Monday, April 29, 2013
Hey birdie! Look at the birdie and smile! I'm taking your picture!
Yes! This is what old people do on slow Sunday afternoons. Honeybuns and I sat in ROCKING CHAIRS on the back patio and waited for this guy and his cousins to come for a snack! Free entertainment for about 20 minutes.
When the yellow finches arrive, it is CERTAINLY spring! They are beautiful! I have counted as many as 15 hanging onto this bird feeder at one time.
But, just one turn of the head, sneeze, or slight movement sends them off lickity split! They're pretty skittish!
So, what's up with that? We were not about to harm them or try to catch them.
I guess it's the old "fight or flight" syndrome, and since they are designed beautifully with those tiny feathered wings, they can and they DO choose FLIGHT!
What talent! I'm sure mankind has envied birds since the garden of Eden.
Wouldn't it be fab to be able to lift my arms and SOAR? I doubt I would be so easily frightened, BUT, it would be nice to "lift off" when the laundry is piled up, relationships flare up, or expectations rise up.
Escape! Yep! That's what this finch is doing!
Evidently I/we are not supposed to escape every time something goes awry, or we'd have feathers, too.
Perhaps we're supposed to live and learn right here at ground level.
(I have a crazy FEAR of heights anyway, it would never work!)
So, the bird fears me and I fear heights. Evidently this whole thing is working out the way it's supposed to. While he's flitting around today, I guess I'll go do laundry!
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Honeybuns and I drove over Saturday for the day.
We've heard many positive comments about this museum so we needed to see it for ourselves. It's amazing how many Masterpieces are housed there in the hills of northern Arkansas, home of Sam Walton and the Walton dynasty.
The building itself is worth the drive! It is a maze of curves, water features, and soaring windows. Views of blooming dogwoods and native plants along the many walking trails makes it an indoor/outdoor experience. Entrance is free, thanks to the Walton foundation and Saturday it was FULL! Families, couples, baby strollers and prom dates wandered through the corridors. (The gowns and tuxedos added to the festive atmosphere.) Museum volunteers were everywhere making sure everyone was having a good time and the pieces were protected.
The permanent collection is something I would expect to see in NYC or perhaps France. Both traditional and modern art was breathtaking! Even the sculptures were entertaining.
The traveling exhibit of the work of Norman Rockwell brought smiles to EVERY FACE! As a fan of Norman, Honeybuns was mesmerized as he read about the artists career and work all made famous with those Saturday Evening Post covers that documented decades of American history. Mr. Rockwell would have been very proud to think that his interpretation of middle America was actually being ENJOYED by middle America. We chose favorites and wanted to bring them home with us.
|Look at those hair-dos!|
|Ceiling of the restaurant!|
|Man by light switch!|
We love museums and we love Arkansas! It was a great day for both!
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I am bewildered! Not stressed, not anxious, not angry, and not ready for the rubber room just yet.
And I am a list maker.
Lists are therapy for me. If I can see it in a concise form, somehow it becomes manageable!
I'll title this one: The Top 15 BAFFLING REALITIES OF TODAY.
1. A bomb in a pressure cooker kills and maims, and poisionous letters are sent to Congress.
2. The trial of abortionist Gosnell is totally ignored by the American media.
3. California citizens readily sign a petition to "rid" America of the first and second amendments after being told that they would be supporting their President.
4. The new health care law is contained in 17,000 pages and Dr's. shake their head in disbelief at the size and directives. (One local Dr. recently predicted that America will skip socialized medicine and willingly accept communism, called by another more positive name of course.)
5. Marriage is being re-defined and if you support the differences and roles of men and women you are a dangerous bigot.
6. A black brilliant neuro-surgeon is labeled and threatened because he happens to be conservative.
7. Proven adulterers and sex addicted politicians are returning to office with the support of voters.
8. Guns laws are being debated and presented for a vote in congress that would not have stopped ANY of the past mass shootings, ignoring the fact that criminals do not OBEY LAWS.
9. Over half of the population believes that the way to get out of debt is to BORROW AND SPEND trillions of dollars MORE. (Rain tax is supported: taxing people for the amount of rain that falls on their property, monitored by satellites.)
10. Modern day slavery is rampant and the porn industry that feeds Human Trafficking is considered recreation. (Customers are white men with discretionary income.)
11. Infanticide is considered a "decision between a mother and her Dr."
12. Jay Leno has proven that most folks on the street do not know the name of the Vice President.
13. 1 Ambassador and 3 others are murdered in Benghazi and no one knows why.
14. Illegal is now defined as undocumented.
15. (Honeybuns favorite) Corporate jet owners that worked and paid for their planes are vilified while the one criticizing flies around the world at the expense of the tax payer.
There are more but if I go on, I'll have to eat a bag of Oreos, just to get through the day.
So, what do I/we do with "the new normal?"
A. Ignore it all, tend to my own knitting and pretend none of this affects me or my family.
B. Try to be a voice of reason when given the opportunity. "Evil reigns when good men do nothing."
C. Rest in the Sovereignty of God, knowing that "nothing can separate me from His love."
D. all of the above.
I choose B and C.
Whew! That was hard but I have a plan!
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Blue Grass is BACK! Maybe it never left. But it's not been playing around our house for several years. I don't know why I've neglected it. I've ALWAYS loved it, amazed at the talent it takes to bring fabulous music from a banjo.
In the style of Mumford & Sons, Stephen Curtis Chapman and his flying fingers have just released a new CD titled Deep Roots! We found it at Cracker Barrel at Sunday lunch. The music is really good! He has made some new arrangements of old hymns, sometimes including his father and other family members singing along.
As he sings those old fashioned words I am immediately transported back to memories of country days. I can feel the sun on my face and see clouds of dust billowing up from dirt roads, usually by an old pick up truck!
As wonderful and up lifting as contemporary worship songs might be, there are NONE that relay the simplicity of Blue Grass. I'm thrilled that it's gaining in popularity!
The Chapmans have "deep rooted faith." It has been tested by tragedy in recent years and found to be the real deal. I suppose knowing their story adds to the authenticity of the words as well. He sings of what he knows and he knows the ONE of whom he sings.
I like that title "Deep Roots." There has to be a "drawing" upon the strength of deep rooted faith when trouble comes. Jesus promises us a troubled life as long as we're on this earth, but also promises HIS presence in and through it as well. And THAT is more than enough. These old hymns teach that.
False prophets teach just the opposite and millions of people have swallowed that lie from the pit of hell: hook, line and sinker. I hear personal testimonies of such grandiose statements almost every day.
It goes like this,"God would NEVER allow a tragedy to come to my life!" I shake my head sadly. We live in a time when it's acceptable to "make up" a definition of the Sovereign God just to fit our needs and foolish ideas. "Feeling good" is readily embraced at the expense of the TRUTH.
Music is powerful and the WORDS are important.
Remember this one, "Be careful little ears what you hear!"
Call me old-fashioned, but my ears are enjoying TRUTH today, set to the music of a banjo playing Blue Grass.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
They had much to say and we had much to learn.
Their stories set our hair ablaze as they shared statistics and frustrations. They work hard, mostly while the rest of us are sleeping. They find themselves in situations we will never encounter. Some of their tales sounded like something fresh out of a movie. They are trained, motivated, and committed to delving into the sub-cultures of our city.
Tulsa is a wonderful place. It is filled with good, honest, God-fearing people and has a matchless reputation of volunteerism and philanthropy. 700 churches meet weekly. Many positive elements in the city and surrounding areas make this a fine place to live and breathe and raise healthy children.
BUT...as we learned this week, the criminal element is thriving as well. As in most cities across the US, the people in power in Tulsa have a huge task when they start prioritizing crimes to prosecute. There are just too many! There is only so much time on the court room docket, only so much room in the jails. The problem is humongous and the judicial system is broken, most often by sheer volume.
Our new friends have the distinct job of routing out prostitution, among other vices, and tell us that sex crimes are rampant in our town. Drugs and violence are interwoven. And those crimes are destroying families, businesses, and children.
Since the "world's oldest profession" has been around pretty much since the beginning of time, we were not surprised. Evidently local massage parlors and upscale hotels are the popular meeting places. "Stings" similiar to those we've seen on "Dateline" are common.
We were stunned at the number of very young girls that are found by these officers. (Thirty a night is not uncommon.) The Internet is their method of advertising and huge amounts of money are their reward. (Customers are typically white men with discretionary income, their names are published in the newspaper.) There are many websites that exist for this business plan.
We heard stories of very young girls, some by their own volition, that make very bad decisions that determine their future. If under 16, the victim/perpetrator is sent to juvenile detention, for a short time! Rarely does that plan have a long-range positive effect.
Sometimes pimps are involved, sometimes girls are held by force, fraud, or corecion and then it becomes a case of Human Trafficking.
We discussed solutions, after-care, methods of operation and then the big question: "Where are the parents of these CHILDREN?"
The vice squad sees it all. And they have a perspective developed through experience.
The consensus seems to be that parents have abdicated their role. Evidently today's parents don't want to parent but rather be FRIENDS with their children. That rlationship involves no boundaries, no rules, no serious conversations, and no time! There is little help with education, spiritual training, or guidance as to how to get out and stay out of poverty. Often the parents of the "children of the night" have no idea HOW to parent. They themselves had no role models or support systems. Some are trapped in generational poverty and don't even know it. Drugs are commonplace, jail is a place to rest and get fed for a few days, and an arrest is nothing to fear. (They KNOW the judicial system is overloaded so an arrest is a minor inconvenience.)
Other absent parents are found on the golf course, in the office, or jetting around the country. Buying gifts or trips can be mistaken for parenting. Also, today young boys have an option, they don't have to grow up and become men/husbands/fathers if they choose not to. They can choose the life of extended adolescence and forego adult behavior and responsibility. Children of fatherless homes are so vulnerable.
We offered help and prayers. They appreciated both, and sincerely believe their efforts are doing "some" good and "if one young girl is rescued" their efforts are worth it all. Their workplace is dangerous and often very sad, but they are determined to persevere.
It takes some very brave and wise folks to do what these people are doing. Strength, wisdom and compassion were on display at our meeting.
A few months ago a Federal Attorney we met summed it up, "We in America do not take care of our children." The people on the vice squad are certainly trying!
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Keller explains the how and why all those wonderful pursuits of success, money, true love and the life we've always wanted OFTEN leaves us restless, lonely and dissatisfied. He quotes several Biblical characters and tells their stories so WE might learn a lesson or two.
In our era of economic meltdown, ALL that disappointment is magnified in divorce, bankruptcy, suicides, bitterness and hopelessness. If ANY good has come from America's recent downturn financially/culturally/spiritually it is the revelation of how foolish it is to place our hope and hearts in fortunes, marriages, relationships, careers and a secure retirement. They ARE Counterfeit Gods! Americans have worshipped them for years and they have crashed around us.
He describes a strange melancholy that is a result of a culture FILLED idols. We can (and do) make gods out of children and family, career and making money, achievement and critical acclaim, a romantic relationship, a political or social cause, morality and virtue, peer approval, military power, health, fitness, beauty, emotional dependence of others on you, ideologies, saving face or social standing. We develop relationships with people and things that can only be described as worship.
Sometimes the god of religion goes askew with the thought, "if you live a good life, then the gods or God will HAVE to bless you and give you prosperity." The ones that follow THAT god assume that the most successful people in a society are those closest to God. The daily headlines prove THAT line of thought false! (Jesus Himself tells us that we WILL have troubles as long as we are in this world.)
Whew! What a description of America! These "gods" are "in our face" 24/7!
Years ago, Bill Gothard defined idolatry as: "Expecting anyone or anything to do for you THAT which only God can do."
Archbishop William Temple said, "Your religion is what you do with your solitude." In other words, the true god of your heart is where your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention."
Also, another way to discern your true love is to look at how you spend your money. The mark of an idol is that you spend too much money on IT.
Another question, "What are you really living for?" If you pray and ask for something and don't get it and respond with explosive anger or deep despair, then maybe you've found your true god.
Final test. Look at your uncontrollable emotions. Fear, frantic activity, overworking, despair, guilt?
Pull those emotions up by the roots and see which god is clinging to them.
Idolatry is not just disobeying God, it is setting the whole heart on something/someone beside HIM.
The solution? It is NOT pulling yourself up by the boot straps or obeying rules of outward conduct, but setting your heart on Christ as your peace and your life. THAT is the road to freedom from counterfeit gods that control us.
Thank you Timothy Keller! You've challenged us to THINK!
Monday, April 1, 2013
Papa is holding the line and that "monster" fish is hanging on the hook. (Not to fret, we released him back into the lake immediately after this picture, no permanent harm done to him.)
It was Thompson's very first fishing trip. (age 3) Nevermind that it lasted only about an hour and the "trip" consisted of a short walk from our house. It was a VERY big deal for him.
He loved the tackle box and all the equipment, the lake, the geese, the turtles and the setting. He did NOT love the fishing worms. And he did not kiss the worm before it went on the hook, "just for luck."
Every little boy needs to know about fishing. Hopefully next time we'll go somewhere and catch one big enough to FRY! I'm sure he'll love that!
A fishing trip with Papa! Priceless!