The Kid, The Camera, and Murphy

29 03 2017

29 March 2017

I’m not sure if it’s general procrastination, that somehow it doesn’t feel like his senior year, or some avoidance mechanism, but I’ve managed to let a number of things get away from me for Number 4’s Senior year. Graduation is in June and I’d somehow not scheduled his senior pictures until last week. They were scheduled for today at 9 am.

The other three went pretty much on auto-pilot. They picked out their clothes and accessories. And I knew, especially with number 3, that each outfit would be impeccable: clean, wrinkle free, and perfectly put together. Twin 2 required a little assistance but a last minute inspection the night before had everything in place. Number 4 is a different case. He marches to his own drum. So I started texting and talking several days ago about deciding what he wanted to wear–it should be his decision after all, they aren’t MY pictures. I repeatedly offered to wash and iron anything he wanted to take. Made suggestions about band paraphernalia, remembrances from his trip to Europe, Tech items, etc. I admit I forbore to mention the video games, movie posters, and xbox. I did suggest the dog, who I affectionately call Beastly. He’s mostly the Kid’s dog anyway and 20 years from now, it will be a sweet reminder of him. In theory.

Also, as it was on a day when he is not required to report to school until 10:30 and the appointment was at 9 and, as every Mom knows, the fastest way to a teenage boy’s heart, mind, and schedule is FOOD, I offered to buy breakfast before the photo shoot.

Now verbal issuance of these suggestions and offers got me a vague smile, a nod, and ‘Yeah, I’m thinking about that.’ Text messages got no answer, even the ones involving food. In retrospect, I should have known…

Last night, Best Beloved and I went to see a movie. Kong. It was OK. King Kong has never been an interest of mine so it didn’t grab me. I will observe that someday someone will cast Samuel L Jackson as a mentally stable, compassionate, erudite individual and either the film world will end or the man will win an Oscar. But I digress. The Kid was at work. We returned home by 9. He was due off between 10 and midnight (whataburger is a little lax with the schedule). I purposed in my heart to be awake and ready to inspect his planned wardrobe, iron or launder as needed. And then a storm front rolled in, right through my sinuses. Ibuprofen and Benadryl. Out. Cold. Missed the return and my window of opportunity.

I got up by 7 and was ready to go in case he DID want breakfast… no sign of him. 7:30, silence. 7:45, nothing. 8, sigh. We need to leave by 8:20 because there might be traffic and construction between here and Main Street in Frisco. So I clamber up the stairs, open the Kid’s door and release Beastly. I tell the Kid we need to leave in 15-20 minutes. “Oh, OK”

Turn around, head back down stairs and open the back door, allowing Beastly to water the roses. The roses in my backyard are stunning and I’m developing the belief it is because both of our large male dogs water them multiple times a day. It’s cloudy, cool bordering on cold, windy, and the ground is soggy from the week’s storms.

At a little after 8:15, all 6 feet Infinite inches of the Kid come ricocheting down the staircase. He stops, turns and offers me a jaunty salute. I return his grin and then I notice the wad of clothes under his armpit. ‘So, you decided what to wear?’ I said weakly.

“Yep, there’s a few shirts and a couple pairs of pants, and a hat”

‘Hangers. Could we maybe put them on hangers to make them easier for the Photographer to see?’

“Oh, Ok!” And he begins to look around the living room.

‘They’re in the laundry room’ I offer, thinking much about his usual attire has just been explained. Away up the stairs he bounds and returns with hangers in hand (unfortunately for him this proves he does in fact know where the laundry room is, thus enhancing my Mom Arsenal of Facts).

He does want to bring Beastly, so I determine that in order to keep his clothes neat (snort) we’ll take 2 cars. This will also allow him to go directly to school from the shoot. As he’s hanging things, I notice the orange polo and black pants of his Whataburger uniform. Oh surely not. I mean, I get it is a Texas icon but he’s only worked there since October… ‘You work tonight?’ I ask hopefully and get a relieving affirmative response.

He takes his clothes to the car, I follow, collecting shorts from the roadway. ‘I’ve sent you a screen capture of the address. Put it in your GPS, I’ll be along in a minute with Beastly.’

Kennel all the dogs. Move my car into the garage and get the leash. I walk in and undo Beastly’s crate, causing an instantaneous chorus of outraged barks and howls from the other three, sending Beastly into an over excited, anxiety filled, and generally stupid frame of mind. I manage, with a number of stops and sit commands to quiet him so he walks fairly docilely to the car and into the back seat. We head off.

I’m thinking there’s been enough of a delay that by now the Kid should be there, the wardrobe discussed, and they’ll be ready for Beastly when I get there…and the phone rings. It’s the Photographer. There’s no power at his studio. We can reschedule entirely or try to get the outside photos done and see if the power comes on line a little later. I hesitate. I’m certain the wardrobe is deficient BUT I’ve got the Kid vertical and mobile AND Beastly is already in the car. I roll the dice and opt to proceed with outdoor pictures. Honestly a little relieved. In my mind were two possible scenarios, Beastly being adorable and well-mannered and the other where I had to call Best Beloved and tell him how much new camera equipment we’d be buying. Outside was infinitely preferable. I place a call to the Kid to let him know the situation because by my calculations he should be almost there. I suddenly notice that directly in front of me is a very familiar car with a Tech decal. I didn’t ask why. I just accepted that somehow in the space time continuum I’d managed to catch him up. Sometimes, as a mom, to preserve your sanity, you just have to accept, breathe, and move on.

So we travel into town in tandem. He overshoots the turn, which makes me think I was his GPS. Recalculating…

I have the Kid take Beastly and walk him up and down the block to try and get him centered, calmed and malleable–the dog, not the Kid. I carry the wardrobe to the front door of the studio where I’m greeted by the Photographer with a flashlight in hand. He tells me that in 25 years of his business this is only the 3rd time this has ever happened.

We weave our way through the accouterments of his practice and I start hanging things in the dressing room, getting my own first REAL look at what we have. White wrinkly Band shirt (White was on the no-no list, sigh. Yes of course the Kid got the list, once by email, once by text), White German Soccer Jersey unwrinkled by virtue of its material but in need of a washing, Dark Blue button down of almost a flannel material and a plaid button down of the same material both of which look as though they’ve recently been rescued from a prolonged stay under the bed. And his grey Senior Class Hoodie. Wrinkled khakis and dark blue denims. The pants I’m not so worried about as they’ll smooth as they wear. I catch the Photographer’s face as I hang these up. (At least I got them on hangers, I think) I know he’s thinking that he should have just rescheduled because what we’ve got for a functional, usable wardrobe is what the Kid is wearing (long sleeved Tech T-shirt and khaki walking shorts) the jeans, and the grey hoodie. Maybe the soccer jersey.

(Let me just interject something here. I’m very firmly of the belief that we are not raising boys, we are raising men. Boys need taking care of. Men take care. As a result, there are things I flatly refuse to do. Or there are times when I will start the ball rolling with something but require they step up and finish it out. The Kid will be 18 this weekend and headed to college next year. As with his brothers, it is our job to be sure he can function without a care taker. Now frequently this works fairly well but the problems arise when there is a failure to take responsibility and my refusal to pick up the slack results in an inconvenience for someone else. Apologies, Mr Photographer )

Out we go to the back yard. Have I mentioned we’ve had a rainy week? Yeah. Mud. Damp stones and logs. Lovely. Ah well, as long as the Kid’s backside doesn’t need to be in any pictures, we’ll be OK. He may have soggy undies all day but the Pictures Will Get Done.

The Kid returned with Beastly.

‘What kind of dog is he?’

“Lab mix” the Kid responds (stop there I think at him), “with Pitbull”.

‘I thought he looked like a pit in the head’ (Oh please don’t have breed issues)

The Photographer had them sit on a stone. At which moment I realized there was a large grease spot on the Kid’s shorts. Beastly helpfully placed his large mud covered paw directly on it.

‘We can photoshop that out’

Sure, and it’s just a flesh wound. Talking about how Beastly is the Kid’s dog, which the Kid seems vague about. And Beastly has decided that in an unknown environment, he needs Mommy. Every time I moved in any way he shifted out of his sit and headed for me. We moved them to the bed of an old truck. Beastly was helpful and photogenic as only an 80 pound insane beast can be. In other words, I think we got 3 pictures, one maybe usable. I took control of his leash, at which point he alternated between forcing his way between my knees and trying to pull my arm out of it’s socket as he suddenly realized he did in fact want to be next to the Kid.

Sent the Kid inside to change into the hoodie. Photographer and I are chatting about our dogs and I’m trying to pull up pictures on my phone. Beastly feels this is unnecessary as he’s Right There To Be Adored. So he decides to pat me on the shoulder to remind me he’s there. Yeah, I’m standing. He rears up on his hind legs, paw to the shoulder and then it gets caught in the boat neck of my sweater. Thankfully, I had a camisole on for warmth or the Photographer would have gotten quite an eyeful. Readjust the sweater to discover I now have a 6 inch mud track right down the middle. The Kid emerges at this point and I decide I’ll take Beastly home and be back directly.

Run home, offload Beastly into his crate, change shirts, and run up the stairs to the Kid’s room. In the middle of his room is his hamper, which is overflowing. Beside it is another pile of clothing of equal height. I fear greatly for his future wife. But I find his black Hornline t-shirt, his charcoal suit with accompanying oxford button down, a leather bomber jacket, and a plaid button down of minimal wrinkling. As I climb into the car with my treasures, I realize I’ve forgotten shoes. “We can photoshop those out” I think to myself, “His feet are too big anyway.”

Phone rings, it’s the Photographer. “He’s in his soccer uniform and we’re going to over to the fields at the soccer stadium to take some photos.” Thus triggering the second great mental debate of the day: What ‘uniform’? It’s a jersey from the German National Team. Should I mention the jersey is a souvenir and the Kid has never played? And if he did it was when he was 5 and for the YMCA league not Bundesliga. Or just roll with it? Ugh. Well, the Kid didn’t mention it apparently so maybe silence is golden. As was the sun in a bright blue sky.  We meet up and as we’re walking onto the field, Photographer mentions he forgot to bring the soccer ball. Kid, who is walking in front of us, speeds up slightly. “Please don’t ask what position he played,” I think fervently.

We get some good pictures there and Photographer borrows my phone to call his studio to see if the power is back on. It isn’t. He is pleased with the clothes I brought and sees some potential.  We’ll hold the suit until Friday when we can shoot indoors.  The Photographer knows of a great place on some property a couple of his clients own and we could get really great shots done. Apparently the owners are 3 sisters. Two are fine with him using the property for photo shoots, the third doesn’t want the liability issues. ‘But in 4 years of going out there, she’s only turned me away once or twice’

I just looked at him. Given we were in the middle of only his third power outage in 25 years and had already played in the mud with Beastly, I wasn’t liking our odds. But the disagreeable sister was getting her broomstick refurbished or something, at any rate she wasn’t home.

The Photographer turned off the main drive and onto some mud tracks in the grass and the Kid followed. And I had flashbacks to the first week the Kid had his permit and he drove us to the Renaissance Festival. The weather that week had been similar to this week and the kid ended up with the car sunk to mid wheel in mud.  This mud seemed sturdier.

It took the Kid forever to change into his button down shirt. Apparently he misbuttoned it twice and kept having to start over. He was faster into the Hornline shirt, jeans and leather jacket.

For one of those pictures, the Photographer had me holding back a springy branch. If I let go, it would have whapped the Kid soundly upside the head. And I won’t say I wasn’t tempted.

But as I stood there in the sunshine, surrounded by green (and remembered the first time 3 & 4 ever saw Ohio ‘It’s so GREEN’), watching the Kid’s awkward smirk morph into smile of a confident young man, I decided I’d hold the branch for him. Because sometimes Moms do that.

He’s still on his own getting the corsage and tux for prom though…

Thanksgiving

20 11 2016

Today there’s a brouhaha over Vice-President Elect Mike Pence attending the Broadway play Hamilton.  Hamilton is a musical about the founding father of the same name.  A man, ironically enough, who’s sexual scandals, attitudes towards immigrants, and corporatism foreshadow Mr Trump.  And he also is responsible for the Electoral College.  Almost enough to engender a belief in reincarnation, wot?

One of the trademarks of this musical is not only that they use rap and other very modern styles of music but that the cast is almost entirely made up of minorities.  In point of fact, they’ve run ads specifically stating white folk need not apply.  There’s also more than a few members of  the LGBTQETC community in the cast but, hey, it’s Broadway what did you expect?

So Mr Pence went to the theatre and the audience was displeased enough they booed him repeatedly to the point of interrupting the performance more than once.  It seems slightly counterproductive when the issue is the fear that he represents an administration that ignores or disenfranchises minority, immigrant, and sexually different individuals to boo the guy for showing up to a musical put on by and celebrating the same.  Logically, it would seem that exposure would be good for him.  But what do I know?

The cast put together a statement (more than likely they knew he was coming) and read it out during the curtain call.  I’ve read it.  It really seems polite and rather benign.  They acknowledged his presence and told the crowd Not to boo him but to record what came next and post it. They thanked him for coming, hoped that he enjoyed the performance, and stated they felt they represented a segment of the populace that was fearful of having the work of the Founders undone and their rights removed because of who they are.  They wrapped it up by again thanking him and reiterating that he, as VP elect, represented all Americans including those who disagree with him and with whom he disagrees.

Personally, I thought it was well timed, appropriate, tactful and polite.  Kind of unifying and bridge building even.  I’ve been told it was condescending.  I guess that it starts with the acknowledgement that he is leaving the building and a request that he stay and hear them COULD be read that way.  More likely, he was leaving the building and they wanted him and the audience to hear their statement.

Maybe people read condescension in them saying we represent a portion of your constituency that is concerned about the future and what you intend.  I don’t.  I say good on them.  You should routinely call out your elected officials and remind them you are concerned, you want to know their plans and you are watching.  You have the right to demand a hearing and it is in no way condescending to expect your elected representative to give you one.  Of, by, and for the people not the government. And spare me the ‘singling out of an audience member’ schtick.  Mr Pence ceased to be a private individual when he won public office.  Being called out by his constituency may not be fun but it is part of what he signed up for.

The question was also raised of what would the media’s response have been, society’s response have been if it were President Obama being called out by a cast of a different ethnic and social demographic than himself, as well as politically opposed.  Personally?  I wouldn’t care.  That’s their first amendment prerogative and either the market will support them or trash them.  But I do think it’s silly and petty to bring up how the media would respond.  Honestly, why bother worrying about if the media would treat the two administrations the same?  It is sad that the coverage of such an event if it involved Mr Obama would degenerate into a discussion of innate racism rather than dealing with the issues the speakers were trying to bring up.  It’s part of the problem we’re having today.  So caught up in the surface and kneejerk offense that we miss the point.

And the cast of Hamilton had a point.  The audience was an unruly, unthinking mob who need a primer in manners.

And then I think that maybe it’s not Pence or even Trump.  Maybe it’s not unruly mobs or ‘condescending’ casts.  Maybe it’s just that we want to be cranky.  We want to be angry and offended.  We want our turn to be the one hard done by.  We’re all having our Chapter 23 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix moment and we need a lecture from Phineas Nigellus.

I’m in no way as smooth and snarky as dear old Phineas but let me put something forward.  It’s November, in fact we’re coming up fast on the fourth Thursday.  I’m in a little bit of a panic as I’ve done no grocery shopping but… improvisation is often a good thing.  Anyway, it’s Thanksgiving.  Now, contra the angsty messages about to explode on Facebook and other areas of social media, this is not, in fact, the actual anniversary of the first time the Evil White Man took advantage of the Noble Red Man.  It was primarily the day post harvest to celebrate the bounty.  It was later established as a national day of thanks for other reasons. (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fdr-establishes-modern-thanksgiving-holiday )

So lets try, just try, to forego the yearly recitals of the Evils of Yesteryear.  Nobody who was actually there is still here.  Let’s try instead to focus on those who are here.  I was at the airport tonight and a lady in a wheel chair dropped her coke.  I looked at her, at the coke, at the guy in a uniform who was rapidly going the wrong direction on the moving sidewalk and realized I was it.  I was the clean up crew.  So I did.  And the lady thanked me for my kindness.  She said ‘Everyone here has been so kind’ and I stopped and looked at her and said ‘I think the world is generally kind, we just tend to miss it.’  She said ‘Oh but the rhetoric these days…’

I said ‘That just means we need to be sure to be looking for it.’

And we need to be doing it.  Be kind.  Be Thankful.  Be grateful.  Listen, Hear.  Speak with politeness, respect, and gratitude.  Be the clean up crew.  Let go of the past offenses—especially the ones that did not occur to you personally. And stop looking for reasons to be offended.

Nobody knows what this administration will bring.  Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring.  All of us are afraid we won’t be included, we will be shut out, we will be hurt.  All of us feel hard done by,  All of us are puffed up popinjays certain that no one has ever experienced what we are feeling and that no one is looking out for us.  All of us are watching each other wanting what they have, even if its just a chance to be the victim.

Choose instead to be you.  Choose to be kind to one another.  Practice a little patience.  Try being the one who looks out for others instead of waiting for someone to take care of you.  Be brave even though it’s scary out.  Laugh.  Be truthful and be compassionate.  Don’t act like the media is telling you we are supposed to be.

The best opposition is a positive attitude.  It really pisses off the bad guys.

Perspective on 22 Sept 2003

09 05 2016

Initially, I envisioned myself coming to this armed with my Greek NT and Lexicon, because one of the first and most potent critiques I got from a reader (who happened to be a professor) was that I was…I don’t know, lazy? Incompetent? Taking the easy way out? I don’t remember his exact turn of phrase but he strongly felt I should be using the Greek lexicon rather than Webster.  And clearly, the essence of his critique has stuck with me.

One of my rationales I shared with myself (not with him, nor any of my coworkers because he was undoubtedly correct about me. Self-esteem issues? me?) Anyway, one of my rationales for using Websters is that 9/10 of the reading population of America does not actually read Koine Greek and while I might geek out on exploring why the sentence is constructed so, the verb parsed thus, most of the world doesn’t.  And while I do believe in encouraging people to stretch themselves, occasionally ‘But of course in the original it says…’ comes off as slightly patronizing.  And to my mind I was writing not only to our students, faculty and alumni but to the staff: the secretaries, the janitors, the cooks, and the gardeners.  And while they would undoubtedly be able to understand my points if I extrapolated from the Greek, they couldn’t look for themselves.  Websters they can verify.  And I’m all about not taking at face value the word of any preacher, teacher, writer etc.

Beyond that, perhaps my point was OK without going to the original.  He didn’t say I’d gotten anything incorrect in my reading, just that I shouldn’t use something as mundane as Webster.  My thought on that is, sometimes you take the guy out using using fancy tricks with your bullwhip, sometimes you just pull your gun.  Both ways get you there. Yeah, the ends occasionally justify the means.

That being said, I will very likely at some point dismantle the Greek version of this verse and its setting with my very very bad Greek. Just because I’m still pissed about the whole thing.

One thing you will probably notice between the Retrospective and Perspective is my language has changed.  It’s been 13 years.  When I wrote these I was a student at seminary.  We were 2 years out from 9-11 and the campus (at least the bits I frequented) were consumed with discussions of Evil, War, Peace, Justice and our roles in all of it. Bush was still President, running, in fact, for his second term. I had one professor banging the Taxation is Theft drum because of the wars.  Oddly, this same professor now considers dissent from the current administration as unChristian. I was a single mom, beginning to really tire of being alone.  The twins were still on medicaid but we made just enough to avoid the other ‘assistance’ pitfalls we had already traversed.  I was fully immersed in a culture that reveled in the original text, dove gleefully into history, frolicked in millenia of theological thought, and extolled the philosophical.

Now I’m married.  Four boys rather than just two.  And they are all on the cusp of adulthood.  Mr. Obama is wrapping up his second term and we seem to be in a race to find the single worst possible candidate for the next inhabitant of the White House.  The situation in the Middle East is complete chaos.  I find myself of a very Conservatarian mindset.  The farther I can keep the government from my life and from the lives of those around me the happier I will be.  I haven’t regularly darkened the door of a Church in 10 years.  I have my excuses and they are just as valid as yours.  I’m now immersed in a world of teenagers, dogs, politics, and the realities of day to day life.

So now I’m going back and rereading these posts.  Glad I used Webster.  My Greek has only gotten worse in the intervening years.

But the bit about ‘choose to let the burdens of life take priority’ strikes home.  Anyone who knows me knows I have perfected the art of goad kicking*. Tell me I’m meant to do something, I’m called to something and I’ll fight you.  If I say I think I should do something, I will hamstring myself. I will always tell you I mean to but…

I’m trying with this next year to submit to the goad.  I’m disciplining my self to write. I am setting a goal to read a physical book a week–and planning at least some of those will be the theological texts that have been gathering dust.  I’m going to try to shed the social anxiety and fears that have chained me to the house instead of going out and being involved. My vision of what it means to be called to minister to the last, the least, and the lost has altered, perhaps a better term would be clarified.

While the bulk of this old post made me introspective, the Chambers quote bothered me.  Which probably is an occasion for further introspection. I am not comfortable with the picture of a God who wants us unconscious of God’s role as Master and Teacher, who wants  us to only know “that we are to obey”.  Yes, I believe God is sovereign and by submitting to God’s will, only good will (eventually) come. But I also think God wants us fully conscious of what we are submitting to, God wants us to choose each time to obey.  But maybe that’s my Libertarian side.

So I presume the thing I need now is to try to abide.  You know, I realize Webster is substandard and all but… What happens if we view toleration as abiding in Christ?  What if we view enduring as abiding in Christ? What happens if we view remaining when we would rather run as abiding in Christ?  What happens if we view our dwellings as abiding in Christ?

Sticktoitiveness as Christian Virtue.

*(Apparently, “to kick against the goads” was a common expression found in both Greek and Latin literature—a rural image, which rose from the practice of farmers goading their oxen in the fields. Though unfamiliar to us, everyone in that day understood its meaning.

Goads were typically made from slender pieces of timber, blunt on one end and pointed on the other. Farmers used the pointed end to urge a stubborn ox into motion. Occasionally, the beast would kick at the goad. The more the ox kicked, the more likely the goad would stab into the flesh of its leg, causing greater pain.)

 

 

Retrospective:22 Sept 2003

09 05 2016

In the course of our most recent move, I found a 3-ring binder I’d thought lost 8 or more years ago.  In it was my first attempt at blogging, done under the auspices of the school I was employed by at the time.  To avoid losing them again, I thought I’d type them into this blog.  I’m also hoping the act of revisiting these will encourage me to brush off the brain cells.  In theory, I’d like to provide a Perspective after each Retrospective.  We’ll see how it goes.  PLEASE comment. Share.  So here goes…

Abide in me, as I also abide in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me.  (John 15:4&5)

The theme for chapel this year is “abide”.  I come to this word with many presuppositions about its meaning.  I have always heard it as “rest”.  Makes it seem a very tranquil verse.

According to Webster, abide can mean: “1. To tolerate: endure. 2.To remain: stay. 3. To dwell: sojourn.”  Tolerate in Me. Endure in Me. Remain in Me. Stay in Me. Dwell in Me. Sojourn in Me. As I also abide in you. As I tolerate,endure, remain, stay, and dwell in you.  None of these are necessarily restful in nature.

Considering the nature of plants, the branch has the essence of that vine forced into it.  When we become grafted to the vine that is Christ, His essence pours in to us…unless we choose to obstruct the flow.  We obstruct the flow by getting out of relationship with God.  A friend of mine calls it making “non-Kingdom choices.”  We choose to let the burdens of life take priority.  We say we cannot take this step of faith right bow, our children are too young, our budget is too tight, it is too far out of the comfort zone.  As I think about the relationship between the branch and the vine, I remember that while a  botanical plant is designed to receive the branch’s essence and let it spread throughout, we have filled up the reservoirs within us designed to hold the essence of Christ with our own desires and priorities.  This being the case, when we open ourselves up, dwell in Christ and allow Him to dwell in us, Christ’s essence is forced into us, pushing out our own “stuff.” This makes abiding a bit more painful than restful.

A student once said to me that she felt her time at ATS was kind of like a centrifuge.  All the ‘bad stuff’ was brought to the top, out in the light, as the ‘good stuff’ was distilled.  Having to look at the ‘bad stuff’ in the light of day and admit that, “yes, without Christ, that’s me,” is a part of the process of learning to abide.  To abide involves making Kingdom choices–putting His call to the last, least and the lost above all of the other things that press in on us.

As we allow the essence of Christ to penetrate every cell of our beings, He truly becomes Lord of our lives.  In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “The only word that truly describes the experience of being mastered is loveand we know little about love as God reveals it in His word.  He wants us in a relationship where He is so easily our Master and Teacher that we have no conscious awareness of it–a relationship where all we know is that we are to obey.” We acheive that kind of relationship when we learn to abide in Him and allow Him to abide in us.

Be God’s,

Rags

 

 

 

Next Steps…

04 05 2016

At the end of an Emmaus weekend you are asked what your ‘next steps’ will be.  How will you continue down this road with the knowledge you have gained?

While my faith informs my political views and decisions, I’m not theocratic.  I believe my faith shapes who I am and the policies I can and will support.  I do not demand a candidate share my faith, just my principles.  I also, sparrows and hairs not withstanding, don’t think God has a vested interest in the US or her government–her people? definitely.  Their choices? Absolutely. But God has no interest in what the rest of the world thinks of us or whether we have ‘phenomenal cosmic power’.  God is more interested in how we think of the rest of the world and how we choose to use whatever level of power we have.

So that’s me.  And it explains why I am so firmly #NeverTrump.  The framework of this nation is the Constitution, a document I find shares my principles. (Was the US created a Christian nation? Doesn’t matter. Irrelevant. Rabbit Trail. It is not now, which is why standing on principle is so very, very important.)  I do not believe Mr Trump…

scratch that, I’ve noticed his sycophants address him that way so I will not, nor will I massage his ego by sticking a ‘The’ in front of his given name.  Do you know where that practice started? Historically I mean.  IF you are one of the many fans of the Outlander series, you should. Colum MacKenzie is frequently referred to as either ‘Himself’ or ‘The MacKenzie’.  He is the chief, the archetype if you will of all the MacKenzies, the one they all defer to, swear allegiance to, shed blood for, and aspire to be. This is not the Scottish Highlands and were Donald’s Scots born mother alive, I like to think she’d box him about the ears for his presumption.

So what to call him? While I normally eschew dropping honorifics, I believe we will simply go with Trump.  Honorifics, after all, are usually earned not simply given.  Back to my point…

I do not believe Trump has even read the Constitution much less made a study of it.  I’m not convinced he ever saw School House Rock’s excellent little ditty on the 3-ring circus or the ever popular Just a Bill. He’s unaware of the powers, purpose, and limits of the Supreme Court.  Ditto the Legislative Branch. He also seems to view the Executive Branch as his personal Make-a-Wish Foundation.  Based on that and his personal history, I feel pretty confident in asserting that he does not share my principles.

We all know Mrs Clinton can’t spell ‘Constitution’ much less ‘principle’.  And that is her only redeeming quality: we know what she will try to do and we know the GOP (and honestly a fair few Democrats) hate her enough to fight her tooth and nail.  If we’ve handed the GOP nomination to an incompetent, mentally unstable, narcissist, at least we’ve done it when he’ll be running against the single most loathed and mistrusted candidate the Democrats have ever put forth. She’ll still beat him. Badly. Bigly, even.

We’ve learned throughout this primary season that Conservative Principles are easy to claim but require willingness to do the hard work of fighting for them.  And we’ve learned that many of our fellow Americans are willing to give lip service to the idea of the Constitution but either don’t understand it or aren’t willing to be uncomfortable for it.  And we’ve learned just how damaging Reality Television is to the reasoning capability.  We’ve learned just how badly the media has fallen from its role as unbiased observer and watchdog.  We’ve learned that many of those we’ve trusted, who sounded like they believed along side of us, threw away principle in favor of power.  And we’ve learned that faux Constitutional Conservatives have accumulated like dog hair in the corners of my hallway and it is time to clean house.

What, then, are our Next Steps?

First and Foremost, get Churchill intoning in your head “Nevah, Nevah, Nevah Give Up!” Until I draw my last breath, I believe there is hope.  Two of our wheels are stuck in mud and another is in a pothole. The fourth is showing signs of immanent blow out and the gas gauge is getting low.  BUT there may yet be a tow truck and the gas station is just up the road.  Especially if you claim the name Christian you cannot give up hope.  We are the Hope People.  We may not see it yet but we must believe there is hope.  And as you reach forward in hope, be sure to reach out in gratitude.  For all those who fell away and proved false, there were, are many who have stood firm. Some old stalwarts, some new faces.  Be grateful for the revelation of both the true hearts and the false ones. Extend your gratitude to those who have stood and who are continuing to stand.  Principled stands can be lonely, it is nice to hear “Thanks–and I’ve got your back”.

1.5: Figure out what you stand for. What you are willing to let go of, what is completely inviolate.  Reading Assignment: The Constitution. The Conservatarian Manifesto by Charles CW Cooke. Liberty & Tyranny by Mark Levin.  Go through Levin’s footnotes and start a reading list.

Secondly, (sorry UnderArmor) We Must Protect This House. Protecting the literal House of Representatives would be great but definitely the figurative House of the Conservative movement.  Sweep out the dog hair and dust bunnies made up of those whose loyalties have proven false.  Stand for and by those who have remained stedfast.  The Presidential section of the ballot is a lost cause, that makes the rest of vital importance. DO NOT VOTE STRAIGHT PARTY.  Get to know the candidates.  Give them your support if and only if they match your principles. And hold them to their promises.  If your current CongressCritter is false, get involved and help find the right person for the job.

You must understand that we are currently living backwards in terms of our relationship with the federal government.  The government is meant to be our servant not our master. We are supposed to be in charge but we’ve given up our power to the elected who have in turn surrendered theirs to the bureaucracies that set the regulations that determine the course of our every day lives. WE’ve gone from a revolution kicked off because of taxation without representation to living in a country where much of what we can and cannot do as businesses, organizations, families, individuals, etc has been decreed by people who do not represent us.   You who are meant to be the master of your fate have been relegated (and regulated) into being a peon. We must not only assure that the right people are protected and put in place but we must demand that they do the hard work of getting control of our legislative process back in their hands.  Don’t get me started on how badly the budget processes are screwed up.  Reading Assignment: Our Lost Constitution by Mike Lee (Sen, Utah) (Thank you, Utah) The House and Senate are both on Twitter, you won’t get much beyond what they are doing and how votes went but it’s something.  Follow Rep Justin Amash (MI) on Facebook, he tells you every vote, what it meant, and why he voted that way (Thank you, Michigan)

(I did say a little bit up the page this was going to be hard.)

Thirdly, though related to the previous, get to know your state.  Know who your Governor is, the Lieutenant Gov, the whole administration. Know what they intend and where they want to take your state. If it aligns with your principles, help. If it doesn’t fight.  Know who your state CongressCritters are.  If they are doing a good job, reward and support them. If they aren’t, Swiffer them. Reading Assignment: Your state’s constitution. The history of your state.  Your state government’s website and the various congress critter’s pages.

You are the last best hope for the Republic. ‘No, there is another’ Yep, that person sitting next to you. Or maybe the high school kid. Maybe even a ragamuffin.

 

 

 

Rage. With a splash of Tullamore Dew

27 01 2015

It’s a bad week for me and Uncle Sam. I’m ready to pluck his beard.

Just powered through our taxes. 4 dependents this year instead of 2. 2 tuition bills. Charitable Giving. AND YET we owe money.

And we got our new insurance plan information. Employer provided insurance. Not giving you details but we’re going to have to save up to afford co-pays and, barring another heart surgery, we’ll never meet our deductible. Of course, we won’t know about the need for another heart surgery because we can’t afford the diagnostics that would tell us he needs one.

Damn affordable. Yay for the Middle Class (Which we are statistically part of).

Time to quit my job. Why bother trying when you just get your teeth kicked in? We drive 10 year cars that are fully paid for. Something for which we regularly get mocked. A doctor in a 2004 Honda Civic? FOR SHAME! Our kids have let us know how embarrassing it is that our cars don’t have plug ins for USBs. Yeah, maybe they don’t have the best in technology but damn it, they are paid for.

We are 2 months away from being completely debt free. We’d love to buy a house, which might help with the taxes, but we keep paying for things like college, healthcare, day to day life. Our kids hear more No’s than yes’s when it comes to things they want.

And yes, sometimes we spend money where we shouldn’t. But we also can’t afford to not build memories, we can’t afford to not nurture our relationships, we can’t afford to not care for the others in our lives. So we make choices. You may not agree with the choices we make. You might. We live with the consequences of those choices.

But I’m seriously sick of forking over funds to a bloated, lazy, indifferent, self-serving government. That’s a choice too. Unfortunately, that choice is compelled in one direction by a gun to our heads, a boot to our ribs. And now that same entity demands more.

Hey, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Sam Johnson, you lot broke this. FIX IT. Get to know me. That little Wire Fox Terrier avatar is going to know you well. Terriers are tenacious, they don’t give up or let up. They are the biggest dog in the world in a small body. I’m not much myself but I am a fighter. And I will hold you accountable. I will hunt down the rodents and clean them out. You decide if you want to be a rat or a fellow terrier.

Mousetrap…

18 07 2014

When my kids were young they loved VeggieTales.  To be honest, so did I.  I remember one episode where the Veggies were out sledding and the sled crashed.  Bob the Tomato said “I wanted to stay inside and play Mousetrap. You roll the dice, you move your mice. Nobody gets hurt.”  That line has stuck with me.  It is handy when talking to people about choices “Hey, you roll the dice, you move your mice.” Where it falls short is that somebody can get hurt.

I often tell my kids ‘Never do in the dark what you wouldn’t do in the light.’  When you decide on a course of action, always assume everyone is going to find out.  Always be aware that your dice roll could land you in a trap and someone could get hurt.

I’ve experienced this on multiple levels this week.  From the innocuous choice of kids to skip chores and stick me with them to the annoying choice of someone to ignore a month’s worth of pleas to prepare for an event and being caught flatfooted (that happened with 2 separate people) to an absolutely heartbreaking series of choices, actions and reactions, in the lives of dear friends.  In my life I have made wonderful choices and horrific ones.  Both have had long reaching ramifications, disastrous and joyful.

It is very common these days to proffer excuses for our poor choices as though they make it OK somehow.  ‘I got busy.’  ‘I was lonely.’ ‘It wasn’t where I thought it would be.’ ‘Things were chaotic.’ ‘Things were changing so fast…’  ‘But that person hurt me.’ Excuses actually excuse nothing.  They may play a part in what happens but the decision is yours alone.  Other people live in the same circumstances and make other decisions.  

You have to own your decisions, not try to excuse them away.  Your dice, your mice. Take the lumps or the blessings that come from them.  However, poor choices, lousy decisions, do not a horrible person make.  The best of us choose poorly at times.  It’s actually your call if you allow it to suck the life out of you or you choose to grow from it.  And while you have little to no control over the choices others make, you do make your choice in how to respond to the situation.  

We live in a society that does not promote forethought and analysis.  We want everything and we want it now.  We can choose to accept that and live on those terms, understanding that our decisions will be fast and furious and often not the best.  Or we can recognize that and refuse to live that way.  Apply critical thought to life.  Ask ‘what happens if…’ ‘Can I handle what comes from this decision?’

I’ve seen bad decisions this week repaired by herculean efforts on the part of others.  I’ve seen bad decisions that inconvenienced everyone but the decision maker.  I’ve seen bad decisions that had major repercussions on the decision maker alone.  And I’ve seen horrible choices snowball into catastrophe (but I’m trying to leave politics out of this 😉 ).  I’ve also seen good choices, gentle choices, healing and restoring choices.  

Decisions do not occur in a vacuum. You roll the dice, you move your mice, and everyone is affected.

Harvard Okays Satanic “Black Mass” on Campus Grounds

12 05 2014

2 positions arbitrarily applied. Good thoughts on the double s t standard of academia from AceofSpadesHQ

Ace of Spades HQ Blackout Blog

If it were the case that Harvard actually did take a strong-form position on free speech, I’d actually praise this decision as principled.  Which isn’t the same as praising the black mass, you understand.

But I do think it’s a sound principle to say that we will not throw up nonsense bureaucratic barriers and use institutional and government power to squelch people’s right to speak or agitate as they will.

The trouble is, of course, that universities do not take this strong-form position on free speech.  They routinely censor right-wing points of view; when the left kicks up a fuss about this right-leaning speaker or that one, <a href=“http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/377769/two-cheers-only-two-harvard-jonah-goldberg“>but will piously claim an absolutist position on free speech that offends traditionalists, the religious, and conservatives, as Jonah Goldberg notes.</a>

There are always two issues — two principles — at play in every controversy like this.

One is a commitment…

View original post 370 more words

Lead, Follow…

11 05 2014

 

I’ve heard of this song from a couple different Christian women.  On the face of it, I see why they love it. One of them gushed “My husband just keeps singing it and it makes me feel good because I know that means he GETS it!”

The song is from the POV of a man and he’s thinking about his wife and kids.  Apparently he’s been a bit of an ass because they are pleading with him to ‘Lead [them] with strong hands, Stand up when [they] can’t’, they beg ‘Don’t leave us hungry for love, chasing dreams but what about us? I know we call this a home but I still feel alone.’

 

Now I’m all for Godly men.  I’m all for men that put their families ahead of career, success, hobbies, just about anything.  I firmly believe part of the downfall of our society is the lack of men who take seriously the role of Father.  We have too many absent or uninvolved fathers.  We have a society that routinely mocks men as the stupid ones in the relationship.  Seriously, have a notebook and a pen with you next time you sit down to watch TV and take notes on how men are portrayed in commercials and TV shows.  And because men are no longer being lauded for doing ‘dad things’, because we have drummed into us by media that men are unnecessary (or as the husband uncomfortably joked on Yukon Vet ‘We kill the male caribou because, as my wife says, men are expendable’), because we are now a full generation or more into the denigration of manhood, most men don’t have a clue how to Dad.  A career with its evaluations, salary, rewards and demerits is easier to understand than kids and wives who don’t always remember to say ‘Thank you’, ‘I need you’, ‘I like spending time with you’.  Family is messy and the rewards are not always immediately evident.

On the one hand, therefore, I like this song.  I like that it is a call for a Dad to, more than anything else, be there.  Yes, there’s the whole leading thing (and I’ll get to that) but the rest is about just being present, physically or not.  Sometimes parents cannot be immediately present, whether due to deployment, jobs or divorce.  They can be present in any way possible, whether by phone, email, text or even just in prayer.  Proximity does not equal presence.  I’ve been in a room with someone, both of us occupied with other things, neither of us was present.  Conversely, I have talked on the phone with a person a thousand miles away and been fully present.  Awareness and love are being present.

So what about the leading with strong hands and standing up when we can’t?  That is also being present.  It’s also part of what rankles me about the song.  Both women I heard about it from viewed it as ‘This will fix him. He needs to hear this song so he knows how to be a better husband and father!’  What really irked me was that one lady wanted the song played repeatedly for another woman’s husband whom she felt needed to be brought into line.   When you take that view of it, this song is no better than the commercials.  Wives seem to take the song rather sanctimoniously.  ‘See, dear, this is what is wrong with our family.  You are doing it wrong.’

Yes, the Bible speaks of the man as the spiritual head of the family.  What does that look like?  Does that mean he leads nightly Bible studies? Leads prayer before each meal and at bedtime?  Drags the family to church every time the doors are open?  In some families, yes.  In others, sometimes it means he is the one to be relied on when every else fails you, whether he prays or not.

The Bible speaks of woman being crafted as a suitable companion, a helper, to man.  They are to join together in marriage, leaving behind the previous life.  Ephesians talks about submission, which always gets somebody’s dander up.  But what is often missed is the call to submit one to another.  In other words, he to she and she to he.  Biblically, I think it is difficult to argue for an unequal partnership in marriage.  What comes to my mind is ‘Play to your strengths’.

And that is where the song loses me.  It isn’t all on  the man of the house to lead or to stand.  There will be times when the woman needs to lead.  There will be times when he will need her to stand for him.  Marriage isn’t a game of set roles.  It is teamwork.  It is standing for and leaning on one another.  It is trusting in the one you call your Best Beloved to uphold you and guide you–and allowing him to trust that when needed you will do the same.   (And honestly, there will even be times when the kids will have to stand and lead.)

Perhaps the song should have been a duet.  A husband and wife saying ‘I can’t do this alone’ to one another.

 

 

 

“Get the Stupid Out”

11 05 2014

I came up with that little zinger one morning a couple months ago and I’ve been meaning to write about it since.  What happened was this:

 

I got up bright and early and headed to the kitchen to make coffee.  We’d just had our Concealed Handgun License Class the day before and I was thinking about how to explain to my family why we wanted to get guns and CHLs. The first thing I wanted to get across was that guns, in and of themselves, are not scary or even dangerous.  They are inanimate objects that cannot be offended or angered or just in a bad mood.  The problems arise from ‘Operator Error’, when a person uses a gun in an incorrect, irresponsible, or dangerous manner.  In other words, when human stupidity takes control.  The trick is to ‘Get the Stupid Out.’

(Hey, that’s pretty good, I thought to myself as I dismantled the coffee maker in preparation for making a new pot.  Empty the old grounds, toss the filter, rinse the basket, set it to dry)

That’s why we take Handgun Safety courses, why we take CHL classes, why we go to the range, to try to minimize the chances of stupid taking over.  (Rinse the coffee pot, set it to fill and start the grinder)

Stupid is keeping guns in a home with a mentally unstable person, a la Lanza.  His mother had the ability to store her weapons off site.  She had the ability to keep the ones in her home under lock and key to such an extent he would not have been able to acquire them.  No laws were broken in obtaining the guns that were used at Newtown, just stupidity.

Stupid is figuring a child will respect a shut drawer or will not engage in snooping.  Children in the house with guns mean the guns go in a safe.   Stupid is hand talking while holding a gun.  Stupid is playing games with a gun.  Stupid is not paying attention to who is around you, what is around you.  The best self defense is not getting yourself in a situation where you have to defend yourself.

Stupid is going out and buying a gun (and carrying it) without getting trained. (Pour water into reservoir, grounds into filter, filter into machine, push on)

There are many levels of our lives where stupid intervenes.

The low fuel light is on but I usually have x number of miles before I have to stop…No, not this time.

You only had a few drinks with dinner, you’re good to drive home…not so much.

I’m just going to answer this one text right now, there aren’t any cars close to me.

Honey, I realize you are worrying about money and work and the kids, but can we talk?

And then we can examine stupid in politics…the Church…the world at large…

I was in full voice (albeit in my head) and in excellent form.  Brilliant arguments that simply ‘could not be broken’.  Wisdom, humor… It was a thing of beauty I knew I would have to write on…

And then I looked at the counter and noticed the filter basket lying where I had put it to dry.  I had just place the filter in the machine without including the basket.  Grounds everywhere.  Chewable coffee.

The stupid, it burns.