Wednesday, September 30, 2009

se are some interesting words from A. W. Tozer:

"We who live in this nervous age would be wise to meditate on our lives and our days long and often before the face of God and on the edge of eternity. For we are made for eternity as certainly as we are made for time, as as responsible moral beings, we must deal with both.
"'He hath set eternity in their heart,' said the Preacher, and I think he here sets forth both the glory and misery of men. To be made for eternity and forced to dwell in time is for mankind a tragedy of huge porportion. All within us cries for life and permanence, and everything around us reminds us of mortality and change. Yet that God has made us of the stuff of eternity is both a glory yet to be realized and a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. ...The marks of the divine image hae been so obsured by sin taht they are not easty to idneity, but is it not reasonable to believe that one mark may be man's inssatiable craving for immorality?
"'Thou wilt not leave us in the dust. Thou madest man, he knows not why; He thinks he was not made to die and Thou has made him; Thou are just.'
"So reasons Tennyson, and the depest instincts of the normal human heart agree with him. The ancient image of God whispers within every man of oeverlasting hope; somewhere he will continue to exist. Still he cannot rejoice; for the light that lighteth every man that cmeith into the world troubles his conscience, frightening him with proofs of guiltand evidences of coming death. So is he ground between the upper millstone of hope and the nether stone of fear.
"Just here, the sweet relvancy of the Chrsitan message appears. 'Jesus Christ...hath ablished death, and hath brought light and immortality to light through the gospel.' So wrote the greatest Christian of them all just efore he went out to meet his executioner. God's eternity and man's mortality join to persuade su that faith in Jesus Christ is not optional. For every man it must be Christ or eternal tragedy. Out of eternity our Lord came into time to rescue (Us) whose moral folly has made us not only fools of the passing world but slaves of sin and death as well."

I paused when I read those words. Haven't we all felt that yearning for immortality, yet, at the same time, a knowledge of our mortality? I think that double-sided view comes keenest in those bittersweet moments when we celebrate the joy and pain of a passage in life. We rejoice, for example, that a beloved child has happily married, but, at the same time, we miss the days when that child was a toddler in our arms. We celeberate a wonderful wedding anniversary and rejoice over the happy and full years we've shared together. At the same time, if we are of a certain age, we may wonder if we have more years behind us than before us.

I've also been feeling this glimpse of mortality and immortality in returning to dance exercise after being away from specifically dance exercise for a long time. I've had the joy of doing some of the steps I learned in my youth, as well as an increase in strength and sense of well being. But, at the same time, I know the pang of realizing that no matter how hard I practice or how much better I become from this point, I will not wake up tomorrow and be the lithe young person that I once was. Nor, will I have the malleable, strong, ready-for-training body that I once had. For me, ballet and dance can only be a plesant form of exercise and not a serious pursuit. I will have to stick to what the middle- to senior-aged body can achieve. There have been some rare individuals who have achieved wonderful things in dance at advanced ages. However, even they cannot achieve what they could in their younger years. So, while I don't know exactly where my age-related limitations are, I do know that they are there.

The glory is, though, that, as it says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day."

So, our bones may ache more than they used to, and we may never be invited to dance with the Bolshoi or to participate in the Olympics. Our face may have new wrinkles, and our hair may be less luxurious than in our youth. It may take us a moment longer to remember something than it used to. While we do the best we can to maintain health and beauty, the truth is that our outer glory is fading. It does not matter, for inwardly, we are being conformed to the image of Christ, being made more fit every day for our true home. That is a glorious blessing, a blessing which time and mortality can not take away from us.

Intimations of our mortality may cause a momentary sigh, but they actually bless us, for they remind us to look toward the horizon -- toward the eternal life we will have with the Lord. At the same time, if we are true disciples of Jesus, we have the comfor of knowing that we have the seed of eternal life already within our hearts. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." John 5:24

What have we here on Earth that will also exist in eternity? Our relationship with the Lord, of course. Also, the people we have influenced to know God. These are treasures that do not fade away.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

The wanderer comes home...

After spending several days and nights indoors, our cat became a little stir-crazy. She also reverted to cat schedule, and wondered why we were not eager to play at 4:30 AM. So, when she asked to go out on Sunday afternoon, I obliged and opened the door for her. I did not expect that she would stay gone until later this afternoon, when she finally answered my call for her. I was just a short time away from putting up "Lost Cat" signs.

Her absence was a little concerning considering that it rained off and on for four days in a row. Not only that, but she does have a nemesis in the neighborhood -- a huge black cat who spends most of the time outdoors and wants to consider our yard part of its territory.

She came home looking sound and healthy. We're guessing that she found some friendly souls who sheltered her inside their home until this sunny afternoon. She has been known to wheedle neighbors into feeding her. If dogs have owners and cats have staff, as the saying goes, she seems to think that most people are hers to claim.

At one time, she and the dog next door were on friendly terms. One evening, our neighbor heard her dog barking up the stairwell, something that he never does. She went up the stairs to see what might have provoked his barking. In the darkness, something furry brushed against her. It was our cat, who had somehow gotten inside their house and had made herself at home.

Now, she's sleeping and eating and relaxing in the house where she belongs. We are glad she's back.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Words do matter...

Words without thoughts never to heaven go. William Shakespeare

Jesus said, "Out of the heart, the mouth speaks." Luke 6 He also said that we would have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word we have spoken. Matthew 12:36

I find that whenever I'm under stress, that is the time that I am most likely to make a careless comment. And, just as Jesus said, the things I say without thinking reveal my heart to myself and to others. My words signal whether I have stayed close to God or if I have spoken in my own flesh. They also signal what I've been thinking about or meditating about. They show where I am being conformed to Christ and where I need to repent and be more Christ-like.

Right now, our nation seems to be in a time of stress. It seems that the country is polarized about what direction our government should take. My purpose in this article is not to comment about the political situation. It's to point out that with emotions running high on both sides, we -- as a nation -- could stand to mind our thoughts and watch our words.

As someone who studied journalism in college, I'm not excited about the state of the media right now. Fewer people are turning to written media, and more are getting their news from TV, talk radio, and the Internet. So many of these sources have become so openly biased one way or the other. While we expect editorials and talk shows to be opinion based, we expect hard news stories to be factual, well-researched, and presenting all points of view. Unfortunately, good news writing has given way to outright preaching of either a "left-leaning" message or a "centrist-to-right leaning" message.

It's great to stay informed about the events that are taking place right now. But, I'm finding that it's getting harder and harder to find the facts among the opinions. I'm also finding that I can watch only a small amount of TV news without it affecting my own thoughts and my own words for the worse.

Bloggers have a great opportunity to bring calmness into this national debate. We can choose to write about things that are true, as well as things that build up rather than tear down. Yet, I have read many blogs and many comments on blogs that are vitriolic. Many in the blogosphere use mean, condescending, and foul language. Perhaps, we all forget at times that there is a real person with real feelings behind every blog and behind every comment, and we take liberties when we shouldn't. It's just as wrong to be cruel on the Internet as it is to be mean to someone in person.

That's one reason why I enjoy reading the blogs that you, my lovely readers, write. Most of us in this corner of the blogosphere chat about things such as home, family, thrift, and other useful, practical things. I can count on your blogs to be uplifting and encouraging. I liken reading your blogs to walking through a beautiful garden in the middle of a crowded, dirty, sooty city. Your blogs are spots of peace, beauty, and practicality in the midst of the busy information highway.

Our country has been through times of tumult before, and I'm sure we'll pass through this one soon. In the meantime, we can do much to uphold high standards of speech and writing.

Here are a few ideas:

1) Be careful about picking up "facts' or "news" on the Internet and repeating it without doing some research of your own. Internet stories spread rapidly. Many are written by PR specialists (I know, because that's my field) or by people who want to promote a business, a philosophy, or a political point of view. Many are quickly written and few are checked by editors. Many are not intended to be factual, but are openly based in someone's opinion. That's not to say that we can't glean and share valuable information from the net. It is to say, however, that we need to use caution when repeating something, just as we would exercise the same restraint about news we heard from our neighbor over the back fence.
2) Run the things you listen to, say, read, and write through the filter of Phil. 4:4-8. Is this true? Is it noble? Is it lovely? Is it of good report?
3) If you read an article which has received a number of heated comments, you might want to leave a polite, well-thought out comment of your own. It's possible that your sweet influence will permeate a web site and encourage others to be thoughtful about their words. On the other hand, realize when it would be counter=productive to enter into a discussion.
4) Choose your news sources wisely. Be aware if that source has a particular bias and take that into account when analyzing the news you receive from that source.
5) Take note of when you, yourself, are tired, hungry, stressed, upset by something you heard or read, bothered by something said to you in person, or otherwise are feeling out of sorts. Times like these are when you most need to give extra prayer and thought to the things you say in person and the things you write on your blog.
6) Love your enemies! Do good to those who mistreat you! The news media and fellow bloggesr are not your enemies. However, if you keep firmly in mind the principle of doing good to others, even when you disagree violently with them, you can respond to people and situations with love, gentleness, and respect.
7) Know what you believe and why you believe it. This, too, will help you speak respectfully and thoughtfully to those who may have a different point of view than you do. Focus on discussing the issue, rather than attacking individuals.

Most of all, keep your words sweet...
You never know which ones you'll have to eat!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lovely quote for the day:

There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life,
for let the form of an object be what it may — light, shade and
perspective will always make it beautiful.”

John Constable (1776-1837)



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Save the post office!

I'm just curious. How many people think that the U.S. Postal Service is really in trouble because people are writing emails and texting more than they are sending old-fashioned cards and letters? I have heard this and have a feeling that it might be true, though it would seem that junk mail alone would keep it functioning. My mail box is more full of the stuff than ever! :)

Of course, when it comes to packages, the post office cannot compete with Fed-Ex or UPS. So, that is another source of lost revenue for our letter service.

Though I love email, Facebook, phone texting, and other systems of instant communication, I don't think that they replace the wonderful feeling of receiving a hand written letter. Do you? And, somehow for me, e-cards don't replace real cards that you can hold in your hand and store away to savor on a later date. That is, e-cards don't seem as meaningful when it comes to my closest friends and family. I do think they are a lovely way to communicate with people whom you don't see as often, but whom you really do wish to remember with special greetings.

Also, it seems that feelings can somehow be communicated with more accuracy in a hand written letter than via email. I know of several cases of hurt feelings caused by misinterpreting email, while I have heard of very few instances of this with snail correspondence. I wonder if that has to do with the quickness of email conversations, where the written word flies back and forth quickly, without the usual conversational cues we glean from tone of voice and facial expressions. When this happens so rapidly, perhaps, it is easier for emotions to escalate.

In letter writing, we don't have those extra conversational clues, either. However, I think that people probably put more effort into writing a snail mail letter than in dashing off an email. Also, the person who receives a written letter probably takes more time to read it thoroughly.

Whatever the case may be, I truly do hope that we will continue to be able to send letters and cards via the post office. The p. o. has been in trouble before, so this wouldn't be the first time it has pulled out of a crises -- if it does. I know I'm going to do my part by sending cards and letters when appropriate. I'd also actually like to have an old-fashioned pen pal, though I suppose that our instant forms of communication does meet that desire in part.

What about you? How often do you send snail-mail letters and cards? Do you think it's important to do so, or is that something you can easily live without? Does it seem strange to send a written letter to someone whom you regularly email, even if they live out of town? Or, do you like to do that once in a while just to add another dimension to your friendship? If you live in another country than the U.S., how is your postal service faring?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Interesting link that show difference between how older Australian feminists view life when compared to younger women, who are -- in large numbers -- coming home again.