too full to eat much of it.
We were seated in the center of the second row of a very small auditorium to see the Sanders Family Christmas. There were only a handful of other guests, so we moved over one seat to make room between me and another man to put our coats. The show was very good: funny, interesting, and heartwarming. 

After that we went back to the hotel to relax a bit in the jetted tub, and sleep in the king-sized bed.
In the morning we got up about 7, dressed, packed up, ate breakfast, and checked out before 8. After life with children, that statement still seems incredible. 

The coffee was lacking, so we went to Krispy Kreme to redeem Bob's birthday coupon for free doughnut and drink. The "HOT" sign was on. I was tempted, but not too strongly. Then we headed for the Apple Tree flea market, but they weren't open yet, so we drove back around town to the Amish store, where I bought some candy for me and a dress for Ruth. Then back to the flea market where we walked around until we didn't want to walk any more. Having picked up some items for some children, we felt obliged to get something for the rest of them, and eventually did. A whip, cookie cutter, guitar string winder-upper, puzzle, Lego rounded out the list.

We headed home after that, but did stop in Alpena for the first time, and visited their row of flea markets. One place had some old Tupperware toys still in the box. I got all nostalgic over the kitchen set with cake taker and server, square plates, and little cups, because I used to have the same set in another color. But I didn't buy it because we still have most of it. I did buy, however, a boat set. It was so cute! And Daniel and Ruth both love it. Also picked up a board game called Figaro.

Finally home again, to hand out presents and listen to all their adventures. The dress didn't fit, and the puzzle was too hard, but everything else was well-received. The gift was a resounding success.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Vacation 2016 Day 15

Edited to add: This is part of a series. The Vacation 2016 story begins here.

Vacation 2016 Day 15

We went home.

Not much else, really. I suppose we got some groceries; I really don't remember much. I was glad we had cleaned house before leaving. Everything was as we left it.

Vacation over; back to real life.

Vacation 2016 Day 14



Edited to add: This is part of a series. The Vacation 2016 story begins here.
Not too much on the books for this day:

Sept 4
Sunday drive to kara, stay 9-4. Quality Inn & Suites Council Bluffs, IA (2 suites with 2 dbles and sofa each).
Stop in Mitchell to see Corn Palace (north on Burr st from hotel, then Left on 6th st.)
I-90 East to Sioux Falls.
Stop in Sioux Falls to see the falls Park: go past I-29 and exit #399 for 115/Cliff Ave. Go south past all the restaurants. Just past river, turn right on Rice/Weber, then right on Falls Park dr or turn into park from Weber.  Back to route: East on Weber/Rice to I-229; South/West to I-29 South.
I-29 South to Council bluff; exit 54A, as map. Left on Ave G, R on N 35th St, R on Broadway, Near immediate Left into hotel.
See K. What does K like? Old Market; Riverside parks; childrens museum open 1-5, $12 each, Fontenelle forest $9.50 per adult $7.50 per child (2-17), zoo open to 5, expensive; Gene Leahy pedestrian mall - a park; shopping mall, bowling????

We did see the corn palace, and it was appropriately corny.  This was a "thing" for Bob and I because when we were overseas we occasionally watched the Armed Forces Network, which had sort of public service announcements instead of commercials, and a frequently repeating ad featured the Corn Palace as a unique feature of South Dakota.

We didn't stop in Sioux Falls.

K is Taryn's friend from England. She chose a mall in Council Bluffs as a meeting place. The mall was kind of a dump. We had lunch together at a nearby Burger King and then walked and visited. There was a playspace and a clearance outlet for Dillard's (I think it was Dillard's). We bought a few things. K had to go to a wedding, so couldn't stay long, and to be honest the reunion was a bit of a letdown for Taryn. 

When that was over, I got to thinking. We really didn't have any reason to hang out in Council Bluffs all evening, and we still had 45 minutes to cancel our hotel without being charged, and there were plenty of hotels in Kansas City. So I started calling the hotel to cancel. With less than 24 hours notice, I had to call directly - not the chain; not Hotels.com. It was easy enough to find the number, but when I dialed it, all I got was a busy signal. Over and over.

It was a 15 minute drive in the wrong direction to go to the hotel. I called and Bob drove. When we got there, a sign was posted on the door that the pool was closed. So it would have been super boring to stay. I went in and cancelled, and then mentioned the phone must not be working. She picked up the receiver and had a dial tone. I verified the number with her, dialed it in front of her, and let her hear the busy signal. Huh. I think I'm glad we didn't stay there.

But.

We drove on down to Kansas City, where I had booked us a Days Inn. With a couple of positive experiences with the chain, I felt confident enough to book without extensive research and comparisons. Boy, was I wrong! That place was poorly managed to say the least. I've left reviews on Hotels.com and other places; no need to try to repeat that here.

For more introspection: as we turned south from South Dakota, it occurred to me that I was following in Laura's footsteps (more or less) as she moved to Missouri. That was almost cool for a second, but then I thought, "I hope it didn't break her heart to leave." Immediately followed by, "Of course it did! She loved it there." Not to mention her family that she left behind. Then I wondered why it was so important to me that a "fictional" character should have a happy ending. And that, of course, leads one to the whole point of fiction - hope. And I came to the conclusion that I really don't have much hope in this life. No one is going to rescue me. No one even understands me. I'm not ever going to be rich or famous or beautiful. I do have plenty of love, and generally I'm not unhappy. But when it comes to hope... My hope is in a future with my Lord. My true joy must come from keeping that hope alive, not from false promises of a good time. 

So that stuff simmered in my mind for a while, until I condensed it into a life motto: Life is hard, but it's short, so keep your chin up. Not just "chin up" as in "be tough", but as in "look up for your redemption is near."