Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Birthday!

I really enjoyed my Birthday. O.K. so I'm 80. Now what do I do? I can still write, even if nobody reads it. I can still read, even if it's not the newest thing on the New York Times list. I can still love people, even if they don't live close or come to visit. I do still go to Church, even if sometimes it kinda bland.

Being 80 is a new chance at making my mark on the world. O.K. so It's not a big important mark. But if I haven't made a big mark yet, the time's not up.

I am encouraged by George Valliant. There are still stages in life I have not explored and heights I haven't scaled. 

I'm 80 and all indications are that I might live longer yet. Have a good time and cheer up. It ain't over til it over. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Anticipating Christmas

Thanksgiving is over. Christmas is on the horizon. It's time to send cards, make lists, review recipes and get ready for the Big Day. In my experience Thanksgiving includes the weekend and culminates on Sunday. When my kids were small we celebrated for four days. Sunday was nearly as big a day and Thursday. We cooked, visited, ate and celebrated to the end. We had a lot to be thankful for.

Giving thanks is a good foundation for Christmas. Maybe I should say a good introduction. Laying a groundwork of thanks is appropriate. 

We are thankful for the appearance of the Savior. The message of the angels promises rich connection to God and His Son. We are blessed to share in this celebration of his birth. We do need to be careful about the level of our celebration. Drunken foolishness is often viewed as celebration, but when we are dealing with issues and realities created in heavenly places, it behooves us to be more circumspect and critical of common practice. Are the things we see in our society really the behaviors we want to present before God as worthy of the gift and grace He bestowed on us?

I realize Christmas has taken on a life of it's own. It has new traditions and myths not associated with the Lord's birth. Many of them are centered in generosity, mercy, hope, and joy, which doesn't do violence to the Biblical ideal. There is a lot of emphasis on gifts and what and how to buy for friends and family. One big risk to the meaning of Christmas comes from the distraction of gift giving and receiving. How much you spend is not necessarily a good gauge of how important the person is to you or the nature of your relationship. Trying to spend the same amount for all your children is a path to hopeless frustration.

I think I'll probably revisit this subject before the big day. You can address it in your blog, too.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

How About Embroidery?

Last year about this time I remembered that I know how to crochet. It inspired me to Make some hot pads for a few people for Christmas. O.K. here I am at Christmas again, facing the same dilemma: What can I do for those people I would like to give something for Christmas? It would be bad to give the same thing again. 

Then I visited a friend's home today and saw a whole wall of beautiful, embroidered, framed art that inspired me.  I don't think I could finish anything in time for Christmas, but I could make some nice things for next year. First, I want to make some for myself.  I don't have much on my walls, and this is what I would like to do.

I can imagine things I would like to make that would remind me of people and events that mark rites of passage. I would spend some time creating special settings for them. Sometimes the things I want to dwell on in an art form are poems I love, or dates that are important. 

One thing that troubles me is my lack of expertise in embroidery. It would be a learning experience. Maybe that's good. It would mean I have to master a new skill. It would fill my time and prevent the boredom I find in much of the TV I watch. I think I'll look into it more and see what comes of it.

Friday, October 21, 2016

My Mother Didn't Tell Me About Getting Old

My Mother died when she was 38 and I was ten, so I didn't get much information from her about old age or the frustrations of it. Now I am forming my own opinions about old age. I still think I'm getting better as I get older. My body is in a state of decline, but my mind and senses are strong. My children aren't so sure. Mostly they just tolerate me.

Now I am getting better at being alone. I don't feel lonely. Sometimes I hear a sound in the other room and am reminded that there is no one there. I keep the TV volume low so I don't disturb anyone. I'm the only one here, so I must be successful. Sometimes I forget where I am. I often doze when watching TV, then I come to my senses and don't know which way the bedroom is. I recall the house I used to live it and imagine that I am there. It makes for some very exciting journeys to other places.

The noise in the other room could be one of my children or my husband. Suddenly I know it's a day dream. I really am alone, but I don't feel alone most of the time. I'm not quite sure whether to say it's a dream or an hallucination, or maybe just a memory.

I try to create patterns and routines to structure my day. There are no constraints on me now to observe other peoples's needs. I get to make a day have more or less hours to suit my mood. I can sleep late or rise early without being a bother to anyone else. I like getting old. There are many advantages and many options I haven't mentioned yet. If you are getting old, claim the joys and make the most of the benefits. It's a blast!   

Friday, July 15, 2016

Life--Ready for the Game

On Monday morning when I got
life was waiting at the door,
standing there, demanding there
that I come out that day.
But the games of life are hard to play.
It was plain to see the pain would be
too much for me to bear.
And so I thought I'd run away.
Life would follow me,swallow me
I had to find a place to hide.
Just be real still and stay right here, but
then I chanced to see that Life was here with me
inside of me.
I could not get away.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Old and Getting Older

I'm old and I'm getting older every day. I don't think I'd actually test as having Alzheimer's Disease, but I'm exhibiting symptoms that approximate the early stages, and I resent it very much. Sometimes I can't think of the right word. I recognize the word as soon as I hear it, but it just didn't come to mind immediately. Then, I have trouble with planning and decision making. I hear that these are primary symptoms of the disease too. Just last week I read that recurring depression is a symptom I had not associated with the disease. I am convinced that severe depression may actually sound like Alzheimer's and feel like it to the victim.

Depression sometimes presents with forgetfulness and memory loss. Lethargy is also associated with Alzheimer's Disease. Of course all these are also associated with aging. There are several brain syndromes that mimic Alzheimer's Disease. Parkinson's Disease has some similarities to Alzheimer's Disease, but it affects movements, walking, hand-coordination, and sometimes speech, more often. Other conditions like Senility are confused with Alzheimer's and may be as debilitating. The difference may lie in the symptoms and potential remedies.

Both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases have support organizations that offer aid to victims and family members and support research into the causes and cures. For more information about Alzheimer's Disease click this link. To learn more about Parkinson's Disease click link Parkinson's Disease 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

No Direct Marketing For Me!

I got all excited about Direct Response Advertising a couple weeks ago. I've heard about it for years, but I never thought I wanted to write junk mail. Well, I looked into a little more and found out I was right: I don't want to engage in Direct Response Advertising.

There are several factors involved in this venture that don't appear on the first level of interest. I watched a video or two and read some reports to get a better understanding of it. The claims are wonderful! You can make a six figure income with two or three hours of work one or two days a week. Sounds good doesn't it? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

You can make that kind of money if you have built up a client list of companies that need your services and keep you writing a lot. You will have to learn the tricks of the trade which includes some almost shady promises and guarantees of the product you are pushing. I say almost because none of this is intended to be illegal. It is mostly hype and hope. 

Forget the short, easy work week. Think in terms of classes and conferences to strengthen your writing skills and shaping your words to fit a company's product line or service. This is all done by contracts with various companies. You have no job security, insurance, or benefits. The first thing I learned was the Direct Response Marketing is a victim of it's own product. 

It has to sell you on the idea that you can do this; then it has to sell you on the idea that watching a video they charge you for will make it easy and quick; then they assure you that companies are lining up at the door to hire you; but first you will have to write some high pressure sales pitch and spend endless hours in research learning business principles and technical terms you never thought you needed.

Some people have made a career in this field. But I have looked into it, and I don't think it's for me. Let's be fair. I am presenting this in a very negative light. My warning focuses on the fact that they do one thing and they do to promote their own view. Be warned: It ain't as easy as it sounds!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Writing Letters

Writing letters is becoming a lost art. The computer age has replaced letters with e-mail, just as informative, but less personal, and texting has lost all sense of grammar and spelling. 

Writing a letter means you have a tangible item that will find its way to a friend or loved one far away. The letter you send will carry your message of love or hope or condolence to some one you may not have seen in person for a while.  I have a collection of letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother beginning in 1888 and ending with their marriage in 1893. It is sentimental and revealing and filled with hints and facts and suspicions most of which I will never prove. But each letter is precious. I like to picture her when she received it and him as he struggled to convey the depth of his feeling. It connects me to them in ways I never could have imagined. 

I write a few letters now, but somehow, I don't feel the magic I used to about letters. Maybe the internet has taken the thrill out of it. My E-mail box fills up everyday and I delete most of them without even a second glance. Getting a letter in the mail is still pretty special. Of course sometimes we call, but a letter is different. It required thought and preparation, and I can share it with others. It can last for many years and reveal the special message somebody sent me. 

Maybe it is still the best way to receive a message from a loved one who is far away.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Want to Write Junk Mail?

When is it too late to start over? 

I have had an inspiration to do something new. Well, it's just new to me. I've read about it for years, and it is writing, but I thought it wasn't the kind of writing I wanted to do. I'm not very successful doing the kind of writing I want to do, at least I'll never make any money at it; this is something I've never tried before, but I have seen the ads. Somebody is doing very well at it. Why not me?

It's writing Junk Mail. You know, those promotional letters we all get in the mail box every day. It sounds almost shameful because it really is junk, but the companies that send it to you, seem to find it profitable, and apparently they pay their writers very. I want to join their ranks. It won't cost me anything to try and it may provide me an amusing adventure.

I'll let you know how it turns out. Wish me luck!


Call the Housekeeper

My mother was a good housekeeper. I did not inherit this trait, but I'm still working on it. I excused myself when I had kids making messes as fast as I cleaned them up, but now I have no one to blame for the mess on my desk but me. 

It's funny how most of the house can look tidy, but one corner be in total disarray. The worst part is that it looks O. K. to me, until I start looking for something, then I see the pile of papers, the book, the bills, the letters and realize it is truly a mess.

The mess is not trash, it's just disorganized. I need to put things where they belong. I'm really not good at that. As long as I know what it is, I don't register that it's out of place. 

I wonder if my brain is as disorganized as my desk? Is this why I can't remember appointments? Is this why bills are overdue? Maybe if I put the physical things in order, the mental tasks will follow suit.

It's a trend worth pursuing. At least I'll get the desk cleaned up.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thirteen Days to Glory

English: Memorial (cenotaph) at The Alamo in S...
English: Memorial (cenotaph) at The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, designed by Pompeo Coppini. It was installed between 1936 to 1940. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Siege of the Alamo lasted about thirteen days from the arrival of Santa Ana's troops in late February to March 6 when the walls were breached and the final defenders were put down. The women and children who survived were released and carried the story of valor and death to the new generation of Texans.

Texas carries their names proudly in schools, courthouses and public facilities. I have no ancestors who died there, but they were waiting on the border to cross into their new homeland when the shooting was over. My ancestor William Humphries had been in Texas when he was about 12, but his father died and his mother returned to family in Kentucky and Tennessee. William was really coming home in 1836, but Santa Ana prevented new settlers from entering the territory. He did enter and establish his land grant in Red River County and lived there to the end of his life about 1908. I carry a proud heritage.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I Remember Mama

I Remember Mama
I Remember Mama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My mother did not teach me how to be old, or even get old. She didn't live long enough. She died when she was 38. I had my last child when I was 38. Mama taught me how to be alive and not sacrifice the joy when things were tough. After she began to feel the effects of disease, she made herself a long robe from a very flowing fabric, I guess it was jersey, and she called it her lounging robe for entertaining friends in the afternoon. It was a soft fuchsia, and I considered it very romantic and sophisticated. Funny I don't remember her wearing it much after she went to the trouble to make it, of course she didn't entertain friends much then either.

I remember her sister Gertrude came to visit and she made her put on makeup and talk about bridge. She thought talking about the illness was depressing everybody. Mama said the makeup was for everybody else, but she did love bridge. She didn't feel well enough to play bridge anymore, so she would deal the cards for four hands and then play them all. I never learned the game much, but I thought it was the most elegant way to waste an afternoon. 

I played solitaire, and she did too sometimes. It made me feel very grown up to play with her. I still play, on the computer. It's not as much fun as it was when I held the cards in my hand and felt their cool sophistication, but it will waste an afternoon. 

I thought my mother was very wise and knowledgeable. I wish I'd listened better or she had lived longer. There are many things I'd still like to ask her about how to be an adult and make things work.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lent--Day Five

During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)The Apologetics Bible

I take this to mean that Jesus saw the significance of the baptism by John and the announcement that he was the Son of God. His ministry had begun. Maybe like, the reference in Mark to the driven nature of the wilderness experience, this all night prayer vigil was prompted by the Holy Spirit. 

He had some heavy stuff going on. He had begun to preach and heal and great crowds followed him. Then he had a confrontation with scribes and Pharisees over a healing he performed on the Sabbath.  Somehow that doesn't seem like an event that would prompt the all night vigil.

He had begun to select his disciples, and after this he called them to him and began to teach them in an event that is known as the Sermon in the Plain. Perhaps it was the training of the Disciples he prayed about all night. Perhaps he was looking toward  the crucifixion. There are many possibilities. 

Sometimes the Holy Spirit drives me to prayer. Sometimes I don't have a specific need. The purpose of prayer when there is no danger or urgent need is gratitude, thanks for God's providence and eternal blessing. Maybe Jesus felt that same gratitude. Maybe it was just worship.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Lent Is Coming!

Lent begins on February 10 this year. That seems early. It is early, but not quite as early as it could be. Easter is the first Sunday after the the first full moon after the vernal Equinox, and Ash Wednesday is 40 days before that. Lent is traditionally a time to reflect on the passion and death of Jesus and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. In the past I have used devotional collections to help focus my attention and prayer life during this season. For two or three years I help create a collection our church members wrote. Sometimes the writers were kids and youth, but other times it was a wider sample of the congregation. This year instead of reading a devotional pamphlet I'm going to write my own. 

I think it will be a very demanding task. I'll use the Bible text of Jesus in the Wilderness and strive to answer questions he wrestled with and find sources he found for encouragement and strength. There is the possibility I'll fail in the test. Jesus was triumphant. We'll see what happens when I do it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Martyr=Witness

Martyr actually means "witness." I guess the meaning has become darker with time and circumstance. Now we think of a Martyr as being someone who dies because of his or her belief. Lately I've been reading and writing about people who were martyrs and some did die for  or because of their beliefs and their faith. Mostly my focus is not to venerate those who suffer because of their faith or seek praise and fanfare, but to bring my own faith and witness to a higher standard, to challenge myself to be inspired by those who gave the last full measure of devotion. 

Watchman Nee, Richard Wurmbrand, Corrie ten Boom, and Viktor Frankl did that. They did not set out to draw attacks for publicity. I hear of people, once in a while, who do things like that. Seeking public notoriety is not the way to please God or to witness to His glory. 

Now I'm reading Foxes book of Martyrs. To complain about the noise from a neighbor's car seems trivial and less than noteworthy on the scale of torture. I'm ashamed of the things I gripe about that cause me irritation, not even discomfort. People who really suffer for their faith in God the Father and Jesus deserve a better rating than the one I sometimes offer.

Proclaim God's goodness and Jesus' righteousness even though it may mean you'll be ignored or criticized. It may also mean you'll be blessed by God and extolled as a hero. Like the say goes: Just do it!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Richard Wurmbrand

Richard Wurmbrand
Richard Wurmbrand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Richard Wurmbrand was a Romanian of Jewish descent who became a Christian. He was imprisoned on several occasions and his wife was also put in jail and tortured. When he was in solitary confinement, he composed a sermon every day and delivered it at night to maintain his sanity and keep in touch with reality.  He did not yield to political pressure or torture and eventually Romanian Christians and others paid a ransom for his release. He finally came to the United States and was convinced to work for freedom for people who were suffering persecution through the Voice of the Martyrs organization. He testified to Congress about the difficulties of those who live with torture and threats to help make the problem a priority. He died on February 17, 2001.  

Corrie ten Boom

English: Picture of Ten Boom Museum on the Bar...
English: Picture of Ten Boom Museum on the Barteljoristraat in Haarlem, the Netherlands. The house is a watch shop and museum dedicated to the memory of Corrie ten Boom and her family, who harbored war refugees during World War II. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Corrie ten Boom was born in Amsterdam and grew up in  Haarlem, the Netherlands the youngest of four children born to Casper and Cornelia ten Boom. I was inspired by the life story of Corrie and her families support of Jews during World War II. Corrie and Betsie suffered the rigors of Ravenbruck Prison Camp where Betsie died. Corrie was released due to a clerical error in December 1944.
After the war, Corrie continued many charitable activities and spoke in many countries witnessing to the power of God's love and forgiveness. She wrote several books and traveled widely. The Hiding Place  told the story of her family and the years of their service to refugees and their subsequent experiences in Ravenbruck Prison. Tramp for the Lord  chronicles some of Corrie's experiences as she spoke and traveled to share the truths she learned. It was her wish to "die in the traces." But it was not to be. She died after strokes took her ability to speak and she spent five silent years in her home in California.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Viktor Frankl

Deutsch: Viktor Frankl
Deutsch: Viktor Frankl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Viktor Frankl,  b. 26 March 1905 – d. 2 September 1997, the second child of Gabriel and Elsa Frankl of Vienna, Austria. He told his parents when he was a small child that he would become a doctor. He was a brilliant student and when he was still a medical student between 1928 and 1930, he organized a program to provide counselling to high school students at the time they received their report cards. No students committed suicide that year. He received some acclaim for the success of the program. Between 1933 and 1937 he completed his residency in neurology and psychiatry at the Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital in Vienna where he was responsible for the Suicide Pavilion and he treated 30,000 women with suicidal tendencies. In 1938 he established a private practice.
In 1941 he was married to Tilly Grosser. 
 In 1942 He and his family were sent to Theresientsadt Ghettos where he practiced medicine for a while. Later they were all sent to prison camps.  Viktor went to Auschwitz prison camps where he treated other prisoners for a while. Tilly was killed in Bergen Belsen. His father died before they left Theresienstadt. His mother Elsa and his brother Walter died in Auschwitz. His sister Stella emigrated to Australia from Austria. He was sent to one camp associated with Dachau where he was part of a slave labor group. In 1945 he was sent to a so-called rest camp called Türkheim, affiliated with Dachau. He was liberated there by American soldiers on the 27 of April 1945. Through these events he formulated the framework of Logotherapy in which he learned to find meaning in the horrors he had faced and spent the rest of his life teaching others to do to. He married Eleonore Katharina Schwindt in 1947 and they had one daughter who became a child psychologist. He wrote several books and lectured and practiced widely until his death in 1997.




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Watchman Nee

English: Photo of Watchman Nee 中文: 倪柝聲的照片
English: Photo of Watchman Nee 中文: 倪柝聲的照片 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Watchman Nee (November 4, 1903 – May 30, 1972) Chinese Christian who became a leader in the Church in China by beginning the use of homes for meeting. He started the home meetings in the 1920s when he was only 17. He was the ninth child of a second generation Christian family in Foochow China. He had been dedicated to the Lord by his mother before his birth. He was exceptionally intelligent and excelled in school graduating from Anglican Trinity College but he did not attend theology school gaining his extensive knowledge by reading widely while practicing dedicated spiritual exercises. In the early years he divided his money into three classes: one third he spent on his own needs, one third he gave to help others and one third he used for the purchase of books. He accumulated three thousand volumes over his lifetime. He had an unusual ability to glean facts and retain information from reading. He also exhibited determination in learning to apply spiritual truths. 

When he was a teenager he fell in love with Charity Chang,the daughter of an old family friend. She was not a Christian at the time and ridiculed Jesus in Watchman’s presence. He struggled with it but decided to end their relationship. Ten years later after she had completed college she attended meeting in Shanghai. She had become a Christian and during one of his conferences, they were married. He suffered greatly with chronic illnesses through which she attended him.

His ministry began in personal study to understand and practice the  consecrated life, and his vision was for home churches to become 
true unity of spirits. He rejected the denominational boundaries he felt were detrimental to spiritual unity. He traveled to the United States and England, but his mission was directed toward China. 
After his marriage Charity nursed and support him during his frequent illnesses. He suffered for about ten years with Tuberculosis and later with a severe stomach disorder and very painful angina pectoris.

In 1942 he left his ministry to help his brother’s failing business. 

By 1948 he turned the business over to the church and resumed his 

ministry again. In 1949 the Communist Party gained control in 

China and the Christian Church came under severe persecution. He 

was arrested in 1956 and accused of many false crimes including 

tax evasion, bribery, and cheating on government contracts. He 

spent the last twenty years of his life in prison. Only Charity was

allowed to visit him. Charity died in 1971 and he followed her in 

May of 1972.

His writings continue to inspire Christians all over the world. His 

grandniece was given access to a note left under his pillow which 

she memorized and reported. She said it was written in a large unsteady hand. It said: Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three 
days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of 
my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee."

This information was gleaned from Wikipedia.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Assuming God

      When my mother once fell down the steps at the front of the Methodist Church she had attended all her life, she swore, piteously from her reclining posture on the couch, she would never go again, but she lied. When I was about nine I made a profession of faith and joined the Church on Palm Sunday morning, and when I looked behind me she was there being supportive, though tearful.



      (This is the United Methodist Church in Bogata, Texas. The ramp on the left side has been added since I grew up.)
     I won't say I never had a crisis of faith, but I never rebelled in any significant way. I just always assumed that God was real and I was a Christian from that time on.  
     Since then I have born 6 children, loved and lost a husband, earned a degree, and worked in the Texas Prison System as a psychologist, and now I can say without reservation, I believe in God as my Father and the source my life, and Jesus as my Lord, my Savior, my Rock, and my Redeemer. During this process I have had many challenges to my faith, but I never lost my deep respect and reverence for God.
     Over the years and challenges to my faith, I have explored the questions about God's existence and found nothing in them to replace my faith and the peace it brings me. I have read C. S. Lewis's books and writings for many years. I have examined some of his works in regard to belief in God. One thing that impressed me about Lewis is that he was a highly educated man who was an atheist who became a Christian after 30 years of age. 
Then I read about Albert Einstein who, even though he was a world renowned theoretical physicist, was still a believer in God. These two brilliant scholars both found reason to believe in an invisible God in the face of much argument not to. 
     One thing seemed obvious to me: Believing in God has little to do with reason or argument. Building a beautiful argument to believe is a sterile and lifeless discipline if you are doing it as just a parlor trick. Believing in God extends beyond the limits of physical and astronomical bounds. It is born in the depths of the soul and draws on more than we have the capacity to understand, so it may be useless to appeal to the mortal mind. But that is a place to begin. Read the Bible, listen to the sermons, watch life unfold in people around, view joys and disasters, and see for yourself where God is and what He is doing.
     

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On Choosing a Subject

I love to write. I love the power and challenge of transforming my ideas and knowledge and experience to a form that can be shared with others. Sometimes I think I'm arrogant to think that anyone wants to read my stuff, but then I remember that maybe it's a thought they had not considered before. Maybe I'm obligated to share my thoughts with the universe. There goes that arrogance again.

It's fun to engage in struggle to say things the way you want to. And sometimes it's very hard. I really like the short, succinct, and sometimes memorable quotes, but they are usually reserved for Winston Churchill or Emily Dickinson. But still I try. 

The hardest part of writing is finding a subject and an approach that I can feel confident about. First I have to have an opinion about the subject or something to say. If the subject is something that is talked about a lot or is a controversial subject in society, maybe it's easier. In this case the opinion may form quickly without great effort, but there may be many views of the controversy and I may have to examine my own bias before I can form an opinion. 

I have found that many things that are legal and common in our society are, by my conscience, highly objectionable. To protest practices and ideas that are already accepted by society may be the best way to instant oblivion for a writer. On the other hand, if the writer can be persuasive, it may be the avenue of change. "The Muckrakers" brought about change by exposing deplorable conditions and practices even though they suffered some personal threats and challenges to their careers. In the long run, it made some of them famous. Maybe I just need to dig a little deeper.